- Advertisement information: this post discusses items gifted to me with no obligation to share them (marked *). In addition I have / have had a brand relationship with Cult Beauty, Look Fantastic and Beauty Bay (gifting). My blog has Skimlinks and RewardStyle installed to automatically monetise purchases of products I link on my blog, therefore this post may contain affiliate links. All opinions remain my own and please refer to my Disclosure Page for further detail -
The Ordinary offer a dizzying variety of super-affordable, mostly single-ingredient active treatment products. As a beauty blogger, given how affordable their products are and through being gifted a few things by the brand, I've had the opportunity to try a lot from their range over the last 3 years or so. I've kissed a few frogs but I've also found many total gems, so today - rounding off Affordable Beauty Month - I'm sharing some of their most impressive formulas that I just don't see that many people talking about. Let's jump in...
The first product I want to talk about is the Salicylic Acid 2% Masque* | £9.90. I personally think the AHA / BHA peel is a great product whose extensive misuse on social media platforms like TikTok due to its 'cool' appearance has given it a bad rap. That being said; it's a very strong formula that won't be for everyone and I personally now prefer using their salicylic acid mask instead, though I'd still say this should be a once-weekly treatment. What I enjoy about this product is that you get the pore-penetrating exfoliation power of this BHA to accelerate the clearing up of breakouts and help with any remaining scarring, but you also get some other good stuff. This is a clay mask too, giving that deep-cleansing goodness without the drying feeling because there's lots of glycerin (a hydrator) and squalane (a skin-similar plant oil) to counteract that and buffer the potential harshness of a strong salicylic. The only negative I have for this product is that it is a bit messy, being black in colour and a little stickier due to these more hydrating and moisturising ingredients, but I honestly don't mind. It's a formula that gets rid of spots, improves the overall clarity and texture of my skin and gives me an immediate glow-boost and isn't harsh or drying.
Sticking to the theme of acids, my top AHA pick from the Ordinary has to be their Mandelic Acid 10% + HA | £5.80. 10% sounds like a really high percentage of an AHA but mandelic acid is one of the gentlest options on the market. It has a large molecular size so is going to work on more of a surface level and is particularly great when it comes to targeting hyperpigmentation. The Ordinary pair this ingredient with a few hydrators, including hyaluronic acid, which pulls water into the skin, likely to counteract any potential dryness that can come with exfoliation. And, in my experience, this has never irritated or dried out my skin and I can use it every other day if I want to (usually as part of my evening routine). I also think this has a really nice texture upon application; I do love the Ordinary but some of their products just don't feel good on the skin for me personally and I've ended up graduation to other options. This one actually has a great application and feel, which is another reason why I keep reaching for it. It gradually improved the overall quality and texture of my skin without feeling like a harsh treatment; by the following morning, my skin definitely has a nice glow to it and feels smoother when I use this product. However, it also smoothes out the texture of my skin and I saw a marked improvement in the appearance of marks left over from breakouts I've had. This is a gentle, slow-burn hero!
The next product I'm going to talk about is one of their peptide options: the Argireline Solution 10%* | £5.50. Peptides are a bit of a controversial group of ingredients; brands love to make big claims about them being an anti-ageing ingredient that's going to stimulate collagen production in the skin, and we just don't have enough evidence to support this idea. They might do this, they might not do this. What we do know is that they're great humectants and that plumping, hydrating effect can offer a temporary improvement in the appearance of fine lines. The reason people have a problem with this is that peptides are often incredibly expensive and, given the lack of proof of their anti-ageing benefits, it's a high price to pay for a humectant. However, for a fiver; I think this serum is well worth giving a try and seeing if it does deliver the benefits for your skin! I love the water-light, fast-absorbing, non-tacky texture of this product. I personally find it plumps my skin and gives it deep hydration. I absolutely love it and would pick it over something like their hyaluronic acid any day of the week. I'm almost done with this bottle and I feel like it's a product I'm just always going to have on my shelf.
