The Ordinary – A Recommended Routine For Every Skin Type

(This post is not an ad, sponsored or paid for and does not contain any affiliate links. All products sent for review unless otherwise stated.)

Ever since The Ordinary launched my number one question is now “what should I buy?”. People are excited and somewhat confused, which I can completely understand. Choosing the right products for your skin type and needs can be a daunting task, especially when there are so many options. In the beginning it was pretty easy since there were only ten products, but now there are almost thirty (with more on the way), so it has become even harder to not only know which ones to buy, but how to use them. I wanted to create this guide with recommended routines in the hopes that in addition to my review, it will make it as easy as possible to use these products and get the most out of them. I also wanted to show you what a typical skincare routine looks like so you will be able to understand when to use a product and why.

What Order Do I Use The Products In?

Aside from wanting to know what to buy, my other biggest question is what order to use the products in. I realize that many of you are new to this crazy skincare world (welcome!) and have no idea what a “complete” routine looks like, so before I get in to the recommendations I wanted to give you a guide to what a typical one should look like and what order the products are used in. Unlike in my review where I grouped the products by ingredients, when you are actually using the products the order is determined by the texture. The general rule is “lightest to heaviest”, which just means you use products with light, thin, watery textures that absorb quickly before those with heavier/thicker textures like oils, balms and moisturizers. The reason for this is not only will the products layer and “sit” more comfortably on your skin, but they will also penetrate and perform better too. Here’s a look at what an average AM and PM routine should look like with a focus on how to incorporate The Ordinary products effectively.

AM Step 1 – Morning Cleanse: Skin Refresh/Product Prep

In this step you want to use something light, gentle and non-drying to refresh your skin and prepare it for the products you will apply next. These are examples of what I use and each one is a different texture. The Omorovicza Moor Cream Cleanser is a creamy clay that is purifying without being drying and feels really refreshing on hot days, the Oskia Renaissance Cleansing Gel (review here) is a light gel-balm that I have used for years (leave a comment if you’d like a 50% code for this), The Aurelia Miracle Cleanser (review here) is a thin creamy cleanser that is cooling, soothing and mildly purifying, Mahalo’s The Unveil is a beautiful light balm cleanser that provides gentle exfoliation and rinses away with just water (as do all of these), the de Mamiel Pure Calm Cleansing Dew is a gel-oil texture that is great when your skin is flaking from retinol and lastly NIOD’s Sanskrit Saponins (review here) is an excellent choice for those with oily skin.

Optional – SDSM and CAIS

I didn’t know whether to give this step an official number because some of you may choose to skip it entirely, but for me it is one of the most important parts of my routine and it goes after cleansing and before everything else. I have a review of SDSM here (SDSM2 coming soon), CAIS 1% here and CAIS 5% here. Most days I spritz SDSM all over and then while my skin is somewhat damp I apply CAIS. I like doing this because I find I use less CAIS and the combo just works so well together. You can also use the CAIS alone (which I sometimes do with the 5%) and then use SDSM afterwards as a traditional toner. If you don’t use these then skip to step 2 or 3.

AM Step 2 – Acid Tone

This is a step popularized by Caroline Hirons and I know many of you love to do it. I’m not a fan anymore and don’t acid tone, but if you can’t live without this step then it would come after cleansing (and SDSM and CAIS if you use them) and before everything else. If you use CAIS then please wait at least one minute before apply the Toning Solution to make sure the copper serum has fully absorbed. When I acid toned I actually waited about 5 minutes. If you don’t do this step skip to number 3.

AM Step 3 – Toners/Mists/Spritzes etc

This is somewhat of a controversial step with some wondering if it’s even worth it, but for me it is an essential. Hydration is so important for healthy, balanced skin and with the right product you can get so much more. If you don’t use SDSM with CAIS after cleansing then try using it here. I picked the other four because they are beautiful, contain excellent ingredients and are reasonably priced. The de Mamiel Dewy Facial Mist is a stunning plant based serum quality mist, the iS Clinical Copper Firming Mist is a great option if you don’t use CAIS and I use it on days when I don’t have time for lots of steps, the Evolve Beauty Daily Defense Moisture Mist is an incredible price considering the high quality ingredients, as is the Hyalmide Hydra-Density Mist. I will have a review on all of these coming soon.

AM Step 4 – Eyes

(From left to right: The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCGThe White Company x Deciem Eye Revive, Elemis Pro-Collagen Eye Renewal, NIOD Fractionated Eye Contour Concentrate, Exuviance Age Reverse Eye Contour, Hylamide SubQ EyesSkyn Iceland Brightening Eye Serum.)

