What Are The Best The Ordinary Products?

by Gio

the best the ordinary products

What are the best The Ordinary products?

Everything they make is dirty cheap. Everything is full of actives that work. Everything is so tempting.

But you don’t want to get everything. Heck, who has two hours to put their morning skincare on?!

You only want the best so you can spend 5 minutes on skincare in the morning (or night) and know that your skin has everything it needs, right?

I’ve got you covered: here are the best The Ordinary skincare products in my humble opinion:

Best Exfoliant For Dry Skin: Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution (£6.80)

If your skin’s on the dry side as mine, you need The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution in your life. Glycolic acid dissolves the “glue” that holds skin cells together, so they can finally slough off. Once they do, your dull, rough complexion takes on a smooth, radiant glow. Plus, glycolic acid goes a step further: it hydrates skin to boot! Just don’t go overboard. Two or three times a week is more than enough. Anything more that and you may irritate your skin. (P.S. You’ve probably heard that glycolic acid boosts collagen. That’s true only at 10%> concentrations. 🙁 .)

Available at: Beauty Bay, Cult Beauty and Feel Unique

Related: Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution Full Review 

Best Exfoliant For Oily, Acne-Prone Skin: Salicylic Acid 2% Solution (£4.20)

Don’t even think of going with glycolic acid. If you’ve got blackheads, whiteheads and pimples, The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution is the way to go. Like glycolic acid, salicylic acid dissolves the “glue” that holds skin cells together to make them fall off more easily. Unlike glycolic acid, salicylic acid also gets inside the pores, removing all the excess oil, dead cells and other gunk that’s clogging them up and give you blakcheads, pimples & co. Plus, it has anti-inflammatory properties that reduce the redness that always comes along with pimples.

Available at: Beauty Bay, Cult Beauty and Feel Unique

Related: The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution Full Review

Best Moisturiser For All Skin Types: Natural Moisturising Factors + HA (£6.80)

If there’s a moisturiser that could work for all skin types, it’s The Ordinary Natural Moisturising Factors + HA. It’s loaded with fatty acids, amino acids, hyaluronic acid, urea and other stuff that makes up your skin’s protective barrier. If you’ve got dry, dehydrated skin, this can patch up the holes in your barrier so moisture stops evaporating out into thin air. If you’ve got oily skin, it’ll moisturise without adding more oil. Sensitive skin? This moisturiser is free from fragrance and other irritants. Ok, it lacks antioxidants but you can always supplement with a separate antioxidant serum.

Available at: Beauty Bay, Cult Beauty and Feel Unique

Related: The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA Full Review

Best For Fighting Wrinkles: Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion (£8.00)

Granactive retinoid (the nickname for hydroxypinacolone retinoate) is the new retinoid kid on the block. Rumour has it, it works better than retinol at fighting wrinkles and is way gentler, too. The catch? The rumour started from the manufacturer and is spread around by brands that use it. Truth is, Granactive retinoid is so new, we have no independent studies showing it can do what brands claim. Until then, I encourage you to stick with good old retinol. Or, if you’re the curious kind, use both. The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion has 2% granactive retinoid + microencapsulated retinol to give you the best of both worlds.

Available at: Beauty Bay, Cult Beauty and Feel Unique

Related: The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion Full Review

Best For Preventing Wrinkles: EUK 0.1% (£6.90)

When it comes to antioxidants, the more the merrier. So why am I recommending a product that has only ONE antioxidant?  Cos EUK-134™, a mimetic of superoxide dismutase and catalase, is one of the most powerful yet less used antioxidants out there. I dare you find it anywhere else, it’s almost impossible. So what does The Ordinary EUK 0.1% do? It destroys superoxide free radicals, the worst type of wrinkle-causing free radicals out there. Just don’t use it together with other acids, including vitamin C. Acids completely destroy EUK!

Available at: Beauty Bay, Cult Beauty and Feel Unique

Related: Is Superoxide Dismutase The Most Powerful Antioxidant Of All?


What do you think are the best The Ordinary products? Share your picks in the comments below.



Diana November 1, 2018 - 2:35 pm

I would also add the Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% for complexion clearing as that is straight up a miracle in a bottle!


Gio November 23, 2018 - 10:31 am

Diana, that’s another great product too! It was so tough to limit myself to 5. 😉

Sabrina November 3, 2018 - 5:23 pm

Hi Gino, I have been reading all your posts about the ordinary products, you are sooo helpful!

I am 35 years old, my issues are oily skin, hormonal acne and hyperpigmentation, as well as some little signs of aging. I never know which To treat first. I am in Toronto and want to buy every product available at the ordinary store ?

