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The Ordinary Explained
This is your complete guide to The Ordinary. The cult skincare brand are known for their no nonsense approach to skin products, focusing solely on the active ingredients that work. As such, you can build your very own personalised skincare routine depending on what your skin is looking for.
Not only are the brand focused on delivering your skin exactly what it needs, they are also champions of sustainability and are included in our Positive Change edit. From plant-based sources to glass bottles rather than plastic, The Ordinary are paving the way for a better future for us all.
We break it down ingredient by ingredient, to empower you to make the decisions you need when it comes to your skincare. Skincare is as simple as ABC with The Ordinary.
A IS FOR...
A highly concentrated anti-ageing antioxidant formula. This active ingredient works to improve the tone and texture of the skin with gentle exfoliation, treating the appearance of scars, hyperpigmentation, dullness, fine lines and wrinkles.
Found in: Alpha Lipoic Acid 5%
Alpha Arbutin is a highly-purified biosynthetic active ingredient that reduces the appearance of dark spots and uneven skin tone. This means that it is designed to target pigmentation, and to improve skin tone.
Found in: Alpha Arbutin 2%; Ascorbic Acid 8% + Alpha Arbutin 2%
Ascorbic Acid, or Vitamin C, is a powerful antioxidant. This means that it fights free radicals to target signs of ageing and to improve skin tone and brightness.
Found in: Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate Solution 20% in Vitamin F; Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12%; Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate 10%; Vitamin C Suspension 23% in HA Spheres 2%; Vitamin C Suspension 30% in Silicone; Ascorbic Acid 8% + Alpha Arbutin 2%
This acid brightens skin tone, promotes more even texture and fights blemishes and acne. It is perfect for anyone with sensitive skin, and has been shown to reduce redness and improve rosacea.
Found In: Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%
Argireline is a peptide complex which has been proven to improve the appearance of dynamic lines and folds in the skin, particularly around the eyes and in the forehead area. Argireline is a peptide which affects the nerve-to-muscle communication, prevent muscles from contracting fully and thus creating a smoother appearance in skin. It also stimulates collagen production.
Found In: Argireline Solution 10%
Alpha Hydroxy Acids are a group of acids which occur naturally in foods, most often fruit. They work to aid the skin’s natural shedding process. AHAs exfoliate the skin’s surface, improve moisture content of the skin and brighten ageing skin.
Found In: Lactic Acid 10% + HA; Lactic Acid 5% + HA; Mandelic Acid 10% + HA; AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution; Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution
Amino Acids are the building blocks out of which proteins and peptides are made. They help to maintain hydration in the skin, promote even texture and resilience for a healthy appearance.
Found In: Amino Acids + B5; Peptide Serums
B IS FOR...
Buffet is a multi-technology peptide serum, containing several different peptide complexes and probiotic complexes in a base of 11 skin-friendly amino acids and multiple hyaluronic acid complexes. This serum is an anti-ageing powerhouse, which combats several signs of ageing at once.
Found In: Buffet; Buffet + Copper Peptides 1%
BHAs are preferred for oil or acne-prone skin, and can be used to treat blackheads and whiteheads. With anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, BHAs help dissolve the oil that clogs pores and results in clearer, more even skin.
Found in: Salicylic Acid 2% Masque; Salicylic Acid 2% Solution; AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution
C IS FOR...
Caffeine has been shown to help reduce the appearance of puffiness or dark circles in the eye contour when applied topically. Some studies have also shown that caffeine can reduce the appearance of cellulite.
Found in: Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG
See Ascorbic Acid above.
E IS FOR...
EUK-134™ forms an exceptionally rare self-regenerating antioxidant that fights free radicals. This molecule can regenerate itself constantly to provide long-lasting antioxidant support.
Found In: EUK 134 0.1%
F IS FOR...
An important antioxidant in skincare, Ferulic Acid is a high-potency phytochemical antioxidant found naturally in plant cell walls. Ferulic Acid often works in combination with other antioxidants to reduce the development of fine lines, dark spots and wrinkles.
Found In: Resveratrol 3% + Ferulic Acid 3%
G IS FOR...
Glycolic Acid is an AHA which works to exfoliate skin, removing an outer layer of dead cells to reveal brighter, fresher skin. Glycolic acid can be used to treat scarring, skin discolouration, signs of ageing and acne or blemish prone skin.
Found In: Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution
H IS FOR...
Hyaluronic Acid (sometimes referred to as HA), is a naturally-occurring sugar that our body creates. It can hold a thousand times its weight in water, helping our skin and joints to retain moisture and keeping skin hydrated and plump.
