The Best (and Worst) Skincare Products from The Ordinary - The Skincare Edit

The Best (and Worst) Skincare Products from The Ordinary

What's worth buying from the brand everyone's talking about.
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The Ordinary skincare review

If you're into skincare, you've definitely heard of The Ordinary by now. 

The new Canadian brand has already revolutionized the industry by offering active ingredients in no-frills packaging at affordable prices. VERY affordable—most things are under $10!

No wonder my inbox has been blowing up with emails like these:

  • "I heard of a company that is getting a lot of hype, it's called the Abnormal Beauty Company or Deciem. Their serums and other products are sooo affordable that I bought three and an oil for like $40 CAD. I was wondering if you had tried their products out and what you thought of them?" — Kelly
  • "Can you please tell me which toxic ingredients in The Ordinary's products that you try to avoid?" — Maia
  • "Would love to see your opinion on these products. Hearing some great things and such great prices." — Conny

So I've put together a comprehensive review for you of the entire Ordinary line! 

Below, I'm sharing my thoughts based on my experience testing each product and my evaluation of the ingredients lists (for the ones I haven't managed to try just yet). 

About The Ordinary

The Ordinary skincare review

The Ordinary offers no-frills skincare at affordable prices.

But first, a little background, in case you're just discovering this line.

The Ordinary is the creation of Toronto-based skincare entrepreneur Brandon Truaxe. He founded its parent company, Deciem, in 2013, and runs several other beauty brands under the Deciem umbrella, including HylamideFountain, NIODChemistry Brand and Inhibitif.

Already, The Ordinary is the biggest seller, and it's not hard to see why. The idea is to offer clinical skincare at affordable, honest prices, clearly communicated to the consumer—something Brandon didn't see happening elsewhere in the beauty industry. Here's a great quote from the brand's About page:

"Commonplace technologies are referred to as groundbreaking and insensible pricing strategies confuse the audience, disguising commodity technologies as advanced." 

Having been a beauty editor for so many years, I know this is true! That's why The Ordinary is SO revolutionary. Its formulas are typically based around a single "hero" ingredient, and come housed in simple dropper bottles with plain white labels. 

Their products are divided into following categories:

  • Retinoids
  • Vitamin C
  • Direct Acids
  • Antioxidants
  • Hydrators and Oils
  • More Molecules
  • Suncare
  • Colours
  • Hair Care

Keep reading to find out what I'd buy and what I'd skip. I'll update this list as new products become available!

The Ordinary Retinoids:

The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% in Squalane

The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2 Percent in Squalane

The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% in Squalane.

The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% in Squalane treats signs of aging such as fine lines, pigmentation and rough texture. 

  • A moderate-strength alternative to retinol that produces no irritation (according to the brand).
  • Contains 0.2 percent of the active ingredient, hydroxypinacolone retinoate (HPR), which is a retinoic acid ester that is said to have a similar action on the skin as Retin-A. However, most of the data to date on HPR comes from the manufacturer, so take this with a grain of salt! 
  • The term "granactive retinoid" refers to the delivery system for HPR, which includes the solvent dimethyl isosorbide in a 10:1 ratio to the HPR.
  • Super-affordable compared to other retinoids on the market.
  • One of the only silicone-free retinoids available.
  • Very stable, with a shelf life of 12 months.
  • Because of the squalane base, it has a light oily texture just like squalane oil.
  • The HPR imparts a slight yellow tint, but it isn't visible on the skin.
  • I think this is an ideal treatment for the eye area, since it is unlikely to produce irritation. It's also a great option for skin sensitive to retinol.
  • It MAY help with mild acne, according to this study—however, those subjects were also treated with retinol and papain in addition to HPR. The brand also states that it is not a treatment for acne.

Where to buy: ASOSBeauty Bay • BeautylishCult BeautyEscentualHQhairHudson's Bay • LookfantasticMankind • Oxygen BoutiqueSkinStore • The Ordinary • Well.ca

Ingredients: Squalane, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Bisabolol, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate, Solanum Lycopersicum (Tomato) Fruit Extract, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil.

The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 5% in Squalane

The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 5 Percent in Squalane

The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 5% in Squalane.

The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 5% in Squalane treats signs of aging such as fine lines, pigmentation and rough texture. 

  • A higher-strength alternative to retinol that produces little to no irritation.
  • Contains 0.5 of the active ingredient, hydroxypinacolone retinoate. Health Canada allows a maximum of 1 percent, so it still isn't the strongest option on the market—that would be CyberDerm's Retin+Erase, which contains the full 1 percent HPR.
  • Super-affordable compared to most retinoids on the market.
  • One of the only silicone-free retinoids available.
  • Very stable, with a shelf life of 12 months.
  • Has a light oil texture just like squalane, with a slight yellow tint (which won't show up on the skin).
  • Again, this would be suitable for sensitive skin and the eye area.
  • It MAY help with mild acne, per this study, but the brand does not claim this as a benefit. 

Where to buy: ASOSBeauty Bay • Beauty Expert • BeautylishCult Beauty • EscentualHQhair • Hudson's BayLookfantasticMankind • SkinStore • The Ordinary • Well.ca

Ingredients: Squalane, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Bisabolol, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate, Solanum Lycopersicum (Tomato) Fruit Extract, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil.

The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion

The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2 Percent Emulsion

The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion.

The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion treats signs of aging such as fine lines, pigmentation and rough texture.

  • Formerly known as Advanced Retinoid 2%.
  • A unique formulation that contains two types of retinoids, and is said to produce little to no irritation.
  • Contains 0.2 percent hydroxypinacolone retinoate, just like the Granactive Retinoid 2% in Squalane.
  • Also contains retinol, but they don't disclose how much! All they say is that it is encapsulated and that it enhances the performance of the HPR. Since they're not specifically calling it out on the label, I'm guessing there's less than 1 percent retinol in here.
  • Very affordable, compared to most retinoids on the market.
  • One of the only silicone-free retinoids available.
  • Has a light weight texture, similar to a creamy serum.
  • Because it is water-based, it's not going to be as stable as the other retinoids in the line. However, they do still promise a 12-month shelf life.
  • My main concern is the high ethyl linoleate, an unsaturated ester of alcohol and linoleic acid that is prone to oxidation. For that reason, I think the other retinoids in the line are better options.

