The Ordinary – How To Create A Skincare Routine

After writing my article The Ordinary – The Definitive Review, I knew there were going to be lots of questions asking for recommendations due to the sheer number of products. With so many options available I realized many of you would (and did) find it confusing and overwhelming when it came to picking the ingredients that would suit your needs. This is why I also wrote The Ordinary – A Recommended Routine For Every Skin Type as I wanted that article to serve as a general guide to help you find the best products for each skin type and while that helped, a new question started being asked, which lead to me writing this one.

As it turns out, aside from wanting to know what to buy, you also wanted to know when to use certain products and/or what order everything goes in. I know that many of you are new to this crazy skincare world (welcome!) and have no idea what a “complete” routine looks like and are eager to create one that incorporates The Ordinary and this step by step guide will show you exactly how to do it. We would love to be able to give all of you a personalized skincare regimen, but it’s just not possible, so instead you now have “The Ordinary Trilogy”. A trifecta of articles to help you learn about each product, choose the right ones for your skin and understand when to use them.

Before I get into the steps, I want to first make it clear that not all of them are necessary and some will not be right for your skin type, so please read the whole thing carefully. You are also not required to do every step to have a “complete” routine, instead this should help you understand what order the products are used in and why, as well as help you find the steps that will work for you. You can do as many as you choose and ultimately it’s all about finding a routine that is manageable, enjoyable and will keep your skin looking its best.

It’s also important to note that 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.


1. Cleanse

In this step you want to use something light, gentle and non-drying to refresh your skin from the night before and prepare it for the products you will apply next. This is a pretty important step because it affects how your skin behaves throughout the day. I know many of you have commented that your cleanser leaves your skin tight and dry after you use it, yet throughout the day you get very oily, and that’s because what you are using is too stripping. No matter what your skin type, your cleanser should not leave your skin feeling uncomfortable or lead to oiliness as the day goes on.

As my skin can be somewhat sensitive I like to use cleansers that emulsify (rinse off with just water), so I can skip the washcloth. These are examples of what I use and each one is a different texture. The Omorovicza Moor Cream Cleanser (£10 off here) 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, The Aurelia Miracle Cleanser (£10 off 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 (£10 off here) 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.

I choose what to use depending on how my combination skin is looking (dry, oily, irritated etc) and the season. For example, I wouldn’t necessarily use NIOD SS when my skin is dry or during winter because of how purifying it is. What you choose for your morning cleanser depends on your skin type and texture preference, but here are some options:

Of course, these are just examples of the type of cleansers that should suit each skin type, but it really is all down to personal preference.

2. Exfoliation or Masking (Optional)

This is a completely optional step (skip to number 3 or 4 if don’t want to do this) that depends on how your skin looks when you wake up and how much time you have. If you’re not a fan of doing multiple steps in the morning then skip this one and move on to the next. For everyone else, if you wake up and find your skin is congested or flaking from retinol (or both), then this is where you could do something extra to fix whatever is going on. This step isn’t necessarily about skin type, but more focused on issues like dull tone or dryness etc.

You do not “need” to do this step at all, but if you like the idea of it then here are some options:

Alternately, you can leave your cleanser on as a quick treatment (depending on which one you use) and I have done that with NIOD SS, Aurelia Miracle Cleanser, Oskia Renaissance Cleansing Gel and iS Clinical Warming Honey Cleanser. Again, this step is completely optional, but sometimes it’s nice to have a little pamper session in the morning if there’s time.

3. SDSM2 and/or CAIS (optional)

Being the Deciem addicts I know many of you are, this step is one that a lot of you have probably already being doing for years. For me it is one of the most important parts of my routine, but if you’re not a NIOD convert yet then skip to step 4 or 5. This duo comes after cleansing and before everything else, but if you used an acid to exfoliate then please wait at least 30 minutes before applying.

Most days I spritz SDSM2 all over and then while my skin is not quite fully dry 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 often do with the 5%) and then use SDSM afterwards as a traditional toner.

I pretty much recommend these two products to everyone because they focus on supporting a healthly functioning dermis, which is at the core of great skin, no matter what issues you have. If you find you’re looking for something more advanced than what The Ordinary has to offer then this is it.

4. Acid Tone (optional)

This is a step that 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/or CAIS if you use them) and before everything else. If you use CAIS then please wait at least one minute before apply the Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution to make sure the copper serum has fully absorbed. When I acid toned I actually waited about 5 minutes.

Pretty much all skin types (except very sensitive) could potentially benefit from doing this step, but it is important to pay attention to how your skin reacts to it. Despite the benefits of using an acid regularly, some might find that it causes irritation or just doesn’t suit their skin. Start off by doing it 2-3 times a week and see how your skin responds before working up to daily use. Also, be careful not to exfoliate in multiple steps, so if you used the de Mamiel Botaniques Brightening Cleanse as your morning cleanser or exfoliated with any of the products for “Dull/Uneven Tone” then don’t do this step.

5. Toners/Mists/Spritzes

This is somewhat of a controversial step with a few who wonder 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 SDSM2 with CAIS after cleansing then try using it here. I use SDSM2 daily before CAIS and then a different mist before my serum, just because I love to use them and I like how plump, soft and hydrated they leave my skin. I also find that my serums absorb better when applied on to damp skin, but that’s a personal preference and you do not have to do the same.

