Skincare Review: LookFantastic UAE + The Ordinary

I’d been very excited to write about and share this post with you for a while now because I had been genuinely looking forward to try the products from The Ordinary brand ever since I’ve known about them.

The brand, although it hasn’t been in big advertisements or endorsed by an array of A-list celebrities and beauty gurus, has gained its footing in the scene through positive reviews and word-of-mouth in the between content creators on Youtube and in the blogosphere.

This post will actually be a two-part review of both the LookFantastic where I have bought my products, and also my first impression of The Ordinary. I’d also indulge you with a follow-up post after at least two weeks to a month of strictly just using The Ordinary for my AM and PM skincare routine.

LookFantastic Review:

I’d been living in Dubai for a while now but it was only recent that I’ve heard about this online retail store. Majority of my skincare finds are either bought from the more popular brick & mortar stores like Sephora and Boots but since they do not carry any products from The Ordinary, I had to scout online. I’ve also eventually seen The Ordinary products being carried by Noon and Amazon UAE however, their prices are significantly higher than the DECIEM online store.

The first thing I’ve noticed right away is that their product selection is quite limited, which makes picking out items to complete a regimen a little bit trickier to do. I always had to cross-check with DECIEM’s official website to reference which products I can safely use together since LookFantastic doesn’t really offer much description of the products they carry aside from the name itself. Majority of the bestsellers like the Direct Acids and Retinols are first to get sold-out on their selections. I also didn’t notice any option to be notified if they’ll restock any products, which could’ve been a plus for a customer’s shopping experience.

I honestly would rather have bought direct from DECIEM themselves because they have more availability of products plus the fact that at least I’m getting straight from the brand but sadly due to the Covid-19 situation, their shipments for worldwide have been impacted.

Price-wise, LookFantastic’s prices are almost the same as the official site’s price.

Another thing that I’ve noticed about them is their shipping fee. I have read in a blog review somewhere that it only costed them about AED 20 for the handling/shipping fees which I’m quite surprised about since I had paid triple this amount and express shipping is around AED 80, when normally local shipping in UAE will only cost around AED 15 to AED 25. I later on realized that despite the website being a supposed UAE-dedicated one, their products are still being shipped from the UK hence the shipping charges. It was a good thing though that I didn’t have to pay any extra when it comes to customs/taxes; just have to keep in mind that I’d have to buy multiple products if I’m going to use their site.

As soon as I have placed my order, they have sent me an e-mail of the confirmation and a preliminary advise that my shipment will be sent out soon which should reach me in 4 to 6 working days. I’ve placed my order on the 13th of June and I got my goods by 21st of June, which is even 2 days earlier than the supposed delivery date so that is a big plus.

DECIEM / The Ordinary first impression:

My first impression of The Ordinary brand is that it is both interesting and intimidating. Interesting in that the first thought that occurred to me is how minimalistic their product design, marketing and messaging is – it’s very straightforward. Although other popular brands such as Glossier also projects themselves as a minimalistic skincare/make-up brand, to me it still feels “performative”, rather than genuinely intentional.

The intimidating part comes from its products names mostly, especially coming from someone who is a newbie when it comes to skincare and chemical names like me. I knew I had a little bit of a doozy when I was reading the ingredients list and descriptions, trying to figure out what they’re good for and how they react to the skin. I know that my stance about chemical-heavy products used to be against before especially when I didn’t know better but once I have watched more and more specialists online explain why products work and not work, I have come to evolve how I view it.

The premise that I think highlights The Ordinary in the market is that they do not use unnecessary fillers in their ingredients list and use a higher percentage of research-backed chemicals that actually works wonders to the skin. Moreover, they also do not allocate any budget on marketing either traditionally, digitally or through an influencer which therefore brings their costs down and allow them to focus more on the product itself so it shines on its own. It’s popularity can be rooted from beauty gurus that have made the brand one of their nightstand staples but to my surprise, no one from them have any affiliate links or whatsoever.

I have tried to reach out to their customer service through their form online to see what products they could recommend for my skin concerns. I think this is such a plus in terms of additional touch or personalization because as I mentioned above, their products can be a little bit intimidating however, due to the brand taking off and becoming more popular nowadays plus with the current situation, I still haven’t received a feedback till the time of writing this but I have no qualms about it. There are still plenty of reviews and resources online talking about their products extensively which helps in the decision making.

Here’s a quick list of the products I’ve purchased:

  • The Ordinary Natural Moisturising Factors + HA (30ml)
  • The Ordinary 100% Plant-Derived Squalane (30ml)
  • The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser (30ml)
  • The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 Hydration Support Formula Duo (30ml x 2)

According to the DECIEM regimen guide, this sample is good for targeting dehydrated skin which is one of my concerns due to the combination of not drinking enough liquids or watery vegetable/fruits and/or having improper sleeping schedule. For the most part, my skin isn’t as chaotically problematic lately but I have noticed that there are days when it looks dry and dull, which I would’ve wanted to sort out. One of the most probable reasons why I haven’t tried the stronger chemicals or acids first is that I wouldn’t want to mess up my face right from the first.

