The Ordinary (Is Extraordinary)

Does Ordinary skincare live up to its hype?


The Ordinary, one the the skincare labels under the DECIUM umbrella, certainly has the beauty world talking over how it's disrupting the skincare market with quality ingredients at super affordable prices. A good retinol for shy of $10? Vitamin C for $5.80? Cold pressed rosehip oil at a price that doesn't press your wallet hard? Is it too good to be true?

I've been testing out the Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% that helps with blemishes, the Advanced Retinoid 2% at night for anti-aging, and their Lactic Acid 5% + HA2% for the occasional once a week deep exfoliating. I've had these products for almost two months now, for the record, and here are my thoughts.

Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

I've been using this in the morning if I have any pesky spots, mostly the ones that stubbornly pop up around that time of the month on my chin. Compared to the more tingly, hardcore spot treatments like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid, this formula is downright gentle-feeling with no burning, no stinging, no tingling. Niacinamide is Vitamin B3 and works to treat blemishes and congestion while the zinc helps with sebum. What's interesting is on their site, they make a point to say despite that both help with things associated with acne, that this is not an acne treatment and they still recommend the other treatments I mentioned earlier. It's also important to note you should not use this and any Vitamin C at the same time, as they cancel each other's  effectiveness out.

So how did it work? It seemed to definitely help my spots clear up quicker, usually in a few days, and I find I like it better for treating my period spots than regular spot treatments. You can use it concurrent with those treatments, but I find this useful on its own and little better for my skin in the long-run. The formula on this feels like a watery serum. I use it in the AM.

Advanced Retinoid 2% 

First thing's first, this is a retinoid (solubilized hydroxypinacolone retinoate) not straight up retinol, and one that will apparently work more efficiently than retinol and with far less of the traditional irritation of using retinol. They do sell a Retinol 1% now, but because my skin can lead sensitive I opted for this one. And bloody hell, it works. I don't get the initial redness and dryness that I experienced when using retinol before and none of the burning. You still absolutely need to use sunscreen when using this, but I think people a little hesitant towards retinol will find this an affordable alternative to try. It's inexpensive and I found it immediately effective, helping with skin texture and general appearance. This formula is like a milky serum and used PM only.

Lactic Acid 5% + HA2%

This lactic acid is fairly hardcore, and it's only their 5% formula. They offer a 10% one. Funny enough, they actually seem to really stress against this for general use yet sell it anyway. I think the important point is this is not for daily use as it's pretty strong. Lactic acid is great for exfoliating as it tends to be gentler than glycolic, but I've found for me I can only really use this straight up once a week at night. You can dilute it down to alternate every other night, but I wouldn't recommend this as a daily part of your skincare routine. It is effective, and if you want it to really go at it gobbling up dead skin I would suggest putting it on clean skin and not follow with moisturizing. But my skin says, "uh uh, no way!" to that, and so I wait about 10 minutes and follow up with a night cream. This formula is a thin gel-like serum, every so slightly tacky at first but absorbs fairly quickly.

Bottom Line

Overall, I think this is an exciting new offering, though it does feel a bit scientific as they're sold by their main formulation ingredient names and it can feel a bit daunting to know what to get to make a routine. Luckily, The Ordinary has created a regimen guide to help. If you're looking for affordable and effective skincare options, it's worth giving this brand a try as it'll only set you back a few bucks.