The Ordinary Alpha Lipoic Acid 5% (REVIEW)

You all know by now that I love trying new things and occasionally look for interesting ingredients to play with. My skin has felt a little weird lately, a bit unhappy, blotchy and I had a few spot-like bumps on the right side of my face that would not shift for anything so I was up for giving something new a go and The Ordinary’s ALA 5% sounded like just the ticket. Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) is new to me, I haven’t heard of it until The Ordinary came along to introduce it last year. You don’t hear about ALA that often and I wonder why because by the sound of it, it’s pretty powerful stuff.

ALA is a potent antioxidant that is said to be 40,000% stronger than networks of Vitamins C and E together. ALA is fighting free radicals (chemicals that cause damage for the skin) and has the unique quality of being fat and water soluble which allows it to neutralize free radicals just about everywhere in the body, inside (it has the ability to penetrate cell membranes) and outside the cells. It’s able to help replenish stores of both Vitamin C and E, it helps reducing inflammation and boosts collagen production as well. ALA is not just a brilliant antioxidant for the skin but it can renew the skin’s appearance, it visibly improves skin texture and brightens the skin tone. Quite the multi-tasker, isn’t’ it?

I’ve been using The Ordinary Alpha Lipoic Acid 5% for 4 weeks, here are the results:

Packaging: dark dropper bottle that protects the sun-sensitive formula from UV rays.

What it is: antioxidant to renew the skin, improve skin texture and tone.

Who it is for: it works for dull skin, signs of ageing, great as an antioxidant support, it is for anyone who wants to improve their skin texture, brighten their skin tone (works for sun damage really well), avoid if you have with live acne, eczema, rosacea or if your skin feels sensitive.

The claim: “Alpha Lipoic Acid is a highly potent antioxidant and can restore a renewed skin appearance, improving visible skin texture and tone when applied topically.”

Ingredients: the ingredient list is short and sweet: Propanediol – 95% – either derived from corn or synthetically, it can enhance the absorption of ingredients, it has hydrating properties, works for sensitive skins too. Thioctic Acid (ALA) – 5% – is an antioxidant that is soluble both in water and oil. It can extend the activities of vitamins C, and E improves skin texture and tone (it’s great for photoaging).

How to use it: Apply 2-3 drops over the face after water-based formulations, before oil-based formulations. This is a high concentration treatment so use it only 2-3 times a week. I wouldn’t use it with other acids or retinol either. Avoid if your skin feels really sensitive, or for a more gentle touch dilute it with oils to reduce the strength.

How it worked for me: I know this product has very mixed reviews online, but honestly, I don’t know how I lived without this before. For me, just like with Alpha-H’s Liquid Gold, I instantly saw results after the first use, and gosh they are impressive. I use it in the evening, as advised, after cleansing and using the Liz Earle Instant Boost Skin Tonic which is super hydrating and soothing. I have to say I don’t feel I need to use anything else after the ALA but you could follow it with a moisturizer, I guess, or an oil if you want to reduce its strength. The formulation has a light yellow colour, a slightly oily texture and has no fragrance to it. On application, if feels smooth and soft but it can sting a little bit after the first few uses which goes away later on. It absorbs into the skin fast without leaving an oily residue. During the first week, I used it on three consecutive evenings just to quickly see how it works and I was instantly convinced this works like magic. My irritating bumps on the right side of my face were nearly gone within 2 days, the blotchiness was reduced and I noticed a more plump, smooth skin texture, a brighter skin tone. My face had a glow and vibrancy to it which it was lacking recently (maybe because I stopped using Vitamin C after I used up all my serums and creams?). During the day I used my usual SPF50 to protect the great results I achieved so fast.

I am very happy ALA 5% worked for me because all the mixed reviews I’ve read made me pretty sceptical before I started the treatment. I highly recommend trying it if your skin feels a bit unhappy and I hope you get the same stellar results with it as I have.

The Alpha Lipoic Acid 5% formula is vegan, water-free, alcohol-free, oil-free, silicone-free, nut-free, gluten-free, cruelty-free and fragrance-free.


Please keep these in mind before starting to use this formulation: ALA is incredibly sensitive to sunlight, so don’t expose it to direct sunlight; the application is recommended at nighttime only; Alpha Lipoic Acid is less stable in formulations that contain water and use of formulations of ALA containing water is highly discouraged, The Ordinary’s ALA formula contains an extremely high concentration of ALA so daily use is not recommended since such a high frequency of use can cause skin sensitivity, use a high SPF every day and don’t forget, these active ingredients only make sense in the right context so use a gentle cleanser, hydrate your skin, choose a good basic moisturizer for your skin type to seal in active ingredients.

Value for money: excellent as always, you get 30ml for £5.90.

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