This Canadian skincare brand is all about straightforward, efficacious formulas and cost-appropriate pricing, but its ingredient-geek labels and range of product lines seem tricky to figure out without a PhD. Thankfully there's a foolproof way to get right to the info you need, no night-school required.
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Deciem Decoded in 4 Easy Steps (Without a PhD) - BEAUTYGEEKS

If you're a skincare nerd, you've definitely at least heard of Deciem, if you haven't already stocked up on a variety of items from The Ordinary, Hylamide and NIOD for starters. (Lucky you if you've already scored one of the new foundations – most of us are still waiting with bated breath for that back-in-stock email.)

The thing is that aside from the jaw-droppingly affordable pricing for The Ordinary range (available at Sephora as of Dec 2017), what makes Deciem great (not an understatement) is also what makes Deciem appear to be the most complicated skincare out there – and it really isn't. Most of us just don't speak the plain skincare-ingredient language for which the brand is known. *wishes for the 79,683rd time that she were a cosmetic chemist already*

4 steps to decoding deciem 

Deciem in Toronto's Yorkville area

Deciem store on in Toronto's Yorkville area

Aside from the number of collections under the brand umbrella (11 so far, plus 5 or 6 more "coming soon"), Deciem products take their names from key ingredients in each formula (i.e. NIOD Copper Amino Isolate Serum 1%). Without a background in skincare ingredients, figuring out what you need or want can take a chunk of time spent hitting your Google button and squinting at Deciem's super-informative website (note: at a glance you can see the product's pH, and whether it's alcohol-free, oil-free, vegan, cruelty-free, etc).

So what to do? Here's, by far, the easiest way to decode Deciem:

1. Hit the website – it's ( in Canada carries a range of The Ordinary, Hylamide, NIOD and Fountain; and in the USA, The Ordinary.)
2. Find the CONTACT section and scroll down to the contact options.
3. Call the appropriate toll-free number.
4. Have a good chat with a Deciem "Customer Happiness Ambassador."

It's really as easy as that: make a phone call and ask questions. The Deciem staff knows stuff. Not only do they train constantly, they're delighted to decipher each product's name and function for you. And they can actually put together a comprehensive Deciem regimen that addresses your skincare concerns – that's an actual semi-official service they offer via email, phone and in-store visit. (By semi-official, I mean you don't yet have to sign up or book time to speak with someone about a full regimen, you just have to call, or email, or go to a Deciem store – and if you go the store route, it's probably wise to call ahead anyway.)

beautygeeks and deciem

I've never met Brandon Truaxe, Deciem's founder, but I've picked up a few details over the years. In my magazine days, I attended the launch of a luxury skincare line called Euoko, created by Truaxe. Word was that he's an ingredient geek, willing to research across the earth for interesting effective actives. Later, at an introductory preview for a more affordable drugstore line called Indeed Labs, Truaxe's passion for exciting new and efficacious skincare ingredients came up as an unofficial part of the brand's core. Out of that very targeted lineup, my favourite is Indeed Labs Hydraluron, a simple hyaluronic-acid booster gel that, at least at that time, contained about a handful of ingredients with HA as the star.

I'm actually not 100% sure that Truaxe was behind the formula for Hydraluron; I'm checking on that. Still, based on my appreciation of that stuff, the first Deciem item I tried was The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 serum ($6.80 at and My skin liked it, but I soon gave it to my 15-year-old niece who was battling dry, flaky skin as a result of topical blemish medication. 

Within two applications, one before bed and then after cleansing the following morning, the unblemished parts of Erin's complexion looked 100% better: healthier, glowier and smoother. The serum gave her skin exactly the hydration kick it needed, and because it's such a targeted, specific product, it also made Erin feel safe about adding it to her routine – it won't react with anything else she's already using.

Deciem Decoded in 4 Easy Steps - BEAUTYGEEKS

Deciem Hylamide C25 Booster, The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution, The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2% and Hylamide SubQ Anti-Age

At the moment I'm into a bottle of Deciem Hylamide C25 Stabilized Vitamin C Booster ($38 at and Hylamide SubQ Anti-Age ($38 at, both of which I purchased. I haven't cracked my bottle of The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution ($8.70 at sephora.comyet – I bought it because I expect my skin to love it as much as the Neostrata 8% glycolic-acid toner that saved my complexion in my 30s – nor The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2% ($6.70 at serum I also purchased; stay tuned.

I'm dying to try a whole whack of other items, including The Ordinary Advanced Retinoid 2% ($9.80 CAD at and Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution ($7.20 CAD at, NIOD Copper Amino Isolate Serum 5% aka CAIS 5.00% ($200 CAD at Ethylated L-Ascorbic Acid 30% Network aka ELAN ($70 CAD at, NIOD Superoxide Dismutase Saccharide Mist aka SDSM2 ($50 CAD at, NIOD Multi-Molecular Hyaluronic Complex aka MMHC2 ($60 CAD at – everything, I want to try everything.

In the handful of years since its launch (starting with the Fountain and Chemistry lines because Truaxe had a non-compete agreement after his split with Indeed), Deciem has blown up. In fact, now it's a Canadian company with a side of Estee Lauder

Surprise! Quite a selection of The Ordinary, Chemistry and AB Crew products is available in Canada at Rexall pharmacies. And you already know that Sephora Canada online carries an array of The Ordinary, NIOD, Hylamide and Fountain, and Sephora in the US online carries The Ordinary. A global retail list is here. And of course you can order directly from; they ship to the USA, too.

Have you tried any Deciem yourself? If you haven't, what's your take on what you've read or heard thus far?

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