Where to buy: Adore Beauty • ASOS • Beauty Bay • Beauty Expert • Beautylish • Cult BeautyEscentual • HQhair • Hudson's Bay • LookfantasticMankind • Oxygen Boutique • SkinStore • The Ordinary • Well.ca

Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Glycerin, Ethyl Linoleate, Propanediol, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Cetearyl Isononanoate, Bisabolol, Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate, Retinol, Tasmannia Lanceolata Fruit/Leaf Extract, Inulin Lauryl Carbamate, Glyceryl Stearate, Ceteareth-12, Ceteareth-20, Cetearyl Alcohol, Carrageenan, Xanthan gum, Acacia Senegal Gum, Cetyl Palmitate, Sucrose Laurate, Polysorbate 20, Isoceteth-20, Behentrimonium Chloride, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Disodium EDTA, Dehydroacetic Acid, Benzoic Acid, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin.

The Ordinary Retinol 0.2% in Squalane

The Ordinary Retinol 0.2 Percent in Squalane

The Ordinary Retinol 0.2% in Squalane.

The Ordinary Retinol 0.2% in Squalane treats fine lines, photo damage and general skin aging.

  • A low-strength retinol that produces only moderate irritation (although I didn't experience any!).
  • Contains 0.2 percent pure retinol. Although it is associated with more irritation, it's a more proven ingredient than the HPR. I also think it's a bit safer, because it's not binding directly to the body's retinoid receptors (which could interfere with vitamin A uptake).
  • One of the lowest-priced retinols I've ever seen.
  • One of the only silicone-free retinoids available.
  • Very stable, with a shelf life of 12 months.
  • Has a lightweight oil texture (and unlike the granactive oils, it's clear).
  • This would be a good product to start with, if you are new to retinol.

Where to buy: Adore Beauty • ASOSBeauty Bay • BeautylishCult Beauty • The Ordinary

Ingredients: Squalane, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Retinol, Solanum Lycopersicum (Tomato) Fruit Extract, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, BHT.

The Ordinary Retinol 0.5% in Squalane

The Ordinary Retinol 0.5 Percent in Squalane

The Ordinary Retinol 0.5% in Squalane.

The Ordinary Retinol 0.5% in Squalane treats fine lines, photo damage and general skin aging.

  • A moderate-strength retinol said to produce high irritation (although I didn't find this at all).
  • Contains 0.5 percent pure retinol—again, a more proven and possibly safer ingredient than HPR.
  • One of the lowest-priced retinols I've ever seen.
  • One of the only silicone-free retinoids available.
  • Very stable, with a shelf life of 12 months.
  • Has a lightweight oil texture and is clear.
  • I would try to move up to at least this strength after starting with the 0.2% Retinol, since it will be more effective against photoaging.
  • If your skin is already used to retinols, you could start here and then work your way up to 1% if you can tolerate it.

Where to buy: Adore BeautyASOSBeauty Bay • BeautylishCult BeautyEscentual • The Ordinary

Ingredients: Squalane, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Retinol, Solanum Lycopersicum (Tomato) Fruit Extract, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, BHT.

The Ordinary Retinol 1% in Squalane

The Ordinary Retinol 1 Percent in Squalane

The Ordinary Retinol 1% in Squalane.

The Ordinary Retinol 1% in Squalane treats fine lines, photo damage and general skin aging.

  • A high-strength retinol said to produce very high irritation (although I only got increased dryness, which was manageable).
  • Contains 1 percent pure retinol, which has been shown in studies to improve sun damage and encourage collagen formation. Again, this is a more proven and possibly safer ingredient than HPR.
  • One of the lowest-priced retinols I've ever seen.
  • One of the only silicone-free retinoids available.
  • Very stable, with a shelf life of 12 months.
  • Has a lightweight oil texture and is clear.
  • I would start out with the 0.5% Retinol before using this strength.

Where to buy: Adore BeautyBeauty BayBeauty Expert • BeautylishCult Beauty • EscentualOxygen Boutique • The Ordinary

Ingredients: Squalane, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Retinol, Solanum Lycopersicum (Tomato) Fruit Extract, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, BHT.

The Ordinary Vitamin C:

The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 30% in Silicone

The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 30 Percent in Silicone

The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 30% in Silicone.

The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 30% in Silicone brightens the skin tone and reduces the appearance of signs of aging.

  • Contains 30 percent pure L-ascorbic acid, the highest concentration I've seen.
  • A fraction of the cost of most L-ascorbic acid serums.
  • Since it has a silicone base (no water), it is also more stable and oxidation-resistant than the typical water-based L-ascorbic acid serums like SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic.
  • However, the high silicone content does interfere with the vitamin C absorption—the brand admits this, and says the silicone-free Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2% is more "efficient" (effective).
  • The silicones will also feel heavier on the skin and may aggravate acne, which is why I'm avoiding this one. More reasons I avoid silicones here!

Where to buy: ASOS • Beauty BayBeauty Expert • BeautylishCult BeautyEscentual • HQhairHudson's Bay • LookfantasticMankind • SkinStore • The Ordinary

Ingredients: Dimethicone, Ascorbic Acid, Polysilicone-11, PEG-10 Dimethicone.

The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%

The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23 Percent HA Spheres 2 Percent

The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%.

The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2% brightens the skin tone and reduces the appearance of signs of aging.

  • Contains 23 percent pure L-ascorbic acid (higher than most formulas on the market), plus 2 percent hyaluronic acid.
  • Again, it's a fraction of the cost of most L-ascorbic acid serums.
  • Like the Vitamin C Suspension 30% in Silicone, it is water-free, which makes it stable and resistant to oxidation.
  • This formula is also silicone-free, which means you're getting complete exposure to the L-ascorbic acid (whereas silicone-based formulas entrap the active ingredient, reducing effectiveness).
  • Has a heavier texture and gritty feel.
  • My one concern is the isodecyl neopentanoate, which is said to be an alternative to cyclomethicone—a heavy silicone. I think this one can cause breakouts, so if you are acne-prone, you may want to steer clear.

Where to buy: ASOSBeauty Bay • Beauty Expert • BeautylishCult Beauty • EscentualHQhairHudson's Bay • LookfantasticMankindOxygen Boutique • SkinStore • The Ordinary • Well.ca

Ingredients: Ascorbic Acid, Squalane, Isodecyl Neopentanoate, Isononyl Isononanoate, Coconut Alkanes, Ethylene/Propylene/Styrene Copolymer, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Silica Dimethyl Silylate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Glucomannan, Coco-Caprylate/Caprate, Butylene/Ethylene/Styrene Copolymer, Acrylates/Ethylhexyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Trihydroxystearin, BHT.

