A Beginner's Guide to The Ordinary Skin Care

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The Ordinary has taken the skin-care world by storm due to the affordable pricing and focus on ingredients. But as miraculous as the fancy science names sounds, getting a grip on what the ingredients do can be pretty confusing if you don't have a chemistry degree. Luckily, The Ordinary is so accessible and reasonably priced that it's easy to experiment, or even try a whole new regimen. One thing's for sure: you won't be waylaid by pretty packaging or exotic product descriptions. The people of Deciem, which distributes Ordinary products, believe that "skin care is not like fragrance or fashionable — it's functional, and it's not about telling stories."

To help you dive into the world of The Ordinary, we've compiled a general guide to help you find out which products suit each skin type, which can be easily adapted for a mix-and-match approach. When trying new skin-care products, particularly when acids are involved, it's often best to introduce just one or two new products at a time in conjunction with products you trust. By doing this, you can see which products work and which cause irritation.

This guide does not contain a step to cleansing your skin, so be sure to cleanse properly before applying these products. If you wear makeup regularly, double cleansing is an effective way to ensure skin is prepped for treatments.

Best The Ordinary Products For Acne-Prone Skin

There are multiple causes of acne, so it is a good idea to visit a dermatologist if necessary to determine the specific type and causes of acne. However, topical products can help immensely with treating acne, which is all about reducing inflammation and maintaining a healthy skin barrier by not skipping on moisture altogether. Be sure to add moisture when you feel your skin needs it. Completely drying out your skin will not get rid of your acne any more effectively and will leave you with flaky patches.


What to use in the morning: Resveratol 3% + Ferulic Acid 3% ($8) is a powerful antioxidant formula that helps restore the skin's integrity. Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% ($6) also helps to repair the skin barrier and is best combined with retinol in a routine.


What to use in the evening: Retinol 1% in Squalane ($7). Retinol can sometimes cause irritation when using it for the first time; if this is the case, start using retinol once or twice a week and build up to more once the skin is used to it. Sun protection is very important when using retinol products, so always wear SPF during the day. Moisturize with 100% Plant-Derived Squalane ($8), a noncomedogenic (nonclogging) product that will maintain moisture in the skin without clogging the pores.

Best The Ordinary Products For Dry Skin

Dry skin is different from dehydrated skin, so the first step is finding out which one you have. Dry skin needs help maintaining a healthy skin barrier through long-lasting hydration. Some people prefer the hyaluronic acid from NIOD (a sister brand) due to the slightly sticky texture of the Ordinary one, but it is a more expensive option.


What to use in the morning: Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 ($7) is great for skin types in need of extra moisture, as this oil-free solution enhances the skin's surface hydration. Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA ($6) contains 11 amino acids (great for tissue repair) along with a cocktail of other hydrating ingredients to provide immediate and long-lasting hydration.


What to use in the evening: The same Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 formula and Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA as above, followed by 100% Plant-Derived Squalane ($8), which is a stable hydrocarbon naturally found in the skin that prevents hydration loss. It is a noncomedogenic and suitable for all skin types.

Once a week: AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution ($7).

Best The Ordinary Products For Blemishes and Congestion

If you suffer from congestion and blemishes without active acne, your routine will differ slightly from acne-prone skin. This routine focuses on reducing inflammation with salicylic acid while using azelaic acid to brighten the skin and reduce redness caused from breakouts. The main type of products to look out for here are noncomedogenics (say goodbye to coconut oil and shea butter).


What to use in the morning: Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% ($6) will help restore the skin barrier with other benefits including including brightened skin tone, pores appearing minimized, and improving dullness.

What to use in the evening: 100% Niacinamide Powder ($6) is a direct topical treatment that targets skin texture irregularities and enlarged pores; Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% ($8) acts as an effective antioxidant and helps to brighten and even skin tone while helping with the appearance of blemishes; 100% Plant-Derived Squalane ($8).


Twice per week: AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution ($7). This 10-minute facial helps to clear pore congestion, offers deep exfoliation, and fights the appearance of blemishes. However, this shouldn't be used on sensitive or peeling skin. Best of all, it's bright red and resembles the vampire facial.

Best The Ordinary Products For Sensitive Skin

It can be difficult to add new products into your skin-care routine if you have sensitive skin because the most simple of changes can make it angry. Sensitive skin occurs when the natural skin barrier has been compromised leaving symptoms such as redness, itchiness, flaking, and tightness. Keeping the skin moisturized with minimal irritation is key to maintaining a healthy functioning skin barrier.


What to use in the evening: The same Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA as above. If you have sensitive skin and want to experiment with acids, try using a small amount of Lactic Acid 10% + HA ($7), The Ordinary's most gentle of all the acids. If you begin to have a reaction to this, immediately discontinue use.

Best The Ordinary Products For Mature Skin

Reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles is all about hydration. As we age, our skin loses its natural production of collagen and elasticity, so maintaining moisture is key. This routine combines moisture with acids targeted at improving the appearance and texture of mature skin.

Best The Ordinary Products For Pigmentation

Pigmentation can be one of the most difficult skin concerns to improve as it takes time and perseverance. Glycolic acid can help immensely with gently exfoliating the skin and brightening overall skin tone. Again, don't forget to use a moisturizer, such as Natural Moisturizing Factors or Squalane, to maintain moisture whilst treating the hyperpigmentation.


What to use in the morning: Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA ($9) has a high 2-percent concentration rather than the standard 1 percent, which reduces the appearance of spots and hyperpigmentation; Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% ($6); Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate Solution 20% in Vitamin F ($18) is one of the most stable derivatives and provides overall skin brightening.

What to use in the evening: Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution ($9), the same Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA as above, or Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% ($8).

Once a week: AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution ($7).

Best The Ordinary Products For Oily Skin

The biggest misconception about those with oily skin is that you shouldn't add extra moisture to your routine. You absolutely still need moisturizer when you have an oily skin type. The acids will help to unclog pores and reduce any blemishes, and the moisturizer maintains a healthy hydrated skin barrier.