This step is the one I struggle with the most and to be perfectly honest I end up skipping it most days in favour of taking SDSM and CAIS around the eyes. If you are diligent with this step or want to be then this is where it features. The reason for this is to get it straight on to the skin before you apply anything heavier that could act as a barrier. These are a few that I have used and really enjoyed over the past couple of years. Deciem have four with different textures and price points, but I also like the other three as an example of good non-Deceim alternatives.

AM Step 5 – Water Based Serums

(From left to right: Salicylic Acid 2%, Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5, 2%, Argireline Solution 10%, Matrixyl 10% + HA, Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 2%, Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA, “Buffet”, Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 10%.)

This is where the “lightest to heaviest” concept applies. Whatever serums you use, make sure the water-based (usually gel textured) one comes first, especially if it’s a hyaluronic acid. Products won’t be able to penetrate or perform properly if they are not layered correctly, especially with something like the hyaluronic acid because it draws whatever you apply on top deeper into the dermis for even better results. I would recommend using the HA 2% + B5 first then whichever of these you have on top. With the salicylic acid I like to either use it directly on my skin after toning or after the HA serum and before everything else. This way it can get to work faster because there are no product “barriers”. This step is also where you would apply essences or “lotions” popular in K-Beauty.

AM Step 6 – Moisturizers/Emulsions/Suspensions

This step is were you would use your usual moisturizer that has a cream based texture (usually contains a mix of oils/butters etc) and depending on the ingredients can do a number of things beyond just moisturizing the skin. These are the four products from The Ordinary that I consider potential moisturizers. Obviously Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA is an excellent traditional example, but Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate 10% would work well too for those who are looking to incorporate a gentle Vitamin C without having too many layers. If you use the Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2% then it would be used as or before your moisturizer, followed by sunscreen/primer. With the Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% this could work really well for those with acne-prone skin as a treament-moisturizer-primer in one. If you like to use oils during the day instead of moisturizers then this is where you would use them. If you like to use moisturizers AND oils then the oil would be used second.

AM Step 7 – Sunscreen

This is such an important step because without it you are basically undoing all the results your other products are achieving. Sunscreen protects against all aspects of skin aging and without it you will have a harder time fixing whatever issues you have, even if you have acne. As many of you will know by now Deciem are releasing multiple sunscreens under NIOD and The Ordinary and there will be something for everyone. This is an essential step and there is no excuse to skip it now.

Primers

(From left to right: High-Adherence Silicone Primer, High-Spreadibility Fluid Primer, Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%.)

I didn’t include this in the official step because I know not all of you wear makeup and even if you do, don’t use a primer, but if you are someone who does or wants to then it would feature at the end of your skincare routine and before foundation. As I said earlier, the AA 10% could work very well as a primer for those with acne-prone skin because it has a similar texture to HASP, but with the added skin benefits to heal the skin.

PM Step 1 – Makeup/Sunscreen/Daily Grime Removal

At the end of the day it’s important to cleanse as soon as you can. Most of us have had makeup and/or sunscreen on our faces for hours or have just been out in the world exposed to pollution/dirt/grime etc. These are some of my favourite evening first cleanses because they are efficient and don’t strip my skin. If I am wearing a lot of makeup I will use the Hylamide High-Efficiency Face Cleaner because it works so well and is very inexpensive or I’ll use the Whamisa Organic Flowers Cleansing Oil, which I love for when my skin is a bit irritated. If I am wearing light or no makeup and my skin is a bit oily then I will use The White Company’s Super Balm (review here) and I love how clean and soft it leaves my skin. For a more indulgent cleanse on non-makeup days I use something like de Mamiel’s stunning Restorative Cleansing Balm or Votary’s beautiful Super Seed Cleansing Oil. You can use whatever texture works best for you, but usually an oil or balm is a good choice for a first cleanse.

PM Step 2 – Skin Cleanse and Product Prep

After the first cleanse to remove makeup etc, the second cleanse is all about cleaning your actual skin and you can use the same cleanser as you did in the morning. I personally like to use something that caters to my skin’s needs that day so if it’s oily I will use NIOD SS or the de Mamiel Pure Calm Cleansing Dew, if it’s irritated I’ll use Aurelia’s Miracle Cleanser or if it’s dry I will use the Oskia Renaissance Cleansing Gel (which can be left on as a mask) and if I feel my skin is looking dull I will use Mahalo’s The Unveil. Just make sure whatever cleanser you use doesn’t dry out the skin too much, no matter what you skin type is.

Optional – SDSM and CAIS

(Same as above. Please see AM steps for more info.)

Step 3 – Acids and Retinols

(From left to right: Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution, Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2%, Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2%, Advanced Retinoid 2%, Retinol 1%.)

