There is Nothing Ordinary about The Ordinary!

Great beauty products at affordable prices

Photo by Valeriia Miller on

The Ordinary, Beauty à la Carte  

If you buy directly from The Ordinary, during the month of November, you will have a 23% discount on all their products.

But, before talking about The Ordinary, let me ask you, why don´t you join the Facebook group called The Ordinary & Deciem Chat Room (Fan Page)?

There, they don’t always talk about this brand, but about skin problems, in general. The truth is that in this group you can learn a lot about skin care, since many girls upload their photos with their specific problems, and people, then, give their opinion. Of course, the people who comment are not always experts; they are not dermatologists, but they are people who, like you and me, have suffered these problems before, have fought against them, and have come out victorious, many times. Besides, it is the perfect place to get real reviews of The Ordinary products, and, sometimes, other brands.

But enough chitchat. What is The Ordinary? It sounds so… ordinary! Well, you see, it is not ordinary at all; it´s actually quite unique, I´d say. The Ordinary is a very popular Canadian cosmetic brand from Deciem. In America and in England it has legions of fans. Why?

The Ordinary sells active ingredients in glass bottles (transparent or dark, depending on the sensitivity of the product; something really important for the correct preservation of its ingredients). 

The best thing about The Ordinary? The fact that its prices are exceptional. So good are they, that I hesitated a lot before deciding to try this brand. And I had to read a lot about it to understand why it is so cheap. The Ordinary doesn’t spend on advertising, and it is their wish that all the active ingredients for skin care are available to everyone. That way, they can afford to make a small margin on every little bottle they sell. And the thing is that this marketing strategy has worked perfectly so far, because it sells great products at great prices. If you go to the small London store in Covent Garden, you will see a lot of men and women buying about ten bottles on average each. There, everybody takes a basket when they enter the shop, because it is difficult to take just one of these little-miracle bottles.

I have tried almost every product it offers, immersed in the frenzy of discovering such a good and affordable brand. Why do we have to use creams made by others, which can contain harmful ingredients for our skin, just to get a little bit of retinol? Wouldn’t it be better to go straight to the heart of the matter? Well, that’s what we can do with The Ordinary.

Careful! Stop!

But be careful, if you decide to use this brand. One, two or at most three active ingredients per routine, or even per day, will be enough. And depending, of course, on what ingredients you want to mix, because not all products can be combined. The brand has a very useful graphic that tells you what can be mixed with what.

Look at it here.

To choose the right active ingredients for you, you first need to know what products the brand offers. 


Its acids are extremely popular. They exfoliate the skin in a chemical way; that is, slowly and gently. Chemical peels are very popular, because we have learned that you do not have to scratch your skin as we used to do (which is a physical exfoliation). Now these acids exfoliate more effectively, gently, and without you even realising. The truth is that they are extremely effective for acne-prone skin.

Among the existing acids, The Ordinary has alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHA).


Alpha Hydroxy Acids fight small expression lines, in dry, mixed and oily skins.

Mandelic Acid

It is the mildest of the Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) and my favorite. It is the softest because its molecules are large, so it takes time for them to penetrate the skin. Let’s say it penetrates in a more gradual way. You can mix it with salicylic, if you have a significant tendency for your pores to become congested with oil. I use it once a week in my nightly routine. The Ordinary one contains 10% and is mixed with hyaluronic acid. This is one of my favourite products.

Ph: 3.7

Lactic Acid

Lactic acid is not as gentle as mandelic, but it is quite gentle on the skin; much more than glycolic. Its molecules are medium in size.

The Ordinary has 5 and 10% concentrations of lactic acid and this is also mixed with hyaluronic acid. Needless to say, that if you are going to try it, start with the one that contains 5%.

Lactic acid can also be mixed with salicylic, but only if you have a great propensity for your pores to get congested. Of course, it is advisable to use very little quantity, and once or twice a week will be enough.

Ph: 3.8

Glycolic Acid Tonic 7%

Glycolic acid is the most powerful of all AHAs, because it is formed by the smallest molecules, which penetrate the skin pretty soon. This is what makes it stronger. This is not a tonic to do the “7 skins “, but to use about twice a week, at most.

