A definitive cheat sheet to The Ordinary’s skincare range

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The Ordinary, a brand from Deciem, is quickly becoming one of the biggest names in the beauty industry; their skincare products and foundations have quickly gained cult status and even been raved about by Kim Kardashian. If you want products that seriously deliver on results at budget-friendly prices (most products coming in at under £10), then look no further. Plus, all their product are free from parabens, mineral oil, sulphates and other nasties as well as being 100% cruelty-free.

The Ordinary’s focus on ingredients is at the heart of all their products, but that being said, their product names are notoriously hard to decipher – Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate Solution 20% in Vitamin F anyone? So if their products are sounding more like that Chemistry GCSE you never revised for (guilty), then here’s our handy cheat sheet to their incredible range.

The Ordinary is available to buy at Beauty BayCult BeautyFeelUniqueASOSLookFantasticand House of Fraser.

The Ordinary Retinoids – Best for anti ageing

Retinol sounds like a scary word, but it’s one of the latest must-have ingredients in skincare. Retinol is a form of Vitamin A, an ingredient which enhances collagen production and skin renewal. Retinol skincare is best for 30+ skin as it targets fine lines and wrinkles.

It’s very important that you don’t mix retinol with Salicylic acid, Benzoyl Peroxide, Glycolic acid or Lactic acid as these combinations can cause redness and irritation. When using retinol it’s important to build up a tolerance as using too high a concentration can cause irritation to the skin, and if using retinol in the morning it is recommended to use a facial SPF as retinol can increase sensitivity to UV radiation.

Retinol in Squalane 0.2%, 0.5% and 1%, £4.25

This retinol product comes in three different strengths, has a light serum-like consistency, and the addition of Squalane helps to moisturise skin without a greasy residue. Use this at night after cleansing and applying lighter serums, but before oils and heavier creams.

Granactive Retinoids (2% emulsion and 2% and 5% in squalene), from £8

The Granactive formula differs slightly as it’s more of a lotion texture, but it still comes in different concentrations. It contains a different type of retinoid which speeds up results. The 2% version has been mentioned by Kim Kardashian as a product she can’t live without in her skincare regime, And should be used in the same way as the other retinol products.

The Ordinary Vitamin C – Best for dull skin

Say hello to Vitamin C Suspension 30% in Silicone, our new offering to join the very big family of Vitamin C solutions from The Ordinary. This stable formula uses very lightweight silicones to offer a smooth skin feel and to avoid the short-lived gritty texture of stable Vitamin C suspension systems that some find undesirable. This formula is very strong and almost always causes a stinging sensation during initial periods of use, but can be diluted on each application with serums or creams to reduce this stinging while skin builds tolerance. ‎(30ml US/CA$6.80, £5.80). Oh.. and it goes without saying that the formula contains no water as water always causes Vitamin C to oxidize regardless of how a formulation is packaged or stored, resulting in an ongoing change in colour toward orange. Water, without exception, causes Vitamin C to degrade and changes its potential from an anti-oxidant to a pro-oxidant. Some brands add orange-coloured ingredients to their formulations to mask the appearance of Vitamin C oxidation. If you see any signs of orange (or, in short, if you see pure Ascorbic Acid and water together in a formula), run as fast and as far away as you can. ❤️🐒 UPDATE (Aug 3, 2017): Since this posting, a few posts have directly and indirectly criticized us by suggesting that Vitamin C is good, or even better, when it oxidizes, which is completely untrue. Our lab team has now published a comprehensive discussion on this topic which can be found by visiting dhaa.deciem.com ⚗️🐒 Brands should just make their formulations better instead of finding criticism that doesn't apply.

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We all know you can get Vitamin C from oranges – glass of Tropicana anyone? – but it’s quickly become one of the most talked-about skincare ingredients of the last year. Vitamin C strengthens skin to help fight UV rays and pollution which causes stress in skin making it to look dull. It also boosts collagen production which makes skin appear firmer.