Unlike in the morning, this is a pretty versatile step where you can use your acid toner, one of the lactic acid serums or a retinol product. With the acids it’s important they are applied first so they can actually work on the skin and with the retinols it is my personal preference (although I have read this recommended too) to apply them directly to the skin for the best results. The Retinoid 2% is an emulsion so you could easily carry on with your normal routine without any issues, but with the Retinol 1% because of the silicones, you should only be able to apply an oil or balm on top, which is what I do. If you have very dry or sensitive skin I would suggest using a HA based serum before the Retinol 1% to help act as buffer to “protect” the skin. I also like to keep things simple on retinol nights and just use that as my treatment and serum in one and then protect and heal the skin with an oil or balm.

If you want to use a wash off acid like The Peeling Solution or use the lactic acids as a wash off mask then apply those after cleansing. If you use SDSM and CAIS then wait at least half an hour before applying those, but if you don’t then just go straight into your toner step. This is also where you would use a face mask like my favourite Flavanone Mud (review here) – after cleansing and before acids/toners/retinols.

AM Step 3 – Toners/Mists/Spritzes etc

Just like with your evening second cleanse, your evening toner step can use the same product as you did in the morning. Again, I like to choose something that suits my skin’s needs and you can use any that you like as long as it doesn’t contain alcohol, which can be very drying and create unbalance for the skin. Please see the above AM step for more info on these.

PM Step 4 – Eyes

(Same as above. Please see AM steps for more info.)

PM Step 5 – Serums

(Same as above. Please see AM steps for more info.)

As with the morning routine you can use whichever serum suits your skin’s need and just be sure to apply them lightest to heaviest. In the evenings your serums will usually be more treatment based and contain more active ingredients that focus on your main skin concerns. I like to alternate between tackling acne and hyperpigmentation when I’m not using a retinol.

PM Step 6 – Moisturizers/Oils/Balms

(From left to right: 100% Cold-Pressed Virgin Marula Oil100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil, 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Moroccan Argan Oil, 100% Plant-Derived SqualaneAscorbyl Tetraisopalmitate Solution 20% in Vitamin F, Alpha Lipoic Acid 5%.)

Oils are another controversial step because of the fact that many from green beauty brands contain essential oils, which some find irritating and because some people believe they can get all the hydration they need from them, which isn’t true. Saying that, they are a beautiful and important step to nourish, heal, soothe, protect, treat and fortify the skin. There are so many out there and whatever you use it will be the last step in your evening routine (after moisturizer or before a balm or mixed together, if you use those). From The Ordinary you have the four traditional oils as well as the Vit C 20% because it has an oil texture. You would also use the Alpha Lipoic Acid 5% in this step because of the texture and Deciem recommend mixing it with your usual oil 2-3 times a week, which I think works really well.

(Some of my favourite oil blends from left to right: Votary Super Seed Facial Oil, Rosalena Beauty & The Beast Facial Oil, La Belle Lune Organic Skin, Vanderohe No. 1 Nourishing Face Serum, de Mamiel Spring Facial Oil.)

Even though it seems like a lot of work, these routines take around 5 minutes or less, depending on what you’re using and how much time you want to spend. I can do my full morning routine in under 5 minutes if I am rushing, but I can also take hours for my evening routine if I am indulging in facial massages or multi-masking. Once you’ve got the hang of it, you will find doing this effortless, quick  and hopefully fun! Of course, you can pick and choose which steps you need and what works for you and don’t be afraid to experiment. Sometimes I do just two steps when I don’t have time and in the summer I often just cleanse, tone and apply sunscreen. It’s all about what you like and what your skin needs, this is just a guide to give you a general idea of how skincare routines work.

What Should I Use For My Skin Type?

Now on to my recommendations! Before we begin, it is very important to note that everyone’s skin is unique and will react differently to the exact same products or ingredients. There is no such thing as a “one size fits all” product and these regimens are recommendations, not guarantees. Taking care of your skin is a process and results require consistency and patience, and in a lot of cases, simplicity. Even though there are a lot of products in this range, you do not need them all. I would suggest starting with around 5-7 depending on your skin type and recording your routines to track the effects. I would also recommend not starting every new product at once, but I know that’s not always easy, so please proceed with caution and pay attention to your skin for any changes, irritation or inflammation.

Acne-Prone Skin

AM – Cleanse, NIOD SDSM and CAIS (if you use them) or balancing toner, Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5Niacinamide 10% + Zinc PCA 1%, Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%, sunscreen.

PM – Double Cleanse, NIOD SDSM and CAIS (if you use them), Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution or Advanced Retinoid 2%, Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5, 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rosehip Seed Oil and/or 100% Cold-Pressed Virgin Marula Oil.