(If you don’t know the “7 skins” method, read about it here:

It also contains amino acids, aloe vera, and ginseng. If you find it too strong for your face, then use it on your elbows, your feet or even your back; in less sensitive areas, and with thicker skin. This toner contains a concentration of 7% glycolic acid.

Ph: 3.6

Azelaic Acid Suspension

Azelaic acid is found naturally in wheat, and has decongestant and depigmenting properties. That’s why it works like a charm against acne, rosacea, and melasma (or hyperpigmentation).

Some people claim that the silicones (dimethicone) in this particular product (The Ordinary’s) make their pores clog and it causes them acne. However, for many other consumers (8.4 out of 406 reviews on The Ordinary´s website), this is an absolutely brilliant product. For a person with acne, acne scars and oily skin, silicone is a godsend. Think of the primers that people wear before makeup, that they soften the skin so much. The Azelaic Suspension by The Ordinary is like a primer but also treats your skin with a wonderful acid. 

I use it in the morning, on top of my suncream (SPF 50) and it makes my skin matte and with the pores absolutely closed; something tremendously complicated, since my pores are the size of Japan.


The only beta hydroxy acid used in cosmetics is Salicylic acid, and always at a concentration of 2%. The Ordinary one is a serum to leave it on the skin, although they have been reformulating its composition for more than a year, so it cannot be purchased on their website or anywhere else. But there are thousands of serums that contain 2% Salicylic Acid (Nip and Fab, Neostrata, Facetheory …) So go for one of those! There is really little difference.

It is an essential product if you have acne. It works by opening up clogged skin pores, allowing pimples to dry out. It is, in fact, one of the few remedies out there to effectively eliminate acne.

The Ordinary Salicylic Mask is to be left on your face for just ten minutes. As said, if you have an acne tendency and a propensity for your pores to become congested, salicylic is an essential active ingredient in your routine.

Ph: 3.4

But the star product of The Ordinary is, for many people, the AHA 30% (glycolic, lactic, tartaric and citric) and + BHA 2% (salicylic) Peeling Solution. It also has hyaluronic and vitamin B5 and is known as The Red Peel.

Ph: 3.6

It is a chemical peel; a solution made from acids and water with a deep red color that, due to its texture, looks like blood. One should apply the solution two days a week, just for ten minutes each time. Afterwards, it must be rinsed with warm water for a couple of minutes. You don’t have to add to your face too much product. Doing so will not only scare your partner, but you will damage your skin’s protective barrier.

A little tip: if you use this peel, you no longer need to use acids the rest of the week. It is true that there are thicker skins that need more exfoliation, but to begin with, always try to introduce new products gradually.

I must be one of the few people who does not like this product, though. Glycolic acid is very strong for me, and this product makes my face itchy when I use it, as it has 30% concentration of glycolic.

If you use The Red Peelit is recommended that it is always at night, and simply use a moisturiser afterwards. Nothing else.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a wonderful antioxidant that protect us from the damage caused by the sun and free radicals. That is why it is recommended to be used during the day, although, on top of vitamin C, you should always wear sunscreen, since, if not, the formula gets damaged, as it is extremely sensitive to UVA rays. Of course, vitamin C can also be used at night. A little after the retinol will give excellent results. However, you must be careful not to mix it with any acid or even with Niacinamide.

There are several ways to use Vitamin C from The Ordinary.

100% Ascorbic Acid Powder

The vitamin C here is presented in fine powder. It is the most direct way to use Vitamin C. And, therefore, for some people it can be too strong.

I don’t like it that much, as many times it is itchy, and it stains your clothes in a horrendous yellowish colour. But if it is too strong for your face, it can be used on the body. You can add it, for example, to your moisturiser. You will notice smoother and clearer skin the next day.

23% Vitamin C Suspension + Hyaluronic Spheres (HA)

This formula does not excite me because of its texture, because it has a kind of hyaluronic granules (the spheres that its own name indicates it has) that do not convince me and that leave my skin looking very oily. Also, I find it a bit strong (it makes my face itch).

