The Ordinary - How to Know What to Buy, What to Try & What I'm Getting Next

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

the ordinary
Graphic: @designsbyriann

The Ordinary is one of the most unique brands in the beauty space at the moment. From the straightforward product line to the simple packaging to the shockingly affordable prices, The Ordinary has been a maverick in the beauty industry since its launch in 2016.

As a seasoned beauty blogger and skincare enthusiast, I often find myself chatting with my friends about the topic. I have noticed that my friends are always split when it comes to The Ordinary- half have tried it and have a product or two that they swear by and the other half want to try it but are not sure where to start. The latter is a more than an understandable place to be as the products are a bit difficult to decipher if one is not familiar with the compounds and chemicals offered in their repertoire. At first, this can be intimidating and even off-putting, but fear not, there are a few great ways to decide what to try from this amazing brand.

How to Know What to Buy

Ingredient Focus 

When deciding what to try first from this brand, my advice is to go with what you know. For example, my first foray into the brand was with a retinol because I know my skin loves the benefits of this powerful vitamin. My first purchase from The Ordinary was their Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion. It worked well enough, but I decided to try the Retinol 1% Squalane this time around (more on that later). Next, I added "Buffet" to my cart because it was a peptide cocktail and my skin has reacted very well to peptides in the past. Lastly, in my latest haul, I added Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 because this acid is known in the beauty biz as having an amazing plumping and hydrating effect.

A worry that I had was mixing certain ingredients without knowing which ones would play well together (or rather, not play well together). Luckily, The Ordinary lists "contradictions" on their site under each of their products giving a list of which products should not be mixed.

By picking products based on ingredients I knew my skin already loved, I was able to decipher the somewhat dauntingly straightforward landscape of the line. But what if you haven't experimented with a bunch of beauty products and don't know which ingredients to look out for?

Best-Sellers & Reviews

This might sound like the most obvious way to pick products, but The Ordinary has quite a few "holy grail" products that come up time and time again. Luckily, beauty behemoth Sephora always has many review contributions- and they now sell The Ordinary! Some well-known best sellers in the beauty blogger universe include the aforementioned "Buffet", the AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution, and their retinoids. I have the Peeling Solution in my basket as I type! 

Kits - Personalized and Ready-Made

If research sounds like a tall order, I don't blame you! Other options include having a rep from the brand suggest products to you based on your areas of concern (acne, aging, hyperpigmentation, etc.). You can do this by visiting a store or online through their website!

However, if you want the least amount of friction to getting some of these amazing products on your face stat, you can purchase one of their pre-assembled kits.

What To Try


I've been using "Buffet" and Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 every day for about a month now and- whew- what a difference! My fiancĂ© noticed an improvement in my skin after just a few days of using these serums. I am so pleased with them. As a result of adding these to my skincare regimen, I have seen my skin look plumper, more hydrated, brighter, and some of my less-severe acne has also cleared up. I think I need to add another product to control my acne further, but so far this duo has done wonders for my skin! The Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion was also impressive when I tried it, but since it has been a year, I plan to try it again and reevaluate. 


There is only one "miss" to report and I feel a little torn about it. When I placed my latest order I wanted the most "high voltage" retinol I could get. I figured it would be best for my skin since the retinol I had used before moving to Holland was prescription-grade. I made the assumption that an OTC retinol would never be as strong and decided to buy the Retinol 1% Squalane. The Ordinary recommends starting with a lower power retinol and building up to this one on their site. It actually cleared my small bumps really well, but I did notice the development of a few dark spots about 6 days in. For that reason, I stopped using it and will be going back to the gentler Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion (when it is back in stock- apparently it has been sold out for months!). 

What I'm Getting Next

I'm blown away by the price and quality of this brand- so much so that I cannot wait to place another order. My next purchase is going to include the AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution because it's a bestseller and word on the street is that it has the same active ingredients as the Sukari Baby Facial by Drunk Elephant. I would also love to try the Squalane Cleanser because the reviews are stellar!

I cannot wait to try more from this line and report back! Have you tried The Ordinary? What were your thoughts? 


After experimenting with The Ordinary for a few months, I finally have a fully The Ordinary skincare routine! If you'd like to see the whole thing check out my video below!

Shop The Ordinary


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