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The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion Ingredients Explained

Serum
3.5   (2 ratings)
33
6
24
5

Updated on June 13, 2024

00% Your Match

Overview

What it is

Serum with 33 ingredients that contains retinoid

Cool Features

It is vegan, cruelty-free, and reef safe

Suited For

It has ingredients that are good for fighting acne, anti aging, dry skin, brightening skin, sensitive skin, oily skin, reducing pores, scar healing, dark spots and better texture

Free From

It doesn't contain any harsh alcohols, common allergens, oils, parabens, silicones or sulfates

Fun facts

The Ordinary is from Canada. This product is used in 480 routines created by our community.

We independently verify ingredients and our claims are backed by peer-reviewed research. Does this product need an update? Let us know.

Serum with 33 ingredients that contains retinoid

Quick info

ph level
5.5

You should know

Notable Ingredients

Benefits

Concerns

Ingredients 33

Water Skin Conditioning, Solvent

Water. It's the most common cosmetic ingredient of all. You'll usually see it at the top of ingredient lists, meaning that it makes up the largest part of the product.

Glycerin Humectant, Skin Conditioning, Skin Protecting
0 / 0 Helps hydrate Dry Skin IconHelps brighten skin Icon
2 Benefits

Glycerin is already naturally found in your skin. It helps moisturize and protect your skin.

0 Com. / 0 Irr.
Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride Masking, Skin Conditioning

Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride is an emollient, solvent, and texture enhancer. It is considered a skin-softener by helping the skin prevent moisture loss.

Ethyl Linoleate Emollient, Perfuming
Fragrance IconNot safe for Fungal Acne Icon
FragranceFragrance Icon Not safe for Fungal AcneNot safe for Fungal Acne Icon

Ethyl Linoleate is a fragrance and isn't fungal acne safe.

Very Disliked Full details ->
Propanediol Solvent

Propanediol helps absorb ingredients into your skin, boosting their benefits. It can act as an emollient, making your skin softer. Propanediol can help products last longer by boosting the properties of preservatives within the formulation.

Dimethyl Isosorbide Solvent

Dimethyl Isosorbide is a solvent and helps deliver actives into your skin. It is created from sorbitol.

Cetearyl Isononanoate Emollient, Skin Conditioning

We don't have a description for Cetearyl Isononanoate.

Unknown Full details ->
Bisabolol Masking, Skin Conditioning, Soothing
Helps reduce irritation Icon
Helps reduce irritationHelps reduce irritation Icon

Bisabolol is pimarily used to add fragrance to a product. However, it is also famous for helping soothe skin.

Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate Skin Conditioning
Retinoid IconGood for Oily Skin IconGood for Skin Texture IconGood for Minimizing Pores IconHelps with Anti-Aging IconGood for Dark Spots IconGood for Scar Healing IconHelps fight Acne IconCan worsen Dry Skin IconMay cause irritation Icon
RetinoidRetinoid Icon 7 Benefits 2 Concerns

This ingredient is a retinoid. It usually goes by a more common name: "Granactive".

Retinol Skin Conditioning
Retinoid IconGood for Oily Skin IconGood for Skin Texture IconGood for Minimizing Pores IconHelps with Anti-Aging IconGood for Dark Spots IconGood for Scar Healing IconHelps fight Acne IconHelps brighten skin IconCan worsen Dry Skin IconMay cause irritation IconMay worsen Eczema Icon
RetinoidRetinoid Icon 8 Benefits 3 Concerns

Retinol is a gold-standard ingredient for anti-aging. It is a form of Vitamin A and belongs to the class of retinoids that also includes tretinoin.

Tasmannia Lanceolata Fruit/Leaf Extract Antioxidant, Skin Conditioning
Antioxidant Icon
AntioxidantAntioxidant Icon

Tasmannia Lanceolata Fruit/Leaf Extract is an antioxidant.

Inulin Lauryl Carbamate Emulsion Stabilising

We don't have a description for Inulin Lauryl Carbamate.

Unknown Full details ->
Glyceryl Stearate Emollient, Emulsifying
1 / 0 Not safe for Fungal Acne Icon
Not safe for Fungal AcneNot safe for Fungal Acne Icon

Glyceryl Stearate is a mix of glycerin and stearic acid.