30% Vitamin C Suspension in Silicone

I adore silicone formulas, such as the Azelaic Suspension, so this formula, apart from being efficient, leaves your skin soft and matte. They recommend using it at night, because if you use it in the morning, you would have to use a high protection cream (SPF 50) afterwards, and silicone products are supposed to be applied last. So, it doesn´t much sense to apply this product in the morning.


Retinol is a key product to fight wrinkles. But, not only does it reduce wrinkles and fine lines, it improves the overall texture of the skin, making blemishes fade and even nasty acne scars to soften.

The Ordinary has several types of Retinol, as well as its Vitamin C, which they sell in multiple formats. You have several options:

The Granactive Retinoid Emulsion, 2% or 5% Concentrated Granactive Retinoid in Squalane, Retinol 0.2% in Squalane, Retinol 0.5 in Squalane, and Retinol 1% in Squalane.

Some preliminary factors to consider are: Do you want an oilier or less creamy texture? For example, my favorite of those mentioned is Granactive Retinoid Emulsion 2%, because instead of being made with an oil base (squalane; a vegetable lipid), it is made of water, making it lighter, and oily skin absorbs this formula better.

Granactives are new formulas of retinols, kinder to your skin than retinol and, of course, than retinoic acid (sold in pharmacies, usually under prescription). But it is true that retinoic acid is much more effective than retinol or granactives.

To find out what type of concentration is the best for you, always start by using the lowest concentration, and work your way up.


100% Niacinamide Powder

Among the molecules that The Ordinary sells, there is Niacinamide powder, which you can mix with your moisturiser or with water-based products, like the Buffet, for example. Niacinamide is one of the fundamental products in the fight against acne.

Alpha Arbutin 2% + Hyaluronic

It is a serum with a high concentration of alpha arbutin and hyaluronic acid. Alpha Arbutin reduces the appearance of skin blemishes as well as hyperpigmentation. In this formula, alpha arbutin is offered in a generous 2% concentration. Hyaluronic acid enhances the effectiveness of alpha arbutin.

5% caffeine solution + EGCG

Put a drop in your dark circles in the morning. It will wake them up. However, it can leave your eye area somewhat dry, and for that reason you must always hydrate on top of the serum. Many of us also use it on the eyebrows, since caffeine promotes hair growth. And who doesn´t wish gorgeous hairy eyebrows nowadays?

Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

This product has an arsenal of fans. Let’s say 50% of the people who use it love it and couldn’t live without it. However, the other 50% hate it. With this serum, there are no half measures. Either you love it or you hate it.

However, this is a very strong product, and you must be careful when using it. Many believe that what makes it strong is the zinc on it and not the niacinamide, which is a molecule. Zinc is a fantastic mineral that helps fight acne, but in this particular formula, I don’t know what happens, but it doesn’t work for many people. In The Ordinary Facebook group, half of the people say this is the best product they have ever used, and, as I told you, the other half absolutely hates it, because it causes unwanted skin reactions.

I have to admit that I started using it five times, and gave it the opportunity for something like two months each time; always with an idiotic hope that it would change my skin, because of the good reviews I read from many people. However, on the fifth time I decided it was the last time I would try the poison. I applied it in every possible way: on dry, wet skin, adding just two drops for the whole face, mixing it with my moisturiser, using it every other day, using it only exactly where I have acne… So, after putting on my moisturising toners, I used this product, but never around the mouth, since after putting it on, I get fungal acne. What is fungal acne? Read this short post about this problem.

In the end, I decided that this serum is not for me, and I have bought the niacinamide powder, which does not contain Zinc.


It sounds familiar to me, but what are peptides?

They are amino acids linked together. The amino acid is the basic unit that makes up proteins. So, peptides organise themselves into more complex structures, called proteins, and these make up cells. As we age, our cells have a shorter life, and the formation of collagen and elastin slows down. If we apply peptides on our skin, we fight to a certain extent against the inevitable aging process.

But peptides are not only useful to promote collagen production. There is a peptide that, administered in the central amygdala of the brain, reduces the desire to eat, which is great news in the fight against obesity. Oxytocin, on the other hand, is another peptide that causes contractions in the muscles of the uterus, helping mothers to give birth.