Extras: Salicylic Acid 2% Solution to spot treat, NIOD FM as an anti-inflammatory masque and Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate 10% if it does not cause irritation.

The goal of this routine is to calm inflammation, support a healthy functioning skin barrier, balance oil production, heal blemishes and prevent new ones from forming. Hydration is extremely important for compromised (acne prone) skin and improving barrier function will help it to heal and protect itself from infections and bacteria that lead to inflammation and blemishes.

Dry/Dehydrated Skin

AM – Cleanse, NIOD SDSM and CAIS (if you use them) or hydrating toner, Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12% (or any of the others), Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA, sunscreen and/or High-Spreadability Fluid Primer.

PM – Double Cleanse, NIOD SDSM and CAIS (if you use them), Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution or Advanced Retinoid 2% or Lactic Acid 5% + HA, Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5, 100% Plant-Derived Squalane and/or 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Moroccan Argan Oil.

Extras: “Buffet” if wrinkles are a dry skin side effect and AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution as a weekly treatment.

Obviously with this skin type the goal is keeping the skin hydrated and moisturized. Each step does exactly that and should help the skin stay plump, smooth and soft.

Oily/Combination Skin

AM – Cleanse, NIOD SDSM and CAIS (if you use them), balancing toner or Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution, Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5Niacinamide 10% + Zinc PCA 1%, sunscreen and/or Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% or High Adherence Silicone Primer.

PM – Double Cleanse, NIOD SDSM and CAIS (if you use them), Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution, Niacinamide 10% + Zinc PCA 1%, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate 10%, 100% Plant-Derived Squalane.

Extras: Salicylic Acid 2% Solution or AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution as a weekly treatment.

With oily or combination skin the most important thing is balance. These products will help the skin regulate it’s oil production by providing it with the moisture it needs. The acids will help stop pores getting clogged by the excess oil and sebum.

Dull/Uneven/Hyperpigmented Skin

AM – Cleanse, NIOD SDSM and CAIS (if you use them), Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution, Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA, Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12%, Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%, sunscreen.

PM – Double Cleanse, NIOD SDSM and CAIS (if you use them), Advanced Retinoid 2%, Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate Solution 20% in Vitamin F, 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rosehip Seed Oil.

Extras: AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution or Lactic Acid 10% + HA as a weekly treatment.

Improving dull skin takes time and patience, but this routine should help the skin shed it’s hypigmented cells revealing a bright, clear, uniform skin tone.

Sensitive Skin

AM – Cleanse, NIOD SDSM and CAIS (if you use them), soothing toner, Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5, Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% or Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA, sunscreen.

PM – Double Cleanse, NIOD SDSM and CAIS (if you use them), soothing toner, “Buffet” or Lactic Acid 5% + HA if your skin can handle it, 100% Plant-Derived Squalane and/or 100% Cold-Pressed Virgin Marula Oil.

Extras: Advanced Retinoid 2% if you need it and again, if your skin can handle it, which is should.

Sensitive skin needs balance and consistency to function at it’s best, so please go slowly, don’t over do it and always be gentle.

Mature Skin

AM – Cleanse, NIOD SDSM and CAIS (if you use them), Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution, hydrating toner, “Buffet”, Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA, sunscreen, High-Spreadability Fluid Primer.

PM – Double Cleanse, NIOD SDSM and CAIS (if you use them), Lactic Acid 10% + HA, Matrixyl 10% + HA, Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate Solution 20% in Vitamin F or Advanced Retinoid 2%, 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Moroccan Argan Oil and 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rosehip Seed Oil.

Extras: AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution or Alpha Lipoic Acid 5% as weekly treatments and Argireline Solution 10% for deep wrinkles.

Mature skin needs lots of hydration and targeted treatments to keep skin smooth, soft and youthful, which is exactly what these products should help you achieve.

As I said earlier, skincare is not an exact science and your skin may react exactly as it should or not at all. These recommendations are a guide to help you choose the right products for you, but once you have them, it’s important you track how your skin responds. You must be consistent and patient to allow the products time to work, although if your skin becomes irritated or you get breakouts then you should reassess your routines to find the problem and adjust accordingly. Start slow, be gentle, stay committed and pay attention to your skin because this is how you will learn what works and what doesn’t.

I will consistently update this post as and when more products are added and if you feel your skin type/issue hasn’t been addressed then please let me know so I can include it. Feel free to ask questions and good luck!

