No matter your skincare concern, there will be a The Ordinary product to help – from large pores to wrinkles, acne, redness and more
With product names straight out of the chemistry textbook, The Ordinary has become one of the most talked-about – yet slightly overwhelming – skincare brands on the market.
Known for its effective and affordable product range, it’s a great way to improve your skin without breaking the bank. You can read more about why we love the brand so much and how it got started in our Brand Spotlight.
The reason its huge range of products can seem daunting is that rather than selling products that contain a mixture of ingredients, The Ordinary sells the ingredients individually.
This means that not only do you know exactly what you’re putting on your face, but it also means you can create your own The Ordinary Regimen that’s perfectly tailored to you and your skincare needs. It’s also why The Ordinary is so cheap. You’re not paying extra for excess marketing and packaging or ingredients that may be of no use to you.
READ NEXT: Spotlight on The Ordinary
To help you choose which are the best The Ordinary products, we’ve divided this article into the skin concerns you’re looking to solve.
Jump straight to each section using the links below
If you don’t want to read the full list, we’ve also listed all of the products we recommend for different skin concerns via the At A Glance section below.
Enlarged pores are caused by a variety of lifestyle and genetic factors. If you have oily skin, for example, you’ll likely have enlarged pores. It’s not possible to shrink pores, no matter what skincare brands claim. but it is possible to clear them and make them appear smaller. You can read more about the science of pores here.
£5.60 | Buy now
The Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% is by far the best The Ordinary product for enlarged pores and, having used this product for years, we can see why it regularly sells out.
It targets the main cause of enlarged pores, which is congestion. In this way, it de-clogs your pores of dirt, makeup and pollution while the zinc in this treatment targets excess oils and helps reduce breakouts.
How to use: Apply after cleansing and before heavier creams either to the whole face or to target problem areas.
Avoid: Do not use this product at the same time as any products containing Vitamin C or Vitamin C serums. If you are using Vitamin C, ensure that you use them on opposite ends of the day, for example, Vitamin C in the morning and Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% at night.
£6.30 | Buy now
The Ordinary’s AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution provides chemical exfoliation deep into your pores to improve radiance. It looks and feels just like blood – but it’s not, we promise.
The AHAs (which stands for alpha-hydroxy acids) exfoliate the top layer of your skin, resulting in a brighter complexion, whilst the BHAs (beta hydroxy acids) go below the skin’s surface to clear congestion. You can read more about this in our guide to The truth about the acids lurking in your skincare.
This mask instantly improves the appearance of your skin, and with regular use, has been proven to have long-term anti-ageing benefits.
How to use: We’d recommend using this once every two weeks for five minutes at a time, at first. This mask can cause some inflammation and a stinging sensation. Once you’ve got used to it, you can use it once a week for a maximum of ten minutes. Apply this mask to dry skin and remove with lukewarm water.
Avoid: This product is not suitable for sensitive skin and should not be used if you do not have prior experience with chemical/acid exfoliants. Do not use this product on wet skin either as it causes irritation. Do not use alongside retinol. Avoid direct sunlight and use SPF.
From sensitive skin to rosacea and eczema, the causes of redness and inflammation vary in severity. It’s usually a sign that your skin isn’t happy about something so be careful when introducing new products and keep an eye on any that cause a reaction or make things worse.
£6.40 | Buy now
A hero product for all ages and skin types, The Ordinary’s Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 provides hydration that soothes red and irritated skin and assists with general skin repair.
Hyaluronic acid is a strong humectant, meaning that it can attract up to 1,000 times its own weight in water, providing deep hydration.
This specific formula is enhanced with Vitamin B5 to encourage hydration on the surface of the skin. We firmly believe this is an essential product in your skincare routine, regardless of skin type.
How to use: Apply morning and evening after cleansing onto damp skin (we like to use a facial spray but water is fine). Use before any serums or heavier creams.
FURTHER READING: What does hyaluronic acid do to your skin?
£8.60 | Buy now
Another multitasker, the Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% targets dullness and uneven skin tone by brightening any redness. It can also be used to effectively combat irregular skin texture, all around improving the appearance of the skin.
Its lightweight formula means that it sinks into the skin without leaving any sticky residue. It also doesn’t make the skin look oily, which can be common with products of this type.
How to use: Can be used in the AM or PM, after cleansing, toning, and any water-based serum. Follow with a moisturiser.
Avoid: Do not use alongside any other strong acids, peptides or antioxidants.
We’re back with a quick reminder: whilst these are effective treatments for blemishes, none of these products should be used as a long-term treatment for acne.
If you suffer from persistent or severe breakouts, we recommend consulting a doctor to discuss the best course of treatment. You can read more in our What is acne? guide.
£5.50 (50ml) | Buy now
The best cleanser forms the foundation of any skincare routine, especially for blemish-prone skin. We love this Squalane Cleanser because it transforms from a balm consistency to oil when applied to your hands or face, providing effective cleansing. Plus it removes makeup like magic.
Squalane is a gentle ingredient that dissolves trapped makeup and facial impurities that can cause blemishes if not removed properly. This product is suitable for all skin types as an essential first step in a skincare routine.
How to use: We recommend a double-cleansing routine, using the Squalane Cleanser as your first step to removing makeup, dirt or pollution from the day. Massage between your palms for 30 seconds in order to activate the oil-like consistency, then apply to the face. Remove with a warm washcloth. Can be used morning and evening.
Then follow with a gentle foaming cleanser (Clarins Foaming Cleanser with Tamarind is our fave) to leave the skin fresh and clean.
