The Ordinary is not for the faint at heart and simply browsing their product range can leave you feeling as though you need a degree in cosmetic science before purchase.  Here’s a comprehensive review of six of The Ordinary’s products.

I became interested in skin care at the beginning of 2017 when I had acne in places I’d never had it before, frustrating rosacea and an overall dry, yet oily, dehydrated skin. I basically felt as though everything that could happen, happened. This was alongside general concerns of ageing, hello wrinkles.

I’d previously given the oil cleansing method a try, as well as using only natural ingredients which actually increased my acne and drove me nuts. I now have pigmentation marks left behind which the oil cleansing method cruelly rewarded me.

The Ordinary is, without a doubt, a disruptive, innovative brand which exploded into the skin care market like an atom bomb. I’m sure they’ve given both medium and high-end brands a well-deserved shock.

At the end of the day, the majority of people don’t have £100 to spend on a serum, heck, they don’t even have £20 to throw at a miniature bottle of supposed magic.

The thought of spending upwards of £20 on one skin care item can leave me feeling a bit disenchanted. There’s definitely an ignorance among beauty industry insiders, who target the wealthy or people who are willing to spend what little money they have on a false promise and a deceiving marketing message. But that’s a whole other post.

So who are The Ordinary? They’re a budget-friendly beauty brand that falls under the Deciem umbrella. The parent company have only been in business a mere 4 years and have already racked up an impressive 10 brands.

Deciem has declared themselves ‘the abnormal beauty company’ which judging by their marketing, packaging, price points and formulations backs up that statement to a tee. At the helm is the rather gruff, stylish and brutally honest, Brandon Truaxe. Brandon and his ‘monkeys’ (their words, not mine) are genuinely listening to consumers and honing in on what is needed from real people, with real budgets.

Ok, so some of the ranges he owns are more expensive, but he’s cleverly coordinated a portfolio of brands at varying price points to suit everyone while concentrating on ingredients which produce results, not fake claims.

So far I’ve tried 6 of their products including the following proven and powerful ingredients; azelaic acid, hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, natural moisturising factors, retinol and vitamin c.

Here’s a look at what I liked, didn’t like, how much I paid, where I bought them from and why.

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5

Price: £6.00

the ordinary hyaluronic acid.JPG

Click here for official description and additional info

So, without getting too chemistry on you, because I got a D in science, hyaluronic acid is great for dehydrated skin. HA is already present in our skin, but as we age it can be harder to produce which leaves our skin dehydrated. So applying it directly in this format attracts moisture in the air around you, as well as from the skin itself.

This particular formula uses three different molecular weights which help achieve deeper penetration for better results. More expensive serums, such as NIOD by Deciem use 15 versions of HA with varying weights for even more dramatic results. Also, the added B5 helps resurface the skin.

HA should leave your skin feeling a little plumper instantly, which is ideal in the morning before applying makeup.

The consistency is quite watery when you blend it into the skin and can also feel a little tacky once settled. I would suggest using a moisturiser over this, especially in the AM before makeup.

the ordinary hyaluronic acid 2

the ordinary hyaluronic acid swatch

I may try the sister brand Hylamide Low Molecular HA Multi Depth Rehydration Booster (say that five times fast) if I can get it on an offer in Boots because it’s a step up from The Ordinary with two extra compounds. See how clever they are.

The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA

Price: £5.00

the ordinary natural moisturizing factors 1.JPG

Click here for official description and ingredients 

This moisturiser is oil-free, which I think is great for spot prone skin like mine. It also allows you to control what oil you want on your skin, by adding a drop of rosehip or argan before application.

Don’t be put off by the name, it is a bit extra. Actually ‘natural moisturizing factors’ is just the name given to the elements of the outer layer of skin which keep it protected and well hydrated. Think of it as putting back into your skin, what you’ve already got or may be lacking, for an added hit of moisture.

the ordinary NMF swatch.JPG

I’m used to moisturisers which feel slightly oily and leave a film on my skin, and this one definitely doesn’t. At first, I didn’t like it because I didn’t feel greasy enough, which I know is a weird sensation to want. But I’ve always thought that if it doesn’t feel wet, it’s not going to hydrate, but that’s all in my head.