Arly

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86 thoughts on “The Ordinary – A Recommended Routine For Every Skin Type

  1. Yay, thank you for this! You don’t know how much I have hoped for this post. Please keep it up, I learn so much from you! 🙂

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  2. Excellent tutorial! I really enjoy Niod and The Ordinary, but do sometimes feel confused as to where to slot in to my usual routine (hence why I’ve bookmarked this!)

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  3. Arly, you are awesome!! I have been waiting for a blog post of this type about The Ordinary products and how to incorporate them into routine. Even though I have figured out some of them initially, such as the HA, Retinoid 2%, Lactic Acid, and Niacinamide, I think the more products you try out, and the more unknown the ingredient is to you, you just wonder – are you using it right?

    Out of interest, why do you not acid tone anymore/no longer a fan of it?

    Although this post is primarily about how to place The Ordinary products in a routine, you have me really curious about SDSM and CAIS so I will have to note these down for next time when I order from VH. 🙂

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    1. Aw, thank you so much! 🙂 I completely understand what you mean about unknown ingredients, which is why this post is long overdue lol!

      The reason I don’t acid tone daily anymore is that I have found my skin is more balanced without it. I get less breakouts, less oiliness and my skin is far less sensitive/reactive. daily acid toning isn’t for everyone I much prefer to use weekly masks etc.

      I am obsessed with SDSM and CAIS and obviously NIOD has been around longer than The Ordinary so I have used these products for years and will probably always use them. Definitely check them out because for me they have made all the difference.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Dear Arly, thank you for the most informative and helpful straight to the point how to routine post. You are amazing ! I am glad to see the the Oskia and Hylamide cleansers are amongst your fafourite . I didn’t know that you can use Oskia as a mask as well, and I’ve heard that already twice in the last few days – from you and also from Georgie Cleeve listening to her At home with…. Lily Pebbels podcast ( really enjoyable) . I find The Ordinary Vitamin C suspension 23% very gritty when applying it on the skin. Do you have an advise how to avoid that , should I mix it with Rosehip oil for example or moisturiser ? 😻🦋

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    1. Hi Mariana! You are so very welcome! 🙂 I love both the Oskia and Hylamide so much and I love leaving the Oskia on for about 5 minutes (or longer if I’m in the bath) and it just helps to further soften, smooth and soothe the skin. I find the Vit C 23% very gritty too and The Ordinary are releasing an updated version too that will be much sooner. Yes, try mixing it with the Rosehip and see how that goes or just using a little at a time on each area of the face. ❤

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      1. Thank you Arly. I will be looking forward to the new VitC 23% version. I regret that I didn’t know about the Oskia cleanser as mine finished already.I will remember that in the future xxx

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      2. Oh Arly , I just now realized that you have 50% code for the Oskia cleanser. That will be lovely .😇😍

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      3. You are so welcome! I am looking forward to the new Vit C 23% because hopefully it will work better for me. I will email you the Oskia code right now, so check your inbox or spam if you don’t see it! ❤

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  5. Yes please Arly, may I have the 50% off code for Oskia’s Renaissance Cleansing Gel? How long will the code be valid for (since I’m only thinking of getting it in September)?

    Anyways, I never got around to it – congratulations on your recent accomplishments. Your most recent article on Victoria Health was really touching and it must’ve taken a lot of guts to open yourself up like that. I look forward to each and every one of your work.

    All my love,
    Chitra

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    1. Hi Chitra! Thank you so much for your kind words! Your support means a lot and it was hard for me to write my recent article, but I’m glad I shared it and I appreciate you taking the time to read it. ❤ I will email you the Oskia code right now, I think it only lasts a month, so you can buy it now and keep it until you're ready to use it in September? ❤ ❤ ❤

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  6. Thanks for all the effort you’re putting into giving such a comprehensive assessment of The Ordinary. I would love to hear a view on how much of the AM routine people would recommend using if you take a shower in the middle of the day post exercise? I’m never really sure how far to go with the more ‘treatment’ products….

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    1. Hi Alison! You are very welcome! On days that I am going to the gym I actually just give my face a quick swipe with a good ingredients micellar water and spritz with a good serum like toner and leave my face bare so I can sweat and let my skin “breath” while I work out. When I come back I shower and do my routine as usual.

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  7. This is so informative, thank you so much!! I do find the Ordinary quite daunting just because there is so much to choose from, I’ve bookmarked this and your previous post to help when I go to purchase something!

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  8. Great article! I can’t get Azelaic Acid working for me. No matter when and what order I use it – it’s piling and rolling 😦

    I would love to try Oskia cleansing gel though so the discount code would be greatly appreciated! 🙂

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    1. Hi Monika! I am so sorry AA isn’t working for you. Try making sure whatever you use beforehand is fully dry/absorbed and don’t use too much of it either. If that doesn’t work, let me know what else you use with it and I will try and help you figure out what the issue is. Sending over the code to you now! ❤

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  9. Hi Arly! First of all congratulations with your collaboration with VH, love reading both your articles and looking forward to many many more! This blog post is so detailed, thank you for explaining everything, it really helps! Didnt know we could use oskia cleanser as a mask! Would love to get 50% off code pls? Thank you!

