Merissa Principe
Updated May 26, 2020 @ 5:54 pm
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the ordinary skincare review
Credit: Merissa Principe

I first heard of The Ordinary in 2018 when a Facebook post of a woman pretending to use her menstrual fluid as a face mask went viral. Thankfully, it was just The Ordinary’s AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution, which has a blood-red tint to it. I sent the link to some friends for laughs and found out that so many of them swore by it, even calling it a game-changer. Never one to miss a bandwagon, I immediately ordered it in hopes that it would improve my acne-prone skin, and thus, an obsession was born.

Month after month, new The Ordinary products launch and then sell out in minutes, in part thanks to glowing word-of-mouth reviews. Most of its products are under $10, so for a skincare aficionado like myself, buying The Ordinary products is like playing Pokémon—I gotta catch ’em all.

With that being said, the brand can be intimidating for skincare newbies. Even I was confused by ingredients that I’ve never heard of before (looking at you, ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate). I later learned that the founder, Brandon Truaxe, created The Ordinary to cut through the BS of other skincare companies to sell affordable, single-ingredient products that deliver results. Faced with ingredients like retinol and niacinamide, knowing how to layer skincare products was a huge learning curve for me, but luckily, The Ordinary’s website lets you talk to skincare specialists who can recommend a customized routine for your skin—free of charge!

I had to try it. After speaking with a specialist, I committed to only using The Ordinary products for three months to see if they worked and lived up to the hype. After months of product testing, I can say that I’m officially a fan. I tested out about 15 products from the brand, and these were the eight best ones for my oily and acne-prone skin.QUIZ: Which At-Home Beauty Routine Is Right For You? Find Out!

1The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution

Credit: The Ordinary

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$7.20, This peeling solution is essentially a formulated cocktail of alpha-hydroxy acids (glycolic, lactic, tartaric, citric) and beta-hydroxy acids (salicylic acid) that exfoliate and smooth the skin in just ten minutes. Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) exfoliate the skin’s outermost layer of dead cells while beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs) penetrate deep down into pores to clear congestion. When I first started using this mask, I applied it in the evening for three minutes once every one or two weeks to get my skin used to the new active ingredients. Eventually, I graduated to the full ten minutes as my skin became less sensitive to the active ingredients. Let me say, my face is as smooth as a baby’s skin.

2The Ordinary 100% Plant-Derived Squalane

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$7.90, Squalane has a comedogenic rating of one, meaning it’s very unlikely to clog your pores. It’s also odorless, antibacterial, and works well for all skin types, especially sensitive skin. What’s more, this version is a bio-based vegan product. I use this oil as the first step in my skincare routine to remove makeup and then again as the last step to seal in moisturizer for an over-all glow.

3The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG

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$6.70, For days when a cup of joe isn’t enough, The Ordinary’s under-eye serum is there to give you that wide-awake, just-slept-eight-hours look. This liquid gel serum uses epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), an antioxidant-rich micronutrient found in green tea, to deliver caffeine to the under-eye area. Studies show that topical caffeine increases the circulation of blood in the skin, giving it that plumped-up effect (goodbye, under-eye bags). In addition to caffeine, this serum also uses a high concentration of antioxidants, hyaluronic acid, and lactic acid to smooth and reduce the appearance of puffiness for tired-looking eyes. It’s become a staple in my skincare routine that I never leave home without.

4The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%

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$5.80, Topical vitamin C offers a wide array of benefits for the skin: It’s an effective antioxidant that brightens your complexion and reduces the appearance of fine lines. This formulation uses a very fine L-ascorbic acid powder (a form of vitamin C), hyaluronic acid, and squalane oil for a gentle yet effective way to even your skin tone. If you haven’t used vitamin C before, you can refer to the website’s vitamin C guide which suggests using a lightweight (non-irritating) formula, such as the Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12%, for new users. I only experienced a slight tingling sensation when I first introduced this product to my skin, but as the weeks went on the tingling faded and now I use it every day.

5The Ordinary Resveratrol 3% + Ferulic Acid 3%

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$7.90, Resveratrol is a natural micronutrient found in various fruits, like grape seeds. When combined with ferulic acid, these antioxidants show a significant improvement in the chemical stability of the vitamins C and E when combined with L-ascorbic, plus double the protection from UV damage and sunburn cell formation—meaning it’s a powerhouse at protecting you from sun damage, hyperpigmentation, and signs of premature aging. After applying the previously mentioned Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%, I slather this rich antioxidant serum on for smooth, brighter-looking skin that makes me look as young as I feel.

6The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

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$5.90, If you’re like me and you suffer from blemishes or redness, The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% is an effective and mild solution to your problems. Niacinamide, also know as vitamin B3, has been shown to calm inflammation, minimize the appearance of pores, and help regulate oil production. It combines that with zinc, which is a known anti-inflammatory that helps reduce acne and acne scars. It’s the perfect serum to apply before, or in combination with, hyaluronic acid, as these two create a smooth, hydrated texture for a dewy, youthful glow.

7The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5

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$6.80, Known for its water-retaining properties, hyaluronic acid is an ingredient naturally found in our skin that draws water from the environment and into the skin to hydrate it. This hyaluronic acid is a “no-frills” moisturizing serum that will plump and firm dry skin. It’s one of those products that gets along with most skin types, so it can be combined with many of The Ordinary’s star products, like the Niacinamide and Retinol. These three skincare BFFs are the perfect complement to any night routine for glass-like skin.

8The Ordinary Retinol 0.5% in Squalane

Credit: The Ordinary

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Retinol is a form of synthetic vitamin A that helps reduce the appearance of wrinkles, dark spots, and signs of aging. Traditionally prescribed by dermatologists, The Ordinary provides some of the best over-the-counter products in the industry (in fact, they’re usually sold out). If you have not used high-strength retinol formulas in the past, Retinol 0.5% in Squalane is a good place to start. If it’s too strong, try the 0.2% or the Granactive Retinoid , which are gentler alternatives for extra-sensitive skin. By starting with a smaller dose you can achieve the same end results without the unpleasant redness and peeling that often comes when introducing strong retinol to your skincare routine. I use this retinol product three evenings a week to smooth my fine lines and maintain a youthful, healthy-looking face.