If you don’t already use SDSM2 I would highly recommend it and these are some other favourites that would work well for all skin types:

With this step you don’t need to worry about having something overly targeted to your skin’s needs because that’s what serums are for. I suppose that’s why many view this step as optional and if you are on a budget then definitely don’t feel like you have to use a toner. The focus here is hydration (which all skin types need) with a lean towards addressing your personal skin needs. Each product listed goes beyond the basic toners or mists out there and I have even skipped using a serum on days when I’m short of time because the ingredients are that good. This summer especially I have often simply cleansed, applied CAIS, spritzed with any of the five here, applied sunscreen and that’s it.

6. Eyes

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, but I am trying to change that. If you are diligent with this step or want to be then this is where it slots in. The reason for this is to get it straight on to the skin before you apply anything heavier that could act as a barrier.

What you choose to use for this step is again completely dependent on the concerns you want to address and your preference for texture. I personally like gel textures or light creams because even though my area is quite dry and prone to darkness, it is also quite sensitive and I can’t use anything too heavy.

Here are some options to suit the usual eye area issues:

There are so many options when it comes to this step, so I recommend perusing the site and finding the product that seems best suited to you.

7. The Ordinary Water Based Serums

This is where the “lightest to heaviest” concept most significantly applies. Whatever serums you use, make sure the water-based (usually gel textured) one comes first, especially if it’s a hyaluronic acid like NIOD MMHC2 or The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5. Products won’t be able to penetrate or perform at their best 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 products from the range that suits your skin next. Here are the ones that would be used in this step:

All these products have a water base so that you can mix and match the ingredients and create a custom serum. You don’t need to layer each one on top of each other if you use more than one at a time, instead try mixing a drop or two of your picks and applying that concoction as one blended serum. This way you won’t have too many layers and your skin won’t feel overloaded with product. You can also add any of these to your other water based serums if they don’t include these ingredients and the same applies – just mix a few drops and apply as one product. One of my favourites mixes is N+Z + AA + AGS + SAS for a great purifying yet brightening combo. Oh, and for all those wondering, you can use this form of vitamin C with niacinamide as any concern is regarding L-AA, which is different.

With the salicylic acid, if I am using it as a spot treatment I like to either apply it directly on my skin after toning or after the HA serum and before everything else, otherwise I use it in the mix described above. You can use it how you choose, although make sure it’s before anything oil or cream based, so there isn’t a “barrier” between it and the skin.

Other serums I use and/or recommend are:

As with the eye step, there are so many serums out there and it’s all about finding the one that suits your skin. Lastly, this step is also where you would apply essences or “lotions” like the ones popular in K-Beauty and Asian skincare.

8. Moisturizers/Emulsions/Suspensions

This step is where you would use your usual moisturizer that typically 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. I don’t always use a moisturizer as pretty much every sunscreen I use is hydrating, but if you’re not wearing sunscreen then this would be the last step in your routine and it’s an important one. Even if you have oily skin, you need to use some type of moisturizer to make sure your skin stays hydrated, balanced and nourished in order to prevent that excess production of oil.

These are the four products from The Ordinary that I consider potential moisturizers:

Obviously Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA is an excellent traditional moisturizer, 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 treatment-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, or you could mix the two.

These are the oil based products from The Ordinary suitable for daytime use:

For anyone looking for options outside of what The Ordinary offers, here are some of my other favourite moisturizers and oils:

9. Sunscreen

This is such an essential 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 have recently released three NIOD sunscreens with more on the way from The Ordinary and there will be something for everyone. Picking the one for you depends on whether you want a chemical or mineral formulation, what factor you want (SPF 15-50) and again texture and/or price point.

Since The Ordinary haven’t released their Sun Care range yet, these are the ones I love and highly recommend:

These three are all mineral sunscreens and I prefer this type of protection because chemical ones irritate my skin and to be honest, I don’t find them as “safe”. There are of course lots of options out there and it’s important you find one that works well and that you enjoy using, otherwise you’ll never want to put it on, which defeats the point.

That pretty much concludes what a morning skincare routine could look like and how The Ordinary products would fit in to each step. The only thing to add now would be primer then makeup (if you wear them) and you’re done. This might seem extensive, but I wanted to make sure I covered everything you could do in the morning as part of a routine and as I said before, you just need to choose the steps you want to do. If you’d prefer to keep things simple then just follow steps 1, 5, 7, 8 and/or 9, but if you want a fuller routine then add as many additional ones as you’d like. The beauty of skincare routines is that they are completely flexible and customizable.


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, so I always like to cleanse as soon as I get in rather than before bed. This way you’re not too tired to do your nighttime routine and the products will have a chance to get to work/absorb well before your head hits the pillow.

Usually an oil or balm is a good choice for a first cleanse, but you can use whatever texture works best for you. These are some excellent evening first cleanse options:

Unlike with your morning or evening second cleanse options, this one doesn’t need to be particularly geared towards your skin type as it’s going to be thoroughly removed. What you want to look for is something that effectively removes the level of makeup you wear and is a texture you enjoy using.

If like me you don’t like to always use washcloths, this is the step to consider using them. I find they work very well to help fully remove my makeup and sunscreen, especially if they’re silicone heavy like many primers, foundations and sunscreens are. I always use a washcloth to remove Survival 20 because that stuff has excellent longevity and without one I can still feel the slippy texture on my skin.

If you don’t already “double cleanse” then please consider giving it a try. It could make all the difference to your skin’s health and I definitely noticed a big improvement when I first started doing it.