Matrixyl 10% + HA

Matrixyl is a peptide for cosmetic use capable of promoting the creation of collagen and attenuating the signs of aging. This formulation has proven to be highly effective in reducing wrinkles. The Ordinary has added hyaluronic acid to further enhance its formula.

Buffet and Buffet + Copper Peptides 1%

Buffet combines peptides, among which is Matrixyl 3000, which helps to synthesise collagen, and hyaluronic acid so that our skin is much more hydrated. In addition, it helps treat fine lines of expression, and treats the depth of the furrows of the skin. It has a light and pleasant texture, and is perfect as a preparation before applying the moisturiser.

Buffet with Copper Peptides

It is the most expensive product of The Ordinary, although during the month of November you can get it at a 23% discount. It is indicated for all skin types and ensures to improve the general condition of the skin. It’s blue, but don’t let that put you off, because in no way will you look like a Smurf. Although to me, it smells a bit vinegary. But everything is for a good cause!

A little tip: it works great applying it before retinoic acid or retinol. With about three drops for the entire face, you will notice the difference in the texture of your skin the next day.

Argilerine solution 10%

It is the name of the brand developed by Lipotec, a biotechnology company based in Barcelona. It is an anti-wrinkle hexapeptide, which has a similar mechanism to botulinum toxin (botox). However, don´t get too excited; to notice results, you have to be very consistent. No; you won´t look like Nicole Kidman after one month of use.


Resveratrol 3% and Ferulic Acid 3%

This bottle contains two of the most powerful antioxidants that exist. Normally, creams put something like 1% or 0.5%, so this little bottle is worth gold. It goes very well putting it after retinol. The problem? Right now, they are improving their formula, and it is not in stock.

Pycnogenol 5%

It is a natural extract of the French maritime pine; specifically, an extract of its bark. This tree grows along the coast of southwestern France, and contains a unique combination of procyanidins, bioflavonoids, and phenolic acids. Two or three drops after Resveratrol and Ferulic (all on top of retinol) and you wake up with an amazing complexion.

EUK 134 0.1%

It is a very powerful antioxidant formula that regenerates and protects the skin. Very few products on the market use this super antioxidant. Do not take it at the same time that you have added acids or vitamin C, because they will destroy the formula, and you will be throwing money like an idiot. And, if you’re already using Resveratrol and Ferulic in a routine, don’t wear this one at the same time.

Now that they are reformulating Resveratrol and Ferulic I have decided to test EUK 134, but it is too early to talk about it. I didn´t notice anything great after a few days of use.

I confess that I do not like the textures of antioxidants because they are oily and they never seem to be absorbed. But I use them at night, four days a week and I have to confess that when I use Resveratrol and Pycnogenol after Granactive Retinol, I wake up with a great face.

Moisturisers and Oils

The Ordinary has many oils, which you can mix with your moisturiser, for a brighter, more hydrated complexion.

Oil B

The “B” oil contains micro-algae with squalane and oils of marula, argan, baobab, pataua, Brazil nut, Inca inchi, rosehip and borage oil. This complex of oils helps to achieve healthy and hydrated skin, and to protect your skin from free radicals. It is a greenish-golden liquid with an herbal smell (due to the concentration of algae that it contains). A few drops are applied daily to the face, after treatments containing water.

100% Virgin Marula Oil, Cold Pressed

Highly appreciated by many people, it is rich in antioxidants and is made from the oil of the seeds of the fruit of the Marula tree. Contains oleic and linoleic acid, tea catechins (natural antioxidants) and flavonoids (phytonutrients, plant chemicals from fruit). Hydrates the skin and offers a radiant tone. This formula contains 100% virgin, unrefined, cold-pressed oil. It comes from Africa. It can be applied to the hair, when it is wet, or to the face, on healthy skin, that does not have open wounds.

100% Borage Seed Oil, Organic and Cold Pressed

This formula contains 100% pure, organic, cold-pressed borage seed oil. It is very hydrating and contains a high concentration of gamma-linoleic acid (GLA), linoleic, oleic, and stearic and palmitic acid. This oil has a calming effect, so it is perfect for very dry and irritated skin.

