The Ordinary Skincare Review: The Beauty of Simplicity

The Ordinary Skincare Review: Simple is Best I Mirra Skincare

Raise your hand if you have developed a new obsession thanks to TikTok. *Raises both hands*. I am officially a skincare enthusiast. Glass skin, moisture barrier, hyaluronic acid, I wanted to learn about all of it. But I’m also a college student with sensitive skin and a teeny little budget. I needed effective, affordable, and clean products. Behold, The Ordinary skincare line.


1. Finding The Ordinary Skincare

2. My Ordinary Skincare Routine

3. Final Thoughts

Key Points

  • Making a skincare routine from scratch can be frustrating and overwhelming, but The Ordinary has a ton of products that are low cost and highly effective.
  • I curated an entire skincare routine with four of my favorite products, from hyaluronic acid to squalane oil.
  • The Ordinary is a great place to get clean, cheap, and gentle skincare for any skin type.

Finding The Ordinary Skincare

I’d spent months on TikTok cultivating an archive of posts from dedicated skincare influencers, dermatologists and doctors, and masses of people who were also trying to find their perfect skin routine. I had a few main concerns: dry skin, redness, and whatever the heck was giving me blackheads and acne patches. But, given that I struggled with severe eczema for years, I wasn’t going to try just any product on my sensitive skin. Plenty of people recommended The Ordinary products - with before and after photos to prove it - so I decided to give them a try.

If you walk into Ulta or Sephora, you might not even notice their products right away. The packaging is simple, almost clinical, with their trademark white label. In fact, the only reason these products caught my eye was the price. Don’t be fooled by the name, The Ordinary skincare line is anything but.

Their simple packaging underscores the clean, science backed ingredients in their products. The serums everyone and their mutuals love have less than 10 ingredients, making these products high concentration and low cost. There are no fillers, parabens, sulfates, mineral oils, formaldehyde, or mercury. If you search the products on EWG Skin Deep database, they are all rated 2 or higher. Plus, the line is cruelty-free. Literally no red flags. 

My Ordinary Skincare Routine

When I went to create a skincare routine, it was hard to not feel overwhelmed. Did I have oily or dry skin? Maybe it was combination. Was my moisture barrier damaged? Luckily for me, The Ordinary has a range of specific products, so I could target my skin concerns without a complete overhaul. 

I originally built an entire skincare routine out of The Ordinary products for under $30, and these are the ones I’ve bought again and again.

Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 ($7.50)

Ok, ok, you are probably already perfectly aware of skincare’s It Girl, hyaluronic acid. She’s moisturizing, repairing, and soothing. Our body’s ability to produce hyaluronic acid declines as we age, which is when we lose the bounce and smoothness. Part of that comes from how HA retains moisture, keeping your skin from being saggy and dry.

I particularly love The Ordinary’s serum because it’s water based with added B5. The formula is light weight, but not thin where you feel it could simply evaporate. When I first opened the bottle, I was surprised by the slightly sticky feel, but now I’m obsessed with the cooling and moisturizing feel of applying this. And one tiny bottle lasts forever. For the best results, apply it onto damp skin in the morning after water cleansing.  

Squalane Cleanser ($7.90 - $19.90)

This is an oil based cleanser that can double as a makeup remover. One of the biggest things I learned about maintaining your moisture barrier and getting rid of acne in a healthy way was DO. NOT. OVER. CLEANSE. Cleansing every morning might feel like the logical thing to do; you’re cleaning off the oil and unclogging those pores, right? Not really. 

Instead of giving you a fresh, dirt and oil free surface, double cleansing strips your skin of natural oils too frequently, causing your skin to overproduce oil as a reaction. Essentially, what you’re doing is scrubbing off natural protection and ruining your moisture barrier by exposing your skin to dry air multiple times a day. 

Because it’s oil based, the squalane cleanser lifts off dirt and makeup without drying out my skin. I love how light weight it is, I don’t ever feel residue after I rinse. What’s nice about this cleanser is a blueberry size amount takes care of my whole face, no waste. I like to use this at night to start off my bedtime skincare routine.

Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% ($6.50)

Niacinamide works to reduce the look of enlarged pores and smooth out your skin. It’s another tiny bottle with big results. As a toning solution, apply at night before you put on heavier creams, and don’t mix it with products that have vitamin C. 

As a little treat, The Ordinary niacinamide solution also incorporates zinc. While this is definitely not a sunscreen replacement (wear 👏 sunscreen 👏 every 👏 day 👏 even 👏 when 👏 it’s 👏 cloudy 👏), the little boost of zinc is great for building up your skin’s natural protection against the Sun. 

100% Plant Derived Squalane ($9.00)

Please don’t judge me when I tell you that I look forward to putting on my squalane oil at the end of the night. Slugging has my heart. 

Slugging is a moisturizing technique where you layer on an oil or occlusive at the end of your routine to lock in moisture overnight. If you’ve ever slept with Vaseline on your hands and covered them with socks or gloves, it’s sort of the same idea. The goal is to super hydrate your moisture barrier by giving it plenty of moisture to work with all night.

Squalane oil is one of my favorites for slugging - and moisturizing in general - because it’s non-comedogenic, which means it doesn’t clog your pores. As someone trying to get rid of blackheads and acne through a healthy moisture barrier, the last thing I wanted was to clog up what I was cleaning. After cleansing, toning, and massaging in your favorite moisturizer, take a few drops of squalane oil and layer it on top. You probably want to do this an hour or more before you actually plan to put your face onto the pillow, so everything has a chance to soak in.

Final Thoughts

Obviously, I love The Ordinary skincare. With a college budget and college life stresses to contend with, The Ordinary helped me clean up my skin barrier without a ton of trial and error. The light and clean formulas are great for any skin type, but especially any sensitive skin buddies. And remember, even though the ingredients are clean, don’t neglect a patch test before you go all in. Everyone’s skin is different and beautiful, and it needs different things.

Written by Christiana Sinacola


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