The Ordinary’s New Acne Serum Is Here & It’s Earning My Skin Compliments

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The Ordinary’s New Acne Serum Is Here & It’s Earning My Skin Compliments



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ICYMI, The Ordinary has been on a roll this summer and the brand is only just getting started. Hot off several recent major launches (a barrier-rescuing serum, fermented milky toner, and reformulated hyaluronic acid serum to name a few), The Ordinary (which was recently acquired by Estée Lauder for a cool $1.7 billion) is further staking its claim in the acne space with another serum to add to your routine: Balancing & Clarifying Serum.

As an acne-haver and professional fangirl of The Ordinary, I felt uniquely prepped to report on this new launch. I’ve used several products from The Ordinary to maintain clear skin: I’ve gone through countless bottles of Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% (an oil-curbing, brightening potion) and Aloe 2% + NAG 2% (an innovative post-acne serum that the brand debuted last year). So how does this new addition compare — or better yet, fit — into The Ordinary’s existing family?

Balancing & Clarifying Serum, £20.20

“The Ordinary started its journey with targeted solutions, highlighting the benefits of key skincare ingredients with our minimalistic formulations,” The Ordinary’s Chief Scientific Officer, Prudvi Kaka, tells Refinery29. “In this case, our team wanted to effectively improve multiple signs of congestion experienced by those with blemish-prone skin, with seven individual technologies working together to achieve this, each with its own unique approach.”

Compared to other The Ordinary serums I’ve tried, Balancing & Clarifying Serum had a lighter, more watery texture. Per the instructions, I shook the bottle before dispensing and patted a few drops directly onto clean skin. It absorbed instantly, and I sealed everything in with my day cream. (I use a retinol at night, which is also from The Ordinary.) 

Balancing & Clarifying Serum, unlike the other aforementioned acne-focused products, differs in that it’s an all-in-one acne serum that also helps support your skin barrier health — the outermost layer of your skin. It’s also perfect for layering with other skincare products, if that’s your thing. “Balancing & Clarifying is the answer for those wanting to target signs of congestion, including the look of pores, uneven texture, post-blemish marks and excess shine, while improving skin radiance,” Kaka explains. “Additionally, this formula hydrates the skin and strengthens the skin barrier, which is often neglected by those experiencing blemishes.”

Even though it’s jam-packed with active ingredients, Kaka says that this product is safe to use up to twice daily. “It contains a combination of seven technologies, including Sarcosine, L-carnitine, and Polylysine, molecules that reduce the appearance of oiliness and shine, Adenosine, which helps reduce the appearance of pores and textured skin, N-acetylglucosamine (NAG), an amino sugar that offers similar exfoliation properties to direct acids, Ectoin, an amino acid derivative produced via fermentation shown to help maintain skin hydration, and lactococcus ferment lysate, a mixture of fragmented molecules derived from the breakdown of the bacteria lactococcus lactis, which work to support the skin barrier,” he explains.

Don’t let the science put you off. I’ve secretly been testing Balancing & Clarifying since receiving an early-bird sample during a trip to Deciem’s Toronto headquarters earlier this year, and have been thoroughly impressed so far. I think it’s a really nice companion to other targeted steps in my routine, and among the gentlest acne serums I’ve tried. (I personally think acne products can sometimes be really harsh, which can end up backfiring and causing more irritation than you started out with.) I’ve been getting compliments on my skin — which is wild, because for many years, I thought my skin was the last thing I’d ever be proud of — and I partially attribute it to this addition.

Now that I’m 30, I don’t break out as often as I used to, but I still deal with plenty of congestion, especially in my T-zone. With the help of Balancing & Clarifying Serum, I feel like my complexion has gone from perpetually greasy to happy and healthy. Is it a miracle in a bottle? No. But as countless dermatologists have told me, consistency and maintenance are key for keeping breakouts at bay. And for £20.20, it’s like an acne-repellant, hydrator, and barrier-booster all in one.

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