1 Com. / 0 Irr.
Disliked Full details ->
Ceteareth-12 Emulsifying

We don't have a description for Ceteareth-12.

Disliked Full details ->
Ceteareth-20 Cleansing, Emulsifying
2 / 3 May worsen Oily Skin Icon
May worsen Oily SkinMay worsen Oily Skin Icon

Ceteareth-20 is an emulsifier and cleansing agent. It is derived from cetearyl alcohol, a fatty alcohol.

2 Com. / 3 Irr.
Very Disliked Full details ->
Cetearyl Alcohol Emollient, Emulsifying, Emulsion Stabilising
2 / 1 Fatty Alcohol IconMay worsen Oily Skin IconBad for Acne Prone Skin IconNot safe for Fungal Acne Icon
Fatty AlcoholFatty Alcohol Icon 3 Concerns

Cetearyl alcohol is a mixture of two fatty alcohols: cetyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol. It is mainly used as an emulsifier. Emulsifiers help prevent the separation of oils and products. Due to its composition, it can also be used to thicken a product or help create foam.

2 Com. / 1 Irr.
Very Disliked Full details ->
Carrageenan
May worsen Oily Skin Icon
May worsen Oily SkinMay worsen Oily Skin Icon

Carrageenan comes from red seaweed or algae. It is made up of polysaccharides and a highly flexible compound. Red algae cell walls are rich in carrageenan.

Very Disliked Full details ->
Xanthan Gum Emulsifying, Emulsion Stabilising, Gel Forming

Xanthan gum is used as a stabilizer and thickener within cosmetic products. It helps give products a sticky, thick feeling - preventing them from being too runny.

Disliked Full details ->
Acacia Senegal Gum Masking

We don't have a description for Acacia Senegal Gum.

Disliked Full details ->
Cetyl Palmitate Emollient, Masking, Skin Conditioning
0 / 0 Not safe for Fungal Acne Icon
Not safe for Fungal AcneNot safe for Fungal Acne Icon

Cetyl Palmitate is a wax-like substance.

0 Com. / 0 Irr.
Very Disliked Full details ->
Sucrose Laurate Emollient, Emulsifying, Skin Conditioning
Not safe for Fungal Acne Icon
Not safe for Fungal AcneNot safe for Fungal Acne Icon

Sucrose Laurate isn't fungal acne safe.

Unknown Full details ->
Polysorbate 20 Emulsifying
0 / 0 Not safe for Fungal Acne Icon
Not safe for Fungal AcneNot safe for Fungal Acne Icon

Polysorbate 20 is made by combining ethoxylation of sorbitan, ethylene oxide, and lauric acid. It is a mild cleansing agent, surfactant, and emulsifier.

0 Com. / 0 Irr.
Very Disliked Full details ->
Isoceteth-20 Emulsifying
May cause irritation Icon
May cause irritationMay cause irritation Icon

Isoceteth-20 comes from Isocetyl Alcohol. It is an emulsifier. Emulsifiers help stabilize a product. It does this by preventing certain ingredients from separating.

Very Disliked Full details ->
Rosmarinus Officinalis Leaf Extract Antimicrobial, Masking, Skin Conditioning

Rosmarinus Officinalis Leaf Extract comes from rosemary. Rosemary is native to the Mediterranean.

Hydroxymethoxyphenyl Decanone Skin Conditioning

Hydroxymethoxyphenyl Decanone is a synthetically created molecule made to mimic ginger extract.

Behentrimonium Chloride Preservative
Preservative Icon
PreservativePreservative Icon

This ingredient is a preservative and often used for it's anti-static properties. You'll most likely see this ingredient in hair conditioners.

Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate

Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate is used to help stabilize a product.

Disodium EDTA

Disodium EDTA plays a role in making products more stable by aiding other preservatives.

Disliked Full details ->
Dehydroacetic Acid Preservative
Preservative Icon
PreservativePreservative Icon

Dehydroacetic Acid is fungicide and bactericide. It is used as a preservative in cosmetics. Preservatives help elongate the shelf life of a product.