£5.50 | Buy now
It gets deep into your pores to remove impurities and dead skin cells, and it reduces the production of excess oils which can exacerbate blemish-prone skin.
We love this product as a gentler alternative to The Ordinary’s Salicylic Acid 2% serum. Although, this serum can be used with the masque to increase the effectiveness of this routine for blemish-prone skin.
How to use: Apply once a week to dry skin and leave on for no longer than 10 minutes. Rinse off with lukewarm water.
Avoid: Do not use this product if you have especially dry or sensitive skin.
£6.80 | Buy now
Due to the presence of glycolic acid, this toner offers mild exfoliation for the skin. In particular, it removes dead skin cells to give you fresher, brighter skin.
It also improves skin texture to the point that if you’ve got scarring from acne, using this on a continued basis should help reduce it and make it less visible.
To avoid the irritation that can come from using AHAs, The Ordinary has found that using Tasmanian Pepperberry helps reduce the impact. The Pepperberry is what gives the toner its pale peachy colour.
This glycolic acid toner also contains ginseng root and aloe vera which gives you radiance and soothing benefits, with results being seen in as little as a week.
How to use: After cleansing, saturate a cotton pad and sweep across the face and neck. Use this in the evening and no more frequently than once per day.
Avoid: You may notice an increase in skin sensitivity so avoid direct sun contact and use an SPF product to avoid the chances of sunburn. Limit sun exposure while using this product for a week after while your skin adjusts.
We explain more about the science of ageing in our How to prevent wrinkles guide but as we get older, our skin’s natural elasticity and structure drop and becomes weaker.
£7.75 | Buy now
If exploring retinoid and retinol treatments feels like a minefield to you, we recommend you start with The Ordinary’s Granactive Retinoid 2% in Squalene.
We love this retinoid treatment as it is an especially gentle formula that offers anti-ageing benefits without the irritation associated with other retinoid and retinol treatments on the market. However, this doesn’t mean that it’s suitable for everyone.
Pregnant women and those who are breastfeeding should avoid this product.
We explain more about this in our What skincare ingredients to avoid when pregnant or breastfeeding guide. We also have more information about retinol in our Retinol for beginners guide.
How to use: Introduce this product slowly into your skincare routine, starting twice a week in the evening until you are confident that it will not cause irritation. Even though it causes less irritation than many other retinoid products, it could still cause problems if your skin is particularly sensitive.
We also recommend using this treatment every evening after water-based serums, followed by heavier creams or moisturiser.
Eventually, you can progress to the higher potency Granactive 5% in Squalene. SPF is an absolute must when using this product.
Avoid: Do not use if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Use caution if you have acne-prone skin as this product may cause breakouts for the first few weeks of use. Do not use with any other retinoid or retinol treatment. Do not use with Vitamin C, benzoyl peroxide (common in acne treatment creams), or AHA/BHA products.
£9.80 | Buy now
Rich in linoleic acid and pro-Vitamin A, The Ordinary’s 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil is an excellent gentle anti-ageing treatment.
Vitamin A has been proven to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and research suggests that it may even assist in skin reconstruction.
And while Rose Hip Seed Oil also offers great anti-ageing benefits, this product suits all skin types because of its moisturising properties and its ability to reduce the appearance of acne scarring and dark marks.
How to use: Apply once a day in the evening after water-based serums. We recommend letting this fully dry first before sleeping on any white pillows (trust us!).
FURTHER READING: How old does your skin REALLY look?
£9.60 | Buy now
If you’re after a more intense anti-ageing treatment, give The Ordinary’s peptides range – and namely the Matrixyl 10% + HA – a try. Peptides are like the bricks in proteins that give our skin bounce and elasticity – namely collagen, elastin and keratin.
As these proteins decrease, our skin becomes sallow, saggy and wrinkled. Applying peptides to the skin triggers cells to build more collagen and elastin, to make your skin look younger.
Matrixyl is a trademarked peptide composition that has been shown to improve the appearance of wrinkles. Even deep-set ones.
The formula in The Ordinary’s product contains two generations of Matrixyl – Matrixyl 3000 and Matrixyl synthe’6 – at a combined concentration of 10% and the peptides in these are palmitoyl tetrapeptide-7 and palmitoyl tripeptide-38.
These peptides are carried in hyaluronic acid (hence the HA in this product’s name) to help sink them deep into your skin.
How to use: Apply a few drops to your face morning and night.
What to avoid: Do not combine with Vitamin C or products containing Ascorbic Acid, and do not use on broken skin.
The Ordinary doesn’t just sell skincare lines. It also sells a range of products designed to help prevent hair loss, deal with hair thinning and leave your locks looking their best. This range began with The Ordinary Multi-Peptide Serum but was recently expanded. Here are the best The Ordinary products for your hair.
Also, if you’re into affordable, science-led haircare products, give The Inkey List a look, too.
Whilst The Ordinary seems to be everywhere, not all of its products are for everyone. Some of the direct acids may not be suitable for sensitive skin, and all products require a patch test first. We suggest introducing one product at a time in order to reduce the chance of irritation. You can read more in our The truth about the acids in your skincare guide.
If you have any skin conditions such as acne, rosacea or eczema, or if you are using any medicated creams or treatments such as Accutane, speak to your doctor or dermatologist before introducing any of these products.
And of course, while you should be using an SPF daily anyway, it is especially important to use SPF after using any of the direct acids mentioned here. This is because they make the skin particularly sensitive to the sun and sun damage. You can read more in our What is SPF? guide.
Victoria is founder and editor-in-chief of mamabella, freelance journalist and Mum. She has a passion for empowering people to feel beautiful whatever their age, size, skin type and budget