Women's Concepts Logo
Product review

The Ordinary Ascorbic Acid + Alpha Arbutin Review: My 6-Month Experience

Product Reviewed: The Ordinary Ascorbic Acid 8% + Alpha Arbutin 2%
View our product review process here
The Ordinary Ascorbic Acid Alpha Arbutin Review


  • Alcohol-free
  • Fragrance-free
  • Oil-free
  • Water-free


  • Simple and clean formula
  • Affordable
  • Good at fading hyperpigmentation and brightening the skin
  • Rich source of antioxidants
  • Works for all skin types, including sensitive
  • Doesn’t clog pores


  • It doesn’t absorb that fast
  • May feel slightly oily when applied


  • The Ordinary Website: 4.2/5 from 146 reviews
  • Sephora: 4/5 from 397 reviews
  • Ulta: 4.2/5 from 130 reviews

Price: $10

I’ve built my skincare routine around The Ordinary products to tackle my acne, and I’m happy to say it’s been a resounding success. When my focus was on combating acne, The Ordinary’s products were instrumental in achieving that goal. However, I soon realized the battle wasn’t over. Post-acne, I was left with stubborn blemishes—a common aftermath of acne. Determined to tackle this, I once again turned to The Ordinary, this time exploring their Ascorbic Acid 8% + Alpha Arbutin 2% serum.

If you’re wondering whether this cult-favorite serum is worth a try, I’m here to share my review. I’ve been using The Ordinary Ascorbic Acid + Alpha Arbutin for over six months, so I have enough to say and share to make your decision easier.

First impression

I have oily skin that is still prone to breakouts, so it’s essential for me to use products that my skin agrees with. Otherwise, it will break out. But with this product, that just hasn’t been an issue. I’ve been using it for several months now, and the only thing I’ve noticed is a marked change in my skin tone and a consistent, healthy glow each time I apply it.

Let me tell you, if you’re trying to deal with hyperpigmentation or those dark spots left by acne, you should consider this serum. I was amazed when I found out it’s made with only three ingredients—I have a soft spot for simple, effective formulas. Moreover, the serum itself is slightly yellowish, but clear, and has the perfect consistency—not too thick and not too thin. Plus, somehow smells like vanilla, which I like.

Why did I choose it?

The reason I chose The Ordinary Ascorbic Acid + Alpha Arbutin is that it combines two of the most effective brightening ingredients, 8% ascorbic acid and 2% alpha-arbutin. In fact, ascorbic acid is the purest and most active form of vitamin C with the highest antioxidant and brightening properties. Vitamin C not only can brighten skin tone but also soften fine lines since it acts as a cofactor in collagen production. Plus, it protects my skin from free radicals, which is a boon for me since I live in a polluted area.

Alpha arbutin is another science-backed skin brightener. It acts as a tyrosinase inhibitor, targeting and eliminating the pigment that leads to dark patches. If you’re dealing with the aftermath of acne, like post-blemish redness or scars, or even age spots, alpha-arbutin is a good choice. Plus, if you have sensitive skin, alpha-arbutin is much gentler compared to other brighteners like glycolic acid or retinol.

As someone with oily skin prone to acne, I’m on the hunt for products formulated without oils. And guess what? The Ordinary Ascorbic Acid + Alpha Arbutin doesn’t contain a trace of oil. Both ingredients are solubilized in a water-free and oil-free formula—water would lead to oxidation and make the ingredients unstable, while oil could clog pores. Oh, another reason I chose The Ordinary Ascorbic Acid + Alpha Arbutin? It costs no more than $10.

The Ordinary Ascorbic Acid + Alpha Arbutin Texture

How does it feel?

The Ordinary Ascorbic Acid + Alpha Arbutin is an anhydrous (water-free) solution. Its consistency strikes a perfect balance—it’s neither too thick nor too thin, and you won’t find it sticky. However, it’s worth noting that it might take a bit of time to absorb into your skin, and you might feel a slight oiliness. This is largely due to propanediol (PDO).

PDO is similar to propylene glycol (which is known for causing contact dermatitis) but is considered safer and less likely to cause skin irritation. It comes from corn sugar and is used in this serum as a solvent to dissolve other ingredients, and also as a humectant to hydrate the skin. Plus, it makes the serum feel light and not heavy on your skin. Even though it might feel a bit oily at first, it won’t clog your pores and feels light once it’s absorbed.

How I used it

Like I said, I’m now at a stage where I’m trying to clear all the blemishes left on my face, so my routine includes dark spot-correcting ingredients. In the morning, I use The Ordinary Ascorbic Acid + Alpha Arbutin after cleansing, toning, and before my azelaic acid moisturizer and sunscreen. I apply a small amount, and gently massage it on the face and neck, avoiding the eye area. At night, I do the same, just without the SPF.

Some nights, I switch The Ordinary Ascorbic Acid + Alpha-Arbutin serum for a serum with glycolic acid or a retinol serum. But never together. Mixing vitamin C with retinol is a no-no. Speaking of, never mix vitamin C with AHAs or benzoyl peroxide. 

The package

The serum itself is stored in an amber glass bottle, which is exactly what vitamin C needs to maintain its effectiveness and avoid oxidation. I particularly appreciate the pipette included; it makes it super easy to control the amount of product you use. Plus, a big thumbs up for the packaging being completely recyclable—that’s definitely worth celebrating.


Dealing with skin that breaks out at the slightest hint of stress or sweat can be a real challenge. Well, The Ordinary Ascorbic Acid + Alpha Arbutin didn’t irritate my skin or clog my pores. I love it! My skin looks more even-toned and feels more hydrated. However, don’t expect overnight miracles. Stick it to your daily skincare routine and give the product time to show results. And never forget about using SPF during the day.

Subscribe to our newsletter
Join Women’s Concepts community and subscribe to our newsletter to get access to exclusive content, offers, and products.
Was this article helpful?
Awesome! Would you like to share it?
That's too bad. Thank you for your feedback!
Women's Concepts Logo
Join Us