Vitamin C Suspension 30% in Silicone, £5.75

Super light and water-free, this silky serum helps restore a bright and youthful complexion. It contains L-ascorbic acid which is the purest form of Vitamin C and is blended with silicones to make it smooth and silky. Use this at night with moisturiser for best results.

Vitamin C 23% + HA Spheres 2%, £4.90

Like the previous product this has amazing brightening and anti-ageing qualities but has the added benefit of Hyaluronic Acid (more on that later), which helps to rehydrate dry skin. Use daily in the morning or evening and allow it to fully absorb before applying other products.

Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12%, £8.90

Similar to other Vitamin C products, this offers skin-brightening benefits, anti-ageing and evens skin tone. Unlike the previous two products, it is far more ‘stable’ meaning it’s easier and more pleasant to use, but still delivers the same great results. Use morning and night before oils and creams.

Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate Solution 20% in Vitamin F, £15

First off, if you can say the name of this product, you’ve won at life. The vitamin-rich serum targets dullness, evens skin tone and combats signs of ageing. It’s blended with Vitamin F, a fatty acid that acts as a barrier, meaning you get the results of a higher concentrate but without any negative side effects. Use morning and night before oils and creams.

Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate 10%, £7.80

A highly effective derivative of Vitamin C, this product brightens skin and reduces signs of ageing while being kind to skin. It’s fairly similar to the two previous products, but comes in a user-friendly cream formula. Use daily in the morning and evening.

The Ordinary acids – Best for dull skin and uneven skin tone

Putting acid on your face might sounds like the last thing you should be doing, but it’s actually an incredibly important part of any good skincare regime. Acids help to get rid of dead skin, brighten the complexion and improve overall skin texture; think of them like a kind of exfoliant without the physical scrub.

Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution, £6.80

This toning solution gently exfoliates skin and boosts radiance and refines skin texture. It has Glycolic acid, ginseng and aloe vera, which exfoliates, brightens and soothes skin. It’s also been compared to the iconic Pixi Glow Tonic. Use at night after cleansing and before moisturising.

Salicylic Acid 2% Solution, £4.20

Salicylic acid is great for oily, congested or acne-prone skin, as it helps unclog pores and fight blemishes. Plus, the addition of witch hazel helps to reduce redness and improve skin over time. You can apply topically to spots for a quick fix or use a small amount all over the face daily to maintain clear skin.

Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%, £5.50

A super lightweight cream-gel which is great for all skin types, it’s perfect for addressing dullness, uneven skin tone and scarring. Azelaic acid is an antibacterial ingredient which gently exfoliates skin and helps prevent the build up that clogs pores, causing blemishes. Use in the morning and at night before serum.

Lactic Acid 5% + HA, £5.50

The Ordinary’s Lactic Acid comes in both 2% and 5% concentrations; both are combined with Hyaluronic Acid. The ingredients in this combine to promote cell regeneration which tackles uneven skin tone and texture, pigmentation and fine lines. Use at night after cleansing and toning.

AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution, £6.50

AHAs and BHAs are the latest buzzwords in skincare, so if your skin needs some serious exfoliation, this is the product for you. Both ingredients work to exfoliate the uppermost layers of skin and unclog pores leaving you with radiant skin. If you’re not used to using acids on your skin, you should build up to this as it is highly concentrated. Use as a mask for 10 minutes 1-2 times a week.

The Ordinary Antioxidants – Best for everyone

Apparently antioxidants are the most popular skincare ingredient ever, who knew? Antioxidants protect skin from free radicals (think pollution, the sun, cigarette smoke, smog and other chemicals), which can lead to premature ageing. They calm inflammation, increase circulation and reduce the appearance of scar tissue, just to name a few benefits.

Resveratrol 3% + Ferulic Acid 3%, £5.50

This contains two of the most powerful antioxidants around and prevents signs of ageing, as well as protecting skin from free radicals such as pollution, the sun, cigarette smoke, smog and more. Used in the morning or at night after serums, it can also be mixed with a Vitamin C serum for a more powerful antioxidant concoction.

