The best The Ordinary products all have a similar value proposition: straightforward and effective ingredients in simple formulas. While some brands justify high prices with an endless roster of botanicals and extracts, The Ordinary can trace its success to an opposite approach: Offer consumers a no-frills, solution-focused, low-cost skin care regimen from start to finish. And it works. It’s this simplicity, transparency, and honesty—and of course, this affordability—that have allowed The Ordinary to sell a product per second—and for Estée Lauder to pay a billion dollars for majority control of the company.
Does that make their products the absolute best on the shelves? Not necessarily. For example, they launched a vast spectrum of concealers earlier this year. On the upside, they offer enough shades to compete any brand on the market. But at $6 per tube, no, this isn’t going to have the staying power for a high-end concealer. Does that make it bad? Also no. But it does offer a solution to many people who might only sometimes need concealer, but who always want it to match their skin tone, and who don’t want to spend a fortune on something that they use infrequently. For that, it’s a terrific product.
That’s more or less the approach with the rest of the range. If you’re picky, you might be able to tell the difference between a sub-$10 serum from the Ordinary and a triple-digit competitor. But the best The Ordinary products get you more than 90% of the benefit of a given product, making it the perfect thing for lots of people—maybe for a guy who’s just getting into skin care. So here are our 10 favorite products from The Ordinary. They’ll help you round out your regimen—or build one from the ground up—without gutting your bank account.
A pH-balanced, gentle and hydrating cleanser, powered by squalane. Terrific for frequent washers, sensitive skin, excessively oily skin, or makeup wearers. So more or less everyone.
Super lightweight, this no-frills hyaluronic acid serum helps pull moisture into the skin. You can also mix it into a heavier product for quicker delivery.
A dense but fast-absorbing moisturizer rich in ceramides, amino acids, fatty acids, hyaluronic acid, and numerous other nourishing, balancing ingredients that naturally exist in the skin.
All three foundational products (cleanser, serum, moisturizer) in one set—save your face, and a couple bucks.
A terrific once-a-week mask that vacuums out the pores with charcoal, clay, dissolves buildup and trapped skin cells with salicylic acid, and nourishes skin with squalane.
A great introduction to retinol for anyone interested in this near-magical ingredient. Use it in the evening, after cleanser, before moisturizing—and never in tandem with an exfoliating ingredient like salicylic, lactic, glycolic acid.
Glycolic acid gently exfoliates dead skin cells off the surface of the face, while soothing and balancing skin with aloe vera and ginseng. Use it twice weekly after cleansing, ideally in the evening.
Niacinamide is one of the easiest ingredients you can seek out in skincare—its complexion smoothing and even-ing abilities work without drama on virtually everyone’s skin.
Certain non-pore-clogging oils are effective for skin, even if you have naturally oily skin in the first place. And rosehip oil is one of them, a fantastic final step in any evening skincare regimen. it helps lock in moisture while delivering numerous defenses against visual signs of aging.
The Ordinary is not just for pretty faces: This leave-on serum helps invigorate the scalp and delivers nutrients to the hair follicles, resulting in fuller, thicker hair. (You’ll need to use it daily for a few months before noticing results.)
36 shades, 6 bucks. Whether you go through concealer quickly or barely use it at all, this low-cost blemish masker will keep you more confident on date nights and Zoom calls.