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 forty (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 of recommended regimens and example 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.

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 before adding more.

Even though each skin type will require a different set of products to maintain a healthy dermis, there are some ingredients that I believe everyone could benefit from. Of course, sunscreen should be a priority as sun damage can cause a variety of issues both long term and short, as well as antioxidants, retinoids/retinols and moisturizing factors that support barrier function. These ingredients form the basis of a good “all-round” routine that should keep the skin healthy and able to protect and repair itself effectively.

I know many of you have only discovered Deciem since The Ordinary launch, so I want to point out that their other skincare line, NIOD, has brilliant products. Some of them will be mentioned here and I highly recommend you check them out. The Ordinary doesn’t have it all (yet), so if you’re looking for a complete Deciem routine, NIOD will definitely help fill in the gaps.

The Routines

In general, typical skincare routines look like this:

Morning: – Cleanse, NIOD SDSM and CAIS (if you use them), toner, water-based serums, emulsions, creams/balms/oil, sunscreen/primer.

Evening: – Double cleanse, NIOD SDSM and CAIS (if you use them), exfoliating toner or retinol, water-based serums, emulsions, creams/oils/balms.

Of course, this is not set in stone and depends on the texture of the products you are using (see The Ordinary – How To Create A Skincare Routine for more information on this) and some products are to be used twice daily, others just a few times a week and some just once a week, so please read all instructions carefully and again, keep an eye on how your skin is reacting.

Acne-Prone Skin

The goal of this routine is to calm inflammation, support a healthy functioning skin barrier, balance oil production, heal blemishes (including red marks/scarring) 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.

Morning:

Evening:

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 as an alternative antioxidant product to EUK 134 0.1%.

Dry/Dehydrated Skin

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.

Morning:

Evening:

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

Oily/Combination Skin

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

Morning:

Evening:

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

Dull/Uneven/Hyperpigmented Skin

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

Morning:

Evening:

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

Sensitive Skin (including Rosacea)

With sensitive skin the important thing is to support a healthy barrier function that will protect it from adverse reactions and keep it calm and balanced.

Morning:

Evening:

Extras: EUK 134 0.1% or Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12% for some antioxidant protection if your skin can handle it.

Mature Skin

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.

Morning:

Evening:

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

Normal Skin

If you have normal skin you’ll find that your skin functions very well most of the time, rarely breaks out, heals itself quickly and is generally balanced and hydrated. Because of this you don’t need an overly complicated routine, just some basics to support the equilibrium with some extras to tackle any issues you may have like sun damage, on set of fine lines or wrinkles or hormonal congestion.

Morning:

Evening:

Extras: AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution and/or any of the targets treatments mentioned above that suit your needs.

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 and adjust accordingly. You might find you like using an ingredient more or less or some products might work really well and others not at all. The beauty of The Ordinary is that you can mix and match the products to create a routine that is perfectly tailored to you with ingredients that will address your specific issues. Don’t be afraid to experiment (with caution) and really try to discover what your skin responds to so you can be a more informed consumer.

If you would like to read more about The Ordinary then check out my other two articles:

The Ordinary – The Definitive Review

The Ordinary – How To Create A Skincare Routine

Arly

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

  1. Hi. I can’t get Azelaic Acid working for me. It’s piling and rolling. Please help me. I’m 38 years old, particular skin concerns are oily, pigmentation and acne scars. This is my routine..

    AM

    Cleanse
    NIOD SDSM
    Caffeine Solution
    Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution
    Alpha Arbutin
    Niacinamide
    Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution
    Azelaic Acid Suspension
    Sunscreen

    PM;

    Double Cleanse
    NIOD SDSM and CAIS
    Caffeine Solution
    Balancing Toner
    Hyaluronic Acid
    Resveratrol 3% + Ferulic Acid 3% mix with Vitamin C Suspension 23%
    Advanced Retinoid 2%
    100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rosehip Seed Oil

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

    Like

    1. Hi Leen,

      With AA 10% it’s important to make sure that whatever you use beforehand has completely absorbed/dry and then you don’t use too much or it will roll off the skin. Your routine looks fine, so keep it up and let me know how you get on. ❤

      Like

  2. When I use the AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution, once a week in the evening… do I use my evening daily usuals like the Hyaluronic Acid 2% and the Niaviamide 10% after I wash off the AHA? Or do I just use a light moisturizer like the Azelaic Acid or my CeraVe p.m.?

