Review | The Ordinary Skincare

The Ordinary Skincare

If you’ve been following beauty influencers on YouTube and Instagram recently, you’ve probably heard of a skincare line called The Ordinary that’s increasing rapidly in popularity. What makes this brand so special, and why is everyone talking about it? The Ordinary is a skincare brand that touts “clinical formulations with integrity.” Their products contain active ingredients at a low, affordable price point without the fluff that you’ll find in other skincare brands. You won’t find fragrance and fillers in this brand….. only active ingredients that have a purpose. Best of all, the majority of their products are available for under $10 (USD), and the most expensive product is under $20. It’s almost unbelievable.

I don’t have to tell you that skincare can be very expensive. I have been using a Vitamin C serum that costs $80 for 1 fluid ounce, and it lasts about 2 months. That can add up quickly, especially when it’s just one of many products in my daily skincare regimen. So, the timing was perfect when I heard about The Ordinary at the same time that I ran out of my Drunk Elephant C-Firma. I decided to purchase 3 products from The Ordinary and give them a try. Here’s what I purchased:

I purchased these products from the ASOS website, where they offer free shipping and free returns (also available at Beauty Bay). I also found a coupon for 10% off, making my order total just $27.40 for 3 skincare products packed with active ingredients. Compare that to $80 for my usual vitamin C serum and $105 for 1 ounce of a very popular lactic acid. Holy smokes! But the question is, can you truly replace your favorite, high-priced skincare products with the inexpensive products offered by The Ordinary?

Well, let’s just say that I gave it a try. This is, by far, the shortest test that I’ve ever done before. My test sadly lasted just 3 days and 2 nights. Why? When I woke up on day 3, I had a horrible break-out all over my chin, the kind that was deep and incredibly painful. In addition, I had a large chemical burn on the skin next to my right eye area and all over my neck. I suspect the sudden painful acne was caused by the Matrixyl serum, and the burns were caused by the Vitamin C suspension which I’ll talk about first.

The Vitamin C suspension contains an L-Absorbic Acid powder in a suspension. L-absoribic Acid is the most effective form of vitamin C used in skincare products, but there’s some things you should be aware of.  L-absorbic Acid is highly unstable, and it loses its effectiveness quickly. There are things you can do to increase the life of any product containing this form of Vitamin C:

  1. Store it in the refrigerator
  2. Ensure the product you purchase is stored in an opaque container that light can’t pass through. Light breaks down l-absorbic acid and renders it ineffective.
  3. Throw it away after 30 days.

When you purchase The Ordinary Vitamin C suspension from an authorized retailer, they guarantee that it was freshly made and will be effective for the next month. The powder is compounded into a suspension; however, the powder never fully dissolves into the cream, so you’ll feel a gritty texture when applying it to your skin. This is normal.  The Ordinary uses an L-absorbic Acid strength of 23%. Many vitamin c serums on the market contain a much lower percentage, but anything lower than 20% isn’t effective for skincare purposes.  The high percentage of vitamin c will likely cause your skin to sting or burn slightly upon application, but it should subside within a few minutes. You may experience temporary facial redness, but it should also subside within 5-10 minutes. These symptoms should disappear with continued use, after around 2 weeks or so.

I was only slightly prepared for how my skin would feel when I applied The Ordinary Vitamin C suspension, mainly because I’ve been using a special formula of Retin A that is compounded by my local compound pharmacy to add in 22% of l-absorbic acid. It also has the gritty texture and a burning sensation when applied initially. However, that didn’t fully prepare me for how I felt when applying the Vitamin C from The Ordinary. The closest description I can come up is that it felt like hot, firey  needles piercing my skin for several minutes. It hurt! Tears literally streamed down my face, and just when I thought it had stopped, it reactivated all over again when I applied another moisturizing serum on top of it several minutes later. Since the l-absorbic acid is in a powder form that doesn’t fully absorb into the cream mixture, it means that only part of the active ingredient (powder) will absorb into your skin. You still absorb plenty of it to be effective, but there will still be some granuals that sit on top of your skin until you dilute it further with another product, which is what I did, causing the burning to start all over again. Again, this is normal and I’ll reiterate that this is the most effective format of  Vitamin C if you truly want to improve your skin. However, I don’t think the average person can tolerate this particular product. If you have sensitive skin, I know you won’t be able to tolerate it. I don’t have sensitive skin, but I still couldn’t tolerate this and use it beyond the 3rd day.  I woke up with chemical burns the last day, and I stopped using it immediately.  My guess is that the combination of this product with my lactic acid product (Lotion P50) was too much for my skin to tolerate. I’m certainly not giving up the Lotion P50, so yeah….there’s that! The Ordinary has an excellent write-up about their Vitamin C products here.

I only tried the lactic acid product twice. This product feels like a thin serum and has a cloudy pink hue to it. I didn’t feel like it was doing anything to my skin at all. It didn’t provide the same tingling sensation (in me personally) that I felt when using Sunday Riley’s Good Genes or any other lactic acid product. To be fair, two applications isn’t a proper test, but I thought I should “feel” something to know it was working.

I wish I could have reviewed this skincare line for 6-8 weeks and tell you what type of results I experienced with continued use. That’s the minimum amount of time someone should use a skincare product before making any judgment about its effectiveness. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t get that far. The acne on my chin hurts! It’s not surface acne that will go away quickly but rather the deep, painful type that will probably take 1+ weeks to improve.  The burns on the side of my face and neck have developed a small scab over it and should heal within 3-4 days.

