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How to Build A Skincare Routine with The Ordinary Products

The Ordinary is a popular skincare brand that offers over 50 products, most of which are formulated to showcase one specific ingredient and address skin concerns such as hyperpigmentation, dryness, fine lines and wrinkles, acne-prone skin, and more. The Ordinary stands out among its competitors because they offer effective, targeted formulas at very low retail prices.

This low pricing structure makes it very easy to purchase several products, but using them together is where things get more complicated. The Ordinary website is a great place to start for education on product ingredients and how to combine The Ordinary products.

The Ordinary skincare products on marble background.

It can be confusing when trying to determine how to use The Ordinary products, so I thought it would be advantageous to create some sample skincare routines containing The Ordinary products for different skin types and skin concerns, including dry skin, aging skin, oily/combo skin that is acne-prone, skin experiencing hyperpigmentation and textural issues, sensitive skin, and normal skin.

The Ordinary recommends using no more than three serums in a single regimen for optimal layering and absorption.

The example regimens below contain no more than three serum formulations for the face, not including Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG for the eye area. Also, note that Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG is a serum, so you may need to add a layer of moisture on top with an eye cream.

This post on how to build a skincare routine with The Ordinary contains affiliate links, and any purchases made through these links will result in a commission for me at no extra cost to you. Please read my Disclosure for additional information.

The Correct Order of Skincare Application

If you are wondering what order to use The Ordinary products, The Ordinary recommends, in general, to apply water-based formulas first, then anhydrous or oil-based formulas, and then cream-based or suspension-based formulas last.

You should apply multiple water-based serums in order of priority of skincare issue/concern.

If you want a detailed explanation of the correct order of skincare application, please see my post How To Layer The Ordinary Products.

All The Ordinary skin routines below are listed in order of application, starting with cleansing and ending with either sunscreen in the AM or a hydrator in the PM.

The Ordinary Products For Most Skin Types

The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser, The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG and Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA

Skincare serums and treatments are the core of The Ordinary products. Skincare steps involving a cleanser, eye cream, and sunscreen are limited to a few options from The Ordinary, so these products can be used for most skin types since The Ordinary only offers one product in each category.

Cleanser (AM + PM): The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser – A gentle cleanser for a morning cleanse and the perfect makeup remover in the evening.
Eye Cream (AM + PM):
The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG – For dark circles around the eye contour, pigmentation, and puffiness.
Sunscreen (Last Step in AM Skincare Routine): Mineral UV Filters SPF 30 with Antioxidants
– Broad Spectrum SPF 30 UVA/UVB protection that also contains antioxidant, hydration, and anti-irritant support.

Stand Out Products from The Ordinary for Your Skincare Routine

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5

You’ll see many products repeated in each The Ordinary skincare routine, as some of The Ordinary products benefit most skin types and skin concerns.

For instance, The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 is a product that will benefit just about all skin types as it draws moisture to the skin, plumps the skin, and supports the skin’s natural moisture barrier.

The Ordinary “Buffet”

The Ordinary "Buffet" Peptide Serum

The Ordinary “Buffet,” an effective peptide serum that addresses the signs of aging, is included in many of these The Ordinary routines.

Multiple peptide complexes in the serum help to increase collagen for firmer skin and decrease fine lines and wrinkles.

Related Post: The Ordinary “Buffet” Review

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% helps regulate sebum production, supports the skin barrier, and has anti-inflammatory properties, making it ideal for oily and acne-prone skin. It also preps skin for actives such as retinol and retinoid products.

This niacinamide serum can even help with hyperpigmentation, fine lines, and wrinkles.

The Ordinary Retinoids

The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid and Retinol Serums

Retinoids are also included in these routines for their ability to target the signs of aging. Retinoids improve multiple signs of aging, including fine and coarse wrinkles, photoaging, hyperpigmentation, skin texture, and roughness.

The Ordinary offers multiple Granactive Retinoid and retinol products. Please see this post for more details on the entire collection of The Ordinary retinoids.

The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA

The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA

Hyaluronic acid is included in The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA, which offers non-greasy hydration and is loaded with good for your skin ingredients.

Active ingredients include 11 amino acids, phospholipids, alpha/beta/gamma fatty acids, triglycerides, sterols, sterol esters, glycerin, ceramide precursors, urea, saccharides, and sodium PCA.

The Ordinary 100% Plant-Derived Squalane

The Ordinary 100% Plant-Derived Squalane

The Ordinary offers a large selection of facial oils at very affordable prices. The Ordinary 100% Plant-Derived Squalane is a plant-derived moisturizer that generally works for skin types (including oily and acne-prone skin) thanks to its lightweight texture and moisturizing properties.

Related Posts: The Inkey List vs The Ordinary: Anti-Aging Skincare on a Budget

Combination Precautions

The Ordinary cautions that you should not use certain products in the same routine. For example, peptides should not be used in the same routine as direct acids (which are exfoliating acids such as glycolic acid or lactic acid) or pure or ethylated vitamin C.