    Like

    1. You can use your normal routine as long as it doesn’t include exfoliating acids like glycolic, salicylic etc because that would be too much for the skin. HA and Niacinamide is fine and you can use whatever moisturizer.

      Like

  3. I am currently following your oily/combination routine. I was wondering if i were to use Salicylic Acid 2% Solution or AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution, where do I fit it into the regiment.

    Like

    1. The salicylic acid is used as a spot treatment as described in the articles so after cleansing and toning and then the Peeling Solution goes after cleansing and before everything else. There is another article that explains the steps, so please check that out. ❤

      Like

  4. Thanks for the nice post. Could you please help me with my routine i cant seem to nail it?

    My skin is oily/acne prone. I have some issue with pigmation. I suffer from inflammation the causes lingering red marks. I suffer from a bad case of sebaceous filaments on my nose.

    Thanks

    Like

  5. Hi Arly,

    I’ve read all your guides and I’ve written the following routine for myself I wondered if you wouldn’t mind giving me the thumbs up before I order? I’m about to turn 30, so looking for some anti-aging but have always battled acne and oily skin.

    AM:
    Cleanse and tone
    Eyes: caffeine solution
    Niacinamide
    Buffet
    Natural moisturising factors +HA
    Sunscreen

    PM:
    Double cleanse
    lactic acid 10% + HA (1-2 times a week as mask)
    Advanced retinoid 2% (2-3 times a week and alternate nights to lactic acid)
    Tone
    Eyes, Caffeine Solution
    Niacinamide
    Buffet
    Salicylic acid (as spot treatment)
    100% organic cold-pressed rosehip seed oil

    Thank you very much!!

    Like

    1. HI Charlotte! First of all, happy 30th birthday!!! I hope you have/had a great day! 🙂 Your routine looks great, I can’t think of anything else from The Ordinary to add, but if it’s in your budget then check out NIOD. They have some excellent products for anti-aging and overall skin health, which would be good to start looking at for your 30’s.

      Like

  6. Hi, thanks for sharing your knowledge with us. I’m 35 years old with normal to dry skin. At the moment I’m suffering from hormonal acne. I have acne scars and hyper pigmentation as well. I’m confused which skin care will suit me since acne skin care routine is for oily skin. I’m in desperate need of your help. I will much appreciate your help to choose right skin care routine for me. Thanks and regards

    Like

  7. I just started following your routine for acne prone skin and so far am loving it! Thank you so much for putting together this guide! If I want do NIOD FM in the morning or evening every once in a while, where should that fall in the routine? I’m assuming that going through the whole routine and then doing it afterwards might ruin some of the effectiveness of the products.

    Like

    1. Yay!!! I am so happy to hear that. 🙂 If you want to use any mask in your routine it should come after cleansing and before everything else, for the exact reason you said. So just cleanse your face as normal, apply the mask, remove it with water (wash cloth optional) and then carry on with the rest of the steps. ❤

      Like

  8. Hi! I just went on a bit of The Ordinary spending spree with the new year here. Your recommendations helped so much (and I know I’ve bought some things I probably don’t need, but they’ll probably become gifts). I’m turning 29 this year and my issues are acne, blackheads and hyperpigmentation on combination/oily skin. I have dark skin (3.1Y) and hyperpigmentation has become my biggest gripe. Can I get a thumbs up or critique on the routine I’m building?

    Morning:
    Cleanse and tone
    Caffeine solution
    Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%, Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA, Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5
    EUK 134 0.1%, Resveratrol 3% + Ferulic Acid 3%
    Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%
    Sunscreen

    Evening:
    Double cleanse
    Granactive Retinoid 2% (3/wk)
    Gylcolic Acid 7% Toning Solution
    Caffeine solution
    Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%, Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA, Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5
    Rosehip seed oil, Vitamin C 23%

    Extras:
    Salicylic Acid (spot treatment)
    AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution (PM only, weekly)
    Lactic Acid 10% + HA (PM only, weekly)

