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The Ordinary Skincare Routine for Beginners

When you are just starting out in skincare, it’s important to keep things simple. Overcomplicating your skincare routine can lead to irritation and skin issues, not to mention the fact that it can be costly!

The Ordinary is a skincare brand known for its simple, no-frills approach to skincare, and the brand’s cruelty-free products are very affordable.

So today, we’ll look at a few simple The Ordinary product options for your routine in this The Ordinary skincare routine for beginners post.

The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser, Buffet, Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA, Mineral UV Filters SPF 30 with Antioxidants

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Getting Started With The Ordinary

What is the best way to go about starting an affordable skincare routine with The Ordinary?

Stick to the basics! The best way to start is by using just a few essential products that will cleanse, moisturize, and protect your skin.

To cleanse your skin, you’ll want to use a gentle face wash that won’t strip your skin of its natural oils.

You can go straight to a moisturizer or use a serum to target your main skin concerns. Finally, always remember to apply sunscreen every single day to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays.

If you’re looking for a more in-depth skincare routine based on your skin type, don’t miss my post on how to build a skincare routine with The Ordinary.


Regardless of what skincare brand you use on your skin, never forget to wash your face every day, preferably twice a day.

This is the most important step in any skincare routine and will help remove dirt, oil, and makeup from your skin.

Step #1: The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser

The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser

The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser is formulated to remove makeup with gentle cleansing ingredients and moisturizers like squalane.

It’s non-comedogenic, so it won’t clog your pores. The soap-free formula is made for all skin types.

For the best results, be sure to rub the balm-like cleanser between your palms for at least 10 seconds before application, so it turns into an oil-like consistency.

This allows it to trap makeup, dirt, and oil when mixed with water. Please see my complete review for more details on this cleanser.

Step #2: Serum (Optional)

In my opinion, where The Ordinary really shines are its treatment serums. They have so many affordable options that can easily overwhelm a beginner.

When first starting out, you can skip a serum altogether or choose one serum that targets your main skin concern.

Unfortunately, we often deal with more than one skin concern, so if you want to try more than one serum, depending on the formula, you can use them together, alternate days, or use one morning and one in the evening.

If you want to incorporate a serum into your skincare routine, start simple with one or two of the following serums and build from there. You can use all of the following serums in both our AM and PM skincare routines.

Here are a few serum options that should appeal to many different skin types:

The Ordinary Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12% (For All Skin Types)

During the day, I always like to use an antioxidant serum to protect my skin from environmental stress.

Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that helps to brighten dull skin and protect the skin from free radical damage while targeting the signs of aging, like wrinkles and fine lines.

Pure vitamin C (ascorbic acid) can be irritating depending on the concentration, but luckily many vitamin C derivatives provide the same benefits as pure vitamin C, such as antioxidant protection, brightening, and wrinkle-fighting benefits.

While vitamin C derivatives are less potent than pure vitamin C, they still provide multiple benefits and are much less irritating.

The Ordinary Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12%

The Ordinary Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12% is an example of a vitamin C derivative that is well tolerated by most skin types.

It’s a water-based serum that contains 12% ascorbyl glucoside, a vitamin C derivative that is more stable and less irritating than pure vitamin C.

Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12% is more gentle on the skin than The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension products, which contain pure vitamin C.

If you have sensitive skin, consider starting with this serum and see how your skin reacts before moving on to a pure vitamin C serum.

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% (For Combination, Oily and Acne Prone Skin)

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% is a serum that contains 10% niacinamide, an ingredient that offers many benefits for combination, oily, and acne-prone skin.

Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3 that helps to brighten skin, even out skin tone, and improve the appearance of pores. This active ingredient also helps to calm and soothe inflamed skin.

It supports a healthy skin barrier and even targets the signs of aging like wrinkles and fine lines.

This niacinamide serum also contains zinc, a mineral that is beneficial for oily skin. Zinc helps to control the production of sebum, which can lead to a less oily complexion.

The Ordinary Multi-Peptide + HA Serum, formerly known as The Ordinary “Buffet” (For Aging Skin)

The Ordinary Multi-Peptide + HA Serum

If your main skin concerns relate to the visible signs of aging, The Ordinary Multi-Peptide + HA Serum (formerly known as “Buffet”) is a peptide serum that uses several technologies to target those concerns.

