The Ordinary - everything you need to know about the brand's best products

(Image credit: Jerome Clark)

With sales of their AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution up by a whopping 337% since January this year, the buzz around beauty brand The Ordinary is far from dying down. And with The Ordinary's bestselling serums among the hero products inside some of the best beauty advent calendars, it's clear that the brand is a beauty industry darling.

Bursting onto the beauty scene in 2016, it's no exageration to say The Ordinary have revolutionised the beauty industry. The beauty of the Canadian brand, launched under the Deciem umbrella, is their fuss-free formulas and purse-friendly prices.

Is the brand good for your skin?

The Ordinary is brilliant for your skin, as long as you know how to decode the packaging. Without dusting off your periodic table, look out for ingredients that target your specific skin concerns. As a starting point, think hyaluronic acid for dry skin, salicylic acid for spot prone complexions and retinol to combat signs of ageing. Introduce one product at a time to reduce the chance of overwhelming your skin - and so you can see what's really working!

How can it be so cheap?

Firstly, instead of packing lots of hardworking actives into one formula, The Ordinary keep margins low my singling them out. Secondly, you might notice the ingredients lists are shorter than average, as The Ordinary don't bother with 'filler' in the form of uncessasary fragrance and unproven ingredients.

The packaging is fuss-free too, sticking to simple vials and tubes that wouldn't look out of place in a lab. The end result means you can treat yourself to around 8 different Ordinary products for the price of one high-end moisturiser.

What are the best The Ordinary products?

As with all skincare, what works best for you will depend on your skin concerns, so we've put together some easy-to-follow regimes below. Or, if you only want to try one thing, here's the low-down on their most popular products.

The Ordinary AHA 30% +BHA 2% Peeling Solution

Ordinary Peeling Solution

A fast-acting solution for lacklustre skin, it's no surprise this peeling solution has gained cult status. Despite it's popularity, it's high-strength means it's for experienced acid users only, not first-timers. Alpha-hydroxy Acids (AHAs) work on the surface level, shifting dead skin cells, while Beta-Hydroxy Acids (BHAs) dive deeper into pores for a proper clear out. Follow the instructions carefully and don't leave on for longer than the recommended 10 minutes.

SHOP NOW: The Ordinary AHA 30% +BHA 2% Peeling Solution, £6.30

The Ordinary Retinol

With a whopping five different retinol products, how do you know which one is right for you? The Retinol 0.2%, 0.5% and 1% in squalene are older formulations, which means they are more likely to cause irritation and redness. Ordinary's Granactive Retinoid's have been proven to show better results than pure retinol, with none of the side effects.

SHOP NOW: The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion, £7.80, Boots

The Ordinary Serum Foundation

Teaming up the comfortable feel of a serum with a light-to-medium coverage of a foundation, this is perfect for every day wear. Nice and lightweight, it's brilliant for dry and mature complexions, as it doesn't settle into fine lines or creases. The shade range is good, and although a bit tricky to get your head around at first, caters for pink, red and yellow undertones. If you prefer full coverage, try the Coverage Foundation, £5.90, instead.

SHOP NOW: The Ordinary Serum Foundation, £6

Best The Ordinary products for sensitive skin

Morning skincare routine

1. Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5

The best budget HA we've tried, this hydrates skin attracting moisture and locking it in. Layer under your other moisturisers and serums.

SHOP NOW: The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5, £5.90

2.Natural Moisturising Factors + HA, £4.90

Delivers instant hydration to sore, thirsty skin. Nice and non-greasy, it won't cause your make-up to slip and slide.

SHOP NOW: The Ordinary Natural Moisturising Factors + HA, £4.90

Evening skincare routine

1. 100% Plant-Derived Squalane

A natural emolient, squalene not only restores lost moisture in the skin but helps keep it there too.

SHOP NOW: The Ordinary 100% Plant-Derived Squalane, £5.50

2. Natural Moisturising Factors + HA

Same as your morning routine.

SHOP NOW:The Ordinary Natural Moisturising Factors + HA, £4.90

Best The Ordinary products for dry skin

Morning skincare routine

1. Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5

Same as the regime for sensitive skin, a hyaluronic acid is a must for dry skin. A single molecule can hold up to 1000 times it's own weight in water.

