The Ordinary burst onto the scene around two years ago with active skincare ingredients at a super-affordable price-point. Today I wanted to put them head-to-head against their luxury equivalents to see if you should save or splash out on skincare! As a side-note: Brandon, the founder of Deciem, tragically passed away at the start of this year, which is why this post was pushed back, as I wanted to let the dust settle a little. I hope he is finally at peace and I know he will go down in beauty history as the person who managed to make this innovative concept into a reality.


Drunk Elephant Luxury Virgin Marula Oil | £34 for 15ml | vs. the Ordinary 100% Cold-Pressed Virgin Marula Oil | £8.10 for 30ml

Marula oil is a hydrating antioxidant so can help ward off the signs of ageing, protect your skin from environmental aggressors and plump the skin. It contains fatty acids, Vitamin C and Vitamin E, meaning it will keep your skin looking radiant and feeling moisturised. I want to be fair to the high-end brands in this post and point out that, although both of these products are 100% virgin marula oil, this doesn't mean they're entirely the same. After all, I'm sure most of us have tried different bottles that all claim to be 100% virgin olive oil but they don't taste the same and aren't necessarily of the same quality. 

The obvious initial difference for me between these two products is the texture once applied; Drunk Elephant's absorbs very quickly and has an almost dry-touch feel, whereas the Ordinary's definitely feels a lot oilier and more slippery on my skin. When I use the Ordinary's version, I definitely have to give it a good half an hour or so to absorb before I hit the sheets (sidenote: I always use my oils as overnight treatments) which isn't a huge deal. I still get that plump, smooth, hydrated skin effect when using the Ordinary's alternative, it's just a little messier to apply and, despite it being double the size of Drunk Elephant's, I feel like I'm getting through it really quickly! Neither of these are huge deals, however; so if you don't want to spend big on Drunk Elephant, this is a viable alternative that will give you more or less the same result.


Trilogy 100% Natural Certified Organic Rosehip Oil | £19.50 for 20ml | vs. the Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rosehip Seed Oil* | £9 for 30ml

I absolutely love rosehip oil; it's incredibly hydrating and gets rid of any dry patches, as well as smoothing out the skin. It's also amazing at evening out the skin tone; if you use this over a good, long period of time, you should notice that your skin's tone looks more even, with any hyper-pigmentation significantly faded and you should have less texture. The first rosehip oil I ever tried was from Trilogy and it really isn't at an unreasonable price, but if you can get the same results for less; that's always a bonus! It's an oil so obviously does have a bit of a residue to it but doesn't feel too greasy on my skin and doesn't clog my pores. 

The Ordinary's version - I am happy to confirm - also gives me those amazing effects. I honestly think there's very little in it between these two products. As with the marula oil, I do think the Ordinary's version is a little more slippery and leaves more of an excess on the skin, but when you're talking about paying half the price for 1/3 more of the product: who really cares? I would definitely pick up the Ordinary's version instead if I needed to make a repurchase of this rosehip oil.


Here I have two retinol-in-oil products with two very different price-points! Retinol is a proven anti-ageing ingredient that can also help with acne (if you are not on accutane already). A dermatologist can provide you with prescription-strength retinoids or you can try widely-available products like these. It has a renewing effect which helps to smooth the skin and reduce the appearance of lines and scarring. It's definitely a long-term commitment - I wouldn't expect to see dramatic results within the first couple of months. It's usually found in opaque bottles to avoid destabilising this ingredient, however more and more often we're now seeing formulas where the retinol is already encapsulated. The Pestle and Mortar Superstar oil actually contains grape seed oil (for hydration) and rosehip oil (which we just talked about), to counteract the flaking that some people get from using retinol (either due to its strength or because it's their first time trying the ingredient). The Ordinary also have a version of their retinol that's suspended in squalene. Their granactive formula is already meant to reduce the likelihood of flaking but squalene is also a great moisturiser.

I'd actually tried a different version of the Ordinary's retinol that I was really impressed with before kindly being sent Pestle and Mortar's, so picked up this squalene version as a bit of a comparative experiment. I used Superstar for a good few months and noticed my skin was smoother and fresher, with less texture, less hyperpigmentation from blemishes and my fine lines were less visible. I personally don't get flaking from retinol use, however the extra hydration was still welcome! Don't get me wrong; it's a really great product and I love the results I see from it but it's also very expensive. I don't actually know the concentration of retinol in this product and I've searched the internet. However the Ordinary's version is 2% (though you can find it in lower concentrations if your skin is less used to retinol) and I honestly feel as though it does the same thing for my skin at barely more than 1/10th of the price!


