The Ordinary – How To Create A Skincare Routine

Jan 2020 Update: There will be a refresh of the non-Deciem recommended products coming soon.

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 very much! I have been using a skincare routine with The Ordinary Products for a while, but am still tweeking it here and there. Reading that I could mix all the water-based solutions and apply at once just made my life so much easier, haha 😀 Thanks and oh, also would be happy for the 50 % code since I’m a regular rebuyer 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow!!! Finally I don’t feel so stupid. Thank you so much I didn’t realise you have a code but I’m reading about it in the comment section. May I have it too? Also about cleansers do you have opinion on Clinique anti-blemish line?


  3. I’m super excited to see if the Oskia renaissance cleansing gel will work for my sensitive skin!! Is it still possible to receive the code?


  4. Thank you! This was so helpful. I just started using the Ordinary products and I’m loving them, but have had trouble figuring out the best order in which to use them. I finally have answers! What’s this 50% code people are getting? 🙂 I’d love to stock up on my new favorites!


  5. Thank you so much for this. I recently started using the TO MAP 10% in the a.m as my moisturizer ( I have oily skin)and I have noticed red rashes/itching.what do you suggest I replace this with? Also is it too late to get the discount code? I have always wanted to try out the cleansing gel


    1. Hello Chioma! You are so welcome. 🙂 That’s a shame MAP isn’t working for you, but you can try any of the other Vit C serums. Be aware that sometimes irritation comes from how certain products or ingredients are interacting with each other, so make sure that what you are using works well together. I will email you the code for the Oskia cleanser now! ❤


  6. Thank you so much! This and the companion articles have been so helpful. Just a couple things are confusing –

    1. Do the hyaluronic acid and the azelaic acids count as acids/actives formlurposes of not using other actives?

    2. I have a moisturizer I really like. Is it really overkill if I use it after the azelaic acid and the Vitamin C oil? I actually didn’t realize the Vit C was an oil when I bought it and am thinking about trying one of the other formulations.

    3. If you use a mask with AHAs, does that mean no other actives that day? Or does lactic acid in the morning means no retinoid at night? Thanks!


    1. Hi Mina,

      1. Yes, Hyaluronic acid is NOT like glycolic or lactic acid. Azelaic acid is like them, but not as strong and I don’t consider it as active as the others.

      2. Yes, it is a bit much to use three products in the moisturizing step, so why not try alternating them every other day?

      3. Acid use all depends on your skin type and strength. Usually if you use a mask with AHAs it would be best not to use any other strong acids or actives, but for some the combo would work very well. If you use glycolic acid in the morning and a retinoid at night, it should be fine as long as your skin can handle it.


  7. Hi, thanks so much for this article (as well as the other two you’ve written on The Ordinary)! It’s definitely clarified things for me and I’ll be buying quite a few new products (It’s the new year and I’m finally tackling my skin care routine after leaving things stagnant for so long). Please may I have the Oskia code too as I’ll need a new cleanser? Thank you so much.


  8. Oh my goodness, you are GODSEND!!!! Going on The Ordinary’s website was so intimidating, but your post has totally helped me to understand what to use when.

    I started using Retin-A in March 2016 and it’s truly the only product that has been consistent in my skincare routine since then. I’ve struggled to find the right products that compliment my current skincare routine and I’m excited to try out The Ordinary’s products without potentially harming my skin.

    Thank you thank you thank youuuu! 🙂

    PS. I’d love to get my hands on that 50% off code, if still available.


  9. Amazing help! Went to Covent Garen London today and purchased a few items although felt a bit rushed and confused and now I feel like I’ve purchased the wrong things 😦 would love the code to purchase some more please xxxxx


  10. Thank you so so much for this post! I have been looking everywhere for a comprehensive guide on Deciem products, and this is the most informative post I have come across so far! I am looking into some serums (definitely the one with niacinamide!) from the Ordinary and would love the code if it’s not too late 🙂 Thanks again for the amazing post.


