Some of you have been waiting so long to hear me say ANYTHING on The Ordinary products – I was hesitant to say something without giving them a proper go and consistently using the products in my routine. Skincare is pricey and I know that when you’re watching those dolla bills, it is often hard to justify a product that will cost you €40 or upwards so naturally, there has been huge interest around The Ordinary of late.
I’ve used the Hyaluronic Acid 2% with vitamin B5, the Glycolic Acid and the Salicylic Acid 2% solution. What did I think of them? Purely and simply, they work! I think they are good products and the ingredients have the same or similar effects as to what they would have when included in other brand’s formulations… ie. their hyaluronic does hydrate the skin, their salicylic does dry out spots and regulate oil production. Whilst I think that The Ordinary, hypothetically, is a viable option for those who cannot stretch their budget to include more expensive skincare, some things about the products make me feel a bit concerned.
My problem with The Ordinary
Retailing active products without a consult
The issue that I take with The Ordinary is that they are retailing active products without giving advice on how to use them, without restricting usage and without monitoring how their customers are getting on. It is like giving someone who is not a mechanic the tools to fix a car and setting them at it without teaching them how to do it! Your car can end up more damaged than it was in the first place.
I don’t fully understand what they are doing to make The Ordinary products so cheap. I know that they openly do not invest mega money in packaging or marketing (they don’t do TV ads, billboards, campaigns etc.), and I take that on board.
The lower price point
Here is the key to understanding why these products end up in any way affordable: each product does not include many ingredients mixed together. For example, The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% with vitamin B5 is pretty much just that. Other brands spend money on ensuring that their formulations contain a sophisticated blend of actives that give the skin multiple benefits whilst still penetrating correctly.
For example, one cosmeceutical brand that often comes in at a higher price point than others has a hyaluronic-acid-based product that includes not only hyaluronic but a patented ingredient that helps the skin produce GAGs (AKA glycoaminoglycans) and botanicals to intensify the effects of the hyaluronic acid.
I spoke with a representative of an admittedly more expensive (but also more potent) range of products who explained where the difference in cost comes from. When it comes to some ingredients, for example, antioxidants like vitamin C, they have to be stabilised so that they can be recognised in the body as they are not naturally found in the body.
The pH balance has to be lowered so that the product can penetrate without irritation. This brand does studies in its own lab to check the compatibility of ingredients and, on top of this, sends formulations for up to six independent, non-biased studies. Tell me that is not going ABOVE and BEYOND to ensure that their products are effective!?
Why is checking the compatibility of ingredients so important? It is the compatibility of the ingredients that allows the product to penetrate into the skin efficiently and deeply and metabolise in the skin. This is why the product works better than others – this is where the money is going, folks.
Information on The Ordinary’s clinical studies is not readily available online, whereas, with many cosmeceutical brands that we would stock in The Skin Nerd store, a quick google of “Brand Name” Clinical Study will bring you to conclusive results.
Allowing people to buy retinol/retinoids without any guidance
One thing that I really don’t like about The Ordinary is the willingness to supply people with actual retinoids and retinol. There is a reason that retinol and retinoids can usually only be given to those who have had a thorough consult and have been educated on usage. People hear me saying “retinol, retinoids, vitamin A are the keys” and trip over their own feet to buy them… and then, since they are buying from a brand that do not provide instruction, apply it daily and nightly and burn the shite out of their skin.
I have seen people burn themselves with vitamin A derivative ingredients like retinol and retinoids before due to using too high a dosage, using acids with them or not using a progressive technique (ie. starting at a very low dosage and gradually bringing up the potency of the active ingredients). Brands create progressive ranges so as to help the skin become used to an ingredient and to ward off any initial irritation.
When you start slapping on 1% retinol to skin that has NEVER used retinol before, your skin will more than likely react with dryness, redness and pain that will take more products and more money to get over. The Ordinary’s own retinol range is progressive in itself, but people see 0.1% and hold it up to 1% and decide that it is better bang for their buck to buy the most potent one.
Lack of information on what the products are
Not only is there little wisdom on how to use the products, there is very little explained about what the products are. If you are not from a skincare background or incredibly clued in to ingredients, you will open the store page and go “Azelaic Acid?! I haven’t heard of that…. Do I need it?”. This leads to people using 3, 4, even 5 different acid products at once and them not understanding that this can strip the skin and cause irritation on a massive scale.
Consults are key
This is the reason why my opinion on The Ordinary may come off as negative. My personal philosophy and the philosophy of The Skin Nerd as a brand as well is that education is key. Why is education important? Because the best path to skin health cannot be paved without the help of a professional and without taking the most beneficial approach which is on the inside with supplements, on the outside with cosmeceutical and cosmetic skincare and on top with the purest mineral makeup available.
This is because I am results-driven. Myself and the Nerdettes want to see people happy with their results and track and monitor progress, and switch up the regime if need be!
As a recap, are The Ordinary products effective? YES! Are they as effective as some more expensive options recommended in a thorough skin consult? Unfortunately, I don’t believe they can be.