    Like

    1. Hi Rachel,

      My skin issues are somewhat similar to yours, so I can definitely help. The morning routine looks fine, but at night I would either alternate the glycolic and retinoid or use the retinoid after the glycolic. I would also highly, highly recommend Re:Pigment from NIOD. It is one of the best serums I have tried for pigmentation and should show visible results by week 3. ❤

      Like

      1. Thank you so much for the reply! I made the adjustment you suggested with the evening routine. Waiting for my color to come back in stock with Deciem and I’ll order Re:Pigment then. Anything for this hyperpigmentation – it makes me look young in all of the wrong ways. Also thank you for including your own woes in your reply. Knowing you have similar skin made me an automatic subscriber to your blog. ☺️

        Like

  9. Good evening! Thanks for such great information! I’ve just “found” The Ordinary and my first shipment of products came in today. I wanted to see if you could help me with a regimen? 47 year’s old, good bit of melasma on forehead and cheeks, larger pores on nose and tops of cheek area around nose and my chin and when I do get a break out it’s cystic though typically only hormone-related. My skin isn’t oily. I greatly appreciate your time and input!

    Like

    1. Hi Wendy! You are very welcome. 🙂 I would follow the routine for Pigmentation and also consider checking out NIOD’s Re:Pigment and Copper Amino Isolate Serum, both of which work so well for keeping skin even and CAIS will help greatly with overall skin health. ❤

      Like

  10. Hey!:) I just stumbled across your blog and I’m already a fan!
    I’m thinking of adding EUK 134 to my routine in combination with the Azelaic Acid Suspension (as you recommended).
    On the deciem websites however it says “The only issue with EUK 134 is that it must not be used immediately with strong acids such as suspensions of Ascorbic Acid.”
    Does that apply to the Azelaic Acid?

    Thanks for the informative post,

    xx from Germany

    Lisa

    Like

    1. Hello Lisa! Welcome and thank you very much! 🙂 I think it would be ok to use EUK before the AA suspension if you wait a few minutes between steps. Azelaic acid isn’t as strong as the Vit C products, so it should be perfectly fine. ❤

      Like

  11. Could you please recommend a daily routine for dry,acne prone, dull, textured, uneven toned, aging skin?!
    I’d like to treat my acne/scarring as well as my texture, redness and wrinkles.

    Like

  12. I have a quick question for you. I have looked it up, but I can’t find a good answer. I’ve been using Differin (adapalene, third generation topical retinoid) gel for about 2 months. It’s working well for me and I’d like to keep using it. I recently ordered most of the products you wrote about for combination/oily skin as well as a few others. I’ll list what I bought below. I’m trying to figure out when to use the Differin in my nighttime routine and if there is anything it shouldn’t be used with.

    What I bought:
    Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5
    Niacinamide 10% + Zinc PCA 1%
    Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%
    AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution
    Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate 10%
    100% Cold-Pressed Virgin Marula Oil
    Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA

    Also this guide and complete product review was extremely helpful figuring out what to try, so thank you!!

    Like

    1. Hello Anne! I believe Differin shouldn’t be used with other acids or retinols, so on the nights you use it keep everything else simple and focus on hydrating and healing the skin. Do you use it every night? What does your routine look like? ❤

      Like

      1. I do use it every night currently, but I was thinking about starting to use it every other night instead. With this cold weather my skin has been a little more sensitive when I use it now. My skin is pretty hardy and I didn’t have any irritation from it until the weather change. I have received most of my The Ordinary products, but I’m only using a few right now to make sure I don’t have a reaction or get any irritation.

        This is what I do right now:
        AM
        Wash with Cerave foaming cleanser, but I’m thinking of trying something more gentle
        TO Hyaluronic Acid
        Moisturize with either Cerave moisturizing cream or TO natural moisturizing factors
        Sunscreen

        PM is pretty much the same except I use the differin after the hyaluronic acid and no sunscreen.

        Like

      2. I think using Differin every other night is a great idea while the weather is like this. You can then try incorporating things like the Niacinamide + Zinc or Azelaic Acid on those alternate nights, although both are great to use during the day too.

