I’ve been promising this review for over a year, but every time I sit down to write it, I don’t feel ready. Mainly because I keep buying new products from The Ordinary that I feel I should give a fair trial before I review them.
That in itself should tell you what I think about The Ordinary. I freaking LOVE these products so much, I can’t stop buying them. I’ve been using a couple of the staples since day 1 and now can’t imagine my skincare routine without them. I’ve tried a couple which just weren’t for me (which doesn’t make them bad products, it just means I didn’t get on with them) and there a are a few the jury is out on. But overall, I can’t recommend the brand enough.
The Ordinary is a brand under the DECIEM umbrella. It’s marketed as an affordable brand, bringing top-level skincare to the masses for a fraction of the price of more well-known brands. My previous blog post on The Ordinary goes into a little more detail on the ethos of the brand, so pop over and have a read if you want to find out more.
But let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. Which products have I tried, which ones do I love and which ones am I not a fan of? I’ve organised the below in the same categories as the DECIEM website so you can easily find the products I’m talking about as it’s confusing AF.
Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion (Previously Advanced Retinoid 2%)
As the only ingredient to have been scientifically proven to reverse the signs of ageing, I was all over the idea of a retinoid like a rash so I ordered this as part of my second order with DECIEM. As soon as it arrived, I tried it on the back of my hand and it instantly tightened my skin. But it BURNED. I was expecting a small reaction, as is normal with retinoids & retinols, but it didn’t feel right. It was more than uncomfortable and I washed it off straight away. It continued to burn even after I’d washed it off, so I decided not to use this on my face as I have sensitive skin. So I have no doubt this product works, but I’m just not brave enough to try it on my face!
Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%
Vitamin C formulas are all the rage at the moment, and I was thrilled to see a more affordable version from The Ordinary. I wanted this to help brighten some dark scarring caused by acne and had high hopes. The website says it’s supposed to tingle but I didn’t feel anything. However, I stopped using it as I just couldn’t get over the smell. To me, it smells like rusty nails and I just can’t bear it! I also wasn’t crazy about the texture, but it didn’t bother me that much – only the smell!
Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution
Again, there had been a lot of hype online about this product, especially comparing it to the cult Glow Tonic by Pixie. It was out of stock FOREVER but I finally got hold of it and it did not disappoint. I don’t use this regularly, as my skin is sensitive and I use other AHA’s more often and don’t want to overload my skin. But when I do use this, I really notice a difference. It tingles when applied, and instantly makes my skin look brighter and more toned. It’s a chemical exfoliator, so in the morning those results are amplified, leaving my skin looking & feeling smooth and soft. It’s also great for freshly squeezed spots; just douse a cotton pad and hold it over the spot to stop it in its tracks.
Salicylic Acid 2% Solution
I originally bought this as a topical spot treatment, and it works absolute wonders. It draws even the most stubborn of spots to a head and then quickly gets rid of them. More recently, due to a bout of PCOS driven adult acne, I’ve been using it all over my face as part of my nighttime routine. And IT. IS. AMAZING. It really controls outbreaks and treats any that do crop up quickly and efficiently. That means less squeezing and therefore less scarring. It won’t cure acne, but it does help.
Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%
Another product I purchased in my quest for reduced acne scarring, this is quite a thick formula with a silicone base. It’s supposed to be good for brightening skin and reducing the appearance of blemishes but I haven’t been able to use this often enough to see results. I’ve found that silicone based products do not agree with my skin so I’ve tried to limit the use of them as much as possible, so this is now sitting at the back of my cupboard with only a quarter of the tube used up. If you can tolerate silicone based formulas and suffer with acne scarring, this one might well work for you.
Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2%
I purchased the Lactic Acid 5% as it’s marketed as a mild AHA, so I thought this would be a good place to start with chemical exfoliators. And I wasn’t wrong. I love this product so much. I use this 3-4 times a week depending on what my skin needs and usually follow it up with rosehip oil. When I wake up in the morning, my skin is so smooth and hydrated I can barely believe it. The hyaluronic acid also helps plump my skin for a youthful look. I’ve nearly run out and have decided to move up to the 10% formula, so I’m hoping for even more striking results now I’ve built up a tolerance. Watch this space!
AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution
I’ll admit, I was terrified to use this. I bought it because it had some good reviews, and I really wanted to try a chemical peel mask. But I was really scared. It’s a blood red colour as it contains a high concentration of Tasmanian Pepperberry to reduce irritation, and when you put it on, you look like an extra from True Blood. When I started using it, I’d only leave it on for 4-5 minutes but I’ve gradually increased that to around 10 minutes once per week now. It leaves my skin feeling smooth and bright, so it does the job! It’s a bit more intense than the lactic or glycolic as it contains a mixture AHA’s & BHA, so it’s a good weekly boost with the other acids acting as top ups throughout the week.
