The Complete Guide To The Ordinary Anti-Acne Skincare Products

by Gio
the complete guide to the ordinary anti acne skincare products

I lost count of how many of you have emailed me in the past few months asking me how to use The Ordinary anti-acne products.

I get it. They’re so cheap, you want to get ALL of them. And then you end up with a 10 steps routine that takes all morning to put on. Worse, when you throw too much at your acne, you dry it out and make it worse. Ugh.

Fighting acne isn’t about getting ALL of the products. It’s about getting the right products for your skin and make the most of them.

This quick guide to The Ordinary anti-acne skincare products will help you figure out what products you need, when to use them and how to fit them into your skincare routine. Let’s get started:

Salicylic Acid 2% Solution (£4.20)

Listen, girl. I don’t care if The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution is the IT exfoliant of the moment. It’s not for you. Acne-prone skin needs salicylic acid. Period. Here’s why:

What it is: a leave-in exfoliant with salicylic acid, an oil-soluble exfoliating acid that removes all the dead cells and excess oil stuck in your pores. It also exfoliates the surface of the skin so dead cells can’t fall into the pores in the first place and has anti-inflammatory properties that soothe redness and irritations.

Why it’s good for acne: P. Acnes, the bacteria that causes acne, feeds on the excess oil and dead cells stuck in your pores. Keep your pores clean and you’ll starve the nasty buggers to death.

When to use it: salicylic acid is gentle. You can in the morning and/or evening right after cleansing.

Side effects: like all exfoliants, it can irritate skin if used too often.

Available at: Asos, Beauty Bay and Cult Beauty

Note: The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% has salicylic acid too but I DON’T recommend it. Acne-prone skin is very delicate. Don’t inflame it more with a harsh exfoliant.

Related: Why Salicylic Acid Is Key To Keeping Oily Skin Spot-Free

Retinoid Serum (£4.20-£11.90)

The Ordinary has A TON of retinoid serums (just to confuse you even more!). You can check out my guide to them here. My advice is to start with the lowest concentration and build your way slowly or you risk to seriously dry out your skin, ok?

What it is: a bunch of serums with either retinol or hydroxypinacolone retinoate, two forms of Vitamin A that speed up cellular turnover (the skin’s natural exfoliating process), boost collagen and fight wrinkles. Retinol has a more impressive track record than hydroxypinacolone retinoate but is more irritating and drying. If you’re just starting out with retinoids, I’d go with hydroxypinacolone retinoate first and slowly build my way up to retinol.

Why It’s Good For Acne: it speeds up the skin’s natural exfoliating process, helping to keep pores clean.

When to use it: at night after cleansing/exfoliation. Start with two or three nights a week and build up frequency gradually.

Side effects: it makes skin more photosensitive. Use it at night only.

Available at: Beauty Bay, Cult Beauty and Feel Unique

Related: The Ultimate Guide To The Ordinary Retinoid Products: Which One Should You Choose? 

Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% (£5.00)

Niacinamide is the new skincare superhero on the blog. Zinc is its Robin. Here’s why:

What it is: a serum with niacinamide and zinc. Duh! Niacinamide is a form of Vitamin B3 that treats acne, soothes inflammation and brightens the skintone. Zinc can help regulate oil production.

Why it’s good for acne: neither niacinamide nor zinc are treatments for acne because they can’t kill the bacteria that cause it. But they can calm down inflammation, the underlying cause of acne. When bacteria infects your skin, your immune system kicks into gear, triggering inflammation to remove the threat. This serum brings the inflammation down a notch or two. Plus, niacinamide can help treat post-inflammatory hyper pigmentation (the dark spots pimples leave behind) while zinc reduces oil and shine.

When to use it: you can use it both morning and/or evening after cleansing/exfoliation but before moisturiser.

Side effects: if your skin’s dry, it may be a little too drying for you.

Available at: Beauty Bay, Cult Beauty and Feel Unique

Related: How To Fade Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation

Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% (£5.50)

If you’re not a fan of harsh treatments like benzoyl peroxide (The Ordinary isn’t either), azelaic acid is a great alternative. It’s suitable for sensitive skin, too.

What it is: a light cream with azelaic acid, an acid your skin’s microbiome (the good bacteria that live on your skin) naturally produce. It has anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-keratinising properties (anti-keratinising means it prevents build up of dead cells in the pores).

Why it’s good for acne: oh, let me count the ways… it kills the bacteria P. Acnes. It reduces the inflammation that triggers acne. And it keeps the pores clean from all the crap P. Acnes likes to munch on. Study after study shows that it’s as effective at treating acne as harsher treatments, including benzoyl peroxide, tretinoin and accutane.

When to use it: you can use it morning and/or night.

Side effects: although rare, it can cause irritations in some people.

Available at: Beauty Bay, Cult Beauty and Look Fantastic

Related: Benzoyl Peroxide: Friend Or Foe?

100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rosehip Oil (£9.00)

I know you’re scared of oils, but this one is very friendly to acne-prone skin. Here’s why:

What it is: rosehip oil is the oil extracted from the hip of roses (the hip is the radish-like ball the rose leaves behind after it blossoms). It’s loaded with moisturising fatty acids and a natural form of retinol (vitamin A).

Why it’s good for acne: acne-prone skin lacks linoleic acid, one of the many fatty acids in rosehip oil. Studies shows that adding it back into your skin reduces mini pimples. Fatty acids also keep your skin from getting dehydrated while vitamin A helps the skin’s natural exfoliating process.

When to use it: as the last step of your night-time routine.

Side effects: it contains vitamin A so it could make your skin more photosensitive. That’s why it’s best to use it at night.

Available at: Cult Beauty, Feel Unique and Look Fantastic

Note: if you’re already using retinol and don’t want to add more vitamin A to your skincare routine, go with 100% Plant-Derived Squalane. It’s one of the few oils that moisturises skin without worsening acne (yep, even fungal acne).

Related: Can Rosehip Oil Treat Acne?


Putting It All Together: The Ordinary Anti-Acne Skincare Routine

You don’t need all the products above. You can get and use them all but if you want to pick and choose, here’s how to do it:

  • Salicylic acid is a must. Period. If you don’t like The Ordinary’s formula, get Paula’s Choice. But use it.
  • Are you using benzoyl peroxide, Tretinoin or Accutane? You don’t need azelaic acid too. If you want to give it a try, discard the others for the time being. (but consult your doctor, first!)
  • Are you already using a retinoid? You don’t need to switch to The Ordinary retinoid. And you may not need rosehip oil, either.
  • Does your skin needs more hydration than it’s currently getting? Get either rosehip oil or squalene oil.
  • Does your skincare routine include niacinamide? If not, get Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 2% (yes, you can use it with vitamin C.)

