The Ordinary – my review and recommendations

My experience, some recommendations and review of The Ordinary

So, are you even ready? This is going to be a magnificently long read so buckle up, grab a snack and perhaps some tea.

Firstly some general technicalities.

The Ordinary (TO) was a brand that somehow popularised the disassembled skincare routine. They gave you the option to assemble your own skincare routine in accordance to what you really need – no fuss, no unnecessary bullcrap. Of course every skin (type) is different and every person’s face will react to any products but some laws apply to all our skin. Skin understands certain pH levels, mostly the ones on acidic side and that is why it works well with acids in general. Acids as serums, acids as treatments and acids as moisturising agents. You might even already be using some without even knowing.

However, The Ordinary was able to break down ingredients to their original forms. Some of the product are still composites (like Buffet) and for those people who would like to buy certain as composites, without dealing with assembling your own routine, this just makes your life easier. But The Ordinary concept is mainly targeted towards real skin geeks and folks that already dove to the deeper end of the skincare pool. But worry not, I will guide you by the hand to the deeper end.

One of the main things to realise is, that you need a correct sequence of application of your products in order for them to be legitimately effective and serve their purpose. That goes with any skincare products. Now, we all know that water and oil don’t mix (emulsions and emulgators I will leave as a topic for another day) and that is why you have to be careful to apply the water soluble/water based products first, then oils.


What I actually purchased?

  • Niacinamide 10% + Zinc PCA 1% – (Water based) Niacinamide is a form of Vitamin B3. It is meant for oily skin, targeting blemishes, enlarged pores and balancing sebum. Zinc salt is to balance visible aspects of sebum activity. Can be used morning and night.
  • Buffet – (Water based) Buffet is a cocktail of a few other products you can find in the same TO line. I would say it is a mix of Matryxil and Hyaluronic acid. It is basically a multi-peptide skin treatment serum that should improve the signs of aging, dull skin, dark spots, fine lines, hyperpigmentation and texture. It contains a plethora of peptides (found in Matryxil) and, HA and probiotic complexes.My skin did not accept Buffet that well if I didn’t dilute it with a bit of water. At the beginning it clogged my pores and after I started diluting it (50:50) I had no such issues anymore. One more thing I noticed with Buffet – it made my eyelashes and eyebrows grow a bit. The difference is subtle and slow but now I started applying it to the lashline directly. Will see if I notice any more changes.
  • Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 – (Water based) Hyaluronic Acid, HA, can attract up to 1,000 times its weight in water. The molecular size of HA determines its depth of delivery in the skin. This formulation combines low, medium and high-molecular weight HA, as well as a next-generation HA crosspolymer. The formula of this HA is a bit heavy in my opinion but a few days ago TO announced a new formula of HA that will be lighter in weight. I would recommend waiting for that one if you find products like these a bit heavy. Nevertheless, I solved this problem by applying it on moist face.Many of the products already contain HA, so If that covers your needs and you already have one of those, you can skip this HA altogether. My skin was visibly plumper after the use of HA in any of the products. Can be used morning or night.
  • Matrixyl 10% + HA – (Water based) Meant to reduce fine lines and wrinkles and target the loss of elasticity. Can be used morning and night.
  • Lactic Acid 10% + HA – (Water based) This is a skin treatment serum for mild superficial skin exfoliation. Exfoliants can be physical (peelings, brushes..) or chemical (acids). Lactic Acid is an alpha hydroxyl acid that mildly exfoliates skin. This formulation is also supported with a purified Tasmanian pepperberry known to reduce signs of inflammation and sensitivity that is often associated with exfoliation. PH offered by this formula is approximately 3.8.If the 10% is too strong, try the milder 5% option.Special caution has to be applied if your skin is in any way damaged or compromised. Avoid using it on such skin. Also, the use of SPF is mandatory after using such a treatment.Can be used only in the evening.
  • Salicylic Acid 2% Solution – (Water based) is a beta hydroxyl acid in a serum that is designed to exfoliate skin and the walls of inside of pores in skin. On me it works great as a spot treatment on occasional pimples. Can be used morning and night. Wearing a SPF is also recommended.
  • Granactive Retinoid 2% in Squalane – (Anhydrous Solution – used after water serums but before oils) is meant to soften fines lines, pigment problems and revitalise skin. Retinoid is a form of retinol and is known to promote cell turnover. It contains a 2% concentration of an advanced retinoid active complex called Granactive Retinoid that has been shown to offer better results against multiple signs of ageing than retinol without any of the irritation and drawbacks common with retinol. So, milder and less stressful for your skin. I would advise to start mild and build up your tolerance.Only to be used in the evenings and you should wear SPF during the day.
  • Azelaic acid – it is supposed to encourage cell turnover, it helps healthy skin renewal to help clear acne, spots, pimples and rosacea-prone skin, improves brightens the skin tone while visibly improving the evenness of skin texture and reducing the look of blemishes. This is one of my favourites. In combination with Niacinamide and Zinc, my pores and general skin texture has really improved a lot. They are both a really cool option for oily skin type. My skin gets oily mostly on my nose but after prolonged use of this combo, my skin does not produce as much oil anymore which I can notice as my makeup tends to stay on longer and nicer.
  • Glycolic acid 7%– is an alpha hydroxy acid that exfoliates the skin and is supposed to leave it radiant and clearer. GA is stronger in comparison to Lactic acid and while they offer similar results, I would recommend the Lactic acid if your skin is sensitive or if you are only starting with acids. I had no issues, only a bit of stinging. I apply it with a cotton pad and run it across my whole face (avoid eye area).
  • 100% Cold pressed Virgin Marula Oil – gentle and non-irritative oil that consists of a ta smaller molecules hence can penetrate deeper in the skin. I apply a drop or two across the whole face in the evenings. I noticed it truly is lighter and absorbs better if I compare it with coconut oil.

