The Ordinary : Review with Sample Routines

The Ordinary is a relatively new skincare brand that did something so radical that it caught everyone’s attention. It showed that you can make effective skincare products at affordable prices. I realize that the internet is full of reviews of these products, but since I have tested them for over a year, I feel confident to give my opinion on the results. I also would like to share a few sample routines.

Deciding how to use The Ordinary is something I found difficult in the beginning. My skin is combination, and it can be capricious. The brand promotes its products as inexpensive, and while it’s true that many are under $10, the collection is enormous and if you buy everything indiscriminately you can easily spend a hefty sum. So which products to get? In what order to apply? How to combine several serums into one routine? The Ordinary skincare products don’t fall into the usual toning, firming, hydrating categories, so figuring out how to use them–and how to maximize their benefits–took some research. The Ordinary website gives a few regimen suggestions, but it still left me slightly confused. Below is what worked out best for me, although it’s by no means the only way to use The Ordinary.

Alpha Arbutin 2% + Hyaluronic Acid (Brightening)

Alpha Arbutin is an excellent ingredient to reduce skin pigmentation or spots, and this serum has a gel-like texture. It absorbs easily into the skin and it can be layered with another serum or moisturizer. I wear sunscreen daily, but even so, the effects of this serum coupled with Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% (below) were obvious. After two months of continuous use, I noticed that my skin looked even toned and bright.  I’ve been asked what foundation I wore when I had nothing at all on my face apart from my usual sunscreen.

Sample routine: should be applied on dry skin. If applying a toner, I wait for it to absorb completely. Then I apply a small amount of the serum and tap it lightly into the skin. I follow with The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%, a moisturizer and sunscreen. I use it in the morning.

Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% (Shine Control)

Niacinamide, Vitamin B3 blended with zinc salt of pyrrolidone carboxylic acid is a perfect serum for those with combination or oily skin, because it balances the production of sebum. It’s a gel-like serum that feels ever so slightly tacky after it’s applied, but moisturizer, sunscreen, or if you wish, a foundation, can be layered over it without peeling. My skin definitely looks more matte when I use. The trick is not to apply too much.

Sample routine: toner, Alpha Arbutin 2% + Hyaluronic Acid, Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%, moisturizer, sunscreen. I apply a small amount of the serum and tap it lightly into the skin. I use it in the morning.

Please note Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% shouldn’t be used with the topical Vitamin C serums such as The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%.

The Ordinary Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate Solution 10% (Brightening)

The Ordinary Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate Solution 10% completes my trio of brightening serums. This is a stable derivative of Vitamin C in a water-based cream. It can be used with the Niacinamide serums, which makes it versatile. For my skin it’s moisturizing enough to skip a hydrating lotion, but if your skin is dry, it won’t be enough.

Sample routine: I usually use it during it in the morning. Toner, Alpha Arbutin 2% + Hyaluronic Acid, Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate Solution 10%, moisturizer (sometimes I skip it), sunscreen.

The Ordinary Buffet (Radiance, Hydration)

It’s a peptide serum in a hyaluronic acid base. Studies on peptides in skincare suggest that they can increase collagen production and reverse some signs of sun damage, but it’s hard to evaluate the claims. All I know is that this gel-like serum keeps my skin soft, hydrated and radiant. It’s especially convenient when I travel, because I can only pack my bottle of Buffet, along with a couple of other basics.

Sample routine: I use it either in the morning or in the evening. The Ordinary recommends applying Buffet on clean skin, so I skip the toner. Buffet, moisturizer, sunscreen. Or in the evening, Buffet, Retinoid, moisturizer. If you want to combine it with any Vitamin C serum, be sure that Buffet is absorbed completely before applying Vitamin C.

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2%+B5 (Hydration)

For a light but ultra-hydrating serum, Hyaluronic Acid 2%+B5 is ideal. I’ve used several different hyaluronic acid serums, and I keep returning to The Ordinary and Mizon.

Sample routine: Hyaluronic Acid 2%+B5 can be used on its own in place of any other serum or after my serum of choice (any of the above, for instance). A simple morning routine is rosewater, Hyaluronic Acid 2%+B5, moisturizer and sunscreen. A sample evening routine is AHA, BHA or lactic acid exfoliating lotion, Hyaluronic Acid 2%+B5, moisturizer.

The Ordinary Advanced Retinoid 2%  (Firming)

Retinoids and Vitamin C are the two ingredients that have been proven to reverse sun damage and firm up the skin (by increasing collagen production). The downside is that retinoids can be irritating and unstable. The Ordinary’s is a very good formula, and at 2% it’s strong enough without being too irritating. They also offer the 1% Retinol, which I haven’t tried.

First time users: If you haven’t tried a retinoid before, you should start with one evening a week for a month and slowly build up from there.

Sample routine (evening only): rosewater, Vitamin C. Wait for 10 minutes and apply Advanced Retinoid 2%. Wait for it to absorb and apply any hydrating serum, moisturizer, face oil, etc. Another option is Buffet, Advanced Retinoid 2%, Hyaluronic Acid 2%+B5 (optional, but good for extra hydration), moisturizer.

The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2% (Brightening, Firming, Even Tone)

I’d written a guide on Vitamin C a couple of weeks ago, in which I talked at length about why I love Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%. Out of all The Ordinary products I’ve tried, it’s probably the one that gave me the most dramatic and visible results. My skin looks radiant when I use it on a regular basis. The texture is slightly grainy, and it can be hard to apply. I recommend using a pea sized amount and tapping it lightly into your skin.

First time users: Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2% will sting the first time you apply it. I recommend diluting it with your moisturizer and using once a week in the evening at first. Once your skin starts adapting, you can use it straight out of the tube.

My favorite routine for the evening: Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%, Hyaluronic Acid 2%+B5 (optional, but good for extra hydration), moisturizer. Avoid using it with any concentration of Niacinamide.

The Ordinary Caffeine Solution

Supposedly it reduces dark circles and puffiness around the eyes. It does absolutely nothing and I dislike the tacky texture. It also leave a white film on my skin, even if I use a small amount.

Extra Reading: A Brief Guide to Vitamin C and My Layering Technique for Skincare

If you’ve tried The Ordinary, I’d love to hear what you’ve tried and how you’ve used it.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

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160 Comments

  • Sandra: I love reading about these products!
    I haven’t tried Ordinary, but as soon as I am close to finishing what I have, I will purchase.

    Thank you for reviewing these and you should post some photos of your beautiful skin, so we can see the real results!!

    Take Care March 13, 2017 at 8:29am Reply

    • sandra: PS
      Happy Holi Victoria March 13, 2017 at 10:55am Reply

      • Victoria: Happy Holi! Are you doing anything to celebrate? March 13, 2017 at 3:21pm Reply

        • sandra: Yesterday we celebrated. It was nice with my two little ones! We gathered with other families and besides the colorful powder, we all tossed flower petals in the air and at each other , and we got sprayed with rosewater. Lots of very loud Indian music!
          Afterwards we ate Shiro, samosas and drank tea. We also took the babies to watch some Bollywood dancing.
          Are you celebrating? March 13, 2017 at 3:28pm Reply

          • Victoria: I taught a perfume class yesterday and today I was working until almost 8, so our celebration might be delayed. March 13, 2017 at 3:34pm Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, they have so much, but I would start with one or two products at first and see what else you might need later. March 13, 2017 at 3:13pm Reply

    • Sandra: I placed my first ordinary order over the weekend. I ended up getting 3 products so I can get the free shipping.

      I am still looking for a moisturizer to replace my expensive Sisley confort extreme one. I could feed a small village for the cost. Its hard to find something for very dry sensitive skin. April 3, 2017 at 7:23am Reply

      • Victoria: Fingers crossed that you will like them as much as the rest of us did!