It’s just a completely inoffensive and simple moisturiser with some lovely naturally present ingredients such as glycerin, ceramides, hyaluronic acid, amino acids and triglycerides to name a few.

The Ordinary Retinol 1%

Price: £6.00

the ordinary 1% retinol.JPG

Click here for official description and ingredients 

I did plenty of research before I decided to buy this vitamin-a product. I was a retinol virgin and really didn’t want to turn my skin to shit by getting it wrong. I’ve only just got the hang of what a retinol is and why I should use it after reading a tonne of blogs and articles and watching hours of YouTube videos. However, I don’t feel I have the authority to sit here and explain what retinol is, quite frankly.

I know it’s a vitamin a derivative and one of the only proven ingredients used in the battle against ageing. It can help keep your skin younger, for longer and it’s also brilliant for those with acne (which is the reason I chose to go for it)

It has a gel-like formula with a slightly yellowish hue, which slides onto the face nicely but a little goes a long way so don’t overdo it. There is also a 2% option but if you’re like me, start off with the weaker strength. In fact, you can find other brands who do even smaller percentages as a starting point.

the ordinary retinol 1% swatch

I’ve only used this product twice in over one week, and that’s because it causes an instant reaction on the skin. Obviously, this completely depends on your skin type, and as someone with a bit of rosacea, I was concerned. At the time of application it felt fine, but over the course of a week I’ve had some peeling but that’s to be expected.

Since using it, I’ve had no breakouts but this could be for a number of reasons. They do say that retinol is just as effective in smaller doses over a longer period of time and it’s best not to go into it hard and fast. This is why I’ve really kept an eye on the reaction of my skin before applying it again. All the experts suggest building up a tolerance by staggering out applications until your skin is used to it and will be comfortable with an everyday dose.

I highly suggest you watch some of Dr Sam Bunting’s videos for an overview and a better understanding from a professional cosmetic dermatologist.

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

Price: £4.90

the ordinary vitamin c suspension 23%

Click here for official description and ingredients

Edit (5/7/17): I felt it was appropriate to tell you at this point that the day after writing this blog post, I had a bit of a bad reaction to this Vitamin C cream. This may, in part, be due to user error, as I believe I put too much on my face the night before which caused some serious burning/redness the following day. I’ve also noticed on the days I don’t wear this, my skin plays well with makeup but when I do wear this my face can sometimes feel extremely dry, scaly and kinda burnt. Obviously, everyone is different, but I felt it necessary to edit and update.

Below are some images of the reaction I had. Just bare it in mind if you have sensitive, intolerant or problematic skin. I think I’ll look at some of their other vit-c products in the future. 

the ordinary vitamin c burnt skin.jpg

the ordinary vitamin c burn peel skin.jpg

Vitamin C is an antioxidant, which is perfect for daytime use as our skin is subjected to free radicals in the air which can cause damage. I’d also read that it’s a great ingredient to help brighten the skin, diminishing acne marks in the process.

I’ve got to be honest, I went into vitamin c all guns blazing with a 23% strength. As someone with quite sensitive skin and rosacea, it probably wasn’t the best idea.

I was pretty scared my face was going to light up into a ball of flames from what I’d read online. However, I was pleasantly surprised. Yes, it tingled, but it didn’t last long and was bearable. I noticed my skin looked a bit brighter over the next couple of days, but that could be a classic case of seeing what you want to see.

The downside with this product is the consistency and blend ability. It’s gritty and you can feel it on your skin immediately. I wouldn’t wear this in the morning for this reason, which kind of defeats the point of the antioxidant I guess. But as that’s not the only reason I use it, it does the job fine in the PM for brightening.

The reason it’s gritty is that vitamin c is an extremely temperamental ingredient to work with and can spoil very easily if not well formulated and stored correctly. This is often why you’ll find vitamin c products are expensive because a lot of care and consideration has gone into the packaging and developing a nice feeling serum or cream.

the ordinary vitamin c 2 swatch
the ordinary vitamin c swatch 2

But let’s get real, this product is £4.90, you couldn’t even get lunch for that in Waitrose. In comparison, the Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum has just 15% l-ascorbic acid (vitamin c) and is around the £65 mark. So can we really complain about a bit of grit?

