The Ordinary: What worked and what didn't, plus the photos to prove it

There was a point earlier this year when I resigned myself to bad skin forever. I was sleeping past midnight, subsisting on fast and junk food, living a sedentary lifestyle, and just really stressed out because CURSE ADULTING THAT’S WHY. I got my hands on some cult favorite skincare that I thought would solve my problems but all it did was break me out in the most horrible way. It was a nightmare, and my previous skincare routine could no longer undo the damage and catch up with my crappy lifestyle.

After weeks of ugly suffering, I told myself that it was time to reclaim my skin and wounded self-esteem. Luckily, I saw Wayne Goss’s video introduction to The Ordinary and the rest, as they say, is history. The Ordinary became my top skincare discovery for 2017 and I could go for hours on end talking about it, so buckle up! Clinical formulations with integrity – I’d say that’s exactly what this Canadian beauty brand has brought to the table.

Now before I go any further, I’m not saying that these will work for you as well as they did for me. I’m just here to talk about my personal experience with the brand and the products that I bought with my own money. Here’s my ranking of the products I have from best to worst.

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Best: Advanced Retinoid 2%

The Advanced Retinoid 2% was the gateway drug to my The Ordinary addiction. Consults with different dermatologists had me convinced that I need retinoids in my life both for acne management and as a general skin booster but they did warn me that it can get worse before it gets better with this treatment. I became drawn to The Ordinary’s retinoid for the promise of better skin without the irritation. True enough, I’ve never experienced any signs of purging, peeling, or flaking which most users experience with traditional retinol use.

As for what it did do, I mostly give credit to this product for clearing my adult acne! From being an acne landmine, I almost never get any new pimples these days and I’m now much more confident to step out with just lip tints. I noticed the improvement in my skin’s vitality right away but I was about a month in before I stopped getting new pimples. My dermatologists did confirm this though as it takes retinoids a while to improve cell turnover.

I use it every night after about 10 to 15 minutes of air drying my cleansed face. I finished my first bottle within four months of almost nightly use and I’m pretty confident that I’ll be repurchasing this every time I run out!


Best: AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution

Many bloggers compare The Ordinary’s AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution to Drunk Elephant’s highly raved T.L.C. Sukari Baby Facial, which is formulated with 25% AHA + 2% BHA. While the formula list does list a couple of similar ingredients, I can’t attest as to how both would compare as I don’t have the latter. The Ordinary’s version retails for $7.20 and Drunk Elephant’s is at a whopping $80.00 though.

I use a dropper-full of this mask once or twice a week after double cleansing at night and leave it on for 10 minutes tops. While the Advanced Retinoid took a while to work, this exfoliating mask gave me instant gratification with how smooth and brightened my skin is after just one use! This has done wonders for lightening stubborn post inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) that I almost gave up on. It does tingle a bit upon initial application but my oily skin is used to acids so I can manage this strong formulation just fine.

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Great: Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%

After washing my face in the morning, I use the Vitamin C Suspension 23% + Ha Spheres 2% and leave it on for about 10 minutes or so. The gritty texture might not be for everyone but I can deal with the powdery feel as it goes away after I apply my day essence and/or moisturizer. I do like this a lot for the silicone-free, high concentration of pure L-Ascorbic Acid that it offers. This helps brighten and even out my skin tone and is a great daily radiance booster to support the AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution.

Vitamin C is touted as one of the best antioxidants in the market and I’d have to agree. This does help a lot in making me look less tired and more revitalized even with the stress from work and pollution. With daily use, I’d say I have about two weeks left of this bottle which I started using five months ago. I am considering trying out the Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12% when I run out though.

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Good: Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG

After 10 to 15 minutes of applying the Vitamin C or Retinoid, I use the Caffeine Solution 5% + Epigallocatechin Gallatyl Glucoside (EGCG) on my eye contours as my eye serum. One drop is literally enough to cover both eye areas, and I massage it in and leave it to dry before applying a face essence, moisturizer, or serum. It does provide a smooth base to prevent my concealer from caking but it’s really just a good, basic hydrator for preventing signs of aging. I don’t find that it helps my dark circles as well as a good night’s sleep but to be fair, nothing I’ve used in the past ever does! It will probably last me a year before I empty this.


Meh: High-Adherence Silicone Primer

At $4.90, the High-Adherence Silicone Primer would have been a budget beauty dream if it did everything that it said it would. It sadly didn’t and I feel quite indifferent with this primer. It’s a non-greasy hydrator that provides a smooth canvas for makeup application. It neither blurs pores nor extends wear time though so it does feel inferior to other good primers in my collection.

Worst: Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA

Such was my disdain for the Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA that I gave it away before taking a photo! I used it thrice and developed raging pimples on my forehead – the kind I never have! It took me a couple of weeks to heal and fade those blemishes, which did set me back from the progress I’ve made with the rest of the line. My friend loves it though, and she claims it cleared her pimple marks as promised. Skin is sadly and weirdly unique, people!

And for the moment of truth, here’s my unfiltered four month progress using The Ordinary skincare. My skin isn’t perfect by any means but I’ve definitely made tremendous progress considering my oily, sensitive, very acne-prone skin type.

You can see why I’m obsessed and why I have a few more orders on the way! I also have the High Spreadability Fluid Primer and Rose Hip Seed Oil in my stash but I haven’t tested them out enough to warrant a review. Let me know if you want a part 2! ;)

Deciem now ships to the Philippines but they do charge a shipping fee of 38 USD unless you meet the minimum amount for free shipping of 250 USD. Beautylish also carries a few products from the line and offers free shipping on orders 100 USD and up, or for a shipping fee of 20 USD otherwise. The Ordinary doesn’t currently have an official distributor in the Philippines but you can find a lot of resellers on Facebook, Shopee, and Instagram! I personally purchased all of my The Ordinary products from BeautyNooks.

Have you tried The Ordinary yet? What products were a hit or a miss for you?