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The Ordinary Skin Care Guide for Beginners

By Carly Cochrane - 3 years ago | Updated
the ordinary guide

Join the gym, eat less junk, save more and spend less: we all have goals that we like to set, but for the beauty-obsessed, there’s one that tops the list – achieving our best skin yet.

If you're on the hunt for the most sought-after skin care products, then look no further: The Ordinary is a skin care brand that has caused mass disruption in the beauty industry with its super effective, wallet-friendly formulas.

Being everything but ordinary, it’s the skin care wardrobe that boasts an extensive clinical range, strips back on unnecessary packaging and is upfront with its ingredients. But, while they may be straight-talking, their scientific product names and potency percentages are pretty hard to get your head around, especially if you're new to the brand.

To make things easier for you, we've put together a complete The Ordinary skincare guide so that you can kick start your skin SOS with a killer collection.

The Cleansers

Best for: all skin

What is it? Cleansers are the first step in your skin care routine and help to wash away dirt, makeup and impurities.

The benefits: Soft, clean skin that's hydrated and free from dirt build-up.

The Products

The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser


It’s your one-stop-shop to squeaky-clean skin. The Squalane Cleanser is all you need to efficiently wash away dirt, oil and makeup. It starts with a balm-like texture before melting into a hydrating oil, making it a superstar for unclogging pores.

Vitamin C

Best for: dull skin

What is it? Vitamin C is the best and biggest antioxidant of them all.

The benefits: Brightening skin and protecting it from environmental aggressors.

The Products

The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%


This formula protects your skin against free radical damage, targeting the targets signs of aging and uneven skin texture. Not only does it add a dose of brightness to the skin, but also a boost of hydration.

The Ordinary Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12%

$12.90 $18.36 (30% off)

This is the powerhouse that visibly targets uneven skin tone, dullness, texture and signs of aging all at once. It contains a high vitamin C potency in a water-based formula, which feels lightweight on the skin.

The Ordinary 100% L-Ascorbic Acid Powder

$6.43 $8.21 (22% off)

Want complete control over your dose of vitamin C? Look no further than the 100% L Ascorbic Acid Powder. This formula is perfect for mixing with other night-time treatments in order to give them extra antioxidant and anti-aging support. Simply mix the powder into your favorite products – staying away from direct acids, retinoids and formulas that utilize niacinamide or peptides – and voila, you can reap multiple skin benefits all at once.

The Retinoids

Best for: all skin

What is it? In simple terms, retinol is the derivative of vitamin A.

The benefits: Its benefits include speeding up cell turnover, boosting collagen and reducing the appearance of fine lines, pores and pigmentation.

The Products

The Ordinary Retinol 1% In Squalane


Retinol in Squalane is a light, serum-like formula that's perfect to use at night after cleansing and before oils and creams. As retinol can often irritate sensitive skin, first-time users should work up through the percentages. This formula boasts a 1% concentration that's great for gently plumping and firming skin.

The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion


Wave bye-bye to early signs of aging, as this serum reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, dark spots and more. Packed with next-generation retinoid technologies, the expert emulsion sorts out your skin without causing further damage or irritation. It’s a must-have for all skin care routines!

The Super Acids

Best for: dull skin and uneven skin tones

What is it? When it comes to acids, there are two types you can choose from. Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs), which often come in the form of glycolic or lactic acid, and beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs), also known as salicylic acid.

The benefits: Acids are perfect for exfoliating away dead skin, brightening dull complexions and improving texture and tone. Bring on glowing skin!

The Products

The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution

$9.25 $15.01 (39% off)

It's one of The Ordinary's best-selling products, and for good reason too. This toner is powered by glycolic acid and works to correct uneven skin tone, textural irregularities and dullness.

As it's a water-based serum, it layers nicely with other formulas and is ideal to use as part of your night-time skin care routine.

The Ordinary Mandelic Acid 10% + HA

$8.59 $9.72 (12% off)

This acid offers a gentle dermal peeling option for sensitive skin types, thanks to the combination of mandelic acid and hyaluronic acid. As the formula gently exfoliates skin, you can expect your complexion to burst with newfound radiance and the appearance of uneven texture to visibly improve.

The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2%

$7.00 $10.04 (31% off)

A high-strength super-facial right from the comfort of your own home, this formula combines lactic acid and hyaluronic acid to leave you with an even, polished texture that’s beaming with radiance.

