The Ordinary Alpha Lipoic Acid 5% - review


I feel like I'm finally starting to make a dent in the products from The Ordinary that I bought myself last year.

From memory I have three that are currently open and another four that I'm yet to open, but at one point I had twelve boxes sitting there unopened in the cupboard so the situation is definitely a lot better than it was.

Next up for review is this Alpha Lipoic Acid, which I've been using for months now but it's not a daily use product so there's still a reasonable amount left. I really like it, and it's one of the better products I've tried from The Ordinary so it's one that I personally recommend. More on that below.

The Ordinary claims/product details:

  • Alpha Lipoic Acid is a highly potent antioxidant that can restore a renewed skin appearance, improving visible texture and tone 
  • Uses an exceptionally high 5% concentration of high-purity Alpha Lipoic Acid
  • Achieves a more youthful-looking and radiant complexion
  • Alpha Lipoic Acid can help combat free radicals and also help prevent the appearance of premature ageing
  • Unstable in water formulations, this water-free treatment has an oily texture that will soon sink into the skin for a comfortable, hydrated finish
  • Ingredients: Propanediol, Thioctic Acid
  • To use: apply 2-3 drops over the entire face a maximum of 2-3 times per week; this treatment is highly concentrated and daily use is not recommended; do not use on irritated or sensitive skin; can be diluted with most oils to reduce strength
  • RRP $12.90 AUD for 30ml


This is a great little product but it's not for the fainthearted so I wouldn't necessarily recommend it for those who have sensitive or easily irritated skin.

It's a pale yellow serum that smells a bit like rotten eggs (yuck) but it's not a strong scent so I only realised what it smelled like this morning when I held it up to my nose for the purposes of this review. So yes it smells bad but I never notice that when I go to use it because the smell is faint. Thank golly.

It's more of an oil in texture and I like that about it because it feels nice on the skin and it also spreads and absorbs better than some other products from The Ordinary that I've tried (I'm talking about the sticky ones that don't absorb as well: the Matrixyl (reviewed here) is a good example).

You're meant to apply it every few days and I certainly wouldn't do so any more than this because it's potent. As soon as I apply it, my face starts to sting. It's not an awful sting and I can tolerate it, but there have been times when it's felt like it's burning so you really do need to follow the directions and not mess with something like this.

For me, it burns when I've done one of my chemical peels or exfoliants on the same day or even the night before, so I've learned to separate it from my other stronger treatments or I'll pay for it. Note that if it's ever felt too strong on the skin, then I've quickly whacked an oil on to bring down the potency of this product, and that's always worked well for me so it's something to keep in mind.

What I like about this is that it works. Few products I've tried have resurfaced my skin like this one does, and I always know when I've applied it the night before because my face feels smoother and looks brighter in the morning. It's the kind of product that ensures makeup glides on more smoothly over my dry skin, and it also helps my other skincare to absorb better on the day after I've used it.

On the claims: yes it's highly potent; yes it helps restore a renewed skin appearance, improving visible texture and tone; yes it achieves a more youthful-looking and radiant complexion (at least on the day after I've used it); and yes it sinks into the skin for a comfortable, hydrated finish.

Overall I think this is a great little product and I recommend it. Indeed, it's probably the most effective product I've tried from The Ordinary to date and it's one I would buy again. It works, it's cheap and the bottle will last forever because you don't use it every day and you only need a little each time.

An excellent product.

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