(it is impossible to forgo the obvious title pun)
Let’s start by admitting: I am a HUGE fan of the beauty phenomenon that is The Ordinary. Ever since I discovered this brand other cosmetics have been promptly binned and replaced with T.O. products.
Why do I love it? Its revolutionary philosophy for starters: “Clinical formulations with integrity”, which translates: it offers pioneering ingredients at super affordable prices. Not only do you get amazing value for your $$$ (an understatement) but you dispense with worrying about getting it wrong with a product. Their thorough portfolio of beauty staples allows you to experiment and find the best fits. To complement this, T.O. website is loaded with information and ample reviews (both negative & positive) on each product. And comprehensive guides of all kinds. Their formulas are also free of parabens, sulphates & the rest of the usual suspects and, obviously, they do not test on animals.
Did I mention the products are unisex?
It is hard to nail it more.
I would blindly recommend all T.O. products but here is a review of the ones I have, so far, tried.
Before we go, a summary of my profile for proper reference:
48 yo female / heavy smoker / chronic insomniac / business & general lifestyle involves extensive socialising (i.e. going out & drinking ~5 x weekly) / currently living under the relentless mediterranean sun. In other words, tough job.
with the above in mind, my skin looks rather amazing and I constantly get asked what (invasive) treatments I am doing (I am not doing any).
The only thing I have been doing is using T.O. products for the past 2 years.
On with it.
Matrixyl 10% + HA
Probably my favourite The Ordinary product, the Matrixyl is peptide heaven and delivers plump, hydrated skin upon application. Per the website’s description its main function is to reduce the look of static and dynamic wrinkles but to me it feels like an injection of well-being – so good it is literally tangible.
Buy it here for £9.00
or if in the USA, here for $11.50
I am a “more is more” mascara user, always opting for the ones that deliver ultra-everything. Invariably, every morning I wake up looking like a racoon because nothing fully removes this stuff. But the Squalane Cleanser can take a challenge. This spectacular product effectively dissolves all types of make-up in a flash, leaving zero trace & zero irritation – just immaculate, well hydrated skin ready to receive further love. Simply warm between your hands, massage onto dry face, rinse with warm water and voilà… your life made easier. Petition for a bigger bottle asap!
Buy it here for £5.50
or if in the USA,here for $7.90
Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA
An excellent moisturiser that immediately delivers surface hydration and an overall sense of well being to the skin. Buy and re-buy.
Attention: when ordering do not make the rookie mistake of going for the 30 ml version. For a mere £1.85 you can get the 100 ml pack and end up with 3x the quantity. Ultimate value for money.
Buy it here for £6.75
or if in the USA,here for $7.70
Coverage Foundation (21-shade range)
This highly pigmented foundation offers good coverage without looking / feeling like a mask & in my case the shade I have picked (2.1 Y) delivers the skin-tone I wish I were born with. As a bonus, the price tag is insane – you can go ahead and buy 3-4 shades to experiment and still be nowhere near the price of the average decent make-up.
Buy it here for £5.90
The No-Brainer Set
As the name suggests, this set is a no-brainer. Featuring 3 of The Ordinary’s most popular products (Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA, Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion & the Buffet) it covers all major skin concerns. Side note: this kit makes for a great gift, for men & women alike.
Buy it here for £24.00
Mineral UV Filters SPF 15 with Antioxidants
I should probably classify this as a star product because it does make you feel instantly & naturally protected and it performs excellently in urban environments.
It has yet to undergo the ultimate test though (read: the real Greek summer, e.g. a week by the beach under the Aegean sun) so I will keep it here and get back to you after the holidays.
UPDATE: It went through the ultimate test of the real Greek summer (a week by the beach under the Aegean sun), with continuous exposure to the sun. It performed great, there is zero stress on my face. Definitely re-buy – in fact, I am making this my go-to sunscreen. As long as I locate it because it is almost constantly sold out. Hint: Buy at least 2 bottles if you come across it.
Buy it here for £7.95
Considered the absolute star product of The Ordinary line, the Buffet targets multiple signs of ageing at once, offering (as the name suggests) a full meal for the skin. While it does deliver, it failed to make my star list because I did not find it as mind-blowing as expected. That said I have re-bought it and probably will again (unless I find myself enamoured with the Buffet & Copper Peptides, once I open it).
Buy it here for £12.50
or if in the USA,here for $14.80
Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5
Very happy with this product and what an amazing price-tag. Have re-bought it and probably will again in the future but for now I am going through a love affair with the Matrixyl and don’t have eyes for it.
Buy it here for £5.90
or if in the USA,here for $6.80
Granactive Retinoid 5% in Squalane
Decent retinol, super-decent price-tag, overall what’s not to like. Unless you are a seasoned retinol user in which case you should probably opt for something more potent. Contrary to the warnings, it didn’t give the least bit of irritation.
Buy it here for £11.90
Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG
This is a nice eye solution. Not in a spectacular way but better than most that is out there. I didn’t re-buy it, mostly because I opted to continue the search for something more powerful. And it was a good idea because I found FECC (check “Bonus Product” at the bottom of the page). That said FECC is x7+ times the price of Caffeine Solution so, if money is an issue, I fully recommend it.