EUK 134 0.1%, £6.95

Another powerful antioxidant, it essentially turns harmful free radicals on your skin into water and oxygen – pretty cool eh? It protects and enhances the complexion with a high concentration of ingredients. Use in the morning or at night after serums, and avoid using acids with this as they will counteract its effects.

The Ordinary oils and hydrators – Best for dry and dehydrated skin

After a few centuries of waiting, our 100% cold-pressed, 100% virgin, 100% unrefined African Marula Oil is back in stock 🙈 (before we say more, Hylamide HA Blur is also back in stock and we are honouring our interrupted sale until Tuesday. And our Covent Garden store in London is finally open). Back to Marula... Our Marula Oil comes from south west of Africa 🐅🐘🐆, a region encompassing Namibia and bordering South Africa, where simply the very best Marula Oil comes from (we were out of stock for so long due to unfavourable rain conditions in the region and we simply wanted the very best oil.) Marula Oil is a lightweight, aroma-neutral oil composed of oleic and linoleic acids but also of procyanidin, catechins and flavonoids. This oil acts as an antioxidant while hydrating and encouraging radiance. The Ordinary's collection of plant oils also includes 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil and 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Moroccan Argan Oil. Rose Hip Seed Oil is rich in linoleic (omega 6) and linolenic (omega 3) acids as well as pro-vitamin A, which enables it to target signs of photo-ageing and several other skin conditions. This oil's fatty acids impart a slight aroma which is an indication of purity and not rancidity as some may believe. Argan Oil contains a host of fatty acids, vitamins, phenols and carotenes to support healthy skin. The oil is superb for reducing skin flaking and adding sheen and strength to hair fibre. Its unrefined format preserves the sensitive components which impart an earthly aroma that some don't find pleasant. So how do you choose an oil best for you? If you have no major skin concerns and simply want a supporting oil in your regimen, Marula Oil is best. If you want an oil that targets signs of ageing, Rose Hip Seed Oil is best. If your skin or hair is super-dry, Argan Oil would be best. You can also mix a few drops of any or all of these oils into your favourite cream or oil-based treatment at the time of application. We haven't mentioned Squalane here but if you simply want a very lightweight, odour-free oil alternative, our 100% Plant-Derived Squalane which can be mixed with oils if desired, is a superb hydrator ❤️🐒

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Every good skincare regime needs some hydration. Keeping your skin well hydrated and moisturised is key when it comes to preventing the signs of ageing and keeping skin looking youthful and fresh. Whether you choose an oil or a cream, you’d be amazed at the difference well-hydrated skin makes to the anti-ageing process.

Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5, £6

Hyaluronic acid is a skincare hero for anyone with dehydrated skin – it attracts 1000 times its weight in water (no big deal!), meaning it’ll keep your skin very well hydrated. This serum contains three different types of Hyaluronic Acid, which hydrate skin on multiple levels. It also contains Vitamin B5 which enhances hydration further and reduces the appearance of fine lines. Use in the morning and at night before creams.

Marine Hyaluronics, £5.95

Similar to Hyaluronic Acid, this product helps with hydration but has an ultra-lightweight consistency. It also contains skin-friendly marine bacteria from Hawaiian red algae and blue-green algae, which provide additional hydrating benefits and amino acids. Use in the morning and at night before creams.

Natural Moisturising Factors + HA, £4.90

Perfect for very dry or irritated skin, this lightweight cream protects and hydrates skin’s outer layer with a naturally moisturising blend of amino acids, fatty acids and hyaluronic acid. Use morning and night after serums.

100% Plant-Derived Squalane, £5.50

Squalane is naturally found in plants and is suitable for all skin types. It moisturises and leaves skin hydrated and plump. It has a non-greasy lightweight formula and can even be used on hair to provide natural heat protection and added shine. Use morning and night after water-based products.