2. Skin Cleanse/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 cleansers recommended in the Morning Cleanse step. 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 dry or irritated I’ll use Aurelia’s Miracle Cleanser. Just make sure whatever cleanser you use doesn’t dry out the skin too much, no matter what your skin type is. Click here for £10 off the Omorovicza, Oskia, Aurelia and de Mamiel cleansers.

3. Exfoliation or Masking (Optional)

If you are more of a nighttime masker then this is where you would use one (if not skip to number 4, 5, or 6). The beauty of masking at night is you usually have more time and can “multi-mask” or leave one on for hours, which is what I often do with NIOD Flavanone Mud. Again, you can use any of the masks listed in the morning Exfoliation/Masking routine (including the acids and especially the AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution).

If you would like to “multi-mask” you either apply an exfoliating mask first, followed by a purifying on and lastly a hydrating one. Alternatively you can apply a purifying mask to you congested areas and a hydrating one to your dry areas, or any combo that suits your needs.

There are also no real rules when it comes to masking. You can stick to once a week, a few times a week or nightly, as I know some of you like to do. If you have particularly dry skin for example, it could be good for your skin to use a hydrating mask every evening to keep it plump and moisturized overnight, so you wake to nourished skin.

4. SDSM2 and CAIS (optional)

You apply this step in the exact same way as you would in the morning, being sure to wait at least 30 minutes if you have used an acid to exfoliate. If you don’t use these products then skip to step 5 or 6.

5. Acid/Retinol/Retinoid Nights

Unlike in the morning with acid toning, this is a pretty versatile step where you can use the Toning Solution or one of the Lactic Acid serums, but only do this step if you didn’t use an acid to exfoliate with already in this routine. Also, don’t forget to wait at least a minute before applying an acid on top of SDSM and/or CAIS.

With the acids it’s important they are applied first so they can actually work on the skin and this is also where I would personally use the retinols/retinoids for the same reason (and I have read this recommended too). I feel like applying them directly to the skin gives the best results and it allows me to keep my acid/retinol routine nights simple.

With acids you can carry on with the below steps as usual, but if you want to apply your retinol/retinoid here instead of an acid, then you would double cleanse, mask if you want to (I don’t recommend exfoliating before retinols/retinoids though), apply SDSM and/or CAIS if you use those, spritz a mist or toner (optional) and then apply one of the retinol/retinoid products.

You could also apply The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 or NIOD MMHC2 beforehand if you have sensitive skin to act as a “buffer” and/or an oil or moisturizer after if your skin is very dry, but if not I recommend keeping retinol/retinoid use in this step simple. All the formulas are so hydrating now that most people wouldn’t need to add more and I think it is better that way.

Lastly, to be clear, I do not recommend you use an acid and retinol/retinoid together. They should be used on alternate nights and with a simple routine.

These are the products that you would use for acid/retinol/retinoid night:



6. Toners/Mists/Spritzes

Just like with your second evening 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. If you used an acid then do this step after, but if you used a retinol/retinoid then do it before, if you don’t want to put those type of products directly on to your skin.

7. Eyes

Again, this step is the same as in the morning, except some of you may choose to use something richer or creamier to help keep the area hydrated while you sleep. You can use the same products listed in the morning routine.

8. The Ordinary Water Based Serums

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 it’s not retinol/retinoid night.

9. Oils or Balms/Creams

Oils are another somewhat controversial product 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. If you don’t like to use oils then consider a cream or balm.

There are so many oils out there and whatever you use it will be one of the last steps in your evening routine (after or before your balm/cream or mixed together, if you use those). From The Ordinary you have the four traditional oils as well as the Vitamin C 20%, which 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, but do not use it if you acid toned or exfoliated or if it’s acid/retinol/retinoid night. This is an alternative to those type of products and should not be used with them unless you are an experienced/long time acid user.

The following products are options for this step:



One of the reasons I love these single oils is that you can create a blend that is completely customized to your own skin. The only thing to note is I would not recommend mixing ALA 5% with any of the Vitamin C’s as they are quite high strength and it could be too much for most people’s skin to handle.

Also, if you want to use the retinols/retinoids in a “traditional” routine then you would cleanse and possibly mask (but not exfoliate), then apply SDSM and/or CAIS (if you do), tone, use an eye product, then a water based serum containing hyaluronic acid then the following:

You could finish with NMF or any of the oils, except the Vitamin C 20% and ALA 5% because again, you don’t want to use too many actives at once.

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.

While pretty much anything goes when it comes to skincare because everyone’s skin is different, there are some “rules” I would recommend taking in to consideration. I wouldn’t recommend using too many different acids or using them too often because you could risk over-exfoliating your skin. I also would suggest keeping acids and retinols/retinoids to separate nights and not using the high strength Vitamin C’s on those nights because it is an acid and could be too much for your skin. Don’t mix niacinamide with L-AA (Vitamin C 23%) if you’re worried about them reacting and please don’t introduce a bunch of new products at once because your skin might freak out. Take it slow, pay attention and build as you go along. Most of the products will not be right for you so please read The Ordinary – The Definitive Review and The Ordinary – A Regimen For Every Skin Type before making any purchases.

Once you have got the hang of it, you should find doing routines 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, so don’t feel pressured to do them all because not every step will be necessary or right for you. It’s all about what steps you want to do and what your skin needs, which nobody knows that better than you. This is just a guide to give you a general idea of how skincare routines work and where to incorporate the products from The Ordinary for the best results. I hope it helped and good luck!