Because of its nature, Hyaluronic Acid is often paired with other active ingredients to encourage absorption by the skin.
Found In: Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5; Marine Hyaluronics; Natural Moisturising Factors + HA; Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA; Matrixyl 10% + HA; Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%; Lactic Acid 10% + HA; Lactic Acid 5% + HA; Mandelic Acid 10% + HA
L IS FOR...
Lactic Acid is a mild AHA which is generally used to treat hyperpigmentation, age spots, and dull or uneven skin tone. By exfoliating the outer layer of the skin, Lactic Acid brightens, smooths and reduces the appearance of pores.
Found In: Lactic Acid 5% + HA 1%; Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2%
M IS FOR...
Mandelic Acid is a mild AHA which is usually used to treat blemish-prone or oily skin. It works to unclog pores and reduce inflammation, helping to regulate oil production and as a consequence, minimise blemishes.
Found In: Mandelic Acid 10% + HA
Natural Moisturising Factors are the essential building blocks of skin that keep the outer layer of skin protected and hydrated.
Found In: Natural Moisturising Factors + HA
Matrixyl is a trademarked peptide complex, which has been shown to reduce the appearance of both static and dynamic wrinkles or lines and fight signs of ageing.
Found In: Matrixyl 10% + HA
N IS FOR...
Niacinamide, also known as Vitamin B3, helps to reduce the appearance of skin blemishes and congestion by balancing sebum production.
Found In: Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%
O IS FOR...
While applying oils might seem counter-productive, facial oils are an important part of any skincare routine. Facial oils soak into the skin to prevent water loss and keep skin looking plump. Different oils also have different antioxidants or vitamins and minerals to give added benefits.
Found In: “B” Oil; 100% Cold-Pressed Virgin Marula Oil; 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Moroccan Argan Oil; 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil; 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Borage Seed Oil; 100% Organic Virgin Chia Seed Oil; 100% Organic Virgin Sea-Buckthorn Fruit Oil
P IS FOR...
Pycnogenol is a high-potency, plant-derived antioxidant that works to rejuvenate skin to enhance skin hydration and elasticity. Pycnogenol binds with collagen and elastin proteins and protects them from breaking down, fighting the signs of ageing from the inside out.
Found In: Pycnogenol 5%
Peptides are the building blocks of proteins such as collagen, elastin and keratin. These proteins are responsible for hydrated, resilient skin. When applied topically to skin, peptides can help prompt skin to produce new collagen for younger, more refreshed skin.
Found In: “Buffet”; “Buffet” + Copper Peptides 1%; Argireline Solution 10%; Matrixyl 10% + HA
R IS FOR...
Retinol is a form of Vitamin A. Vitamin A is an ingredient which is responsible for promoting skin renewal and rejuvenation. Collagen production begins to decline in your 30s, so retinol can help to renew collagen production. Retinol can be used to treat a host of skin concerns, from acne to fine lines to uneven skin tone.
Found In: Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion; Granactive Retinoid 2% in Squalane; Granactive Retinoid 5% in Squalane; Retinol 0.2% in Squalane; Retinol 0.5% in Squalane
Resveratrol is a natural phenol found in several plants. It is an antioxidant which fights to reverse damage caused by ultraviolet radiation, pollution and stress. It also stimulates healthy cell growth and regeneration.
Found In: Resveratrol 3% + Ferulic Acid 3%
S IS FOR...
Squalane can help to boost hydration for healthier, more supple and vibrant skin. Squalane balances oil production, allowing for ample moisturisation without clogging pores.
Found In: 100% Plant-Derived Hemi-Squalane; 100% Plant-Derived Squalane; Squalane Cleanser
A BHA, Salicylic Acid is the perfect choice for acne-prone or blemish-prone skin. Salicylic Acid helps to exfoliate the outer layer of skin, dissolving any debris in the pores to unclog them and promote healing.
Found In: Salicylic Acid 2% Masque; Salicylic Acid 2% Solution
U IS FOR...
UV Filters are ingredients which absorb or reflect the UVA and UVB rays in sunlight and artificial light. These filters protect skin from the harmful effects of UV light, such as skin damage, ageing and more.
Found In: Mineral UV Filters SPF15 with Antioxidants; Mineral UV Filters SPF 30 with Antioxidants
Z IS FOR...
Zinc has long been known as one of the most important minerals for our skin, so it makes sense to end our guide here. Zinc is one of the essential minerals our body needs for wound healing and regeneration, and as such, in skincare, can be used to treat acne, blemishes, sun damage and signs of ageing.
Found In: Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%