Buy it here for £5.80
or if in the USA, here for $6.70
100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil
A pleasant-feeling oil that I used as the final step after the Buffet & Granactive Retinoid (T.O.’s recommended evening anti-ageing routine). It sat well on top of everything and I would happily have used the entire bottle, except at some point, shortly before ending, it oxidised. In any event I am personally drawing the line at a 3-layer routine and I have now replaced oils with NMF+HA (check “Star Products” above) but if this is not an issue for you, this oil is recommended.
Buy it here for £9.00
or if in the USA, here for $9.80
Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution
I was very pumped about this product – probably to the point of expecting too much of it – and predictably I was a little underwhelmed. That said, it creates a good base for the application of further treatments and I always feel like a responsible adult when using it. Also note, I have zero irritation or other negative response to it (which is a great thing). And the bottle is giant.
Note: Intriguing alternative uses have been mentioned (some people use it as a deodorant, others to take care of rough elbow skin, etc).
Buy it here for £6.75
or if in the USA, here for $8.70
Alpha Lipoic Acid 5%
Jury is still out on this product, since it has not been such a long time I am using it and – crucially – I cannot determine its unique contribution within my full regimen. Its premise is that it improves skin tone and texture, targets fine lines, wrinkles, scars, pigmentation, dullness and boosts radiance. What I can say for sure is that, contrary to the complaints, it does not “burn” the skin and feels perfectly ok. I am favourably disposed and feel I am doing something important for my skin when I put it on (which is every 3rd day). Oh, and the bottle will last forever.
Buy it here for £5.90
High-Adherence Silicone Primer
Not entirely convinced of the merit of using a primer but my favourite make-up artist begs to differ (in fact she considers primer to be the secret to long-lasting make-up) so, at £3.90 (!) I bought it just to experiment with the concept. Yes, it is an extra step in the routine but, yes, it makes for a good canvas to apply make-up on.
Buy it here for £3.90
MEH (but otherwise ok) PRODUCTS
100% Plant-Derived Hemi-Squalane
I am somewhat unclear on what this product does. Apparently it is a hydrator and apparently it is very good for hair too (I have used it as an alternative to detangling serum and it works). It also seems it is a lighter variation of the 100% Plant-Derived Squalane (and it comes at half the price). Yes, it does hydrate and yes it feels nice. Its super low price allows for generous use on the body too. Your call.
(link is to the proper version of the product, not the hemi)
Buy the 100% Plant-Derived Squalane here for £5.50
I have used this as a main hydrator and found it to be a little blunt – not bad per se, just that I couldn’t tell if it was much good either. But alas, I have found the perfect use for it: I now wear it together with my acids and they marry super happily. The texture is very runny (you can deal with this annoying feature by dropping the desired amount on your hand and working from there). The price tag is great (more so for me since I snatched 3 of those at a 50% promo) however and allows for guilt-free experimentation, meaning you can use it anywhere you want, without worrying too much about the waste.
Buy it here for £5.90
Buffet” + Copper Peptides 1%
I guess this is the Buffet on steroids. Challenged by this claim and super-curious about the “extreme” price tag (at £28.90 it is the Ordinary’s most expensive product) I bought the next generation Buffet, but have yet to try it (I am currently experimenting with too many new products and I am a little concerned about balancing self lives between them). The copper peptides will have to wait till September but I have a feeling it will pass the test and make it to the star list.
Buy it here for £28.90
Retinol 0.5% in Squalane
Equally, I was curious about this retinol but haven’t yet managed to squeeze it in my routine. It can’t wait for Greek summer to be over.
Buy it here for £4.90
or if in the USA, here for $5.80
FRACTIONATED EYE CONTOUR CONCENTRATE (Niod)
This product is not from The Ordinary line – it comes from Niod, a sister brand under the umbrella of the Deciem family – but it is too good not to be included.
I am on a perpetual quest for the perfect eye product and after 30 years of research it remains elusive. I was intrigued by the FECC claims (in short, it combines 28 clinical technologies to target practically all under & above-eye issues with positive visible results starting within 3 days ) and simply had to try for myself. While well past the 3 day mark, I have yet to witness 360 results BUT I am ecstatic about the elimination of crow’s feet and the overall plumped and hydrated look of my eye area. Pitted against more hyped products, this one wins hands down. My only complaint is it hasn’t done much for my under-eye circles (but my extremely hectic lifestyle may be “a little” to blame for this). While I’ll still keep an open eye for the holy grail formulation, this is as close to perfect as it has come for me so absolutely re-buy, despite the not-so-friendly price (the bottle last forever anyway). Well worth it.
Buy it here for £43
Note: I have linked the products to Cult Beauty, which offers free shipping for orders over £40 almost anywhere in the world (UK free over £15) and Ulta (USA), which offers free shipping on orders over $35.
What’s your favourite The Ordinary product?
Also note: There is an experimental element about this post: the links are affiliates, or at least I hope they are. It remains to be seen if I have mastered the art of properly linking. Either way, nothing changes for you – at worst I get nothing of it and you end up with Queen-approved, highly functional products.
All photos © The Real Queen of Stuff