  11. Ah thanks, this was so helpful. I just ordered a bunch of their products and had no idea in which order to use them!
    Are you still offering the 50% off code. I love the Oskia cleanser, use it everyday. What is your opinion on the Liz Earle cleanse&polish?


    1. You are very welcome Deborah! The code is still valid and I will email it to you now. You get £15 off your order, which for the cleansers works out to 50%, but you can use it on anything else. I haven’t used the Liz Earle cleanser, but I’ve heard good things about it and it is on my list to try. ❤


  12. Hello and thanks for such an informative article!
    I have just received my TO order and am trying to organise them by application. Do you think this sounds good? :

    1. Buffet
    2. Hyaluronic…
    3. Niacinamide
    And Caffeine on the eyes

    1. Buffet
    2. alternating evenings of Granactive and Azéliac
    3. My own DIY 100% oils serum for older (43) skin
    And caffeine around the eyes

    I have slight rosacea, largish pores in places and dry skin.

    Any thoughts would be GREATLY appreciates!!

    Merci beaucoup!


  13. Really thorough article. I’m just starting with The Ordinary so this is really helpful! I’m also a big Oskia fan so if you still have a code available I would be very grateful for it! 🙂


  14. I got approved to The Ordinary last spring, with a sample I got in a beauty box, but didn’t get how AMAZING this brand might be! I came across your blog by chance and got spellbound by the chemistry going on our face. Now I just got the AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution and the Glycolic Toner…let’s see how it works! But I am going to buy I think all the serums lol! Thanks, this guide is heaven to me, and makes me love the Ordinary even more! ❤ Also is it still possible to get the code for Oskia? (I tried once the renaissance mask, oh good Lord!!!!!!!!!)



    1. Hi Vittoria,

      Thank you so much for your kind words. I am so happy to hear you have been enjoying the brand! I will email you the Oskia code now – you can use it on anything, even the mask as it’s a general £15 discount. Please let me know what you get! 🙂


  15. Hi! Thank you so much for such a detailed explanation! When my order arrived, I was so overwhelmed and suddenly had no idea how I was actually going to add this to my already full routine. This post has helped me with so many of my questions! The only thing I am still unsure about is whether I should be using my Estee Lauder night serum before or after The Ordinary products? Thanks again for writing this post!


    1. Hi Carrie, You are very welcome! 🙂 You should use your EL serum in your serum step still and after the water based products from The O and before the oil ones. Good luck and I hope you enjoy the products. 🙂


  16. Hi.

    I hope this isn’t a terribly stupid question but when you say “… any of The Ordinary acids washed off after 5-15 minutes” under the Exfoliation or Masking step, which products do you refer to exactly?

    I am having a really hard time figuring out which products are acids and which are serums…?

    Which products are safe to use before and after using a dermaroller?
    And which go on dry and not damp skin?



    1. Hi Kirstine,

      That is not a stupid question at all! I am talking about the lactic, salicylic and mandelic acids. If you read the names of the products the ones that end with acid (except hyaluronic acid) is an exfoliant. All the products are technically serums, just different types. As for use with a dermaroller, I would probably avoid acids and retinols, unless you have been using one for a long time and your skin can handle it and all the products should be applied on dry skin. Hope that helps!


  17. Thank you so much for the extremely detailed guide! I’ve been using The Ordinary products for almost a year now, but I’m always looking for ways to incorporate their newer products into my routine. This review was so thorough, it’s like having a skincare expert on every shopping trip. I’m curious whether it is still possible to get the code for Oskia, as I’d love to try some of their products. Thank you! 🙂


  18. Helllo! Thank you for the post. Very, very helpful for someone who just started using the ordinary products. Hoping the code is still available!


  19. Mega useful and detailed, thank you so much! I was pleased to find out I am somewhat following a correct routine, since I have so many products from The Ordinary and feel like i want to apply them all on my face at once, can you say #skincreobsessive? 😀 I would love to get the code, if still availabe, as I am planning a big order soon. How long is it valid for? Following you on Instagram to make sure not to miss any updates! Love from Finland!


