Stores & Services
Find a Sephora

Happening at Sephora

View all


From makeovers to personalized skincare consultations

Free Classes

Get inspired, play with products & learn new skills

Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Post in Skincare Aware

The Ordinary Squalene Retinol 0.5% won't sink in.

Good Day,

I am new to skincare and I am trying to sort out a routine that works for me.  I have been using a retinol routine every other PM.  I use  The Ordinary Retinol 0.5% in Squalene.  No matter where I stick it in this routine, nothing every sinks into my skin.   And if I add things after, it just makes it greesy.  Normally no matter what I put on my face, within 20 minutes, there is zero sign of greese or shine on my face.  When using this, I could still feel the slime on my face right through the night.  I only use a a few drops from the dropper and target my forehead, above my nose, and around my lips. It does seem like it works, it is just not enjoyable.


If anyone could provide any suggestions on how to fix this or can suggest a replacement product than I am all ears. I just got into skincare about a month or two ago.  I started with all The Ordinary products because it was easy to use their charts.  But I am willing to start trying other products that may cost somewhat more but provide a definite improvement in quality.



Male - 44 - White - Pale Skin

Normal Skin - Only issues are dark circles under eyes and some general light signs of aging.


Retinol PM Routine:

Cleanser - Bull Dog For Men (Aloe, Camelina, and Green Tea)

Essence - SK-II

Eye Serum - The Ordinary Caffein Solution 5% + EGCG

Face Serum - Buffet

Face Serum - Retinol 0.5% in Squalene

Moisturizer - Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cream


Thanks in advance, I always appreciate the assistance on here.




Re: The Ordinary Squalene Retinol 0.5% won't sink in.

Hi @madtonic ! Squalane is a good emollient and moisturizing ingredient. Sounds like it's too emollient for your particular skin, at least in this product's formulation. My skin loves squalane, but last year I tested an oil-soluble vitamin C serum that was basically just vitamin C and squalane, and that stuff always made my mostly-dry combo skin feel like a grease puddle. So I kinda feel your pain. 


Have you considered trying The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid* 2% Emulsion 1 oz/ 30 mL ? That product contains no squalane and has more of a milky serum texture that should sink into skin pretty well, without leaving a greasy film behind. About the "2%" retinoid claim: 

This product contains a retinoic acid ester called hydroxypinacolone retinoate (aka HPR or granactive retinoid), plus retinol. Theoretically, HPR requires no conversion by skin cells before it can work (unlike retinol which needs 2 conversions), yet it's less irritating than retinol. 

The "2%" is the total amount of the HPR complex in this product. To isolate how much HRP is really in this product, divide that number by 10: it actually contains 0.2% HPR. That may sound weaker than your 0.5% retinol, but remember, HPR is supposedly ready to work right off the bat—no conversion necessary. Now, I don't know how much retinol is in this product. But since The Ordinary calls this and their 0.5% squalane retinol "mid strength," I assume they're comparable. 

If I can think of another comparable option, I'll come back and list it. 🙂 

Re: The Ordinary Squalene Retinol 0.5% won't sink in.

@madtonic have you tried adding a facial oil after the retinol step? Like The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil 1 oz/ 30 mL this always locks everything in for me

Re: The Ordinary Squalene Retinol 0.5% won't sink in.

I agree I just use the good molecules one. Saved my skin.

3 Replies
Conversation Stats
  • 3 replies
  • 3 Hearts Given
  • 4 Contributors
  • thumbnail_IMG_5879.jpg