326 thoughts on “The Ordinary – How To Create A Skincare Routine

  1. Thank you soooo much for such a great post! I feel I can finally give The Ordinary a try, I have been a bit confused about their Products and how to combine them but this really helped:
    I would like to give double cleanse a go and try the Oksia cleanser, am I too late for the discount code? Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hello,

        Thank you so much for this. Your article was extremely helpful as I wondered if The Ordinary products were for use in isolation or with other products. Then I was afraid about what other products to use in case they contractided The Ordinary!

        Can I also please have the discount code for the Oksia cleanser?

        Thanks again 😊


      2. Hello Louise, you are very welcome! You can definitely use these products with other brands and any contradictions will depend on your skin and what you’re using. I don’t know if you still need the Oskia code, but if you do I will email it to you now. ❤


    1. Hey this is a great post! I am now ready to purchase the Ordinary products. Can I please get the code! Thanks


  2. Hii! Beautifully written and explained. Thank you ❤I still have a silly doubt (I’m sorry if it sounds lame). Is the ordinary niacinamide treated as an acid or a serum? Should I be applied before toner during the acids step or should be applied at the end as a serum? I read through the article and it says at the end. However I’m confused with the name and also it’s working efficiency.


      1. Hey! This is such a great post. Love how detailed it is 🙂 I’ve been using Benzoyl Peroxide for my acne and it’s very dear to me. I’ve also been wanting to incorporate Niacinamide+ Zinc and Vitamin C in the routine. Would it be safe to use BP 2.5% with these?


      2. Hi Deepika, thank you for your kind words. 🙂 I haven’t personally used BP so I don’t know how well it interacts with other products. The best thing I can suggest is using the BP at night and the other products during the day.


  3. Hello Arly,

    I LOVE your site; so many thanks! My question is in regards to my morning routine for my mature/acne prone skin. Currently:

    Whamisa O.F. Creamy Foam Cleanser
    Whamisa O.F. Deep Rich Essence Toner
    Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5
    Azelaic Acid
    Huxley Anti-Gravity Cream (If I’m feeling extra dry)

    I’d like to add Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate Solution 20% in Vitamin F into the mix. Where would you recommend I place it, before or after the Azelaic Acid? I’m a bit confused because of the oily nature of the Vitamin C and the silicone in the AA.

    Also, I’d love the coupon code, if possible.



    1. Hi Ashley, I’m so happy you like the blog! 🙂 Good question about ATS – the oily texture does make it hard to incorporate in to a routine easily, so I would recommend experimenting. Trying applying it before AA to see if that works first. Make sure you don’t apply too much and allow the oil to sufficiently sink in before applying the next step. If that doesn’t work, try mixing them and if that still doesn’t work then try using them on alternate days. I will email you the Oskia code now. ❤


  4. I’m trying to get my boyfriend into wearing a mineral spf every day and so washing it off every night. At the moment however he washes his face in the morning so I’m not sure I’ll be able to persuade him to wash it at night as well. Would a miceller water at night to remove the spf and then a cleanser in the morning suffice? Which cleanser would you recommend either in the morning or at night if you think it’s essential? I was thinking the Oskia one (looking forward to the discount). His skin is normal to dry, blackheads on his nose but no acne, slight redness/ broken capillaries on his cheeks.


    1. Hi Jade, that’s a tough question. Your boyfriend should definitely be using sunscreen, but I don’t think a micellar water at night and then a wash in the morning would be enough to remove it. Sunscreens can adhere to the skin pretty well and it’s very important they are removed thoroughly. What skincare does he use at night? What does he use to wash his face in the morning?


  5. Hi ! I am trying to adjust my skincare routine now that I am in my 30s and seeing signs of aging. I have read all your posts thoroughly and i’m still sort of unsure the best regimen for me… I am 34, slight signs of aging, large pores, occasional breakouts, combination skin. The products I have are; The Ordinary toner, Niacinamide, lactic acid 10%, buffet, and granactive 5%

    Should i alternate the lactic/granactive every other night? And if i’m understanding correctly I dont use the acid toner on nights that I use the granactive? Thanks for your help !!


    1. Hi Amy, it sounds like the routine for Combination Skin would be best for you to help balance your skin. As for the two products, yes, please alternate those and try not to use the acid toner with any retinoids unless your skin is “strong” enough. Good luck!


      1. Hi guys,

        I recently purchased the Niacinamide+Zinc and the Granactive Retinoid 2%. Am I right in thinking I only use the N+Z in the morning and then in the evening I use the N+Z followed by the Granactive Retinoid? Thank you! This article was very helpful amongst all the confusion out there.



      2. Also, sorry, if I wanted to keep rose hip oil in my routine, where might this sit in the evening? Thank you so much!! 🙂


  6. Hi there, love this post! I find The Ordinary website so confusing!

    I have quite a simple routine at the moment:

    AM cleanse
    The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid
    Facetheory moisturiser

    The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid
    Facetheory Regenacalm Serum
    Facetheory moisturiser

    Is there anything I can add to target fine lines and larger pores?

    Thank you x


    1. Hi Cass, I’m so glad you found the post helpful. 🙂 For recommendations for your skin type you can check out my other posts on The Ordinary and also NIOD (Deciem’s other brand), which is great for overall skin health.


  7. Hi, Thanks for this article it’s so informative and helpful! I just started using The Ordinary Niacinamide + Zinc and the Hyaluronic Acid. For some reason, they both left my skin a bit tacky…but quickly absorbed after I applied an oil-based moisturizer. Would you recommend applying one of these before the other? Is there a way to avoid it? Does it even matter?


