Retinoid Baby Steps-Reviewing The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 5%

I thought it was the perfect time to finally offer up my thoughts about The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 5% in Squalene. After the company overhauled their retinoid offerings to make things more comprehensive for consumers, they now offer varying strengths in a total of six formulas. In this instance, the ingredients for the 5% formula include the following:


*Squalane, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Bisabolol, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate, Solanum Lycopersicum (Tomato) Fruit Extract, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil.

*Taken from Deciem’s The Ordinary website

The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 5 % in Squalene is essentially targeted at those seeing early signs of one’s advancement in years. Although genetics play a major role in when one begins to see such signs, potential users of this product will vary in age. So if you’ve used retinol or retinoids in any form or if you’re looking to try it for the first time, this is a good option because the formula is meant to be non-irritating and safe to use on sensitive skins.  If you are prone to acne of any kind, whether cystic, hormonal or otherwise, this product is not meant as a treatment.

The Ordinary Retinoid

If you’re interested in my experience with another retinoid product from The Ordinary, specifically the Retinol 1% along with products containing various forms of retinoids including a natural alternative, you may read about them here. Apart from that, I’ve used this product consistently for more than two months and have found it to be a cost-effective option in lieu of an actual retinol prescription. Even where costs may not be a concern, this is also a good choice as a maintenance product for anyone wanting to maintain a clear complexion and refined skin texture.

The retinoid used in this formula, Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate (HPR), is encapsulated in squalene that is derived from sugar cane and beets. HPR is new on the scene as a non-irritating alternative to retinol which is a form of Vitamin A. Retinol is naturally found in the body and uses it to benefit certain biological aspects including the skin. The texture of The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 5% in Squalene is quite similar to that of a light facial oil, yet as much as I love facial oils and use them, this product didn’t thrill me texturally. As this is the second retinoid product I’ve used from Deciem, The Ordinary’s parent company, I was hoping that I would like this texture better and that it would be easier to absorb into my skin. Alas, once again this is where I struggled with the product, as I was hoping for a more refined texture that absorbed much easier than this does. The first night I used it, I had to go back and spritz my face with thermal water to aid it in absorbing. Even after that, I still was not keen on the way my face felt. On subsequent nights, I applied a much thinner layer, and while absorption was better, I still didn’t like the way my face felt. However, in the morning I’d wake up with clear skin.


Nonetheless, a good characteristic of this product is that with consistent use, clearer skin manifests. Whilst I’m not prone to big breakouts I do wake up to an occasional button and this helped to keep those occasions at bay. In terms of scent, I can’t say I detected much of one. The formula is housed in a dark brown glass bottle which includes a medicine dropper to manage amounts. The formula also contains Bisabolol, an extract of German Chamomile. Bisabolol has been in use for centuries to soothe the skin and is widely used in skincare products, especially to reduce flakiness and irritation of the skin.


I’m not sure that it’s a fair comparison but when I stack the use of non-prescription retinoids against prescription retinol or tretinoin, without hesitation I can say that I prefer prescription usage and the accompanying results. Indeed, prescription retinol causes heaps more flaking and irritation on my skin but after a few weeks that dissipates to reveal brand spanking new skin. Certainly, there are over the counter retinoids that come quite close to delivering such results but to me, there can only be one winner in this race. I’m very open to differing opinions on this and welcome them as well.

The Ordinary Retinoid

I believe it’s safe to say that we will continue to see increasing numbers of over the counter retinoids, at varying price points and in varying strengths. Retinol and retinoids have become increasingly demystified and more and more people are curious about and open to using them. The Ordinary has levelled the market by offering anyone the ability to test their formulas without damaging bank accounts in the process. It’s definitely deft and shrewd on their part as it forces other companies to take note and get on board. This product wins out based on its cost and ease of use, making it easy to baby-step your way into using it to decide if it’s for you or not. Just one last thing and that is with any retinol and retinoid use, daily sunscreen is an absolute must. Skin becomes much more photo-sensitive (increased sensitivity to sunlight) when using these products. Plus, if you’re planning a pregnancy, are pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s not advisable to use retinol and retinoids and you should always discuss this with your physician.


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(4) Comments

  1. says:

    My pleasure, you’re welcome. I do hope you get better results with The Ordinary and whenever you’re able to, I’d be interested to know how it worked for you.

  2. ahhhsoneo says:

    I just bought this a few days ago, after being not so impressed with the Sunday Riley Luna oil. Thanks for such a great review, I’m looking forward to trying it.

  3. says:

    Hi Chloe, yes it’s worth a try especially if you’re new to retinoids. Wishing you the best in your skincare adventures!

  4. I’ve been desperate to try something from The Ordinary and in particular Retinoids. Even more keen to do so now!

    Chloe ❤

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