The Ordinary | My Top Picks

Oh Deciem, you were on top of the beauty world just a few short weeks ago and all it took was handing over the Instagram password to a CEO in the midst of an apparent meltdown to put all of that at risk! I actually wrote this post before the brand became embroiled in controversy and confusion, however on my Twitter poll the vast majority of readers still wanted me to go ahead and publish it (I'm kind of waiting for the dust to settle on this very muddled story to see what damage control will be done, so there's no need to leave negative comments on the matter - you can read my thoughts on beauty brand controversy here.) Essentially their CEO has taken over their Instagram account and at best the results have been cringe-worthy, at worst rude, potentially offensive or even indicative of underlying issues... (there's an article summarising it all pretty well here.) Deciem isn't dead to me at this point but I think the brand needs to do something because this isn't cool (if the Weinstein Company can sack Harvey Weinstein... I'm just saying!)

I'm sure that by now you're familiar with the Ordinary but the one-liner is: this skincare-focussed brand offers proven active ingredients in their stripped-back form for a very low cost. You're not going to find a product called 'hydrating serum', you're going to find 'Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5'. It can be a little intimidating but is worth the extra bit of Googling for price-point of the products. Today, I'm taking you through my edited list of essentials, as I've tried so much from them by this point.


Caffeine Solution 5% + ECGC | £5.80 | This is unlike any eye cream I've ever tried before - it comes in the classic, simple, functional dropper bottle that most of the Ordinary products do and has a lightweight, semi-transparent gel formula. This makes it perfect for skin types that are less in need of nourishment and hydration and are more interested in depuffing the eye area and helping reduce the appearance of dark circles. It's fast-absorbing and makes me look more awake instantly.

Natural Moisturising Factors + HA* | £4.80 | This is a basic moisturiser that would work as a staple in pretty much anyone's skincare routine. It has a lightweight formula that might not be enough for dry skin but personally, as someone who is combination, I really like that it hydrates without being greasy or heavy and is fuss-free to apply. According to the website this product contains: multiple amino acids, fatty acids, triglycerides, urea, ceramides, phospholipids, glycerin, saccharides, sodium PCA, hyaluronic acid and a bunch of other elements that occur naturally in the skin, meaning there's very little in there that could cause irritation.

Serums & Boosters

Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% | £5 | I absolutely love this when my skin is a bit red and spotty because it has an amazing calming effect. It's not necessarily the thing I reach for when my skin is in total meltdown and I need a breakout gone fast, instead it's one of those 'background maintenance' products that will just keep things clear and calm if you incorporate it as a regular part of your routine. It has a gel formula that does absorb but it can leave the slightest bit of tackiness on the skin because the Ordinary's products specifically don't contain those extra ingredients that make the texture of a product a bit more pleasant to apply or that make it sit a little better under makeup.

Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 | £5.90 | This is one of the most well-loved products in the range and I can see why - we all love hyaluronic acid because of its ability to retain moisture. Applied topically it's an amazing hydrator, and the fact it comes in a gel-serum makes it suitable for all skin types that experience dehydration from time-to-time. I do find it a little bit tacky on the skin but it's nothing major given the price-point. It's good for giving my skin a moisture boost, plumping it up and leaving things feeling softer. 

Salicylic Acid 2% | £3.90 | Now this one is the one I reach for when my skin is a mess! Salicylic Acid is a BHA exfoliant that can penetrate deeply into the pores, making it great for spot-prone skin. I tend to spot-apply this, though you could use it as a serum too, and have no application problems when I use it under makeup. It's great at reducing the size and appearance of blemishes but also for helping the appearance of any scarring left behind afterwards.


Granactive Retinoid 2% in Squalene | £7.80 | This is a new version of the Retinol I had been using and has an oil-like texture. Retinol / Retinoid is Vitamin A and the reason the product comes in a dark bottle is because the formula can destabilise in sunlight. This is one of a small handful of scientifically-proven anti-aging ingredients and it also can work miracles on acne-prone skin (there are prescription-strength formulas that are often used to treat the issue, though you shouldn't use any strength of it if you're taking accutane). It's best to use a low concentration (1% or less) and build up to something stronger so you don't experience peeling. This helps improve the clarity and texture of my skin, making it smooth and just better in every way! You have to use it for a while to see the effects but once you do, it's hard to see how you lived without it. The squalene just gives things an extra kick; moisturising and and calming the skin. 

100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil* | £9 | Rosehip oil has to be one of my all time favourite skincare ingredients and this is a really nice affordable option. I use this overnight and it's a great all-rounder that hydrates and nourishes the skin as well as improving its clarity over time. It has a slightly more greasy formula than some of the others in my collection, however it does eventually absorb (I just apply it half an hour or so before bed) and it's a small price to pay given how affordable it is.

Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution | £6.80 | The one thing I don't like about this is the packaging - the lid gets leaky if you don't stand the bottle upright! That aside, this is a really good low-cost option if you're in the market for a glycolic acid. This is an AHA, meaning it's a chemical exfoliant that will remove dead skin cells and reveal a more radiant complexion (it can increase your skin's sensitivity to the sun, though, so ensure you wear some protection). 7% is actually a reasonably high concentration, so if it's your first time with glycolic acid, you might experience a slight tingling sensation. I do find it to be very effective and don't think it's necessary to use it more than 3-4 times a week. My only negative is that it can leave the skin feeling slightly stripped - some of the other acid exfoliants I love contain other calming ingredients which counter-balance that effect, however this doesn't.

AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution | £6.30 | This is not for the faint-hearted and I would not recommend it for skin that isn't used to acids (it also has 'professional use only' splashed across it, which is slightly scary...) It's a very fluid treatment that's pretty much the colour of beetroot juice - you apply a thin layer, leave for no more than 10 minutes and then rinse off. It does feel pretty intense on the skin, so if it becomes uncomfortable I wouldn't force yourself to keep it on for the full 10 minutes! I use it at most once a week and it just kicks the effects of products like the glycolic toner and salicylic treatment up about 10 notches. It leaves my skin instantly brighter, fresher and clearer, making it perfect to use before a big event when you want your complexion to look its best. 


High-Spreadability Fluid Primer* | £5.50 | This primer is unlike anything I've ever really tried before with its unusual texture. It comes in the serum-style dropper bottle, which is a little bit annoying as you get down to the bottom, as the texture is actually fairly thick. When smoothed onto the skin it gives a soft, satin finish and is lightweight and non-sticky. It's really good at evening out the surface, helping reduce the appearance of pores and preventing my makeup from settling into fine lines. It makes my base look fresh and healthy, as well as making sure it applies evenly and lasts well throughout the day.

Serum Foundation (2.1Y) | £5.70 | This was my preferred option out of the two foundations the Ordinary released (though this is very much a summer shade on me). It has a lightweight, almost watery consistency and gives a medium coverage. It has a very skin-like finish that's neither dewy nor matte, though after lunchtime I do tend to get a bit of shine coming through in my problem areas. Besides that the wear-time is pretty decent, making it an overall good option for everyday wear.

Have you tried the Ordinary? What are your top picks?

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Disclosure - products marked * were sent to me for consideration however all opinions remain my own.

Read more posts from this series here!

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