My skin initially felt SO good being properly hydrated and cleaned. It looked better and it felt less bumpy. My main concern were enlarged pores and blemishes. Some texture problems also.

After using this regimen for around 8 weeks now, my experience went a little something like this:

In the first 3 days, everything was great. After day 4 I started noticing some tiny white pimples I never used to normally get in any circumstances. I assumed this was due to blocked pores which I contributed to an excessive layering of serums. I was correct.

The serums are a slightly thicker consistency and you need a good squirt to manage to apply it across your whole face. If you decide to layer multiple products, it becomes a bit too much i guess.

I stopped using serums for around 3 days so my skin could reassemble itself and it went back to normal. Since then, I started applying serums to MOIST skin (water spray). Not only do I use up A LOT less product, my skin has had no problems since and I couldn’t be happier.

Like most long-term skincare, this is no miracle recipe for great skin. With products like these it takes months to notice significant difference and quite a lot of dedication. I definitely plan on revisiting my opinions during this journey and let you know my thoughts.

An advice I would give you is not to start with high percentage acids (some, like Retinol and Lactic acid, offer a choice of strength), especially if you have sensitive skin. You MAY experience some peeling – I however did not and my skin is not sensitive per-se. I have been using acids for years now (especially salicylic one) and I believe my skin developed some tolerance during this time. If your skin is not used to acids, you might experience some trouble at first. Some call this a ”purge” phase. Your skin needs some time to get used to new type of pH and the products are introduced with all their force to a new environment. After prolonged use, your skin should experience rebirth 😛

Make sure you properly protect your skin after using acids. An SPF cream should become a part of your routine. No excuses. I have been using Clarins Creme Solaire.

After applying the serums, I lock everything in with Biotherm Aquasource to add lots of moisture and to help the Hyaluronic acid do its job.

My Favourites?

Lactic acid, Azelaic acid, Niacinamide + Zinc and Buffet (only because of the lash growth feature). The combination of the first three listed gives me such lovely results and I have been loving the results. My sebum production has subsided, skin texture and tone are so much more even. I have actually repurchased all three already.

If you have made it ’till the end, you really are a champ and should give yourself a pat on the back. You deserve it. I really hope you found some knowledge in this post and will be able to make some informed decisions on what your skin needs and purchase accordingly 🙂 Share the post with some (future) skin geeks and lets solve some skin problems together 🙂

Good luck!

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