Hello & happy post-election week, everyone! By now, you’ve definitely heard of The Ordinary – the uber cheap skincare brand that promises no-nonsense skincare and seems to be working for everyone on the internet. It can get incredibly overwhelming to see all these products and not know how they work or what they do – so I want to show you guys the best products from The Ordinary and what they all do!
This brand has gotten pretty famous over the past couple years, mainly because of its affordability and its efficiency…AKA, it freakin’ works, and your wallet will thank you. The Ordinary is the kind of brand that I could trust with my life, because they’re not playing around. They don’t have any distracting packaging that makes you want to buy it, only to disappoint you later. Everything that’s in their products is written right there on the label, and they have products for every single skin type. They know skincare can get overwhelming (especially with the amount of products they carry) so their website even has a guide to help you understand which products are right for you based on the issues you are having and your skin type.
I’ve gotten a BUNCH of products from the Ordinary in the past two years, and I’ve come up with a list of a few that I absolutely love… and some that didn’t work for me, sadly. There are a couple in this list that I use on and off, but I still wanted to include them because they’ve shown results. Let’s get to it.
Glycolic acid is an alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA), or an exfoliant derived from cane sugar, and it basically removes the outer layer of dead skin cells on your face, making your skin brighter and more fresh looking. It’s normally used to treat acne scarring, uneven texture, and discoloration of the face. If you have sensitive skin and have never used glycolic acid before, you should test it out on a small patch of your face and try to use it every other day. Your skin could possibly purge, but this is normal. Purging means that the skin is shedding dead skin cells and increasing new cell turnover – so it’s actually a good thing. It can cause acne that’s below the surface to pop up, but think of it as your skin taking out everything bad so that it can look renewed.
I put this product first because it’s absolutely changed my life, and I had only used it for about two weeks when it worked wonders for me. And the best part is that it’s an absolute dupe for the Drunk Elephant TLC Framboos Glycolic Night Serum (which is over $100). Although I love that serum with all my heart, my bank account can’t handle buying those products over and over, so when I read that there was something out there that was cheaper and more effective, I jumped at the chance to buy it.
The first time I used this toner, I immediately noticed a difference the next day. I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me. The texture on my skin was still there, but my acne scars had lightened dramatically, and I saw LESS bumps. After two weeks, those bumps became smaller and smaller, and I fell in love with glycolic acid. Please get this product if you have issues with texture, bumps on your skin, or acne scarring.
** If you have never used glycolic acid before, the concentration in this bottle could be a little high for you.
Another product that has changed my life – and a necessary addition to my skincare routine is the Ordinary’s Hyaluronic Acid. Up to a year ago, I always had crazy dry skin. As soon as winter hit, my skin would be flaky and irritated, and I had no idea what to do to keep it extra moisturized. Then, lo and behold, enters hyaluronic acid into the skincare arena. We see and hear this term so often now – it’s in almost every skincare product out there. But like I said earlier, The Ordinary doesn’t play around. This serum is JUST hyaluronic acid, + vitamin B5. According to The Ordinary’s website, hyaluronic acid attracts up to 1000 times its weight in water to your face. When I first started using it, the dryness in my face was gone within the week, and I’ve never faced flaky skin again. This is a MUST in your skincare routine if you have dry skin, and also one of their bestselling products (if you don’t believe me, go check out the 3000+ reviews on their site).
TRICK: Tap your face with water before applying HA. It’s more effective when you already have some water on your face.
Niacinamide – another complicated sounding term that’s being thrown around, and no one really knows what it is or what it does. Niacinamide is another term for the B3 vitamin, and it works to improve the skin’s barrier by repairing signs of damage, making uneven skin tone brighter, and treating acne scars. Although Niacinamide DOES NOT work immediately, it works in the long term. I’m mainly using this to treat acne scars that just won’t let up, and so far, I’m very pleased with the results. I use this right after I apply my Hyaluronic Acid, and then I apply my moisturizer. If you have scarring or hyperpigmentation, I highly recommend this!
Okay…. this one went VIRAL on Tiktok so you probably know exactly what this is. But what those viral tiktoks don’t tell you is that this is basically a chemical peel in a bottle. That’s not necessarily a bad thing — if you are experienced in AHAs or BHAs and you’ve used them for a long time, by all means go ahead and use this. The issue with this is when younger people or skincare beginners see this going viral, rush to buy it, and then see their skin getting irritated (and in some cases, damaged). If you are a skincare beginner, you should not be using this product. However, if you do want to try this, I highly suggest using an AHA or BHA product for at least 1-2 months so that your skin gets used to it, and then trying this.
This product contains 30% AHAs and 2% BHAs — that’s incredibly high. The AHAs will really help to shed dead skin cells on the top layer of the skin and make it more radiant. The BHAs will help to go deeper into your skin and fight underlying acne. Because it’s so strong, The Ordinary recommends using this only 1-2 times a week, for 8 minutes max. My experience with this has been fairly good so far. My skin does seem a lot brighter the next day, and over time, the texture on my skin seemed to decrease a good amount. I do recommend this for those of you who struggle with acne, acne scarring, or texturized skin.
Alpha arbutin is an amazing ingredient for acne scarring and hyperpigmentation on the skin, and it’s supposedly much more fast-acting than niacinamide. Personally, my experience with this product wasn’t great. I tried to use it for a week straight and started breaking out in small bumps. I was super sad because I had such high hopes for this product. But just because it didn’t work for me doesn’t mean it won’t work for you — this product has helped SO many people with their scarring, and I highly recommend giving this a try if you can!
I actually hadn’t heard of this product until the day I bought it. I was browsing on Sephora, and because they have The Ordinary products now (yay) I was deeply immersed in research. I was looking for a hair volumizer that actually worked, but I found something better. This is a serum that you put on your hair before you sleep, and it slowly works to volumize the hair over time, and also increase hair follicles where you apply it. It won’t make your hair grow out of thin air, but it will make hair growth FASTER where it’s already growing. So, if you have any spots where you think you want faster growth, sprinkle this on before you sleep. It does have the tendency to get slightly greasy, but I usually wash my hair in the morning so I try not to run into the greasy hair day issue. This is also known to treat dandruff and hydrate your scalp. WIN WIN WIN.
Everyone seems to be really afraid of retinol-based products because they can be drying, cause redness, and irritate the skin when you first use it. However, with every other complex product like this one, there’s always a purging phase. Retinoids are used to treat acne, unclog pores, reduce acne scars, treat wrinkles, reduce the appearance of sun-damaged skin, AND smooth the skin. That’s a lot of benefits. The Ordinary also has formulas that are supposed to be calmer on your skin and not cause any irritation, so it’s definitely worth looking into (the one shown here is one of their gentler formulas). If you’re already using salicylic acid, do not use the products together (use it on a different day, because they essentially do similar things and using them together will cause irritation).
For me, this product worked wonders. I used it earlier this year, when I was breaking out in the summer and not sure what caused it. After a month of use, I noticed how much my breakouts decreased, and how the pores around my T-Zone looked a lot smaller than usual. This is also a huge bestseller, and people claim that this has helped clear out their acne and tone down the redness and hyperpigmentation in their skin.
Anddd that concludes my guide to the best products from The Ordinary – but if you’ve gone on their website, you know that they have so many products that it’s impossible to try them all. I know I’m going to keep buying new things, but it’s also important to provide consistency to your skin and make sure that it gets used to the products you’re using NOW before jumping to the next ones.
Thanks for reading and supporting Alisha’s Approach!
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*Disclaimer: This post does contain affiliate links, which means that if you purchase these products, I do make a small commission.3