        What about La Roche-Posay Toleriane line? They have several creams made for very dry skin. April 3, 2017 at 2:14pm Reply

        • Sandra: I will give them a try, they carry that line at some pharmacies here in NYC.

          Sometimes, when I am in a pinch to leave I just use a small pump full of Eucrin lotion, their non scented for dry skin. But it is suppose to be for the body not your face. But I have never reacted or became irritated from it.

          The Ordinary serums I ordered were the Buffet, the Vitamin C and the Arbutin April 3, 2017 at 2:41pm Reply

          • Victoria: I don’t remember what Eucerin contains, but it shouldn’t make any difference if it’s just a basic moisturizer formula. April 4, 2017 at 1:21am Reply

          • Austenfan: I’m not an expert like Victoria, but my skin has reacted well to Avène’s crème anti-rougeurs jour, Caudalie’s Vinosource riche and Bioderma’s Créaline (=Sensibio) Anti-rougeurs. I have dry sensitive skin. April 5, 2017 at 4:34pm Reply

    • Sandra: I ordered the Buffet, the Vitamin C (the one that is in the tube and grainy)Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA

      Do you find when you use the Vitamin C in the evening your skin is really greasy?

      I layer the AA and the Buffet under my moisturizer and I have noticed my skin hasn’t been flaky at the end of the day, and feels more hydrated. Its been a month about so I have to wait and see April 15, 2017 at 10:25am Reply

      • Victoria: Yes, it can happen, but it doesn’t bother me. That’s one of the main reasons why I use it in the evening. April 17, 2017 at 1:19pm Reply

  • Eudora: Dear Victoria, thank you so much!
    My skin is sensitive and combo also and my main concern is acne scars and pigmentation from suffering adult acne. Scars are my obsession. Very good info because I was lost in The Ordinary world!
    Second, I want to share with you the best serum I have used. It is Pai’s rosehip oil. I am using just two drops at night plus three drops for neck and decollete and the results are sooooo good. It has vitamin E and it has contributed to a significant reduction of my scarring and a visible improvement in my overall skin texture. My fine wrinkles -I am 41 years old- are also much better when I wake up at morning. Only 1 product, a few drops, is enough! I am really impressed!
    And third -maybe I am asking too much and this is not the right moment- I have an answer. I haven’t found a foundation or bb cream that works well with my combo, sensitive and uneven skin. All of them look no natural on me. If you have any suggestion… I am tired of creams and thinking in a good powder foundation but open to everything.
    Thanks sweet Victoria. March 13, 2017 at 9:50am Reply

    • sandra: I have sensitive skin/uneven skin and have some good luck with Iope bb cream cushion.

      I am afraid to confess that I use Vitalumiere Aqua Ultra light and in the hot months Perfection Lumiere Velvet smooth. I know I know..these are a lot of money..but I don’t use them all over my face just in the areas where I need it. It doesn’t irritate and looks natural.

      Also, a Just Skin Tinted Moisturizer I found also good but it really expensive as well. March 13, 2017 at 3:11pm Reply

      • mj: I use Perfection Velvet Lumiere also! it’s the only makeup base that looks natural to me, my tone is beige30, that’s almost my skin colour. My skin looks very even with it. It’s an expensive product, but worth it. Normally, I buy it in Andorra, that tiny country between France and Spain. Andorra is a free-tax paradise, and cosmetics are 27% cheaper than in Barcelona….. March 13, 2017 at 3:36pm Reply

        • sandra: I little goes a long way!
          I also find that you can layer it when you need to conceal a blemish or a problem area on the skin.
          When we travel this year I will be buying some on a duty free shop! Jealous of your Andorra trip March 13, 2017 at 5:05pm Reply

          • Eudora: Thanks Sandra and mj, I will try Perfect Velvet Lumiere. I asked for a sample once but they gave me a very dark tone, as ALWAYS happens to me, so I forgot about it. Thanks! March 13, 2017 at 6:36pm Reply

    • Victoria: If your concern is pigmentation and scars, I definitely would start with Vitamin C. My earlier skincare article was on Vit C specifically (I linked it above), so it has more recommendations from different brands. It’s one of the best ingredients for someone who’s after a radiant, even-toned skin, and it’s also one of the few ingredients that actually have results verified in independent studies. Do you use retinoids of any sort? That’s something else to consider. Oh, and sunscreen. March 13, 2017 at 3:16pm Reply

      • Eudora: Thanks Victoria for your recommendation on Vitamin C. I will re-read your post about it. I do not use retinoids either. ABout sunscreen I am using and loving Isdin Fushion Water thanks to you!
        Your posts about skincare are so welcome! Actually every one of them! March 13, 2017 at 6:46pm Reply

        • Victoria: That’s such a fab sunscreen, and it’s so easy to apply. I learned about it from a makeup artist friend. The only downside is that it can be hard to find here in Belgium, and ordering from the Spanish pharmacies is expensive. Do you buy it from a store or online? March 14, 2017 at 9:28am Reply

          • Eudora: Dear Victoria, I am living in Spain so I buy it in my pharmacy, 2 minutes from home and with discount. I would be delighted to send you a next bottle because I am so grateful to you. Contact me in that case, please, no doubt.
            Orange trees are in blossom in my city, all around, and I enjoy that gorgeous smell, that sensation, in part thanks to you. March 14, 2017 at 11:14am Reply

            • Victoria: Wow, this is very kind of you! Thank you very much. For now, I have my stash of two bottles, so I should be good for the spring. I even like its perfume, and ordinarily I don’t like scented skincare. March 14, 2017 at 12:58pm Reply

              • Eudora: Victoria, what a coincidence! I always avoid scented skincare because my skin is so sensitive but I love its perfume also, so elegant it is a pleasure to use, and that texture, so light it dissapears leaving your skin like velvet.
                Does that scent reminds you any perfume? I think about it every morning and I cannot find a better person to ask! March 14, 2017 at 7:23pm Reply

                • Victoria: Nivea! It makes me think of an old fashioned Nivea cream. 🙂 March 16, 2017 at 3:46am Reply

            • mj: Eudora, if you live in Spain and are interested in The Ordinary I would recommend you to check Olivia Soaps (oliviatheshop.com). It’s a brick and mortar shop in the town of Segovia, but they have also an online shop and carry most of the Ordinary line. I’ve bought stuff from them and they were very quick sending it. March 14, 2017 at 6:19pm Reply

              • Eudora: Thanks mj for your recommendation. l am checking already. So cool! Que peligro! March 14, 2017 at 7:29pm Reply

    • Victoria: Now, a good foundation. The only one that look natural to me (on my combo skin) is Laneige cushion. I usually use it in the evening or if I have a photo shoot, and it looks natural both in the artificial light and on film. But I don’t really know how well it holds us day to day, because I don’t use foundation and wear sunscreen instead.

      And thank you for your recommendation! Rosehip oil is an amazing ingredient. March 13, 2017 at 3:31pm Reply

  • mj: Thanks to you Victoria, I’ve been using the Ordinary line for 6 weeks now. It’s a bit earlier to see great changes, however I have noticed that some sun spots I have are a bit softer in colour. Also I love the feel of my skin after using The Buffet, that i use every night.
    I bought the caffeine serum for the eye bags, and I have noticed an improvement: my eyes are less puffy.
    Overall a great discovery and I plan to add a Vitamin C, most likely the magnesium, to my routine. March 13, 2017 at 10:18am Reply

    • sandra: which ones are you using? March 13, 2017 at 11:14am Reply

      • mj: Hi Sandra

        I have combination skin, oilier in nose and chin, normal in the rest. Some rosacea in one of my cheeks, the other is clean. I’m blessed with no lines or major wrinkles and my main concern are the sun spots due to age (I’m 53)

        What I use
        morning after toner (orange blossom by Alquimia a Spanish brand): Niacidamine 10%+Zinc. Then the Hyaluronic serum for extra hydratation + mosturizer with spf.

        night: after Missha’s Time Revolution Essence (this contains Niacidamine), Buffet and a bit more of the hyaluronic serum.

        the caffeine serum I use it mrorning and evening, after the thicker creams.