The Ordinary 100% L-Ascorbic Acid Powder

The Ordinary 100 Percent L-Ascorbic Acid Powder

The Ordinary 100% L-Ascorbic Acid Powder.

The Ordinary 100% L-Ascorbic Acid Powder targets uneven skin tone, dullness and signs of aging.

  • A pure L-ascorbic acid powder designed to be mixed with other treatments and applied to the skin. 
  • A much cheaper alternative to the True Botanicals Vitamin C Booster.
  • Comes with a scoop—they recommend mixing one quarter to one half a scoop with five to 10 drops of serum, or a pea- to dime-sized amount of emulsion-based products.
  • Since it's not pre-mixed, the L-ascorbic acid remains fresh and stable.
  • This is a great option if, like me, you've struggled with vitamin C oxidizing before you could use it up!

Where to buy: Beauty Bay • Beautylish • The Ordinary • Well.ca

Ingredients: Ascorbic Acid.

The Ordinary Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12%

The Ordinary Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12 Percent

The Ordinary Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12%.

The Ordinary Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12% brightens the skin and targets signs of aging.

  • Contains 12 percent ascorbyl glucoside, a vitamin C derivative.
  • Ascorbyl glucoside is not as powerful as the gold standard, L-ascorbic acid. It's effective for evening out skin tone, but probably won't help much with collagen synthesis.
  • That said, it is highly stable—even in a lightweight, water-based solution (which this is).
  • This would suit any skin type, especially acne-prone skin. It's also fast-absorbing, so it's perfect for layering under other skincare products.

Where to buy: Adore Beauty • ASOS • Beauty Bay • Beauty Expert • Beautylish • Cult Beauty • EscentualHQhair • Hudson's Bay • Lookfantastic • Mankind • Oxygen BoutiqueSkinStore • The Ordinary • Well.ca

Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Ascorbyl Glucoside, Propanediol, Aminomethyl Propanol, Triethanolamine, Isoceteth-20, Xanthan gum, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Ethoxydiglycol, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol.

The Ordinary Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate Solution 20% in Vitamin F

The Ordinary Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate Solution 20 Percent in Vitamin F

The Ordinary Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate Solution 20% in Vitamin F.

The Ordinary Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate Solution 20% in Vitamin F brightens the skin tone and reduces the appearance of signs of aging.

  • Contains 20 percent ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate, a vitamin C derivative.
  • Like ascorbyl glucoside, ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate is not as powerful as L-ascorbic acid. I would expect it to help with skin tone, but not collagen synthesis.
  • It is highly stable and oil-soluble (this product has an oily texture).
  • The "vitamin F" in this product is the ethyl linoleate, which has a very unsaturated fatty acid profile—up to 82 percent polyunsaturated (source). 
  • For that reason, I would avoid this formula and choose a vitamin C that doesn't contain unstable fatty acids, such as the Ascorbyl Glucoside 12% Solution or the Ethylated Ascorbic Acid 15% Solution.

Where to buy: Beauty BayBeauty Expert • BeautylishCult Beauty • EscentualHQhairHudson's Bay • LookfantasticMankindOxygen Boutique • SkinStore • The Ordinary • Well.ca

Ingredients: Coconut Alkanes, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Ethyl Linoleate, Coco-Caprylate/Caprate, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Solanum Lycopersicum (Tomato) Fruit Extract, Squalane.

The Ordinary Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate 10%

The Ordinary Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate 10 Percent

The Ordinary Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate 10%.

The Ordinary Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate 10% brightens the skin tone and reduces the appearance of signs of aging. 

  • Contains 10 percent magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (MAP), a vitamin C derivative.
  • MAP is more stable but less potent than L-ascorbic acid. However, MAP is specifically beneficial for brightening, more so than other vitamin C derivatives.
  • Has a light cream texture, but does contain silicones and sacha inchi oil, an unstable polyunsaturated oil (source). Also contains isodecyl neopentanoate, which may trigger acne.
  • For those reasons, I'd stick with the 100% L-Ascorbic Acid PowderAscorbyl Glucoside 12% Solution or Ethylated Ascorbic Acid 15% Solution instead.

Where to buy: ASOSBeauty Bay • Beauty Expert • BeautylishCult Beauty • EscentualHQhairHudson's Bay • LookfantasticMankind • SkinStore • The Ordinary • Well.ca

Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Coco Caprylate/caprate, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Isodecyl Neopentanoate, Plukenetia Volubilis Seed Oil, Coconut Alkanes, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Polyglyceryl-3 Diisostearate, Polyglycerol-3 Polyricinoleate, Glycerin, Hexamethyldisiloxane, Terminalia Ferdinandiana Fruit Extract, Tocopherol, Sodium Chloride, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin.

The Ordinary Ascorbic Acid 8% + Alpha Arbutin 2%

The Ordinary Ascorbic Acid 8 Percent Alpha Arbutin 2 Percent

The Ordinary Ascorbic Acid 8% + Alpha Arbutin 2%.

The Ordinary Ascorbic Acid 8% + Alpha Arbutin 2% brightens and evens out skin tone, and reduces the look of dark spots and signs of aging.

  • A unique combination of two powerful brightening ingredients: 8 percent L-ascorbic acid and 2 percent alpha arbutin.
  • Alpha arbutin is a derivative of hydroquinone and inhibits melanin production. 
  • A stable, water-free and oil-free formula, although it will have an oily feel due to the propanediol base and may trigger breakouts. 
  • I think this is a safer, less irritating alternative to hydroquinone, and it is a simpler formula than the Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA. However, there are still questions about the long-term safety of alpha arbutin.
  • For brightening, I'd probably stick to other forms of vitamin C or the Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%This study found that niacinamide gave the same results as hydroquinone, without the side effects.

Where to buy: Beauty Bay • BeautylishCult Beauty • Escentual • HQhairHudson's Bay • Lookfantastic • MankindSkinStore • The Ordinary • Well.ca

Ingredients: Propanediol, Ascorbic Acid, Alpha-Arbutin.