If you’re going to use all the products, here’s a good anti-acne skincare routine for beginners:


  • Cleanse
  • Salicylic Acid 2% Solution
  • Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%
  • Sunscreen


  • Cleanse
  • Retinoid serum (three times a week)
  • Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% (optional)
  • 100% Organic Cold Pressed Rosehip Oil or 100% Plant Derived Squalane

Are you wondering why Niaciamide goes in the morning, Azelaic Acid is optional or what cleanser to use with this routine? Subscribe to my newsletter below and receive The Ordinary Acne Skincare Routine Cheatsheet, where I explain why this routine works and give you recommendations for the missing products:

This is the basic routine for acne. You can remove/add other stuff as your skin needs. For ex, if you’re using Tretinoin, ditch the azelaic acid in the morning and the retinoid serum at night. If you’ve found a moisturiser you love, you may not need an oil at all. You get the drill.

Have you tried The Ordinary anti-acne products? Share your experience in the comments below.



Cindy June 6, 2018 - 7:12 pm

So, what to use if you have DRY acne prone skin?

Gio June 8, 2018 - 2:40 pm

Cindy, you can check out my skincare routine for dry, acne-prone skin here:

chicklus June 8, 2018 - 11:31 am

lease do the same Ordinary product review for aging skin. Great job!

Gio June 8, 2018 - 3:28 pm

Chicklus, that’s a great idea. In the meantime, you can check out these other guides to The Ordinary:

The Ultimate Guide To The Ordinary Retinol Products:

The Ultimate Guide To The Ordinary Vitamin C Products:

Teresa June 8, 2018 - 8:37 pm

You are the BEST!

Gio June 16, 2018 - 4:51 pm

Teresa, thank you! You’re making me blush. 😳

Maria June 11, 2018 - 9:30 pm

Dear Gio,

What is exactly the deal with azelaic acid? I know different actives pretty well, but despite of googling AzA’s function has remained somewhat unclear. I mean, does it work like an exfoliant, such as AHA/BHA? Or is it some kind of potent treatment? I’ve learnt it’s a beneficial ingredient for both acne and couperose, and latter is the reason why I have incorporated it into my routine. I think it brings overall brightening effect, that’s what I can say. So, it would be nice to know what’s exactly the magic behind that stuff I’m slathering on my face! ? PS. I didn’t even know that you can layer AzA over BHA, like in the example routine you wrote!

Gio June 16, 2018 - 4:38 pm

Maria, azelaic acid has antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-keratinizing properties. It unclogs pores, reduces redness, treats acne and even fades dark spots. You can check out this post for a very detailed explanation:

Em July 24, 2018 - 10:03 am

Hey! This is awesome, this routine is pretty much what I’m doing at the moment, but I’m alternating days between vitamin C and azelaic. I’d love to use azelaic every day but wasn’t sure if I could layer it with vitamin C (as I’d love to keep that in for antioxidant purposes)? I have a thin Vit C/hylauronic/Vit E serum that could potentially go underneath but don’t know if it will interact well? Do you know anything about that?

Gio July 28, 2018 - 6:06 pm

Em, as long as the textures play along fine and don’t cause pilling, I don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t be able to use them together.

Mary Kate Coghlan July 24, 2018 - 8:38 pm

What alternative can I use to replace the retinoid while pregnant?

Gio July 28, 2018 - 6:01 pm

Mary, there is no exact replacement for retinoids but I’d go with copper peptides if you want firming or a serum with Vitamin C + Vitamin E + ferulic acid to prevent wrinkles and slow down sun damage.

Lynda July 29, 2018 - 11:06 am

Thanks for this information as it gave me more understanding with how to deal with acne for my son. I was looking for a regime that isn’t too complicated- so that he will actually do it each day!. So decided on a gentle cleanser then following the Ordinary am/pm regime you advised with the bonus of it not costing too much!

Gio August 5, 2018 - 10:40 am

Lynda, so glad it helped! Let me know how it goes. 🙂

Laura August 8, 2018 - 7:46 am

Thanks so much for your information it has been a big help. I have some products from the ordinary on order and I was thinking about the following regime for my skin (acne prone/aging/texture concerns);
Hyaluronic Acid 2%+B5
Niacinamide + Zinc
Salicilyic Acid 2%
Hyaluronic Acid 2%+ B5
Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%
Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate 10% (or Vitamin C suspension 23% + HA spheres

I would love to know your thoughts.

Thank you ?

Gio August 9, 2018 - 10:00 am

Hi Laura, your morning routine is fine but I’d use niacinamide + zinc before hyaluronic acid.

Your evening routine is fine but I’d alternate between vitamin C and azelaic acid just so as not to overwhelm your skin.

Hope this helps

Kat August 8, 2018 - 10:44 am

Hi! Love this! Quick question though, can I use Niacinamide with Vit. C or is that overkill? Also, can I use a BHA toner with Salicylic Acid?

Gio August 9, 2018 - 9:56 am

Kat, yes, you can use vitamin C with niacinamide. BHA and salicylic acid are the same thing so just pick one product with it. No point in using more.

Katrina August 9, 2018 - 6:18 am

Hi! I’m using tret, how do you suggest incorporating this into the routine you mentioned? Should I use it in the morning with the salicylic acid or at night after the niacinamide? Thank you!

Gio August 16, 2018 - 12:48 pm

Katrina, tret always goes on at night. Use it instead of the retinoid serum.

Chloe August 13, 2018 - 9:43 pm

HI! This is super helpful, thanks!

I was just curious if there’s any gentle cleansers you would recommend. I currently use a salicylic wash and just because there are so many active ingredients in these products I would want to switch to something more gentle.

Gio August 16, 2018 - 1:45 pm

Chloe, salicylic acid is pretty much useless in cleansers as it doesn’t stay on the skin long enough. I’m sharing my fave cleansers for all skin types in this post:

Joe August 16, 2018 - 3:17 pm

Hi Gio. Thank you for an awesome guide. My face very prone to acne. Before I end up reading your guide, I’ve buy several things by reading from multiple sources. Luckily, all your suggested product are with me. These are the thing that I end up buying before reading your guide:

AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution
Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA
Lactic Acid 5% + HA
Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12%
Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion
Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%
100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil
Salicylic Acid 2% Solution
Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

Could you suggest a routine to include these thing into your suggested routine above?

AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution
Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA
Lactic Acid 5% + HA
Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12%

This is my first time using The Ordinary product. Thank you

Gio September 6, 2018 - 8:57 pm

Hi Joe, how wonderful that you’ve already got all the right products. You can use Ascorbyl Glucoside in the morning after salicylic acid and alpha arbutin in the evening after retinoid in the evening.

I understand you want to use all the products you’ve bought by in this case, that’s not a good idea. AHA 30% + BHA 2%, Lactic Acid 5% + HA and Salicylic Acid 2% are all exfoliants. Using them all together will just irritate your skin even more. Instead, it’s best to pick the best exfoliant for your skin type and stick to that. In this case, that’s salicylic acid.

Lactic Acid is totally useless for your skin type so give the product to someone else with dry or sensitive skin. You may use the Peeling solution once a month BUT only after the acne has calmed down and your skin is clear. Hope this helps.