        This care regime has helped me lots with the rosacea, and controling the oil in my oilier parts. March 13, 2017 at 12:02pm Reply

        • sandra: Great!
          Which moisturizer do you use? March 13, 2017 at 3:06pm Reply

          • mj: Hi Sandra

            well, I change mosturizers a lot! I like the Regenerist line by Olay. In the past I used a lot DayWear (Lauder) but I’ve grown weary of creams in a tin, I rather buy them in pumps or tubes. Also I use a few Spanish brands: Endocare SPF 30 is one, another is Sesderma Vit-C spf 15. March 13, 2017 at 3:21pm Reply

            • sandra: I looked up both of those spanish creams and they look good!
              Thanks for sharing!
              I don’t like using products in a tin either. I am on the hunt for a new one after I finished the one I am currently using. March 13, 2017 at 5:09pm Reply

        • Victoria: I first encountered Niacidamine in Korean and Asian skincare, where it seems to be one of the favorite ingredients. For someone with combination skin it’s been a terrific discovery. March 13, 2017 at 3:26pm Reply

    • Victoria: When I traveling last summer, I mostly used The Buffet, rosewater toner, moisturizer (+ cleanser, sunscreen) and an occasionally BHA toner. I also love this serum. March 13, 2017 at 3:18pm Reply

      • mj: I plan to “copy” your travel beauty regime, Victoria. Last time I had a business trip I went searching around the house for samples, filled my make up bag with all the samples I got from magazines, used them and came back with a pimple (too rich creams and too much seafood….) March 13, 2017 at 3:24pm Reply

    • McRuggles: I like The Ordinary caffeine eye serum. I’ve applied it, lightly, at night only, and it really seems to minimize morning under-eye puffiness.

      And an Isomers eye serum, with vitamin K, is actually reducing the hereditary ‘dark circles’ that I’ve long thought that I couldn’t get rid of after trying a lot of other products that didn’t work. So I’m looking better-rested albeit not because I’m getting any more sleep . March 16, 2017 at 6:17am Reply

  • Trudy: Thank you, Victoria, for this review and for introducing me to the Ordinary line which led me to research the Deciem company. I’ve been using a few of these products since January and I am so pleased and impressed with the results. I started with the Ordinary’s Hyaluronic Acid 2%+B5 and Vitamin C Suspension 23%. Just incorporating both into my routine after cleansing and before moisturizing as needed. Now I’ve moved on to the CAIS serum from the NIOD line along with the Hylamide SubQ Anti Age serum. I can honestly say that I have noticed the biggest difference in my skin with the CAIS serum. The NIOD line is more expensive than the Ordinary but nowhere near the price of other products I have used in the past (department store and skin-spa lines). These are amazing products that I don’t want to be without. My fear is that they may change as they become more popular! I can only hope that won’t be the case and the products will remain as effective as they are now. Thank you again for keeping your readers informed of these wonderful options. March 13, 2017 at 10:49am Reply

    • Victoria: I’m glad that you had such a great experience with it. I haven’t used the CAIS for long enough before my bottle turned, and I haven’t tried it again. Apparently, it’s quite a fragile product. What color is yours? March 13, 2017 at 3:21pm Reply

      • Trudy: It’s blue and quite watery. It now comes in two parts (copper amino isolate activator and copper amino isolate serum) which you combine upon the first use. The directions say to use within six months after mixing the two bottles. It’s working for me 🙂 March 13, 2017 at 4:09pm Reply

        • Victoria: Just be careful not to store in the warm place, because it can oxidize. It turns grey and stains your skin. Their website didn’t mention it, but once I wrote and complained, they explained what happened and offered a refund. March 14, 2017 at 9:22am Reply

          • Trudy: Thanks for the tip! It has been unusually cold here in Southern California this winter but it is heating up so I will make note and watch it closely. There are so many great recommendations in this post it makes me want to try them all! However, I am now of the age when I need serious repair of sun damage (even though I’ve always used sun screen) and just general signs of aging. This has made a big difference for me. It has given me a fresher look…I look in the mirror and think “oh, there you are”! Thank you again for this blog. I look forward to all the topics. Ive learned so much about all things beautiful. March 14, 2017 at 10:35am Reply

            • Victoria: Thank you very much! It makes me very happy to know this. And of course, I’m glad that you’re experiencing such good results with these products. I bought a couple after spotting the line in one of the magazines, and for the most part I’ve been pleased with them. March 14, 2017 at 12:57pm Reply

              • Trudy: I realize this is a late comment but I felt I needed to update. After doing some research on the internet regarding copper peptides I decided to stop using the NIOD CAIS for now. I haven’t had any adverse effects but I just feel that I need to back up to more simple routine. This stuff is pretty scientific and I am not. I am going to take some time to educate myself a bit more. I like a lot of the Ordinary products and will continue to incorporate the ones I’m comfortable with into a simple, gentle and less edgy regimen:) March 20, 2017 at 9:39pm Reply

                • Victoria: Makes sense. I also don’t think that the overly complicated skincare routines are necessarily the best ones. Copper peptides, at any rate, haven’t been studied as well as some other ingredients, and I take overly inflated promises with a grain of salt. March 21, 2017 at 9:38am Reply

  • Debi: So confusing. I am going to get some when I figure out what to use. March 13, 2017 at 11:37am Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, it requires educating oneself a bit about ingredients, but it’s worth it, because it makes one a more informed skincare shopper. March 13, 2017 at 3:22pm Reply

  • rosarita: Thanks so much for this information! I am in my late 50s and just now looking beyond moisturizers. Nothing is going to produce miracles, I had horrible cystic acne along with regular acne that lasted through my 20s. Dermatologist care was so rough in those days….years of antibiotics, sun lamps, lancing and several rounds of Accutane have left me with reddened, pitted scars and very dry skin, but I am trying The Ordinary vitamin c suspension and will add Hyaluronic acid + B5 next time I order. I would never have found my way through that maze 🙂 March 13, 2017 at 11:39am Reply

    • Victoria: I mostly ordered the same serums that I used before (Vit C, Retinoid, Hyaluronic acid), but back then their line was also smaller. They have lots of information on their website, but as I was mentioning to someone earlier, one still needs to research on one’s own.

      Hope that you will like their Vit C. March 13, 2017 at 3:24pm Reply

  • Carla: This line looks intriguing. Maybe it’s the skincare equivalent of the makeup line Colourpop which is quality but inexpensive, unless you buy too much! I can recommend Colourpop except maybe their brow liners. Their eye shadows and blush (super shock) are really good. March 13, 2017 at 1:18pm Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, I’ll have to look for it. Where is sold in the EU? March 13, 2017 at 3:26pm Reply

      • Carla: Hi it’s online only. They ship internationally. I’ve ordered some misses with lip colors that were more pale nude than the pink I expected. Not easy to judge color online. Holiday is a good universal blush color and Flutes is a good neutral pale brown eye shadow color. Also Elixir is a great orange terra-cotta for blue eyes. Have fun! March 13, 2017 at 3:51pm Reply

        • Victoria: Thank you, Carla! Yes, colors, especially reds and pinks are very hard to judge online. But I’ve had good luck buying eyeshadows and eyeliners. It’s hard to go too wrong with brown. March 13, 2017 at 3:55pm Reply

          • Carla: Exactly what I learned as Colourpop was my first online makeup purchase. Reds and pinks hard to buy online March 13, 2017 at 5:37pm Reply

            • Victoria: I find that even with photography in natural light capturing the red shades is a challenge. March 14, 2017 at 9:25am Reply

