The Ordinary offers affordable skincare products that are backed by science. While you may be familiar with The Ordinary niacinamide or hyaluronic acid serums, The Ordinary also has more unique offerings like their Pycnogenol 5% antioxidant serum.
While I touched on The Ordinary’s Pycnogenol in my guide to The Ordinary’s antioxidants, today, I’ll discuss my experience with the serum and whether I think it’s worth the purchase in this The Ordinary Pycnogenol review.
First, a little bit about the product and the benefits of Pycnogenol.
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What is Pycnogenol?
Pycnogenol is the trademarked name of a plant extract and natural antioxidant derived from the pine bark extract of the French Maritime Pine tree that grows along the coast of southwest France.
Horphag Research Ltd. trademarked this French maritime pine bark extract called Pinus pinaster bark extract. Per Horphag Research Ltd., it takes 1000 kg of pine bark to produce just 1 kg of Pycnogenol.
Pycnogenol Skin Benefits
Topical Pycnogenol offers many skin benefits:
- potent antioxidant protection
- supports hyaluronic acid and collagen production
- anti-inflammatory benefits
Pycnogenol’s main skin benefits relate to the visible signs of aging. First, it is a super antioxidant, containing compounds like procyanidins and phenolic acids. Antioxidants like Pycnogenol scavenge free radicals, which are unstable molecules that damage cells, and can lead to visible aging, like fine lines, wrinkles, and age spots.
So by using products with Pycnogenol, you can help prevent some of the damage that leads to visible aging.
Pycnogenol binds with and protects collagen and elastin in the skin. Collagen is a protein that gives skin its structure and firmness. As we age, our bodies produce less collagen, which leads to wrinkles and sagging skin. Elastin is a protein that helps skin bounce back. Like collagen, our bodies produce less elastin as we age.
This clinical study demonstrated that Pycnogenol increases skin elasticity and hydration, with effects most notable in those with dry skin.
Finally, Pycnogenol has anti-inflammatory properties. This is important because inflammation can lead to visible aging, like redness, puffiness, and wrinkles.
The Ordinary Pycnogenol 5% Serum
The Ordinary Pycnogenol 5% is a serum that contains 5% Pycnogenol for antioxidant and anti-aging benefits like brightening dull skin.
Antioxidants like procyanidins, bioflavonoids, and organic acids work together to improve skin hydration and elasticity.
Pycnogenol attaches to collagen and elastin to protect them from deterioration for firmer, healthier-looking skin. Its antioxidant benefits protect the skin from environmental stressors like UV rays from the sun and pollution.
As you can see from the image above, the serum has a deep red shade due to the high procyanidins (antioxidants) content.
The Ordinary notes that this anhydrous (water-free) serum can recycle Vitamin C that has been oxidized (meaning it’s lost some of its potency) and help restore its effects, which is a testament to its strong antioxidant activity.
The Ordinary Pycnogenol 5% Ingredients
The serum contains only two ingredients:
- Pinus pinaster bark extract
Propanediol is a natural solvent derived from corn sugar that helps ingredients to penetrate the skin better. It’s also a humectant that moisturizes the skin.
Pinus pinaster bark extract is this serum’s 5% concentration of Pycnogenol.
The Ordinary Pycnogenol 5% Review
Whenever I hear about a product that helps to improve skin elasticity, I’m intrigued because the loss of elasticity is one of my main age-related skin concerns.
The first thing you notice with this serum is the deep orange-red shade due to Pycnogenol’s high antioxidant content. Even though it may stain fabric, thankfully, it didn’t stain my skin, even with my fairly light skin tone.
When used alone, at first, it feels oily upon application, even though it is an oil-free serum.
This is due to the texture of propanediol, the only other ingredient in the serum besides Pycnogenol. Propanediol is a solvent and humectant that has moisturizing properties.
Once absorbed, my skin feels soft and moisturized. As you can see from the images, the red shade dissipates after it absorbs into my skin.
I like using about three drops mixed with The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA during the day. I think it’s a great combination. My skin feels hydrated all day without feeling greasy.