My AM routine is:
– cleansing
– salicylic acid all over face if breaking out, otherwise just as a spot treatment for stubborn pimples
– buffet + copper if I used glycolic acid toner the night before
– niacinamide
– alpha arbutin + AH
– caffeine solution on eye area
PM routine
-double cleanse
Alternate between these 2 options:
– glycolic acid toner
– buffet + copper
– alpha arbutin + AH
– caffeine solution on eye area
-salicylic acid all over the face if breaking out
-niacinamide + zinc
– caffeine solution on eye area

I want to use a Retinoid but feel confused, as their site says the emulsion is not safe for acne prone skin and the oil serums sound scary for acne too. Am I being silly here? Which Retinoid would you recommend? I also want to try vitamin c, but there are so many options, I don’t know which to buy. Also thought of buying rosehip oil, as a last step.
How would you recommend I organize and alternate these products into my routine?

Thank you so much for your dedication on your blog! It is the most concise and honest about skin care I have read in a long time ?

Gio November 23, 2018 - 9:42 am

Sabrina, first off get rid of the glycolic acid toner. Glycolic acid has antiaging properties only at 10% concentrations. If your skin’s oily, you’re much better using salicylic acid all over your face once a day, either morning or night.

The rest of your skincare routine is fine. The Granactive Retinoid Emulsion is perfectly fine for acne. I think TO simply mentions that it’s not a treatment for acne, not that’s not suitable for acne prone skin. Retinoids can’t kill the bacteria that causes acne, they can only speed up the skin’s natural exfoliation process so the bacteria doesn’t have that many dead cells to feed on.

I personally don’t like the vitamin C products from The Ordinary because they all lack vitamin E and/or ferulic acid. When these 3 antioxidants are used together, they work better and faster. But if you want to get your vitamin C fix from TO, MAP 10% is the best for your skin type.

As for rosehip, does your skin feel tight and dry during the day? Oils are moisturisers so if you don’t need more moisture, no need to use them.

Nadh December 7, 2018 - 3:40 am

Hi Geo! I have problems with freckles and acne scars on my face. Currently my skincare routine :

Gel watery cleanser , Hydrating Toner , Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% + Alpha Arbutin 2% + AHA , Moisturizer , Sunscreen 50 SPF

Double cleansing , Glycolic Acid Toning, Hydrating Toner , Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% + Alpha Arbutin 2% + AHA and Moisturizer

Is my skin routine is enough to fade my acne scars and freckles? My concern is to get rid all my freckles and acne scars faster. Do I need to add any product lines or/and do you have any recommendation which product lines (prefer The Ordinary) that can give fast result?

Thank you from Malaysia!

Gio December 7, 2018 - 10:41 am

Nadh, I understand you want to get rid of acne scars and freckles quickly but doing too much can have the opposite effect and damage my skin. Azelaic acid and alpha Arbutin are both good ingredients to fade away freckles but you shouldn’t use them at the same time. Pick one, using it for a month and see how it works. Then, use the other one for a month and compare results.

As for acne scars, I’m afraid to say that NO topical product can get rid of them. You need to see a dermatologist for laser or whatever other treatment she recommends.

Natasha December 31, 2018 - 11:18 pm

Hi! I actually made myself a spreadsheet based on your guide for ageing, acne-prone skin. ?I’m trying to work out which products I need and when to use them. If I use The Ordinary Cos EUK as my anti-oxidant, do I need to use other anti-oxidants too? Vitamin C on alternating nights maybe? I’m thinking I’ll use it at night with the retinol to avoid using it with acids? Or will a 30 minute wait period between that and CosRX BHA liquid in the morning be ok? Also, is the Niacinamide in the CosRX BHA liquid enough for the morning?

Gio January 24, 2019 - 6:29 pm

Natacha, love the spreadsheet idea! 🙂 To answer your questions:

1/2. EUK is a great product but you should never rely on one antioxidant alone. You can definitely alternate it with vitamin C at night.

3/4. Yes, using it at night with retinol is fine. But apply your vitamin C in the morning or, if you want to use it at night, on days you don’t use retinol or you may risk irritating your skin.

5. Yes it is.

Stacey January 7, 2019 - 8:20 am

Hi Geo!
I’m 30 in May and haven’t got the best of genes anyway (thanks mum) despite drinking a lot of water and never smoking/rarely drinking. Since moving to Qatar in August I’ve developed an extremely oily T-Zone. I always had an oily/combination T-Zone but this has now got out of hand and have now an outbreak of pimples all across my forehead, larger spots across my jaw line and temple areas. I read reviews about The Ordinary and did quite a bit of research myself on products for oily skin/open pores and so decided to buy the following:

Glycolic acid toner 7%
Pixi Glow Tonic Glycolic acid 5% toner
Caffeine 5%
Hyaluronic Acid 2%
Niacinamide 10%
Azelaic acid suspension 10%
Matrixyl 10%
100% plant based Squalane
Granactive Retinoid 2% emulsion
Aha 30% peeling solution

So far I have the following regime:

Cleanse with oil-free Cetaphil face wash
Pixi glow tonic
Caffeine & Matrixyl combo on eye area
Hyaluronic Acid
Azelaic acid as moisturiser
Mineral sunscreen SPF30

Double cleanse (Nivea cleanser and toner with pads then oil-free Cetaphil face wash)
Glycolic acid 7% toner
Caffeine & Matrixyl on eye area

I have read quite a few advice blogs but am still slightly confused about what days to use the acid-based products vs the Granactive Retinoid emulsion so am yet to use the Retinoid yet (or the AHA 30% peeling solution). As I’m new to the products I don’t want to overload my skin but equally need some help as I have never had a problem with my skin. Can I use the retinoid emulsion the same evening I use the Glycolic acid toner?!