    • mj: Carla
      have you tried Nabla eyeshadows and/or blushes? They look really nice and a few Spanish beauty bloggers sing their praises, but still I’m not convinced. March 13, 2017 at 4:54pm Reply

      • Carla: No I haven’t. The $5 Colourpop price point is hard to beat, and it’s still quality March 13, 2017 at 5:39pm Reply

    • Sandra: For cheap lipstick my go to is still Revlon March 15, 2017 at 8:59am Reply

  • Elisa: This is just the primer I needed to explore this line!! Thank you V! March 13, 2017 at 1:52pm Reply

    • Victoria: Glad to hear it! I read many reviews when I first started using The Ordinary, but I really wanted someone to give me examples of sample regimens. March 13, 2017 at 3:27pm Reply

  • Liliane Oyen: Thank you Victoria for sharing this wonderful article.
    But for me it’s difficult. Can you please in another article telling explain what we best take for a normal skin whit the products. And than another site for another skin…
    Where we can buy it.
    Sorry I will learn it but it is not clair for me.
    Sorry…
    I follow it! Whit much interesse…. March 13, 2017 at 3:17pm Reply

  • Artfulreader: I just started using a few of their products; the retinoid 2%(haven’t used retinoids before even though I should have) and then the rosehip oil and working the hyaluronic acid into my routine. Weather right now is crazy and my skin feels it: haven’t seen any actual result yet but have a feeling that my skin would have been worse without the rosehip oil( memories of this month in the past). Oh and I bought the argan oil that I’ve put on the ends of my hair and dry spots on my body. Reasonable results but the cat loves the smell of it too much so will probably switch to another product(sidetone; got a sample of a Sisley night cream and now that cat tries to lick my face a lot…) March 13, 2017 at 4:42pm Reply

    • Victoria: This is so funny. I had no idea that argan acts as a catnip. 🙂

      The retinoid will also have great results, but especially over the long run. I’ve used it on and off, but I really like The Ordinary formula, because it’s easy to use and it’s not irritating. March 14, 2017 at 9:24am Reply

      • McRuggles: We have two cats who, given a chance, will lick pure argon oil off of anyone’s skin.

        Victoria, I just received the nine (sic) ‘The Original’ products that I ordered after reading your write-up so am glad to see an update on what you use and how. I have one question though; I used the vitamin C and it’s thick-ish and looked a little as if I were using exfoliant. That is, as if it doesn’t quite absorb. Does that sound familiar? It didn’t sting at all so I’m not concerned just curious. I had paid ten times the price for a vitamin C from the dermatologist that turned brown within a week of opening the stuff so it’s great to find a more affordable formulation. March 14, 2017 at 10:45pm Reply

        • Victoria: Yes, that’s how it is. Don’t use too much, though, and tap it into your skin with your fingertips (rather than rub it in). The texture is the reason I prefer it for the evening.

          Cats are mysterious creatures. 🙂 And gourmands! March 16, 2017 at 3:47am Reply

  • Liliane: Thank you!!!💋
    It’s not that I did not use beauty products buit this is a jungle for me. I gonna read it Again…
    😔 March 13, 2017 at 5:52pm Reply

    • Victoria: You’re welcome! Yes, there is lots of information out there, and it’s confusing. March 14, 2017 at 9:26am Reply

  • Wilma: Thanks so very much or all the information, Victoria. Your blog has been such a great help in finding my way in the world of perfume, and now in skincare as well. I just ordered the vitamine C cream and the retinoid serum, and I am dying to try them out.
    So far I have been using products by Paula Begoun and Jetske Ultee (a Dutch doctor who started her own skincare line). I can recommend both. March 13, 2017 at 6:13pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’m very happy to hear this! 🙂

      What do you like from Jetske Ultee? March 14, 2017 at 9:26am Reply

      • Wilma: I especially like the moisturizer and the suncare. Recently she developed a Vitamin A serum, but I haven’t been able to try it out yet because it was very quickly sold out.
        In her advice and also in her products she pays a lot of attention to the needs of sensitive skin. March 14, 2017 at 3:23pm Reply

        • Victoria: Thank you very much. Definitely worth checking out. March 16, 2017 at 3:40am Reply

  • Austenfan: Thanks for such a comprehensive review of The Ordinary. I’m a convert, though I haven’t used any of their stuff for long enough to be able to have an informed opinion.
    I like their Buffet a lot. And another hydrator that I haven’t seen mentioned a lot is their Squalane. For really dry skins, it seems to work better than hyaluronic acid alone.

    Your points about the caffeine solution gave me a giggle. I just love your way of describing something you don’t like. 😉

    Another one that you haven’t mentioned and that I’ve tried a few times is the Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate. Too early to see what the effects will be, but it’s very, very gentle. March 14, 2017 at 3:58am Reply

    • Victoria: Squalane is one of the best ingredients for dry skin. You don’t even need much of it, a drop or two. For my skin it’s far too rich, so I avoid it in creams. But I’ve used pure squalane from a pharmacist to add extra richness to my eye cream, and it worked well. I also used it to enrich my usual body lotion.

      I have to admit to myself that the only way for me not to get puffy eyes is to sleep enough. But when I have a choice of going to bed at a decent hour or sitting up with a book, a book wins out. 🙂 March 14, 2017 at 9:30am Reply

      • Austenfan: My dark circles are definitely to do with lack of sleep as well. Still, a girl can always dream right? And it’s still better than claiming that it will activate cell energy, or whatever.

        I love the Squalane, as the added richness is often what I need, and only hyaluronic acid is not enough.
        Another thing I meant to ask is whether you like the hyaluronic acid serum by TO better than the Hada Labo ones? March 14, 2017 at 9:55am Reply

        • Victoria: I like the texture of the Hada Labo one more, because it absorbs instantly and doesn’t leave any sticky finish. TO’s is slightly tacky and if I’m not careful and overapply, it makes my sunscreen peel. I alternate between the two. Right now I’m onto my new bottle of Hada Labo. It will be better for the summer, I think.

          The phrase du jour seems to be “skin communicating ingredients.” Or for those with more scientific aspirations “cell communicating ingredients.” I just can’t…. March 14, 2017 at 10:01am Reply

          • Austenfan: You don’t even want to know what the phrase du jour is in the Netherlands right now. March 14, 2017 at 10:10am Reply

            • Victoria: Hmm, I can guess… 🙂

              But as far as skincare, I can come up with plenty other examples. In perfumery, it’s “the noble ingredients.” March 14, 2017 at 10:27am Reply

              • Austenfan: I only ever buy perfume with noble ingredients, because I’m worth it.

                I spent a day in Paris last week and splurged on candles and MF tea. Wonderful. March 14, 2017 at 10:40am Reply

                • Victoria: LOL! And I just imagined you toss your hair as you said.

                  Which MF teas did you buy? March 14, 2017 at 12:55pm Reply

                  • Austenfan: Lune Rouge, Festin d’Or, Montagne de Jade, Weddding Impérial, Earl Grey d’Or, Earl Grey Provence, Parsifal, Narcisse, Chandernagor and Marco Polo.

                    I will channel my inner Deneuve when I utter those words 😉 March 14, 2017 at 1:27pm Reply

                    • Victoria: Wow! What was Narcisse taste like? March 16, 2017 at 3:34am

                    • Austenfan: It’s a smoky tea with flowers. Very bold.

                      And yes, I like taking my tea-shopping seriously. March 16, 2017 at 5:20am

          • Danaki: Yes, communication! There’s also the not-so-recent Clinique one which is smart molecules and know where the problems are and go there to solve them. Hmm…

            I love Hada Labo, and now I even bought their milk for light summer days when a moisturizer before SPF might be too heavy.

            I’ve also re-purposed The Ordinary Caffeine solution. It now mixes with my body lotions or my face cream for my neck. Better than wasting it I suppose. March 14, 2017 at 10:19am Reply

            • Victoria: Oh, what a great idea! I will do that too. Thank you for sharing this tip.