Benzoic Acid Masking, Preservative
Preservative IconMay worsen Eczema Icon
PreservativePreservative Icon May worsen EczemaMay worsen Eczema Icon

Benzoic Acid is used to preserve and adjust the pH of products.

Disliked Full details ->
Ethylhexylglycerin Skin Conditioning

Ethylhexylglycerin (we can't pronounce this either) is commonly used as a preservative and skin softener. It is derived from glyceryl.

Phenoxyethanol Preservative
Preservative Icon
PreservativePreservative Icon

Phenoxyethanol is a preservative that has germicide, antimicrobial, and aromatic properties. Studies show that phenoxyethanol can prevent germ and microbial growth. By itself, it has a scent that is similar to that of a rose.

Very Disliked Full details ->
Chlorphenesin Antimicrobial, Preservative
Preservative Icon
PreservativePreservative Icon

Chlorphenesin is a synthetic preservative. It helps protect a product against bacteria in order to extend shelf life. In most cases, Chlorphenesin is paired with other preservatives such as phenoxyethanol and caprylyl glycol.

Disliked Full details ->

Ingredient Ratings

Based on the number of likes and dislikes each ingredient has received.

11
4
15
3
liked
mixed
disliked
not rated

Ingredients Explained

This product contains 33 ingredients. Click on any ingredient to learn more about it
Skin Conditioning, Solvent
Loved

Water. It's the most common cosmetic ingredient of all. You'll usually see it at the top of ingredient lists, meaning that it makes up the largest part of the product.

So why is it so popular? Water most often acts as a solvent - this means that it helps dissolve other ingredients into the formulation.

You'll also recognize water as that liquid we all need to stay alive. Talk about multi-purpose! If you see this, drink a glass of water. Stay hydrated!

Learn more about Water
Humectant, Skin Conditioning, Skin Protecting
Loved

Glycerin is already naturally found in your skin. It helps moisturize and protect your skin.

A study from 2016 found glycerin to be more effective as a humectant than AHAs and hyaluronic acid.

As a humectant, it helps the skin stay hydrated by pulling moisture to your skin. The low molecular weight of glycerin allows it to pull moisture into the deeper layers of your skin.

Hydrated skin improves your skin barrier; Your skin barrier helps protect against irritants and bacteria.

Glycerin has also been found to have antimicrobial and antiviral properties. Due to these properties, glycerin is often used in wound and burn treatments.

In cosmetics, glycerin is usually derived from plants such as soybean or palm. However, it can also be sourced from animals, such as tallow or animal fat.

This ingredient is organic, colorless, odorless, and non-toxic.

Glycerin is the name for this ingredient in American English. British English uses Glycerol/Glycerine.

Learn more about Glycerin
Masking, Skin Conditioning
Mixed

Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride is an emollient, solvent, and texture enhancer. It is considered a skin-softener by helping the skin prevent moisture loss.

Within a product, Caprylic Triglyceride can thicken the product and make spreadability easier by dissolving clumping compounds. An added benefit of Caprylic Triglyceride is its antioxidant properties.

Caprylic Triglyceride is made by combining glycerin with coconut oil, forming a clear liquid. Caprylic Triglyceride has not been found to be toxic for human use in concentrations under 50%.

While there is an assumption Caprylic Triglyceride can clog pores due to it being derived from coconut oil, there is no research supporting this.

Learn more about Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride
Emollient, Perfuming
Very Disliked

Ethyl Linoleate is a fragrance and isn't fungal acne safe.

Solvent
Liked

Propanediol helps absorb ingredients into your skin, boosting their benefits. It can act as an emollient, making your skin softer. Propanediol can help products last longer by boosting the properties of preservatives within the formulation.

Propanediol is not likely to cause sensitivity and considered safe to use.

It is derived from corn or petroleum with a clear color and no scent.

Learn more about Propanediol
Solvent
Mixed

Dimethyl Isosorbide is a solvent and helps deliver actives into your skin. It is created from sorbitol.

As a solvent, dimethyl isosorbide helps dissolve other ingredients. This helps ensure even distribution of an ingredient. It may also be used to decrease the thickness of a product.

