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The Ordinary Retinol 0.5% in Squalane

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The Ordinary Retinol 0.5% in Squalane by The Ordinary


The Ordinary Retinol 0.5% in Squalane is a water-free solution that contains 0.5% pure Retinol, an ingredient that can reduce the appearances of fine lines, of photo damage and of general skin ageing. While Retinol has been studied extensively, it is irritating to the skin and newer technologies exist that mimic the visible effects of Retinol without causing skin irritation. For this reason, we generally recommend using Granactive Retinoid 2% or Granactive Retinoid 5% instead of this formula.


 To learn more about how to navigate this brand, click here to read our skincare guide on The Ordinary.


The Ordinary’s portfolio of retinoids includes the following formulations:

Granactive Retinoid 2% in Squalane (Moderate Strength, No Irritation)
Granactive Retinoid 5% in Squalane (High Strength, No to Low Irritation)
Retinol 0.2% in Squalane (Low Strength, Moderate Irritation) 
Retinol 0.5% in Squalane (Moderate Strength, High Irritation) 
Retinol 1% in Squalane (High Strength, Very High Irritation) 


Caution: Retinol can cause significant irritation, redness and peeling, especially around the eyes and mouth, in the early stages of treatment while skin builds tolerance. If you have not used high-strength retinol formulas in the past, we strongly recommend that you start your retinol regimen with our Retinol 0.2% in Squalane and adjust to higher strengths of Retinol 0.5% in Squalane and Retinol 1% in Squalane as your skin builds tolerance. You will achieve the same end results without the unpleasant redness and peeling along the way. 

Note: Water can affect the stability of retinol. Additionally, plant oils in retinol formulations can trigger lipid peroxidation and can impair retinol integrity. This formula does not contain water, silicones, plant oils or alcohol. 


Caution: Retinoids can make the skin more sensitive to UV radiation. Sun protection is particularly important when using retinoids. This product must not be used in conjunction with other retinoids including retinol or retinoic acid. This product is not a treatment for acne. Acne-prone skin may experience a temporary increase in acne during the first few weeks of using any form of retinoid including those used in this formulation. 

Note: When pregnant or breastfeeding, it is recommended to avoid any skincare products containing retinoids such as formulations with Granactive Retinoid or Retinol.

All of our products are filled/measured by weight/volume so the product is correctly filled to 30 ml. The packaging does not accurately reflect the size of the fill. However, this is intentional as some air must be allowed at the top for the product to actually close.

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Reviews (12)
Review and earn
Not sure - 31-12-2018 by

I have only been using this product for a week. I personally don’t like it when l initially put it on my skin. It feels oily and does not seem to absorb into my skin. I let it sit on my skin for 30-60 minutes before l put on my moisturiser. The moisturiser seems to blend in with this product but still not absorbing into my skin. However, my skin is bright and glowing the next morning. I think for the price - it is a great product and l will continue to use it.

Fantastic - 30-10-2018 by

This is an amazing product! After 1 week of using it my skin looks more bright and glowing and its kept my acne under control really well. I have tried the Ordinary retinoid and this is so much better. I have experienced no irritation at all.

AMAZING! - 25-10-2018 by

This is the best serum I have ever used!!! An incredible potency of retinol, however does NOT leave the skin irritated or dry like other products with retinol. The price just makes it even better. Couldn't recommend this enough.

Like better than the 0.2 - 22-10-2018 by

I like this serum more than the 0.2% as it is less oily . I use every second day and no irriatation, would recommend avoiding eye area

Great value and does the job - 22-10-2018 by

My skin type: Oily Combination with clogged pores
My age: 27

I bought this to treat my clogged pores. The product does speed up my skin cell turnover and cause purging (which is good). The texture is lightweight but a bit greasy for me. However it does not clog my pores. I did not get irritation or dryness as I moisturize my skin well and incorporate Retinol in my routine slowly

Felt horrible - 10-09-2018 by

I was so excited to try this after all the positive reviews. To me, this product smelt like butter and felt like it too. The following day my skin felt burnt. I tried to use the product twice more but I couldn't stand the smell or the feel. Product just wasn't for me but considering all the other good reviews it may have just not worked on my skin.

Great retinol for beginners! - 31-08-2018 by

I tried out this product because I've seen a lot of beauty bloggers rave about retinol! I decided to try it because I have noticed signs of ageing, especially around my eyes. My skin becomes quite dry especially in winter and so this season, I've gotten a lot more fine wrinkles. I bought this and started using it and like other people, got a mild irritation on my face. The irritation is becoming less now and I've noticed my skin is a lot brighter in the morning. A few pigmentation spots have also started lightening up. I would definitely recommend this for anyone who wants to try out a retinol product to stop first signs of ageing.

Great Product!! - 27-08-2018 by

Definitely recommend this product but only to apply after your skin care regime at night as it is quiet greasy once applied. This product has 100% helped in evening out my skin and helping it stay hydrated. I only use this product every 2/3 nights as it can dry out the skin and result in red dry areas. That's not because it's bad but just because your skin needs to become used to the product. Defo recommend but only if you have a good skin regime and have trained your skin first.

Fantastic - 15-08-2018 by

I'm a Retinol beginner. After using The Ordinary Retinol 0.2% for about 6 weeks (2-3 times per week at night) I decided to move on to the 0.5% because my skin was tolerating it so well. It is fantastic. I experienced no stinging or burning and felt like it was slightly less 'greasy' than the 0.2%. The only reason why I didn't give this 5 stars is because I feel like it still sits on my skin rather than sinking in, and so it feels a bit 'greasy' - however as I said, less so than the 0.2%. I know this product needs time before you can see obvious improvement, but I can already tell that my skin is in better condition than it was. I intend to move on to the 1% in due time, assuming my skin keeps reacting so well to this - this is a great stepping stone which is giving me confidence to move on to the stronger strength. I love it!

Great product if starting to use retinol - 13-08-2018 by

I've been trying out lots of the ordinary products, they are so affordable and great quality! I also like the transparency with the list of ingredients and the fact all their retinol state their concentration.
I started with this one as an initiation to retinols to build up my resistance and works great! I can feel a difference and will probably upgrade to the next % when the bottle is finished.

Amazing - 07-08-2018 by

Using this currently on a nightly basis and I am already noticing a difference in my skin. Such a great product if you are starting to use retinol.

Love this! - 12-02-2018 by

I've been using this product daily for a couple of weeks now and I have to say I love it! I've suffered for a long time with cystic acne on my chin and this product has helped to completely clear my skin. The first couple of days your skin does become a little dry but that soon goes away as your skin builds a tolerance to it. My skin hasn't felt this good in years. Will definitely repurchase this product.

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