Vitamin C is one of the most well-known, researched, and widely used skincare ingredients. Topical vitamin C offers a wide range of benefits for most skin types, so it’s a great idea to incorporate this ingredient into your skincare routine.
The Ordinary Ascorbic Acid 8% + Alpha Arbutin 2% contains pure vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and alpha arbutin to brighten skin while addressing the signs of aging.
Today, I’ll discuss my experience with the serum in this The Ordinary Ascorbic Acid 8% + Alpha Arbutin 2% review.
NOTE: The Ordinary offers multiple formulations of vitamin C. It can be confusing if you don’t know which form of vitamin C is best for your skin, so I created a guide to The Ordinary vitamin C products, which breaks down the differences between all eight The Ordinary vitamin C products.
This post contains affiliate links, and any purchases made through these links will result in a commission for me at no extra cost to you. Please read my Disclosure for additional information.
The Ordinary Ascorbic Acid 8% + Alpha Arbutin 2%
The Ordinary Ascorbic Acid 8% + Alpha Arbutin 2% serum is formulated to brighten your skin while targeting uneven skin tone, fine lines and wrinkles, and other signs of aging.
Vitamin C is notoriously unstable and oxidizes quickly. Since vitamin C is unstable in water-based formulas, this serum is anhydrous (water-free).
The serum contains 8% ascorbic acid (pure vitamin C), which is an antioxidant that offers three main benefits for your skin:
- Brightens your skin and reduces hyperpigmentation by inhibiting the formation of melanin (the pigment that gives your skin its color)
- Is an antioxidant that protects your skin from damage caused by free radicals
- Stimulates collagen production, which can help to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
In addition to ascorbic acid, this vitamin C serum also contains 2% alpha arbutin, a skin-lightening agent that can help reduce the appearance of dark spots and pigmentation.
Alpha arbutin comes from certain plants, like the bearberry plant. It is considered a more gentle and effective alternative to the skin-lightener hydroquinone.
This combination of vitamin C and ascorbic acid targets dullness, is suitable for all skin types, and is ideal for those with mature and aging skin.
It is important to note that pure Vitamin C at higher concentrations can cause irritation and redness.
The 8% vitamin C concentration in this serum is lower than some of the other The Ordinary vitamin C products (i.e., Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2% and Vitamin C Suspension 30% in Silicone).
The lower vitamin C concentration makes this serum more appealing for those with sensitive skin.
Related Post: The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2% Review
The Ordinary Ascorbic Acid 8% + Alpha Arbutin 2% Ingredients
The serum ingredient list is short and sweet.
It contains only three ingredients: propanediol (solvent/moisturizer), ascorbic acid, and alpha-arbutin.
The Ordinary Ascorbic Acid 8% + Alpha Arbutin 2% Review
The Ordinary Ascorbic Acid 8% + Alpha Arbutin 2% appealed to me since my skin tends to be sensitive to pure vitamin C products.
I love using vitamin C products in my morning skincare routine since it protects my skin from environmental stressors like UV light and pollution, so I’ve been using this serum in my morning skincare routine for the past few weeks.
Upon application, it feels like an oil, even though the serum is oil-free.
This oily feeling is due to the ingredient propanediol, which is a solvent and humectant that has moisturizing properties. Once the serum absorbs, the oily feeling goes away, and my skin is left feeling soft, smooth, and moisturized.
This is one of the few pure vitamin C serums that does not irritate my skin. Upon application, I notice a slight warming sensation that goes away pretty quickly.
I never expect to see quick results from vitamin C products like I do from retinoids and acids, but I have noticed that my skin isn’t as dry as it usually gets after using stronger vitamin C products.
With both vitamin C and alpha arbutin, it can take a few months to see improvements like brighter skin, so consistency is key. I plan to continue with this serum for its antioxidant protection and expect to see longer-term brightening benefits.
I look at this serum as a 2-in-1 product, considering The Ordinary offers a separate 2% alpha arbutin serum. So you get the brightening benefits of alpha arbutin and the multiple benefits of vitamin C noted above, all in one serum.