    1. Hi Blair, make sure you’re not using too much of either and I would recommend applying the HA serum first, or mixing them for one quick step. It doesn’t really matter, but if you don’t like the feeling that’s important too! 🙂


  8. Hi was just doing some research and found your blogpost. It really helped with figuring out all the product. What would you recommend for a Deciem beginner? I would love to start using their products in my skincare routine but i just don’t know where to start.

    I’ve also looked at the Oskia products and the gentle cleanser really peaked my interest. At the moment i’m using the glossier milky jelly cleanser, but it’s almost running out and they don’t ship to where i live. Would you think the Oskia cleanser is a great alternative and is the coupon-code still available?


    1. Hi Celine, glad the blog post was helpful. 🙂 Please check out my other blog posts which are linked in this one and go in to detail on the right products for all skin types. As for the Oskia cleanser, it’s a really good option and I will send you the code now. I hope you can use it where you live! ❤


  9. Wow! Thank you so much!! Great post. I have recently purchased quite a few of The Ordinary products, (like many, I got a bit carried away!!!!!). The easy part is the buying, quick click and great price. But, when it all arrives, what the hell are you supposed to do with it all!!! You have really hepled but now, I need to mkae just a couple more purchases 🙂


  10. I am a bit confused with something and hope you can give me a suggestion: So if you use a retin-a at night, what would be the order of your products, utilizing the above products for an examples? Just a bit confused about using a toner before retin-a or after and then what other products to use before and/or after retin-a. Thank you


  11. Hi.. I have just begun to use The ordinary range. If you could please clarify my doubt it would be of great help.

    Can lactic acid 5% be applied after glycolic acid toning?
    can i skip the routine simple by just moisturizing after acid toning?
    & Also, can niacinamide be used post acid toning?looking forward to your advice.

    Thank you ❤


    1. Hello Tina, I probably wouldn’t use the two acids products together unless you have been using these types of products for years as it might be too strong for the skin. I would do one or the other and yes you can just moisturizer afterwards.


  12. Hi! Thanks for a great article! I have ordered Niacinamide and zinc and well as the salycilic acid and would like the benefits from both, but I’ve read conflicting reports saying that their different ph levels cancel each other out? Is it ok that I have been mixing them? I haven’t noticed a problem but I hope I’m not making both products ineffective!


    1. Hi Lindy, if you haven’t noticed a problem then it should be fine. All this talk about pH levels is a bit over the top and not exactly being shared in the correct way. The best thing to do is experiment – try using them together and separately and see which gives the best results.


  13. Hi .
    The article is helpful told me a lot.
    But i still cant decide what regime to choose.
    Im 25 with large pores combination skin. With a lot breakouts at times.
    Could you help me create one?
    Also ny skin is super sensitive


  14. Thank you so much for your blog.

    Could you advise on which days and times (AM or PM) to introduce the following into my current routine:
    * lactic acid 10% + HA 2%
    * Vitamin C Supsension 23% + HA Spheres 2% Face Serum

    I am 40 with normal/combination skin. Have some minor scarring from spots (not acne) and some slight sun spots.

    I current use:

    Eve Lom Cleansing Balm
    Pixi Glow tonic
    Charlotte Tilsbury Magic Cream or Bobbi Brown Vatamin Base Cream

    Liz Earle Hot Cloth Cleanser
    Pixi Glow Tonic
    Tata Harper Hydrating Floral Essence
    La Mer, the moisturising Cream

    Because of the marks on my skin, it was recommended that I introduce a lactic acid and vitamin c serum into my skincare with maybe a retinol.

    If you can help and advise which order it would be greatly appreciated as I’ve confused myself reading so many reviews and advice!!!


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Tracy, it’s all about textures so with the Vit C because of the silicone I would use it after toning and before the cream. With the Lactic acid, you probably should not use that with the Glow Tonic, try alternating them. Good luck!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Hi thank you for such an informative blog. I recently bought 3 products, my first ordinary. And now I don’t know how to actually incorporate them in my skin care . The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc , The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rosehip Seed Oil and The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%. I have oily acne prone skin. Please help me how to use this three products in my am and pm routine. Currently I am applying them in this order: First cleanse, tone, N+Z, AAS10%, Rosehip Seed oil and finally sunscreen. Does this routine sound OK? Am I applying it in right order.? Your kind reply would mean a lot. Waiting in anticipation for your reply. Thank you once again for the wonderful post😍😍😍


  16. I just received;
    Matrixyl 10% +ha
    Lactid acid 5% +ha
    Granactive Retinoid 5% in Squalane
    100% Squalane

    I know I will alternate the LA + 5% and retinoid on different nights but the rest? Can I use all others am an pm?


  17. Hi, great review. Thanks a lot !!! I am definitely checking out your other posts. Recently I purchased 6 The Ordinary products. I have oily skin with acne scars. I tried to understand from your article in what order should I apply the products in but I am wondering if I can use salicylic in the AM and glycolic in the PM?

    Also salicylic acid also performs exfoliation, you have it up there as a serum and to be applied as the last serum post hyaluronic and alpha arbutin. Shouldn’t we exfoliate before applying serums ?

    Products I got:
    – glycolic acid
    – salicylic acid
    – alpha arbutin
    – niacinamide
    – hyaluronic
    – rose hip seed oil


    1. Hi Sarah, so glad you enjoyed the post. 🙂 Yes you can use those acids in that way and as for the salicylic acid I have stated in my reviews that you can use it on clean skin or after a serum, whatever works for your skin and the products you are using.