I have somewhat sensitive skin and have not experienced any irritation from this serum when used alone or mixed with my moisturizer.
The Ordinary Pycnogenol 5% antioxidant benefits are very appealing to me. I love using products with antioxidants like vitamin C, resveratrol, and green tea because I know they help to protect your skin from environmental stress.
The most noticeable changes I’ve seen in my skin since using this serum consistently for a few weeks are that my skin feels more hydrated and has a healthy glow.
Although the serum is fragrance-free, I do notice a slight nutty woody scent from the extract.
If you have any other products from The Ordinary, you’ll be able to pick this one out from the rest due to the bottle size. It comes in one size only: 0.5 oz (15 ml), so it’s smaller than the rest of The Ordinary serums but still quite affordable at just $11.50.
The Ordinary Pycnogenol 5% Drawbacks
The dark shade of the serum may be offputting to some since it could stain clothing, but remember that the shade indicates it is antioxidant-rich.
Although very affordable, you get a smaller amount (0.5 oz) for the price compared to other The Ordinary products.
This serum won’t produce overnight anti-aging results, so if you are looking for more immediate results that target wrinkles and fine lines, consider The Ordinary’s retinoid and retinol products or The Ordinary direct acids like glycolic acid or lactic acid.
How To Use The Ordinary Pycnogenol 5%
You can use Pycnogenol 5% on clean skin or apply it after water-based serums since it is a water-free serum. Apply it in your morning and/or evening skincare routine before oils, moisturizers, and creams.
You can also mix the serum with other treatments to boost their antioxidant benefits.
I reached out to The Ordinary about this mixing recommendation, and they suggested that I mix it with The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA, which worked well for my skin.
After applying the serum, be sure to wash your hands. The Ordinary suggests that you should avoid having the serum come in contact with light-colored fabric since it may stain.
The serum is formulated for all skin types. Use on unbroken skin. Be sure to patch test before using this or any other skincare product for the first time to avoid an adverse initial reaction.
The Ordinary Pycnogenol 5% Conflicts
The Ordinary Pycnogenol 5% should not be used in the same skincare routine as copper peptides.
Alternatives to The Ordinary Pycnogenol 5%
If Pycnogenol 5% is not for you, The Ordinary offers two other antioxidant serums:
The Ordinary EUK 134 0.1% is a potent antioxidant serum that offers strong protection against environmental damage and brightens your skin with ethylbisiminomethylguaiacol manganese chloride (say that name twice!).
It’s an anhydrous serum that feels like an oil, similar to Pycnogenol. This serum has a few more conflicts than Pycnogenol, though. You should not use it with direct exfoliating acids, salicylic acid, pure vitamin C, and other strong antioxidants.
The Ordinary Resveratrol 3% + Ferulic Acid 3% is an antioxidant serum that comes in an oil-like anhydrous solution, like EUK 0.1% and Pycnogenol. It provides environmental protection from oxidative stress and targets the visible signs of aging with 3% resveratrol and 3% ferulic acid.
Ferulic acid has been shown to double the photoprotective benefits of vitamins C and E, so it’s an excellent antioxidant to use along with vitamin C products.
Resveratrol and ferulic acid also help smooth and brighten the skin. The serum should not be used with peptides, copper peptides, and EUK 0.1%.
If you want additional benefits from an antioxidant serum, consider using a vitamin C serum, which is an antioxidant that also has brightening and wrinkle-smoothing benefits.
The Ordinary has six vitamin C serums (see my guide to The Ordinary’s vitamin C products in this post), formulated with pure vitamin C (ascorbic acid) or more stable vitamin C derivatives.
Final Thoughts on The Ordinary Pycnogenol Review
The Ordinary Pcynogenol 5% serum is a skin care multitasker with a high concentration of Pycnogenol for antioxidant benefits, to help skin look firmer and more elastic, and to help smooth the appearance of wrinkles.
I’m very impressed with this active and will continue to use it in my skincare routine. If you’re looking for an affordable antioxidant-rich serum, I suggest giving Pycnogenol 5% a try!
Have you tried The Ordinary Pycnogenol 5% from The Ordinary? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
Thanks for reading!