I am in my late 30s and all around the skinfluencer world I heard people saying how you should really incorporate a retinol into your skincare routine to prevent the signs of aging. One catch: my skin can be quite reactive and sensitive and retinols are not exactly known for being the best if you have sensitive skin. They can cause irritation and you have to be pretty careful with sunexposure as well. So no retinols without sunscreen people! Take care of your skin. To start my retinol journey I decided to try a retinoid. This is supposed to be a less potent version of a retinol and the market has flooded with retinol derivatives and alternatives that claim to give similar results but be less irritating. Let’s see how I got on with The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion.
Skincare review: The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion
The reason I went with a product by The Ordinary is because they are known for doing effective skincare at a not so high price point. However I have since read that retinols by The Ordinary aren’t exactly the most stable skincare formulations on the market and so it can be a bit hit or miss when you try it. There are online dermatologists who will not recommend the brand because of it. The price point makes them very accessible though: at €10.90 this is an affordable retinol derivative that I hoped would allow me to at least start my journey. Now that I have tried it though, I am very confused. Let me explain.
What does this product have to offer?
On paper this sounds like it should work. It is not a full on retinol but ‘retinol-alternative’ and the brand claims it is suitable for all skin tones. Apart from anti-aging properties this should help with uneven skin tone and textual irregularities as well. Additionally I found out that retinoids can be a good start if you have sensitive skin and want to try out a retinol. The emulsion in this product also adds a richer, serum like texture which I had hoped would make it right for my dry/ dehydrated skin. But as I mentioned above, now that I have used this, I feel very very confused.
What is the ingredient list like?
But before I try to explain to you my experience with using this product we should have a look at the ingredient list:
Aqua (Water), Glycerin, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Ethyl Linoleate, Propanediol, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Cetearyl Isononanoate, Bisabolol, Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate, Retinol, Tasmannia Lanceolata Fruit/Leaf Extract, Inulin Lauryl Carbamate, Glyceryl Stearate, Ceteareth-12, Ceteareth-20, Cetearyl Alcohol, Carrageenan, Xanthan Gum, Acacia Senegal Gum, Cetyl Palmitate, Sucrose Laurate, Polysorbate 20, Isoceteth-20, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Hydroxymethoxyphenyl Decanone, Behentrimonium Chloride, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Disodium Edta, Dehydroacetic Acid, Benzoic Acid, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin.
So apart from the key ingredients the brand claims this contains, which are Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate, Retinol and Tasmannia Lanceolata extract, there are also just a lot of other ingredients here that are far higher up the list that are commonly found in skincare products. There is also rosemary in here. I am not a specialist in cosmetic chemistry though so truly judging the ingredient list and all of its properties is not something I can do. What I can tell you about is my experience using the product.
What was my experience like?
My skincare reviews are alwasy focused more around my experience using a product. Do I see results? Does it irritate my skin? Do I want or have I already used it up? Would I repurchase this? And with this product I feel very much on the fence. This is why I held off writing this review for a while. I used it consistently for a while, but I felt it started to change color quickly. Every time I used it, I would have a different exerience. Sometimes this felt almost gritty going on, other times it felt smooth. Other times I experienced a lot of redness, while other times my skin seemed absolutely fine. So after some time I just stopped using this. It confused me to no end and I couldn’t make out whether this was actually doing something good for my skin. I didn’t get a full blown reaction to this, but at some point I just decided this wasn’t worth soldiering on with.
My final thoughts
While The Ordinary’s Granactive Retinoid sounded like a good idea on paper, now that I have used it I am not so sure. Whether it’s due to an unstable formula or the fact that my skin just doesn’t like this very much, I have not been able to pinpoint. What I can tell you is that I won’t be repurchasing this. I still want to try a retinol though, so if you have any recommendations: help a girl out. I already have a few bits lined up to try next. I have a retinol alternative from the Inkey List, one by Good Molecules and I bought the A313 cream from the French pharmacy. Which one would you like me to try next?
Would I recommend The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion?
I am not so sure. Knowing what I know now, I am not sure I would buy it again. I hope there are better alternatives out there, but as I have noticed with chemical exfoliants that everyone keeps raving about: I am not always sure it’s for me. With chemical exfoliants I have found out that I need the acids to be formulated with other ingredients for it to be most effective for me. Maybe I need a similar thing with retinols. Who knows? I don’t say: stay away from this per se, but my experience using this was just too wishywashy for it to be a solid recommendation as well.
3 responses to “The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion review”
I really like Geek & Gorgeous A-Game 5. That’s a 0.05 retinal product (they also do a more potent 0.1 version). I’ve been using this 3 nights a week for the past month and no irritation so far (I have very sensitive skin)
Thanks for the tip! I would like to try that brand at some point. They seem to do some good products.
I have used the granactive emulsion with good result. Because I use a prescription strength Tretinoin on my face I only use the Ordinary one on my neck and hands. It has a lovely feel and smell. I keep it in the refrigerator because that’s what it says to do on the label.