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Best The Ordinary products 2023: Effective skincare for less until December

From retinol to lash serum, these skincare saviours are the best products from The Ordinary that really deliver results

It took The Ordinary all of five minutes to establish itself as a big-hitter in the beauty industry when it first appeared on the skincare scene in 2016. Before the Canadian brand revealed its gloriously effective yet affordable skincare to the world, this type of budget, high-quality skincare options had mostly been restricted to drugstore makeup brands.

And still the buzz continues. Alongside its no-frills serums and other skincare products, The Ordinary has dipped its toe into cosmetics (with the launch of two foundation formulas, a primer and concealer), haircare and, most recently, a brow and lash serum. The company’s versatile and accessible basics have been known to sell out fast and even garner huge waiting lists for products – the Squalane Cleanser, for example, has reached icon status thanks to some serious praise from beauty editors and industry pros around the world.

The brand’s range is growing all the time, with new and innovative products being added regularly. So, to help you find the best products from The Ordinary to try (if you’re new to the brand), we’ve rounded up our favourite tried-and-tested buys, plus some bestsellers.

READ NEXT: The best handcream for soothing dry hands

Best The Ordinary products: At a glance

How to choose the best The Ordinary products for you

How much do products from The Ordinary cost?

The Ordinary’s purse-friendly products start from as little as £5 (yep, you read that right), which is a fraction of the cost of most other skincare lines. Take the brand’s Retinol 1% in Squalane as an example, which at £6.90 is a snip of the cost of other retinol products that harness the exact same ingredient. These prices allow consumers to build a highly effective skincare routine for little more than £15.

Why is The Ordinary so cheap?

The Ordinary takes a clinical, science-based approach to skincare, specialising in proven, single-ingredient-driven products that deliver results. In a bid to be completely transparent, there’s no mark-up on any of the humble ingredients used in the products; although pretty potent, all are in fact readily available. In addition, since the benefits of the various ingredients are widely known, the brand doesn’t waste resources on fancy marketing to convince consumers of their efficacy.

How we test products from The Ordinary

To put products from The Ordinary brand to the test, we use as many products from the range as we can get our hands on, while ensuring they work seamlessly with the other products in our testers’ daily skincare routines. Each product is used for a three-month period in order to consider maximum results. When reviewing, we look at the texture and consistency of the product, to scent, the ingredients used and – of course – whether or not the product delivers visible results. Where a formula is also recommended for a certain skin type, we test the suitability for this, too.

READ NEXT: Our guide to the best moisturisers

The best The Ordinary products you can buy in 2023

1. Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion: Best The Ordinary product for mature skin

Price: £9 (30ml) | Buy now from Boots

It’s been proven to take years off your appearance, as well as reduce the likes of sunspots and acne, so there’s no denying the skin-rejuvenating abilities of retinol – but it isn’t always suitable for sensitive skin types. Thankfully, this lightweight serum is incredibly gentle; it didn’t cause any of the unwanted side effects (namely peeling) that you can usually experience with retinol. It has an almost milky consistency that sinks quickly into skin, and following just a few weeks of use, our tester reported smoother, more hydrated-looking skin and a more even tone and texture. As always with retinol, use it as part of your evening routine only and remember to wear sun protection during the day.

Buy now from Boots

2. Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA: Best The Ordinary product for dry skin

Price: £5 (30ml) | Buy now from Cult Beauty

It may be oil-free, but this soothing moisturiser works wonders on dehydrated skin. It feels thick and emollient-like, so a pea-sized drop will go a long way, blending into skin in seconds. You’ll feel the hydration benefits immediately; but following consistent use, skin looks plumper and dewier – thanks, in part, to the healthy dose of hyaluronic acid present that helps skin to retain moisture. The formula also contains amino acids, fatty acids, glycerin and triglycerides, which are also naturally present in the skin. These help to boost its natural oil barrier.

Buy now from Cult Beauty

3. Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%: Best The Ordinary product for combination skin

Price: £5.60 (30ml) | Buy now from Look Fantastic

For skin that’s prone to breakouts, niacinamide (also known as vitamin B3) should be your go-to for a more even-toned complexion. This inexpensive wonder serum combines a high 10% concentration of niacinamide with zinc salt of pyrrolidone carboxylic acid, promising (and delivering) a reinforced barrier function, improved skin smoothness and radiance over time. Like most serums from The Ordinary, it has a clear, lightweight texture and sits happily beneath your moisturiser or SPF (it can be used day and night). Zinc is also wonderfully effective at controlling excess sebum production, so if you suffer with an oily t-zone, then this could be your hero product.

