I Tried The Ordinary’s New Moisturizer — & It’s Not For Everyone

Photo: Courtesy of Jacqueline Kilikita
If you're a fan of The Ordinary, you'll know that the brand has been very busy, lifting the lid on not one but five new skincare products in the past few months.
First, there was the Glucoside Foaming Cleanser, a gentle face wash that's so effective, it replaced all of the micellar waters and cleansing balms in my skin-care routine. Then there was the Multi-Peptide Eye Serum, which Refinery29's senior affiliate writer, Karina Hoshikawa, gave a stellar 11/10 rating for its hydrating and skin-strengthening abilities.
Since then, we've seen the Natural Moisturizing Factors + Phytoceramides (a substantial moisturizer for those with skin on the dry side), the Aloe 2% + Nag 2% Solution (for minimizing dark spots left behind by acne), and the Glycolipid Cream Cleanser, which is so good, I finished it down to the last drop. But there's a new addition to The Ordinary's burgeoning skincare dynasty — and it's already amassing 5-star reviews online.

What is beta glucan and what are the skincare benefits?

The star ingredient in The Ordinary's new moisturizer is one you might not have heard of until now: beta glucan. Don't underestimated it. Some dermatologists and TikTok skincare enthusiasts are suggesting it might displace hyaluronic acid as the next big "moisture magnet."
In short, celebrity esthetician and skincare expert Cynthia Franco told R29 recently: "Beta glucan is a nice big molecule composed of many smaller sugar molecules called polysaccharides." Interestingly, research shows that beta glucan is 20% more hydrating than hyaluronic acid. "They are both great hydrators for the skin and reduce fine lines with continued use over time," added Franco. Lots of skin-care products actually marry hyaluronic acid and beta glucan to increase hydration levels, making skin appear plump.
The specific form of beta glucan in The Ordinary's moisturizer comes from reishi mushrooms, which have been used in traditional Chinese culture for over 2,000 years. Not only is beta glucan an effective humectant, which keeps moisture under lock and key in the skin and prevents it from becoming dry and tight, but it's a great antioxidant, too. Antioxidants help guard skin against environmental stressors such as dulling pollution.
Beta glucan may be the star ingredient, but this moisturizer also boasts ceramides, which help keep the skin barrier intact, as well as amino acids to restore skin damage over time. These are also known as natural moisturizing factors (NMF), as they are found naturally in the skin, hence the name on the tube. On paper, this is all you'd ever really want or need from a moisturizer (aside from sunscreen, of course, but most dermatologists typically recommend an additional targeted SPF).

Is The Ordinary's Natural Moisturizing Factors + Beta Glucan any good?

I have combination skin which leans more towards oily, so I don't get along with most moisturizers for fear of breakouts. This one, however, looked promising. Not only is it a water-based gel, it's also oil- and silicone-free, so it doesn't feel at all heavy. The texture is so lightweight, it's more like a hydrating serum. It's also totally clear, unlike any other moisturizer in my current routine.
The first time I used Natural Moisturizing Factors + Beta Glucan was in the morning layered underneath my sunscreen (L'Oréal Revitalift Clinical SPF 50+ Invisible Fluid), and I really enjoyed it. Usually, applying both moisturizer and SPF is too much for my skin, and the double layer causes my makeup to slip and slide. This combination provided just the right amount of moisture and helped my foundation stayed put until the end of the day.
It was a different story in the evening, though. I often use retinal, which can make my cheeks relatively dry and sometimes (if I overdo it) quite flaky. For this reason, I need something that's going to quench and smooth over my parched patches without sticking my face to my pillow come bedtime. Convinced this would be the one, I applied a generous amount after cleansing, but once it sank in to my skin, I noticed some tightness around my eyes, cheeks, and forehead. This told me that it isn't substantial enough for me as an evening moisturizer. That said, I've found that applying the moisturizer to damp skin a couple of minutes after washing my face helps trap in more moisture, which means my skin feels more comfortable.
When it comes to The Ordinary's moisturizer range, Natural Moisturizing Factors + Beta Glucan is certainly the thinnest texture-wise. The brand's Natural Moisturizing Factors + Phytoceramides is the thickest and lends skin a subtle gleam, whereas the Natural Moisturizing Factor's + HA sits somewhere between the two. The latter is just right for me: it absorbs quickly, takes away any uncomfortable, tight feeling, and imparts a low-key, dewy finish.
The new Natural Moisturizing Factors + Beta Glucan was more of a winner with my partner, who I often share skincare with. He has combination skin that's more on the oily, acne-prone side, and hates for his face to feel coated or greasy after applying moisturizer. I like products to lend a bit of a slip to my skin, but he enjoyed that this moisturizer felt like, well, nothing. Once it absorbs, it really is inconspicuous. There are no telltale signs you've applied moisturizer, like glossy cheekbones or a dewy forehead. For him, it does the job of moisturizing adequately yet quietly. He has experienced fewer breakouts, too, and is convinced that the lighter texture is to thank for his clearer skin.
All in all, Natural Moisturizing Factors + Beta Glucan isn't for everyone. But if you're looking for something that's easy to use, totally traceless and is less likely to exacerbate oily skin and breakouts, this might just be it.
This story was originally published on Refinery29UK.
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