The Ordinary Alpha Lipoic Acid 5% Review

The Ordinary Alpha Lipoic Acid 5% Review

Hi there! This post is a review of The Ordinary’s Alpha Lipoic acid 5%. If you’re interested in trying this Alpha Lipoic Acid serum but you’re not sure if it’s right for you or whether it’s worth the hype, check out this review!

This post is part of my The Ordinary series, where I review their different products.

Who are the Ordinary?

The Ordinary are a fuss-free, super affordable skincare line that focuses on making great skincare accessible. Many of their products are low-waste and some are even plastic-free, which I think is great. As someone who is trying to be more eco-friendly, it makes it easier to find eco-friendly products that work.

Their products are around £4 to £10 (super affordable!), and they have dozens of different products for different skin types and skin needs.

Because of this, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when wanting to try some of their products, which is why I’m highlighting and reviewing some of their products here on my blog.

Some of their products are my absolute favourites, but others I definitely will not repurchase again. Feel free to check out my review of their Squalane Cleanser and their Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA serum to hear my thoughts!

For reference: I have combination acne-prone skin.

What is Alpha Lipoic Acid?

Alpha Lipoic Acid is an active ingredient which is naturally produced by the body. When used on the skin, it is a potent antioxidant which exfoliates and may help with brightening, treating hyperpigmentation and preventing ageing. This is because of its antioxidant nature, which helps to slow down cell damage. It is also thought to help improve skin texture.

A very popular antioxidant which has similar effects is Vitamin C, but the skin brightening effects of this one are better documented and it is much easier to come by in skincare.

About the serum

This serum contains 5% Alpha Lipopic Acid, which is quite a high concentration. This is both a good thing and a bad thing. Alpha Lipoic Acid can be sensitising, which means it can trigger sensitivity in the skin. This serum is quite strong, so you can’t use it too often. The Ordinary recommend using it two to three times a week, and I would definitely stick to this. It’s also not recommended to use this if you have sensitive skin!

When applied to the skin, it is tingly and warming. As I just mentioned, this serum is quite strong, and you can definitely feel that when you first apply it. However, this does pass quickly. If it continues to tingle for a long time, and if it stings or burns, wash it off.

Although it’s oil-free, the serum has a silky feeling to it and it feels like a lightweight oil in texture. This is quite a unique texture and I had to get used to it when first using it. It does sit nicely on the skin but it doesn’t get along with you using too many skincare products after it. It does sit underneath a moisturiser quite well though.

Like all The Ordinary products, this is unfragranced and it barely has any scent to it. This is great, because although fragrance smells great, it doesn’t actually do anything positive for your skin- and it can actually cause irritation in some people!

Does it Work?

When it comes to exfoliating and softening the skin, this serum did live up to its claims. I used it two to three times a week, and I noticed that it did make my skin feel more supple and smooth to the touch. I do have exfoliating cleansers, toners and serums which I prefer for exfoliation as they are gentler yet more effective than this serum.

I am too young to see whether this does improve ageing skin, but I didn’t see an effect when it comes to brightening and evening skin tone and hyperpigmentation. I used this serum until it was finished but it wasn’t effective for me in this way.

Would I recommend The Ordinary’s Alpha Lipoic Acid?

Although this serum is really affordable, I wouldn’t recommend it. For anti-ageing benefits, retinoic acid (Vitamin A derivatives) has been scientifically proven to help improve fine lines and wrinkles, and I believe this is a much better ingredient to look for. It also exfoliates and speeds up cell turnover, which will help to fade hyperpigmentation and will help improve skin texture!

If you’re drawn to this serum because you’re looking for something to fade acne scars, I would recommend a different The Ordinary Serum. I’ve seen good results from their Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA (see my review here). Niacinamide and hydroquinone are just two other ingredients that can really help.

When it comes to skin brightening, Vitamin C and exfoliating acids such as lactic acid and glycolic acid can help to brighten the complexion.


I hope this post helps you when figuring out whether or not to take the plunge with this serum. It’s definitely not a bad serum, but I think there are better ones out there to treat your different skincare concerns.

I would love to know your thoughts on this serum! Have you tried it, or do you want to try it?

Bye for now,



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