SHOP NOW: The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5, £5.90

Evening skincare routine

1.Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5

Same as your morning routine.

SHOP NOW: The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5, £5.90

2.Natural Moisturising Factors + HA

A bit like a supplement for your complexion, this tops up skin's levels of amino, fatty and hyaluronic acids.

SHOP NOW:The Ordinary Natural Moisturising Factors + HA, £4.90

Twice per week

AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution

Exfoliation is really important for dry skin, buffing away dead skin cells from the top layer. Far from an entry-level acid, this is potent stuff. Apply for a couple of minutes at first just once a week before increasing both the time and frequency depending on what your skin can cope with. Follow with an SPF during the day to protect the fresh, new skin.

SHOP NOW: The OrdinaryAHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution, £6.30

Best The Ordinary products for combating signs of ageing

Morning skincare routine

1. "Buffet" Serum

Just as the name suggets, this is jam-packed with hardworking ingredients including hyaluronic acid and Matrixyl 3000. Your all-in-one anti-ageing solution.

SHOP NOW: The Ordinary Buffet Serum, £12.70

2. Natural Moisturising Factors + HA

See routines for dry and sensitive skin.

SHOP NOW:The Ordinary Natural Moisturising Factors + HA, £4.90

Evening skincare routine

1. Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution

Mild exfoliation to help impove skin clarity and radiance. Steer clear if you have sensitive or easily irked skin, as it can tingle. And remember to use at least an SPF30 the following day.

SHOP NOW: The OrdinaryGlycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution, £6.80

2. "Buffet" Serum

Same as your morning routine.

SHOP NOW: The Ordinary Buffet Serum, £12.70

3. Granactive Retinoid 2%

Retinols can take a little bit of getting used to, so don't be surprised to see redness and flaking as your skin adjusts. Incorporate into your routine slowly to reap the benefits of smoother skin with fewer fine lines, starting with just once a week and working up.

SHOP NOW: The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2%, £7.75

Twice per week

AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution

See routine for dry skin.

SHOP NOW: The OrdinaryAHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution, £6.30

Best The Ordinary products for pigmentation

Morning skincare routine

1. Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA

A super concentrated serum that reduces the look of dark spots and hyper-pigmentation.

SHOP NOW: The OrdinaryAlpha Arbutin 2% + HA, £7

2. Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

Breakouts can leave pigmentation in their wake, so it's best to keep them at bay. This super serum harnesses the power of two blemish-busters to decongest clogged pores, leaving skin clear and calm.

SHOP NOW: The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%, £5

3.Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate Solution 20% in Vitamin F

An oil-based derivative of Vitamin C, this helps to brighten and even out skin tone.

SHOP NOW: The OrdinaryAscorbyl Tetraisopalmitate Solution 20% in Vitamin F, £14.90

Evening skincare routine

1. Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution

See the anti-ageing routine.

SHOP NOW: The OrdinaryGlycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution, £6.80

2. Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA

Same as your morning routine.

SHOP NOW: The OrdinaryAlpha Arbutin 2% + HA, £7

3. Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%

Great for bringing back radiance to dull, blemish prone skin, azelaic acid is an effective antioxidant, protecting skin from pesky free radicals. Choose between this and the below retinol.

SHOP NOW: The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%

3. Granactive Retinoid 2%

See the anti-ageing routine.

SHOP NOW: The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2%, £7.75

Twice per week

AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution

See the routine for dry skin.

SHOP NOW:AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution, £6.30

Best The Ordinary products for oily skin

Morning skincare routine

1.Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

See the routine for pigmentation.

SHOP NOW: The OrdinaryNiacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%, £5

2. Natural Moisturising Factors + HA

See the routine for sensitive skin.

SHOP NOW:The Ordinary Natural Moisturising Factors + HA, £4.90

Evening skincare routine

1.Salicylic Acid 2% Solution

Travelling deep into pores to give them a good clean, regularly applying salicylic acid will reduce your chance of breakouts. It also contains Witch Hazel to keep skin clear and super clean.

SHOP NOW: The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution, £3.90

2. Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

See the routine for pigmentation.