Anna August 18, 2018 - 1:53 pm

Hello, I have a light cystic acne on the cheecks and chin, and I have clogged pores and red marks; I just bought these products and I’m thinking to follow this regime:

And once or twice a week I will use the AHA 30% PEELING SOLUTION In The PM.

I would like to know if this regime is ok? And if I should add in the AM or PM other things. Thank you!

Gio September 7, 2018 - 1:58 pm

Anna, I wouldn’t add anything but I’d definitely remove some stuff. Your AM routine is spot on but in the evening, you don’t need lactic acid at all. It’s an exfoliant and you’re already using salicylic acid, which is more suitable for your skin type. I also wouldn’t use the peeling solution and certainly not once a week. If you really must, wait until your skin is clear and use it once a month. Marula oil may or may not cause breakouts. You’ll have to experiment with it to see how it reacts to your skin type.

Lyn August 19, 2018 - 10:55 am

Hi Gio! Im just starting using TO just about 3 weeks ago.. its niacinamide, but still make no difference especially my pimple. And now im trying peeling solution just about 2 time. Still new.. and the next day pimple came out ? Fyi, beside that, i have vit c suspension 30% which is not using it yet ?. Still no idea how to use it.

I mix TO niacinamide with my other skincare.. My skin are oily and acne. Im so stress out with my acne and i read your blog here and that make me purchase TO that u mention for acne routine ?. Can you help me how to apply with my other skincare product like acne routine u mention above..

TO that i had with me now,

Cleanser set
Salicylic Acid 2% Solution
Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%
Retinoid 0.5% in squalene
Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%
100% Organic Cold Pressed Rosehip Oil
Peeling solution

To much product above and hoping that this pimple out.. ?

Gio September 7, 2018 - 1:43 pm

Lyn, you have all the products I mentioned in the post so use the routine I outlined there. The only addition is the peeling solution and you don’t really need that. Don’t use it.

One more thing: exfoliating with salicylic acid can cause purging. This means that when you first start using it, it will bring the pimples that brewing underneath your skin to the surface. But after a few weeks, purging ends, breakouts clear up and pimples don’t come back. Just don’t stop using it.

Anna August 19, 2018 - 7:14 pm

Hi, do i need to use AzA´s if im just 18 and dont have much texture ? i have acne prone skin but i dont think that i need this just now. Whad do u think? thanks <3

Gio September 7, 2018 - 1:39 pm

Anna, no I don’t think you need it either.

ERYN August 21, 2018 - 12:52 pm

Hi! Is it okay to mix Niacinamide + Salicylic Acid and use them in the morning? And then Vit C in the evening?

Gio September 7, 2018 - 1:31 pm

Eryn, I’d do the opposite. Vitamin C in the morning to boost the effectiveness of your sunscreen and salicylic acid followed by niacinamide in the evening.

lizzi August 25, 2018 - 1:25 pm

Hi, thank you so much for creating this post and sharing! I have looked at using this skin care range a few times as I have been attracted by the price. Previously I have sued Proactiv+ which has worked out rather expensive so hoping trying this regime will do the job. x

Gio September 7, 2018 - 12:19 pm

Lizzi, my pleasure! It should definitely help. Let me know how it goes.

Brandon Ly August 30, 2018 - 2:57 am

Bad idea to use the Glycolic Acid Toner with the salicyclic acid?

Gio September 7, 2018 - 2:51 pm

Brandon, I don’t see the point. GA is popular right now but does nothing for acne. Salicylic acid is what acne prone skin so stick to that.

Scarlett September 3, 2018 - 5:50 pm

Thanks so much for this Gio this is so helpful!
I have milia and hormonal acne (on my chin only) caused by my contraceptive implant (which I removed a month ago). I’ve ordered the Niacinamide, Salicylic Acid, Retinol 0.2 and the Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA (and I recently purchased the AHA 30 + BHA 2 Peeling Soultion which I’ve used once).
Your AM/PM routine is super helpful, but I know you’re not supposed to introduce too many of these new products at once. What would you recommend I start with? And how long should I wait before introducing a new product?
(I’ve also purchased some SPF 30 as I’m currently only using 15 and I know this stuff can be pretty strong)
Thank you !!

Gio September 7, 2018 - 5:07 pm

Scarlett, definitely start with salicylic acid and the retinol. These are the products your skin needs the most right now. I’d say if after 3/4 weeks, your skin reacts well to one product, you can start introducing a new one.

Sophia September 5, 2018 - 10:13 pm

Hello Gio!! Thank you sooo much for this post. A lot of useful information. Decided to start using this routine. What do you think about it?
Also want to start using retinoid, but I don’t know when it is better to use, maybe any other day instead of benzoyl peroxide?
Salicilyic Acid 2%
Niacinamide + Zinc
Moisturiser with spf
Salicilyic Acid 2%
benzoyl peroxide 4%

Gio September 7, 2018 - 2:40 pm

Sophia, I’d use salicylic acid only in the morning and alternate between BP and retinol at night.

Spencer September 7, 2018 - 7:47 pm

Hi Gio!

I can’t get over how incredible your blog is!! Absolutely love all the posts, especially the fact that everything on this site is super helpful, reliable and concise. In today’s world the choices are ENDLESS and with the ridiculous number of products available it is virtually impossible to keep up or decipher what is the best approach for your own skin, so thank you for these fantastic guides!

I never had a spot of acne until I turned 21, it’s definitely calmed down a lot but nowadays it’s typically hormonal or stress related. After wasting time and money on countless products and pricey “medical” skincare brands I want to try something basic. I’m hoping that the ordinary will work for me, definitely going to trial the products listed in this post. However, what do you think of incorporating products such as Paula’s choice skin perfecting lotion (I’ve never used PC products) or toner? Or a product like the iS clinical active serum (apparently this brand is supposed to be incredible, but it’s procey and the reviews are mixed so I’m cautious)?

My main concerns are acne, hyperpigmentation (and PIH), minimising pores and potentially trying to prevent ageing seeing as I’m hitting mid 20’s. Also, would love your suggestions on a good combo skin cleanser to go with the routine in this post ?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Gio September 15, 2018 - 9:10 am

Hi Spencer, thank you for your support. So glad you find these guide useful. I know right, there are so many products on the market now that it’s so hard to know what works and what doesn’t. I hope these posts help you make the right choice.

Paula’s choice skin perfecting lotion uses salicylic acid as well. So if you want to try that, don’t use The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution. These produces do the same thing so pick one. Often, in cases like this, the choice comes down to texture and price. TO is the cheaper option, but if you need a tad more hydration, opt for PC.

I’m not a fan of iS clinical active serum. It has too much alcohol and all the antioxidants are down on the ingredient list so they won’t do much for you.

As for a cleanser, have you tried Cosrx, Low PH Good Morning Gel Cleanser?

