Review: The Ordinary Vitamin C Serum and Primer - twindly beauty blog
The Ordinary Vitamin C serum and primer review. An in-depth look at the High-Adherence Silicone Primer and Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12%.
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The Ordinary Vitamin C serum and primer review

Review: The Ordinary Vitamin C Serum and Primer

The Ordinary – the most hyped up skincare launch of 2016. It all came together: endorsement from ‘gurus’, youtubers, the press (print!!!), a line that’s unapologizingly nerdy, and last but not least, the legacy (it’s a Deciem line, after all), the clean chic and, yes, the price point. It’s incredibly cheap, and the message is somewhere along the lines of ‘shit that works can be cheap’. You’ve got to do your homework, though – the names aren’t necessarily understandable or appealing. Instead of ‘anti-aging’, you’ll come across ‘Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate Solution 20% in Vitamin F’. Beautyjunkies handled the release like the second coming, and I ordered a shit-load of stuff. Because hey, it’s cheap, and in the name of science… *mumbles* So here’s my The Ordinary Vitamin C serum and primer review.

Because you’d be waiting the whole year of 2017 if I’d review that whole haul, let’s start nice and easy with two products, namely the High-Adherence Primer and the Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12%. I bought both from Victoria Health, an online store situated in the UK.

The Ordinary Primer and Vitamin C serum

The subjects of today’s review: The Ordinary High-Adherance Primer and Ascorbyl Solution 12%.


High-Adherence Silicone Primer (30ml)

Let’s get real, I added the primer to my basket because it was cheap (about4-5€) and I didn’t want to spring 20€ on one of the new Urban Decay or Nars ones. So yeah.

Official Description

Per The Ordinary homepage, the primer promises the following:
High-Adherence Blurring Surface Smoother and Primer
This formula uses advanced adaptive silicones to act as a matte, hydrating, blurring primer for makeup that looks higher in definition and adheres for longer. The formula can also be used alone as a non-greasy hydrator that reduces the looks of pores and of imperfections.

The Ordinary High-Adherence Primer review

The Ordinary primer in its stylish and convenient packaging.

My Skin

My skin issues are some enlarged pores, imperfections and fine lines. I’ve normal to combo skin, and I want my foundation to not settle in said fine lines, and would expect some blurring and smoothing of my skin when I use a primer. I also don’t like the heavy silicone-y spackle like Smashbox’s primers have and this sounded good. In the end, I was hoping for that magical unicorn of primer that just makes your makeup look good at the end of the day.

Texture, formula and application

I was pleasantly surprised when the stuff coming out of the tube wasn’t the icky silicone paste, but a lightweight whitish gel that was pleasant to apply on my face. Beware, though, if you breathe in through your mouth upon application – the greasy smell will settle on your tongue and it’s just gross. Ugh.
I also realized that if you message that into your skin heavily, it starts to pill and you’ll be left with annoying whitish and sticky crumbs of primer all over your face. Applying gently and lightly is the key. My face looks matte after application, with slightly blurred pores. Would I go out like that? Nope, but advertising here is true – it’s non-greasy and somewhat hydrating while being matte.

The Ordinary High-Adherance Primer

This is how the primer initially looks on my skin – it becomes completely translucent when spread.

Does it work?

Foundations of all types go on easily over it. I used BB creams, CC creams, proper foundations and Cushions, and it’s all good. At the end of the day, though, the product falls through for me. Remember that it’s winter right now, without the taxing heat that makes foundation melt off your face, so a primer should have an easy job right now, right? I’m wearing makeup for about 10 to 12 hours on an average day, and when I was testing the primer, I used it on only one half of my face. When I compared the look of both halves in the evening, I couldn’t detect any differences in the look of my foundation even in my magnifying mirror. Maaaaayyyyyyyyybe the side with the primer felt a tiny bit more matte, mmmmmmmmaaaaaayyyyyybeeee the side with the primer looked a bit more fresh, but those effects were minuscule.

High-Adherence? Nope.
Blurring? Nope.

Would I recommend this? Nope.

Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12% (30ml)

So, the second product. Easy, cheap and ‘everybody can benefit from this’, good old Vitamin C serum. I like Vit C. I use different Vit C serums for quite a long time now, and I’m used to the effect on my skin. So my testing this one is not about seeing the effects of a shiny new product, but rather seeing that my skin doesn’t get worse while using it.

The Ordinary vitamin c serum review

The Ordinary Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12%

What’s the deal with Vitamin C?

