The Ordinary has been buzzing through all the trendiest beauty magazines, blogs, and influencers for a while now. The only thing missing is a Guide to The Ordinary products. With a growing reputation that lives up to the company motto of:
Clinical Formulations with Integrity
But while The Ordinary’s entire line of products is simple, cruelty-free, and affordable, it’s not exactly easy to work out what you need and when.
Guide To The Ordinary products
The Ordinary has an expansive line of products curated to address every skin concern and skin type with clinical strength formulas. From acne-prone skin to mature skin, there’s something for everyone it’s very inclusive that way.
But we get you. It’s hella confusing to get started and the austere bottles and clinical names can be intimidating.
Take a breath and grab an Oatly latte while we break The Ordinary down for you.
Before we get to the breakdown there is a little side note we want to mention. The Ordinary is for anyone, but it’s not necessarily for everyone.
We find The Ordinary products work best if you already have an established skincare routine and know where you need to add in Ordinary products.
You can make up your whole skincare routine with Ordinary products but we wouldn’t advise you to start there. Instead, get your basics down, then add in Ordinary products where you need them
What Are The Basics Of A Skincare Routine?
No matter your age, skin type or skin concern the basics of a skincare routine is:
Cleanse, Treat, Moisturize and Sunscreen in the morning and Cleanse, Treat and Moisturize at night.
It’s the ‘treat’ and ‘moisturize’ steps that change, sometimes daily depending on hormones, seasons, environments and time pressure. This is where The Ordinary products really shine. If you know what ingredients your skin needs then you can add them into your ‘treat’ or ‘moisturize’ step.
So let’s get into breaking down The Ordinary products:
Currently, this brand only has one cleanser, but that’s no problem because the Squalene Cleanser is a do-it-all product ideal for all skin types, including combination, dry, oily, and sensitive skin. Squalene is a unique balm-like oil-based cleanser traditionally derived from shark liver oil, Ewww.
The Ordinary’s squalene cleanser is made from plant-based squalene, phew. Squalene is known to have powerful hydrating and anti-inflammatory abilities.
The Squalene Cleanser is The Ordinary’s answer to the ever-so-popular Korean double cleanse, which uses an oil-based cleanser followed by a foaming cleanser. However, because a double-cleanse is sometimes too powerful for some skin types, particularly dry skin. The Squalene cleanser is an ideal alternative. It contains emulsifiers that remove excess sebum, dirt, and oil, leaving skin feeling fresh but not tight from over-washing.
Direct acids are the heavy-lifters in this line of skincare products. Some of the direct acids are formulated at a strength that makes them ideal for at-home peels, which should be used one to two times a week, while other direct acids are skin actives that should be part of your daily regimen. The full collection of direct acids in this line includes:
- AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution
- Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution
- Lactic Acid 10% + HA
- Lactic Acid 5% + HA
- Salicylic Acid 2% Masque
- Salicylic Acid 2% Solution
The peeling solutions are particularly important for your long-term skincare goals, especially if your goal is to alleviate sun damage and acne breakouts. Peeling solutions help exfoliate your skin and act as heavy-hitters for problematic skin concerns, such as acne. The toning and acid solutions, can be used daily or most days a week to brighten, tone, and balance the skin.
Sometimes, perfect-looking skin means achieving optimal skin health – and that means reaching for antioxidants to keep your skin fresh and looking plump. The Ordinary has three main antioxidant serums to help fight against free radicals and other potential skin pollutants, including:
- EUK 134 0.1%
- Pycnogenol 5%
- Resveratrol 3% + Ferulic Acid 3%
Using an antioxidant in your skincare routine is important because antioxidants can both undo free radical damage and prevent further damage. Damage from free radical exposure, such as UV rays, can cause your skin to age prematurely, cause skin irritation and redness, and decrease collagen causing skin laxity. By using an antioxidant, you can work to reverse sun damage and protect the youthful resilience of your skin.