Recently I’ve been mixing this in with the Natural Moisturizing Factors to help it blend into the skin a little easier. Here’s a word of warning, don’t use too much of the Vitamin C or you will irritate your skin. I over did it last night and my cheeks have been pretty red today.

The good news is there are many other Vitamin C alternatives in The Ordinary range and they’re also set to release even more in the next few months which have been produced based on the feedback from their customers.

The Ordinary Azelaic Acid 10%

Price: £5.50
Where: House of Fraser 

the ordinary azelaic acid 1.JPG

Click here for official description and ingredients 

I bought this acid for one reason only; rosacea. Unfortunately, I really don’t think it helped. It’s supposed to alleviate redness, and while I do think it did that very slightly, I didn’t notice much of a difference.

Azelaic acid is the type of topical treatment you may receive from your GP at a higher percentage for rosacea. In fact, I took a trip to my doctor and asked for this at a prescription strength because the 10% wasn’t really doing anything. He didn’t give it to me, instead, he gave me antibiotics which was pretty annoying.

I think I’ll go back to the doctor for a topical rosacea treatment because unfortunately, this was underwhelming.  Perhaps for slight redness, it might be ok for some people, but for actual rosacea pustules and irritation, it didn’t do the trick.

the ordinary azelaic acid swatch

It’s also a hard consistency to work with and can end up rolling up when you apply other products on top of it so I would suggest using this at night.

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

Price: £5.00

the ordinary niacinamide 1

Click here for official description and ingredients

Niacinamide is Vitamin B3, which is a particularly helpful ingredient if you’re tackling blemishes and acne. Although they do say on their website it’s not an acne treatment, it simply aids in de-congestion and reducing blotchy, blemished skin.

It’s a watery consistency but when you start to blend it’s quite silky feeling with a tacky-ish finish, as with many of their products. It can be used both day and night although there is some difference of opinion on whether or not you can use niacinamide with vitamin c, as some studies suggest they cancel each other out.

the ordinary niacinamide 2

the ordinary niacinamide swatch

Although some scientists and experts have said this simply isn’t true, The Ordinary stand by using Niacinamide and Vitamin C at different times of the day. So, for this reason, I only use this product in the AM as I use Vitamin C at night.

I have noticed a reduction in spots since using niacinamide and an overall nicer complexion, but as with anything, it could be a number of different factors.

Overall Conclusion

Overall, I’m loving The Ordinary. The price points are great and it doesn’t feel like a huge investment trialling out one of their products. What I would say is that it’s worth doing your research on your skin type and what ingredients would suit you best. I don’t suggest just buying a bunch of stuff and hoping for the best.

Really think about your targeted areas of concern before jumping in and consult the guides which are provided on their website.

I’m going to continue on my quest to find the best products for my skin and considering Estee Lauder has just this week invested in Deciem, we’ll be seeing far more of The Ordinary products hitting online, department and stand-alone stores in the near future.

More info:


2 thoughts on “The Ordinary Review: Azelaic Acid, Hyaluronic Acid, Vitamin C, Retinol & More”

  1. That’s such a shame about the reaction you had to the Vit-C! I haven’t tried any of the products you mentioned except for the Niacinamide and I’m still undecided about whether it’s doing anything drastic for my problem skin – but it definitely does leave my skin feeling smooth and looking glowy! I’m really interested in trying the rest of their line as they really are so budget friendly!
    Imogen x

    1. Hey! Yeah, I was sad that I had that reaction because I did feel like it was making my skin a little brighter. I think it’s possible that because I’ve been using a retinol off and on that my skin just wasn’t ready for all the pressure! Plus, they do say if you’ve got sensitive skin, a high potency of 23% probably isn’t a great idea. I’m just a bit of an impatient doofus sometimes haha. I’ve heard the buffet is really great! Thanks for stopping by, Leanne X

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