The skin care market is not the easiest one to break into. Many of the most trusted brands have been around for years, and those that do manage to break the mold tend to feature buzzy marketing campaigns or eye-catching labels.
So imagine our surprise when we started to see The Ordinary, a brand that’s not even a decade old making a splash on the skin care scene, with its minimal packaging and ingredient-focused products. The brand has cemented itself as a leader in the industry over the last few years, and is a favorite of TikTokers, editors and dermatologists alike.
So we’re breaking down everything you need to know about the brand, from what makes it popular to the derm-approved products that are worth shopping.
Why is The Ordinary brand so popular?
According to Dr. Marisa Garshick, a board-certified dermatologist at MDCS Dermatology, the brand’s popularity can be chalked up to two main things: Its affordable price point (most of its bestsellers are under $20) and its focus on buzz-worthy and effective ingredients.
Many of its formulas feature a star ingredient that is designed to target a specific issue, like aging, acne or dry skin. So the brand makes it easy to try that new trendy skin care ingredient, like Argireline or azelaic acid, without completely switching up the routine. “There is also transparency, so you know what ingredients you are getting in each product, so for someone who is looking for a certain ingredient, it is easy to find,” Garshick says.
Do dermatologists recommend The Ordinary?
Garshick says that the brand’s products are “a great fit for everyone.” She explains that its an easy brand to add because “The Ordinary can be used by anyone as there are products available for all skin types and skin care concerns.” Because of the minimal formulas, she notes that the brand is particularly well-suited for those who are still figuring out what ingredients their skin can actually tolerate. “It can also be helpful for someone who wants to incorporate a change in their routine without spending a lot of money.”
Garshick notes that because they do have so many products (and many with ingredients featured on their labels that may be unfamiliar to those not in-the-know), it can be a bit overwhelming to determine which ones are best for you, so it can be helpful to consult your dermatologist if you are feeling confused.
Though she did share with us some of her favorite products from the brand that she recommends for a range of skin conditions, from acne to dry skin. Plus, we asked our editors to share products from The Ordinary that are staples in their own beauty cabinets.
The best products from The Ordinary
The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA
Dr. Garshick says that this moisturizer is great for those with dry skin. She adds that it “uses hyaluronic acid and glycerin to help draw moisture in, as well as ceramides and amino acids to help support the skin barrier and prevent moisture loss.”
Featuring hyaluronic acid as its star ingredient, Garshick says that this serum boosts moisture as well as hydrates and plumps the skin. To get the most benefit, she says that you should follow it up with a moisturizer or lotion to help trap the moisture.
Shannon Garlin, an associate editor for Shop TODAY says that she’s “a huge fan of many of their products,” and that the brand is a “great gateway into an elite skin care routine, especially for beginners.” This hydrating serum is one of her favorites.
“This is a great option for those with dry skin as it is known that squalane helps to moisturize the skin without leaving the skin feeling greasy,” Garshick says. Even better, she says that it can be used on all skin types as it is non-comedogenic (meaning it won’t cause breakouts).
This peeling solution went mega-viral on TikTok a few years ago, not only for its surprising “vampire facial” vibes, but also for its benefits for the skin. And as it turns out, there really are plenty. Garshick says that the mix of exfoliating acids, including salicylic, glycolic acid and lactic acids can help reduce clogged pores and congestion while improving skin texture and uneven skin tone. But because of its powerful exfoliating effects, it should only be used once or twice per week.
The peeling solution is also loved by both Garlin and assistant partnerships editor Lauren Witonsky, who says that she has been using the solution for months, “and it really helps reduce blackheads.”
The Ordinary Multi-Peptide + HA Serum
“This multi-peptide complex targets multiple skin care concerns improving overall texture and boosting hydration of the skin,” Garshick says. Featuring multiple peptides (including one that has been compared to Botox by some users), it can be used both in the morning and at night to help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and improve skin elasticity, the brand says.
The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%
Garshick previously told us that azelaic acid is an “under-recognized” and “under-appreciated” ingredient, which can be used to treat a range of conditions from acne and rosacea to dark spots. And she still recommends this treatment from the brand as an affordable way to incorporate the ingredient into your routine.
Mandelic acid is a great AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) for those with sensitive skin, because it is a larger molecule than others that fall into that acid family, so it slowly penetrates the skin and is more tolerable and less likely to cause irritation, Garshick says. “This formulation also contains hyaluronic acid helping to boost moisture, making it good for those with sensitive skin,” she adds.
The Ordinary Ascorbic Acid 8% + Alpha Arbutin 2%
“This is a great affordable option for those who are not just looking to help brighten skin tone but also for those who are looking to improve the appearance of dark spots as the addition of alpha-arbutin helps to reduce dark spots,” Garshick says.
Photo editor Vivien Le says that the brand’s niacinamide serum was the first she had ever tried and it “saved” her skin when she was going through a period of breakouts. According to the brand, the formula reduces visible shine and signs of skin congestion.
The Ordinary doesn’t just make products for the skin! In the last few years, the brand has expanded into hair products as well. Garlin tried this serum and after using it for a few months said that she noticed “noticed vast improvements to my scalp and hair.” After using the award-winning serum, she adds, “I no longer find myself itching my head throughout the day (unless I’ve gone too long without washing my hair), and the flaking is completely gone. Plus, my skin and strands went from feeling dry to hydrated and moisturized.”