Hydrators and Oils
Good skincare is all about hydration and for very good reason. For example, skin that is chronically dry often over-produces oil and sebum, which can contribute to the development of acne breakouts. And for maturing skin, it’s especially important to keep skin hydrated due to how much more quickly skin loses moisture as a result of the natural ageing process. The hydration products and 100% pure oils produced by The Ordinary include:
- 100% Cold-Pressed Virgin Marula Oil
- 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Moroccan Argan Oil
- 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil
- 100% Organic Virgin Sea-Buckthorn Fruit Oil
- 100% Plant-Derived Squalane
- Amino Acids + B5
- Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5
- Marine Hyaluronic
- Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA
Some hydrators and oils are ideal for acne-prone skin, such as marula oil and sea-buckthorn fruit oil, while other hydrators and oils are ideal for ageing skin, such as rosehip seed oil. If your goal is to combat skin dryness, incorporating hyaluronic acid 2%, marine hyaluronic, plant-derived squalene, and Moroccan argan oil are ideal choices. You can use hydrators and oils as individual serums or as additions to your regular moisturizers.
Molecules and Peptides
Molecules and peptides can pump up the impact of your skincare products, as well as rejuvenate and refresh your skin. Dermatology experts understand the importance of integrating molecules and peptides into your skincare regimen, particularly if you have skin concerns that require more attention, such as ageing, acne, scarring, dryness, irritation, or sun damage. Some molecules and peptides to consider include:
- Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA
- Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG
- Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%
- Argireline Solution 10%
There are some molecules and peptides that are rockstar skin actives, such as niacinamide, a molecule derived from B Vitamins that increases moisture retention and suppleness in the skin. Even caffeine can help wake your skin up, plump skin texture, and tighten skin.
Retinoids are sometimes the single-most-important skin active in your skincare regimen, particularly if you are contending with age-related concerns such as fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots, sun damage, and skin laxity. Of course, picking the right strength of retinoid is important, which is why this skincare line has retinol strengths ranging from .5% to 1%, as well as retinoids with 2% or 5% concentration.
Proper sun care is vital for protecting the health of your skin, limiting acne breakouts and irritation, minimizing damage from the sun, and of course, protecting your skin from potentially harmful UV rays.
Using proper suncare is also important when you are incorporating skin actives and acids into your skincare regimen since most acids do not respond favourably to sun exposure.
The Ordinary does not have a sunscreen
What Rules Do You Need to Follow for Your Routine?
To get the most out of your skincare routine, you need to be careful about following certain rules. For example, water-based formulas should be applied before oil-based formulas. This is because of how the skin barrier absorbs water and uses oil to lock-in moisture.
However, applying serums in any order is better than not applying them at all.
Rule #1: Know Your Daytimes and Nightimes
This rule is particularly important if you are using direct acids and antioxidants that are best if only applied at nighttime. It’s also important that you are applying serums during the right time of the day because of the intended role of the serum.
For example, Vitamin C should be used during the daytime to protect from sun damage.
Retinols should only be used at night.
Rule #2: Know Your Usage Order
A basic skincare routine consists of a cleanser, treat, moisturizer, and suncare during the day, while at night your last step might be an additional serum. Using your products in the right order – and allowing a few minutes between each step – allows each product to be absorbed into the skin for optimal impact.
Rule #3: Know Your Serums
As a general rule, your skincare routine for either daytime or nighttime should never consist of more than three serums. Going with the less is more philosophy, you can tailor your serums and use different ones during the daytime and nighttime to address different skin concerns.
As a general rule, you go from watery to oily and low pH to high pH.
Not everyone knows the pH or whether a serum is water-based or oil-based. If you’re like me you find all of The Ordinary serums to be of similar consistency.
I don’t know the pH off hand of The Ordinary serum either. What to do? Start your serum with whatever you want to treat or improve in your skin.
If hyperpigmentation is your biggest issue then start with niacinamide. If Acne is your top priority start with retinol.
Always use Hyaluronic serums last, think of them as a topcoat that seals everything into place and provides a protective barrier.