Firstly, an apology; I am a little [read: a lot] late in bringing you news of The Ordinary, the revolutionary new skincare brand which features a line-up of twenty-five superpower serums and lotions, all affordably priced between £4 and £13. Launched by Deciem [the innovative Canadian brand behind a host of my favourite brands, including NIOD, Fountain, and Hylamide], The Ordinary is a wholehearted and earnest attempt to revolutionise the skincare market by championing transparency.
Like many newly launched beauty brands [inc. the likes of Glossier and Beauty Pie], The Ordinary is part of a backlash to the pseudo-scientific claims that have historically (and enduringly) made up beauty products’ marketing jargon, convincing consumers that it takes £200 and 20+ ingredients to save their skin. As a beauty journalist, I am well-versed in skipping the marketing bumf and jumping straight to the ingredients list to figure out exactly what a product will do, how it will do it, and whether it will be worth my time to use it - an approach I am continually urging my friends and family to adopt. After all, you want to know exactly what’s in the food you eat, so why not take the same approach when it comes to the products you apply to your face? Another common gripe I have with the beauty world is pricing. It’s not uncommon to see serums costing upwards of £100-200 - inevitably with an industry average markup of 50%. If it works, then by all means it’s well worth the investment – some of my favourite products sit in this margin. If not, then that’s £200 literally washed away down the drain.
The beauty of The Ordinary is that these products have minimal formulations [just 1-2 ingredients] and rely upon tried and tested active ingredients that have been proven to work [and therefore don’t need expensive researching]. Their packaging is basic [in the best sense of the word] and their marketing campaigns are virtually non-existent – like most savvy beauty brands, The Ordinary have ridden the Instagram wave. Combined, this means that production costs remain low, and therefore so can prices. If you fancy picking up your entire skincare routine for the price of that one luxury serum you’ve been eyeing up (and who wouldn’t), read on…
I was particularly excited about trying this one, namely because Alpha Arbutin is famously excellent at fading pigmentation - my primary skin concern in the wake of a nasty bout of hormonal acne two years ago. There are a number of powerful skin lightening ingredients that have found fame in skincare practice, but which are often banned or only allowed in reduced [ineffective] amounts, and this is a welcome alternative – high performing, but above all, safe. I apply this in the morning, layered on top of hyaluronic acid [see below].
Lactic acid is an AHA, and I love AHAs – essentially chemical exfoliants that gently but efficiently exfoliate at surface level to address texture issues and pigmentation. In terms of clogged pores, blackheads, and breakouts, AHAs don’t usually have much impact, but I’ve found this particular formula to be extremely effective. It also contains Tasmanian pepperberry [which reduces the irritation associated with acids] and hyaluronic acid [for an additional hydrating boost]. I tag-team it with the below as the ultimate antidote to fading blemish marks.
Any dermatologist or skincare expert will tell you that retinol is the trump card of skincare ingredients – a derivative of Vitamin A which stimulates collagen production and speeds up the process of cell renewal [whereby dead skin cells are exfoliated away and new ones take their place], resulting in smoother, brighter, clearer, and more even skin tone. Typically, not cheap – but The Ordinary have gotten around this with a formula that uses a retinol ester rather than straight up retinol. This simply means that our body has to convert the ester into retinol in order for it to work - which ever so slightly reduces its strength, but also means that it’s much kinder to skin. Win, win I’d say.
If there was one ingredient that deserves the much bandied accolade ‘miracle worker’, it is hyaluronic acid. It will benefit literally any skin type, won't aggravate sensitive skin, and will help you to get the most out of any other products you layer on top of it. Our skin naturally produces hyaluronic acid as one of the most effective means of maintaining healthy hydration levels [although production declines as we age]. Each molecule has the ability to attract and hold up to 1000 times its weight in moisture, meaning that it’s one of the most effective ways to counteract dehydrated skin. Apply it before your moisturiser and the hydrating benefits will effectively be 1000 times more impactful. It goes without saying that hydrated skin is healthy skin - skin that’s dehydrated [a more common ailment than most would imagine, even oily skin can be dehydrated] can’t function well - meaning it can’t heal scarring, fight free radicals, prevent blemishes etc etc. This is deliciously light and non-sticky [as many hyaluronic formulations can be]. I apply it in the evening, post cleanse, and pre-moisturisers/more complex serums.
If you want more info on the rest of the range and/or which products will be best for your skin type/concerns, check out this article I wrote for Beauty Bay EDITed.