The third instalment of my skincare series has taken forever to be written thanks to the great procrastinator that I am. I finally decided to sit down and tackle it since I’ve been getting a lot of questions of what products I would recommend to clear acne and dark marks. If you want to read how I got rid of my acne in 2 weeks, then check out this post here and for some of the products I’ve tried from the Phytocare range then check it out here.
Today I’ll be sharing with you my collection of The Ordinary skincare products. It’s been just over a year since they hit the market and with a vast range of affordable items, it’s no wonder they’re still a hit. After being tempted by the reviews of Wayne Goss and Stephanie Nicole, I knew I had to try it for myself. It’s been about four months since I bought these products and unfortunately, my experience with the products wasn’t that great. I even stopped using them for a while because I felt it was making my skin worse. However, after my skin cleared up omitting this from my diet, I decided to retry using them until they were finished. There are only two products I’d repurchase and continue to use. If you’d like to find out how these products fared for me, then get comfy and let’s tuck in.
About The Ordinary
The Ordinary is a brand by the Deciem umbrella. Sister brands include the likes of Niod and Hyalamide to name a few. They are much more expensive than The Ordinary products but still do well in the market as there are numerous positive reviews about them.
The Ordinary is an evolving collection of treatments offering familiar, effective clinical technologies positioned to raise pricing and communication integrity in skincare. The brand was created to celebrate integrity in its most humble and true form. Its offering is pioneering, not in the familiar technologies it uses, but in its honesty and integrity. The Ordinary is born to disallow commodity to be disguised as ingenuity. The Ordinary is “Clinical formulations with integrity”.
What attracts people to The Ordinary Skincare range is not only the affordability of the products but a promise that the ingredients are in their purest form providing the maximum benefits for your skin. All products under the Deciem brand are formulated free of parabens, sulphates and other harmful chemicals. They are completely cruelty-free and do not sell their products in countries that require animal testing such as China.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s talk the simplistic packaging approach. I love how clean and scientific-looking the products are. Not only is it neat, but it stands out in the market as being innovative and affordable. All the creams and thicker substances are packaged in plastic squeeze tubes which aren’t my favourite. They are easy to travel with and store but getting out the last bit of product can be a nightmare. All the serums and runnier acids are housed in glass bottles with droppers. This allows precise dispensing of the correct amount of product as well as control over where to apply it. I’ve seen images circulating asking Deciem to resort to plastic pump heads to lower costs even further but with my daily struggle using one of those pumps and the product squirting everywhere, I really hope those droppers are here to stay. Lastly, the foundation packaging is highly annoying. Whilst it is very chic with its black top and clear body, the rubbery finish is a magnet for dirt, dust and any other makeup residue it comes into contact with. If they stuck to ordinary plastic, it would be much easier to clean. #nopunintended
The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution* – $12.50 for 240ml
Starting on a high note, this is my favourite product from the range. If you read my review on the Pixi Glow Tonic here, you’ll know that using an acid exfoliator clears the pores up, lightens marks and brightens the skin. At 5%, the Pixi Glow Tonic is slighter milder and is also infused with Aloe Vera and Ginseng like this one from The Ordinary. Included additionally in this toner is Tasmanian Pepperberry which is an anti-inflammatory and is meant to reduce burning and stinging on the skin. However, even after months of use, I still experience a slight tingle on the skin and it burns around the eyebrow and sideburn area after I’ve exfoliated or used a granular mask. My only reason for repurchasing this over the Pixi Glow Tonic is the fact that it’s less than half the price for the same amount of product. And since it’s something I use daily, it runs out pretty fast. The high percentage of Glycolic Acid does also mean that skin is more prone to sunburn, so I only use it at night and make sure to use an SPF during the day even when staying indoors. I’d definitely recommend this product if you have used acids before and if you don’t have sensitive skin. I must say though, I noticed much better results from the Pixi Glow Tonic but alas, my empty wallet has still not forgiven me for those purchases.
The Ordinary Moisturising Factors + HA – $12.80 for 100ml
This is the only product in the range that I have discontinued using. It contains hyaluronic acid (HA) which is great for dehydrated skin but because it is formulated so mildly, it’s targeted at all skin types. Now for me, that’s a problem because while it does what it’s supposed to do, how my skin feels afterwards is my main concern. I have oily dehydrated skin and I thought the HA would assist with that. After applying this to my face though, my skin feels matte and sucked dry. Strange since they say this is perfect for drier skin types. It also contains glycerin which leaves the skin feeling tacky. Great for longer lasting makeup during the day not sticking to the pillow when I sleep. It’s not necessarily a bad product, I just like using something targeted specifically for my skin concerns.
The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution* – $8.40 for 15ml
Another one of my top products from the range. Salicylic Acid is the only skincare BHA (beta hydroxy acid) that fights infection from the inside. The molecules are small enough to penetrate the deeper layers of the skin to unclog pores and fight the appearance of blemishes. Unlike benzoyl peroxide and other topical creams that kill off bacteria, salicylic acid removes dead skin cells that are clogging pores. If you have hormonal acne under the surface, salicylic acid is a better option because it doesn’t cause a lot of dryness and flaking. Unless I have a fully fledged whitehead ready to be popped, I alternate between using Benzac (benzoyl peroxide) and salicylic acid on the pimple at night to bring it to the surface. This formula also contains witch hazel known for being a powerful antioxidant and its astringent benefits are known to help speed healing, prevent signs of ageing, stop cellular damage that can lead to skin cancer and eradicate bacteria that live within the pores of the skin. It’s a natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, and it’s able to battle free radicals to protect against DNA damage.
