The Ordinary Advanced Retinoid 2% (Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion) - review


I used this product for two months before having a short break from it for a fortnight and then bringing it back in so I could see how my skin reacted to stopping and starting it.

While I already knew that this product worked for me, having a short break before reintroducing it has confirmed that it's doing pretty good things for my skin.

As you may know, I bought a bunch of stuff from The Ordinary a while back and I've spent this year introducing each item in turn and seeing how they perform individually before reviewing them and moving on to something else.

I preferred to do this because I've seen plenty of people review bundles of products from The Ordinary that they've introduced together, so I wanted to do something different and introduce them separately, rather than follow any of The Ordinary's suggested regimes - simply because there may be people who only want to try particular products and don't plan to buy a bunch of them in one go.

Next up for review is this retinoid, which is one of my favourites from The Ordinary to date. More on that below.

The Ordinary claims/product details:

  • Uses two forms of next-generation retinoid actives in a combined concentration of 2% by weight
  • These retinoid actives have been shown to achieve better reductions in signs of ageing than retinol, without irritation
  • These technologies cannot be compared directly with retinol itself in terms of concentration because they include a different retinoid molecule, in a similar way that retinol cannot be compared with retinoic acid in terms of concentration
  • To use: apply a small amount to face in the PM as part of your skincare regimen, after water serums but before heavier treatments; do not use with other retinoid treatments; avoid unprotected solar exposure
  • RRP $17.90 AUD for 30ml, but do shop around

Just a quick note on the name change: my bottle is older so it's still called the Advanced Retinoid 2%, but I understand that the newer packaging has been changed so it's now called the Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion.

This was done in August 2017 because The Ordinary was expanding its range of retinols/retinoids so the name was changed for clarity, but the formula itself hasn't undergone any significant alterations. See The Ordinary's website for more information.

The packaging is The Ordinary's standard glass bottle with a dropper, although this is dark glass rather than the standard clear frosted glass - presumably to help keep the contents protected from light.

I personally like glass packaging although I know a lot of people don't because it's heavy for travel, and yes, you run the risk of dropping and smashing it - which I totally understand, but I've always liked the feel of glass bottles. As always, each to his own.


I'm really enjoying this product and I recommend it. 

Worth noting first is that I've always had issues with retinols and this is only the second one I've come across that doesn't kill my skin. Normally retinols and retinoids completely dry me out and make my skin look ashy and dead, no matter how carefully I introduce them, so it's nice to find one I can tolerate without issue.

It's a white, cloudy and thin product with a watery texture. It applies and spreads well, and it absorbs nicely into the skin. Some of The Ordinary's serums are more sticky in texture and those ones haven't worked as well for me because they don't seem to penetrate my skin enough to do anything, but this one does so that's a plus.

I use mine every evening after cleansing and toning, before my moisturiser. Almost from the first use, I noticed that the product had a brightening and resurfacing effect - so my skin looked a little healthier, younger and smoother on the day after I used it. That's still true, and I noticed the change after giving it a break for a fortnight before reintroducing it: my skin has responded immediately and the surface isn't as rough as before (my skin is dry).

Over time I've noticed that it does do something towards fine lines and wrinkles. Sure, it's not a miracle treatment, but my fine lines look less pronounced and I think that's got something to do with how well this resurfaces my skin.

My face is also less congested when I'm using this, and when I stopped it, I noticed that the little bumps I often get along my jawline started to come back. After reintroducing it, they've started to disappear again so I think this product has an effect on clarity too.

Do note that retinols generally claim to diminish things like age spots, and while I can't see that noted in the product claims, what I can say is that it hasn't done anything for mine. So while I agree that it targets signs of ageing like fine lines, dullness and texture, it hasn't helped with my hyperpigmentation. Indeed, few things do.

Overall I think this is a great product and I recommend it. It works for me, it doesn't irritate my skin and it's also reasonably priced - especially if you can find it on special.

Definitely worth trying.

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