    1. I am so happy to hear that! Haha, I know what you mean about being a skin obsessive, I am the same way! 🙂 The code is for the brand Oskia, not the Ordinary, do you still want it? Thank you for following along! ❤


  20. Big hi to all!
    Thank you for a wonderful reviews and help with routines. I recently discovered retinoids and acids. Even tho I am 45 (a bit mature skin with sometimes a pimple, little dry on the forehead, little fatty around mouth, a little eye/expression wrinkles, some sun-related darker spots on the chin and décolleté), it works miracles for me. My acne prone son (20yo) uses those too. With successes. Specially retinol, glicolic acid and rose hip oil do wonders to him. All thanks to your advices! 🙂

    Well now, I got almost all of TOrdinary products and try to use them each every other day. My question is; is it better to mix different products on different days or just stick to some and be consequent with it? Lets say HA acid every pm and am but every day/night diffrent serums, moisturizer and/of exfoliant. I thought that in this way my skin get all the goodies not at once but daily different stuff. Or shall I make stif routines and stick to it because you need to wait for the result? I know that retinol needs more time so I use it every other day exchanging it with glicolic acid.
    Gosh, I am so happy you are around to help us with this…are there any codes for the Ordinary products out there? Or is it only for Oskia? I don’t know the brand but would gladly try them. I presume ordering online would be fine with those codes? Once again thank you and lots of greetings from the Netherlands.


    1. Hi Claudia, I am so happy to hear that the recommendations have been working so well for you and your son! That makes me very happy. 🙂 As for your question, it’s a mix of both! You should use a mix of products consistently for the best results. What you are doing by alternating the retinol and glycolic is correct and that should be done continuously. Things that can be used every day are things like the HA serum or Vitamin C, but you can switch the moisturizer and oils to suit your skin. The code is for the brand Oskia and they make some of my favourite cleansers, which is something the Ordinary do not have yet. I will email it to you and you can see if you want to use it. ❤


  21. Thanks so much! Your article was very informative. Hoping I can run this by you and get your thoughts.

    I’m using Salicylic acid on any blemishes in the AM and PM. I usually do this first.
    My typical AM regimen is: Niod Sanskrit Saponins + the Ordinary Buffet + Hylamide booster pore control + the Ordinary Natural Moisture Factors.

    In PM: Cleanse with either Philosophy Purity or Glow Blueberry Bounce , the Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid + Hylamide booster pore control+ 10% Ordinary Lactic Acid + Ordinary Rose hip oil. When I have the time I allow about 30 minutes between products.

    This was at the recommendation of Deciem customer support. Does this seem like a good regimen for someone with pitted acne scars and broken capillaries?

    I was thinking about adding Alpha Arbutin into the mix as well. I would really appreciate any recommendations or suggestions for alternative products. I’m definitely looking for a permanent PM cleanser that will work best for my needs.

    I also alternate masks. I love Ole Henriksen Lemon Facial Peel, Glow Watermelon and almost all the Peter Thomas Roth masks, expecially the Rose Stem, Pumpkin, Gold and Mud. I’m waiting for the Niod Mud mask to come back in stock so I can try it.

    I know, it’s all very complicated, but I’m dedicated!



      1. I have oily skin (t-zone) with an occasional breakout. I do have some acne scarring (some pretty deep), so I would say textural issues are my main concern. I absolutely love rose hip oil and I’m seeing a huge improvement since I introduced in to my PM routine. I’m also using a .5 Ora dermal roller once a week. I follow that up with Vitamin C products like CEO from Sunday Riley and/or Korres Wild Rose Sleeping Facial. No acids on the day I roll. I’ve been doing it once a week for a couple of months now. I can’t say I see a huge improvement, but my fingers are crossed.

        It’s a lot, but my skin can take it and it loves the acids. I noticed that Niacinamide really helps me too, so I’ve been alternating with the Poor Booster and Niacinamide in the AM.

        I contacted the Ordinary customer service and they recently suggested that I try their Glycolic Toner and Advanced Retinoid in my PM routine, when I run out of Lactic Acid. I was thinking that I might try to alternate with Lactic Acid rather than do one of the other consistently. Any thoughts?