The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% – $12.90 for 30ml
Now on to the worst product of the bunch. And not because it doesn’t work but because it burns like a mother*****. Yes, it burns that friggin bad. I wanted to cry the first few times I used this product, my skin felt like it was on fire and would literally melt off my face. I know I sound dramatic but I swear it’s painful. I initially used it on my entire face morning and evening and it started to dry my skin out. My skin started flaking and peeling and was painful to the touch. With my new regimen, I now use it nightly just on the cheek areas that have dark acne scarring. Azelaic acid is found naturally on the skin but can be produced from grains such as barley. Known side effects do include burning, stinging and skin dryness but its benefits outweigh the negatives. It’s great for reducing acne, unclogging pores, brightening scars and inhibiting the production of melanin that causes dark marks and hyperpigmentation. Due to its effectiveness, it’s been marketed as an alternative to using Accutane and hydroquinone. For me personally, I’ll stick to using my Benzac and Salicylic Acid for breakouts.
The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% – $9.80 for 30ml
Also known as Vitamin B3, Niacinamide is targeted at reducing the appearance of blemishes and large pores. It can help with uneven skin tone, fine lines and dullness of the complexion. Zinc is included to control the production of sebum whilst also being a great antioxidant. The solution is quite thick and sticky compared to other serums so a little goes a long way. I use 3 drops after toning over my entire face and it seems to foam a little bit but absorbs well into the skin afterwards. I use it at night since it doesn’t play well with sunscreen and causes pilling of my makeup if used during the day. I’ve noticed a slight improvement in my scarring but since I’ve been going for regular face peels I can’t attribute it to this product. It’s just not been wow enough for my liking even though it could work in the long term.
The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2% – $10.80 for 30ml
I think I was a bit overeager when choosing this product and should have opted for the 5% solution to start with. It also causes slight tingling on the skin but nothing too harsh. I mix one drop every night into the Niacinamide to dilute it before applying it to my skin. I have noticed a difference using this on my acne scars but if I use any more drops or on its own I start to break out more. Lactic acid is an AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) that targets the outermost layers of the skin. It exfoliates by breaking down the material that holds dead skin cells together to reveal a clearer complexion. It can, therefore, result in flaking and shedding of dead skin over time. It’s basically the at-home version of a superficial peel and works out much cheaper than going for regular salon treatments. I do feel that the addition of hyaluronic acid helps in keeping the skin from feeling tight and parched but I can’t help but wonder if it’s also counterproductive. If you adding moisture to the skin how is it supposed to shed effectively?
The Ordinary High-Adherence Silicone Primer – $7.90 for 30ml
I have nothing bad to say about this primer because it really does work. The silicone base blurs imperfections and hides large pores. It’s mattifying so it’s perfect for oilier skin types and it’s tacky (yet comfortable) which holds makeup in place throughout the day. My favourite primers that work well for me though are Dr Brandt’s Pores No More primer (holy grail) and Benefit’s Porefessional. For me what sets those apart from this one is the luxe feeling and a couple more extra hours wear from it.
And last but not least, the foundations.
The Ordinary Coverage and Serum Foundation – $10.90 for 30ml
The range is quite decent with 21 shades to choose from with different undertones. I opted for 3.0Y which is described as Medium Dark with yellow undertones and I initially thought it was too light for me but after my acne cleared my skin did lighten a bit and now it’s a perfect match. For a full list of my foundation shades click here. When going through my plethora of foundations, I found the coverage foundation formula most likened to the LA Girl foundation I reviewed here in consistency and wear. The differences, however, is that the LA Girl foundation has more coverage and is on the dewier side. Whilst it is buildable, it can get cakey very quickly since it dries down completely matte. For around the same price point, I wouldn’t recommend this foundation if you have lots of marks to hide like I do. It has a skin-like finish but I don’t have time to waste going in with concealer afterwards.
The serum foundation, on the other hand, I would recommend for those opting for sheer coverage. The likeness of this formula is similar to the Stila Aqua Glow Serum foundation which is slightly more buildable and medium coverage. It provides a skin-like appearance with minimal coverage, the only downside being it doesn’t last as long. If you’re a fan of bb creams then this one is for you.
I love the concept of the brand and the fact that they’ve made such great products available for everyone to afford. However, I think I bought into the hype too much and expected my skin to do a complete transformation after using it. Regardless of how many years they spent testing, they are still fairly new to the game. I’ve been introduced to brands that have been tackling skincare for years and after just one month’s use have seen drastic results. That along with years of great reviews and dermatological recommendations. Granted the price point is far from being as affordable as The Ordinary, but I now view my skin as a major asset and I’ll invest in it to see great results.
Another thing about being a ‘baby brand’ is the gaps in formulating an all-round skin routine with the products. You’ll have to search elsewhere if you want a cleanser, a day-time toner or moisturisers targeted at specific skin types. Not many brands are ‘perfect’, but I’ll continue on my search to find the perfect balance on my journey to great, flawless skin. I know people that swear by The Ordinary products but for my horrible marks, it just didn’t make the cut.
Where to Buy
I purchased some products directly from The Ordinary website. Deciem does ship internationally but I found the shipping costs to be cheaper using a freight forwarder such as Aramex. Instead of the $35 shipping fee, I qualified for free shipping to my Aramex address in the US and paid R120 fee to get it here. I also incurred no customs but that is dependant on the value of your order and whether they detain your parcel for inspection. I also purchased some products locally from Samika and they deliver the products via courier to your door. This way you know exactly how much you are paying and don’t have any surprises when it comes to customs.
Have you tried any products from The Ordinary? What are your thoughts?
* Products indicated were sent to me for review purposes and the rest was purchased with my own money.
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