The Ordinary Ethylated Ascorbic Acid 15% Solution

The Ordinary Ethylated Ascorbic Acid 15 Percent Solution

The Ordinary Ethylated Ascorbic Acid 15% Solution.

The Ordinary Ethylated Ascorbic Acid 15% Solution brightens the skin tone.

  • Contains 15 percent ethyl ascorbic acid, a vitamin C derivative.
  • This study found that as little as 2 percent brightened skin and improved radiance after one month of twice-daily application.
  • More stable than L-ascorbic acid, especially in this water-free, propanediol-based formula.
  • The oily texture may aggravate acne-prone skin.
  • Otherwise, I think this is a great option for anyone seeking more "glow."

Where to buy: Beauty Bay • BeautylishCult Beauty • HQhairLookfantasticMankind • SkinStore • The Ordinary • Well.ca

Ingredients: Propanediol, Ethyl Ascorbic Acid.

The Ordinary Direct Acids:

The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution

The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7 Percent Toning Solution

The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution.

The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution exfoliates the skin, improving radiance, clarity and texture. 

  • Contains 7 percent glycolic acid along with amino acids, aloe vera, ginseng and Tasmanian pepperberry to help reduce irritation.
  • As far as glycolic acid goes, this is a good formula—but I tend not to recommend glycolic in general as it makes skin more susceptible to sun damage and can be irritating, inflammatory and sensitizing.
  • The brand actually cautions against acids for these reasons (even though they sell them!), suggesting that "indirect" exfoliation with NIOD Non-Acid Acid Precursor 15% is safer. 
  • Personally, I feel that BHAs/salicylic acid are a better choice than AHAs, as they are anti-inflammatory and have some photoprotective properties—more about this here

Where to buy: Beauty Bay • BeautylishCult BeautyEscentual • Hudson's BaySkinStore • The Ordinary

Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Glycolic Acid, Rosa damascena flower water, Centaurea cyanus flower water, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Water, Propanediol, Glycerin, Triethanolamine, Aminomethyl Propanol, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Tasmannia Lanceolata Fruit/Leaf Extract, Aspartic Acid, Alanine, Glycine, Serine, Valine, Isoleucine, Proline, Threonine, Histidine, Phenylalanine, Glutamic Acid, Arginine, PCA, Sodium PCA, Sodium Lactate, Fructose, Glucose, Sucrose, Urea, Hexyl Nicotinate, Dextrin, Citric Acid, Polysorbate 20, Gellan Gum, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Sodium Chloride, Hexylene Glycol, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol.

The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution

The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2 Percent Solution

The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution.

The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution exfoliates the skin and inside the walls of pores to fight acne and improve clarity.

  • An inexpensive alternative to the pricey Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid (which also contains 2 percent salicylic acid).
  • Ideal for treating and preventing acne, blackheads and congestion.
  • Can be applied as a spot treatment or all over the face. I've had great success using BHAs twice a day all over—more about this here
  • I'm not sure why the brand suggests that retinoic acid and benzoyl peroxide will be more effective for acne... I've not found that to be true at all, and salicylic acid is also a much safer ingredient. 
  • Can also be used as a general exfoliant, brightener and anti-aging treatment. More here about salicylic acid's many benefits. 
  • My only concern is the high concentration of witch hazel (the second ingredient), which can be irritating for some people. I'm not able to use this formula because of it—I get a flaky red rash! So don't rule out salicylic acid if you experience the same thing. I've had much greater success with COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid, reviewed here.
  • That said, I know many people do tolerate this product just fine. The best way to proceed is to do a patch test first, before you make it a regular part of your routine.

Where to buy: Adore Beauty • ASOS • Beauty Bay • Beauty Expert • Beautylish • Cult Beauty • EscentualHQhair • Hudson's BayLookfantasticMankind • Oxygen BoutiqueSkinStore • The Ordinary

Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Hamamelis Virginiana Leaf Water, Cocamidopropyl Dimethylamine, Salicylic Acid, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Citric Acid, Polysorbate 20, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Ethoxydiglycol, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, 1,2-hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol.

The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%

The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10 Percent

The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%.

The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% brightens the skin and evens out tone while reducing the look of blemishes.

  • Contains 10 percent azelaic acid, a dicarboxylic acid that is naturally produced by yeast that live on our skin.
  • Helps acne in numerous ways. It kills bacteria, decreases redness and swelling, loosens dead skin cells and reduces production of keratin protein (both skin cells and keratin can clog pores). It can also help get rid of post-acne marks faster.
  • If you don't have acne, you could use this for its antioxidant properties and to fade pigmentation.
  • Has a lightweight cream-gel texture.
  • My main concern is the high silicone content, which might negate some of the benefits. If you know your skin doesn't do well with silicone, you probably want to avoid this. Otherwise, it may be worth a shot!
  • Note that this product is not sold in Canada, where azelaic acid is available by prescription only.

Where to buy: ASOSBeauty BayBeauty ExpertCult BeautyEscentualHQhairLookfantasticMankindOxygen BoutiqueSkinStoreThe Ordinary

Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Isodecyl Neopentanoate, Dimethicone, Azelaic Acid, Dimethicone/Bis-Isobutyl PPG-20 Crosspolymer, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Polysilicone-11, Isohexadecane, Tocopherol, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Isoceteth-20, Polysorbate 60, Triethanolamine, Ethoxydiglycol, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin.

The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA

The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5 Percent HA

The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA.

The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA exfoliates the skin.

  • Their mildest acid exfoliator.
  • Contains 5 percent lactic acid plus Tasmanian pepperberry to reduce irritation.
  • If you want to use AHAs, I generally recommend lactic instead of glycolic acid, since it's gentler and hydrating. However, AHAs are more irritating than BHAs, and make skin sun-sensitive.
  • I would start with this formula before moving up to the Lactic Acid 10% + HA.

Where to buy: Adore Beauty • ASOS • Beauty Bay • BeautylishCult Beauty • EscentualHQhairHQhair • Hudson's Bay • LookfantasticMankindSkinStore • The Ordinary • Well.ca 

Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Lactic Acid, Glycerin, Pentylene Glycol, Propanediol, Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer, Tasmannia Lanceolata Fruit/Leaf Extract, Acacia Senegal Gum, Xanthan Gum, Isoceteth-20, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Sodium Hydroxide, Ethylhexylglycerin, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol.

The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA

The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10 Percent HA

The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA.

The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA exfoliates the skin.