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  10. Hi Arly,
    Congratulations on your collaboration with VH! Your blog has been excellent reading and an informative resource for me. I have been using CAIS + MMHC for the last one year and no longer feel the need for frequent acid toning. I’ve enjoyed adding in the Ordinary Vit C in the mornings and Retinol at night.
    I would be grateful for the 50% off coupon code for Oskia.
    Would love to try the Votary/ de Mamiel cleansing oils, but haven’t invested yet because of the cost….do you have a preference between the two? And does Mahalo have a UK retailer?
    Thank you and keep up the good work!!

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    1. Hi Jo! Thank you so much for your kind words! I am so happy the blog has been so helpful and I’m glad you enjoy it. 🙂 I am so pleased to hear that you have been enjoying CAIS and MMHC and I think like you, it’s probably why I don’t feel the need to acid tone daily anymore. I will send over the code for the Oskia right now and as for Votary vs. de Mamiel, it’s so hard to say because they are very different. The Votary is more of a traditional cleansing oil (removes with a washcloth) so good for in the evenings, but the de Mamiel is like a gel-oil hybrid like I said so its great for morning and night and it rinses away with just water which I really like. I will try and get codes for those too, because I know they are expensive. I believe you can get Mahalo from Divine Green Beauty, which is a French retailer and I have heard good times about them and mentioned them in my retailers post, so try there for that brand and lots of other international niche ones. ❤

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      1. Thank you for taking the time to post a reply, Arly. It would be great to try some of these beautiful products.

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  11. This is amazing, I am actually looking forward to sitting down with a cup of tea and absorbing all your advice. I thought I had a pretty good routine going, but I’ve always been a bit unsure of what I’m doing, so this is fab. Thank you!!
    I would also love the Oskia code if possible, I’ve had it on my wishlist for so long…! X

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  12. I stumbled across your blog a few weeks ago and just casually glanced at it and have somehow found myself back here very intrigued by it, and even more excited to check out some of your faves. As a black girl, I’m dying to see how these products will work with my skin. Either way, new fan!

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    1. Hi Zaea! Hello and welcome! Thank you so much for taking the time to read the blog and for being a new fan!!! I am of Indian descent, so I hope my favourite products will work well for your skin too! ❤

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  13. Hi there Arly!
    Thank you for such an informative post. I wanted to ask some advice. I’m in my early 40’s and have recently started suffering from painful large spots on my chin (I believe them to be cystic). They are hard to shift and scar. Would you suggest following the routine for acne prone skin? The rest of my skin, I consider to be normal/dry with no spots (or maybe a few every so often but nothing like the chin ones). I also have pigmentation and am living in LA at the moment…. I’m trying everything in my power to stop the pigmentation worsening!! arghhh!! I like your idea to treat the acne/pigmentation on non-retinol nights – what products would you suggest? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

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    1. Hi Esme! You are so welcome! Hm, do you think your skin issues are hormonal or are you reacting to something, like a product or food? If the rest of your face is normal/dry the acne prone routine wouldn’t be right. I would do something different for your chin area and keep the rest of your face as usual. Do the routine for dull/uneven skin for your whole face to help with the pigmentation and then focus on healing the blemishes on your chin separately. Make sure you’re keeping your chin area hydrated so it doesn’t over produce oil which will further inflame the cysts and check your diet. Sounds like you could have a hormone related food allergy. ❤

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      1. Thank you so much Arly. I hadn’t thought about it being food related. I don’t eat much sugar although I do eat some dairy – could it be that? I am also going for accupuncture so that may help. I will definitely try both routines – thanks again so much and I’ll keep you posted! Xxx

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      2. Thank you so much Arly. I hadn’t thought about it being food related. Or a product for that matter 🤔🤔 They do seem more frequent since moving to LA but if it was product, would they be all over my face? I’ve always been pretty vigilant with my skin routines. I don’t eat much sugar although I do eat some dairy – could it be that? I am also going for accupuncture so that may help. I will definitely try both routines – thanks again so much and I’ll keep you posted! Xxx (also please could I have the Oskia code – maybe this could help me!) x

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      3. You are very welcome! I would always check food/lifestyle/stress etc because in my personal experience, those factors really affect my skin just as much as what I put on it. As for a product or food reaction, it wouldn’t necessarily be all over. For me, when it’s a product reaction I get breakouts in completely random and unexpected places, which is how I know something is up. With food (especially milk etc) I get breakouts around my chin and jawline because dairy affects the hormones. Keep your routine simple while you heal your skin, so you know what works and how your skin is responding and pay attention to your diet. I will email you the Oskia code now, so check your inbox or spam folder! ❤

        Like

  14. Thank you for all your really helpful posts. I would love to try the Oskia cleansing gel and would very much appreciate the code.

