So, you've decided you want to try one of The Ordinary's cult-favorite, best-selling serums, but you can't quite decide which one would work best for your skin? We've all been there, don't worry!
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The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 vs The Ordinary Buffet
With both serums appearing practically identical on the shelf, we're going to have to dive straight into their formulas to start seeing any differences of note.
2024 update: The Ordinary's "Buffet" serum has been replaced—at least in name—by the Multi-Peptide + HA Serum.
Both the Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 Serum and the Buffet Serum contain The Ordinary's signature combination of HA in addition to a HA crosspolymer for multi-depth hydration. The crosspolymer is a smaller molecule of sodium hyaluronate, meaning it can be absorbed into deeper layers of the skin for deeper hydration.
It's not quite clear what the concentration of HA is in the Buffet Serum, but the Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 Serum, of course, has a 2% concentration. Two percent is the highest concentration of hyaluronic acid you can put in a solution without any drying effects.
As we list what each serum is 'free-from', we will begin to discover their biggest differences. The Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 Serum is alcohol-, oil-, silicone-, nut-, gluten-, and cruelty-free. The Buffet Serum is alcohol-, silicone-, nut-, gluten-, and cruelty-free, but notably is not oil free. This is due to the inclusion of PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, a solubilizer which is (probably) for the concoction of 11 skin-friendly amino acids in the formula.
Speaking of concoctions, the Buffet Serum also contains Matrixyl: a buzzy new anti-aging ingredient making its way round the skincare sphere. It cleverly mimics the behaviour of our skin’s own naturally occurring cell-signalers and regulators (called matrikines), thus stimulating the growth of new collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid. This means it has the potential to freeze and even reverse the visible signs of ageing.
The Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 Serum instead contains Vitamin B5 which helps to prevent water loss from your skin and helps in retaining moisture, further reinforcing the serum's hydrating capabilities.
The Buffet Serum's ingredient list—packed full of rejuvenating peptides and nourishing humectants—is quite literally 3 times as long as the hydration-focussed Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 serum's, which more or less also explains why it is twice as expensive.
All in all, deciding between the two comes down to what your current skincare goals are. Allow us to summarize:
If you're looking for a hydrating serum: Look no further than The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 Serum.
If you're looking for an anti-aging serum: The Ordinary Buffet Serum is the one for you.
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.
Multi-Peptide + HA Serum (formerly known as "Buffet") by The Ordinary
Our rating: ★★★★★
A multi-technology, anti-aging peptide serum.
What makes it special? This formula combines a comprehensive array of studied technologies to target multiple signs of aging at once. The technologies are Matrixyl™ 3000 peptide complex, Matrixyl™ synthe'6™ peptide complex, SYN™-AKE peptide complex, ARGIRELOX™ peptide complex, Postbiotic complex, in a base of 11 skin-friendly amino acids and multiple hyaluronic acid complexes. The total concentration of these technologies in the formula by weight is 25.1%.
Which skin types? For aging skin.
This article was originally published on April 27th 2022, but it has been reviewed and updated with the latest available information on February 5th 2024 by Sara Mckay, MA.
Calum Torrington is the founder of FemmeNordic. He has worked as a beauty editor since 2020 and employs his analytical background in mathematics to thoroughly scrutinize complex INCI lists. Now, he helps over 1 million people per year to find the best beauty products.