        You clearly know your stuff! I appreciate the time you’re spending helping and offering advice. You’re definitely building up some good Karma! 🙂 I’m open to trying anything you recommend. Thank you so much!


      2. Hi Jen,

        It seems like the Oily/Combination routine would be best for you and I love that you’re using a dermaroller because it’s one of the best things for textural issues and what I would have recommended to you. If you don’t already, apply the rosehip oil after you “roll” for even better results from both.

        As for lactic acid and retinoid, yes it’s a great idea to alternate them. I do that with the new mandelic acid and I love the results I am seeing so far. As for the gycolic acid, it’s completely up to you. I am not a huge believer in using too many acids/actives, so try the retinoid and lactic acid combo first and see if you feel your skin needs more. Even though your skin can take it, sometimes a streamlined routine with the right ingredients/products is the best thing.

        Overall, just be patient and consistent, and good luck! 🙂


      3. Can you send me the discount code please? I’ve heard a lot about Oskia cleanser.
        Is the Ordinary code expired? Thanks.


  22. This is the first time that I will actually want to purchase The Ordinary product. Tbh I don’t know which one is more suitable for me, I’m confused between Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 and Marine Hyaluronics.
    People say that the 1st one seems to happen “break down skin” to a lot of people, but the 2nd one doesn’t. Is it more safe for me to use the 2nd one first?
    My skin is a bit oily in T-zone ( oily after 5 hours of cleasing face), the cheek is not dry all, but can see the white pores (which is never come up).
    I’m sorry to talk so much but please help me out 😦
    And if it’s possible, can you please kindly send me the code ? 🙂 Would be so much appreciated ❤


    1. Hi Michelle, give the new Marine Hyaluronics a try as it seems to be working well for a lot of people. Try following the regimen for Oily/Combination skin as it seems you need more balance and hydration. I will email you the Oskia code now. ❤


  23. Thank you for your guide! It seems that we have similar type of skin (brown, combinations and hyperpigmentation) so is great to read your opinions and how the producta worked on your skin.. I just made a lot of notes as I bought some Deciem stuff and was not sure when or where to add them. I only have a question about Re:Pigment, where exactly can i add it day and night? After water-based products? Can I use it with Retinol 0.2 in squalane?

    I’m really glad to find your IG from my Gothamista stalking lol
    Thank you very much!


    1. Hi Cynthia, you are very welcome! I personally use RP after CAIS and before everything else, but if that doesn’t work with what you are using then yes, try it after the water based stuff. ❤ PS- Love Gothamista so much! So glad she connected you to me! 🙂


  24. Hello! New to your site- so glad i found it! Thank you so much for this breakdown! Your guide is helping me feel much more confident in creating a routine!! I’ve always wanted to try the Oskia cleanser, i’d love the code if it is still available!


  25. Hi Arly!
    Thank you so much for this very detailed article. I actually wrote everything down and will take it with me to the bathroom 🙂 I love The Ordinary and Aurelia, as well as Tata Harper. And after this article I am placing an order for the NIOD Copper Amino Isolate Serum 2:1 and Survival 30. Do you think they are a good place to start with this brand?
    Also would be possible to get the 50% code as well?

    Thank you and all the best,


    1. Hello! I’m so glad you found the article helpful. 🙂 I think those products are a great place to start. CAIS is a long time favorite of mine and the Survival range is excellent. I will email you the Oskia code now. ❤


  26. I’ve been using ordinary and researching for a few weeks now, yet nothing I’ve read has come anywhere near as helpful and informative as your posts. You’re a literal skin angel! Thankyou. I’d love to try the oskia with the 50% discount if it’s still available? If not, no worries and thankyou for taking the time to put out such valuable information and help into the public domain ❤️


  27. Detail oriented indeed! Thank you so much for this post. I was wondering if you could offer your opinion… The ordinary states the following regarding retinol on their site: “Water can affect the stability of retinol”.

    Initially, I was planning on using my Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 before applying my retinol but now I’m worried that it’s hydrating properties will hinder the effects of the retinol. Should I be concerned with this back to back combination? Your advice would be greatly appreciated!


