The best ordinary products

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Reader Question: Is The Ordinary worth the hype? And what ingredients should I get? There are so many ! —Diana Verona

At first glance, The Ordinary seems very, well, ordinary. The color scheme is monochromatic, there are no flashy marketing claims splashed onto the bottles, and the packaging looks more like a scientist’s arsenal than something you’d find on a vanity. Oh, and here’s the kicker—nothing costs more than $30.

So why is the brand generating so much buzz among TikTok users, beauty editors and dermatologists? To begin with, it is very suitable for beginners in skin care. Each product is extremely transparent and lists the exact percentage of active ingredients, so you know you’re not the victim of fairy dusting. The brand’s clinical and science-based approach to skincare hasn’t really been done before, let alone at this price point.

Before you dismiss it as cheap, keep in mind that expensive doesn’t necessarily equal best in the skin care world. “Many things can contribute to a product’s price, including packaging and marketing, that have nothing to do with its actual quality,” says Britt Craiglow, MD, associate professor of dermatology at the Yale School of Medical. “In some cases, a product may contain fluffy additives and proprietary ingredients that aren’t necessarily effective, but contribute to higher cost.”

In other words, The Ordinary is skincare made simple. You don’t get the fancy scents and indulgent textures (read: silicones), but you do score single-ingredient products that deliver targeted results.

Despite the brand’s straightforward Style 101 approach and attractive price, creating a streamlined routine can be daunting. When it comes down to active ingredients and percentages, the approach seems a bit… medical. But don’t worry, you don’t have to be a pseudo-cosmetic chemist to figure out what you’re getting. I’ve broken down some of my favorite ingredients you should keep in your cupboard, what they are and how to use them.


Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5


I strongly believe that everyone should use hyaluronic acid (even oily skin needs good hydration). And if you have dry skin, this winning combo is essential every day. ICYMI, Hyaluronic Acid can attract up to 1,000 times its weight in water, while Vitamin B5 boosts hydration levels. So together they soothe dehydrated skin in the blink of an eye.



Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%


This one’s great if your skin is acne-prone or tends to lean on the oilier side – 10% niacinamide and 1% zinc double up to reduce oil production, which can help prevent breakouts. breakouts and diminish shine in the middle of the day.



Exfoliating solution AHA 30% + BHA 2%


This viral TikTok formula is probably The Ordinary’s most popular for being the ultimate at-home peel. Fair warning: the blood red color is a little off-putting unless you’re familiar with vampire face, but the results are anything but vampiric. The blend of AHA and BHA breathes new life into your skin – it acts like a deep-penetrating micro scoop to remove skin wastes like sebum and dead skin cells. For best results, apply it before putting on your heavier creams.



The ordinary “Buffet”


This formula is one of the more complicated choices in The Ordinary line, but the blend of ingredients they’ve concocted offers some really great benefits. It contains a potent blend of peptides, amino acids and hyaluronic acid to plump and firm the skin, so your complexion will look brighter, plumper and overall younger looking. However, do not use it in tandem with direct acids or vitamin C.



Retinol 0.5% in Squalane


It’s no secret that retinol is a big player in the pro-aging game. But if you tend to experience irritation alongside retinol application, squalane will be a welcome addition. In this formula, plant-derived squalane helps stabilize 0.5% pure retinol and reduce irritation. Do not use it in the same routine as other retinoids, direct acids or the “buffet” we just talked about, it would be an excessive exfoliation.



Mandelic Acid 10% + HA


Beat pesky pigmentation? This alpha hydroxy acid derived from bitter almonds has larger molecules than other AHAs, which means it absorbs more slowly into the skin. Translation: It’s kinder to the skin. This one even contains hyaluronic acid to ensure no side effects.



5% Caffeine Solution + EGCG


Similar to the counterpart drink, this caffeine-infused solution revives your skin. Indeed, caffeine is an anti-inflammatory when used topically. It can temporarily constrict visible blood vessels and deflate improving circulation. As for the other acronym, EGCG (meaning epigallocatechin gallatyl glucoside) is an ingredient derived from green tea leaves that can help reduce dark circles, so it’s ideal for use under the skin. eyes.


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