[REVIEW] The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA

The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA Review:

Admittedly, I always tend to stray away from most hyped up things in fear of being disappointed and/or underwhelmed. Hence, the main reason why I’m only now offering up a review for one of The Ordinary’s various skincare products; this in particular being a destashed item from my friend as she found it to not work for her (allergic reactions, irritation, etc). Thinking that it’d be worth a try considering my penchant for anything targeting pigmentation issues (arbutin is a well-known skin brightening agent!), I decided to put it to the test. Would the YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary) rule ring true?


A Concentrated Serum with 2% Purified Alpha Arbutin and Hyaluronic Acid

pH: 4.85-4.90*

Alpha Arbutin reduces the looks of spots and hyper-pigmentation. It’s used at a high 2% concentration versus a standard concentration of 1% and supported with a next-generation form of Hyaluronic Acid for enhanced delivery. Alpha Arbutin is much stronger in effect than Arbutin or Beta Arbutin.

*Note: Alpha Arbutin is extremely sensitive to degradation in the presence of water if the pH of the formulation is not ideal. The pH of this formula is approximately 4.9 which is shown to be the most suitable pH to minimize degradation of Alpha Arbutin.


Aqua (Water), Alpha-Arbutin, Polyacrylate Crosspolymer-6, Hydrolyzed Sodium Hyaluronate, Propanediol, PPG-26-Buteth-26, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Lactic Acid, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Ethoxydiglycol, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin.

Cosdna link

The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA Review

Volume: 30ml

How to use:

Apply a few drops to face in the AM and PM as part of your skincare regimen. Use sun protection in the AM.

My Skin Type: Sensitive (prone to redness), Combination, Acne-prone, Dehydrated

The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA Review:

Packaged in a frosted translucent glass bottle, the product comes with an opaque white twist off cap connecting to a clear dropper applicator, which is expected of most serum products. The design of it is pretty minimalistic in nature, sticking to the “simple but effective” DECIEM aesthetic, which I personally enjoy.

The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA Review

However, I’m not sure if it’s the formulation or packaging or a bit of both, but after using this product for awhile, I did notice some traces of leftover product(?) on the rim of the bottle, which ends up forming a crusty layer. It’s easily wiped off, of course, but I thought I’d point it out just in case.

Application-wise, the dropper works well in dispensing the serum without any major problems. The product also doesn’t have much of a scent – maybe a slight “cosmetic” scent – but really, it’s pretty unnoticeable (yay!). The serum itself has a non-runny viscous liquid texture which spreads easily over the skin, and absorbs well into the skin once patted in.

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However, I do realize that the product can leave a sticky residue depending on the surface it’s applied to. For example, I tested out applying the serum both on damp skin versus dry skin, and I have to say that it definitely works much better on damp skin.

The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA Review

On dry skin – say, drying off my face with a towel post-cleanse to leave it completely dry and immediately applying the serum – I found that my skin had more difficulty absorbing the product without leaving an obvious sticky residue, resulting in following layers being sticky as well… unless I tried to undo the sticky effect by misting my face before following up with a toner/emulsion/etc.

Conversely, if I patted my skin dry post-cleanse (without a towel – just hands!) and sprayed a light layer of mist or applied a few layers of watery toner before continuing with the serum, the product absorbs beautifully with no stickiness at all. So, yes, definitely apply this product on damp skin for the best results.

I tested out this product for around more than a month or so, and I must say that it works remarkably well in brightening and evening out the skin tone. I’ve heard a lot of good things about it in terms of reducing the appearance of acne scars and/or dark spots, but I personally did not see these particular effects for myself.

My acne scars might have healed faster, but it’s pretty unnoticeable on average. Instead, I was more amazed at my overall brightened complexion, and noticed the effects even more when I took it out of my routine to see if it really was the serum’s doing, and indeed, I really think it was.

Of course, maybe if I only applied the serum on my acne scars/dark spots and not all over my face, maybe I might’ve seen more of an effect in that area, but as it is, I enjoy it even more as an overall brightening agent. With skin that easily tans, brightening my complexion has always been one of the things I aim for when it comes to skincare, and I must say that I’m pleasantly surprised with this product.

All in all, I do think that my first foray into The Ordinary’s skincare line has been a successful one. Regrettably, I got into the hype too late as I was spoilt for choice (too many interesting options!) and just very wary of the brand in general (even more so after all the drama that’s been circulating around the brand – I’m currently out of the loop but boy were there things going on when I was still around a few months back), so whoops.

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However, I did get a couple of things while travelling awhile back, so might as well just continue on this personal TO journey for a bit until I run out of stuff, I guess?

Either way, whether or not all the drama would be a deal-breaker for me is still up in the air as I usually don’t involve myself in such things to remain unbiased (also to lessen the negativity in my life, haha), so there’s that.

Anyway, The Ordinary’s Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA is definitely a stellar product for me, and I’d probably rate it a 4-4.5/5. Surprising especially since I’m usually sensitive to products with hyaluronic acid as a star ingredient (luckily, it’s not listed as one of the first three in the ingredients list, so that helps).

I’d personally like it more if it was cheaper/ml, but as it’s a serum, this is pretty standard pricing, so I’m not so fussed.

Where to buy:

Amazon Prime | eBay | Cult Beauty

Have you tried The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA?

Do share your thoughts in comments.

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