The Ordinary, the insanely, almost suspiciously, affordable brand has made an extraordinary impact to the skincare industry, and to the makeup of millions of skincare shelves around the world.
Unapologetically stripped back both in terms of ingredients, scent and branding, The Ordinary caused a ruckus when it burst onto the scene in 2016 marketing single-ingredient-driven “clinical formulations with integrity” – for the first time offering products with active ingredients like retinol, vitamin C and hyaluronic acid that rivalled what luxury serums and moisturizers have to offer.
The majority of The Ordinary range clocks in for less than €10. Why? The Ordinary is dedicated to transparency (an ethos brand’s late founder Brandon Truaxe was adamant about maintaining) and a commitment to pricing products at the very lowest they can based on cost price, resulting in prices that aren’t significantly marked up.
Thanks to their incredible prices The Ordinary has done an outstanding job of making active skincare ingredients accessible to every one, and has enhanced our vocabulary simultaneously – conversations on the best hyaluronic acid or the virtues of salicylic versus glycolic acid are now commonplace at the office water cooler.
However, despite their success being down to their simplicity, the range can be a bit intimidating when it comes to choosing which one you should go for.
Over the years I’ve tried out a plethora of The Ordinary range, so much so that my bathroom looks more like a pharmacy at times thanks to their medical-aesthetic chic dropper bottles, and below are products that impressed me the most and that I always repeat order.
Read on for The Ordinary skincare products that are worthy of your money and, most importantly, that will make a difference to your skin.
Also I would always recommend that every one, no matter how slick your skincare routine is, should visit a dermatologist or qualified aesthetician once a year to get professional advice on what approach you should take to keeping your skin healthy.
First up is The Ordinary’s first and only cleanser. Their Squalane Cleanser landed with a bang in 2019 and I snapped up a few bottles as soon as the email newsletter announcement hit my inbox. Oil cleansing is nothing to be feared but rather to be embraced as an essential primary step in the cleansing process.
With a quick rub between your balms, The Ordinary’s contribution to the cleansing game transforms from a balm to to a clear oil-like consistency making it easy to spread and that impressively dissolves makeup and any other grime that’s built up on your face. Soap free it is suitable for all skin types and leaves the skin feeling smooth and moisturized – and in my cleansing routine, ready for another (non-foaming) cleanse to remove any final residue.
The Ordinary Marine Hyaluronics is alternative to hyaluronic acid-based hydrating serums. It has a super watery texture as it’s Silicone-free and oil-free, making it less sticky and helping it to sink in faster than The Ordinary’s Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5. It contains algae, polysaccharides and proteins derived from marine bacteria – and I think this is why it has a fishy smell! But don’t be put off, it’s not that strong, it doesn’t linger and it’s worth it!
This 10-minute exfoliating peel will sting a little and it will make you look like you’re mid ‘Vampire Facial’, however it also brightens, evens out skin tone, clears congestion and fights acne.
It’s strong-is combination of 30 percent alpha-hydroxy acids (glycolic, lactic, tartaric and citric acids) and 2 percent beta-hydroxy acids (salicylic acid) this should only be used twice a week, at night. It also includes hyaluronic acid, vitamin B5 and Tasmanian pepperberry to calm the skin, plus black carrot, which acts as an antioxidant.
If you’re a newbie to acids you might want to start out with The Ordinary’s Lactic Acid 5% + HA, however if you’ve healthy skin and have been using them a while I’ve found this is the best from the range. This high-strength 10 percent lactic acid exfoliates the skin and combats the irritation caused with calming Tasmanian pepperberry.
People rave about glycolic acid but having read around lactic acid is the way to go. Be mindful that like all AHAs, it will make your skin more sensitive to the sun and could be irritating, so use in the evenings where possible and always pop a SPF on (but you’re doing that everyday anyway, right??).
Known affectionately as ‘Sally’ to many, Salicylic Acid is your best friend if you’re prone to breakouts and The Ordinary’s version is effective as other more expensive offerings on the market.
Ideal for treating and preventing acne, blackheads and congestion, Salicylic Acid works by exfoliating the skin and inside the walls of pores to fight acne and improve clarity. It can be applied as a spot treatment or all over the face.
The Ordinary has an extensive portfolio of retinols and retinoids (both derivatives of Vitamin A). When it comes to defending against fine lines and maintaining a healthy glow, there’s no ingredient in skincare more lauded. Let me begin by saying that if you’re really looking for some super skincare power you are best off seeking a prescription for over 5% retinol, which brands can legally not sell over-the-counter.
However, that’s not to say you should not bother with any lower than that. Vitamin A is one of the body’s key nutrients for boosting cell turnover so this is an active skincare ingredient that will really have an effect on your skin, but equally should be used with respect.
You can’t really go too wrong with the low percentage over-the-counter formulas, and using them two times per week to begin with, slowly increasing the usage to give the skin a chance to acclimate.
The Ordinary’s range is super-affordable compared to other retinoids on the market and the The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion is my favourite. It’s a moderate-strength alternative to retinol that is said to produce no irritation.
It contains 0.2 percent of the active ingredient, hydroxypinacolone retinoate (HP and because of the squalane base, it has a light oily texture just like squalane oil.
Of course, there are heaps of others to try out so let me know in the comments below if there’s any others that have impressed you.