Niod Copper Amino Isolate Serum* | £60 for 30ml | vs. the Ordinary Buffet + Copper Peptides 1% | £28.99 for 30ml 

Copper is an amazing skincare ingredient because of its transformative, anti-ageing benefits. It can promote collagen product in the skin to help keep it looking plump and is a protective antioxidant. The first copper-enriched product I ever tried was the Niod serum. This is blue in colour and you have to activate the product before use. The formula is very watery and is absorbs quickly into the skin. It's definitely pricey but it's incredible in terms of giving me amazing, very instantaneous effects. It really helps the appearance of fine lines and gives me that 'brand new skin' feeling; it's smooth, radiant and even, which means it ticks all the boxes for me! I have the original version of this which contains 1% but its since been re-released at a higher concentration.

The Ordinary's Buffet with Copper Peptides is slightly different. It's still a serum but has a much thicker, gel-like texture and the copper is mixed in with other anti-ageing ingredients like amino acids, matrixyl and hyaluronic acid. This just gives the skin an extra boost of hydration and helps smooth the skin. I used this for 2-3 months to see if it compared to the Niod version and the jury is still out on that. Don't get me wrong; I definitely noticed my skin with smoother and looked and felt fuller, but it just didn't give me that 'wow' effect. When I use the Niod it really makes me feel like I'm having my best skin day ever. The Ordinary one is nice but I just don't think the results are on the same level. If you think £60 is a ridiculous amount to spend on a serum (I can't say I blame you!) then you can still get a decent result using the Ordinary's. However if you do like to invest in your skincare and you will buy products that get up to these sorts of prices - I really do recommend the Niod.


Niod Multi-Molecular Hyaluronic Complex* | £38 for 30ml | vs. the Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 | £5.90 for 30ml

Hyaluronic Acid is found in many moisturisers and serums because it's amazing at retaining water. It can temporarily smooth out fine lines and gives the skin a hydration boost. The Niod formula contains an impressive 15 forms of the compound that work to hydrate the skin on every level. It has a very runny, fluid formula that absorbs beautifully. My skin looks fresher, healthier and plumper when I use this serum and it feels so soft and hydrated. I absolutely love it and have already purchased a backup because this bottle is almost done!

The Ordinary's version definitely has a thicker, more gloopy texture and leaves a bit of a tacky, almost filmy layer on my skin. However it still contains a variety of molecule sizes to get that penetration into the skin. You also get the added bonus of Vitamin B5 to further increase the surface moisture of your skin. I do still think it hydrates my skin and makes it look a little healthier and fuller, however I don't find it to be as good as the Niod and it is kind of messy to apply to the skin, which may put some people off. If you can make the splurge - I do think Niod's version is worth investing in.


Pixi Glow Tonic | £18 for 250ml | vs. the Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution | £6.80 for 240ml

I think Pixi Glow Tonic was the first glycolic acid I ever tried, and I'm sure it's the same for a lot of people who now worship at the altar of this skincare ingredient. Both of these products are designed to be used as toners after you've cleansed your skin. Glycolic Acid is a type of AHA so it exfoliates the skin chemically (without the need for harsh scrubs) to remove dead cells. This has the effect of revealing smoother, brighter skin and over time it can help reduce the appearance of scarring and hyper-pigmentation (just be sure to apply sunscreen after use). 

The Pixi formula contains a gentle 5% concentration, which is a little less than the Ordinary's version which comes in at 7%. However it also contains witch hazel, aloe and other soothing ingredients that make it feel so gentle on the skin. To me; that's why it's such a popular starter product when it comes to acids. I've used this regularly for years and love that it still gives me those effects without any irritation. It isn't one that's overly expensive, however the Ordinary have a glycolic acid that's less than half the price, has a higher concentration and contains near enough as much product. To me - this is a 'no frills' option that does the job and gives me what I want from a glycolic acid toner. What it doesn't do is soothe the skin as much, as it doesn't have any extra ingredients, so it does feel a little harsher and a touch more drying. This isn't a massive deal to me but I think for the price difference involved here, I'll stick to Pixi! The cap on this product is also a bit temperamental and it tends to leak, which isn't great.

Overall: oils are the area where I could easily swap my more expensive products with the Ordinary's version. The serums still do the job, but overall for me, ease of use and a product that's just that bit more effective wins out!

Have you tried the Ordinary? How do their products compare to more expensive ones you've tried?

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Disclosure - products marked * were gifted to me as unpaid advertisement for the brands / websites mentioned. All opinions expressed are my own. Please read my disclosure page for more information.

Read more posts from this series here!


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