The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Masque


If spots are stressing you out, then this could be the solution. Salicylic Acid 2% Masque is a treatment that works to reduce redness and inflammation by clearing and clarifying the complexion.

The Antioxidants

Best for: all skin

What is it? Antioxidants are the free radical fighters that help to prevent premature aging of the skin.

The benefits: Your complexion is protected from aggressors such as pollution and harmful UV rays.

The Products

The Ordinary EUK 134 0.1%

$11.34 $14.25 (21% off)

This skin care superhero scavenges in the skin to eliminate all the gunk and free radicals by converting them into good stuff – AKA, water and oxygen. Use it in both the mornings and evenings after water-based serums.

Side note: do not use this formula at the same time as an acid as it will break down the EUK molecules.

The Ordinary Resveratrol 3% + Ferulic Acid 3%

$9.00 $11.34 (21% off)

Two of the most powerful antioxidants have come together to produce a highly concentrated serum that defends against signs of aging. The 3% dose of resveratrol maximizes the age-defying effects of the formula, whilst ferulic acid protects and preserves your youthful complexion. A few drops of this stuff is more than enough to fix textural irregularities and fend off fine lines.

The Hydrators and Oils

Best for: dry and dehydrated skin

What is it? A collection that gives your complexion a huge dose of TLC.

The benefits: Totally hydrated and nourished skin.

The Products

The Ordinary 100% Organic Virgin Chia Seed Oil

$8.10 $9.83 (18% off)

This all-rounder oil is the perfect choice if you're just starting out on your skin care mission. Linoleic, oleic, stearic and palmitic acids accompany vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to create a killer combo that strengthens, hydrates and moisturizes skin. You can even use it on your hair.

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5

$7.50 $10.69 (30% off)

Hyaluronic acid is the skin savior that every beginner needs in their routine. This lightweight serum boasts a hyaluronic acid and vitamin B5 duo to leave skin soft, smooth and free of fine lines. Use in the A.M and P.M before oils and creams.

The Ordinary B Oil

$10.00 $12.69 (22% off)

This bottle of goodness targets all types of skin concerns, from dehydration to uneven skin tone and signs of irritation. It combines micro-algae with argan, rosehip and Brazil nut oil to supply your skin with ultimate hydration and nourishment. Simply apply it after serums in the A.M or P.M.

The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil


Applying this oil once a day will help your skin in more ways than you ever imagined. Rosehip seed is bursting with pro-vitamin A and linoleic acid, both of which help your skin barrier stay strong, healthy and radiant.

The Molecules

Best for: all skin

What is it? A pick and mix of products that help to target specific skin concerns.

The benefits: You can give your skin the care it needs by treating everything from fine lines and wrinkles to pigmentation and puffiness.

The Products

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

$6.48 $6.50 (1% off)

This formula is a firm favorite within the Cosmetify office. Ideal for combination and oily skin types, it’s a beast when it comes to regulating sebum production, minimizing pores and targeting acne blemishes. Be sure to avoid using niacinamide with pure vitamin C products as they conflict with each other.

The Ordinary 100% Niacinamide Powder

$5.80 $7.45 (23% off)

The Niacinamide Powder is one of the newer additions to The Ordinary line-up and we think you're going to love it.

It's been specially formulated in a powder format so that you can indulge in a DIY experience. Simply mix the powder with your favorite water-based solutions to target your specific skin concerns.

The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG


Fed up with dark circles and puffiness around your eyes? The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG is all you need to fake a good night’s sleep as the blend of antioxidants and anti-inflammatories brighten and de-puff peepers.

The Peptides

Best for: all skin types but especially mature

What is it? Peptides are strings of amino acids that help to boost collagen and elasticity of the skin.

The benefits: Skin that is plump, firm, and full of youth.

The Products

The Ordinary Buffet


Not sure where to start and what to choose? Turn your attention to the buffet – a multi-purpose serum that is great for The Ordinary newbies. Dubbed as botox in a bottle, it works to boost collagen and elastin, ease skin conditions like rosacea and acne and hydrate skin.

So, there we have it – a breakdown to prevent future beauty breakouts. We've made sure that The Ordinary skincare guide covers everything from the basics to the complicated stuff so that you're fully equipped with all that you need to know.

Carly Cochrane

Written by Carly Cochrane

As the Senior Content Editor for Cosmetify, Carly is the go-to for all the latest (and greatest) beauty tips, tricks and trends. With over six years of experience in the industry, she knows all the ins-and-outs when it comes to health, beauty and wellbeing. 

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