Swati September 14, 2018 - 7:20 pm

Hi Gio…thanks for the great review of the products. I’m planning to start the ordinary regime as mentioned above and check how it goes but what I wanted to check is if there is any moisturizer that I need to use with the above routine. I currently have the body shop’s mattifying lotion and also skin balancing ultra sheer daily def by paula’s choice but I don’t use the latter too often as it leaves a white sheen. I’m in mid 30s and have an oily to combo skin but it tends to dry up if left alone after cleansing and becomes too greasy after putting anything. And now the acne issue has also started. Any help will be really appreciated!!

Gio September 15, 2018 - 9:52 am

Swati, at night the oils should moisturise your skin fine. But if your skin tends to dry out during the day, then using a moisturiser before sunscreen is a good idea.

srijana September 20, 2018 - 9:36 am

can i use retinoids and salicylic at night which should be use firts after cleasing

Gio September 26, 2018 - 7:41 pm

Srijana, I prefer to use salicylic acid in the morning and retinoids at nights. But if you want to use them together, salicylic acid goes first.

srijana October 9, 2018 - 12:23 pm

Hello gio , as i have ended up my acne with doctors precribtion and with the help of medicines now i want glowing skin although my face is acne -prone what will you suggest me am and pm routine from ordinary…hoping to get feedfack soon

Gio October 14, 2018 - 3:44 pm

Srijana, the skincare routine I mentioned above would work great for you even if you don’t acne right now. Just leave out azelaic acid.

Benjamin September 21, 2018 - 11:47 pm

Hi Gio,

do you have any alternative for the AZELAIC ACID SUSPENSION 10%? Something that does the same job? Because Azelaic acid is now banned in canada to the public, we must have a medecinal prescription to purchase some. I’ve been looking everywhere.


Gio September 27, 2018 - 1:57 pm

Hi Ben, I’m sorry they banned it in your country. But in that case, you won’t find it anywhere unless you see a dermatologist.

Anna September 25, 2018 - 10:10 pm

Hi! I have purchased salicylic acid 2% solution, retinol 0.2% in squalane and azaelic acid suspension 10%! Which should I use in the morning (in order) and which for the pm (in order) thank you!

Gio September 26, 2018 - 7:08 pm

Anna, in the morning use salicylic acid followed by azelaic acid and in the evening the retinol.

Jamiila October 6, 2018 - 5:30 pm

Hi! Thanks a lot for the information.
i’ve buyed the following items for this regimen. Do you think this is the right thing? I have acne spots on my cheeks and chin. I dont really wear make up. And i’m hesitant to use retinoid because i have light acne spots.

– Cleanse
– Niacinamide + Zinc
– Hyaluronic Acid 2%
– Moisturiser with SPF

– Cleanse
– Salicylic Acid 2%
– Hyaluronic Acid 2%
– Azelaic Acid suspension 10%
– Moisturiser or oil?


Gio October 7, 2018 - 2:47 pm

Jamiila, this is a great routine. Go with a moisturiser, like NMF. I prefer moisturisers to oils because they have lighter, less greasy textures and, for oily skin types, less chances of causing breakouts.

Kristin October 8, 2018 - 3:18 pm

What kind of cleanser would you recommend with a routine like this? I have extreme combination skin and am prone to cystic acne.

Gio October 14, 2018 - 4:12 pm

Kristin, you can find the best cleansers for your skin type here:

Banjo October 8, 2018 - 11:11 pm

I’m super happy to have found your site! I watched many of your articles since the passed days and I figured out a skin routine that could work for me. Can you give your opinion on it? I have Dry/Normal skin and i’m 16 years old.

Salicylic Acid 2% Solution (alternate with Glycolic Acid every 3 weeks)
EUK 134 0.1% (Antioxydant)

Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion (3 times a week)
Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%
Hyaluronic Acid 2% + Rose Hip Seed Oil (mixed)

*I cannot get Azelaic acid because I live in canada (it’s banned from stores) and the closest dermatologist is 7 hours away from me.
I won’t try to use benzoyl peroxide because I only get pimples once a month.

Would you change something in the routine that I consider using?
I really appreciate what you do to help us,

Gio October 21, 2018 - 5:12 pm

Banjo, so happy you’re here, too. Thanks for the support. 🙂

I’m a bit confused. You say that your skin is dry but you’ve filled your skincare routine with products that are for oily skin? It’s great, for example, that you want to add niacinamide to your skincare routine but The Ordinary niacinamide + zinc is too drying for dry skin. If you’re on a budget, you’re better off with a CeraVe moisturiser. They have niacinamide too and are suitable for oily skin.

Also, you absolutely do NOT need a retinoid. That’s something to add when you’re 25+ so you still have a few more years. And trust me, if you use sunscreen now, you probably won’t have to use it until your 30s. I know it’s tempting to use all the best anti-aging ingredients but your skin is so young, it doesn’t need. If you want to prevent wrinkles in the first place, a good sunscreen does 90% of the job already. Don’t waste money on stuff you don’t need just because the skincare media has brainwashed you into thinking you’ll age badly if you don’t add it now. That’s not true.

Here’s a better skincare routine for you:


Glycolic acid three times a week
Hyaluronic acid + rosehip oil

IF there are any areas where you are particularly prone to pimples, then you can use salicylic acid there on the days when you don’t use glycolic. Salicylic acid also makes a good spot treatment so no need to use benzoyl peroxide. If you want to try that anyway, use it on pimples ONLY.

srijana October 11, 2018 - 10:10 am

Hello gio , as i have ended up my acne with doctors precribtion and with the help of medicines now i want glowing skin although my face is acne -prone what will you suggest me am and pm routine from ordinary…hoping to get feedfack soon

Gio October 12, 2018 - 5:21 pm

Srijana, if the acne has cleared and you only have oily skin with a tendency to breakouts, you can use the skincare routine mentioned above. Just remove azelaic acid as you don’t currently need that.

Ami October 11, 2018 - 1:39 pm

Hi Gio,
I just found out about your site and it is amazing! Currently I’m searching and still researching about the best skin care for me. Before this, i used quite a few numbers of skincare but after the huge breakout (the after effect of using one of the skincare products) i think my skin is damaged. Then I stopped using anything for a while but still couldn’t get rid of the huge pimples. Fyi, i never get any pimples on my forehead but due to that product,i got numbers of acne on my forehead!

Now,I’m not using any skincare products because i’m afraid to try. But my skin is looking dull and i have pores on my face. Acne will come out during my menstruation but sometimes it will just come out in any times they want..(sigh). Will TO product able to solve my problem? And oh, i went to check for my skin before and my skin is a highly sensitive skin. Plus the traumatic experience using skincare products make me afraid to try any products anymore.

P/s: i read the skincare routine and can you suggest the great cleanser for highly sensitive skin like me?

Really appreciate your help. How I wish I could bring my skin back to normal as before,bright and always looking young,not like the current,dull and old looking..Thank you Gio.