  • A high-strength 10 percent lactic acid exfoliator with calming Tasmanian pepperberry.
  • I think this is a better choice than glycolic acid, but again, like all AHAs, it will make your skin more sensitive to the sun and could be irritating.
  • If you're new to acids, use the Lactic Acid 5% + HA before moving up to this strength.

Where to buy: Adore Beauty • ASOS • Beauty Bay • Beauty Expert • Beautylish • Cult Beauty • EscentualHQhair • Hudson's Bay • Lookfantastic • Oxygen BoutiqueSkinStoreThe Ordinary • Well.ca

Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Lactic Acid, Glycerin, Pentylene Glycol, Propanediol, Sodium Hydroxide, Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer, Tasmannia Lanceolata Fruit/Leaf Extract, Acacia Senegal Gum, Xanthan Gum, Isoceteth-20, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Ethylhexylglycerin, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol.

The Ordinary Mandelic Acid 10% + HA

The Ordinary Mandelic Acid 10 Percent HA

The Ordinary Mandelic Acid 10% + HA.

The Ordinary Mandelic Acid 10% + HA exfoliates the skin.

  • One of the few mandelic acid formulas on the market. (Unlike lactic and glycolic, mandelic is not a naturally occurring acid and must be artificially created in a lab from bitter almonds.)
  • Mandelic acid is the gentlest alpha-hydroxy acid, due to its large molecule size. 
  • May be suitable for sensitive skin that can't tolerate even low-dose lactic acid. However, being an AHA, it will still increase photosensitivity.
  • I'm also not entirely convinced of its safety—Dr. Loren Pickart, whose opinion I trust, considers it a neurotoxin. (See this study, for example.)
  • Until we know more, I think the Lactic 5% + HA is a safer alternative.

Where to buy: Beauty Bay • BeautylishCult BeautyEscentualSkinStore • The Ordinary • Well.ca

Ingredients: Propanediol, Aqua (Water), Mandelic Acid, Glycerin, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer, Tasmannia Lanceolata Fruit/Leaf Extract, Pentylene Glycol, Polysorbate 20, Sodium Hydroxide, Ethylhexylglycerin, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol.

The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution

The Ordinary AHA 30 Percent BHA 2 Percent Peeling Solution

The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution.

The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution is a 10-minute exfoliating peel to brighten, even out skin tone, clear congestion and fight acne.

  • Contains 30 percent alpha-hydroxy acids (glycolic, lactic, tartaric and citric acids) and 2 percent beta-hydroxy acids (salicylic acid).
  • Also includes hyaluronic acid, vitamin B5 and Tasmanian pepperberry to calm the skin, plus black carrot, which acts as an antioxidant.
  • Should only be used twice a week, at night.
  • It's not a bad treatment, but I would argue that you'd get better results from daily use of mild acid, especially a mild BHA. More about this here!
  • Note that this product is not sold in Canada.

Where to buy: ASOSBeauty Bay • Beauty ExpertCult Beauty • EscentualOxygen Boutique • SkinStore • The Ordinary

Ingredients: Glycolic Acid, Aqua (Water), Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Water, Sodium Hydroxide, Daucus Carota Sativa Extract, Propanediol, Cocamidopropyl Dimethylamine, Salicylic Acid, Potassium Citrate, Lactic Acid, Tartaric Acid, Citric Acid, Panthenol, Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer, Tasmannia Lanceolata Fruit/Leaf Extract, Glycerin, Pentylene Glycol, Xanthan gum, Polysorbate 20, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Ethylhexylglycerin, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol.

The Ordinary Antioxidants:

The Ordinary Resveratrol 3% + Ferulic Acid 3%

The Ordinary Resveratrol 3 Percent Ferulic Acid 3 Percent

The Ordinary Resveratrol 3% + Ferulic Acid 3%.

The Ordinary Resveratrol 3% + Ferulic Acid 3% protects from free radical damage.

  • Contains 3 percent each of resveratrol, a phenol derived from Japanese knotweed, and ferulic acid, a phytochemical.
  • Stronger than most formulas with these active ingredients, which typically have less than 0.5 to 1 percent.
  • A simple propanediol-based formula (although it has an oily texture that may not work for acne-prone skin).
  • I would avoid this one since resveratrol has been shown to have estrogenic actions (source).

Where to buy: ASOS • Beauty Bay • Beauty Expert • BeautylishCult Beauty • EscentualHQhairHudson's Bay • Lookfantastic • MankindOxygen Boutique • SkinStore • The Ordinary

Ingredients: Propanediol, Resveratrol, Ferulic Acid.

The Ordinary EUK 134 0.1%

The Ordinary EUK 134 0.1 Percent

The Ordinary EUK 134 0.1%.

The Ordinary EUK 134 0.1% protects against free radical damage and reduces redness.

  • Contains 0.1 percent EUK-134 (ethylbisiminomethylguaiacol manganese chloride), a synthetic molecule with potent antioxidant activity.
  • EUK-134 helps prevent and repair UVB damage, and is said to be one of the strongest antioxidants available (see study here).
  • Likely the only product offering it in such a high concentration.
  • A stable, water-free formula, although the oily propanediol may be problematic for acne.
  • Must not be used near acids or vitamin C in your routine.
  • A great alternative to vitamin C-based antioxidant serums.

Where to buy: ASOS • Beauty BayBeauty Expert • BeautylishCult Beauty • EscentualHudson's Bay • Oxygen BoutiqueSkinStore • The Ordinary

Ingredients: Propanediol, Ethylbisiminomethylguaiacol manganese chloride.

The Ordinary Alpha Lipoic Acid 5%

The Ordinary Alpha Lipoic Acid 5 Percent

The Ordinary Alpha Lipoic Acid 5%.

The Ordinary Alpha Lipoic Acid 5% fights free radicals and improves skin texture and tone.

  • Contains 5 percent alpha lipoic acid (ALA), an enzyme with strong antioxidant activity.
  • ALA inhibits the cross-linking that contributes to wrinkles, and is said to deliver a glow after just one application. However, keep in mind that much of the research was done and popularized by Dr. Nicholas Perricone, who has a conflict of interest because he uses ALA in his own products
  • A stable, water-free and oil-free preparation, but has an oily feel due to the propanediol. 
  • Because of the high concentration of ALA, sensitive skin will probably find this too harsh.
  • Meant to be applied only two or three times a week, at night, so could be a good alternative to daily vitamin C.

