Illustration of three The Ordinary glass serum bottles.
Meet the newest skin care sensation — that won't hurt your pocketbook. (Illustration by Sarah Yu, Duke University)

The Ordinary Skincare Brand Is Sweeping the Internet, and I Tried It Out

Their incredibly affordable products have inspired cultlike devotion. The question is: Do they actually live up to the hype?

Thoughts x
Illustration of three The Ordinary glass serum bottles.

Their incredibly affordable products have inspired cultlike devotion. The question is: Do they actually live up to the hype?

Lately, it seems like people are putting a lot more time and effort into their skin care regimens. Skin care can often be one of the most expensive parts of a beauty routine, so it’s an investment that you really hope works for the price. Though no routine will work the same for everyone, a brand called The Ordinary has caught the attention of many. The Ordinary is a brand from DECIEM that boasts “innovation, integrity and honorable prices” and mostly consists of skin care products with a few foundations to choose from as well.

Aesthetically, The Ordinary’s packaging is simple, uniform, minimalistic and sure to look sleek on any shelf. The information given on each of their product pages goes in-depth on the science behind the items, so you know exactly what you’re getting and what it does. The price point of everything made me do a double take, as almost everything is under $10, with a few exceptions. For the amount of product that you get, that alone is enough to spark the interest of any skin care fanatic, since a lot of things can have a pretty steep price tag.

Based off of many years of interest and a highly researched and intricate skin care routine, I decided to switch it up and try out the products that I’ve had my eyes on for so long. I wanted to know if the price was worth it or if it was a scam. To start out on this venture, I purchased some of the most popular products I’ve seen from The Ordinary to put them to the test and check whether or not these truly live up to the hype.

AKA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution

If you’ve ended up on the self-care, makeup and skin care side of TikTok, you may have seen this viral product before. Sometimes referred to as the “red peel,” the product is as eye catching as it is effective.

This mask-like peel goes on dry, cleansed skin and you let it do its job for 10 minutes. Once it has sat, you rinse, moisturize and apply sunscreen (very important if you’re going to be exposed to sunlight) and you’re done! This product was fun to use because of the color but most importantly, it left me with very pleasing results. My skin has never felt so soft or appeared so fresh. This will definitely be a staple in my routine because it works and for the price, you just can’t beat it.

I will say that of the products on this list, this is the one you should be most careful about using, as it is an acid exfoliant. There are multiple warnings on the website about this product being for experienced users of acid exfoliation and not to use it if you have sensitive skin. Any type of exfoliation can be harsh on the skin, so you want to make sure you know how to use it. You shouldn’t use this more than once a week, although the site suggests twice, for more than 10 minutes at most.

The next three things I decided to try are conveniently available in a daily set, so it’s a good way to test the waters if you don’t have a routine already and aren’t sure which products to buy.

Squalane Cleanser

This is the cleanser currently offered by The Ordinary. I felt a bit apprehensive to try this at first, because I’m not used to using a cleanser that goes onto dry skin. The process was a bit different to me, because the product begins with a creamy consistency until you rub it in your hands to turn it into something more oil-like. Despite all of my hesitation, it took one use and I was convinced that this was the way to go. It felt very soothing and not at all drying like some cleansers I’ve tried in the past. This product also removes makeup, which is always a plus.

As a double cleanser myself, this product was gentle enough that I know I’ll be able to fit it into my routine with no problems or worry that my skin won’t be able to handle it.

It’s a type of product that is fairly common, but this cleanser still managed to be different and effective, so The Ordinary gets a thumbs up on this one.

Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5

This serum is my personal favorite product of the ones I was able to try, as I notice immediate results and it feels very gentle and refreshing. The serum speaks for itself and does exactly what it says it’s going to do, and that’s support hydration with hyaluronic acid attracting water in the skin. It is applied after cleansing and before creams for maximum hydration. It absorbs very quickly but leaves the skin feeling soft and plump rather than dry after a few minutes, like other products that claim to have the same benefits.

The only qualm I have with this serum is that it has taken me a while to get used to the precise amount to use each time, and I will probably run out of this before the other products.

Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA

Of the products I tried, this moisturizer was probably my least favorite, but I still liked it. This is a surface hydrator that goes on after serums as needed. A little goes a long way, and it took me a few tries to figure out how much to use to get enough hydration without caking it on my face. While I acknowledge that it does hydrate well initially, I found myself having to apply this often throughout the day.

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Say hello to Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA. Natural Moisturizing Factors (NMF) are elements that keep the outer layer of the skin protected and well-hydrated. NMF are made up of multiple amino acids, fatty acids, triglycerides, urea, ceramides, phospholipids, glycerin, saccharides, sodium PCA, hyaluronic acid and many other compounds that are naturally present in the skin. This formula offers non-greasy hydration that acts as a direct topical supplement of impaired NMF components. It contains 11 amino acids, phospholipids, alpha/beta/gamma fatty acids, triglycerides, sterols and sterol esters, glycerin, ceramide precursors, urea, saccharides, sodium PCA and hyaluronic acid. It offers immediate hydration and lasting results with continued use. Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA ($5.80, £4.90, €5.80)

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Would I buy it again? Just because of the price of $6, I probably would, but other moisturizers have worked better for me in the past. This one just left me feeling a little “meh.”

Final Thoughts

It has been a few weeks since I’ve started this new regimen with The Ordinary, and I have quickly noticed a huge difference. Overall, my face feels more hydrated, less textured and appears to be brighter. These results have been lasting and consistent, rather than looking nice after application and then quickly fading. You certainly can’t beat the price point either, as you can spend as much on a full regimen as you would a single product with other brands.

Since my initial purchase, I’ve tried a few other things I’ve come across on the website and like what it has done so far. I know I will be repurchasing most of what I’ve tried, and I would definitely recommend this brand as long as you do your research and know which products will work best for your skin.

If you’re able to, consult with an esthetician or dermatologist before starting any new skin care routine, or at least do your research. Because so many of these products are intense, concentrated chemicals, education is incredibly important in staying safe and using them effectively. It’s also easy to get overwhelmed with the large number of products offered from The Ordinary, so make sure you’re reading the ingredients and function of the products before you buy. Your skin is exclusive to you, so be sure you know your skin type, concerns and sensitivity so you can make the best and safest regimen possible.

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