The Ordinary Brand Spotlight

Spotlight on The Ordinary: The beauty brand proving premium skincare doesn’t have to cost a fortune

12th July 2020 | Author: Annie Hopson

Over the past few years, Toronto-based brand The Ordinary has been making waves in the beauty world because of its affordable, stripped-back skincare products that don’t compromise on quality or integrity.

Since its 2016 debut, the brand has racked up extremely impressive reviews and offers its products at cheap prices. It’s one of our absolute favourite beauty brands and, as a result, is the first in our series of Brand Spotlight articles.

Over the coming weeks and months, we’re going to be shining a light on brands that represent and align with what we stand for at mamabella – brands that offer affordable products at low prices; brands which champion inclusivity and diversity; clean, sustainable and ethical beauty brands, and brands that are challenging the beauty industry hierarchy.

FURTHER READING: The Ordinary Niacinamide review: How can something so cheap perform so well?

The Ordinary: a brief history

The Ordinary

The Ordinary’s parent company, Deciem, owns multiple “abnormal” beauty brands including Grow Gorgeous, Fountain, NIOD and more. Yet, it’s The Ordinary that has truly taken centre stage.

Created by the late computer-programmer-turned-beauty-entrepreneur Brandon Truaxe, who passed away in early 2019, Deciem and The Ordinary were born after Truaxe discovered a drastic cost difference between the ingredients found in beauty products and the final product.

Shocked by just how much of a mark-up was being added by big brands, Truaxe realised that if he created the chemicals himself in a lab, and sold them in their purest forms, he could remove the middleman and offer hugely competitive prices. Word quickly spread, and the brand blew up.

READ NEXT: The truth about the acids in your skincare

Why we love The Ordinary

The Ordinary’s ethos and products have proved that good skincare doesn’t need to break the bank. The brand takes a transparent and science-based approach, and is founded on the idea that skincare and makeup should be used and celebrated in its truest, most natural form. So much so, the products are named after their ingredients, rather than their results.

READ NEXT: The science of moisturiser

Following in The Ordinary’s footsteps, new ingredients-focused brands such as The Inkey List and Boots Ingredients have since emerged at similarly reasonable prices. By eliminating confusing or misleading advertising and marketing jargon, unrealistic claims and OTT packaging, The Ordinary has completely changed the face of skincare for the better.

The best The Ordinary products

If you’re yet to try The Ordinary products, or are looking for something new, we’ve handpicked five of the best The Ordinary products from across the company’s range. We’ve also explained who these The Ordinary products are best for and how they can be used most effectively.

Separately we’ve picked more of the best The Ordinary products for all your skincare concerns – from large pores to redness and wrinkles in our The Ordinary guide.

The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution

£6.30 | Buy now from Cult Beauty

Who’s it for? Anyone looking to smooth and brighten their skin

Why we love it: This weekly chemical exfoliator contains a cocktail of acids that target dullness, hyperpigmentation, textural irregularities and blemishes, leaving your skin feeling smoother and radiant. Don’t be alarmed by the blood-red tint, it’s actually due to the addition of skin-soothing Tasmanian pepperberry extract.

How to use it: Apply the formula evenly on the skin, avoiding the eye area, and leave for up to 10 minutes before rinsing thoroughly with lukewarm water.

Buy now from Cult Beauty

The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG

£5.80 | Buy now from Cult Beauty


Who’s it for? Anyone looking for how to get rid of dark circles and puffiness under eyes fast.

Why we love it: Just like we crave our morning coffee to wake us up, this serum contains a high concentration of caffeine to reduce under-eye puffiness and dark circles. You can read our review on Caffeine Solution. We recommend keeping this solution in the fridge, for an even more refreshing application to combat puffiness. You can learn more about this in our best eye cream guide.

How to use it: Massage a small amount onto your eye contour in the morning and evening.

WANT TO KNOW MORE? How caffeine benefits your skin

Buy now from Cult Beauty

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5

£5.90 | Buy now from Lookfantastic

Who’s it for? Anyone suffering from dry skin, although it’s a great hydrating serum for all skin types.

Why we love it: This serum, and its hyaluronic acid, is renowned for its ability to retain more than 1,000 times its weight in water within the cells of your skin. It penetrates into the skin’s deep layers, delivering long-lasting hydration, while the vitamin B5 leaves skin smooth, plump and youthful.

How to use it:  On clean skin, apply a few drops to the face in the morning and evening before using heavier oils and creams.

See our science of moisturiser article or our What is hyaluronic acid guide? for more info.

Buy now from Cult Beauty

The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution

£4.20 | Buy now from The Ordinary

Who’s it for? Best suited to those with acne-prone skin.

Why we love it: This blemish-fighting solution in this The Ordinary product helps to exfoliate the inside walls of pores by helping to clear the skin of any dirt that causes blemishes and acne-causing bacteria.

READ NEXT: What causes acne and how to get rid of it

How to use it: Using a cotton bud, apply a drop of the solution directly onto blemishes where the skin is not broken.

Please note: At the time of writing, stock for this solution is running low as The Ordinary is in the process of updating the formula. If this is sold out by the time you see this, we can also recommend the Salicylic Acid 2% Masque for offering the same benefits albeit at twice the price, coming in at £9.90.

Buy now from The Ordinary

The Ordinary “Buffet”

£12.70 | Buy now from Cult Beauty

Who’s it for? Suitable for all skin types, The Ordinary Buffet is especially for those aged mid-twenties and above.

Why we love it: On the higher end of The Ordinary price spectrum, the “Buffet” does a little bit of everything. From targeting signs of ageing to smoothing your complexion and hydrating and brightening the skin, what’s not to love? It may be slightly pricier, but it really is the full package.

How to use it: Apply to the entire face in the morning and evening after cleansing, and before applying heavier creams and oils.

Buy now from Cult Beauty

The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% in Squalane

£ 7.80 | Buy now from Deciem

Who’s it for? Suitable for all skin types, The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% in Squalane is especially for people who have fine lines.

Why we love it: Retinol, also known as Vitamin A, can help boost collagen and aid in cell turnover for your skin.

It can also smooth your skin, reduce sunspots, fine lines and even wrinkles and the results can be quick, depending on what percentage retinol you use. However, one of the biggest side effects of using retinol is that your skin can be sensitive and you may notice it will start to flake – not to mention it can be very irritating.

The Ordinary has therefore created a Granactive Retinoid designed to still give you the results as a regular retinol product would but without the irritation.

This is the next generation of retinoid (which is a different molecule to retinol) to help you achieve an even better reduction in the signs of ageing without irritation.

Boots is promising similar with its No7 Advanced Complex Night Concentrate, as has Avon with its breakthrough Protinol formula, found in the Avon Plumping Shots.

The Ordinary offers 2% and 5% of Granactive Retinoid and both of these will give no irritation which is fantastic for someone who wants to build tolerance for their skin.

How to use: After cleansing apply a small amount to the face in the evening, this is a water-based serum so use before moisturising.

Avoid: Do not use with other retinoid treatments and avoid unprotected sun exposure. Use SPF in the morning.

Buy now from Deciem

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