One common bit of feedback on my last skincare post was that many readers and friends are looking for skincare more on a drugstore budget. I hear that. I tend to stick with “natural” and “organic” products and those are generally expensive, though I have to shout out the Botanics Line (currently I can only find it online at Ulta or Target) for offering cheap, effective, organic skincare. In the spirit of trying to help my friends and readers find affordable, safe, and effective skincare, I decided to order and try some products from The Ordinary. The Ordinary is very hip in the skincare nerd world these days for offering lots of good, active ingredients in good, scientific formulations, at what seem like bonkers prices. The problem is, unless you’ve done a lot of skincare research, it can be hard to figure out what to buy, how to use it, what order to use products in, etc. Seriously, I think Deciem, the company that makes The Ordinary should be paying the skincare nerds at r/skincareaddiction for all the service they’re performing answering thread upon thread about how to use The Ordinary products, which products do what, and in what order.
Note: I ordered these products myself, and this is just my review as someone who bought and tried the products. This is my honest opinion, and this post is not sponsored.
As I mentioned in my skincare routine post, I focus on Vitamin C, Vitamin A (retinoids), and acid exfoliation (glycolic or lactic acid) in my routine. I was also interested in adding peptides to the mix. So I ordered The Ordinary’s Vitamin C suspension, Advanced Retinoid 2%, Lactic Acid 10%, and Buffet peptide serum. When I said the prices were bonkers, this is how bonkers: all of that was $37. I have spent that much on one skincare product. Out of the 4 products, 3 are things I would buy again, and one was a bust. I’d say that’s a darn good ratio for the price.
The Vitamin C Suspension was my bust. I ignored other reviewers who complained about its gritty texture and stinging sensation, but they were right. It’s gritty. It feels super weird to apply to your face, and it stings. And if that wasn’t annoying enough, pretty much everything I tried to layer over it, usually moisturizers, sunscreen, or The Ordinary’s The Buffet serum, caused it to pill up and peel off my face. Also, I got a few breakouts while trying this product. My face just did not like it. This is not something I would repurchase, and I will stick with my Mad Hippie Vitamin C serum. I know at around $30, the Mad Hippie seems expensive to many, but it has the same ingredients as the MUCH pricier, MUCH lauded Skinceuticals C E Ferulic serum, so I still feel like I’m getting a good deal. One of the other Vitamin C formulations The Ordinary offers may be worth trying in the future, but please promise me you won’t order the Suspension.
The Advanced Retinoid 2%, on the other hand, might replace my Mad Hippie Vitamin A serum. Good active ingredients, great price, and no problems layering with my other products. Plus, it’s under $10 vs. around $30 for the Mad Hippie Vitamin A serum.
One product a lot of skincare obsessives love is Sunday Riley’s Good Genes, which exfoliates with lactic acid. It’s also like $160. The Ordinary’s Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2% (hyaluronic acid, which helps your skin hold onto moisture) is under $7. This difference in price for what is essentially the same active ingredient seems astronomical. However, as Brandon Truaxe, the founder of Deciem explained on skincare goddess Caroline Hirons’ blog, “Very high purity Niacinamide [for example] costs under $10 per KG and so the cost of all materials in Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% is under $1 (£0.5). Most of the cost actually goes into compounding, testing (inbound and outbound) and retail costs/margins. We haven’t cut any margin % and The Ordinary is a sustainable model.”
I definitely liked the Lactic Acid 10%. Unlike the acid exfoliator I was using previously, Pixi’s Overnight Glow Serum (a glycolic acid, an AHA like lactic acid), my moisturizer doesn’t cause it to pill up or peel off. I feel it is very effective as an acid exfoliant, and in fact would use it less often than my Pixi serum, which I had been using every other night. This might be a once or twice a week product, which makes it an even better deal. The Pixi serum is $24 and I was using it every other night. I can get similar results using the less than $7 Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% once or twice a week. Also, if you are new to acids, definitely start with their Lactic Acid 5% instead of the 10%.
An ingredient I didn’t mention in my previous post was peptides. They aren’t as instantly skin-changing as retinoids or Vitamin C or acid exfoliants, but peptides have been shown to be skin-firming and collagen-production-inducing, so they are a good ingredient to incorporate into an anti-aging skincare routine. The Ordinary’s Buffet incorporates peptides, probiotics (helps renew the outer layer of skin), hyaluronic acids (for helping skin hold onto moisture), and more. You can see explanations of all the ingredients here. I find it to be a very light, easy to apply serum as long as I don’t use too much. Two drops is really enough for me. Any more than that and it tries to pill up when moisturizers or other serums are layered over the top. I plan to keep using it for preventative reasons, and even though it’s the Ordinary’s most expensive product, it’s only $15.
And that’s it for my review of the things I’ve tried from The Ordinary. The Advanced Retinoid, Lactic Acid 10%, and Buffet are my most likely repurchases. I’m also interested in trying their rosehip oil, which is very rich in antioxidants and is a component of my favorite Botanics Organic Facial Oil.