1 Aug 2017

Review of The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA After Using It For 3 Months

I bought this Alpha Arbutin serum from the brand The Ordinary under Deciem several months ago, after watching Gothamista and Liah Yoo raving about them on Youtube. I rarely use Western skincare but the high CP and ingredients-speak-it-all approach used by Deciem really appeals to me so I ended up buying 3 products from the company:

  • The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA
  • The Ordinary Buffet
  • The Ordinary Advanced Retinoid 2%

In this review, we are gonna talk about the Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA, which is the serum that I finished the quickest among all three products. I used it mostly at night, and will always make sure I apply a lot of sunscreen if I use it in the morning. I have about 10-20% left in the bottle after using them for about 3 months. For a serum that costs me about RM 40, I think this is definitely a great value for money!

The serum is packed in a white frosted dropper bottle. There is 30ml, or 1 oz of product inside. On the packaging, it claims that this is a concentrated serum with purified alpha arbutin and hyaluronic acid. It has a pH level of 4.85-4.90, which is optimal pH level for alpha arbutin for maximum efficacy and stability. Normally skincare product only uses 1% arbutin, but this uses 2% alpha arbutin that is stronger than just arbutin and beta arbutin.

The instruction claims that you can use this day and night as long as you apply enough sunscreen. However, I mostly just use this at night.

The product has a clear and viscous essence serum consistency. It gets absorbed into the skin really quickly without leaving a trace. There is no scent whatsoever to the product.


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


Arbutin is very commonly used skincare ingredient for its skin brightening and melanin-inhibiting properties. It is derived from the more controversial hydroquinone that is much gentler and is as effective. Research on the melanin inhibiting and dark spots reducing properties of arbutin has been promising but the entire mechanism remains unclear about how much arbutin is required to achieve melanin inhibiting benefit. Hyaluronic acid is also added to provide a nice cushiony and moisturizing effects for the arbutin. There is also lactic acid, which is a leave-on exfoliant and water-binding agent that is added to enhance the skin brightening effect of the arbutin.

Other ingredients are mostly texture ingredients like solvent, viscosity control, emulsifier, and preservative.


If you look at the photos, the difference isn't too obvious. There is a slight improvement to my dark spot (freckle, acne scar and sun spot) but not as good as what I expect. However, in real life, I do notice more distinctive improvement to my dark spot. My dark spot appears lighter after prolonged usage.


This is a very reasonably priced product, with quality ingredients and decent performance. Although it doesn't miraculously "wipe off" my dark spots, I do see some slow but steady improvement to my dark spot (sun spots in particular) over time. It doesn't work really well on my acne scars though, but my acne scar normally just heals at its own pace with the help of some exfoliating and skin repairing products. Anyone who is eyeing Kiehl's Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution but finding it expensive can give this a try. I see similar results using both products on my dark spots. I don't think this has brightened up my complexion so if you don't have any spot issues, only dull skin, then I would suggest that you don't waste your money on it.

Given the price, the quality ingredients inside, I think you should definitely check this one out if you have dark spot and acne scar. After all, it is only US$ 10 that you are paying so no harm trying!

- high CP value (cheap)

- results not too dramatic
- must use a sunscreen if you use this in the morning

Overall impression: ★★★★
Repurchasing: ★★★★ (no harm adding a US$ 10 alpha arbutin serum to my routine)
You can get this from: Asos | Deciem Official | Victoria Health
[Disclaimer] Product is purchased with my own money. All copyright of contents and images in this article is strictly mine.
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