Studies show dimethyl isosorbide is able to penetrate skin to deliver other ingredients into the skin, making them more effective.

Learn more about Dimethyl Isosorbide
Emollient, Skin Conditioning

We don't have a description for Cetearyl Isononanoate.

Masking, Skin Conditioning, Soothing
Loved

Bisabolol is pimarily used to add fragrance to a product. However, it is also famous for helping soothe skin.

Bisabolol comes from German chamomile essential oil. Synthetic Bisabolol has been shown to be less effective.

Bisabolol helps soothe skin. It does this by blocking the inflammatory signals, helping to reduce your body's reaction to irritation.

Bisabolol also interferes with the process of hyperpigmentation. This can help with reducing dark spots and uneven tone.

Bisabolol is an antioxidant. Antioxidants help fight free-radicals. Free-radicals are molecules that may damage your skin cells. By fighting these free-radicals, Bisabolol may slow down signs of aging.

Studies have shown Bisabolol to have antimicrobial properties and may be a fungicide. These properties help preserve a product's shelf life.

Bisabolol also helps the absorption of other ingredients.

Learn more about Bisabolol
Skin Conditioning
Loved

This ingredient is a retinoid. It usually goes by a more common name: "Granactive".

Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate (HPR) belongs to the class of retinoids that also includes retinol and tretinoin.

Retinoids have been proven to:

So what is the difference between all the retinoids? Most retinoids need to go through a conversion line to become effective on skin. The ending product is retinoic acid. Retinoic acid is AKA tretinoin.

HPR is an ester of tretinoin. Emerging studies suggest HPR to have an added benefit that other retinoids don't have: Low irritation.

A study from 2021 found HPR to have the greatest stability when exposed to light and temperature out of all the commercial retinoids.

A note about naming: The name "Granactive" is the trade name and the name most commonly used on packages.

Granactive is the name of the mixture - about 90% solvent and 10% HPR. A product with 5% granactive has 0.5% HPR.

Learn more about Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate
Skin Conditioning
Loved

Retinol is a gold-standard ingredient for anti-aging. It is a form of Vitamin A and belongs to the class of retinoids that also includes tretinoin.

Why is retinol famous?

It has the most scientific studies backing up its skin benefits out of all the non-prescription ingredients.

Retinol is proven to:

This is why retinol is effective at removing wrinkles, fading dark spots, treating acne, and reducing the appearance of pores.

Studies show retinol is less effective when exposed to UV. Be sure to look for appropriate packaging to keep your retinol potent (similar to Vitamin C).

Using retinol or any retinoids will increase sun-sensitivity in the first few months. Though studies show retinoids increase your skin's natural SPF with continuous use, it is best to always wear sunscreen and sun-protection.

We recommend speaking with a medical professional about using this ingredient during pregnancy.

Retinol may cause irritation in some people, so be sure to patch test. Experts recommend 'ramping up' retinol use: start using this ingredient once a week and work up to using it daily.

Read about Tretinoin

Learn more about Retinol
Antioxidant, Skin Conditioning
Loved

Tasmannia Lanceolata Fruit/Leaf Extract is an antioxidant.

Emulsion Stabilising

We don't have a description for Inulin Lauryl Carbamate.

Emollient, Emulsifying
Disliked

Glyceryl Stearate is a mix of glycerin and stearic acid.

Glyceryl Stearate is used to stabilize the mixing of water and oil ingredients. By preventing these ingredients from separating, it can help elongate shelf life. It can also help thicken the product's texture.

As an emollient, it helps soften skin and supports barrier-replenishing ingredients.

In cosmetics, Glyceryl Stearate is often made from vegetable oils or synthetically produced. The human body also creates Glyceryl Stearate naturally.

Learn more about Glyceryl Stearate
Emulsifying
Disliked

We don't have a description for Ceteareth-12.

Cleansing, Emulsifying
Very Disliked

Ceteareth-20 is an emulsifier and cleansing agent. It is derived from cetearyl alcohol, a fatty alcohol.

As an emulsifier, Ceteareth-20 prevents oil and water from separating. It is also a surfactant. Surfactants help gather oil, pollution, and dirt to be washed away.

