If you have been living under a rock, the skin care world has been shaken to its core about a year ago, thanks to The Ordinary; a revolutionary skin care brand that provides quality products at an affordable price, because yes, affordable and good skin care can be one!
Disclaimer: This post outlines my personal experiences with the products mentioned. Keep in mind that skin type, environmental factors, diet and many other things can influence your individual experience with the same products. For your reference however, I have combination-dry skin, which means my forehead and chin are slightly oilier, while my nose areas and cheeks are more on the dry side, and I live in Berlin, Germany.
To not make this review a long article, I decided to only include the 7 products that are part of my current daily routine. Enjoy, and watch out for Part II!
I discovered The Ordinary a little over a year ago when my sister pointed me to a video by makeup artist Wayne Goss. I had always thought if there was one thing that was priced based on quality, it had to be skin care. Turns out I was dead wrong, and affordable doesn’t always mean bad skin care.
The Ordinary is British brand Deciem‘s budget baby; a skin care line aimed for those of us looking for quality skin care at a reasonable price. The brand claims to protect its margins by relying on minimalistic packaging and branding. The Ordinary and Deciem in general place a focus on innovation in the industry. The current collection recently expanded into colors with 2 foundations, as well as a sun care line, so we can probably expect a wider range of products in the future. But without further ado, here are my thoughts:
Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%:
Niacinamide (Vitamin B3) is a serum that helps with skin texture caused by excess sebum. Pimples, bumps, and the likes.
How I use it:
When I first started using Niacinamide, I applied a generous amount, about 4-5 drops for my entire face every morning and night. Once I noticed the texture started to dissipate, I reduced it to 2-3 drops applied right after my morning toner.
Caution: It is really important to let this sink in and use a water based moisturizer, especially if you plan to apply foundation on top. Niacinamide tends to form a film on top of the skin, which can peel off when topped with oil based products.
When I first discovered this acid about a year ago, I wanted to get rid of little bumps around the tops of my cheeks, and on the edges of my forehead. It took about 1 month before I could see any results on my skin, when the textured areas started to smooth out. After about 5 months, I noticed that most of the texture disappeared. And as of now, with continued use (except for a 2 month break), this little guy has really kept my skin texture about 98% smooth in all types of weather.
100% Plant-Derived Squalane:
A hydrating oil that helps prevent hydration loss, suitable for all skin types.
How I use it:
All the time, all over the place! No, but seriously, Squalane is probably my all time favourite skin care product. Thanks to its low viscosity, 3 drops are enough to cover my entire face and neck. I love to use it in the morning before my foundation. It creates a beautiful dewy base and helps any foundation blend ever so smoothly. At night, I will use a more generous amount, especially if I’m too lazy and just want to get to sleep right after cleansing and toning.
I had been a HUGE fan of anything with squalane in it, until I discovered this baby. Nowadays, it’s a bit of a “Squalane is the new coconut oil” kinda sitch’. I love to use it to hydrate my face and neck morning and night (including eyes and lips). It leaves my skin feeling supple and well hydrated, with a hint of freshness. I find that a little bit goes a long way, so this extra points for being an economical product!
Night Time Favourites
Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution
A mild exfoliating toner that aims to promote skin radiance and visible clarity.
How I use it:
Although the website recommends using this day and/or night, I restrict it to my night time routine because I find the exfoliating aspect a little too harsh for daylight exposure, especially in the summer months. This will probably change as the days gets shorter and we transition into winter. I like to apply this with a round cotton pad all over my face and neck, using a light hand and never going back over covered areas. I do avoid it completely on days where I feel like my skin is too sensitive from sun exposure or a deep exfoliation. The key is to go with your gut here; if it burns, it’s probably time to take a break.
The radiance claim is certainly true with this one. Ever since I started using this acid toner, I feel like my skin definitely looks more luminous not only after I use it, but throughout the next day. I also love the exfoliating quality which allows me to skip at least one step in my routine, on days when I’m too lazy to exfoliate (chemically or physically). The only downside is this can be a harsh product for people with sensitive skin, so my advice would be to only use it if your skin is already used to acids.
Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2%
An exfoliating serum that targets skin texture problems such as mild acne and spots.
How I use it:
After the glycolic acid toner, I like to go over my skin with this acid for added exfoliation, especially on weekdays when I tend to use a lot more makeup. I apply 2-3 drops mainly on my cheeks and forehead, avoiding more sensitive areas like around the chin, mouth and nose, and of course around the eyes.
Although I have never had any serious acne, I will occasionally find a lonely pimple on my cheek or forehead. With lactic acid, that has become and an even more rare occurrence. The reason I continue to use it is maintenance. I personally find physical extraction of black heads to be the best way to prevent spots on my skin. But unlike on the nose and chin, extraction can be more tricky on tougher skin like on the cheeks and forehead. I find this serum provides the additional exfoliation my skin needs to slow down clogging and prevent it from developing blackheads.
Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion
A non-prescription retinoid emulsion (Vitamin A derivative) that aims to visibly target visible signs of aging and texture, including but not limited to acne problems.
Note: This retinoid is an improved version of the previously name “Advanced Retinoid 2%”.
How I use it:
Because they can cause irritation due to UV light exposure, retinoids are in general recommended for night time routines. I like to apply this on my entire face and neck; I find 4-5 drops largely suffice. As with all emulsions, this should be applied after acids, but before moisturizers.
I have been using this retinoid for nearly a year now, and can absolutely recommend it to everyone. If for nothing at all, it has greatly improved my skin’s ability to fight acne, especially the spots I used to get on the chin area around that time of the month. Nowadays, I barely get any, and if i do, they disappear after 3-4 days without any action from my side. As an anti-aging product, I think I will need to wait at least one or two more years before I can honestly claim to have noticed any effects. For now, I am enjoying the hydrating effects, and blindly trysting in a wrinkle-less future! Haha.
Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA:
A surface moisturizer that helps the skin fight external dehydrating factors such as wind, cold weather and pollution.
How I use it:
In addition to being a part of my daily routine, I like to reach for this moisturizer whenever I feel like my skin needs an extra boost of hydration, for example on a flight or when traveling. It spreads quite easily, so I find a pea sized amount is enough to cover my face and neck. I take time to take my time and massage it in circular upward motions for about 60-90 seconds, or until it feels like it’s dried on my skin.
This is my favourite moisturizer to apply after serums because it almost instantly breaks down into a slippery water like texture, before going back to a thicker creamy texture (yes, I am easily entertained!). It leaves my skin feeling soft on the surface, with just the right amount of hydration. What I like most about this moisturiser is that regardless of the seasons, it helps visibly balance the look of my skin, leaving it neither too greasy nor too matte.
Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG:
Aimed to reduce puffiness and dark circles, this undereye solution contains a high concentration of caffeine, as well highly-purified Epigallocatechin Gallatyl Glucoside (EGCG) from green tea leaves. It’s basically coffee for your eyes!
How I use it:
Using my ring finger, I like to gently rub one to two drops under my eyes until the product is fully absorbed. This is a great product for those puffy undereye mornings, because it acts like shrinking factor, and in turn visibly reduced puffiness as soon as the product has sunk in. I like to follow this up with a tiny amount of eye cream especially before using concealer.
I have been loving how quickly this helps me get rid of puffy undereyes in the morning, but had to learn the hard way to always use eye cream on top. I thought I could get away with not applying eye cream on mornings when I’m running late, but that turned out to be counterproductive. What happened was a layer would slightly peel off and leave a dry looking white halo under my eyes once I had applied concealer, leading me to wipe everything away and start from scratch. Lesson learned for the millionth time: always apply eye cream!
For the dark circles claim, I can’t say that I have seen much improvement, but then again, dark circles are one of the tougher enigmas of skin care, so I will give it a few more months before I make a final judgement.
That’s it guys! Thank you for reading! I hope this review was helpful and gave you a better idea on some of these products! If you are interested in trying them out, I highly recommend reading up a bit more on the science behind the formulas, and checking their Regimen Guide so you are well informed before spending your buck!
The Foundry Girl.