After purchasing it and then reading the box, I was a little disappointed to see that it was recommended for brightening and targeting signs of ageing - neither of which problems that I have (I told the representative that I want to improve texture, but that I had extremely sensitive skin so I was a reluctant to use any harsh products). I was shocked to see that on the back of the box, it states that it shouldn't be used on sensitive skin, and should only be used 2-3 times a week due to its strength. I felt like this product was incorrectly recommended, but given that I'd spent the money on it already and I'm lucky enough to have skin that bounces back really quickly from reactions, I gave it a shot.
I'm glad I did, because now I can honestly say this is my favourite product from the entire The Ordinary range. Skincare is something I've recently taken a huge interest in and as a result, I own nearly everything from The Ordinary (I have dry skin and I test the products ideal for oily skin on my boyfriend, that's how obsessed with collecting skincare products I am...), and the results I got from using the Alpha Lipoic Acid 5% every other day are incredible.
The first few times I applied this I noted a light stingy sensation (being a redhead I feel stingy pains worse than others, yay, yet I'd still say this feeling is very mild), and I kind of panicked thinking it was my sensitive skin. After about 20 minutes this subsided, and after a few weeks of using it, I don't get the sensation anymore. I've noticed none of the reactions I usually get with products that don't work for my skin from using it, despite my skin's sensitivity. I do however keep getting the occasional spot now, which is something I only ever really used to get that time of the month, and this is the only thing I've changed in my routine recently. Another thing that was also notable is the smell, and it's the only thing I don't like about this product. My boyfriend even checked our fire alarms because he thought he could smell something burning - turns out the smell was my face. It smells like burning plastic. I have a really strong sense of smell so for me everything is really strong, but my boyfriend's sense of smell is pretty poor and he still commented on it. For that reason, I'd definitely recommend using this product at night.
I think it's important to note here that I by no means have 'bad' texture. My skin is pretty good other than dryness which I work hard to prevent, but when I put makeup on I seem to get a whole bunch of texture that isn't even there normally. That's what I was aiming to improve by using this serum. It isn't like The Ordinary's Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% in that it doesn't provide an immediate effect, instead it improves skin texture over time with repeated use, however, the improvements are visible after a short period of use (2-3 weeks). After using it for a few months I can report that it has improved the texture with makeup issue I was experiencing drastically, and my skin hasn't been this soft since I came out of the womb. My skin consistently feels hydrated and plump even without applying extra products to lock in moisture (I did this purely as a test for a week, but wouldn't normally do that though). Every foundation looks so much better and less patchy, but more importantly, I now have enough confidence in my skin to not even feel the need to wear foundation (I used to wear foundation swimming, to the gym, you name it).
I didn't purchase this product to improve fine lines, but the effect it has had on them has been nothing short of a miracle. I previously used The Ordinary Argireline 10% which offered an immediate lightly diffused effect that sadly never lasted. Personally, I would prefer to work at things for a longer period to achieve long lasting results, which is exactly what the Alpha Lipoic Acid 5% does. From 2 weeks of usage, I noticed the fine lines on my forehead getting shorter, where they used to extend to just before my temples and now they're just in the centre of my forehead. I think with repeated usage, this may well just fade those lines altogether. I was tossing up Botox for these fine lines as I thought that would be the only thing that worked (I used to a bit of a skeptic with anti-wrinkle products), so for such a cheap alternative to show signs of improvement in just two weeks is incredible to me. I don't have any deep wrinkles, but for fine lines, this really did work wonders.
Being porcelain skinned brightening products are pretty much a no-go for me. The effect is so subtle I can't usually see it. This serum did provide a brightening effect, again, very subtle, but more noticeable than with other brightening products I've used and I think it would work great on darker skin than mine.
The few downfalls - awful scent and occasional spot - feel worth it to me for all of the amazing improvements my skin experiences when I use this product. I can easily cover up a spot with some concealer, but when my skin is dry and flaky there is no covering up and makeup often makes it look even worse, so for me, it's a no brainer. The price is such good value as well, as you only use a small amount each time (I used 3-4 drops, the box recommends 2-3 drops, either I'm not squirting enough out or have a large head). I will repurchase this again and again when I eventually run out, though I don't see that being anytime soon. For me, this is a must have, and I highly recommend it.