Let's move into the realm of antioxidants, starting with the Resveratrol 3% + Ferulic Acid 3% | £5.50. Resveratrol and ferulic acid are both antioxidants (derived from Japanese knotweed and apple seeds and oats respectively), which means they mop up free radicals that exist in our environment due to factors like pollution. If these free radicals are neutralised, the skin can be protected from premature ageing. You may also notice an improvement in the overall look, feel and health of your skin. Resveratrol and ferulic acid specifically have the added bonus of working incredibly well alongside Vitamin C, so if you have a Vitamin C serum you're using, it's definitely ok and even encouraged to layer this serum with it to boost its effectiveness and stability. However, this is a fantastic serum even when used standalone; it plays well with other skincare ingredients and is working hard in the background, so over long-term use I noticed my skin was in really great condition. It looked healthy, glowing and overall it was always a good skin day. It's not a 'dramatic results' kind of product but it's one you'll thank yourself for incorporating into your routine. It also has a nice texture; it's light, it doesn't feel sticky and it absorbs really well into the skin.
If you want an incredibly powerful antioxidant to really level up your skincare game, I can't recommend the Pycnogenol 5%* | £8.50 | enough. I don't know why this isn't more talked about! This antioxidant is derived from the bark of maritime trees from one specific forest in France. Being totally transparent; there aren't a ton of studies out on this ingredient so I'm really talking about my personal experience here. However, that's the great thing about the Ordinary; the low price means you can give it a go without worrying about dropping a load of cash on a product that doesn't have a strong scientific basis just yet. This is really an oil-based formula, so I would recommend applying it around 3 times a week as the final step of your evening skincare routine, or - if you're using a very thick, occlusive moisturiser - then apply it before that. This non-irritating formula just gives me my best skin days ever; it looks plumper, smoother, healthier and brighter. I can't rave about it enough and I can't think of a skin type or concern that wouldn't benefit from this.
After many not-so-great Vitamin C experiences with the Ordinary, after seeing many recommendations, I finally caved and picked up their Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate Solution 20% in Vitamin F | £14.90 | a couple of months back. This is admittedly one of the most expensive formulas offered by the Ordinary (the top spot being taken by their copper peptides) but I will pay for a good Vitamin C serum and this is still very inexpensive in the grand scheme of things. This is an oil-based serum that still feels very lightweight on my normal-to-dry skin, but I'd probably recommend that combination skin types reserve this for evening use (and I can't recommend it for oily skin; I'd recommend reading some reviews of this coming from people with that skin type to make your mind up). This is an oil-soluble form of Vitamin C, which means it more easily penetrates the skin barrier where it then needs to be converted into ascorbic acid. As well as delivering antioxidant goodness, Vitamin C has other benefits; it can potentially increase collagen production in the skin, it gives it a healthy glow and it evens out the skin's tone, so can be used to treat areas of hyperpigmentation. The oil-based formula makes this an incredibly gentle option and it caused me no irritation. It's paired with Vitamin F, which is rich in replenishing fatty acids, to deeply moisturise the skin. And - best of all - it works! This is a stable formula that doesn't oxidise within a couple of weeks of opening it that delivers all of those Vitamin C benefits in an everyday-gentle formula.
Last, but certainly not least, is my most-repurchased product from the Ordinary by far! It's their 100% Plant-Derived Hemi-Squalane | £2.80 | which I use for a variety of purposes. I really wish they'd release a supersized version of it for this reason! Squalane is a plant-derived oil (in this case, it comes from olives) that's skin-similar, meaning it mimics the oils our skin naturally produces, so is safe for pretty much any skin type in need of additional moisture. What's specifically great about their hemi formula is its almost water-light texture. This means that if you fancy trying a couple of drops of oil during the day; this isn't going to make you look like a greasy mess, but it still works to moisturise the skin. Obviously it works well with other skincare ingredients because it's not 'active' or at all irritating. I also use this as a scalp treatment, because I have a very dry, itchy scalp naturally; I just massage it in before bed and wash my hair in the morning to help keep things moisturised and healthy. It does all of this for less than the price of a Starbucks Latte. My only negative is the packaging; you need to make sure the lid is on very tightly if you're travelling, or it'll end up all over the inside of your toiletry bag!
Have you tried any of these products? Do you have any products from the Ordinary you love but that don't seem to get the hype they deserve?