THE ORDINARY: ALPHA ARBUTIN 2% + HA
The featured ingredient in this serum is alpha arbutin (α-arbutin). Whether you’ve heard of it through the beauty grapevine, read about its promising capacities via published scientific journal, or simply have seen its propagation all over much of Asian skincare – this is something worth investigating. Enter, our review of The Ordinary’s Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA product.
If you suffer from various forms of hyperpigmentation or discoloration due to genetics or the ravaging signs of aging – you may want to pay attention. Historically speaking, hydroquinone has been the leading contender in the fight against those pesky discolored spots or uneven skin hyperpigmentations that find its way on our face. For years, dermatologists have prescribed various concentrations of hydroquinone to combat hyperpigmentation.
Until recently, however, the use of hydroquinone has been questioned. As a result, a new wave of skin lightening ingredients and naturally emphasized alternatives have surfaced – such as alpha (α)-arbutin, beta (β)-arbutin, kojic acid, niacinamide (also known as nicotinamide), and ascorbic acid.
Alpha arbutin; a naturally occurring plant-derived compound found in the dried leaves of a number of different plant species including, bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi), blueberry, cranberry, and pear trees. And in 2016, the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) released an opinion on the safety of the use of α-arbutin in cosmetic products. The SCCS concluded that the use of α-arbutin was safe for consumers in cosmetic products in a concentration up to 2% in face creams and up to 0.5% in body lotions.
Ok, the claims as detailed on The Ordinary’s Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA website:
“Alpha Arbutin reduces the looks of spots and hyper-pigmentation. It’s used at a high 2% concentration versus a standard concentration of 1% and supported with a next-generation form of Hyaluronic Acid for enhanced delivery. Alpha Arbutin is much stronger in effect than Arbutin or Beta Arbutin.
Note: Alpha Arbutin is extremely sensitive to degradation in the presence of water if the pH of the formulation is not ideal. The pH of this formula is approximately 4.9 which is shown to be the most suitable pH to minimize degradation of Alpha Arbutin.”
Ok, let’s parse this baby to its bare bones based on its ingredients:
|Substantiated||Claims||What's the Problem?|
Reduces the looks of spots and hyperpigmentation.
Used at a high 2% concentration versus a standard concentration of 1% (alpha arbutin).
Supported with a next-generation form of Hyaluronic Acid for enhanced delivery.
Alpha Arbutin is much stronger in effect than Arbutin or Beta Arbutin.
The pH of this formula is approximately 4.9 which is shown to be the most suitable pH to minimize degradation of Alpha Arbutin.
SKIN TYPE & USE
Normal, Oily, Combination, and Dry
THE GOOD & THE BAD
Outside of the obvious insertion of preservative ingredients (Phenoxyethanol and Chlorphenesin), decreasing agent (Ethoxydiglycol), chelating agent (Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate), thickening stabilizer (Polyacrylate Crosspolymer-6), and emulsifying agents (PPG-26-Buteth-26 and PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil), — I could not find any discernible reason to hate (or dislike) this product.
It claims to be a 2% alpha-arbutin product used to reduce hyperpigmentation – this is true. It claims to have HA in synergy with alpha arbutin – this is also true.
What is quite interesting is the added bonus of lactic acid. To the folks at The Ordinary, you did not market this magical gem to include lactic acid TOO! What a treat!
There are some ingredients that I find to be unnecessary in its value or application toward this product’s claim to fame as a hyperpigmentation and discoloration reducing superstar; ultimately, I find it to work well with my skin type needs.
THE UGLY (PRICE)
DO I NEED THIS?
Since The Ordinary’s Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA is relatively cheap and inexpensive – I would say to try this if you are someone who suffers the painful pangs of aging skin and the results of too much sun exposure.
Or if you are like me – you were only TOO happy to pop that zit or agitate that area of your face that shouldn’t have been touched at an earlier stage in your life. Ugh.
Word of caution: I’ve been using this product consistently for the past month and have seen minor hyperpigmentation changes – a little breaking up of the darker spots. I plan on purchasing one more bottle of this to see whether TWO months of consistent application provides any significant impact. Update to come!
Oddly enough – I can’t seem to locate something worth rivaling this product. You just can’t beat the price point nor its ingredient list potential.
However, a simple google search gives me the following products that contain alpha arbutin as one of its key ingredients:
Both products I have not tried — so I can’t speak to whether these actually are worth purchasing.
Apparently, Sunday Riley has approximately 1% of alpha arbutin in its formulation. First Aid Beauty does not indicate the % of alpha arbutin in its formulation.
So at this point, The Ordinary still wins.
HOW TO MAXIMIZE THE BENEFITS?
The best way to utilize this serum is to be regimented with your skincare. As I’ve always said (time and time again) – getting rid of hyperpigmentation or those pesky acne scars takes time. And lots of it! So by being diligent with your skincare alpha arbutin regimen and making sure to continually slather on that SPF sunscreen of choice – is the only advice I can give.
And lots of it!
So by being diligent with your skincare alpha arbutin regimen and making sure to continually slather on that SPF sunscreen of choice – is the only advice I can give.
But if you want to know how I actually used this in my skincare regimen? Here you go!
- The Ordinary’s Alpha Arbutin 2% +HA
- The Ordinary’s Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%
- Eye cream
- SPF Application: Either moisturizer of choice or tinted moisturizer
- The Ordinary’s Alpha Arbutin 2% +HA
- The Ordinary’s Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2% OR Advanced Retinoid 2%
- Eye cream
- Face oil of choice
ARE THE CLAIMS BACKED BY SCIENCE?
For the most part, most of these ingredients have properties, which would provide evidence that supports the product claim. Whether it’s truly substantiated – remains to be seen.
But if you technically take each ingredient for its face value and research-based data separately – its components provide some scientific evidence. In fact, it checked met all of its claims — see our Claims section above.
Synergistically combined? There is obviously no evidence that can support their combined claims.