  18. This is a god sent article! thank you so much for writing it! three questions though.
    I use Witch Hazel as a toner can I use that on nights that I am using the Granactive Retinoid 2% in Squalane?
    If I use the Glycolic acid 7% in the AM can I use the Retinoid 2% in the PM ?
    Is Neutrogena’s ultra sheer-touch sunscreen a good fit for this regimen if i know it works well with my skin normally?
    Again, thank you so much for this amazing article!!!


    1. Hi Marty, I’m so glad you enjoyed it! 🙂 It should be fine to use the witch hazel with the retinoid as long as your skin isn’t too sensitive and yes you can use the acid and retinoid as you stated, again as long as that works for your skin. I’ve never used the Neutrogena product, but try it and see how your skin reacts. Good luck!


  19. Thank you so much for this, I’ve been trying The Ordinary products recently and really like them, however I’ve struggled with the order in which I should use them.

    I currently have the Niacinamide, Buffet, HA 2% and salicylic 2% from The Ordinary plus Alpha-H Liquid Gold and philosophy Time in a Bottle, all of which I love separately but can’t seem to integrate into a regime (still-dry skin and product pilling 😞), can you suggest anything? I’ve also just started using a vitamin c as I’ve heard great things, where would this fit in?

    It might not seem it but I have actually read many of your posts (great reads btw), I’m just still slightly confused about my specific products!


    1. Hi Nicole, thank you for your kind words. 🙂 like this post talks about, the best way to avoid pilling etc is to layer the products by texture and to not use too much. If that doesn’t work then you might just have to accept that some products don’t work together, which I have found many times, especially with The Ordinary because the formulations are so unrefined. Go with the lightest texture first and carry on like that until you come to the end of your routine, that’s my advice. Good luck!


  20. Thank you for this!!! I have been using AHA and a couple of The Ordinary products for a while now, but just got the SA last night and was quite confused on how to incorporate it into my PM routine. I have combination skin and its quite sensitive, do you think I can still mix SA and N+Z together at the serum step?

    Also, is it still possible to get the code for OSKIA? Been wanting to get my hands on it!

    Thank you and greetings from Indonesia! x


    1. Hi Beatrix, you are very welcome! 🙂 Yes you can mix N+Z and SA and doing that should help the acid not irritate your sensitive skin as much. I will email you the Oskia code now and hello to you in Indonesia! ❤


  21. Hi! This post is amazingly helpful and a lifesaver!!! Thanks for much for beautifully written blog. 🙂

    I am getting ready to purchase the products suggested by Deciem for skin types and concerns (oily, blemish prone and dark spots).

    I was wondering if you could suggest a cleanser for me. I have oily and blemish prone skin with hyper pigmentation for acne scars (grrrr). I saw you suggest both the SS and iS Clinical Cleansing Complex, which one (or any other) would you suggest for me?



    1. Hi Rebekah!Thank you so much for your kind words. 🙂 I would definitely recommend the iS clinical cleanser because it can be used every day without being too drying. It is also very healing and has been my go-to this summer.


  22. This is such a helpful blog! I just started using The Ordinary products and had no clue where to start, so your blog post helped so much!

    I have a question though… I’ve purchased the N+Z and HA serums which are water-based. However, I LOVE using my oil cleanser from Province Apothecary in the mornings and evenings. Is there still a way for me to use N+Z and HA considering I’m using an oil-based cleanser beforehand? Thank you so much!


  23. Hello i really like your article..
    But i want to make sure am i already doing the right order or not.
    So i just bought alpha arbutin and niacinamide, is it right to apply aplha arbutin before niacinamide?
    Thank you 🙂


  24. Hi, great post, very informative I took a lot of notes 🙂
    Is it still possible to get the code for OSKIA? I have one and it’s fantastic, but it’s almost empty… 😦


  25. This was an amazing post. I went and purchased so much today. Work in progress but using this as a step-by-step guide!

    Can The Ordinary’s Buffet product be used in place of CAIS? I’m cleansing, sheet masking, using Buffett, then HA then glycolic acid toner and ending with a serum or 2 and finalizing it with an oil moisturizer. Does that sound about right?


    1. Hi Alex! Thank you so much. 🙂 Yes, you can absolutely use the new Buffet instead of CAIS. I would recommend cleansing, sheet masking and/or acid toning and then following on with your routine. Other than that your routine looks fine.


  26. Hi, wanna ask. Every time i apply niaciamide, retinoid, moisturiser n rose hip oil, that s in order of applying, it will be like a residues coming out.. when i rubbed my face. Does it mean any of the items didnt blend well? Some goes when i applying HA + b5, alpha lipoic acid, n lastly moisturiser.


    1. Hello Romiza, this has been quite a common issue with The Ordinary as the textures don’t always work that well together. It could be that they are not blending well and a way to fix that is to make sure you’re not using too much of each product. You can also make sure to allow each step to sink in properly before applying the next layer. It has happened to me before and always when I apply too much, especially of the HA serum. Hope that helps. ❤


  27. Hi! Thanks so much for this post, it’s genuinely amazing. I used it to build my skincare routine and i use it frequently to curate it or to decide what/where to add a new product. I mostly use NIOD but also a host of other brands and this is so far beyond just being a guide to the ordinary, it works for everything! so thanks, it must have taken an age to put together.