100% Argan Oil from Morocco

100% pure and organic Moroccan argan seed oil, cold pressed. It mainly contains oleic and linoleic acid, which promote good skin health and reduce flaking. It is also used to add shine and softness to hair. It has a mild smell, with a light touch and a translucent golden color. It is healing, antiseptic and antifungal, and is used to eliminate and prevent the signs of skin aging.

It is obtained in a process of drying in the sun the fruits of the Argan tree (Argania spinosa). Once dry, the seed is extracted from the almond manually and it is cold pressed. It is made up of a high percentage of essential fatty acids. If you go to the coast of Morocco, to places like Essaouira, you will see how it is made by Moroccan women. It is essential to buy a bottle from them!

100% Rosehip Oil

Like all the oils from The Ordinary, Rosehip oil is 100% pure organic and it is cold pressed so that it maintains all its properties. It does not contain perfumes or additives.

It has moisturising and antioxidant properties. It can give very good results regenerating skin with scars, spots or marks produced by skin lesions such as smallpox or acne. It can also help to hide stretch marks. Rosehip Oil is rich in linoleic acid and provitamin A. It is applied on the face preferably at night, and if you want to use it in the morning you can mix it with your moisturiser.

100% Virgin Organic Chia Seed Oil

100% pure chia seed oil, sustainably sourced, organic, virgin and cold pressed.

This oil is soothing and nourishing for the skin, as it contains a very high concentration of alpha-linolenic acid, a very important essential fatty acid, and linoleic, oleic, stearic and palmitic acids, as well as vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It can also be applied to hair to provide shine.

100% pure oil from the Sea Buckthorn fruit, of sustainable origin

100% pure oil from the sea buckthorn fruit. It is derived from the pulp of the sea buckthorn berry, and contains a high concentration of palmitoleic acid (Omega 7), which protects and nourishes the skin.

100% Squalane derived from plants

Squalane is a stable, saturated hydrocarbon that occurs naturally in the skin. It is a very moisturising emollient that prevents loss of hydration and therefore prevents sagging of the skin. It is non-comedogenic and is suitable for all skin types. This product can also be applied to hair, to add shine and improve split ends.

Amino acids + B5

Another of The Ordinary’s star products. This amino acids and vitamin B5 serum offers an intense hydration, and keeps the skin healthy and balanced. The concentrated solution is formulated with amino acids and provitamin B5 to hydrate above and below the surface while helping to repair the skin, add elasticity and prevent irritation. Many people love this product, and even claim that it is better than hyaluronic. However, it can be a bit greasy, and many people prefer to wear it at night.

Hyaluronic acid

Although it is called an acid, hyaluronic acid is not acidic at all. It is a hydrating formula based on pure vegan hyaluronic acid. The molecular weight of hyaluronic acid determines its ability to act more or less deeply in the skin. This formula contains three different molecular weights of hyaluronic acid (high, medium and low), as well as a new generation cross-linked polymer of hyaluronic acid that offers increased hydration. It doesn´t contain oil.

Marine Hyaluronics

This serum is very watery, so you may love it or you may hate it; it depends on how you like the texture of a product. Normal hyaluronic acid is denser; to me, for example, it seems like glue. So, I prefer this one, the marine. However, many of The Ordinary products contain hyaluronic: such as Alpha Arbutyn, lactic acid, mandelic, etc. That is why this product, precisely, does not seem essential to me.

Hyaluronic acid + B5

This is another variation of the same product. This 2% concentration of hyaluronic acid is reinforced by the presence of vitamin B5, which enhances the hydration of the skin’s surface.

Natural Hydration Factors with Hyaluronic Acid

The Ordinary ensures that this cream deeply hydrates the skin. It must be the only product I have not tried. However, many clients of The Ordinary report that it leaves their skin somewhat dry.