Overall, I think this is a skincare line worth checking out for those who are on a smaller budget or those who don’t want to spend a small fortune on skincare products.  The Ordinary isn’t trying to compete with popular high-end brands. To the contrary, they’re providing an affordable option to those who want quality skincare ingredients at an affordable price. This brand comes packed with active ingredients, but it won’t contain all the extras to make it smell luxurious (which your skin doesn’t need anyway).  Just be mindful that there could be some issues for those with sensitive skin or acne-prone skin. I received feedback from some followers telling me that they also experienced acne issues and had to stop using the products they purchased. I heard complaints from people who purchased the retinol and another product called The Buffet (a combo product containing Matrixyl, amino acids, and a Hyaluronic acid complex).

The only other thing you should consider when considering this brand is that you will require a basic understanding of skincare ingredients to shop their product line.  The brand is focused on active ingredients, and they steer away from marketing schemes that are common with other beauty companies. You won’t find a product in their lineup that claims to be a miraculous “all in one” beauty cream or serum.  Each product has the name of the primary ingredient on the label (for the most part), which means you need to understand what issues those ingredients target.  For example: Vitamin C is used to brighten the skin and help with aging skin, hyaluronic acid plumps dry skin and provides long-lasting moisture, etc. In other words, know what your skin needs are before shopping this brand.

As always, your results may vary from mine. While I wasn’t able to complete a 4-6 week test with the products I purchased, maybe you’ll have a much better experience and find that these products are an amazing, affordable replacement to your existing high-end skincare products. That would be awesome!

Where to Purchase The Ordinary

Update as of February 2020: The Ordinary is now available at Ulta and Sephora. Some of the products original reviewed may or may not be available.

Have you tried any products from The Ordinary? Is this on your shopping list to try? Comment below or on my Instagram page and let me know your thoughts! 



  1. Gia
    October 29, 2017 / 9:45 am

    Hello! I just found your blog and it’s lovely!
    The Matrixyl makes my face itch? Not severely but it’s like an “annoying” feeling?

    • My Beautiful Flaws
      October 29, 2017 / 10:43 am

      Thank you so much for your sweet comment about my blog. I’m sorry to hear the Matryxl didn’t work for you. Do you have sensitive skin? I’ll look into the ingredients and see if there’s anything that can cause a possible reaction. It’s been a good product for me, but then again, everyone’s skin is different. I always recommend doing a skin patch test for any new products. And if you have an issue, be sure to contact them and let the company know. They should issue a refund for you. 😊

  2. Anonymous
    May 22, 2018 / 8:52 pm

    I have a question, When you purchased, how do you know which chemical to get for your skin type/condition? And how do you know how to apply them or when to apply them, and if the chemical will or will not react with each other? Did you first consult an aesthetician or a dermatologist?

    • My Beautiful Flaws
      May 22, 2018 / 9:50 pm

      That’s a really good question. First, like many bloggers who focus on skincare, we research, research,
      Research. I have a close relationship with the owner of the med spa that I routinely use. She has an esthetician on staff with a chemistry masters degree. She formulates her own compound products. So we have had many discussions about various products, what they do, and what shouldn’t be mixed with other things at the same time. Also as a general rule you will always apply the thinnest product first (such as serums or liquids) and the thickest last (such as creams). Hope that helps.

      One last thing, the Ordinary has a huge wealth of info on their website about each of their products and they talk on detail about how to apply their products, what not to mix, etc. It really is useful.

  3. August 22, 2018 / 4:23 pm

    Hi, I tried the Vitamin C 30% and Matrixyl products and I am absolutely hooked! Vitamin C does givegive me a tingly feeling but I apply it R my dermaroller. I think the mistake was using it with Lactic Acid, no wonder it burned! I just ordered many Ordinary products, including the serum foundation. Maybe you should try again using vitamin C with a light cold pressed Moroccan nut oil big 😘 😍

    • My Beautiful Flaws
      August 22, 2018 / 4:45 pm

      Hi, love. The Vitamin C 30% in silicone was developed after this review was written. It’s a separate product from the one tested in this review, although I tested the 30% later and am not a fan due to the silicone. I actually tried the Vitamin C 23% twice and wrote 2 separate reviews. Not sure if you saw the 2nd review where I did try it again. To clarify, I didn’t mix it with the Lactic Acid. I’m a true skincare junkie (have been for over 30 years) so I’m very careful when I conduct tests like this. I can use it but I have to mix it or dilute it with another product. This is a common issue and complaint about this product, and The Ordinary now warns people about the effects of the 23%. The 30% doesn’t have the same burning effect due to the silicone in it. Many people, like myself, don’t like to use silicone in skincare products though.

      Since this review was originally published, I have now switched to their pure Vitamin C / Absorbic Acid powder, which you have to mix into another product such as a serum. I like it much better for several reasons, one being that I create a fresh dose upon each application and it doesn’t ever go bad. I can also customize the strength by the amount of pure powder I use. It’s much cheaper and more effective. You may want to check out my Ordinary “Take 2” review for more updated info. I’ll be writing a new review soon on Vitamin C products, including the new powder from The Ordinary. I already posted about it on Instagram if you want to check that out. Hugs!

  4. Jennifer Scott
    March 30, 2019 / 8:52 pm

    I used The Ordinary for three days. On the third night, I saw my reflection in the mirror and it looked like my face had melted. My eye lids were swollen and droopy, the area under my eyes were swollen and the area along my cheekbones looked like they were filled with fluid. I’ve spent 3 days icing my face and applying fresh aloe. My face still burns and has red blotches and the skin on my cheekbones still look disfigured. I’m praying that time will heal my skin and I’ll look normal again.

  5. Anonymous
    June 30, 2019 / 5:45 pm

    Hi. I tried the salicylic acid from the ordinary, and I woke up to chemical burns all over my jaw line. I reached out to their customer service and they only sent me a survey about how I used the product. I am extremely dissatisfied (and in pain – ouch)! Don’t use this product!!

Leave a Comment and Share Your Thoughts Below!