Also there have been some who advise to pat on products and others who advise to rub them in? Or should I pat in serums and rub in oils/moisturisers? I have only been rubbing in all products since starting to use The Ordinary about a week ago, apart from toners which I use pads to wipe across my face, and I still have a very oily T-zone when I wake up…

Thank you so much for your help and apologies for the life story!!

Gio January 19, 2019 - 11:32 am

Hi Stacey, I hear ya, oily skin can be annoying!

First of all, stop using The Ordinary Glycolic acid and Pixi Glow. You’re just giving your skin a double dose of glycolic acid, which is does NOT need. Instead, what you need to get rid of the shine and breakouts is salicylic acid. Use them after cleansing in the morning and the breakouts will soon disappear.

Use Granactive Retinoid 3 nights a week. On nights that you don’t use it, you may use salicylic acid again. If you don’t have active acne, you can just skip this layer.

The other thing I’d recommend, if possible, is to reduce the number of products you’re using as too many layers could make skin shinier and clog pores. If you’re not comfortable with this, try adding salicylic acid to the mix and see if it helps. If it works, but not as well as you should, consider cutting off some layers of your routine.

It’s always best to pat on products whenever possible. If you must rub, be super gentle so as not to irritate skin.

Geo55 February 1, 2019 - 10:39 pm

Gio, What do you think of the Witch Hazel in the Ordinary Salicylic Acid product? Currently I use Paula’s Choice BHA liquid for my oily acne prone skin and was planning to try this but I read that Witch Hazel is an irritant. Which BHA products do you recommend?

Gio February 8, 2019 - 4:09 pm

GEO55, the problem with witch hazel is that it has both anti-inflammatory compounds and irritating compounds! It’s a plant made up of everything and whether it’s good for skin depends on how it was distillated/extract. I’ve personally used The Ordinary Salicylic Acid product but if it bothers you go with Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid instead.

Elisa March 17, 2019 - 4:21 am

Could I use the Salicydic Acid only on the nose and chin for the blackheads and oil control and the glycolic acid in the rest of the face that is dry? Or better to find a product that have both together?

Gio March 21, 2019 - 4:58 pm

Elisa, both options work. It just depends on whether you’d like to use one or two products.

Elisa April 14, 2019 - 9:52 pm

Is it better the Ordinary NATURAL MOISTURISING FACTORS + HA or the Paula’s choice OMEGA+ COMPLEX SERUM?

Gio April 20, 2019 - 3:17 pm

Elisa, what’s your skin type? The Ordinary is better for oily skin and Paula’s Choice for dry skin.

Rosy April 30, 2019 - 4:36 pm

Hi! I’m looking the best “The Ordinary” products to combat these problems:
1. Blackheads and open pores on my nose and chin, and in ocassions some pimples too.
2. Dry skin on my cheeks with rosacea
3. I’m 34 years old, and I have firts wrinkle signs near my eyes and on my forehead, so I’m looking for an option to take care of this

Gio June 5, 2019 - 12:43 pm

Rosy, try salicylic acid for pores and Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 followed by Natural Moisturizing Factors for dry skin.

neena May 21, 2019 - 10:24 am

Hi Gio,
I really need help as iam so lost in which product to choose & how will it affect my skin.
Iam 35 and never used any anti aging products ever.
I am an asian lwith combination skin.
my skin has started sagging and looks dull with acne marks ,black and white heads all over the face.
I have read your reviews on ordinary products. could you pls guide me which ones are suitable for my skin?
my eyelid skin has started getting loose as well.

Pls pls help and reply.
I have selected below products for purchase keeping in view your reviews but just a question
shoul di include vitamin C dunk elephant with all these products?

The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA Concentrated Serum 30ml
The Ordinary 100% Cold Pressed Virgin Marula Oil 30ml
The Ordinary Natural Moisturising Factors + HA 30ml
The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% High Strength Vitamin and Mineral Blemish Formula 30ml

Gio June 5, 2019 - 11:58 am

Neena, you can use Drunk Elephant Vitamin C followed by Nacinamide + Zinc and Natural Moisturising Factors in the AM and Alpha Arbutn follows by Marula oil in the evening.

Irene June 10, 2019 - 9:59 am

Hi! Recently, I got interested in The Ordinary products and have been dying to try it. I rarely get acne problem (except when PMS), but I have oily skin and also want to start taking care of my fine lines as I think it got more visible now. What would be your recommended routine using The Ordinary products?

Gio July 6, 2019 - 1:24 pm

Hi Irene, creating a skincare routine is a service I charge for. You can book your consultation here: https://www.beautifulwithbrains.com/skincare-consultation/


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