Where to buy: Adore Beauty • ASOS • Beauty Bay • Beauty Expert • Beautylish • Cult Beauty • EscentualHQhairHudson's Bay • Lookfantastic Mankind • Oxygen BoutiqueSkinStore • The Ordinary

Ingredients: Propanediol, Thioctic Acid.

The Ordinary Hydrators and Oils:

The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Borage Seed Oil

The Ordinary 100 Percent Organic Cold-Pressed Borage Seed Oil

The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Borage Seed Oil.

The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Borage Seed Oil hydrates and calms the skin.

  • A soothing, nourishing oil derived from the seeds of the borage (starflower) plant.
  • Its fatty acid profile is about 35 to 38 percent polyunsaturated, which I would consider too high (I try to avoid oils that are higher than about 15 percent). 
  • I think the 100% Plant-Derived Squalane and the 100% Cold-Pressed Virgin Marula Oil are better choices, as they're more stable and resistant to oxidation.

Where to buy: Beauty Bay • BeautylishSkinStore • The Ordinary • Well.ca

Ingredients: Borago Officinalis Seed Oil.

The Ordinary 100% Organic Virgin Sea-Buckthorn Fruit Oil

The Ordinary 100 Percent Organic Virgin Sea-Buckthorn Fruit Oil

The Ordinary 100% Organic Virgin Sea-Buckthorn Fruit Oil.

The Ordinary 100% Organic Virgin Sea-Buckthorn Fruit Oil hydrates the skin and helps maintain normal barrier function.

  • A nourishing oil derived from the pulp of the berries on the sea buckthorn shrub.
  • Because it is high in carotenoids and lycopene, it has an orangey-red colour that will be visible on the skin until it is washed off.
  • It is a primarily monounsaturated oil, and naturally high in antioxidants such as vitamin E, carotenoids and lycopene, which theoretically could help fight free radical damage.
  • However, it also contains about 15 to 26 percent polyunsaturated fatty acids (source), which have a much longer half-life than the antioxidants.
  • While it's a better choice than sea buckthorn oils that are derived from the berry seeds (they are very polyunsaturated), the 100% Plant-Derived Squalane and the 100% Cold-Pressed Virgin Marula Oil are going to be more stable and protective.

Where to buy: Beauty Bay • BeautylishCult BeautySkinStore • The Ordinary • Well.ca

Ingredients: Hippophae Rhamnoides Fruit Oil.

The Ordinary 100% Organic Virgin Chia Seed Oil

The Ordinary 100 Percent Organic Virgin Chia Seed Oil

The Ordinary 100% Organic Virgin Chia Seed Oil.

The Ordinary 100% Organic Virgin Chia Seed Oil hydrates and calms the skin.

  • A soothing, nourishing oil derived from the seeds of the chia plant (a member of the mint family).
  • It is a highly unsaturated oil, about 73 percent polyunsaturated—meaning it will oxidize and go rancid fast (if it isn't already at time of purchase).
  • That makes it more suitable as a hair oil, where the oxidation doesn't matter.
  • For skin, I would definitely avoid this one and go for the more stable 100% Plant-Derived Squalane or 100% Cold-Pressed Virgin Marula Oil instead.

Where to buy: ASOS • Beauty Bay • Cult BeautyLookfantastic • SkinStore • The Ordinary • Well.ca

Ingredients: Salvia Hispanica Seed Oil.

The Ordinary Amino Acids + B5

The Ordinary Amino Acids B5

The Ordinary Amino Acids + B5.

The Ordinary Amino Acids + B5 hydrates the skin.

  • A water-based serum with amino acids and panthenol.
  • Similar to Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA, it replicates the natural amino acids in our skin that keep us hydrated.
  • Amino acids may also help with anti-aging.
  • Lightweight, oil-free and silicone-free—so should be ideal for layering under creams or oils, or to wear alone if you don't need much hydration.

Where to buy: The Ordinary

Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Propanediol, Betaine, Sodium PCA, Panthenol, Sodium Lactate, Arginine, PCA, Aspartic Acid, Glycine, Alanine, Serine, Threonine, Valine, Proline, Isoleucine, Lysine HCl, Histidine, Phenylalanine, Glutamic Acid, Citric Acid, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Polysorbate 20, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol.

The Ordinary "B" Oil

The Ordinary B Oil

The Ordinary "B" Oil.

The Ordinary "B" Oil hydrates and calms the skin.

  • Contains a blend of squalane, marula, argan, baobab, pataua, brazil nut, inca inchi, rosehip and borage oils.
  • Also includes an algae (isochrysis galbana extract) that stimulates melanin production for darker skin pigmentation and accelerates tanning time from UV rays (source)—although strangely, they only claim that it will give you "radiance." 
  • Although the squalane may have a slight stabilizing effect, I would avoid this based on the high polyunsaturated content of the argan, baobab, brazil nut, inca inchi, rosehip and borage oils, which will cause them to oxidize quickly.

Where to buy: Beauty Bay • The Ordinary

Ingredients: Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Squalane, Crambe Abyssinica Seed Oil, Bisabolol, Simmondsia Chinensis Seed Oil, Ethylhexyl Stearate, Isochrysis Galbana Extract, Adansonia Digitata Seed Oil, Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil, Borago Officinalis Seed Oil, Rosa Canina Seed Oil, Sclerocarya Birrea Seed Oil, Oenocarpus Bataua Fruit Oil, Plukenetia Volubilis Seed Oil, Bertholletia Excelsa Seed Oil, Solanum Lycopersicum (Tomato) Fruit Extract, Hydroxymethoxyphenyl Decanone, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Tocopherol.

The Ordinary Hylauronic Acid 2% + B5

The Ordinary Hylauronic Acid 2 Percent B5

The Ordinary Hylauronic Acid 2% + B5.

The Ordinary Hylauronic Acid 2% + B5 hydrates and plumps the skin.

  • The most affordable hyaluronic acid serum I've seen.
  • Their answer to SkinCeuticals Hydrating B5 Gel.
  • Unlike many hyaluronic acid products, which sit on the surface and actually draw moisture OUT of the skin (more about that here), this one is formulated to penetrate and improve hydration levels.
  • My main concern is that it contains low-molecular weight hyaluronic acid, which is associated with inflammation and scarring.
  • For that reason, this isn't a product I would personally use, but since it contains high- and medium- weight hyaluronic acid as well, you're at least getting a variety of molecule sizes. (I'd still recommend Consonant HydrExtreme instead, since it outperforms hyaluronic acid and is made with just two natural ingredients. See my review here.)