Buy now from Look Fantastic

4. Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%: Best The Ordinary product for acne scarring

Price: £8.60 (30ml) | Buy now from Boots

If scarring, hyperpigmentation and dark spots are a cause for concern, this lightweight cream formula should be your first port of call. It’s a very high concentration so, depending on your skin type, you may want to introduce it gradually. In addition, ensure you use sun protection during the day. It absorbs nicely into the skin, promising instant hydration and a brighter, more even complexion over time. Despite its high concentration, our tester reported no irritation whatsoever, and there were visible improvements to post-acne dark spots.

Buy now from Boots

5. Salicylic Acid 2% Solution: Best The Ordinary product for congested skin

Price: £5 (30ml) | Buy now from Beauty Bay

If you’ve ever suffered from acne, then you’ll no doubt be familiar with the benefits of salicylic acid for its ability to get deep within the pores, freeing them of dirt. This lightweight 2% version from The Ordinary is as gentle as it gets, but it’s no less effective at minimising spots and helping to prevent new ones from emerging. The bargain-priced 30ml bottle should last some time, since it should be applied sparingly as a targeted spot treatment in the evening – and don’t forget to wear SPF during the day, as your skin will be extra sensitive and sun damage will only aggravate your acne.

Buy now from Beauty Bay

6. Squalane Cleanser: Best The Ordinary product for cleansing

Price: £5.50 (50ml) | Buy now from Cult Beauty

If this cult cleanser isn’t already a staple in your skincare routine, it should be. At least, if you can get hold of one… The soap-free formula has amassed rave reviews from across the world, and rightly so. It’s an innovative balm-to-oil formula that combines squalane, glycerin and malic acid to work its magic on a range of skin types – from acne-prone to highly sensitive. It feels thick when you squeeze it out of the tube, but melts into a delicious oil on contact with the skin, dissolving makeup brilliantly and leaving skin feeling clean yet baby soft. Once again, the hero ingredient is squalane – known for its ability to fight the signs of ageing, fade scars and even reverse UV damage.

Buy now from Cult Beauty

7. Multi-Peptide Lash & Brow Serum: Best The Ordinary product for lashes and brows

Price: £12.40 (5ml) | Buy now from Boots

Combining a similar technology to the brand’s popular Multi-Peptide Serum for Hair Density, this latest launch from The Ordinary is designed to promote thicker and fuller brows and lashes. Powerhouse peptides supported by extracts from tea tree, red clover and larch wood, as well as glycoproteins, caffeine and zinc chloride, are all said to increase density and thickness, while nourishing and preventing hair breakage. With a slim, paintbrush-like applicator, the product is clear in colour and non-irritating (even on our tester’s sensitive eyes), and its light texture meant it could be applied to lashes and brows with ease. It also appears to be fine for those who wear contact lenses, likely because it dries quickly. Having used it for three weeks so far – twice daily, as recommended – it’s too soon to say whether this really boosts hair growth. Nevertheless, our tester reported far less shedding when it came to removing eye makeup every evening, so there’s little doubt that it boosts hair health.

Buy now from Boots

8. Sulphate 4% Cleanser for Body & Hair: The best product from The Ordinary for hair

Price: £6.80 (240ml) | Buy now from BootsNever one to go with the status quo, one of The Ordinary’s most recent additions has reclaimed a rather unpopular ingredient – sodium laureth sulphate (SLES), which has had a bad rap in the past for being drying. And yet, the brand seems to have achieved just the right balance with this product, where the biodegradable surfactant plays a vital role in the cleansing process. At 4%, the concentration is gentle enough on the scalp, leaving hair clean without stripping it of natural oils. The texture feels thinner than your standard shampoo, and you’ll notice that it doesn’t foam as much, but that doesn’t make it any less effective. It’s also suitable for use on the body, making it a great purchase if you’re travelling and short on space in your washbag.

Buy now from Boots

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