Gio October 12, 2018 - 5:25 pm

Hi Ami, sorry you had such a bad experience. As your skin is so sensitive, I’d keep it simple and add only one new product at a time. To start with, in the morning cleanse with La Roche Posay Toleriane Cleanser or CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser and use sunscreen. In the evening, cleanse, use salicylic acid and moisturise. This should help you get rid of the pimples and dullness.

Ami October 15, 2018 - 5:28 am

Dear Gio,
Thanks for the reply…won’t the moisturizer cause my face to sweat? I used mary kay moisturizer before but my face would sweat a lot,and it felt so uncomfortable.As if someone was splashing water to my face,that’s how my face would react when i put moisturizer on the face. I tried to apply baby lotion once onto my face to see the reaction,it will sweat but not as heavy as when i applied the moisturizer. Can you guide me on this?

I also ordered bioderma h2o micelle water after went through your sharing about gentle cleanser. Which one would work better for me,is it La Roche/CeRave or the micelle water based on your experience?

Thank you, Gio.

Gio October 21, 2018 - 4:48 pm

Ami, mmm that’s odd, moisturisers don’t really make your face sweat. Is your skin very oily? In this case, if you’re trying to add more oil with a moisturiser, your face will be more greasy. Try an oil-free moisturiser and see if that helps. You can find my fave picks here:

I prefer a proper cleanser to Micellar Water so I’d go with La Roche Posay Toleriane.

Fer October 12, 2018 - 6:13 pm

Hi Gio!

First off, how sweet of you to respond to so many people! You are so great!

I’d love to get your opinion on my skin concerns. I get the monthly hormonal pimples (usually 1 or 2) that takes usually a 1+ weeks to go away.. and there’s ALWAYS a mark left behind. I have so many little red marks on my cheeks even if I didn’t pick at it and treated it right! Also, I have blackheads on my nose and on my chin and a little bit on my cheeks. Sometimes they look more like tiny tiny raised white bumps but they aren’t really poppable (don’t look like the traditional acneic teenage whitehead).. but they also never go away. I’m thinking it’s more clogged pores? My skin is also never radiant and glowy. Just kind of dull, although I moisturize twice daily. Btw, I’m 22!

I was researching the Ordinary’s retinol products to help with that when I stumbled across this guide. Now I’m leaning away from that and more towards the azelaic acid suspension and the rosehip oil. Do I also need the niacinamide + zinc? I liked that one because it can help with dark spots.. but I’ve also heard rosehip oil could help with the dark spots acne leaves behind? Just trying to keep it minimal. Let me know what you think 🙂

Gio October 14, 2018 - 3:32 pm

Hi Fer, thank you! It’s a pleasure to help. 🙂

Can you tell me what your skin type is? Either way, get salicylic acid to clear up your clogged pores and get rid of blackheads and pimples. It should also helps with discolourations. Rosehip oil is another ingredient that works for all skin types and can help deal with pimples, too.

I don’t think you need azelaic acid and retinol yet. See how salicylic acid + rosehip oil work first. They should do the trick. Niacinamide + zinc can help with dark spots too but this is suitable only for oily skin. If this is your skin type, go ahead.

Selene October 13, 2018 - 5:35 pm

Hi Gio, I was thinking about incorporating The Ordinary products into my routine. My dermatologist prescribed Zineryt (40 mg/ml erythromycin and 12 mg/ml zinc acetate) and Duac gel (Clindamycin (1.2%) and Benzoyl Peroxide (5%)) for acne. Which products would be safe to use with this? I was thinking about Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%, Salicylic Acid 2% Solution, 100% Plant-Derived Squalane. What do you think about Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG for under eye circles? Do you think that someone in early twenties should use anti-aging products? I am getting fine wrinkles under my eyes. Which product do you recommend? You wrote in the commets that Retinoid should not be used at the same time as Benzoyl Peroxide. I don’t want to alternate them because my acne is the priority. The Buffet seems like it has it all? Could I use it? Thank you.

Gio October 14, 2018 - 2:36 pm

Selene, I agree with Niacinamide + Zinc, Salicylic Acid and, if you need a moisturiser, squalane. Re salicylic acid, alternate it with benzoyl peroxide. Don’t use them together.

I tried both Caffeine Solution and Buffet and didn’t see much of an improvement, so I wouldn’t recommend them to you. At your age, anti aging isn’t really a concern. I’d start a retinol serum once you hit 25+. Especially considering that you’re dealing with acne and treating it with pretty harsh actives right now. For the moment, acne (and keeping your skin well moisturised during treatment) should you be your only concern. If once that’s gone, you want to start using anti aging actives even if you’re younger than 25, that’s cool. But don’t throw too much at your skin right now or you may upset it even more.

The best anti aging product for you at the moment is sunscreen. That prevents 90% of premature aging so even if you’re on retinol, you wouldn’t be able to banish fine lines if you skip sunscreen. Hope this helps

Gia October 16, 2018 - 9:58 am

Hi Gio, Thanks for this informative blog! Am 32 with sensitive skin with mild hormonal acne and until now my basic skincare routine only includes sunscreen, clinique’s hydrating gel and vit c serum at night. Have recently discovered ordinary’s products and am interested to start the using the salicyclic acid and the Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%, as per your recommendation. I am not fond of using too many products and like simple/natural health care routines. Is there anything else I must include for my skin? Also, is it better to mix vit c with Niacinamide or apply it separately after another? I would also like to try ordinary’s caffeine solution as an eye cream. Would you recommend this product? Hope to hear back!

Gio October 20, 2018 - 6:35 pm

Gia, as you have sensitive skin, I wouldn’t add anything else apart from salicylic acid and niacinamide. Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% is for oily skin so if your skin isn’t oily all over, use it only on the acne-prone areas. You can use vitamin C in the morning and the niacinamide at night.

I tried caffeine solution and wasn’t too impressed. You can find my full review here:

Marilyn October 25, 2018 - 3:46 am

Hi Gio, thanks for writing this! It is a great help. I’m 25 with hormonal acne and hyperpigmentation left over from after the acne heals.

The routine I’m looking at is:
Salicylic acid
Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%
Alpha arbutin
Spot treatment w benzoyl peroxide

Vitamin c
Alpha arbutin
Granactive retinoid 2% Emulsion (alternating days)
Spot treatment w benzoyl peroxide(alternating days)
Rosehip oil

Would you recommend any changes to this routine? I’m not sure if it is too harsh. Thank you for any help you can give!

Gio October 25, 2018 - 12:53 pm

Marilyn, if it were too harsh you would know, as your skin would be dry and flaky now. I’d switch to vitamin C in the morning to boost the effectiveness of sunscreen and salicylic acid in the evening. Are you using alpha arbutin all over the face? It’s best as a spot treatment.

Marilyn October 28, 2018 - 3:54 am

Hey Gio, thanks for your reply! It seems like my skin is holding up fine so I guess it isn’t too harsh. I’d like to avoid using vit c during the day as the texture is grainy and the product doesn’t seem to sink in. Is there anything I could do to help it absorb better? Yes I do use alpha arbutin as a spot treatment.