Here’s a photo of my face without any make-up on before trying out any of their products, for reference:

The first thing that I loved about The Ordinary is their sleek packaging. All their products come in individually-packed white paper box with clear and proper description of the products and its directions. The cleanser and moisturizer came in a plastic tube with shiny matte finishing also with a clear short description of the product and directions while the hydrators and oils I bought are in UV-protected glass bottles with a dropper cap.

The sizes of the products I acquired are actually perfect for trial purposes and their prices are quite reasonable for what they do. If I compare it to supermarket brands, it probably would be a higher price point but you have to keep in mind that the supermarket ones are with a lot of fillers. If compared however to commercialized skincare products from Sephora or drugstores, The Ordinary would place itself in the middle.

All in all, I only spent no more than AED 150+ (excluding AED 63 shipping fee) for the 4 products I bought which honestly isn’t a bad deal at all, considering that it’s an entire regimen and the concentration of the product. For comparison, I have bought myself a travel-sized 20ml Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair at the amount of AED 160 and it’s only one part of the regimen. It sort of gives me the impression that The Ordinary is also telling its consumers that a great, proven skincare regimen should not break your wallet.

Here’s my individual impression of the products.

The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser

If I compare this to other cleansers I’ve used, this formula is thinner and as per the directions, you’re supposed to rub or break it down into an oil by warming it up in between your fingers. I’ve used a small pea-sized amount into my face and noticed that it doesn’t produce any suds nor does it contain any natural or chemical exfoliants that are supposed to buff away the dead skin on top of your face. I actually used it twice the first time just to make sure I was using it correctly. It’s fragrance-free and strips away the oil without completely drying you out. I have also tried using this after I have used a separate make-up remover and actually using it as one, for comparison. In both times, it pretty much did it job. I wouldn’t necessarily call myself crazy for this product, but I also wouldn’t stop someone from trying it out.

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5

It’s my first time to ever use a water-based serum and this one is also of a thin consistency like the squalane cleanser. It is a fragrance-free product as well and it dries quickly to the face without feeling heavy. According to the package, it is also a vegan product which could be a plus if you’re looking specifically for this type of products. The Ordinary has explained that this product differs from those in the market in that it is formulated in different molecular weights to reduce the temporariness of the hydration of the product that Hyaluronic Acid is known for in the past.

The Ordinary 100% Plant-Derived Squalane

This product took me by surprise because I was expecting it to be as watery or thin like the Hyaluronic Acid but it was actually oily, which made sense because it is listed under Hydrator and Oils, anyway. Not as heavy of an oil like the Tarte’s Maracuja oil or the Ilog Maria facial oil that I’ve used before but it took its time sitting on my face. Interesting that it was also a fragrance-free formula and for a first time to layer serums/oils together, it wasn’t a bad experience at all. The only thing I have observed using this is it balls up with the Hyaluronic Acid when you layer it on top which I’m not sure if it is it’s natural reaction or I was supposed to completely dry the acid first before using this product. The trick that I have observed to avoid this from happening is just simply layering the product without rubbing or forcing them to combine, because they’re not supposed to work that way.

The Ordinary Natural Moisturising Factors + HA

Other moisturizers I’ve used previously tends to be ultra-creamy almost like lotion but this one feels a little bit of a heavier and waxier consistency without feeling like it will clog my pores. I’ve used this in the AM routine either before stepping out for my day or before putting on make-up, and I’d say that I felt relieved that it didn’t feel heavy or dragging to the skin. For some reason, it puts me in a smile to use this product because of how it finishes into a nice matte layer on the skin. One thing you also have to keep in mind when using this product is that a little goes a very long way; you don’t have to pump out a lot of product to get the best results. It’s also fragrance-free like the rest of my purchase. I’ve also used this product prior to doing a make-up routine and it actually didn’t react negatively with it nor did it feel like I was layering a lot of things to my skin.

Overall, in the short time that I have tested these products to get a first impression, I am pleasantly satisfied with how I’m fairing with it. I would need some time however to fully see it’s outcome to make sure that it’s not only a placebo effect or my own enthusiasm getting the best of me.

I would say that it should take me no more than a month to completely empty the products I have on hand today since they’re ample-sized. If I had to comment or give you an insight for your first purchase with them, please get the super-sized Squalane Cleanser already especially if you’re going to use it daily on both AM and PM routine. It was such a rookie mistake on my part because I’ve also heard the same sentiments on one of the reviews but I thought that since I just wanted to try it out, it shouldn’t be a big deal to get a smaller one first but trust me, you’ll want to buy the bigger one right from the start.

I have other products I want to try from their line such as the popular AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution, Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%, Buffet + Copper Peptides and Salicylic Acid 2% and the masque version of it. In most online stores I’ve found, they are either already sold-out or sold almost 3x their original price so I’m still on the fence on buying them till The Ordinary has proven itself worthy of being on my nightstand.

If you have a prior experience with The Ordinary, what are your favorite products from them? What worked for you or didn’t work for you? Would you recommend them to a friend or would you rather buy other commercialized brands that are doing the same products nowadays?