  28. Hello! I have just discovered your blog. I love acids and have been using them for years. I want to include a retinoid and heard wonders about The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% because of its almost none downside effects. Do you think it is safe to tone with Glycolic Tonic Lotion and then apply Granactive Retinoid 2%? Thank you and greetings from Peru!


  29. Hi Arly!

    Really nice breakdown of everything! Thank you! I have a question regarding the order of Vitamin C…I was reading a bit about it, and from what I can tell, many skincare experts seem to recommend putting this on before water-based serums because it is supposedly smaller and doesn’t “react” well with other serums…In one advice column, I even saw this lady put on her vitamin C and wait for 10 minutes before putting on Hylaraunic..but obviously the texture of the Ordinary products are more like a cream. My question is, if I use the Vitamin C, should I either skip the serum or alternate?

    All the best!


    1. That’s a great question. In general Vit C should be applied in the early stages of a routine, but like you said it depends on the texture. The Ordinary has multiple kinds, so try using whichever one you have before the HA serum and if that works great, but if not then they a different one or alternate them. It’s up to you which one you feel your skin needs more so either skip the HA or use the Vit C on alternate days. ❤


  30. Thank you for such a thorough article! I am really amazed by The Ordinary. I have been using Niacinamide + Zinc for a while now and can really see positive results! I hope the code is still available! I am on the hunt for a new cleanser (currently using La Roche Posay – cannot say I am very impressed) and I would love to try Oskia!


  31. Hello! I have been too intimidated to try these products because it seemed too…intense or experienced for me, but this guide is so helpful. I would love the code so that I could start with the products.

    Would you mind checking out a test regime for sensitive, combination skin?

    – HA + B5
    – Salicylic Acid
    – N + Z
    – Azelic Acid
    – Silicone Primer

    – Alternating Glycolic / Granactive Ret 2%
    – Salicylic / Niacinamid
    – Azelaic Acid
    – Squalane

    Thank you!


    1. Hi Casey, I am so happy that the guide has been helpful! Your routines are fine, but just so you know the code is for the brand Oskia, not The Ordinary. If you still want it let me know and I will email it to you. ❤


      1. Thank you so much for the response! I was going too quickly and mis-typed. Yes, the code for the Oskia cleanser, please! I have been searching for a new cleanser and your review was so positive. Thank you!


  32. Hi!
    Thank you so much for creating such a detailed description for starting a skincare routine. I’m really looking forward to putting some of your good advice to use.

    I’m hoping you can help me with just one question. You mention waiting 30 minutes to apply NIOD’s SDSM2 and CAIS if an acid is used to exfoliate. I use a cleanser with salicylic acid (SkinCeuticals Clarifying Cleanser); is it best to wait 30 minutes to apply the NIOD products even though I rinse the acid exfoliator off? I have mature skin (43yo), yet have some issues with blemishes & I mostly like the cleanser. Thanks so much for your time.


    1. Hi Tammy, you are very welcome! 🙂 I think that it should be fine to not wait after using that cleanser as it shouldn’t be as “active” as an exfoliant. Not only that, the updated version of CAIS is much more resilient, so feel free to cleanser, use SDSM2 and CAIS2 as normal.


      1. Thank you so much for your reply & for the additional information. I’ve been using SDSM2 + CAIS2 for only 2 days and already see a noticeable improvement in my skin. You really are a godsend, this post has so much information, I’ve read it through multiple times & still need many more readings to fully absorb it all. Thank you again, so much!


      2. That is so great to hear! I love both those products so it makes me very happy that you have seen such good results with them already. You are most welcome for the info and I’m glad it helped. 🙂


  33. Hi Arly!

    So much great info here!! I would love the discount code and for you to take a look at my regimen and give me any thoughts. I have wavy skin if that makes sense. Years of breaking out left me with uneven skin on my cheeks and nose along with some scarring. Here’s what’s working for me, but I’m always willing to switch it up and try new things. Also, wondering if I have to alternate days of Lactic Acid, Azelaic Acid and Retinoid? Can I use any of those together? Thanks!!