The Ordinary Multi-Peptide + HA Serum contains a mix of multiple peptides, amino acids, hyaluronic acid complexes, and other ingredients that target the visible signs of aging.

The serum works to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, hydrate and plump the skin, increase firmness and skin elasticity, and brighten the skin.

The combination of ingredients makes this serum ideal for aging skin, but it can be used on any skin type, as it has a comfortable water-based consistency.

This is a great alternative to more potent anti-aging actives like retinol when just starting out in skincare, as it is non-irritating and gentle on the skin.

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid + B5 (For Dry Skin)

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 serum

If you deal with dry skin and need a hydration boost, The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid + B5 is a serum that contains vegan hyaluronic acid and vitamin B5.

Don’t let the word acid scare you. Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a hydration powerhouse. It can hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water and acts like a sponge.

HA absorbs moisture, plumps, and hydrates skin. It also helps to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.

Vitamin B5 is beneficial for dry skin as it helps to moisturize and soften the skin.

The formula contains hyaluronic acid at different weights, which provides lasting hydration in multiple layers of your skin.

The serum is perfect for dry skin but can be used on all skin types and is great for dehydrated skin.

Step #3: Moisturizer

Regardless of your skin type, all skin needs a moisturizer to support a healthy skin barrier. A moisturizer will help seal in hydration, plump skin, and protect it from environmental stressors.

The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA

The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA

The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA is a lightweight moisturizer that contains natural ingredients that help to hydrate and protect your skin.

The moisturizer is named after Natural Moisturizing Factors (NMF), which are the natural substances found in our skin and help keep it hydrated.

This The Ordinary moisturizer contains 11 amino acids, phospholipids, fatty acids, triglycerides, sterols and sterol esters, glycerin, moisturizing ceramide precursors, urea, saccharides, and sodium PCA, which are all ingredients that help to keep skin hydrated.

The moisturizer also contains hyaluronic acid, which, as we already know, is a powerful hydration booster.

The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA is perfect for all skin types as it provides lightweight, non-greasy hydration.

Related Post: The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA Review

Step #4: Sunscreen (AM only)

Whether you choose to use sunscreen from The Ordinary or any other skincare brand, the most important thing is that you use sunscreen every single day.

It’s not one of the most glamorous products in your skincare routine, but sunscreen is one of the most important skin care products in your routine.

I tell my 12-year-old niece that she should always wear sunscreen, and by the time she is my age, she will have avoided all of the sun damage that I didn’t, and if she’s lucky, she will see minimal wrinkles and fine lines.

You might be tempted to skip sunscreen, but please don’t.

The Ordinary’s sunscreens are mineral-based, so if you prefer chemical sunscreens that don’t leave a white cast, you can always go with another affordable brand.

Want a The Ordinary skincare routine that is tailored to your unique skin type and concerns? Take my exclusive The Ordinary Skincare Quiz now!

The Ordinary Mineral UV Filters SPF 30 With Antioxidants

The Ordinary Mineral UV Filters SPF 30 with Antioxidants

The Ordinary Mineral Filters SPF 30 with Antioxidants contains multiple technologies to protect the skin from the sun’s harmful rays.

The sunscreen contains titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, which are physical sunscreens that work by reflecting the sun’s rays away from your skin.

Multiple antioxidants scavenge and protect the skin from free radical damage from environmental factors like UV radiation from the sun. Skin identical lipids help to prevent water loss from the skin.

This mineral sunscreen is also formulated with multiple amino acids that moisturize the skin and a Tasmanian pepperberry derivative that helps to reduce irritation and the appearance of redness.

While physical mineral sunscreens avoid concerns related to chemical sunscreens, they can sometimes leave a white cast on the skin, depending on your skin tone.

Mineral sunscreens tend to work best for those with combination or oily skin types, as they tend to be drier on the skin.

The Ordinary’s sunscreen has a thick texture and can be too light for darker skin tones.

If this is the case, you can find plenty of affordable sunscreens at the drugstore that are very affordable.

If you want to stick with a mineral sunscreen, you can check out a few excellent options in my post on the best drugstore mineral sunscreens.

For more details on this sunscreen, please see my review here.

