When it comes to maintaining a glowing complexion, nothing beats hydration. And for those of us passionate about skincare, The Ordinary is a brand that needs no introduction. Their clean, cruelty-free, and affordable products are a testament to the fact that good skin needn't come at a high cost.
Today, we'll be putting two of their star hydration players, The Ordinary Amino Acids + B5 and The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5, in a side-by-side comparison. Let's see how they stack up.
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The Ordinary Amino Acids + B5 vs Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5
First and foremost, it's worth establishing the fact that both The Ordinary Amino Acids + B5 and Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 are powerful hydrators. They offer a boost to your skin's natural moisture barrier, working to keep your skin looking fresh and feeling supple.
The Amino Acids + B5 uses a concentrated 17% solution of amino acids and derivatives that mimic your skin's natural moisturizing factors. It also employs 5% pro-vitamin B5 for surface and below-surface hydration. This dynamic duo ensures your skin stays well-hydrated without leaving behind a greasy feel, ideal for those who prefer a lightweight formula.
Meanwhile, the Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 employs a trifecta of low-, medium-, and high-molecular-weight hyaluronic acid molecules and a next-generation HA crosspolymer to provide multi-layer hydration. This strategic blend not only provides multi-layer hydration, but it also targets wrinkles and textural irregularities, giving your skin a plumping effect.
They both sound great! But which is the better choice when it comes to hydration? Well, for that, we're going to have to dive much deeper into the key humectants in question: hyaluronic acid and amino acids (and by "much deeper", I mean we're going to need to take a look at them on a molecular level!)
Hyaluronic Acid vs Amino Acids
Hyaluronic acid is actually a type of sugar molecule. Its structure is dotted with many 'water-loving' groups - these are scientifically known as hydroxyl (-OH) and carboxyl groups (-COOH). These little chemical groups have an amazing ability to attract water molecules and form strong bonds with them. This superpower allows hyaluronic acid to hold an impressive amount of water - up to 1,000 times its own weight!
On the flip side, we have amino acids, the essential building blocks of proteins, including those that make up our skin like collagen and elastin. Amino acids have an amino group (-NH2) and a carboxyl group (-COOH) along with a unique side chain. These groups can also attract and bond with water molecules, but as there are fewer of these 'water-loving' groups, a single amino acid cannot hold as much water as hyaluronic acid.
When many amino acids come together to form a protein, they create a structure that offers multiple opportunities for water to cling onto. However, even this multiplied hydrating capacity doesn't quite match up to that of hyaluronic acid.
Winner: The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5. While both formulations contain powerful hydrating ingredients, the Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 gets the edge due to HA (hyaluronic acid) being the better humectant.
However, it's worth noting that HA tends to contribute towards a tackier texture, which explains why Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 has a much stickier feel than its counterpart. If texture is a big deal for you, you'll be pleased to hear that the Amino Acids + B5 serum is ultra-thin, not sticky, and non-greasy.
When it comes to reviews*, both products have generally positive ratings. The Amino Acids + B5 boasts an average rating of 4.3 stars out of 5 based on 182 reviews, with users praising its hydrating properties. However, some have noted issues with breakouts or a strange texture.
The Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 has a slightly lower average rating of 4.1 stars out of 5 based on 660 reviews. Fans of this product laud it for its plumping effect and hydration power, while detractors have reported instances of dryness or breakouts.
Winner: The Ordinary Amino Acids + B5 wins this round by a small margin, having a higher average rating. However, it's worth noting that reviews are subjective and individual experiences can vary widely based on personal skin type and sensitivities.
*Also bear in mind that we only polled The Ordinary's official website for reviews. There's obviously many other rating aggregators out there, but the consensus generally seems to be the same. Last updated: 24th May 2023
Value for Money
Price-wise, the Amino Acids + B5 comes in at 8.90 USD for 30ml, while the Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 costs slightly more at 15.70 USD, but for double the volume at 60ml. This means that in terms of cost per fluid ounce, the Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 offers more bang for your buck.
Winner: The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 takes the cake for better value for money due to the higher volume at a relatively affordable price.
Ultimately, both have their unique strengths and cater to slightly different needs. They're both free from alcohol, oil, silicone, gluten, and are vegan and cruelty-free, making them suitable for all skin types.
If you're after a basic, lightweight hydrator, the Amino Acids + B5 could be your perfect match. But, if you're dealing with aging concerns or texture irregularities and are looking for a deeper level of hydration, the Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 is the way to go.
Amino Acids + B5 by The Ordinary
Our rating: ★★★★★
A hydrating serum.
What makes it special? Amino Acids + B5 is an ultra-thin serum that works with your skin to support its natural hydration barrier. By including a concentrated 17% (by weight) solution of amino acids and amino acid derivatives that mimic your skin’s natural moisturizing factors, this water-based formula keeps the outer layer of your skin protected and well-hydrated without feeling greasy. Plus, it uses 5% (by weight) pro-vitamin B5 to provide surface and below-surface hydration, giving way to softer, smoother skin.
Which skin types? For all skin types.
Hyaluronic Acid + B5 by The Ordinary
Our rating: ★★★★★
A hydration support formula with ultra-pure, vegan hyaluronic acid.
What makes it special? This serum’s expert formula of 5 different sizes of hyaluronic acid pairs perfectly with Vitamin B5 to provide intense, long-lasting moisture, and skin-soothing effects.
Which skin types? For all skin types.
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