If you’re into skincare in even the slightest, like the teeniest, tinniest bit, then you’ll almost definitely have heard of the recently launched The Ordinary skincare. If you haven’t, know this – it’s a game changing skincare shakeup from the self-named ‘abnormal beauty company’ – DECIEM.
Why is The Ordinary skincare range a shakeup?
Because this is cosmeceutical skincare (skincare with concentrated active ingredients) at bargain basement prices.
But unlike bargain basement purchases whose content is usually reflected by the price – case and point aloe vera gel with 0.1% aloe vera, The Ordinary Skincare company have actives in quantities that will work.
Can we just pause for that and say… ‘Whahoooooooooo’
Quality that does not break the bank – how often do you get that?
Now do you see why The Ordinary skincare range is a game changer? Oh yea…
Now when you get started with mixing The Ordinary skincare it may seem a little confusing… and that’s what we’re here today to change.
You my friend, are in the right place if you want to learn how to make a skincare routine with products from The Ordinary skincare range, without cancelling out your active ingredients and without mixing skincare products in a way that causes redness, irritation and sensitivity.
Ready? Let’s go…
Mixing The Ordinary Skincare: The Basics
Now, it is oh so definitely a myth that you should only make a skincare routine of skincare products from the same skincare range. But… the thinking behind this myth is this – ranges of skincare products are created to ‘work in harmony’, so technically if you chose only products from a skincare range designed to treat a certain skin type or condition, you’d be safe sailing.
When you roam out of safe waters, you have a party shop of options – when using cosmeceutical skincare, it’s very important to learn how to mix them to create a skincare routine that works.
Think of it like this.
To make a stir fry you can pretty much blend together whatever takes your fancy and it will usually taste darn good. Go you! But… to make bread, pastry or cakes, you need to stick to certain quantities of ingredients added in specific ways. Stir frying allows for creativity but turn your skills to bread making and you’ll need to practice it within a rule book.
The rule book of mixing skincare revolves around these 4 principles;
- Use skincare with similar pH levels together (sound confusing? Don’t worry, I’ll be explaining all soon)
- Reserve skincare that is light-sensitive i.e. its actives get used up by light/they make your skin sensitive with light – at nighttime.
- Separate skincare ingredients that have the potential to de-activate each other
- Separate skincare ingredients that work in a ‘too’ similar way e.g. one product that exfoliates with glycolic acid and another product that exfoliates and moisturises with salicylic acid.
If you want to learn more about these mixing skincare principles – read this – ‘Skincare Ingredients You Should Never Mix’.
If you want to learn how to add The Ordinary skincare products into your existing routine with a simple regime guide, read on…
The Ordinary Regime Guide
First, we’re going to get sorted on what you can use in your AM routine and what you should only use in a PM routine. In reality, if you can use something for AM, you can also use it for PM, but you can’t reverse that logic i.e. if something can be used in your PM routine, it can’t be used in your AM routine. Opps!
PM only skincare is like a having a little black dress. It’s designed for swanky evening occasions, wear it in the morning and you’ll still look awesomely glam, but also very out of place. On the other hand, you have ‘AM & PM skincare’ – it’s like wearing a smart cami: skinny jean combo effortlessly taking you from morning to night with just high heels.
So, dear friend, to keep your LBD reserved for evenings only, mix these The Ordinary skincare products only into your evening routine;
- Advanced Retinoid 2%
- Retinol 1%, 0.5% and 0.2%
- AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution
- Alpha Lipoic Acid Solution 5%
- Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%
- Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution
- [Ideally PM] Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2%
- [Ideally PM] Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2%
For a full list of The Ordinary skincare products and to see these skincare picks nestled against the complete range – head here.
The Ordinary Skincare Routine – actives you shouldn’t mix
Did you know this crazy fact – if you mix red, green and blue light in the right quantities, you get white. That’s truly crazy ‘eh. Well, here’s the thing, there’s a similar effect that can be created when you mix together certain active skincare ingredients.
For the best results, when mixing up a skincare routine – remember this rule.
Use vitamin C and niacinamide separately.
That means, if you use these 2 products from The Ordinary, you should separate them out into an AM and PM routine;
- Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%
- Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%
pH is a science-y measure of how acidic or how alkaline an ingredient (with water) is. pH only ever exists if there’s water about town, so if you have oils from The Ordinary skincare range e.g. their 100% Plant-Derived Squalane or their 100% Cold-Pressed Virgin Marula Oil, this rule, does not apply.