    Is it too late for the Oskia code? I’d love to try that cleanser, their renaissance mask is my ultimate luxury item!


    1. Hello Hayley! So glad you enjoyed the post. It did take me a long time to work on, so it always means a lot when I see comments like yours. 🙂 I will email you the Oskia code now. My sister loves that mask too and I’m so jealous I can’t use it (lactic acid allergy) otherwise I’m sure I would love it too! >3


  28. Hey there Arly,

    I’ve just discovered your blog and all your superbly detailed posts on the AMAZING The Ordinary products and other recommendations. I have been truly blown away at how much time and effort (and intellect/knowledge) you have spent writing these reviews.

    Your dedication to beauty and to helping others shines through. Thank you for all your help in making us feel better about ourselves in this crazy, mad world.

    I have only just discovered that Double Cleansing is “a thing”; I would love to try the Oskia cleanser. Would it still be possible to get the discount code please if it is still relevant?

    Keep up the amazing work (but don’t try and do to much)!

    Kindest regards



    1. Hello Alexandra! Welcome to the blog and thank you so much for your kind words. Your lovely comment really made me smile! 🙂 I will email you the Oskia code now and I hope you love the cleanser. Thank you again for your support and I hope you’re having a lovely weekend! ❤


  29. Hello!!

    Such an informative post, thank you so much for taking the time to make it!! I was wondering if you might be able to answer a question for me: I noticed that you mentioned using an acid toner like the Ordinary’s glycolic several minutes after applying a copper serum.

    My question is, could I use an acid toner BEFORE a copper serum such as the NIOD or the ordinary’s new peptide + copper one, or would this be a recipe for a skin disaster?!?!? The reason I ask is because I currently use my toner (acid or other) as my first step after cleansing and before applying any serums, but I would hate to either cause irritation or negate the products benefits if I attempted to do the same with a copper serum.

    Any information or advice you could offer would be so appreciated, thank you!!!


    1. Hello Erica! I am so glad you liked the post and apologies for not being able to respond until now. You could use an acid before applying but you would have to wait about 30 minutes as Deciem claim the acid will destroy the copper. I would advise cleansing, applying the copper serum, waiting one minute and then applying your acid toner either with your hands or a cotton pad. I have done both before and after and relatively similar results, but definitely better with the copper coming first.


  30. Hi. I wanted to know if I use Effaclar Duo + after Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% works as a moisturizer? thank youu !!


  31. This blog post is awesome! Thank you for clarifying how to layer The Ordinary products. I’ve been using them for awhile, but I’ve slowly collected a bunch and was unsure how to use them together. I do have a question, hoping you could answer. Whenever I use the Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2%, allow it to dry, then apply argan oil as my moisturizer, I find the product “pills” (I’m assuming it’s the hyaluronic acid that’s pills) and comes off my skin. Am I doing something wrong?


    1. Hi Vickie! Thank you so much! So glad you liked it. No I don’t think you’re doing something wrong! The textures of almost all of The Ordinary products are quite basic and pretty hard to work with. If waiting until the HA serum is dry doesn’t work, try applying while it’s still wet (the water and oil should bind together for better absorption, I do this myself with a mist/toner and oil product). If that doesn’t work, try washing your hands. Sometimes what’s pilling is the excess HA serum on your hands when it mixes with the oil and then gets rubbed on your skin. Also, try not using too much HA serum, sometimes that can be a problem too. Hope that helps!


  32. Hi, i just found your blog and love it! I recently got some ordinary products and was wondering if you could provide your insights. I have for
    AM- ALpha arbutin 2% ,
    natural moisturizing factor +ha

    PM- Alpha arbutin
    Granative retinoid 2% in squalane
    Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate 20%
    I appreciate your inputs regarding a regimen, the regimen I have looks a bit off after I read your post 🙂


    1. Hello! So glad to hear you like the blog. 🙂 I actually think your routine is quite similar but effective. The only thing I would suggest is possible alternating the retinoid and MAP at night, but if your skin is doing fine with them together than carry on. 🙂


  33. Hi!
    Thank you for this post! I recently discovered DECIEM and love their products.
    One question is, this is my first time using retinoids/retinols. In your post you mentioned to make the retinoid routine simple and not use any other serums. I’m currently using the “Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion” every night, after cleansing and using “Buffet”. After using the Retinoid, I add a few drops of “Cold Press Borage Seed Oil” and finish with the “Natural Moisturizing Factors HA”. Should I elminate all the steps when using the retinoid? Please advise 🙂


  34. Christ, I need help. I thought I had it worked out but I don’t!

    I have the Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution, Plant-Derived Squalene (for hydration as I don’t really like HA), Magnesium A Phosphate 10%, Salicylic Acid 2% Solution, Buffet and Lactic Acid 5%.

    I was thinking AM:

    Lactic Acid


    Double Cleanse
    Glycolic Acid
    Magnesium A Phosphate

    Will the Glycolic Acid be too much with the MAP?


    1. HI Elizabeth! Please do not use the lactic acid in the morning. It is too strong for day time use and can lead to sun damage, even with sunscreen. Most acids are best suited to nighttime use. Depending on your skin condition and how long you have been using acids, combining glycolic and MAP should be ok but proceed with caution. I think it’s a lot to use those two at night and then the lactic acid in the morning.