              Those smart molecules! I heard someone talk about the “skin barrier breaking down skincare” as if it were a good and desired thing. March 14, 2017 at 10:30am Reply

  • Carla: Now I have a doubt about my drawer full of creams! This woman says just wash your face with water? And drink carrot juice…
    I don’t know certain creams seem to help my skin. But I’d like to simplify.
    http://m.elle.fr/Beaute/Soins/Questions/Docteur-Yael-Adler-Ce-n-est-pas-necessaire-d-utiliser-des-cremes-anti-age-3453689 March 14, 2017 at 9:45am Reply

    • Victoria: I don’t use any anti-age creams either. But too much carrot juice is not a good idea either. March 14, 2017 at 9:53am Reply

      • Carla: I’m suspicious of a daily carrot juice recommendation like her’s! March 14, 2017 at 1:03pm Reply

        • Victoria: I’d rather eat a carrot! March 16, 2017 at 3:33am Reply

    • mj: my experience is that the best anti-aging cream is a tube of mosturizer with sun protection.
      Also, I don’t drink my vegetables, I eat them, more fiber. I’m sorry, but this trend of juicing every single leaf in the green grocer’s is too much for me. March 14, 2017 at 3:09pm Reply

      • Carla: I agree! I don’t do smoothies or green juices. I like a bit of crunch, it’s good for your jawline too, so anti-aging 😉 The modern diet is generally too soft which actually adversely affects facial beauty. Look up “orthotropics” and “modern melting faces” March 14, 2017 at 5:14pm Reply

      • Victoria: Hear, hear! Those green cocktails made from kale and spinach don’t look like food to me. March 16, 2017 at 3:40am Reply

  • Lily: I went through their whole product line yesterday and made a list of everything I was interested in, then chose a few to start with that did not have a direct overlap with something currently in my cabinet either as a staple, a one-off I liked enough to finish if not re-purchase, and samples.

    I have skin that is terribly sensitive to silicones (cause cystic acne), so I really appreciated how many of their were silicone-free…that is truly a rarity in skincare. For the last 8 years or so my go-to’s have been a gentle exfoliating bar soap and Ponds dry skin cream. I had a laugh when I realized the only products I could really use had been developed prior to the 1970s, until the sort of Whole Foods natural/vegan beauty trend started. (The only thing I have added in that vein, though, is a non-alcohol toner.)

    My biggest interests were the tone balancing/spot fading and general anti-aging/hydrating stuff. I have pretty balanced skin, though I tend more to oily than dry, at least in this climate (southeast US). Had a shortlist of about 10 products that appealed.

    Ended up ordering the Vitamin C suspension, HA, Niaciamide, and the alpha arbutin.

    If I like these I might try some of their other products later on.

    We’ll have to make a point to update on our experiences! Is the monthly perfume thread a good place for that? This post? March 14, 2017 at 10:30am Reply

    • Victoria: I think you’ve picked the right products to start with. It will cover most of your concerns as you mentioned above, and it doesn’t make sense to use more than this in a day to day regimen. Maybe also a retinoid later (evening only, sunscreen during the day is a must).

      You can post here or in the monthly recommendation thread. It would be great to read your thoughts as you sample the products. March 14, 2017 at 10:35am Reply

      • Lily: I thought about the retinoid as well, but decided that going into spring/summer (especially since I have a 3 year old who loves to be outside) was the wrong time to try it. Next fall, I think! Assuming I like these enough to try more. Will def add updates 🙂 March 14, 2017 at 11:01am Reply

        • Victoria: A good idea. I avoid it in the summer, especially when I travel and I am in the sun a lot during the day. March 14, 2017 at 12:54pm Reply

    • Lily: Thought I’d offer initial impression after having used for 2-3 weeks now.

      1. My skin is starting to look a little more radiant, maybe a bit more even. (The biggest uneven pigmentations are chin from Rosacea and a couple red marks from a run-in a couple months back with a hidden silicone that caused a cyst on each cheek). They aren’t gone but the contrast seems to be lessening.

      2. The vitamin C was not as irritating as expected. I guess I felt a vague sting the first application but none since (have used 4x). It also absorbed easier than I expected after all the comments about its graininess. I would only ever apply at night tho, Bc it is a not-SMOOTH texture…just not as rough as I was expecting.

      3. I have not yet tried the Niacinamide, I wanted to make sure the others (but c and alpha Arbutin) didn’t bother me, and give them a chance to do their thing before adding a third serum in the mix.

      4. I honestly can’t tell if the HA is doing much for me or not. I don’t use it nightly as it feels like too much. My skin doesn’t lack for hydration, though, and the skin cream I use (ponds with the blue cap) is full of fatty alcohols and light oils that my skin soaks up quickly but without feeling heavy. So I don’t know how much benefit I get from the HA anyway.

      5. Def like the quality (especially for the price!) and feel like some of the combo products (like Buffet or the natural moisturizing agents) might be great for traveling with on like weekend trips to have multiple utilities in one bottle. April 6, 2017 at 8:26am Reply

  • minteacup: Thank you for the serendipitously timed review- I’ve been browsing The Ordinary’s site for a few days off and on now.

    I have actually had trouble finding reviews of the MAP cream. L-AA irritates my skin every time, and I’ve tried multiple ways and products, but I’ve seen reports that magnesium ascorbyl phosphate is gentler, but still fairly effective. How would you describe the texture and finish of the MAP cream? March 14, 2017 at 12:35pm Reply

    • Victoria: It’s creamy, leaves no trace, but it’s ever so slightly emollient. It’s definitely very gentle. March 14, 2017 at 12:59pm Reply

      • minteacup: That sounds lovely! Thanks for the insight. 🙂 March 14, 2017 at 1:12pm Reply

  • Erry: I really want to try the Vitamin C Suspension 23% as I want to get rid of spots and other signs of sun-caused damage. I will use it once or twice a week since I currently using La Roche-Posay Toleriane ultra overnight, which contains Niaciamide. March 14, 2017 at 12:43pm Reply

    • Victoria: You can certainly use the Vitamin C Suspension in the morning too. It’s just that I find it more comfortable in my evening routine. March 14, 2017 at 1:00pm Reply

      • Erry: I’m concerned about the texture and the greasiness. I have oily skin, so I’m afraid using it in the morning will make my skin even more oily. My morning skincare routine involves Neutrogena Rapid Tone Repair moisturizer with SPF 30. Do you think mixing the two is ok? March 14, 2017 at 2:28pm Reply

        • Victoria: I don’t really know what’s inside Neutrogena. Does it contain niacinamide? It would be the only concern. The texture of the Vitamin C serum is not greasy, but it can make certain sunscreens peel off. You’d have to experiment. Or wait till you use up your current products and try it then. March 16, 2017 at 3:39am Reply

          • Erry: As far as I know, Neutrogena contains retinoid and HA. It doesn’t contain niaciamide. In theory, it shouldn’t be conflicted with Vit C. I think, as you said, will have to experiment with it. March 16, 2017 at 3:39pm Reply

  • Andy: I have been using the 23% Vitamin C (brilliant product) and the 1% retinol for a short time now. I found it odd that the Ordinary website is written so as to try and persuade shoppers to buy the 2% retinoid instead of the 1% retinol, as they are very suggestive about the possibility for irritation when using the retinol. I understand that retinol has a greater likelihood to cause irritation, but I still thought that it was odd given that both are sold. That said, I don’t react badly to retinol, so perhaps I’m not considering the severity of side effects for some users. March 14, 2017 at 1:02pm Reply

    • kpaint: I find a lot of the website’s copy to be odd.

      They also strongly discourage users away from all of the direct acids they sell under the “Direct Acids” tab. (But don’t explain what a direct acid is. Do they recommend “indirect acids”? Who knows?)