100% Organic Cold-Pressed Oil, from £7.25

The Ordinary have several different types of cold-pressed oil; Rose HipMoroccan Argan and Virgin Marula. The cold-pressed method doesn’t use heat which means the oil retains more of its goodness and is more effective.

Rose Hip oil targets signs of ageing and leaves skin radiant, whereas Moroccan Argan oil reduces flaking, supports the general health of skin and can also be used to add strength and shine to hair. Marula oil is rich in antioxidants and is a multitasking moisturising miracle, basically!

The Ordinary Molecules – Best for everyone

These are the products that don’t necessarily fit into the previous categories, so based on your skincare concerns you can mix and match these molecules to be perfectly tailored to your regime. From battling blemishes to tackling dark circles, The Ordinary has a molecule for pretty much everything.

Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%, £5

This little bottle is a saviour for oily skin. It targets breakouts, minimises pores, regulates sebum production (the stuff which makes your skin oily), and it’s super lightweight but highly effective. Niacinamide boosts skin’s immunity and helps to hydrate while Zinc helps heal damaged skin and encourages collagen production. Use morning and night before creams.

Buffet, £12.70

This serum is quite literally a buffet for your face, it has a range of ingredients which target multiple signs of ageing at once. It contains 11 amino acids, Hyaluronic Acid, Matrixyl 3000 and more to tackle fine lines, promote collagen production, repair skin and hydrate all in one bottle. Use morning and night after cleansing.

Matrixyl 10% + HA, £10

Using two forms of Matrixyl, which is one of the most powerful anti-ageing ingredients, this serum is super effective in targeting fine lines and wrinkles. It’s also combined with hyaluronic acid which hydrates skin and makes the product penetrate deeper into skin. Use morning and night before creams.

Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA, £7

Alpha Arbutin is a powerful but safe skin lightening ingredient that reduces the production of melanin (your skin’s pigment) so if pigmentation is your concern, this serum is for you. It targets dark spots, hyperpigmentation and scarring, while also preventing further damage. Use morning and night before cream.

Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG, £5.80

We all know a hit of caffeine does wonders for tiredness, but did you know it can also help tackle dark circles and puffiness? Genius. This lightweight serum blends caffeine with green tea extracts and delivers a hit of antioxidants and anti-inflammatories to the eye area. Use morning and night before creams.

Argireline Solution 10%, £5.50

Think of this product like a cheaper Botox, as it works to prevent muscle movement that causes wrinkles. It prevents wrinkle formation by stopping skin from folding, especially in areas such as the eyes, forehead and mouth. Use morning and night before creams.


The Ordinary’s range doesn’t just stop at skincare, no, their foundation has been praised by beauty bloggers and editors around the world and constantly sell out. With an impressive shade range of 21 colours in each formula with pink, yellow or neutral undertones, they’re suitable for practically every skin tone and type. And with such a purse-friendly price tag you can afford to have one in every colour.

Coverage Foundation, £5.90

Flawless and full-coverage, this foundation delivers an ultra-natural result without compromising on coverage. It’s lightweight liquid formula has a smooth, semi-matte finish that isn’t cakey and lasts all day. Plus, it has SPF 15 which protects your skin from the sun’s rays all day.

Serum Foundation, £5.70

Similar to the coverage foundation, this provides a semi-matte finish which lasts all day,won’t crease and has SPF15. It has a much lighter consistency and gives a much sheerer medium coverage; perfect if you want an ultra-natural finish.

High-Adherence Silicone Primer, £3.90

The perfect partner to their foundations, this primer smooths, mattifies, hydrates and blurs pores for an HD finish. It’s non-oily and lightweight, making it the ultimate base for flawless, long-lasting make-up. Did we mention it’s only £3.90?

High-Spreadability Fluid Primer, £5.50

This creates a hydrated and naturally dewy base for make-up. As the name suggests it blends and spreads across the skin with ease creating a smooth base for make-up. The formula helps prevent excess accumulation of pigment on the skin. Plus, it’s alcohol, water and oil-free.