Gio November 1, 2018 - 4:41 pm

Marilyn, are you using Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA? I agree that this is a product that, texture-wise, it’s best for nighttime. You can mix it with a hyaluronic acid serum to make the texture more pleasant to apply.

Sara October 31, 2018 - 8:01 am

Hi Gio. I have really bad cystic acne, a symptom from my polycystic ovarian syndrome, it’s never been this bad. I started using the ordinary products about 2 weeks ago and I feel like I’m seeing results that are making me happy. At first I was worried that I was allergic or something because the spots where I had acne became larger and red. I was just telling myself that means the product was working maybe but like cleaning it out you know? Then I noticed my cheek where a large portion was red started to become hard and dry and I wanted to like pick at it because it felt like I had a huge I don’t knos how to describe it just like dead skin. After a few days it went away and my skin looked pinker like a new layer of skin and then a couple days later some spots looked normal!! I’m confident it’s helping me I just am indifferent on how long the process might take. How long would you say you will start receiving noticeable clearer skin? My current routine is…

Wash face with Origins Frothy Face Wash
Ninacinamide + Zinc
Azelaic Acid
Salicylic Acid
Rose Water spray to finish

Wash face with origins
Niacinamide + Zinc
Azelaic Acid
Salicylic Acid
Granactive Retinoids Emulsion
Rose water spray to finish

Do you think there is anything I can be doing or adding to my routine for acne prone skin that I’m missing? I’m trying to completely clear my skin, acne, acne scars, scars I want perfect skin. What am I missing?

Gio November 1, 2018 - 4:06 pm

Sara, I hear you. Acne can totally rob of your confidence. You can certainly get back clear skin but I think you’re doing too much too soon.

It’s totally normal when you use exfoliants for the first time to go through a purging period. Exfoliates remove dead layers of cells so if a breakout was forming underneath, acids will bring it to the surface sooner. But the whole purging process shouldn’t last for more than 4-6 weeks. If the breakouts are still getting worse after that, then the products don’t agree with your skin.

In this case, it’s possible that using many strong actives is inflaming your skin, making it look worse until it gets used to them. Try this routine:

Salicylic acid
Niacinamide + Zinx

Azelaic acid alternated with Granactive retinoid emulsion (one night each)
Rose water

Aoife November 3, 2018 - 5:48 pm

Hey Gio ! I’m 24 and only really started to suffer with acne recently ? It’s knocked my confidence majorly l, so for me, wearing makeup to work on a daily basis is an absolute must. I was just wondering, do you apply these products using a cotton pad ? Also, is it okay to use makeup after applying the products ? Love the details in this post ! Thank you ?

Gio November 23, 2018 - 9:35 am

Aoife, oh no! Acne is the worst. No, you don’t need to apply them with a cotton pad and yes, you can totally wear makeup on top. 🙂

Erika November 9, 2018 - 4:59 am

Hi Gio, I read your guideline for acne and bought everything you recommend. Besides these products, I have the T.L.C baby facial and the framboos glycolic night serum from Drunk Elephant. Would you recommend incorporating them into my routine?
Thank you!

Gio November 9, 2018 - 7:55 pm

Erika, if you’ve bought the 2% Salicylic Acid then no, you don’t ned the other two Drunk Elephant products. They’re exfoliants as well and you can use only 1 exfoliating products at any given time. Having said that, they both contain BHA, so you could use Drunk Elephant glycolic night serum after you finish the ordinary salicylic acid or vice versa. You can use Baby Facial once a month until the finish the bottle. But in the future, I’d buy only TO Salicylic or DE Framboos.

Widya November 11, 2018 - 7:46 am

Hi gio! my name is widya. I got lots of acne scars suddenly. I’m thinking about using the ordinary the ordinary alpha arbutin. Would you recommend what should i take? Thank you for any help you can give!

Gio November 23, 2018 - 10:13 am

Widya, sorry to hear about your acne scars. They’re the worst! I’ve written a post on acne scars that will go live on Monday, so check back!

Short answer: if the scar is just a discolouration, alpha Arbutin can help. If the scar is raised/pitted/icepick/wavy, then there’s nothing topical skincare products can do. You need to see a dermatologist to treat them.

Anne Berry November 12, 2018 - 9:13 pm

Wonderfully detailed regime thank you!

I am going to order the products mentioned – However, I also reached out the Ordinary with my skin description and pics and they respond with this regime (i forgot to specify I was more interested in the The Ordinary products) but if you have opinions on the Hylamide or NOID products they mentioned PLEASE let me know! 🙂
Hylamide Pore Flush Booster
The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%
The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA
The Ordinary Mineral UV Filters SPF 15 or 30 with Antioxidants or NIOD Survival 10/20/30

Hylamide High-Efficiency Face Cleaner
NIOD Flavanone Mud (FM) (once a week)
The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil
The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA

(I have PC 2% BHA Gel, C.E.O.. Vitamin C Serum and Elta MD Sunscreen which I will continue to use until out)

And a few more quick questiions …
** I prefer a moisturizer during the day, so it’s not too oily, what would you recommend? Between Rose Hip oil or Squalene what is BEST for acne/cyst prone skin?

** I was interested in the Marine Hyaluronic serum – as my skin is usually calmed by algae based formulas, do you have any opinions on this one?

** I have sort of a reddish flushed face, I don’t know if it’s because of the products i use or just genetics. But is there any “TO” product that soothes redness?

Sorry for so many questions! Thank you so much Gio, it’s much appreciated!

Gio November 23, 2018 - 11:09 am

Anne, I like the skincare routine Deciem has recommended for you. I only have two comments about it. First off, Hylamide Pore Flush Booster seems to be an alternative to salicylic acid, so you can use PC 2% BHA or TO Salicylic Acid 2% Solution instead. Two, if you’re using The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA, you probably won’t need rosehip oil too.

To answer your questions:

1. The Ordinary Natural Moisturising Factors + HA is a moisturizer so you don’t need an oil too. If you prefer to use an oil, Squalane is the most lightweight of the two.
2. It’s very hydrating so if your skin needs the extra moisture, go for it.
3. No in the TO range. But NIOD Modulating Glucosides is great for soothing skin and bringing down redness.

Hope this helps.

Anne Berry November 27, 2018 - 8:50 am

Thank you so much for the reply I really appreciate it!

Anne Berry November 27, 2018 - 8:53 am

Sorry, one more question – I would still like to incorporate Vitamin C and Azelaic Acid into my skincare regime. Where would you place those two products into the one listed above?

Gio December 9, 2018 - 11:31 am

Hi Anne, you can use vitamin C in the morning after cleansing and BHA. As for azelaic acid, wait a couple of months to see how your current routine is doing. You may not need azelaic acid at all!