      There’s also some snarky verbiage about using the term “Buffet” for a skincare product, yet they sell a product named just that.

      As to the 2% Retinol, I am wondering why they state: “This product must not be used in conjunction with other retinoids including retinol or retinoic acid.” There is no explanation given. I almost always layer retinoids so I wonder what kind of danger I’d be putting myself in should I do this with their product. March 14, 2017 at 6:00pm Reply

      • Andy: I do think they could improve the copy on the site, but overall, I’m pleased with what’s inside the bottles and tubes for the price. Skincare can be complicated, especially when you start getting into actives that work/don’t work in combination, etc. If I’m remembering correctly, some companies like Paula’s Choice tend to be dismissive altogether of the idea that certain products will “cancel each other out” if used together, but I’m no expert so I usually just make an effort to follow the advice I read if it sounds good to me. Certainly, part of the reason I even take the time for skincare is psychological; it simply brings me pleasure, and for that reason alone I try not to worry too much about improperly combining products and whatnot.

        I suppose I appreciate that The Ordinary spotlights its actives, rather than relying heavily on vague suggestions as to what a product will do (such as “clarify” or “firm”). After all, it really seems to depend on one’s individual skin to know just what effect some product will have. March 15, 2017 at 12:18am Reply

      • Victoria: Generally, layering retinoids is too irritating for most people, and the effect is not worth the red, peeling skin. But if yours can stand it and you like the results, there are no dangers. March 16, 2017 at 3:41am Reply

    • Lily: I took that language to be more of a, “these are a little different so be sure you know what you are buying and if you don’t know the difference than this one is probably better for you.”

      There was definitely a bias against their making actual recommendations. I wonder how much of that is FDA type concerns (if they are a different kind of company than a major cosmetics co in terms of how their effectiveness claims would be evaluated), or if it is the difference between US law and Canadian.

      I personally don’t mind the research angle Bc I had to solve my own cystic acne mystery a decade or so ago. But for all that I only scratched the surface on ingredients (basically catalogued what I used and what my mom used and looked for divergences till I found the culprit), it was soooo much more than I had ever done or even thought to do. March 14, 2017 at 9:43pm Reply

      • Andy: I like the research angle too, I find it more helpful than anything to have some scientific information at hand when purchasing a product.

        I’m of course being overly nitpicky here in my analysis of The Ordinary’s web copy. I think my comment comes from the experience of clicking back and forth between the Retinol 1% and Retinoid 2% when I was trying to decide which to purchase, and feeling as though the writers really wanted me to go for the retinoid, while I really just wanted to buy the retinol (just personal preference). At the time, the copy seemed very convincing, and it irked me slightly that I was waffling between the two. March 14, 2017 at 11:58pm Reply

    • Victoria: I was also puzzled about it. I thought that the 1% retinol should have been gentle enough, but it’s true, it’s an irritating ingredient. March 16, 2017 at 3:33am Reply

  • Nina Z: Haha, I read this post twice and I still feel confused. I’ve been using a bunch of Paula’s Choice products and layering them, having no idea what I’m doing. I tend to alternate nights, having a Retinol night and a Vitamin C night. (I’m older with thicker, acne scarred skin and larger pores, some brown spots, a few deep wrinkles.) My skin seems to love exfoliation, so I alternate using an everyday glycolic acid in the morning and every other evening the 2 percent BHA salicylic acid. Now I’m seeing stuff about niacinamide.

    I’m very interested in trying The Ordinary and maybe changing up my routine, but am feeling overwhelmed….. March 14, 2017 at 2:02pm Reply

    • Sandra: I use Paula’s Choice exfoliates as well and really love them. I use to have flakey skin on my arms and parts of my face and have notice I difference since I started using them a year ago. March 15, 2017 at 8:56am Reply

    • Victoria: If I were to start with only two products from the Ordinary, I would pick Buffet and the Vit C Suspension. You can use Buffet first thing before anything else in the morning and Vitamin C before anything else in either the evening. You can layer your products any way you like, but make sure that nothing you layer contains Niacinamide and Vitamin C. Those two shouldn’t be used at the same time. March 16, 2017 at 3:37am Reply

      • Nina Z: Thank you so much, Victoria! That’s very helpful and I will give your recommendations a try.

        And just generally thank you so much for doing this post, which is so informative I know I’ll be looking at it again in the future. Also, thanks so much for replying to all the comments–it’s a lot of work, I know. –Nina March 16, 2017 at 11:39am Reply

  • kpaint: Thanks, Victoria, for using and testing this line so you can translate it for us.

    After reading your vitamin C post I checked out The Ordinary’s website but got so frustrated trying to wade through their nonsensical and utterly un-helpful product info that I gave up. Their “Regimen Guide” provides no clarification at all, and appears to be unfinished – unless they really only recommend their products for people with general signs of age, pigmentation issues or dehydrated skin?

    Since I’m almost out of my usual vitamin C and retinol sera, I went back to buy some of theirs since it’s so inexpensive, and ended up spending hours reading and re-reading copy on all of their sites to try to figure out what I should buy.

    It’s not me, it’s them. I am a major skincare junkie. I read blogs, skincare websites, shop for, buy, and test products all the time. I know what my skin needs, what my skin likes, and how to build a routine. I also know what to avoid and what doesn’t work for me. But I can’t choose products for my skin based on scientific studies and technology, or even ingredients lists.

    Just some really basic keywords like “mattifying,” “hydrating,” or “best for (oily/combo/acneic/dry/mature) skin” would help. And can I possibly get some other descriptors about the texture (is it watery? oily? a lotion? a cream? a gel?)

    Finally, perhaps a sentence or two about how it functions on the skin, not in a test lab, like you’ve done in your post here. I don’t need anything long or complicated. “A light but ultra-hydrating serum” or “a perfect serum for those with combination or oily skin, because it balances the production of sebum” tells me what I need to know. Again, thank you for providing some direction!

    Sorry for the rant, but the entire website desperately needs some writers who know how to talk to end-users. It could also use some reorganization.

    FWIW, I ended up buying the Advanced Retinoid 2%, Vitamin C Suspension 23%
    + HA Spheres 2%, and Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate 10% 30ml. I don’t need 2 vitamin C products, but I did want free shipping, and that combo got me to $25.

    If you’re using products from any of Deciem’s other lines, I’m sure I’m not the only one who would love a “translation” of their other offerings! 😀 March 14, 2017 at 7:13pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’ve used some other Deciem products, so I will write an another digest. 🙂

      I don’t have so much issue with their explanations of the products themselves as with the instructions on how to use several products together. For instance, what is the right way to use the Vitamin C and with what? They don’t even offer a sample regimen for it. I ended up emailing their customer service, and that’s how I learned that I should apply it on dry skin and wait for a few minutes before using anything else.

      You started with some of their best formulas. The MAP cream is a good one for the day, and it’s very comfortable and easy to use. The Vitamin C Suspension has a slightly odd, grainy texture, so I use it in the evening. It really produces an impressive effect. March 16, 2017 at 3:46am Reply

    • Tijana: Hi kpaint,

      I use NIOD range also and love it. I use the 1% copper peptide and also their hyluronic acid (MMHA for short). I have also tried their Vit c.

      So here is what I think: first of all, the range is more expensive, but not exhorbitant. 30 ml serums are around $60 CAD. NIOD stands for non-invasive something something. Bottom line, this range is more about subtler (but still effective) products without too many acidic solutions. According to SA, the Hyluronic Acids between OC, Hylamide and Niod differ in number of types of HA in them: 2, 5, 12 respectively. And NIOD’s has the lowest molecular weight which means it is supposed to penetrate the best. For me, it was a decision based on texture preference – I prefer NIOD’s and I need only a few drops so a bottle lasts a while.