Vitamin C is an easy anti-aging ingredient to use. It’s not ‘scary’ for beginners like acids or retinoids, it’s easily available and easy to use. It’s an antioxidant that fights against free radicals and is also good against hyper-pigmentation. I like to use it in the morning to boost my sunscreen (antioxidant! Fights free radicals!), but you definitely need to use a sunscreen while using Vitamin C products. It plays nice with a lot of other products, but be careful if you also use Niacinamide (it reacts with the Vitamin C, resulting in flushes and redness). If you want to use a retinoid on top of Vitamin C, it potentially could dry out your skin extremely, similar to AHAs, which might irritate your skin in combination with Vitamin C.

What did I use prior to this one?

I used to use Kiehls’ Powerful-Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate, Timeless 20% Vitamin C Serum with Vitamin E and Ferulic Acid and InstaNatural Advanced Formula Vitamin C Serum. You can see that my skin is used to that stuff. Also, while Kiehls is really expensive, the latter products are quite cheap around the 25$ mark. This one is around 10-12€.

The Ordinary Vit C serum review

The Ordinary Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12% product shot.

What does it promise?

A Brightening Serum with Stabilized Vitamin C Derivative
Vitamin C is an effective antioxidant, brightens the skin tone and reduces signs of ageing. In its pure form, Vitamin C is unstable in water. Ascorbyl Glucoside is a water-soluble derivative of Vitamin C. It is much more stable in water but it is less potent than direct L-Ascorbic Acid. Being more compatible with water allows for a very pleasant serum texture. It is considered a gold standard of Vitamin C derivatives due to its high stability and comfortable use, but it’s impossible to achieve extremely high L-Ascorbic Acid potency with this solution. Aside from the general benefits of pure Vitamin C, Ascorbyl Glucoside has been shown to offer specific skin brightening benefits.

The Ordinary has four different Vitamin C products in differing strengths and formulas. I knew I wanted a rather thin serum (I enjoy the application more than with thick and gloopy ones), added plus if there’s no silicone involved. The handy chart on their website shows that easily, plus what kind of Vitamin C is involved. While my skin could definitely tolerate the higher potency, I didn’t think I would’ve enjoyed the texture of the heavy solution that’s more akin to a cream and comes in a tube. Vitamin C can degrade when it comes into contact with sunlight, so thankfully, the glass bottle is dark and protects the serum inside from UV-rays.

Application and texture

The advertised ‘pleasant’ texture seems pleasant enough upon applying, but when it dries down it forms some kind of film on my skin that feels a bit tight. I didn’t experience any tingling, but I expected that. I’ve now used it for nearly a month and I can say that my skin doesn’t feel or look worse. As this is the only new product in my routine, we can conclude that it’s indeed a well-formulated product that tackles issues like skin brightening and signs of aging.

I use it over a hydrating essence with Hyaluronic acid or over pure hyaluronic acid like Hydraluron. Which results in different degrees of disaster.
Strangely, the serum reacts with the Hyaluronic acid products and that results in extreme pilling. I’ve to be extremely careful when I apply moisturizer and sunscreen, because one wrong move, and I’m left with white crumbs all over my face. NOT a good look. When I don’t wear makeup and rub my face (I know, I know, I shouldn’t rub my face – working on that!) during the day, layers of product just flake and peel of. You can imagine how attractive that looks!

Does it work?

So, while the product works well, it doesn’t play nice with my other skincare products, especially with the moisturizing ones that include Hyaluronic Acid. I guess it could work for you if you use different products than I do, but for me, it’s another fail. I won’t repurchase, and I won’t recommend it.


That’s my rather glum review that shows that no review and no hype can beat testing products in person. Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to testing my other TO products! Who knows, maybe I’m going to find a gem!


Beauty junkie with about 20 years of beauty experience under her belt. Editor, writer and twindly’s PR heroine. Has an unbelievably large nail polish stash and a passion for skincare. Gets a kick out of pretty powders.

  • Eleni Papadaki

    February 23, 2017 at 10:10 am

    Oh, I really get annoyed when a product gives crumbs and doesn’t get absorbed properly! I’ve had a serum interacting like this with my day cream too and couldn’t figure out if it was the cream or serum. That’s a great review, thank you for sharing! Eleni x

  • dorit

    February 23, 2017 at 10:32 am

    You’re welcome Eleni!

  • Lisbeth

    November 28, 2017 at 7:46 pm

    I’ve been using ascorbyl glucoside serum for a while now, and along with hyaluronic acid (usually Hada Labo), sunscreens and makeup, it never ever had any pilling…

  • dorit

    November 29, 2017 at 8:40 am

    That’s really good, Lisbeth! I heard they tweaked the formula a bit. Nevertheless, I’m very happy with my Timeless 20%C+E+Ferulic Acid Serum, so I won’t retry it anytime soon!

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