SHOP NOW: The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%, £5

Best The Ordinary products for blemishes or congestion

Morning skincare routine

1.Salicylic Acid 2% Solution

See the routine for oily skin.

SHOP NOW: The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution, £3.90

2. Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

See the routine for pigmentation.

SHOP NOW: The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%, £5

Evening skincare routine

1.Salicylic Acid 2% Solution

Same as your morning routine.

SHOP NOW: The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution, £3.90

2. Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%

See the routine for pigmentation.

SHOP NOW: The OrdinaryAzelaic Acid Suspension 10%, £5.50

Twice per week

AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution

See the routine for dry skin.

SHOP NOW: The OrdinaryAHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution, £6.30

Best The Ordinary products for persistent acne

Morning skincare routine

1.Salicylic Acid 2% Solution

See the riutine for oily skin.

SHOP NOW: The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution, £3.90

2. Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

See the routine for pigmentation.

SHOP NOW: The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%, £5

Evening skincare routine

1.Retinol 1% in Squalane

Retinol has plenty of benefits, from reducing fine lines to battling blemishes. Here we're harnessing it's acne-busting properties by speeding up cell turnover, meaning pores are less likely to become blocked. This is strong stuff, so introduce to your routine slowly, only building up when your skin needs it.

SHOP NOW: The Ordinary Retinol 1% in Squalane, £5.80

What The Ordinary products shouldn't be mixed?

When you discover a brand as exciting as The Ordinary, there's an understandable temptation to pile on products. Try to resist - overwhelming your skin can lead to irritation, and not all ingredients play nicely together.

There are some skincare ingredients you should never mix together, some as they counteract each other, and some as they become too potent when blended.

If you follow the regimes above, you're in safe hands. But for extra peace of mind, we've put together some pairings to steer clear of.

Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution and Retinol 1% in Squalane

Both retinol and glycolic acid work to expose shiny new skin cells, which are more sensitive to damage from UV rays. Using too much of these ingredients in tandem, without proper SPF, is a real recipe for disaster. Try to stick to just one, or use on alternating days to reap the benefits of both actives.

Salicylic Acid 2% Solution and Retinol 1% in Squalane

Retinol is a punchy ingredient, and although originally used to target acne, it's now mostly touted as an all-round anti-ageing solution. Salicylic acid has become a more popular way to tackle blemishes, as it dives deep into pores to clear out gunk, oil and grime. Pair the two together and skin is likely to be left dry and irritated, as much-needed moisture is zapped away.

Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate Solution 20% in Vitamin F andGlycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution

Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate is an oil-soluable derivative vitamin C, meaning it can be used at higher doses for skin-brightening effects with less chance of irritation. However, if you apply at the same time as an AHA like glycolic acid, skin can easily be overwhelmed. The best way to get round the problem is to use them at different times of day. Apply vitamin C in the morning, and keep your glycolic acid for evening only.

Where can I buy The Ordinary Skincare?

Lucky for us, The Ordinary is available in plenty of retailers, including:

Happy shopping!

Jess Beech

Jess Beech is an experienced fashion and beauty editor, with more than eight years experience in the publishing industry. She has written for woman&home, GoodtoKnow, Now, Woman, Woman’s Weekly, Woman’s Own and Chat, and is currently Deputy Fashion & Beauty Editor at Future PLC. 


She caught the magazine bug during a stint as Fashion Editor of her university newspaper alongside her English degree, and hasn’t looked back since. As for the fashion bug, that came as part and parcel of growing up in the 90s, but the less said about that the better!


Jess’ average day in the office is spent researching the latest fashion trends, chatting to industry tastemakers and scouring the internet to bring you this season’s must-buy pieces - as well as advice on how to wear them. Weekends are equally fashion-focused, and Jess has been known to visit no less than five Zara stores in a single day in search of the perfect occasion dress. 


The only thing that comes close to a buzz of finally tracking down that much-coveted dress is the joy of discovering a new beauty wonder product or hero ingredient. A beauty obsessive, Jess has tried everything from cryotherapy to chemical peels (minus the Samantha in Sex and The City-worthy redness) and interviewed experts including Jo Malone and Trinny Woodall.