Direct exfoliating acids should not be used with other direct acids, EUK 134 0.1%, retinoids, pure or ethylated vitamin C, or peptides.

Niacinamide can affect the integrity of vitamin C, so if you want to use both products, it is recommended that they not be used in the same routine (i.e., use one in the morning and one at night). Retinoids should not be used with other retinoids, direct acids, pure or ethylated vitamin C, or copper peptides.

The Ordinary also recommends patch testing to avoid an adverse reaction to a new product. This is helpful for everyone but especially helpful to those with sensitive skin.

For complete information on patch testing, combining products, and how to use The Ordinary products, please see The Ordinary’s website.

NOTE: Retinoids and direct acids will make your skin more sensitive to the sun, so be sure to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher and limit sun exposure while using these products and for a week after.

Related Post: How To Use The Ordinary Lactic Acid

Multiple The Ordinary Product Options for Each Skin Type

There are several product options included for each The Ordinary routine below. Please keep in mind that you don’t have to use all of the products in these example The Ordinary skin care routines.

You can start with a few products and build from there or alternate products on different days of the week.

If you are satisfied with the results from just a few The Ordinary products, stick with what works for your skin. Skincare is so individual, and everyone’s needs will be different.

If you choose to use more than one serum or treatment product in the same The Ordinary regimen, you may consider using less of each product than you would if you were using each product alone. This will reduce the chances of the products getting sticky and balling up on your skin.

Related Post: The Ordinary Anti-Aging Skincare Review

The Ordinary Example Skincare Regimens/Routines

The following example The Ordinary skincare regimens/routines are provided for dry, aging/mature, combo/oily and acne prone skin, hyperpigmentation/textured skin, sensitive and normal skin types.

Example The Ordinary Skincare Routine for Dry Skin

If you have dry skin, your skin will benefit from products that draw moisture to your skin and protect your skin barrier function. The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 is the perfect product for this and can be used twice daily.

The Ordinary has some fantastic oils that will help seal in the active ingredients underneath, so feel free to try some options like their Squalane, Marula, or Argan oils.

Morning:

Evening:

For Extra Moisture: Marine Hyaluronics

*May substitute or alternate with 100% Cold Pressed Virgin Marula Oil or 100% Organic Cold Pressed Moroccan Argan Oil

Related Post: The Best The Ordinary Products for Dry Skin, A Complete Guide to The Ordinary Face Oils

Example The Ordinary Skincare Routine for Aging/Mature Skin

The Ordinary offers an extensive selection of products for aging skin.

Their retinoids are the star of the show, so if you want to start with a single product for anti-aging, The Ordinary offers Granactive Retinoid 2% in Squalane, Granactive Retinoid 5% in Squalane, and Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion to increase cell turnover for younger-looking skin.

The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil is another product that addresses the signs of aging. It is rich in linoleic acid, linolenic, and pro-vitamin A to help with dehydration, dullness, wrinkles, and fine lines.

Morning:

Evening:

Weekly: AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution, a 10-minute exfoliating facial which is only suitable for experienced users of acid exfoliation. (For more details on how to use The Ordinary’s peeling solution, please see this post.)

Use once a week in the PM after cleansing and follow with only Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 and Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA. This masque is not intended for sensitive, peeling, or otherwise compromised skin. If this product is too strong for your skin, Lactic Acid 5% + HA or Mandelic Acid 10% + HA is an alternative.

*May substitute with Granactive Retinoid 2% in Squalane or Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion.

Related Post: The Best The Ordinary Products for Wrinkles and Mature Skin

Example The Ordinary Skincare Routine for Combination Skin, Oily Skin, and Acne-Prone Skin

Oily and combination skin and skin prone to acne and breakouts can benefit from The Ordinary’s best-selling Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% to regulate sebum and minimize pores. Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 and 100% Plant-Derived Squalane offer lightweight hydration.

Morning:

Evening:

Weekly:

  • Salicylic Acid 2% Masque removes dead skin cells and other impurities that clog pores. Use once a week in the PM after cleansing and follow with Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 and Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA only. This masque is not intended for sensitive, peeling, or otherwise compromised skin.
  • AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution is a 10-minute exfoliating facial which is only suitable for experienced users of acid exfoliation. Use once a week in the PM after cleansing and follow with Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 and Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA only. Avoid using this treatment on the same day as the Salicylic Acid 2% Masque. This masque is not intended for sensitive, peeling, or otherwise compromised skin.

Related Post: The Best The Ordinary Skincare Products for Oily & Acne-Prone Skin, The Best The Ordinary Products for Acne Scars

Example The Ordinary Skincare Routine for Hyperpigmentation and Texture Issues

If your skin deals with hyperpigmentation, dark spots, and texture issues, it will benefit from exfoliating acids to sweep away dead skin cells and retinoids to promote cell turnover. The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA will work to reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation and uneven skin tone.

The Ordinary Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate 10% (currently being reformulated) is a water-soluble derivative of Vitamin C that brightens and hydrates the skin.