    Like

  15. For the oily/combination routine how would you use the salicylic acid? As a spot treatment or all-over the face? How did you put together these routines, like do you know what all those ingredients do? Anyway thank you for this post, really appreciate it, they should have more routines on The Ordinary website, it’s really lacking in that sense. On a separate question, what do you mean by dull and uneven skin? Like bumpy and rough or what? Thanks!

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    1. You are welcome! Haha, yes I do know what all these ingredients do as I reviewed every single product for months, which you can read about in my previous post. I would recommend you use the salicylic acid as a spot treatment within that routine. Dull and uneven is referring to lack of brightness and uneven skin tone. This type of skin does sometimes have textural issues with bumpy/rough skin, which add to the dull, uneven look, but mostly the issue is brightness and a lack of uniform tone. Hope that makes sense!

      Like

  16. Would love to see a post about your favorite Deciem products across The Ordinary, Hylamide, NIOD! What items are worth splurging on and what items in The Ordinary are good enough?

    Like

  17. Hello! Thank you so much for this detailed post – I’ve recently ordered the SDSM2 and CAIS1% and a few new products from The Ordinary and I had been wondering how to integrate them into my preexisting routine!
    I have one question which you might be able to answer: should I use the azaleic acid from The Ordinary both day and night, and can I combine it with other acids or retinoids at night? Or would that interfere with the function of those treatments?

    Thank you! 🙂

    Like

  18. Hi Arly! Thank you for this really helpful post – I am already a Deciem devotee but I love the look of the products you’ve mixed in with them, all wish list material, particularly the cleansers which is a mini-obsession of mine.

    I can also pass this post over to my sister who is just starting her skincare obsession!

    Caroline xx

    Like

  19. Hello!

    I’ve just started to build a daily regime, and this post is extremely helpful. I would love to use the Oskia Renaissance Cleansing Gel as a part of it. Do you have any codes left?

    Thanks,
    C

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  20. Hi, i just received my first ordinary order and I am very excited, because I (sadly) never ever used skincare before. You said that I shouldn’t start with all products at once, so should I just start with one and wait a few days? I really don’t know what’s best 😦
    And thanks for so much information it really helped me to get to know about skincare!!

    Like

    1. Hi Christina,

      Wow, so excited for you to start using The Ordinary since you’ve never used skincare before! I would definitely recommend not using it all at once, because you won’t know how your skin responds to each individual product. What did you buy? With things like acids and retinols, it’s best not to starting using them all at once because it might be too much for your skin and as for regular serums, you need to test one at a time to make sure your skin “likes” the product before using them together, does that make sense? It’s important not to overload and confuse your skin by using too many new things at once. ❤

      Like

  21. Hi!

    I’m having a real hard time gathering the info from this post (I have issues with understanding the information given in texts, especially long ones), but have tried throughout the evening.

    Am currently usingseveral things from Paulas Choice, but wish to start using the Ordinary instead. Can you please tell me if I’ve understood the post correctly in the order and number or products you have recommended above, please? I have dry skin, wish to work on aging aswell.

    The order in which I’ve understood it:

    AM:
    1. Cleanse (various options were given)
    2. SDSM
    3. CAIS 1%
    4. HA 2% + B5 first, then apply others in order of “lightest to heaviest” – HA 2% + 5 then Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 2%, then Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA, then Buffet.
    5. Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA (used as moisturiser)
    6. Sunscreen

    PM:
    1. Cleanse (various options were given)
    2. SDSM
    3. CAIS 1%
    4. ON RETINOID NIGHT: Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA then Advanced Retinoid 2% (if this is used, use no other actives that night)
    5. Lactic Acid 5% + HA or Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5
    6. Then apply others in order of “lightest to heaviest” – HA 2% + 5, then Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 2%, then Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA, then Buffet.
    6. Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA
    7. An oil, if needed.

    Like

      1. Thank you so much for the revolt and also for writing the article in the first place, so we all can learn and improve 💕

        Like

  22. Hi Arly, this is amazing, thank you very much, just what I was looking for! I’ve been a NIOD fan right from the start, however I did find the Ordinary (use) confusing. I really appreciate the care and time it took to write these guides for us:-) Thank you!

