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How to Build A Skincare Routine with The Ordinary Products

The Ordinary Skincare Serums and Facial Oils

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 ard more. What makes The Ordinary stand out among its competitors is its effective, targeted formulas sold 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 confusing. The Ordinary website is a great place to start for education on product ingredients and how to combine The Ordinary products.

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 want to add a layer of moisture on top with an eye cream.

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, check out this post. All of 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.

This post 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 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): Squalane Cleanser – A gentle cleanser for a morning cleanse and the perfect makeup remover in the evening.
Eye Cream (AM + PM):
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 products benefit most skin types and skin concerns. For instance, 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”, a fantastic antioxidant peptide serum, is included in many of these The Ordinary routines. Antioxidants are very beneficial for all skin types as they are anti-inflammatory and help correct sun damage. Multiple peptide complexes in the serum help to increase collagen 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. It 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 also found in Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA, which offers non-greasy hydration and is loaded with good for your skin ingredients such as 11 amino acids, phospholipids, alpha/beta/gamma fatty acids, triglycerides, sterols and sterol esters, glycerin, ceramide precursors, urea, saccharides, 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. 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 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 tests to avoid a negative initial 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, see The Ordinary’s website.

NOTE: Retinoids and direct acids will make your skin more sensitive to the sun, so be sure to wear 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.

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. 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, to remove 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, 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. Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA will work to reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation and uneven skin tone. Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate 10% 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 for all products from The Ordinary.

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, congratulations! Be sure to use products that provide hydration and protect your skin’s barrier. In regard to actives in your skincare routine, try adding vitamin C in the morning and a retinoid in the evening.

Morning:

Evening:

New for 2021: 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 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 can be combined 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.

I love “Buffet” for its antioxidant protection, The Ordinary retinoids such as Granactive Retinoids 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!

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

Kim

Saturday 26th of June 2021

I have these products: caffeine for the eye, rose hip oil, 100% plant based squalene, buffet, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide. Was wondering how to use them by order and if I can still ad my adapelene 0.1 gel from la rosche posay? Thank you

Sarah

Sunday 27th of June 2021

The Ordinary says to limit the number of serums used in a single routine to three. So using adapalene at night only, I would apply that first, then follow with your HA and niacinamide serums and save the "Buffet" for your morning routine or a different day.  Then apply caffeine solution under your eyes and finish with a moisturizer.  You can alternate between 100% Plant-Derived Squalane and 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil.

AVC

Wednesday 9th of June 2021

Hi. Thank you so much for compiling everything we need to know about ordinary products. I have followed the regimen for acne prone skin. Do I still need to add toner? If yes, should I use the glycolic toner?

Sarah

Sunday 13th of June 2021

You can add a toner into your skincare routine although The Ordinary 7% Glycolic Acid Toning Solution contains glycolic acid which may decrease product effectiveness or cause irritation or a reaction when combined with other actives. Avoid using it in the same routine as strong acids/strong actives such as retinoids, vitamin C, The Ordinary EUK 134 0.1%, or peptides.

Jodi Hansen

Tuesday 20th of April 2021

Let me start by saying I am 49 years old and besides taking care of my skin, I'm starting to fight the fine lines and wrinkles. I happened upon your one of your products at Marshall's and I loved it. Then I began to look into it and now I've ordered several products. I need a little assistance in figuring out when and how to layer each product. These are the products I bought: Rose Hip Seed Oil, Granactive 2%, Argireline 10%, Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5, Caffeine 5%, and Retinol .5% Squalane. Thank you and I look forward to using all my new products.

Sarah

Friday 23rd of April 2021

When it comes to using multiple serums in the same routine, there are often multiple ways to layer them. In this case, I would start with Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 to hydrate, and then apply Argireline Solution 10%. You can then move on to a retinoid since The Ordinary suggests applying their retinoids after water-based serums. I see that you purchased the Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion and Retinol 0.5% in Squalane. Be sure to use only one retinoid in the same routine (evenings only). You can finish up with Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG under your eyes and apply 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil as your hydrator. If you have additional questions, please reach out to The Ordinary. Thanks!

Eli

Tuesday 13th of April 2021

First of all, THANK YOU for this wonderful, thorough and informative article! I pinned it as soon as I saw it! I was actually searching for articles about Acne scars (I have a combo of hyperpigmentation and rolling scars and came across an article from ukbeautyroom and went crazy and got 7 The Ordinary products listed on there, and now that they have arrived, I felt overwhelmed on how to used them so I came to Pinterest to search for ideas on how to build up a routine and I got to your amazing review. I want to follow the routine for oily and acne prone skin although my skin is more of a mix so I would love if you could point me in the right direction of which products to add up if I also want to get rid of some old cystic acne scars. Thank you so very much!!!

Sarah

Thursday 15th of April 2021

Thanks so much for your kind words! It gets a little difficult when you try to address multiple skincare concerns in one routine, but depending on the type of acne scars that you have, you may consider incorporating The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% into your skincare routine. Please note that it shouldn't be used in the same skincare routine as retinoids, strong acids, EUK 134 0.1% or peptides. I just published a post last week on using The Ordinary products for acne scars, so you can read more about those products here. Thanks!

Mari

Thursday 8th of April 2021

Hello, I plan on trying out your products and while researching came across this amazingly informative article. Since my skin is not "Ordinary" (lol), I actually fall into 2 skincare routines (Combination Skin & Hyperpigmentation/Texture issues). Since the products in each routine are somewhat different (lucky me for the ones that are identical in both the am and pm) and the fact that certain products should not be used in the same routine; I still need help with coming up with a routine that will work for my skin types. Please help out with a routine that will get this 50 year old Ordinary