That’s great right, that means you can separate out all of these oil-only guys;
- 100% Cold-Pressed Virgin Marula Oil
- 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Moroccan Argan Oil
- 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil
- 100% Plant-Derived Squalane
These facial oils are good to use as the last step of a skincare routine at any time. Why the last step? Well because these guys are ‘denser’ or heavier, which means other skincare ingredients will be much more slowly absorbed if used after a facial oil.
Learn more about skincare layering here. Or if you’re currently thinking – yikes – this all sounds way to techy, can someone please just tell me exactly which The Ordinary products I need and exactly which order to layer them in? Then click here and you’ll soon be sorted.
Now, back to pH.
Our pH ruler goes from 0 all the way up to 14.
Anything under 7 is acidic. Anything over 7 is alkaline.
Your skin is naturally acidic, so generally most skincare is going to sit this side of our pH ruler.
Some skincare ingredients need a low pH to keep the skincare ingredients active inside of your The Ordinary regimen e.g. glycolic acid whereas others need a higher pH to remain active e.g. retinol.
— Cheryl Woodman (@HonestyForSkin) 8 May 2017
Looking at The Ordinary pH guide, you’ll want to separate out or wait some-time between using these 2 sets of products;
Low pH products – in order of lowest pH first;
- Salicylic Acid 2% Solution (pH 3.2-3.5)
- Mandelic Acid 10% + HA (pH 3.5-3.7)
- AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution (pH 3.5-3.7)
- Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution (pH 3.5-3.7)
- Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2% (pH 3.8)
- Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2% (pH 3.8)
Higher pH products;
- Advanced Retinoid 2% (pH 5-6)
- Matrixyl 10% + HA (pH 5-6)
- Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% (pH 5.5-6.5)
- Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12% (pH 6-7)
- Argireline Solution 10% (pH 6-7)
- “Buffet” + Copper Peptides 1% (pH 6-7)
- Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA (pH 6.5-7)
- Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate 10% (pH 6.5-7.5)
- Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 (pH 6.5-7.5)
Why is it best to separate out these low and high pH products? Well, this is best done because these ingredients are stable, usable and active when kept at their formulated pH levels. It’s like taking an Aussie from a long hot summer and teleporting them to Iceland with just a strappy top, skirt and pair of flip-flops. Take something or someone out of their comfort zone and things are going to happen much more slowly… with lots of words that will have you quickly employing a bleep-button expert. Make sure you don’t have to by downloading your free copy of my How to Cocktail Your Skincare Like a Pro starting rules – just click here or below to get yours now.
The Ordinary Regimen – separate similar ingredients
Imagine using sandpaper to sand down a shabby-chic chest of draws in preparation for an eye-catching coat of duck-egg blue paint. Now imagine, instead of reaching for the paint brush, you again picked up the sandpaper. Now imagine if you actually used it. What do you see? A very over sanded item of furniture looking like it needs a good meal (of sawdust?) to plump it back up again ‘eh…
When you use active skincare ingredients that do a too similar ‘thing’, you amp up that ‘thing’ and end up hurting your skin.
It’s like using an exfoliating acid e.g. The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution and following it with the Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution. Both of these skincare picks use exfoliating acids (AHA, BHA, glycolic acid) and you wouldn’t want to use these together as they’d over exfoliate your skin.
Let’s take another Ordinary regimen example;
Say you want to lighten and brighten your skin. A go-to active for uneven skin tone is vitamin C. Taking a look at The Ordinary vitamin C skincare range you have 8 options;
- 100% L-Ascorbic Acid Powder
- Ethylated Ascorbic Acid 15% Solution
- Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%
- Vitamin C Suspension 30% in Silicone
- Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12%
- Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate Solution 20% in Vitamin F
- Ascorbic Acid 8% + Alpha Arbutin 2%
- Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate Solution 10%
All of these options will help to lighten and brighten your skin and they’ll work in very similar ways to get you this. The Ordinary vitamin C range already contains all active forms of vitamin C at their highest recommended use levels, so pick one, stick with it and see if you notice a change. If you don’t , switch to another one… but don’t use them together.
The Ordinary skincare company have brought us cosmeceutical skincare at a pretty penny price and it can be oh so tempting to ‘over-invest’, but now dear friend, you know exactly how to apply the less is more principle. You are awesome!
So tell me, what have you been using? Do you still have active ingredient mixing questions? Wondering if your picks from The Ordinary skincare range are truly compatible? Drop me our questions in the comments below…
Cheryl Woodman is a scientist & award winning skincare formulator who is more friend next door than bow tie wearing professor. As creator of Honesty For Your Skin her aim is to help you care for your skin in the best ways possible. She is founder of the natural & fragrance free skincare brand Honesty while also hosting 1 to 1 skincare coaching to help you get your best skin yet. Learn more here at www.HonestyForYourSkin.co.uk/Skin-Coach