Where to buy: Adore Beauty • ASOS • Beauty Bay • Beautylish • Cult Beauty • Escentual • HQhair • Hudson's Bay • LookfantasticMankind • Oxygen BoutiqueSkinStore • The Ordinary • Well.ca

Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Sodium Hyaluronate, Pentylene Glycol, Propanediol, Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer, Panthenol, Ahnfeltia Concinna Extract, Glycerin, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Citric Acid, Isoceteth-20, Ethoxydiglycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Hexylene Glycol, 1,2-Hexanediol, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol.

The Ordinary Marine Hyaluronics

The Ordinary Marine Hyaluronics

The Ordinary Marine Hyaluronics.

The Ordinary Marine Hyaluronics hydrates the skin.

  • An alternative to hyaluronic acid-based hydrating serums.
  • Contains algae, polysaccharides and proteins derived from marine bacteria.
  • Has a super-light texture—it's less sticky and sinks in faster than Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5.
  • Silicone-free and oil-free.
  • The only downside is an unpleasant scent... kind of like fermented fish or something! Fortunately, I've found it goes away if you layer something else, like a. sunscreen, on top.

Where to buy: Beauty BayBeautylishCult BeautyEscentualHQhairHudson's BayLookfantasticMankindSkinStoreThe OrdinaryWell.ca

Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Glycerin, Algae Extract, Pseudoalteromonas Exopolysaccharides, Pseudoalteromonas Ferment Extract, Ahnfeltia Concinna Extract, Arginine, Glycine, Alanine, Serine, Valine, Isoleucine, Proline, Threonine, Histidine, Phenylalanine, Aspartic Acid, PCA, Sodium PCA, Sodium Lactate, Salicylic Acid, Citric Acid, Propanediol, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Ethoxydiglycol, Polysorbate 20, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Salicylate, Sodium Benzoate, Hexylene Glycol, 1,2-Hexanediol, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol.

The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA

The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors HA

The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA.

The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA hydrates the skin and targets signs of aging.

  • A very unique, amino acid-based moisturizing cream.
  • Replicates our skin's own Natural Moisturizing Factors (NMF)—naturally-occurring amino acid compounds that bind and hold onto water.
  • Amino acids not only hydrate, but also perform many of the same functions as retinoids, such as improving fine lines and wrinkles and treating sun damage.
  • Has a light, non-greasy texture.
  • One of the few silicone-free moisturizers on the market.

Where to buy: Adore BeautyASOSBeauty BayBeauty ExpertBeautylishCult BeautyEscentualHQhairHudson's BayLookfantasticMankindOxygen BoutiqueSkinStoreThe OrdinaryWell.ca

Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Cetyl Alcohol, Propanediol, Stearyl Alcohol, Glycerin, Sodium Hyaluronate, Arginine, Aspartic Acid, Glycine, Alanine, Serine, Valine, Isoleucine, Proline, Threonine, Histidine, Phenylalanine, Glucose, Maltose, Fructose, Trehalose, Sodium PCA, PCA, Sodium Lactate, Urea, Allantoin, Linoleic Acid, Oleic Acid, Phytosteryl Canola Glycerides, Palmitic Acid, Stearic Acid, Lecithin, Triolein, Tocopherol, Carbomer, Isoceteth-20, Polysorbate 60, Sodium Chloride, Citric Acid, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Pentylene Glycol, Triethanolamine, Sodium Hydroxide, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin.

The Ordinary 100% Plant-Derived Squalane

The Ordinary 100 Percent Plant-Derived Squalane

The Ordinary 100% Plant-Derived Squalane.

The Ordinary 100% Plant-Derived Squalane hydrates the skin and protects it from water loss.

  • The least expensive squalane oil on the market.
  • A very stable (100 percent saturated) and non-comedogenic oil, suitable for all skin types. Read more about its benefits here!
  • I've tried this and three other squalanes—Peter Thomas Roth, Indie Lee and Biossance—and I can't really tell the difference between them.
  • This is the best face oil to buy from their line.
  • It can also be used on the hair to protect, add shine and reduce potential breakage. 

Where to buy: Adore Beauty • ASOS • Beauty Bay • Beauty Expert • Beautylish • Cult Beauty • EscentualHQhair • Hudson's Bay • LookfantasticMankindOxygen Boutique • SkinStore • The Ordinary • Well.ca

Ingredients: Squalane.

The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil

The Ordinary 100 Percent Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil

The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil.

The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil hydrates and reduces signs of photo-aging.

  • An unrefined, cold-pressed oil that is derived from the seeds of the rose bush.
  • Cold-pressed does make it more resistant to oxidation, but it's still a very unsaturated oil, from 67 to 87 percent polyunsaturated (source). That means it is unstable by nature and will degrade relatively quickly in the presence of light, oxygen and the heat of your skin. 
  • Saturated and monounsaturated oils like the 100% Plant-Derived Squalane and 100% Cold-Pressed Virgin Marula Oil are much better options.

Where to buy: Beauty Bay • Beauty Expert • BeautylishCult Beauty • EscentualHQhairHudson's Bay • LookfantasticMankindOxygen Boutique • SkinStore • The Ordinary • Well.ca

Ingredients: Rosa Canina Seed Oil.

The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Moroccan Argan Oil

The Ordinary 100 Percent Organic Cold-Pressed Moroccan Argan Oil

The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Moroccan Argan Oil.

The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Moroccan Argan Oil hydrates the skin and reduces the appearance of flaking.

  • An unrefined, cold-pressed oil derived from the kernels of the argan tree.
  • Cold-pressing does make it more resistant to oxidation, however, it is still has significant polyunsaturated fatty acid content—about 38 percent, which I consider too high.
  • However, it would be fine to use on your hair, since it helps add sheen and softness.
  • For skin, go for the 100% Plant-Derived Squalane or 100% Cold-Pressed Virgin Marula Oil instead.

Where to buy: ASOS • Beauty Bay • Beauty Expert • BeautylishCult Beauty • Escentual • HQhairHudson's Bay • LookfantasticMankindOxygen Boutique • Skinstore • The Ordinary • Well.ca

Ingredients: Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil.