        Like

  13. Hi, first of all I would like to say thank you for writing such a detailed blog regarding The Ordinary series. I’ve been looking everywhere to find a suitable routine but i think my skin is more of 2 types of routines so I was hoping you could help me with it. I have oily/combo skin (really oily at the t-zone and chin) which i had been told by beauticians that it is actually dehydrated. I am dealing with occasional breakouts and PIE/PIH on my cheeks right now with blackheads on my nose.

    I am interested in using The Ordinary skincare products such as Niacinamide 10%, Magnesium ascorbyl, Cold pressed rose hip seed oil and salicylic acid 2%. I would like to know what is the sequence in using these 4 and whether it would be of any help to my skin or do you have any other recommendations? Can I also mix The Ordinary’s products with Korean skincare products?

    Thank you 🙂

    Like

    1. Hi Ashley! You are very welcome and I can definitely help with the order of those products. It should be N+Z, Salicylic acid, MAP, then the Rosehip Oil. You can also mix the products with pretty much anything else, including K Beauty products. 🙂

      Like

  14. Thank you so much for this blog! It is becoming so useful for me… I have dry skin with bad bouts of roseacea, and I want to slowly ‘break in’ to using the ordinary’s products.

    I think I am just going to get the Granactive Retinoid 2% you recommended, and try it out just in the evenings. My question is should I apply it after my toner and serum (drunk elephant), or straight after my toner?

    And should I bother getting the Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 if I am already happy with my serum? or can I add it ontop of my current one?

    Thanks!

    Like

    1. You are very welcome Zoe! Granactive Retinoid is definitely only for the evenings and depending on what DE serum you it should go directly after toning or a HA serum. If you already have a HA serum and you like it then there’s no need to get the one from The O. You can try after your current one runs out and see if it’s a cost effect replacement, but otherwise there’s no need to stop using what you love. 🙂

      Like

      1. Thanks for the speedy reply!

        So it is fine to follow a HA serum with a retinoid? I’ve heard that sometimes retinol and acids shouldn’t go together!

        Like

      2. You are so welcome! Hyaluronic acid is not an exfoliating ingredient like lactic, glycolic and salicylic acid. It is all about hydration and is nothing like the others, so it can be used with retinoid.

        Like

  15. Hi !

    I’m Nadiah. I just started using The Ordinary products. I have dehydrated acne prone skin and I personally think my skin barrier is damaged. Once I’m out of the shower, my skin feels very tight and I can see dry patches everywhere on my face ! But after 3 hours, my skin becomes very oily. 😦

    I bought the Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5, Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%, Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA and also 100% Cold-Pressed Virgin Marula Oil. (I think I did a great job buying all the products in the similar pH range which I didn’t even know about ! LOL) And I use it in that order.

    The first three products went on my face very well. However, once I put Marula oil on my face, my skin starts to flake off ! Its kinda like my skin being exfoliated with a peeling gel.

    I was really confused as I thought we can use oils with all products. So I tested each of the products with Marula oil alone and I found out that my skin starts to flake off when I use Niacinamide and Marula Oil. Is it normal to be that way or is it just my skin problem ?

    Thanks in advance !

    Like

    1. Hi Nadiah,

      It sounds like you are experiencing rebound oiliness. What are you cleansing with? As for the peeling, it might be that you need to use less product or wait longer before applying each step. You could also try mixing the water based ingredients or mixing the marula oil with NMF and see if that works. This sometimes happen to me when I am using too many products, so let try my suggestions and see if they help.

      Like

  16. Hi! I’m trying to build a new skincare routine and am buying myself goodies from The Ordinary for my 30th birthday present to myself. I have normal to oily skin, not particularly sensitive, some blackheads and acne around chin and nose, and some wrinkles and fine lines. My skin likes lactic and glycolic acid and I want to incorporate a retinoid now that I’m getting older. Suggestions on what to start with?

    Like

  17. Hi! I have just recently learned about The Ordinary as someone recommended AHA 30% + BHA 2% peeling solution. I found your website after I ordered (probably too many products) and was hoping you could help me with what order to use everything I bought. I have dry-ish skin during the winter with some breakouts and dark circles that seem ever present.

    In addition to the AHA 30% + BHA 2% peeling solution I also bought Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG
    Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion
    Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%
    Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution
    Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%
    Salicylic Acid 2% Solution
    Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5
    100% Plant-Derived Squalane

    Thank you so much!