Emollient, Emulsifying, Emulsion Stabilising
Very Disliked

Cetearyl alcohol is a mixture of two fatty alcohols: cetyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol. It is mainly used as an emulsifier. Emulsifiers help prevent the separation of oils and products. Due to its composition, it can also be used to thicken a product or help create foam.

Cetearyl alcohol is an emollient. Emollients help soothe and hydrate the skin by trapping moisture.

Studies show Cetearyl alcohol is non-toxic and non-irritating. The FDA allows products labeled "alcohol-free" to have fatty alcohols.

This ingredient is usually derived from plant oils such as palm, vegetable, or coconut oils. There is debate on whether this ingredient will cause acne.

Due to the fatty acid base, this ingredient may not be Malassezia folliculitis safe.

Learn more about Cetearyl Alcohol
Very Disliked

Carrageenan comes from red seaweed or algae. It is made up of polysaccharides and a highly flexible compound. Red algae cell walls are rich in carrageenan.

In cosmetics, it helps to thicken the texture. Studies show carrageenan extracted from red algae possess antioxidant properties. Components found in carrageenan include: lipids, fatty acids, Vitamin E, proteins, and several amino acids.

Learn more about different types of algae.

Carrageenan is also commonly used in medicine and food. It is a vegan alternative to animal-based gelatin.

Learn more about Carrageenan
Emulsifying, Emulsion Stabilising, Gel Forming
Disliked

Xanthan gum is used as a stabilizer and thickener within cosmetic products. It helps give products a sticky, thick feeling - preventing them from being too runny.

On the technical side of things, xanthan gum is a polysaccharide - a combination consisting of multiple sugar molecules bonded together.

Xanthan gum is a pretty common and great ingredient. It is a natural, non-toxic, non-irritating ingredient that is also commonly used in food products.

Learn more about Xanthan Gum
Masking
Disliked

We don't have a description for Acacia Senegal Gum.

Emollient, Masking, Skin Conditioning
Very Disliked

Cetyl Palmitate is a wax-like substance.

It comes from palmitic acid and palmityl alcohol. Cetyl Palmitate may not be safe for Malassezia folliculitis, or fungal-acne.

This ingredient is naturally found in the guava fruit and stony corals.

Learn more about Cetyl Palmitate
Emollient, Emulsifying, Skin Conditioning

Sucrose Laurate isn't fungal acne safe.

Emulsifying
Very Disliked

Polysorbate 20 is made by combining ethoxylation of sorbitan, ethylene oxide, and lauric acid. It is a mild cleansing agent, surfactant, and emulsifier.

As a surfactant, it helps collect dirt and oils for washing. Emulsifiers prevent oils and water from separating.

Polysorbate 20 also adds scent to a product. Since it is made using sorbitol, it has a sweet scent. Sorbitol can also be found in fruits such as apples and peaches.

The lauric acid used to create Polysorbate 20 is often derived from coconuts.

Polysorbate 20 may not be fungal acne safe.

Learn more about Polysorbate 20
Emulsifying
Very Disliked

Isoceteth-20 comes from Isocetyl Alcohol. It is an emulsifier. Emulsifiers help stabilize a product. It does this by preventing certain ingredients from separating.

Antimicrobial, Masking, Skin Conditioning
Mixed

Rosmarinus Officinalis Leaf Extract comes from rosemary. Rosemary is native to the Mediterranean.

While Rosmarinus Officinalis Leaf Oil can be volatile due to its fragrant properties, this component is usually removed in the leaf extract.

Rosemary Leaf Extract can help protect your skin against damage from free-radical molecules. It contains many antioxidants such as rosmarinic acid and caffeic acid. Rosemarinic acid has been found to help soothe skin conditions such as eczema and acne.

Learn more about Rosmarinus Officinalis Leaf Extract
Skin Conditioning
Liked

Hydroxymethoxyphenyl Decanone is a synthetically created molecule made to mimic ginger extract.

Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties and helps to soothe skin.

According to one study, it is an HA booster, antioxidant, and anti-irritant.