    Niod Sanskrit Saponins
    The Ordinary Buffet
    Hylamide Booster Pore Control
    Moisturizer with Sunscreen: Purlisse Blue Lotus or MD Solar Sciences Anti-Aging
    Hylamide HA Blur mixed with TO Foundation

    Micellar Water
    Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser
    Mask on most days. Alternating Peter Thomas Roth Blue Algae or Gold, Ole Henriksen Lemon Facial Peel, Glow Watermelon or Korres Pomegranate Enzyme
    TO Glycolic Toner
    TO Hyaluronic Acid
    TO Granactive Retinoid 2% in Squalene or TO 10% Lactic Acid or TO Azelaic Acid (Alternate Days)
    Radha Rose Hip Oil
    Moisturizer such as Korres Wild Rose Sleeping Facial with Vitamin C , TO Squalene or TO Natural Moisturizing Factors

    Have a beautiful day to all.


    1. Hi Domenica, your routine looks fine. You could possibly use the lactic acid and Azelaic acid together (patch test first) for a stronger acid combo, but make sure your skin can handle it. Other than that, have you looked in to derma rollers? They are very good for correcting textural issues. I will send you the Oskia code now. I hope you have a wonderful day too! ❤


      1. Yes, I’ve been thinking about a derma roller. I tried the .25mm a while back and I really didn’t see any results. What size would you recommend? I’ve read that following up with a Vitamin C serum is best. Do you agree and what would you recommend? Thank you Arly.


      2. You have to be consistent with the derma roller. I have been using a 0.5 one weekly for months and the results are amazing. I recommend the size I am using because you can use it just once or twice per week and the cumulative effect is still very noticeable. You can follow it up with whatever ingredient you feel your skin needs best. I use a mix of things, so it all depends on your skin, but vit C is great as is CAIS from NIOD.


  34. I would be interested in the 50% code for the Oskia cleansers. Also, I have a question, the step for the retinoid is where I keep getting confused. It’s conflicting info I keep reading because I see to use the retinoid after water serums and also just as you listed.


    1. Hi Elizabeth, when to use your retinoids depends on the texture of the product and the strength. If it can go before water based products and isn’t too strong then use it first. If it’s quite strong then using it after your HA serums could help reduce irritation or if the product has silicones or isn’t light in texture then again using it after can help your products layer better. I do both and see the same good results so it’s totally up to you. I will also email you the Oskia code now. ❤


  35. Hi!

    I really love your post! It is such a detailed information especially for me who has zero knowledge on skin routine and products, and trying to learn more now.

    I have just purchased the Ordinary products and would like to know if my planned routine would be alright.

    I have a sensitive, combination skin (Oily and dehydrated). I am acne-prone and have boxcar and rolling acne-scar.

    My routine is:

    Cleansing With Water – which does not make my skin oily even after 8hrs (so i suppose it is good?)
    Toner: Innisfree Green Tea Balancing Toner
    Serum: The Faceshop Chia Seed Moisturizing Serum
    Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%
    Natural Moisturizing Factor +HA
    Sunscreen: shiseido ultimate sun protection lotion spf 50+ wetforce for sensitive skin & children

    Cleanse: First with Simple Skincare Hydrating cleansing oil followed by a cleansing foam
    Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate 10%
    Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% (6 times per wk) / Alpha lipoic Acid 5% (for 1times per wk)
    Rose Hip seed Oil

    After putting the Alpha lipoic Acid 5%, I felt tingling and very slight pain with hot heat but it is vanished after I put the Rosehip Seed Oil. Is this a normal after-effect after using Alpha lipoic Acid 5%?
    I am also planning to do the Dermaroller probably 3 weeks later – after my skin is adjusted with these products. (Probably doing it in the PM routine after the Buffet)


    1. Hi Sophia! Your routine seems fine. As for the effect of the ALA 5%, yes that is normal. It is quite strong, so it’s good that you are only using it once a week. Dermarolling is excellent and depending the size you get I wouldn’t recommend doing it more than 1-2 times a week. I use a 0.5 one once a week and I love the results. Good luck!