How To Use The Ordinary Ascorbic Acid 8% + Alpha Arbutin 2%
Apply a few drops of The Ordinary Ascorbic Acid 8% + Alpha Arbutin 2% to your clean face in your morning and/or evening skin care routine, avoiding your eye contour area.
Follow with a moisturizer and broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher in your AM skincare routine.
The Ordinary recommends patch testing before using this serum to avoid an unwanted initial reaction to the serum. The serum’s shelf life is six months after opening.
To learn more about The Ordinary expiration dates, please see The Ordinary Expiration Dates (with PDF) post.
The Ordinary Ascorbic Acid 8% + Alpha Arbutin 2% Conflicts
You should not use The Ordinary Ascorbic Acid 8% + Alpha Arbutin 2% with direct acids like alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), i.e., glycolic acid, lactic acid, or beta hydroxy acids (BHAs), i.e., salicylic acid.
Also, avoid using the serum with pure vitamin C products (ascorbic acid), niacinamide, peptides, copper peptides, The Ordinary EUK 134 0.1%, and retinoids, including retinol.
The Ordinary Ascorbic Acid 8% + Alpha Arbutin 2% Alternatives
As I previously mentioned, The Ordinary offers eight different vitamin C formulations, so another vitamin C product may work better for you than Ascorbic Acid 8% + Alpha Arbutin 2%.
If you want a stronger vitamin C product, consider The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2% or The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 30% in Silicone.
While the formulas are more potent due to the stronger concentration, keep in mind that these two vitamin C suspensions may be irritating if you have sensitive skin.
For an option that falls in between pure vitamin C and a vitamin C derivative, consider The Ordinary Ethylated Ascorbic Acid 15% Solution.
This water-free serum acts like pure vitamin C, as it is close in weight to pure vitamin C. It provides faster results than a vitamin C derivative but has better stability.
Lastly, if you have sensitive skin, consider a vitamin C derivative. The Ordinary Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12% is a lightweight water-based serum that is comfortable on the skin, stable, and not irritating like pure vitamin C.
I like the comfortable texture of this serum better than any other The Ordinary vitamin C product. For more on this serum, see my The Ordinary Ascorbyl Glucoside review.
If you have dry skin, The Ordinary Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate Solution 20% in Vitamin F is a great choice, as it contains vitamin F, which are essential fatty acids that hydrate and nourish your skin.
This stable vitamin C derivative brightens the skin and moisturizes with jojoba seed oil and squalane.
The Ordinary 100% L-Ascorbic Acid Powder requires more effort but is also customizable. You have to mix it with other treatments before you can use it, so you create a unique vitamin C treatment based on your skin type and tolerance.
The Ordinary recommends mixing between a quarter to half a scoop with 5-10 drops of serum or a pea-dime size of
NOTE: The eighth vitamin C product that The Ordinary offers is The Ordinary Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate 10%. It’s currently being reformulated. It is a water-soluble derivative of vitamin C that is formulated to hydrate and brighten the skin.
Final Thoughts on The Ordinary Ascorbic Acid
The Bottom Line: The Ordinary Ascorbic Acid 8% + Alpha Arbutin 2% is my favorite pure vitamin C product from The Ordinary, since it contains a medium-strength concentration of pure vitamin C that doesn’t irritate my somewhat sensitive skin.
This vitamin C serum is an excellent value for the price and considering it also contains alpha arbutin, which is a popular ingredient for brightening the skin that can help with dark spots and excess pigmentation.
You do need to be patient when using it, as you won’t see results overnight, but if you’re looking for an affordable vitamin C serum with anti-aging and brightening benefits, this is a great option.
Thanks for reading!
More The Ordinary Reviews:
- The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA Review
- The Ordinary Argireline Review
- The Ordinary Pycnogenol Review
- The Ordinary Multi-Peptide Lash and Brow Serum Review
- The Ordinary Hair Care Review
- The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA Review
- The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Masque Review
- The Ordinary Retinol 0.2% In Squalane Review
- The Ordinary Retinol 0.5% In Squalane Review
- The Ordinary Glucoside Foaming Cleanser Review
- The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 30% in Silicone Review