Patch Test New Products

With any new skincare products, it’s a good idea to patch test every skincare product before using it on your skin for the first time to make sure you don’t have any adverse reactions.

Please see The Ordinary’s patch test guide for more details.

Example The Ordinary Beginner Skincare Routines

Now that we’ve reviewed the basics, let’s build a The Ordinary skincare routine for beginners that you can use both in your morning and evening skincare routines.

Go with the first routine to keep it super simple, or incorporate a serum into your routine to target specific skin concerns.

Example – Basic The Ordinary Skin Care Routine For Beginners

  1. The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser
  2. The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA
  3. Mineral UV Filters SPF 30 with Antioxidants (AM only)


Example – Targeted The Ordinary Skin Care Routine For Beginners

  1. The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser
  2. The Ordinary Serum for your main skin concern (Ascorbyl Glucoside 12% Solution for all skin types, OR Niacinamide 10% + B5 for oily and combination skin, OR The Ordinary Multi-Peptide + HA Serum (formerly known as “Buffet”) for aging skin, Hyaluronic Acid + B5 for dry skin)
  3. The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA
  4. Mineral UV Filters SPF 30 with Antioxidants (AM only)

Intermediate and Advanced Options

When you are ready to expand your horizons and start using more potent skincare products, you can begin exploring The Ordinary’s retinoids and acids.

Where to start? Start by addressing your main skin concerns.

Dull Skin / Hyperpigmentation and Dark Spots

The Ordinary Exfoliating Acids for Wrinkles

If you are dealing with dull skin, consider using an alpha hydroxy acid to increase cell turnover and sweep away dead skin cells to reveal a brighter, smoother complexion.

The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution is a glycolic acid toner that is an effective chemical exfoliator that reduces uneven skin tone, hyperpigmentation, and dark spots and improves skin texture and radiance.

Choose one of The Ordinary’s lactic acid or mandelic acid serums for a less irritating option.

The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% and The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA serums are other good choices for hyperpigmentation, sun spots, and skin discoloration.

Related Post: The Ordinary Lactic Acid Review

Aging and Mature Skin

The Ordinary Retinol/Retinoids for Wrinkles

If you are dealing with visible signs of aging like wrinkles and fine lines, nothing beats a retinoid. One of my favorite anti-aging products from The Ordinary is their Granactive Retinoid Emulsion 2%.

It has a comfortable emulsion texture for my combination skin and smoothes my fine lines.

Consider one of The Ordinary’s Granactive Retinoid or retinol serums in squalane if you have dry, aging skin.

For more on The Ordinary’s Granactive Retinoid and retinol products, please see The Ordinary retinol guide.

You might want to address the signs of aging around your eyes. The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG is a fantastic eye serum to help reduce the look of puffiness and dark circles.

Or you may want to consider The Ordinary’s newer eye serum, The Ordinary Multi-Peptide Eye Serum.

Oily and Acne-Prone Skin

The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution hand held

Consider incorporating The Ordinary’s reformulated Salicylic Acid 2% Solution into your skincare routine if you have acne-prone skin.

It should be used in the evenings and will work to clear away pore-clogging sebum and dead skin cells. For more on this serum, please see my review.

The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution

Another cult favorite for resurfacing the skin to improve skin texture and clarity is The Ordinary AHA BHA Peeling Solution.

This product is STRONG, though, and should not be used on sensitive skin and only be considered once you become familiar with direct skincare acids.

Please see my post What to Use After The Ordinary Peeling Solution for more on this product.

Where To Buy The Ordinary Products

You can purchase The Ordinary products at The Ordinary, Ulta, Sephora, and Target.

Final Thoughts on The Ordinary Skincare Routine for Beginners

When first starting out, try to keep your skin care regimen as simple as possible to increase the likelihood that you will actually follow through. The goal is not to overwhelm yourself and give up before you even start!

The Ordinary has so many great products that it can be tempting to want to try them all, but when you are just starting out, it is best to stick to a few a build from there once you see how your skin responds.

Regardless of which products you choose from The Ordinary, know that you are getting thoughtfully formulated, cruelty-free, and vegan skincare products that will not break your budget.

For more of the best The Ordinary products targeted to specific skin types and concerns, be sure to check out these posts:

Thanks for reading!

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