The Ordinary 100% Cold-Pressed Virgin Marula Oil

The Ordinary 100 Percent Cold-Pressed Virgin Marula Oil

The Ordinary 100% Cold-Pressed Virgin Marula Oil.

The Ordinary 100% Cold-Pressed Virgin Marula Oil hydrates the skin and may brighten its tone.

  • An unrefined, cold-pressed oil derived from the kernels of the fruits of the marula tree
  • A much cheaper alternative to the popular Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Face Oil.
  • It's a fairly stable oil, comprised of mostly monounsaturated fat. The polyunsaturated content is only 4 to 7 percent, which is acceptable. 
  • Since it's a heavier oil, this is probably not suitable for the acne-prone, but it would be great for dry skin. 

Where to buy: Adore Beauty • Beauty BayBeauty Expert • Beautylish • Cult Beauty • Escentual • HQhairHudson's Bay • LookfantasticMankindOyxgen Boutique • SkinStore • The Ordinary • Well.ca

Ingredients: Sclerocarya Birrea Seed Oil.

The Ordinary More Molecules:

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10 Percent Zinc 1 Percent

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%.

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% reduces the appearance of skin blemishes and congestion. Actually, it's good for ALL types of skin issues (although they don't claim that!).

  • One of the only high-dose niacinamide treatments I've seen.
  • Despite only marketing it an acne/oily skin treatment, niacinamide is actually one of the best ingredients for ALL skin issues!
  • This study found that topical niacinamide gets comparable results to 1% clindamycin gel for acne. According to this report, it can also reduce pore size and oil production while improving fine lines and wrinkles.
  • I also recommend niacinamide for any type of pigmentation, dullness or sallowness (see this study comparing it to hydroquinone).
  • Should help calm redness and reduce inflammation as well.
  • My one concern here is the seed gum, which is primarily linoleic acid (unsaturated). Hopefully it's in lower quantities, since it's the fifth ingredient, but if you'd rather avoid it, I suggest Paula's Choice Resist 10% Niacinamide Booster.
  • Also note that the texture is a bit sticky.

Where to buy: Adore Beauty • ASOS • Beauty BayBeauty Expert • Beautylish • Cult Beauty • EscentualHQhair • Hudson's Bay • LookfantasticMankind • Oxygen BoutiqueSkinStore • The Ordinary • Well.ca

Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Niacinamide, Pentylene Glycol, Zinc PCA, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Tamarindus Indica Seed Gum, Xanthan gum, Isoceteth-20, Ethoxydiglycol, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin.

The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA

The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2 Percent HA

The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA.

The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA brightens the skin. It also treats and helps prevent pigmentation.

  • A brightening ingredient that treats pigmentation by inhibiting the formation of melanin.
  • Gets converted into hydroquinone in the body.
  • I think it's a safer choice than hydroquinone, and less irritating.
  • But I'd still recommend niacinamide (Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%) or vitamin C as safer brightening treatments. This study shows that niacinamide offers similar effects to hydroquinone with fewer side effects.

Where to buy: ASOS • Beauty Bay • Beauty Expert • Beautylish • Cult Beauty • Escentual • HQhair • Hudson's Bay • Lookfantastic • MankindOxygen Boutique • SkinStore • The Ordinary • Well.ca

Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Alpha-Arbutin, Polyacrylate Crosspolymer-6, Hydrolyzed Sodium Hyaluronate, Propanediol, PPG-26-Buteth-26, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Lactic Acid, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Ethoxydiglycol, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin.

The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG

The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5 Percent EGCG

The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG.

The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG targets dark circles and puffiness.

  • A great choice if you're looking for a solution to under-eye puffiness.
  • I'm not as convinced it will do that much for dark circles, as those are usually related to food allergies, low thyroid or both.
  • Caffeine has many other beneficial effects for the skin, including repairing sun damage, acting like a sunscreen (though it's NOT a replacement for sunscreen!) and inhibiting carcinogenesis.
  • The soybean seed extract is not ideal, but at least it's further down the list.

Where to buy: Adore Beauty • Beauty Bay • Beauty Expert • Beautylish • Cult Beauty • Escentual • HQhair • Hudson's Bay • LookfantasticMankindOxygen Boutique • SkinStore • The Ordinary • Well.ca

Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Caffeine, Maltodextrin, Glycerin, Propanediol, Epigallocatechin Gallatyl Glucoside, Gallyl Glucoside, Hyaluronic Acid, Oxidized Glutathione, Melanin, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Seed Extract, Urea, Pentylene Glycol, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Polyacrylate Crosspolymer-6, Xanthan gum, Lactic Acid, Dehydroacetic Acid, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Propyl Gallate, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Benzyl Alcohol, 1,2-Hexanediol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol.

Other molecules I'd skip: The Matrixyl 10% + HA, "Buffet" and Argireline Solution 10% are all peptide-based serums and while they may be okay short-term, I'm not convinced of their efficacy or long-term safety. Dr. Leslie Baumann is one prominent dermatologist who thinks peptides are overrated and may interact negatively with other ingredients. According to biochemist Loren Pickart, Matrixyl can cause the skin to create inflammatory scar proteins. The argireline is said to "relax" facial tension like Botox, but there are just too many reports of people experiencing sagging (!!) for me to be comfortable with it. I'll stick with retinol for now!

The Ordinary Colours:

Unfortunately, both the Serum Foundation and the Coverage Foundation contain silicones, which always affect my skin negatively. (Same with the High-Adherence Silicone Primer and the High-Spreadability Fluid Primer, which they list under this category as well as under Hydrators.) Read more here on my opinion of silicones.

Conclusion

The Ordinary skincare review

The Ordinary's skincare offerings are too affordable not to try.

​I hope this helps you make your purchase decisions regarding The Ordinary

Yes, there are a few things I'd avoid, and I may not agree with some of their ingredient claims. I also wonder a bit about the quality of ingredients we're getting, and whether, in the rush to market, they've gone through appropriate testing. 

However, ANY skincare aficionado would be impressed by their concept of simple, affordable, ingredient-focused serums, which have never existed before! 

Plus, they're really too affordable NOT to try. If they don't work for you, it's no big hit to your wallet, right?

To sum up, these are the products I'd most recommend from the line:

I'd love to hear what you think!

Shop Editor's Picks

Have you tried anything from The Ordinary?
Which products have worked / not worked for you?

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