      Copper peptides are interesting. I wasn’t sure they were doing much until I realized my skin is recovering much faster from Retin-A than it did before. And when I spoke to some people, they confirmed that this is one of the key roles of peptides, to help skin recover faster, much like younger skin does. So, you may not see wow factor from this one on a day-to-day basis, but your skin will be healthier overall.

      NIOD’s Vit C is ethylated ascorbic acid of 30%. I am not using this one as I use Hylamide’s 25% (similar formula), again a texture preference over OC’s 23%. Not sure I absolutely need NIOD’s 30%, so I am sticking with Hylamide’s which is about $35 for 30 ml (still very good price).

      Overall, my skin seems bouncier since I started using the range and my cheeks a bit “fuller”. I’ve always took care of my skin, but there is no doubt that this line contributed lately to improvements.

      Hope I helped a bit! March 17, 2017 at 6:43am Reply

  • CristinaM: Dear Victoria, thanks for the post. Have you tried AZELAIC ACID by the Ordinary? They says it is effective for sunspots, which is my curse…
    I am currently using they Alpha Arbutin and it seems effective, however I may need more help..
    thanks March 15, 2017 at 11:35am Reply

    • Victoria: I haven’t. That’s the only one I haven’t used, because my skin tolerates the Vitamin C serum well enough, and it’s supposed to be the most effective version. But it can also be irritating.

      Are you using a good sunscreen? March 16, 2017 at 3:49am Reply

      • CristinaM: Now I do, but in the past I didn’t..wish I had known better.

        I thought Azelaic acid was better indicated to lower the appearance of sun spots, and it is included in one of the routines listed on The Ordinary website.

        My skin also tolerates vit C very well, but my undestanding was that Azelaic Acid was more specific …

        but I take your word for it. Understanding all the ingredients can be confusion for womeone without a chemistry backgroud..

        thanks Victoria March 16, 2017 at 8:15am Reply

        • Victoria: I can’t say, because I haven’t compared them side by side, but Azelaic Acid is an excellent ingredient, and it will be a good addition to your skin care routine. Another ingredient to look out for is licorice extract. It’s often paired with Vitamin C for lightening spots. The thing is that Vit C won’t make the existing spots fade significantly, but it will prevent the new ones from forming and the old ones from getting darker. Licorice extract, on the other hand, helps to make the spots fade. There are plenty of other ingredients too, but some are less safe than others. March 20, 2017 at 3:32am Reply

  • Civil to strangers: I’ve been reading your blog religiously for over a year and this is the fest time I’ve left a comment because I’m so excited. I found out about this line from your post on vitamin c serum, googled, saw they had a storefront near my flat and promptly picked up a few things.
    I haven’t tried any of the vitamin c serums from them yet as I have 1/2 of a Paula’s Choice one on the go. I got the advanced retinoid, that I’ve been using every other night for the past 10 days, no real noticible difference yet but it’s easy to apply, has a nice texture and no scent. I also got the hyaluronic acid 2%, which is really nice under my sunscreen as Toronto has been biterly windy and cold lately. I’ve also been putting it on my lips, under a lip oil and then a heavy balm – my bottom lip tends to be so chapped that barrier lip balms are never enough but this layering has really cut down on the peeling and flaking. As a base layer, it makes matte lipsticks comfortable for me, a first. I also got the argireline solution and the HA Blur from their sister brand, Hylamide. Again, with the argireline serum, it’s too soon to see results but the Blur! It makes my skin look perfect, as if I’ve been airbrushed. I’m 39 with normal skin but an oily t-zone and some acne scars and this product makes my skin look flawless while being so much easier than foundation. No shine, minimizes pores and scars and makes me look smoooooth.

    Anyway, thanks so much for spreading the word on this line. As a grad student, it’s amazing to find products that work at thus price point. March 16, 2017 at 2:02am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for your comment and welcome to Bois de Jasmin! Your experience and extra tips are very helpful.

      I used PC’s vitamin C serum before, and I liked the effect it produced. The formula wasn’t right for my skin type, though, and I’ve since been looking for something better. I was very happy to discover The Ordinary’s version. All in all, I’m very happy with this line, some qualms here and there notwithstanding. It’s so inexpensive and it’s effective! March 16, 2017 at 5:35am Reply

  • Tijana: Hi Victoria,

    You introduced me to this line and I love it!!! I use Niacinimide, Alpha Arbutin, Vit C, 2% retinoid, lip plumper, rosehip oil, caffeine eye serum (agree that this one doesn’t seem to do much, but I love all the others!).

    Also bought from their sister company -Hylamide – the face cleanser and toner (especially love the toner) and from Niod copper peptides and HA (prefer HA with a more “watery” consistency over gel). I also bought Hylamide’s Vit C just because I prefer the texture more over the OC’s grainy one. Hylamide range is just tiny bit more price-wise, but they also have great products.

    I now have their store around the corner from where I live and I am addicted! Thank you so much for introducing me to this line!!! ❤💋 March 17, 2017 at 6:22am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for your update! I’m so happy to hear that you’re pleased with your discoveries.

      Oh, do let me know how you like Hylamide’s Vit C the longer you use it. The texture is the only downside of The Ordinary’s Vit C Suspension for me. A minor qualm, though. March 20, 2017 at 3:34am Reply

  • kayliz: Thank you so much for this article, Victoria! At, erm, over 50 and after a trying few weeks I was feeling, and looking, grey and tired, so I took your post as my cue and ordered Alpha Arbutin, MAP, Vit C spheres, Buffet and Advanced Retinoid. I used all except the Vit C spheres over the last 2 weeks and am very pleased with how they have made my skin feel and look.

    I was holding off on the Vit C spheres until I was sure the Retinoid wasn’t causing problems. Today it was time to take the plunge. Oh my goodness. The effect is immediate and striking! I couldn’t help thinking of all those useless “instant flash” ampoules I’ve bought in my time. No comparison. I’m going to have to learn how to deal with the texture — “grainy” is tactful, I’d call it sandy;) — but it’s well worth it. Thank you:) April 9, 2017 at 3:55pm Reply

  • Vanessa: Your above routine – how would that work with the use of chemical exfoliants three times a week? For instance, I use (either layering or alternating) Peter Thomas Roth 10% glycolic acid hydrating serum with Philosophy’s hope in a jar as my exfoliant to reduce pigmentation / sun damage. Would the niacinamide be unnecessary at this point? April 19, 2017 at 7:40pm Reply

    • Victoria: You can use a chemical exfoliator first and then after about 5 minutes, you can add Vitamin C and moisturizer. This would be a good evening routine. I use niacinamide in the morning, but I skip any exfoliators then, since they make skin more sensitive to the sun exposure. If you don’t feel like using it, it’s not necessary, of course. It’s just a good ingredient for clear, radiant skin. April 20, 2017 at 6:06am Reply

  • rima: Hi i wanted to know that as a new anti aging serum/cream user can i use the ordinary buffet? May 6, 2017 at 3:09pm Reply

  • Iryna: Victoria,

    Will you be updating us with your spring/summer skincare routine? That would be really good! Sun is often out now and I’m a little wary of using all the acids, arbutin, vitamin c etc.. But then I don’t quite know what to use instead. I still need some kind of minimal exfoliation, even during warmer seasons. What kind of products do you use? Thank you May 15, 2017 at 4:11pm Reply

    • Victoria: I will be posting a summer update soon, with more details over the next two weeks. I will cover some of these topics. May 16, 2017 at 7:35am Reply

  • t4sh: thanks for ur post! this was the first post ive read on ur blog but will be browsing more on ur previous posts.
    i was looking for an inclination on how to use the ordinary products and found this post. i ordered mine via asos.com (fyi) and have decided to follow one of ur sample routines. ie buffet, retinoid 2% and ha. hope its not too harsh on my skin. i live in a really hot climate country so getting a bit worried abt the sun hitting my face tomorrow.. May 18, 2017 at 2:07pm Reply