In this study, this ingredient was able to stimulate higher hyaluronic acid levels of the dermal and epidermal layers on a skin-like model. Hyaluronic Acid is a humectant, which means it helps attract moisture to your skin. Humectants help keep skin hydrated.

As an antioxidant, Hydroxymethoxyphenyl Decanone is able to fight off damage from free-radical molecules.

Learn more about Hydroxymethoxyphenyl Decanone
Preservative
Liked

This ingredient is a preservative and often used for it's anti-static properties. You'll most likely see this ingredient in hair conditioners.

It does not cause irritation or sensitization in leave-on products at 1-5%.

Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate is used to help stabilize a product.

It is a chelating agent, meaning it helps prevent metal ions from binding to other ingredients. This prevents unwanted reactions in products. Metal ions can come into a product via the water ingredient. They are found in trace amounts and are not known to be harmful.

Disliked

Disodium EDTA plays a role in making products more stable by aiding other preservatives.

It is a chelating agent, meaning it neutralizes metal ions that may be found in a product.

Disodium EDTA is a salt of edetic acid and is found to be safe in cosmetic ingredients.

Learn more about Disodium EDTA
Preservative
Loved

Dehydroacetic Acid is fungicide and bactericide. It is used as a preservative in cosmetics. Preservatives help elongate the shelf life of a product.

Dehydroacetic Acid is not soluble in water.

Masking, Preservative
Disliked

Benzoic Acid is used to preserve and adjust the pH of products.

The antimicrobial property of Benzoic Acid helps elongate a product's shelf life. Its main role is to reduce fungi growth and is not found to be effective at fighting bacteria. Therefore Benzoic Acid is always added along with other preservatives.

In its pure form, Benzoic Acid looks like a white crystalline solid. It has slight solubility in water.

The name of Benzoic Acid comes from gum benzoin, which used to be the sole source of deriving this ingredient. Benzoic Acid is the most simple aromatic carboxylic acid.

Benzoic Acid is naturally occuring in strawberries, mustard, cinnamon, and cloves. It has a slight scent but is not considered to be a fragrance.

Learn more about Benzoic Acid
Skin Conditioning
Mixed

Ethylhexylglycerin (we can't pronounce this either) is commonly used as a preservative and skin softener. It is derived from glyceryl.

You might see Ethylhexylglycerin often paired with other preservatives such as phenoxyethanol. Ethylhexylglycerin has been found to increase the effectiveness of these other preservatives.

Preservative
Very Disliked

Phenoxyethanol is a preservative that has germicide, antimicrobial, and aromatic properties. Studies show that phenoxyethanol can prevent germ and microbial growth. By itself, it has a scent that is similar to that of a rose.

It's often used in formulations along with Caprylyl Glycol to preserve the shelf life of products.

Antimicrobial, Preservative
Disliked

Chlorphenesin is a synthetic preservative. It helps protect a product against bacteria in order to extend shelf life. In most cases, Chlorphenesin is paired with other preservatives such as phenoxyethanol and caprylyl glycol.

Chlorphenesin is a biocide. This means it is able to help fight the microorganisms on our skin. It is also able to fight odor-releasing bacteria.

Chlorphenesin is soluble in both water and glycerin.

Studies show Chlorphenesin is easily absorbed by our skin. You should speak with a skincare professional if you have concerns about using Chlorphenesin.

Learn more about Chlorphenesin

Reviews

3.5 /5
from 2 ratings
Absorbs Well (1) Great Value (1) Hydrating (1) Light (1) No Scent (1) Works Well (1)
AshN.'s avatar

AshN.

4 months ago Β· Dry Skin
Review

(Used from 2019-2022) This was my very first introduction to using retinoids in my evening routine. With this product I felt that my skin texture...

(Used from 2019-2022) This was my very first introduction to using retinoids in my evening routine. With this product I felt that my skin texture and complexion was smoother and brighter. Very gentle formulation, so I felt no irritation at any point. As with most of The Ordinary's products, they make for a great budget buy. Only moved on from this product because I felt that my face was getting too used to it, and I stopped noticing large changes in improvement. Definitely would recommend for beginners looking to add a gentle retinoid to their routine.

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