      1. Oh! I forgot, lactic acid is an AHA right? Perhaps I’ll replace the Glycolic acid in the day with Salicylic since that’s a BHA and alternate lactic, glycolic and MAP only at night! – sounds good? I know it’s mad but for some reason acids seem to make my skin less itchy. I’ve tried varients including no acids and just moisturizing but ever since moving country my skin has gone all wacko!


  35. Thank you so much for this really informative and helpful post. I bought A few things from The Ordinary as I’d heard so many positive things about this range. I thought I was reasonably clued up regarding skin care but this seemed hard work, especially trying to work out the order everything should be applied. Anyway after reading this I have now gone in with the products and look forward to seeing what happens.

    Once again thank you x


  36. Hi! I’m really interested in both of the Oskia cleansers! Are the coupon codes still available, and do they work for shipping to the US?


    1. Hello! I don’t think the coupon code is valid for the US as the brand’s website is based in the UK and I think you would have a high shipping cost to get it from them. Sorry about that, I will look for more codes. ❤


  37. Thank you so much for this awesome post! It’s been very helpful. Can you advise on my particular regimen- if it will be effective or if the products will negate one another? I’m in my 30’s and showing some signs of aging. Combination-oily skin, large pores with some acne at times. So far I’ve been able to use this regimen (in this order) without irritating my skin.

    Here’s my routine every day/night:

    1. Cleanse
    2. Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2% (I find this step helps with pilling)
    3. Moisturizer
    4. Sunscreen

    1. Cleansing oil (Tatcha)
    2. Glycolic Acid 7% toner
    3. Buffet
    4. Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5
    5. Retinol 0.2% in Squalane
    6. 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil
    7. Night cream (Shiseido)

    I don’t want to over do it but I like the idea of what each product has potential to help with. Am I layering the products correctly or should I change it around/ remove steps?



  38. Hi! Thank you so much for breaking it down. I was interested in buying The Ordinary and was quite confused on how the hell you are suppose to use all their products! I bought the products I needed off your recommendations and really loving it so far. So thanks for putting this together!! An eye opener to me as I didn’t realize this skincare thing was so complicated but in a good way, very customizable. Thanks!!


    1. Hi Patricia, you are very welcome! So glad to hear the products have been working for you and that you liked the blog post. Yes, skincare can be complicated, but like you said it’s in a good way if you can understand it all lol! 🙂


  39. Hi! wow this is such a detailed post! So I have a few questions :1. how many nights should you use retinol??? 2. Can I use the ordinary rosehip oil and the ordinary retinol on the same night? I know that the rosehip oil has vitamin C so I’m not too sure, any help would be great xxx


    1. Hi Molly, your retinol use all depends on your age, skin issues and how “tough” your skin is. Those who are older with more advanced issues should use it more often, but those with younger or sensitive skin should only use it 1-3 times per week. You can definitely use the retinol and rose hop together, just don’t apply too much of either. Good luck! ❤


  40. Thank you for the very informative article! I’m a little late to the conversation but I did have one question. Should I be using my lactic acid before or after my argireline solution 10% in the evening? I have a pretty simple routine as I have just started skin care. Wash face and moisturizer in the a.m. and wash in the p.m. and I was using the acid and moisturizing after. But now I’m adding the argireline in the mix and I’m not sure when to add it. Thanks!!!


    1. Hi Camille, you are very welcome! I would recommend using the lactic acid first or you could just use the argirline in the mornings and the lactic acid in the evenings. You could also alternate them on different nights of you want to keep your routines simple without too many layers. Hope that helps. 🙂


  41. This article is awesome. I just got ordered the ordinsry for the first time and was lost on how to layer them haha. Ive never done layering in my life!

    Just to check im not lost…..

    I bought these 3 ordinary products :

    1) Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 5% in Squalane
    2)“Buffet” + Copper Peptides 1%
    3) Lactic Acid 10% + HA

    If i read right i should alternate between these two layering orders at night:

    1) Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 5% in Squalane first, then “Buffet” + Copper Peptides 1% then a night cream then sleep. Next morning wake up splash water (not wash since i read it strips oils gained overnight?) on my face and apply moisteriser with spf30 then wash it all off at night.

    2) Lactic Acid 10% + HA then “Buffet” + Copper Peptides 1% then night cream then sleep.
    Next morning wake up splash water (not wash since i read it strips oils gained overnight?) On my face and apply moisteriser with spf30 then wash it all off at night.

    Phew this is stressful. Please let me know if im completely wrong or should change or add anything.
    I do also get confused if i should wash it all off in the morning or not…….

    Thanks in advance! 🙂


    1. Hi Winston! So glad you liked the article. 🙂 OK so to answer your questions:

      1. Buffet + Copper should come before the Granactive Retinoid, then a night cream. The textures should work better in that order. As for face washing, it’s such a personal and now tricky step to discuss. It is true that harsh cleansers would strip the skin, but the right cleanser wouldn’t do that, so its all up to you. If you feel like you need to cleanse in the morning (I do on the nights I have used actives like acids and retinols or heavier oils, creams or balms) then pick a good one, but if your skin is fine without cleansing in the morning that keep doing that.

      2. Yes this order works, although please make sure you are waiting at least 30 minutes before applying the Buffet + Copper after an acid.

      I know all this skincare stuff can be confusing, so definitely keep it simple to begin with. Consistency is key and using products long enough so they can work. I think it’s great you are using a sunscreen and the only thing I would add is using Buffet + Copper during the day too as sunscreen won’t hydrate your skin and balance is key to creating a happy, healthy dermis.

      Good luck and please feel free to message again if you have any more questions. 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s