What is true, they say, is that its texture is not greasy and is absorbed immediately. It helps to enhance the effect of serums or treatments that you have previously applied. The treatment offers immediate and long-lasting hydration and protects the skin from moisture loss. It is important to note that it does not contain fragrance or silicones; it is cruelty-freegluten-free, vegan and oil and alcohol-free.

Multi-peptide Serum for Hair Density

The Ordinary also has a peptide serum to improve hair density, although I have noticed absolutely nothing with it. However, I have to say that I have only used one pot, and not too regularly.

It is made from a chemical formula called REDENSYL ™, made with tea extract, a complex of peptides called Procapil ™, another called CAPIXYL ™, BAICAPIL ™, AnaGain ™ and, in addition, it contains 1% caffeine. The total concentration of these complexes made from peptides is 21.15%. It’s not bad at all.

What are people saying on Facebook about this serum? Well, there are different opinions, but, in general, many agree that, to notice results, you have to use at least three bottles. So be patient!

But let’s see… What do I buy from The Ordinary? Where to start? Help!

My first recommendation is: You don’t need to try everything! If you don’t have a pimple, why do you want to use salicylic?

Ask yourself: What is my most obvious problem? And then find a maximum of three products to tackle those little problems.

Do you have acne?

One of The Ordinary’s key products for acne is Niacinamide with Zinc. Also, many people claim that this product makes their pores smaller.

However, when you have acne, in my opinion, the best is a chemical peel. You will only have to apply AHAs and BHAs and wait for them to work their magic.

Salicylic acid 2% will help you a lot. If you use it daily on pimples or apply a thin layer all over your face, those little pimples will disappear slowly, but surely. The only thing that cannot be removed with salycilic is milia (those small cysts in which you can see a little white head). You can only remove these with a needle or laser.

At The Ordinary, right now they only have the salicylic mask, but the serum is much more effective, although they have been reformulating it for more than a year, so, I advise you to try another brand. There are millions of brands and they all contain 2% salicylic. It is a standard measurement.

Azelaic suspension is my favorite product of the brand. Slowly, it reduces acne marks, and, as I have already mentioned, the texture it gives to your skin is incredible. There is no other product like this one to close pores. Of course, it is an effect that occurs while the product is on your face, but it can be said that it is a wonderful primer, which also benefits your skin.

If you are going to use these three products, do not use them in the same routine. If you can tolerate Niacinamide, apply this in the morning, before your moisturiser and sunscreen. After your moisturising cream, you can try the Azelaic Suspension, which will mattify the appearance of your skin. It will surprise you.

At night, you can use salicylic on pimples, and once or twice a week, you can spread it all over your face and neck. Afterwards, deeply hydrate your face.

Do you have dry and dehydrated skin?

Even if you have acne and oily skin, you can still be very dehydrated. In this case, it is best to apply layers of moisturising toners (without alcohol or acids), Amino acids with B5, hyaluronic (in any variant) and your usual moisturiser. If you want to add an active ingredient to this routine, you can try applying Niacinamide with Zinc after the hydrating toner, amino acids and hyaluronic, but before the moisturiser. As a final step, remember to apply a cream with at least 50 protection, in the morning.

Are you worried about wrinkles and skin texture?

If this is your problem, then say no more: retinol or retinoic acid is your ally. It not only fights wrinkles, but it also fights acne and acne scars. But put it on at night, not during the day, as it is very sensitive to sunlight and will destroy your skin’s natural protective barrier.

If you take Buffet with Peptides before retinol you will notice the results the next day. Another option, although more controversial, is to apply retinol and vitamin C on top of it, finishing with your usual moisturiser.

What is the order of application of the products?

Firstly, you must apply water-based formulas, and you must end up with formulas that contain oils, which are occlusive. And what is that? You might wonder. It means that, once applied to the skin, it remains there and it can only be removed by thorough cleaning. Think that the lightest and most volatile goes first, and that the thickest will go at the end of your routine.

Here you will find tips on how to apply The Ordinary products.

Where can I buy The Ordinary?

You can buy them online on their website, but they have these products in Amazon, Look Fantastic and many other webs. Pick your favourite!

Have you tried The Ordinary yet? What is your favorite product and what do you use it for? Tell us!

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