HYDRATORS & OILS
Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5
I always thought I had combination/oily skin with no other issues, but since having a consultation at Elemis, I’ve learned I actually also suffer with sensitivity and dehydration. So balancing my skincare and ensuring I’m not just stripping out all of the moisture to counteract oiliness is crucial. I can control my oiliness with some products, but I still need to add in hydration with others. This hyaluronic acid is good and does the job, but I did have a problem with it balling up when I applied cream & oil products on top. It doesn’t seem like the most sophisticated formula so I tried DECIEM’s Hylamide Booster Low-Molecular HA, which is slightly more expensive but doesn’t give me any trouble when applying other products over the top. When I use this hyaluronic acid, I tend to find my make up lasts longer as I’m not producing too much oil throughout the day to overcompensate for dehydration.
I bought this one recently as I thought it might offer some of the same benefits as the Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine Cream for a fraction of the cost. The Elemis cream contains Padina Pavonica, a unique Mediterranean algae which has been proven to help improve skin firmness, tone and hydration. Marine Hyaluronics doesn’t contain Padina Pavonica, but instead ‘brings together lightweight marine-derived water reservoirs that attract and hold water like hyaluronic acid (HA) but are lighter than HA in texture and feel’. I like this product; it feels like water on the skin, so is great under makeup. It doesn’t seem to give me as much hydration as hyaluronic acid, but it does make some difference. It’s great for those days where I want something light to pair with multiple other serums. However, the smell is not pleasant. I think it smells like vomit (sorry), so have to hold my breath whilst applying it. It does wear off once dry though!
100% Cold-Pressed Virgin Marula Oil
I bought this as a bit of a chance from my Pai Rosehip Oil but I haven’t opened it yet as I want to use up my Pai oil first. It can be used on the hair and skin, so I’ll let you know once I’ve given it a try!
High-Adherence Silicone Primer
This is a fantastic primer for a fantastic price (£3.90!!). I’ve used up the majority of the tube, but since deciding to move away from silicone based products I’ve stopped using it. It’s a shame because it really did keep my make up perfectly in place all day.
Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%
I love this product the most. It’s seriously game-changing. It’s described as a high-strength vitamin and mineral blemish formula which is designed to reduce the appearance of skin blemishes & congestion and balance all aspects of sebum activity. Tick, tick, tick. This does exactly that. I use this every morning and my skin just behaves. I don’t produce excess oil throughout the day (meaning my makeup stays in place) and it does control blemishes. Again, it’s not an acne cure, but it helps. I refuse to live without it and have 2 back up bottles in the cupboard at all times.
Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA
Another very recent purchase, which I’ve not tested properly yet. As I didn’t get on well with the Vitamin C or the Azelaic Acid, I bought this to combat dark spots caused by scarring. It has the same serum texture as a lot of the other products I like from The Ordinary, so I am using this daily now. Keep your eyes peeled for the results soon, as it’s too soon to tell at the moment.
Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG
This was one of my first purchases, back when everything was out of stock and it was one of the only things I could get my hands on. It’s aimed at people who suffer with dark circles and puffy eyes. I have neither, so not surprisingly, this did nothing for me. It’s not a criticism of the product at all, but I wouldn’t buy it again as I just don’t need it!
This foundation has been so hyped up online. A friend gave me hers to try and she’d bought the wrong colour and I instantly liked it, so I picked it up in my colour once it was in stock (1.1P). I use this as my weekend foundation when I know I’m not going out for long, but still want to wear some makeup. It applies well and the colour is a great match. However, it doesn’t last. It breaks up after around 4-5 hours wear and doesn’t look great so I wouldn’t recommend this as a daily foundation. I’ll use this bottle up for days where I want to wear makeup but will only be out for a couple of hours, but I won’t be re-purchasing it.
Multi-Peptide Serum for Hair Density
I am assuming this is the same formulation as the Stemm Density Stimuli, which I purchased recently in the clearance sale. DECIEM have discontinued the Stemm brand in order to bring the products into The Ordinary family, so I’m mentioning it here as I believe these products are the same thing. I haven’t been using the Density Stimuli for long enough to see any results yet (my PCOS is causing hair loss, so my hair is thin and in need of a boost) but when applied, it feels slightly minty on the scalp. You apply it at night and massage it in, then leave it until the next morning. You definitely have to wash your hair the next day, as it leaves your hair slightly greasy and stiff, but other than that, I have nothing to report at this early stage!
So that’s my rather lengthy review of the products I’ve tried from The Ordinary so far. My 3 absolute heroes are the Niacinamide, Lactic Acid & AHA/BHA Peeling Solution – I can’t recommend them enough.
I hope my insights have been useful in helping you make a decision on what to purchase if you’re curious but unsure!
I’d love to hear your thoughts on these products in the comments below.