Anne Berry December 11, 2018 - 3:40 am

Oh you can use Vitamin C and Salicylic at the same time? I was always told that Vitamin C is so unstable you don’t want to mix in any other acids with it.

girlenemaeee November 13, 2018 - 12:09 am

hi gio! your blog has such good and useful information. im 24, has a combination skin and suffers from acne breakouts right now. i have these small pimples but is all over my cheeks and jaw line area and some tiny bumpy texture in my face, and blackheads. i did not have this before that is why i am so self conscious now. and i find the ordinary products interesting with good reviews and id like to try. id like to ask you what is your recommended routine for this? should i also strat using anti aging products? thank you!

Gio November 23, 2018 - 1:12 pm

Girlenemaeee, for now I’d just start exfoliating with salicylic acid every day, either morning or night. That should keep the breakouts under control. Once the issue is dealt with, you can start adding other products to your skincare routine.

girlenemaeee December 5, 2018 - 12:45 am

Thank you so much for the suggestion, Gio! I have been using The Ordinary Niacinamide and Salicylic Acid for two weeks and I have seen a huge improvement in my skin. The small bumps aren’t there anymore! Couldn’t be any more happier to finally get rid of them. However I have these blemishes from the acne scars, but still couldn’t be more thankful the acne was solved.. I experimented on few of The Ordinary products for my skin care routine and have been using them for a week now. Here are they:
AM Cleanse w/ Mario Badescu Acne Cleanser – Salicylic Acid – Niacinamide + Zinc – Hyaluronic Acid – Sunscreen
PM Cleanse w/ MB Acne Cleanser – Retinol 0.2% – Salicylic Acid – Niacinamide + Zinc – Organic Cold-Pressed Rosehip Seed Oil
And I use AHA/BHA Peeling Solution twice a week in Alternation with the Retinol 0.2% which I only apply thrice a week

So far, these products are helping my skin. Have I used them enough or is it too much?
thank you for your future response. 🙂

Gio December 7, 2018 - 11:01 am

Girlenemaeee, so glad my suggestion helped you improve your skin. Thank you for letting me know. 🙂

Whether you’ve been using these products too much, it’s a question only your skin can answer. If at any point, your skin gets dry/irritated, cut back on retinol or exfoliation.

Or if your skin gets so good toy the point you think you don’t need something anymore, cut back on it gradually. Some products (for example, salicylic acid) can still help maintain the new status quo after they’ve fixed the problem. That’s why if you want to cut your skincare routine shorter, start using them less and less instead than going cold turkey all at once and see how your skin reacts.

girlenemaeee December 7, 2018 - 1:25 pm

thank you gio! yes thats right! since ive got my acne in control now im gonna go and follow the routine that you have here posted! the simpler the lesser chemicals in the face the better. thanks so much for the help. this is my holy grail! 😀

Aleks November 13, 2018 - 10:31 pm

Hi Gio
I literally just came across your blog and reading all your articles and comments under this one tells me that I’ve probably come to the right place.
I’ve had skin problems since I was 16 (caused by hormonal issues) and now I have several issues (I’m now 27):
– my skin is sensitive, usually feels dry, flaky and dull
– it’s prone to redness and itchiness. In the evenings it also feels like it’s hot and burning. I also have some broken capillaries on my cheeks
– I have blackheads on my nose and whiteheads all over, esp my chin, and recently forhead
– I also get bigger acne-like spots occasionally that don’t go away for weeks
– any kind of spot leaves marks and I am very prone to pigmentation

Based on what you said I’m thinking of getting salicylic acid for sure. I do use rosehip oil but often it feels too heavy like my skin can’t absorb it. Currently just using a moisturizer (Bioderma Sebium Hydra as it’s the only one that absorbs nicely), an enzyme complex from Nuori called Supreme Polishing Treatment (very gentle and my skin really liked it) and a serum from Antipodes (Apostle Brightening Serum). Is there anything else you’d recommend? I have reacted badly to a lot of products in the last but I’ve been using Ordinary for make up and it’s been the only brand that didn’t give me a reaction make up-wise
Your help would be hugely appreciated as I don’t know what else to try. I’ve had this for 10 years and it’s still not going away…

Gio November 23, 2018 - 10:56 am

Aleks, getting salicylic acid will definitely help with the blackheads. But in the case, you don’t need Nuori Polishing Treatment. That’s an exfoliant too and the last thing sensitive skin like yours needs is too much exfoliation.

There’s nothing in the Antipodes serum that can help with hyperpigmentation. A good alternative for you would be Azelaic Acid. It reduces dark spots and acne and is gentle enough for sensitive skin. Both Paula’s Choice and The Ordinary make products with it.

Hope this helps.

Aleks November 26, 2018 - 1:46 pm

Hi Gio

Thanks a lot, yes it does! I also started using Niacynamide + Zinc, do you recommend using both? Or just eg. Azelaic Acid as sport treatment and Niacynamide on the whole face?

Gio December 7, 2018 - 11:54 am

Aleks, niaciamide + zinc is a good product for oily skin but it can dry out other skin type. If you’re not experiencing any dryness, you can use that all over your face and azelaic acid as spot treatment.

luna November 15, 2018 - 10:41 pm

Hi Gio,

I have generally good sking but i have some minor headless spots that come and go very quickly and congested skin around my chin. and im always concern abot the dullnes of my skin
I have bought from the ordinary the following:
Buffet + copper peptides 1%
granactive retinoid 2% emulsion
100% L-ascorbic powder
7% glycolic acid toner
salicilyc acid

i also use de AHA/BHA lotion from glossier

can you recomend a rutine?

Gio November 23, 2018 - 11:53 am

Luna, morning:

1. cleanser
2. 100% Ascorbic Powder
3. Buffet + copper peptides 1%
4. Sunscreen


1. Cleanser
2. BHA alone on congested areas every day and glycolic acid on the rest of the face three times a week. Or glossier AHA/BHA lotion all over three times a week.
3. granactive retinoid 2% emulsion (on days you’re not exfoliating with AHA).
4. Moisturizer

Hope this helps

Ciara Buckley November 16, 2018 - 10:05 pm

I loved this article! So informative. I am suffering with acne now and my skin would be combination (getting oily around the t-zone during the day) and a bit sensitive. I am 24 so not sure about adding in vit A now as acne is my main concern first. I would love to add in some of these products but I am still a bit confused as I am using Benzoyl Peroxide at the moment. Can you help? My current routine is;
Gentle cleanser
Salycilic acid
Moisturiser with SPF
Gentle cleanser
Benzoyl peroxide (5%)

Gio November 23, 2018 - 12:32 pm

Ciara, I agree. If your main concern is acne, you can put retinoids off for a while. Your morning skincare routine is ok as it is.

In the evening, you can just niacinamide + zinc and benzoyl peroxide only on pimples (never on clear skin). Or you could substitute benzoyl peroxide for Azelaic Acid.