    • Victoria: Please be careful with retinoids and start them very slowly, building up little by little. This way you will avoid the inevitable purging period and will not end up with overly dry skin. Of course, do wear sunscreen diligently. May 19, 2017 at 1:48pm Reply

  • Mrs. I: Very timely post, so glad to have stumbled across this. Can you please comment on the use of the Vit C suspension on elbows and knees? Mine are darker than the rest of my skin and I am thinking of trying this. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks! May 20, 2017 at 12:14am Reply

    • Victoria: I would try exfoliating them first. Use a body lotion with AHA, for instance DHC Body Silker or Paula’s Choice exfoliating body lotion. There are many other brands with great products; these two are the ones I use. May 20, 2017 at 7:22am Reply

      • Mrs. I: Good to know, thanks for sharing! May 20, 2017 at 7:25am Reply

  • Hannah: Hi Victoria,

    Firstly, what an amazing post. Thank you for enlightening me! I was wondering whether you could help me a little further? I have oily / combination skin (only really my t-zone is oily and the rest quite normal) with lots of redness edging on rosacea. I’m also quite spot prone. I’m having so much trouble trying to identify what products to buy but I know I’m 100% set on trying the brand as I’ve heard so many amazing things about it! If you’re able to shed any light on what’s best to go for with my problematic skin I would be eternally grateful 🙏🏻
    Thank you so much in advance. Hannah xx June 6, 2017 at 5:53pm Reply

    • Victoria: I would definitely start with Arbutin and Niacinamide. They’ve done wonders for me skin that’s also spot prone. Then, I urge everyone to try experimenting with a Vit C serum. Out of all active ingredients, it’s the one (along with retinols) that has been proven to regenerate collage and reverse sun damage. While this may be an issue for you, Vit C will also help making your skin brighter and more radiant. There is a separate Vit C guide on this blog, with more explanations and directions.

      Do you use acids to exfoliate? That’s something else that your skin might like, although I’d start with the very low concentrations of BHA. June 7, 2017 at 12:32pm Reply

  • A.I.K: Hello
    I have been searching the net upside down and then i came across ur article as well, read thriugh all the comments too but no luck, i am on my 7th week of retinoid 2% started with twice a week n coming to 5 times now but eversince i have had severe cystic acne which my skin never had! Anybody experienced this??? I am using the ordinary Buffet + retinoid 2%+ HA together in night routine !
    Kindly suggest or let me know i should continue or stop this
    Thanks June 14, 2017 at 9:45am Reply

    • Victoria: Purging can continue for 6-8 weeks, and stopping now is not a good idea. These are not new pimples, but the ones that have formed already and made more obvious when you’ve started on retinol. You can scale back on retinol, but don’t stop it completely. Another aid to make acne disappear quicker is to spot treat it with benzoyl peroxide (I used a 5% gel). You can use it first thing before any other product just on the spots. The only caveat is if you have skin tone darker than olive. Benzoyl peroxide might cause hyperpigmentation.

      Of course, keep in mind that I’m sharing my experience. I’ve started on retinol several years ago and had this happen. All went away without trace eventually. June 14, 2017 at 11:18am Reply

  • Toni Lee Carroll: My skin has never feel better, and I can’t believe the cost, this kind of product would be out of my price range.
    Thank you for this range, it’s fantastic June 15, 2017 at 12:30am Reply

    • Victoria: So glad that you’re also having such great results. June 15, 2017 at 2:01am Reply

  • Meemz: Would you know if it is ok to use the Retinoid 2% and Arbutin together? I have a laugh line around my mouth that I really want to get rid off (that’s why Retinoid) and pigmented sun damage spots on my face (Arbutin).

    Is this combination ok to be used at night? Or is this something you wouldn’t recommend? July 19, 2017 at 7:58am Reply

    • Victoria: You can use them together. Both are good brightening ingredients. Just make sure to use sunscreen every day, especially if you live in a sunny climate. These ingredients make your skin sensitive to the sun. July 19, 2017 at 10:38am Reply

  • Stephanie: Hi there!
    Thanks so much for all your guidance!
    I’m feeling so inspired but still a bit confused.

    I’m unsure how to use what I currently have and what to potentially add. My skin is currently dry, especially around my nose (perhaps due to product?) and I have pigmentation.

    I recently purchased the Mario Badescu Gycolic Wash and would like a system with my new Ordinary products, the:
    Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% – 30ml
    Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate 10% – 30ml
    Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% – 30ml
    Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA – 30ml

    I’d like to add a Retinoid or Retinol..not sure which. (I am 32 and seeing new wrinkles and the beginnings of a soft neck! Also considering purchasing the Vitamin C Suspension 23%+ HA Spheres 2%, the Buffet, and Squalane.

    Am I overdoing it? What should I do? Looking for help to find the correct application! Thank you SO MUCH! August 16, 2017 at 10:20am Reply

    • Victoria: Seems a bit too much as a start. I would start with Arbutin and Niacinamide in the morning and then Vit C in the evening. You can add Retinol 1% once or twice a week in the evening (don’t use Vit C on those days). Once you like this routine, you can add other products. A good moisturizer might be necessary, of course, as a final layer in your am and pm routine. August 16, 2017 at 11:04am Reply

      • Stephanie: Thanks SO MUCH for your help August 16, 2017 at 11:16am Reply

  • Maria: Dera Victoria,
    Thank you so much for recommending The Ordinary. I absolutely love all the products you suggested and I follow exactly your steps (though I am quite different, a bit dark skined and dry), it works great, my skin looks much better now like never before, after using for years very expensive products. Since I am 46 I have already some wrinkles but I still not us anti-ageing lifting cosmetics because I am afraid that in time could do more harm and the skin would lose the capacity to help itself. I have the same question about The Ordinary products, since Alpha Arbutin, Niacinamide and Hyalorunic Acid (not necessary used together) have this tightening effect on my skin (which day by day I love but I am afraid on long term). August 18, 2017 at 6:37am Reply

    • Victoria: It’s nothing to worry about. The tightening effect is from the gel-like base, that’s all. When it dries out, you might feel that kind of sensation, especially if your skin is on the drier side already. August 18, 2017 at 8:14am Reply

      • Maria: Thank you, you are great! August 18, 2017 at 8:47am Reply

  • Debi Sen Gupta: I purchased the Alpha Arbutin 2% + Hyaluronic Acid after reading your post and I am happy with its effectiveness. A dark spot on my cheek, which was there for years already looks lighter. I have been using for a week or so only and not everyday. I also got the vitamin but it makes my skin look very shiny when I apply it. Any idea whether I should discontinue using it? My skin does look better overall. September 10, 2017 at 9:45am Reply

    • Victoria: I would use it in the evening. September 11, 2017 at 12:22pm Reply

      • Debi Sen Gupta: Thank you. Will try that. September 11, 2017 at 9:55pm Reply

  • Camila: Hi, I´d like to ask you if the order i´m using the products is correct: After I cleanse my skin in the morning I apply Buffet, then Nicinamide+Zinc, then Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, after that I apply Squalane and sunscreen. Is that ok?
    Thanks! October 27, 2017 at 2:20pm Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, that’s a good order. Or you can use Niacinamide first and keep Buffet for the evening. October 27, 2017 at 4:24pm Reply

      • Camila: Thanks! Why would you skip Buffet in the morning? I feel like that is the good stuff I don´t wanna miss haha October 28, 2017 at 5:13pm Reply

        • Victoria: It’s usually better to keep things simple to make sure the active ingredients do their work. Buffet is such a complete serum that it needs little else, other than maybe a layer of moisturizer (and sunscreen in the morning). But of course, there is nothing bad about pairing it with Niacinamide. You can experiment and see how your skin reacts. October 29, 2017 at 6:16am Reply

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