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The Strategist Guide to Shopping at The Ordinary

Photo: Retailer

Anyone who has shopped at a retailer with few physical storefronts to browse knows it can be hard to figure out where to begin. There are dozens upon dozens of options that all seem as worthy as the next, but the reality is that products from any given brand are not all created equal. When you shop as regularly as we do, you learn that many brands just do some things better than they do other things — and The Ordinary, the skin-care and now makeup brand known for its dedication to strikingly simple packaging and remarkably reasonable prices, is no exception. Though you can browse the brand in select Boots stores, navigating the sheer variety of products available from The Ordinary can be a daunting task. And when it comes to choosing the right regime for your skin type, it can be difficult to know where to even begin, especially when it comes to understanding the jargon over on the brand’s website. To help you narrow down which oils, cleansers, and scrubs are right for you, we’ve combed through our archives to compile a list of all the most praised products from The Ordinary we’ve ever written about. Read on for our verdict on the best toner to soothe a flaky scalp, to an Azelaic Acid that minimises acne scars.


Rio Viera-Newton praises The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% for combatting the most “infuriating” of dark marks, and says that in her skin’s worst phases of blotchiness, she can rely on the product to even out her skin tone in ‘the span of a week.’ It also appears in her roundup of the ultimate cheap beauty products, making it a bargain.


Rio is also a fan of the Ordinary’s Mandelic Acid with AHA and Hyaluronic Acid. According to Rio, “Mandelic Acid is a gentle AHA that’s best suited for sensitive, dry, acne prone skin.” She touts The Ordinary serum as a great option for those wishing to test the ingredient without shelling out a lot of money.

When we asked a group of experts for their pick of products to treat acne scars, The Ordinary’s Azelaic Acid Suspension was a top recommendation. Dr Michele Farber of Schweiger Dermatology told us that azelaic acid works by “inhibiting the formation of an enzyme called tyrosinase, which in turn stops the mechanism that produces skin-darkening melanin.” Natalie Multon-Levy — another dermatologist that we chatted with — recommended The Ordinary’s option for both its affordability and effectiveness. Since then it has appeared on our March best-sellers roundup, proving popular with Strategist readers.

Contributor Isobel Lewis combed the internet for a solution after noticing her scalp was suffering from some dryness. After discovering a K-beauty hack on a subreddit that suggested using acid facial toners to exfoliate the scalp, Lewis invested in The Ordinary Glycolic Acid Toning Solution. For Isobel, the results were “magic.” “My scalp feels fresh but not sore, and my wash routine remains the same,” she wrote.

A product that you will no doubt have seen gracing your FYP and Instagram feeds over the last year is The Ordinary’s AHA BHA Peeling Solution. Rio can see why, as according to her the product is nothing short of “phenomenal” — “I use it twice a week, and I absolutely adore what it does for my overall redness and hormonal acne.” Rio does, however, advise those with sensitive skin to stay away from the product due to its sheer strength.


This Cold-Pressed Virgin Marula Oil is another one of The Ordinary’s products that doubles up as both a skincare and a hair-care essential according to Rio. She says that as the “antioxidant-rich oil makes skin bright and glowy,” any excess she has on her hands can be run through her locks, leaving it “perfectly shiny.” Rio also says she notices that her foundation “glides on” a treat after using the product.

According to Rio, “rose-hip oil contains small amounts of tretinoin, a retinoid that’s been proven to help some people out with acne, as well as linoleic acid, which can help reduce the size of blackheads.” That’s what makes The Ordinary’s Rose Hip Seed Oil a product she regularly reaches for to get control over a breakout. According to Rio, this £9 bottle is so effective she’s never felt the need to invest in any of the much dearer “cult” rose-hip oils.


The Ordinary’s Serum Foundation comes recommended by experts as the best tinted moisturiser for under £10. Facialist expert Michaella Bolder (her clients include Dame Helen Mirren amongst others) told us that the serum foundation “is a fantastic and super-affordable liquid that, when chosen in the light form, acts as a matte, tinted moisturiser, which is great for all skin types.” She also praises the shade selection available from The Ordinary, that caters for “most, if not all skin tones.”

The Strategist UK is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Read about who we are and what we do here. Our editors update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.

The Strategist Guide to Shopping at The Ordinary