Morning:

Evening:

Weekly:

AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution is a 10-minute exfoliating facial that is only suitable for experienced users of acid exfoliation. Use once a week in the PM after cleansing and follow with Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 and Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA only. This masque is not intended for sensitive, peeling, or otherwise compromised skin.

Example The Ordinary Skincare Routine for Sensitive Skin

If you have sensitive skin, be sure to incorporate products that support your skin barrier into your skincare routine. Sensitive skin should patch test to ensure compatibility with The Ordinary products.

I love both Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12% (vitamin C derivative) and Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion for their gentle formulas. Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 and Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA will hydrate and support the skin barrier, while 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Borage Seed Oil helps with redness, sensitivity, and inflammation.

Morning:

Evening:

Example The Ordinary Skincare Routine for Normal Skin

If your skin is normal, lucky you! Be sure to use products that provide hydration and protect your delicate skin barrier. Regarding actives in your skincare routine, try adding vitamin C in the morning and a retinoid in the evening.

Morning:

Evening:

The Ordinary Regimen Builder

If you are unsure of the best The Ordinary skincare regimen for your skin concerns and issues, you can visit The Ordinary’s Regimen Builder on their website to get product suggestions tailored to your skin.

It only takes a few minutes, and you will get a list of The Ordinary products for basic morning and evening skincare regimens.

Concluding Thoughts on How to Build A Skincare Routine with The Ordinary Products

The Ordinary offers several products that you can combine to create a complete The Ordinary routine. Remember that you don’t have to use 10 products in your The Ordinary routine. Depending on how your skin is behaving, you can alternate products or limit your routine to a few tried and true favorites from The Ordinary.

Are you new to skincare? If these routines seem too complicated for you, don’t miss The Ordinary skincare routine for beginners!

I love “Buffet” for its firming peptides, The Ordinary retinoids such as Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion for anti-aging, and 100% Plant-Derived Squalane for lightweight hydration and moisture. There are so many effective products from The Ordinary, and they are all cruelty-free and vegan!

While most of the product links in this post take you to Ulta, you can also purchase The Ordinary products on The Ordinary’s website and other retailers like Sephora.

Thanks for reading!

Related The Ordinary Posts, Guides, and Reviews:

A Guide to The Ordinary Vitamin C Skincare Products

The Ordinary Marine Hyaluronics Review

Hylamide SubQ Skin vs The Ordinary “Buffet”

The Ordinary Niacinamide Review

The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% Review

Maggy

Monday 12th of September 2022

Hey Sarah

I really liked your detailed article, everything made sense. The problem with my skin is to keep it hydrated (its really dehydrated) and to get rid of my hyperpigmentation. I do not have an acne-prone skin but I do get some impurities at times. My goal is to really have that glowy and even skin. Do you have a good morning and evening regimen for me because I dont wanna use to much serums?

Emma

Wednesday 10th of August 2022

Hi your articles are really helpful. I'm 26 years old and want to start using retinol. I'm planning to buy Inkey list retinol serum. Can I use it with Ordinary moisturizing factors+HA?

Sarah

Wednesday 17th of August 2022

The Inkey List Retinol Serum is a great retinol serum for beginners! Since The Inkey List Retinol Serum and The Ordinary Moisturizing Factors + HA don't contain conflicting ingredients, you should be able to use them in the same skincare routine. Keep in mind that before trying a new skincare product, you should patch test to ensure you don't have a negative reaction. Thanks for reaching out!

Leo

Thursday 23rd of June 2022

Hey! Very instructive article but I still haven't found if the products I have are compatible. Can you tell me? Here are the ones I have: - Squalane Cleanser - Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA - Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% - "Buffet" - Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG - Argireline Solution 10% - Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA It's the result of 2 regimen tests (I don't really understand why I got 2 different results). I would love to know if which order I'm supposed to use them. I've done tons of research but it's pretty difficult to find the right information. Can you help? Thanks a mil!

Sarah

Wednesday 14th of September 2022

Hi! The Ordinary suggested this combination of your products (in order of application):

AM Routine:

Squalane Cleanser Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG Argireline Solution 10% (on expression lines) Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA Sunscreen

PM Routine:

Cleanser Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG “Buffet” Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA

Please note that “Buffet” already contains argireline as an ingredient, so it wouldn't be necessary to use both in your regimen. Also, they recommend introducing one new product into your regimen at a time and be sure to patch test before using a product for the first time to avoid an adverse initial reaction. Thanks for reaching out!

Debra Fife

Monday 23rd of May 2022

I'm 61 and finding my skin is a little tight and a few dry patches after cleansing. Obviously also ageing aswell. Please could u advise on the best regime. Thank you

Amanda Barbosa

Thursday 28th of April 2022

Hello! I’m 43 and just started using some of the ordinary products. I also have prescription Tretinion cream that I use at night. I’m looking for an anti aging regimen to help with fine lines, loss of firmness & puffy eyes. Can you help? I already have been using the Matrixyl'10% + HA A High-Strength Peptide during the day