  36. Hi

    I’m going to start using a derma roller to help with acne scaring but unsure what serums I should use before and after using the derma roller. Can you help? I’m loving the Ordinary range xx


    1. Hi Louise, try using a vitamin C serum or CAIS from NIOD to help with the scars. You could also use the rosehip oil which is excellent for healing and fading acne marks. Also, if you have “pitted” acne marks then try something like Buffet.


  37. This is very helpful thank you! You’ve probably just saved my skin! I just ran out of cleanser. I’ll try Oskia Cleanser.


  38. This is SO interesting! I went to the ordinary shop yesterday in Covent Garden in London and was a bit overwhelmed so this post def helped.

    I got a retinol 05.%, vitamin C (power form), rosehip oil, niacinamide…and hoping to go back and get a HA. I’m trying to layer them right but i just want to be clear. Does the below look alright to you?

    cleanse, niacinamide, HA, rosehip oil

    Double cleanse, Vitamin C with my water based moisturizer OR retinol then moisturiser, rosehip oil.

    – Can I use HA with niacinamide? Or shall I just get the HA + B5 next time
    – When should I NOT be using rosehip oil..i love it so and I just dont know when i should use it!

    I would also love the Oskia code 🙂


    1. Hello! I am so glad to hear the post was helpful, I know how overwhelming it can be. You can use the HA serum with N+Z and the order should be HA followed by N+Z. You can use the rosehip oil as much as you like! It’s a great product, so as long as your skin is reacting well to it then use it as often as you choose. I will email you the Oskia code now. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  39. Hi! Loved all the information you provided. I just received my first order from the Ordinary and needed some help with the ordering. I only have HA, N+Z, Lactic Acid 5%, and Natural Moisturizing Factor. So I was thinking of doing

    -Tea Tree Toner or Witch Hazel toner
    -Mario Badescu Rosewater spray

    -Tea Tree Toner or Witch Hazel toner
    -LA 5%
    -Mario Badescu Rosewater spray


  40. Hey, so I am trying to figure out the right products from the ordinary to use because I am still unsure. I currently use the pixi glow tonic at night and during the day thayer’s witch hazel. I have normal/dry skin and i think its dull, acne , pores.


  41. Hi, thank you for this really helpful, been using the ordinary for a while now after using noid before but this is so much more affordable.Was looking to incorporate some new products and you’ve been very helpful. I am also a Victoria health fan and hope you are still writing for them its a shame they don’t sell the products anymore. Am I too late for the code?? Have heard great things about Oskia


    1. Hi Judy, I am so glad you found this helpful. Thank you for asking about VH, I am still writing for them and will be back on the next newsletter. 🙂 You are not too late for the Oskia code and I will email it to you now. 🙂


  42. Hi,
    Just found your blog as I recently bought some products from The Ordinary and searched for the best way to use them and your blog came up in my search results. Thank you for your detailed explanation and if the code is still valid for the Oskia cleanser could you send it to me please. I believe my current cleanser may be blocking the penetration of my skincare as my skin is showing limited signs of improvement. Thanks!


  43. Thanks for this Arly, really useful!

    A question: I’m using the NIOD Re Pigment serum – where would you put than in the routine?


  44. This is so informative thank you! I have been using some of TO products for a while but not in a proper routine. This is what ive come up with for the PM (I only like SPF and moisturiser in the AM), can you tell me if its ok or if i have anything wrong (probably a lot)


    Oil Cleanser – Boots Beautiful Skin

    Water soluble cleanser – Kiehls Ultra Facial Cleanser

    Mask (once a week) – AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution

    Acid/Retinol (alternate nights) – Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution Retinoid 5% in Squalene

    Eyes (Cycle) – Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG / Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% / Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA

    Moisturiser – Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2% or
    100% L-Ascorbic Acid Powder & Kiehls Ultra facial Moisturiser

    Oil – Kiehls Midnight Recovery Oil

    Thank you!


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