The Ordinary – Pycnogenol 5% (REVIEW)

Working my way through The Ordinary skin care portfolio, I couldn’t wait to review Pycnogenol 5%. I don’t know about you but I have never heard about Pycnogenol® before so I was excited to dig deeper and do a bit of research about this supposedly wonder ingredient. I’m never for unsustained, silly PR claims about skin care but turns out Pycnogenol® is quite a bit of a gem in the skincare world and it can potentially have a great effect on your skin.

Pycnogenol® is an ingredient derived from the bark of maritime pine trees growing in the southwest of France. These pine trees grow in natural forests unaffected by herbicides or pesticides and the extraction process doesn’t involve chemicals either which means Pycnogenol® is quite a pure, unprocessed product. As a supplement, Pycnogenol® has alleged benefits for the heart, blood vessel function and the brain through stimulating the production of nitric oxide which is responsible to keep blood vessels supple and helps them to dilate.

I have been using Pycnogenol 5% for a month now, so let’s see what Pycnogenol® does when it comes to skin care:

The claim: When it comes to skin it has an enormous amount of alleged benefits like:

  • it binds collagen and elastin and protects them from degradation by free-radicals so it is great when fighting against photo-ageing and preventing pigmentation
  • it stimulates the production of collagen and hyaluronic acid improving the elasticity and the hydration of the skin
  • it improves circulation so more oxygen and nutrients go to the right places and waste products are more efficiently removed
  • it recycles oxidized Vitamin C to restore its activity
  • it improves the texture of the skin
  • it prevents inflammation
  • it reduces redness
  • it decreases melasma areas (that’s a bold claim, I’d love to hear more about this).

So seemingly it is a great all-round antioxidant and rejuvenating ingredient.

Packaging: the usual The Ordinary dark dropper bottle.

What it is: a high-potency plant-derived antioxidant.

The colour: the formula’s deep red colour is due to the high procyanidin content in Pycnogenol®, but don’t worry, your skin won’t turn red and it’s doesn’t stain clothes, bed sheets after it absorbed in my experience.

What it does: binding to collagen and elastin, Pycnogenol® protects these proteins from degradation, helping to nourish the skin. Being a powerful antioxidant, it scavenges for free radicals before they cause damage by oxidative stress. It can also recycle oxidized Vitamin C to restore its activity.

Who it is for: anyone who wants to fight the signs of ageing, some people say that it even works on Rosacea prone and acnegenic skin too which is great (but given it’s anti-inflammatory, it’s not a surprise).

Ingredients: Propanediol, Pinus Pinaster Bark Extract.

How to use it: apply it alone or after water-based serums, before oils or heavier creams, alternatively, mix it with other treatments to enhance their antioxidant capacity significantly.

How it worked for me: I have incorporated Pycnogenol 5% in my AM and PM routine, I apply two drops after cleansing, before oilier formulations. Some find the slightly acidic smell problematic, but I think it is so insignificant, it doesn’t bother me at all. The texture is velvety, soft, somewhat oily, but not sticky on the skin and it absorbs easily. Reading reviews, there is a mixed response to this serum. Some hate the smell or reacted badly to it or don’t feel it does anything at all for their skin but the people who love it, they do it for different reasons. In my case, I noticed a big improvement in my skin texture and a significant reduction of redness only after a few days and it works great if combined with my new favourite, Alpha Lipoic Acid. My skin has become more even, smooth, supple and most importantly, it reduced the red areas on my face fast. I also noticed I have to adjust my skin texture in my makeup pictures on IG a lot less. I think I will keep this in my routine and won’t get EUK134 (my AM antioxidant from before) anymore because I have found this a lot more effective. Now, you might react to Pycnogenol 5% differently, but I think it is worth giving it a try. If you are concerned, maybe go in slowly, use only a little bit or mix it with your cream to dilute it so the possibility of a reaction is a lot less.

Value for money: Pycnogenol 5% comes in a smaller size than all the usual The Ordinary serums, you get 15ml for £8.60. I’ve seen people having problems with this but I personally don’t, I still think it’s great value for money, you only need 1-2 drops at a time so it lasts a while.

Pycnogenol’s 15ml bottle compared to the usual 30ml bottle

Pycnogenol 5% is water-free, alcohol-free, oil-free, silicone-free, nut-free, vegan, cruelty-free and gluten-free.

As always, don’t forget to use SPF to protect your skin care results.


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