    Like

  18. Hi, im happy i foubd your blog as i had alot of things in my deciem cart that i prob didn’t need!
    I have a question, if you did mind, Ive seached and haven’t found anything about products that could help with milia (closed comedones) i have them in my undereye, cheeks and temples. And ive had them for about 2 years (im in my mid 30s now)
    Would milia be considered “uneven textures?

    Thank you for all you do!

    Like

    1. Hello! I’m so glad the blog post helped you narrow down your order. 🙂 The best thing for milia that I have heard from others is a combination of retinol/retinoids and exfoliating acids. These should help to clear the build up of cells that causes the milia to appear. It is a form of uneven texture, which is why exfoliation works so well. Try the retinoid emulsion from The Ordinary and any of the acids, particularly the lactic or mandelic. ❤

      Like

  19. Hello..
    Thank you for this ,I just started using The Ordinary oily\combination routine and i have a question hope you can help me, should i stop using my routine before laser hair removal?

    Like

  20. Hey! great blog! I wondered if you can give me your opinion about my skincare routine.. I’m 27, using glycolic acid 10% for a year and have acne and pigmntation (with improvment) and very oily skin.

    AM:
    Cleanse
    Sunscreen
    Make up

    PM:
    Double cleanse
    Niacinamide
    Buffet

    or

    Glycolic acid 10%
    Vitamin C
    100% organic cold-pressed rosehip seed oil

    or

    Glycolic acid 10%
    Buffet

    I switch the PM routine every other day to avoide Niacinamide+ Vitamin C

    Thank you very much!!

    Like

    1. Hello! Thank you for saying that. 🙂 I can tell you right now that you probably have very oily skin because you are not hydrating it enough. Just cleansing and then applying sunscreen doesn’t give the skin enough moisture so it will do that itself by producing oil. Try adding a HA serum or facer mist to make sure your skin stays balanced throughout the day. As for your nighttime routine, all seems fine except again not enough hydration. You could probably benefit from a mist and/or an moisturizer or oil like the squalane one.

      Like

  21. Hey! Awesome awesome post, thank you so much for the effort and time spent into this guide. I was wondering if you could take a look at my skincare routine! I’m a 25 male, with some hyper-pigmentation and some blemishes (sometimes acne). I’m trying to keep my skin healthy, even tone and have a smooth surface! I get breakouts sometimes from oil/dirt etc.

    AM-
    Glycolic Cleanser
    Oxygen Plasma
    Niacinamide + Zinc
    Moisturizing Factors

    PM-
    Glycolic Cleanser
    Oxygen Plasma
    Niacinamide + Zinc
    Retinoid 2%
    (Alpha Lipoic Acid 5% every other day)
    Possible Moisturizing Factors if feeling dry

    This is my new regimen i’m going to start implementing. What do you think! Thank you so much!

    Like

    1. Hi Ross, you are very welcome and thank you for your kind words. 🙂 Your routine looks great. I think it’s important to keep it simple and focus on your main issues with the right actives. The only thing I would consider adding is the new Mandelic Acid, which works very well for acne, pigmentation and texture. I am obsessed with it and will have it on the blog soon.

      Like

  22. Thank you for this very informative post. I am going to follow your regime for Dull / Uneven / Hyperpigmented skin. I have most of these products already and was just trying to figure out how to combine them and in what order. I still have a few questions though and I hope you are able to answer. Can I use the Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG on the same evening as I use the Retin 1% in Squalane? Also, can I use the GA 7% toning solution before the Caffeine or would you recommend sticking to a simpler regime on the nights that I am using the retinol? I would also like to include the AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution one night a week so I have the same question there. Should I just cleanse and use either the retinol or the peel? Should I follow either one of these or both of these with some kind of moisuriser on the nights that I use these products? I really would appreciate your input and help. Thank you.

    Like

    1. Hi Sam, I can definitely help with those questions. Yes you can use the Caffeine Solution around the eyes and the Retinol 1% on your face. Definitely keep it simple and try to alternate acids and retinols on different nights. On the nights you use the peel you would keep your routine simple and follow with gentle serums and an oil/moisturizer. Please check my other blog post for all the information you need regarding the order of products and steps in a skincare routine. Good luck!

      Like

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