Lubu November 17, 2018 - 9:20 pm

Hi gio. Im a 21 year old with a combination skin sometimes it gets a little dry too and it’s also acne prone.
Hyperpigmentation leftovers from the pimples.
Dark circles and eyebags too. I’ve been using caffeine solution from the ordinary but it hasn’t helped with the dark circles much but the puffiness does reduce. Will it help by mixing it with vitamin c?
I’ve also been using niacinamide + zinc with hyaluronic acid.
AHA+BHA Peel once in a week.
Could you recommend some products from the ordinary which would improve my skincare routine and when to use it.

Gio November 23, 2018 - 12:28 pm

Lubu, you can use a similar skincare routine to the one outlined above:


Niacinamide + zinc
Azelaic Acid where you have dark spots


Salicylic acid
Retinoid serum (three times a week)
Rosehip oil

About dark circles, unless they’re caused by hyperpigmentation, no skincare product can help. 🙁

Hope this helps

Raya Banerjee November 21, 2018 - 8:38 pm

Hey that’s was amazing. It was a big help for me. I just have one question. Sometimes specially during winter I get dry patches and my skin feels a bit dry. What ordinary product should I use to tackle that?

Gio November 23, 2018 - 12:46 pm

Raya, glad to hear the post helped you. Go with The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5.

Janet November 24, 2018 - 4:05 pm

Hi I wanted to know if u had a acne + anti aging routine. I had bad acne in my mid 20s and now it comes and goes. It’s left my face with small scars I’m now 30 and looking to start a aging routine but I have no idea where to start. Thx

Gio December 9, 2018 - 11:33 am

Janet, yes, I’ve written about the best Anti-Aging routine for acne-prone skin here;

Desy November 25, 2018 - 1:55 pm

Hi Gio! Thanks for the article I really love it and really helpful. There are many question I’d asked to you so please be patient for me. I really need your opinion. I have an oily acne prone skin and currently have some cystic acnes. I’m 29 years old. This is my skincare routine:
AM :
Cosrx salicylic acid daily gentle cleanser
Nacific real floral toner calendula
Cosrx Galactomyces 95 tone balancing essence
Cosrx centella blemish cream
Cosrx aloe soothing suncream spf 50+/PA+++

Cosrx salicylic acid daily gentle cleanser
Nacific real floral toner calendula
Cosrx BHA power liquid ( alternated with cosrx aha7 power liquid )
Cosrx Galactomyces 95 tone balancing essence
Cosrx advanced snail 92 all in one cream
Kiehl’s breakout control targeted blemish spot treatment

I want to change my skincare routine as what you’ve suggested above like this:
Cosrx salicylic acid daily gentle cleanser ( I will replace it with neutrogena fresh foaming cleanser after clearing this)
TO salicylic acid 2% solution
Azelaic acid suspension 10%
Cosrx aloe soothing suncream spf 50+/PA+++

TO granactive retinoid 2% emusion
TO Niacinamide 10% + zinc1%
TO 100% organic cold pressed rosehip oil
Kiehl’s breakout control targeted blemish spot treatment
My questions are:
1. What do you think about that change? Are there any place for my old skincare routine that can be added to my new skincare routine?
2. Is azelaic acid for spot treatment or can be applied to entire face? If it’s for spot treatment which one is better between azelaic acid and kiehls spot treatment?
3. Is it save to apply retinoid when I have active cystic acne?
4. Which one is better between the moisturizer that I have ( cosrx snail 92 all in one cream) with the rosehip oil?
Sorry for make it too long because I’m so desperate with my acne. I hope you would answer all my question. Thank you

Gio December 9, 2018 - 4:19 pm

Desy, I hear ya. Acne is the worst and can really get your confidence down. To answer your questions:

1. I think your new skincare routine is way better than your old one for acne. However, don’t use all the new products at once. In the rare case that something shouldn’t agree with your skin (make you breakout/irritate it, etc), you won’t know what the culprit is! So introduce 1 new product, wait 2/3 weeks and then introduce something else. At the same time that you introduce something new, take away something old until you’re left with the second routine you’ve outlined above. Try that for a while. If you feel like your skin’s missing out, you can always add back one of the old products. But to start with, it’s best to keep things simple and see how skin reacts to a more minimalistic routine.

2. You can use azelaic acid all over the face, although you may notice that by using it regularly you won’t need the Kiel’s spot treatment at all.

3. It’s usually fine, but of course everyone skin’s different so there’s always a tiny chance you could be the exception. Start using it 3 times a week and see what happens.

4. I’d stick to Cosrx snail 92 all in one cream. I think creams are better for acne-prone skin than oils.

Jayden Mathews November 30, 2018 - 4:58 am

I have a renewed hope for clearing up my acne since finding your blog, so thank you so much!

Irecently bought all the products in the suggested regimen and have been following it for a few days. However, at night the rosehip oil seems to start pilling when massaging it in. Then my skin just feels like it has gunk sitting on top of it when I go to sleep. Is this normal? What else could I do? I also wanted to know if I could include hyaluronic acid anywhere in this regime? I’ve used it before and love the way it makes me skin feel.

Gio December 9, 2018 - 3:49 pm

Jayden, so glad to hear that! You can totality clear your acne. 🙂

I guess that’s the problem with any oil. If you have oily skin, even the most lightweight oil can still feel too heavy. One thing you can do is apply a smaller amount once the rest of your skincare routine has sunk in. If that doesn’t work, try an oil-based moisturiser.

You can use Hyaluronic Acid in the morning after azelaic acid and/or in the evening after niacinamide.

Cara December 4, 2018 - 6:09 pm

Hey Gio!
I’m a 20 year old girl and have oily skin with a lot of scaring and spots. I’m already using a cleanser, the effaclar duo acne spot treatment (both from la roche-posay) and the super spot remover from origins.
I now also want to use some products from The Ordinary
– Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% 30ml
– Retinol 0.5% in Squalane 30ml
– 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil 30ml
How should I incorporate these products into my skin care routine?
I was also looking into buying the Azelaic acid suspension and the salicylic acid, but after some research I think these are similar to the products I’m already using. Or would these two products from The Ordinary be better?
Thank you!

Gio December 7, 2018 - 12:08 pm

Cara, first of all, stop using the Origins stop treatment. It’s full of irritants! I do think your skin could use salicylic acid. It can help you keep your pores clear so you don’t need to use effaclar so often.

You can use salicylic acid followed by niaciamide in the morning and the spot treat with effaclar if needed. In the evening, use retinol 2 or 3 times a week. Rosehip oil should be the last step of your evening skincare routine.

When you say spots, do you mean zit or dark spots. If the latter, you could use azelaic acid on the dark spots only on non-retinol nights.

Do NOT use all these products at once. You should always incorporate ONE new product at a time in your routine. Pick one, use it for 2/3 weeks and if everything’s ok, add another one. I know it’s slow but if use everything at the same time and your skin doesn’t like something and you get spots/rash, you won’t know who the culprit is. Plus, your skin needs time to get used to actives like retinol. If you bombard it with too many products, you may dry it out or irritate it.

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