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 there’s one thing you’ll need to know before investing – how to mix it together without experiencing a skincare disaster, here’s what you need to know my friend…

How to Mix The Ordinary Skincare

In Budget Skincare, Product Reviews by Cheryl Woodman MChem1 Comment

If you’re into skincare in even the slightest, like the teeniest, tiniest bit, 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?

Do you see why The Ordinary skincare range is a game-changer?

Yet when you get started with mixing The Ordinary skincare it seems mind-boggling, bamboozling… so confusing you almost give up. I’m here today to help change this for you.

You my friend, are in the right place if you want to start learning how to make a skincare routine with products from The Ordinary skincare range, without canceling out active ingredients and without mixing skincare products in a way that causes redness, irritation and sensitivity.

Ready? Let’s go…

What The Ordinary skincare products should not be mixed? The Ordinary product line is HUGE – it’s easy to mix wrong, cancel products out and irritate your skin. Read this The Ordinary skincare review to make sure you’re mixing yours the right way. Click to read.

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 within a rule book.

The rule book of mixing skincare revolves around these 4 principles;

  1. Use skincare with similar pH levels together (sound confusing? Don’t worry, I’ll be explaining all soon)
  2. Reserve skincare that is light-sensitive i.e. its actives get used up by light/they make your skin sensitive with light – at nighttime.
  3. Separate skincare ingredients that have the potential to de-activate each other
  4. Separate skincare ingredients that work in a too similar way e.g. a skincare product that exfoliates with glycolic acid should be separated from another skincare product that exfoliates/moisturises and that also contains salicylic acid.

If you want to learn more about these mixing skincare principles – read this – ‘Skincare Ingredients You Should Never Mix Guide’.

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 Regimen Guide

First, we’re going to get sorted on what you can use in your AM routine and what you should only use in your 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.

PM only skincare is the LBD of the skincare world. It’s designed for maximum impact.

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%
  • Alpha Lipoic Acid 5%
  • Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution
  • Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2%
  • Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2%
  • Mandelic Acid 10% + HA
  • Salicylic Acid 2% Solution
  • Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%

For a full list of The Ordinary skincare products and to see these skincare picks nestled against the complete range – head here.

Where to buy The Ordinary Skincare: Direct at The Ordinary/DECIEM website here – free shipping on orders over £25/$25.

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 as L-ascorbic acid and niacinamide separately.

That means, if you use any of these 4 products from The Ordinary, you’re best to keep them separate from The Ordinary’s Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%;

  • Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%
  • Vitamin C Suspension 30% in Silicone
  • 100% L-Ascorbic Acid Powder
  • Ascorbic Acid 8% + Alpha Arbutin 2%

Simple eh – now you have the mixing thing sorted. You are awesome.

How to Use The Ordinary Skincare – pH

pH is a scientific 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;

  1. “B” Oil
  2. 100% Cold-Pressed Virgin Marula Oil
  3. 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Borage Seed Oil
  4. 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Moroccan Argan Oil
  5. 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil
  6. 100% Organic Virgin Chia Seed Oil
  7. 100% Organic Virgin Sea-Buckthorn Fruit Oil
  8. 100% Plant-Derived Hemi-Squalane
  9. 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? Because these guys are ‘denser’ or heavier, which means other skincare ingredients will be much more slowly absorbed if used after a facial oil.

Update; The Ordinary now have a huge range of water-free formulas which aren’t made up in oils but are made up in a hydrating solvent called propanediol. It can feel a bit greasy at first but give it 10-20 seconds and it absorbs in clean. These formulas also don’t have a pH so you can be clever about adding them into your routine;

  1. Alpha Lipoic Acid 5%
  2. EUK 134 0.1%
  3. Pycnogenol 5%
  4. Resveratrol 3% + Ferulic Acid 3%
  5. Ascorbic Acid 8% + Alpha Arbutin 2%
  6. Ethylated Ascorbic Acid 15% Solution

Psst; If you’re currently thinking – yikes – this all sounds way too techy, can someone please just tell me exactly which The Ordinary products I need to get makeupless skin I love and exactly which order to layer them in? Then click here and I’ll be helping get you sorted straight away.

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.

Looking at The Ordinary pH guide, you’ll want to separate out or wait some time between using these 2 sets of products – psst – I have cheatsheets you can use to do this with, in Extraordinary Skin With The Ordinary;

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? 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 and 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 Mix The Ordinary Skincare Cheat Sheet – just click here or below to get yours now.

The Ordinary Regimen – separate out 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. Now imagine, instead of reaching for the paintbrush, 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?

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 will 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;

  1. 100% L-Ascorbic Acid Powder
  2. Ethylated Ascorbic Acid 15% Solution
  3. Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%
  4. Vitamin C Suspension 30% in Silicone
  5. Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12%
  6. Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate Solution 20% in Vitamin F
  7. Ascorbic Acid 8% + Alpha Arbutin 2%
  8. 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 is bringing us cosmeceutical skincare at a pretty penny price. That means it can be oh so tempting to over-invest, but dear friend, now you know exactly how to apply the less is more principle. You’ve got this.

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…