    Like

    1. Hi Maria! You are so very welcome! 🙂 I’m so happy to hear you’re a fellow NIOD fan and can understand why you would find The Ordinary confusing, I think a lot of people did lol. I hope this review was helpful and you’ve been able to mix the two brands. ❤

      Like

  23. This post is so useful. I’m so glad I stumbled across your blog from the deciem instagram page!

    Is the oskia code still valid?

    Like

  24. Hi Arly, I love your blog and have found it so useful in choosing which The Ordnary products to use. For about a week I have been following the acne prone regimen. I love azelaic acid but it does not sit well under my sunscreen. Maybe I am using too much. If I switch to using it at night can it be used after advanced retinoid 2% or just on alternate nights when not using retinoid?

    Like

    1. Hi Leesa! I’m so glad you’ve found the blog helpful. ☺️ What sunscreen are you using? The Azelaic Acid is a bit difficult to layer things on top of because of the silicone, so try using less or wait a bit to make sure it’s “dried”/absorbed. You can definitely use it at night instead and I would recommend alternating it with the Retinoid so you’re not using too many actives at once.

      Like

      1. Thanks Arly, I have tried a clarins and paulas choice sunscreen but I’ll try using less AAS in the day and alternating it at night with retinoid. On a retinoid night can I use MAP or is that too much? Looking forward to the ordinary releasing some sunscreens 😄

        Like

  25. Thanks so much for such a great review – really appreciate the time it must have taken!!! I would love the 50% code for the cleanser if it’s still available?

    Like

  26. OMG!! Thank you so very much for doing this. Ive been looking to purchase a few of these ordinary products but have been rather overwhelmed by all the scientific jargon. Lol. So thank you.
    I hope you can help me with my specific need…i even sent a msg to deciem but didnt get a response so if you please, id appreciate it.
    I have oily combo/acne prone/textured/hyperpigmented skin and here is what im leaning towards.
    AM
    Cleanse/Glycolic acid/Alpha arbutin 2%/Niacinamide/Azelaic acid suspension/sunscreen
    PM
    Double cleanse/Advance retinoid 2%/Anything else?/Rosehip seed oil

    Does the Buffet have any place here, if so, where? Anything i should add or remove.

    Thanks again. Like others, i really appreciate you taking the time.

    Like

    1. Hi Kwale! So glad you found the post helpful. You can add Buffet at night before the Retinoid and consider adding a hydrating toner or HA serum too. Oily skin needs hydration to be balanced so don’t ignore that.

      Like

  27. Hi, I came across your blog whilst reaching the ordinary products and so glad I did! This guide and your 27 product review really helps it make some sense to me! I am a 36 yo mother of two and pregnant with my third due in a couple of months, needless to say I have been doing the bare minimum with my skin and am ready to step things up. My skin hasn’t changed much since I have been pregnant except from an occasional breakout and worse pigmentation. My usual skin type is normal- slightly dry, with pigmentation ( even when not pregnant), and occasional sensitivity usually across my cheeks but not often.

    I have put together a possible routine and would love any suggestions you may have towards it. Some of the products I not start until I am no longer pregnant.

    Am: cleanser, considering NIOD CAIS and SDSM, buffet serum, either magnesium ascorbyl phosphate
    10% or natural moisture factors + HA, sunscreen

    pm: double cleanse, CAIS and SDSM, Niacinamide 10% and zinc, buffet, rosehip oil ( either trilogy or the ordinary)

    Extras: was thinking in evenings of switching in retinoid 2% a few times a week and possibly the 5% lactic acid

    My questions for you are:
    – what would you change/ add to this routine?
    – when would add in the retinoid or lactic acid in terms of order?
    – for cleansers ( after reading this) , I was thinking of using either Aurelia miracle cleanser, Oskia gel cleanser, or the white company’s super balm. ( a combination of two for the double cleanse) – suggestions?
    – any reputable/ good sunscreens whilst waiting for the ordinary’s to come out?
    – is the cleanser discount code still available?

    Thanks so much!

    Like

    1. Hi Nat! So happy you have found the review helpful, I know it can be confusing to figure out what to use when there’s so many products. 🙂

      Since your skin is dry I would definitely recommend adding the HA+B5 (or the one from NIOD, which is the best) and then the retinoid and lactic acid would go in your serum step after CAIS and before everything. As for cleansers, I think the best two would be the Oskia (I will email you the code now) and Aurelia, since you have dry skin. You can use either as a first or second cleanse evening cleanse and both work well in the morning too. For sunscreens I like the SPF 30 from iS Clinical, the de Mamiel one and the NIOD are releasing some this week.

      Like

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