The Skin-ny: The Ordinary

I am SO EXCITED to share with you this super-new, super-secret brand that you’ve never heard of:



Wait? What’s that? Everyone and their Great Aunt Ruth has heard of The Ordinary? AND tried it?

Well, fine. Here’s my take. You don’t have to read it. [Ed. : YES YOU DO.] [Okay not really.]

The Ordinary is the least expensive of the skincare trifecta owned by Deciem. Deciem is a Canadian company whose other product lines include haircare, hand care, protein powders, ‘ingestible beauty’ (I may have an interview lined up with a fancy doctor about that, I’ll keep you posted) and one called “White Rx,” which the internet pretends doesn’t exist because it’s all whitening *cough* I mean “Skin Brightening” products that are sold in places like South Africa and South Korea but mysteriously not in the United States. How interesting!

Sorry, where was I? Oh, right — The Ordinary!

First things first — the prices are not remotely ordinary. Not even drugstore skincare products are this cheap! High-potency Vitamin C for $5.80? A 2% retinoid for $9.80? Marula oil for $9.90? (Drunk Elephant’s is $72. Same ingredient.)


Whereas other beauty potions may combine peptides AND antioxidants AND brightening agents AND (etc) into a single product, most of the offerings from The Ordinary are one-hit wonders.

Not these one-hit Wonders.

That’s fine by me. My skin is so sensitive and picky that I prefer cocktailing my own routine. Or perhaps you have a skincare regimen you love, except you also need [Vitamin C, a retinoid, a humectant]; this could be the perfect way to pick up that one product you’re missing for very little money.

On the flipside, by the time you ‘build’ the product you want from their multiple offerings, you may be dropping a significant chunk of change — it’s easy to BUY ALL THE THINGS when they’re so cheap. (Something to keep in mind, anyway.)

My skin is dry and sensitive, so some of the stronger options were eliminated right off the bat — no Vit C Suspension 23%, no Advanced Retinoid 2%, no lactic or glycolic acids. (The acids were the hardest to resist. Someday, my little exfoliant friends. Someday.)

Anyway, I picked up three products:
  1. Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 ($6.80/oz)
  2. Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate 10% (a low-medium potency, water-stable, vitamin C derivative) ($9.60/oz)
  3. 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil ($9.80/oz)
On skin to show texture/thickness. From top : Hyaluronic, Rosehip, MAP.
Products spread out, for your further edification/infotainment.

These three were enough to get me past the $25 free shipping threshold, so that was nice! (Warning: The Ordinary is experiencing slower turnaround times due to their unexpected popularity; mine arrived more than two weeks from the time I placed my order, though they did warn me. Beautylish ALSO carries The Ordinary products now, and Beautylish has the most amazing shipping times I have ever encountered from a beauty e-tailer. Seriously.)

I already reviewed the Hyaluronic Acid in Humectants 101, so this will focus on the remaining two.

Contestant No. 2: Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate 10%

Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate is one of The Ordinary’s four Vitamin C options. This particular product is a water-stable vitamin C derivative (your skin synthesizes MAP into l-ascorbic acid in order to use it. “Why not just use l-ascorbic acid, Finch?” Because l-ascorbic acid is a highly unstable ingredient; that’s why effective Vitamin C products either feature l-ascorbic acid in a very particular base, or a vitamin c derivative).

So, what does Vitamin C do? It aids collagen synthesis. It can also help prevent and treat UV damage. Did you know Vitamin C did all this? I did not. I knew it could help brighten skin tone and address dark spots, but I didn’t realize it had antioxidant, antiaging, and anti-photodamage properties. Cool.

So anyway, this MAP iteration of vitamin C comes in a lightweight white cream. It spreads easily and absorbs quickly — sort of. I did notice that if I layered it too thickly or rubbed too vigorously, it would pill up. “Stuff pilling up on my skin” is one of my least favorite tactile experiences EVER (those gimmicky exfoliant peel products? *shudder*), so I started using a little less, waiting a little longer before/after applying MAP, and massaged it in a little less vigorously. It minimized, but did not eradicate, the pilling issue. No bueno.

This didn’t burn or otherwise irritate my notoriously sensitive skin. Though Vitamin C can (and should) be applied in the morning to take advantage of its sun-protection magic, I applied it at night just in case it turned my skin bright red. (Which it did not, even after three+ weeks’ worth of repeated use.) I did get two ginormous weird zits on my forehead the second day I used this; I can’t be sure that it was the MAP, but I can’t be sure it wasn’t.

Vitamin C takes at least three weeks (generally more like six) to show noticeable results. Has it been three weeks? Yes. Have I seen results? Eh, not really. But I also haven’t had any negative reactions to it (other than the one-time zits that may or may not have been the MAP’s fault).


AM I GOING TO KEEP USING THIS? Absolutely! It doesn’t seem to be causing harm and could fix some of my skin’s major problems (namely, hyperpigmentation and sun sensitivity).

WOULD I REPURCHASE? If I start seeing a difference, possibly — <$10 for a product that brightens my skin, protects it from free radicals and photodamage, and boost collagen production? I’m all about that. ON THE OTHER HAND, I reallllly hate the texture and am actively looking for an alternative Vit C with a better texture; if I can find something for <$20, I’ll ditch The Ordinary.

Contestant No 3: 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil

Rose hip seed oil is a golden oil rich in antioxidant vitamins and regeneration-promoting essential fatty acids. It’s a great product — it can correct dark spots, soothe inflammation, and attract inquisitive feline friends.

…Wait, what?

This oil smells of fish. Seriously! It smells like fish! Not the stinky, thawed, days-old stuff sitting on ice at the grocery store, or the scent that permeates the entire office when your Worst Coworker Ever nukes their leftover fish sticks, but the way fish smells when you hear a conch blow and you run down to the wharf because the fishermen are coming in with their daily catch and they slosh their slippery cargo onto tables and cut off whatever size slab you want, right there on the beach, and the ocean breeze is blowing and it smells fishy, but clean fishy.

To be honest, I kinda dig it. (So do my cats.)

It’s not the thickest oil I’ve tried in terms of viscosity; it’s thinner than both argan and marula, but thicker than grapeseed. It’s also not the richest; again, marula and argan handily beat it out, and while it’s technically classified as a ‘dry oil’ I find it has a decent body to it.

It took me a little while to figure out the right application for this. Because it was thinner than my marula, I figured I should make up for it by using a comparably greater quantity (6+ drops). Nope. It sat on my face and refused to absorb. I learned to squeeze 3-4 drops into my palm, rub my palms together, then gently press the oil into my face. I like to imagine that the gentle pressing forces it into my skin where it does all sorts of miracles; really, it probably just means it applies more evenly and gently than if I were rubbing it in.

Even with the right quantity and application method, it still doesn’t absorb instantly (I’m wearing it right now as I type; I applied it about an hour ago, and while there’s not enough left to spread around on my skin, it still feels slick). For the reason, I’d recommend against using it in the morning.

Unfortunately, I feel it doesn’t work as well as, say, marula — when I wake up a few hours after applying the rose hip (or, more realistically, when I am still awake several hours after applying it because insomnia SUCKS), it’s like it goes from “I can feel this oil slick on my face and it is pleasantly hydrating” to “I can’t feel anything on my face and it doesn’t feel hydrated.” By contrast, marula absorbs reasonably quickly, but I can still feel its effects when I wake up in the morning. (“You seem really biased in favor of marula oil, Finch.” “That’s because it’s BETTER FOR DRY SKIN, random person.”)

After three weeks of using this instead of my other oils, my skin has not undergone any miracle transformation. That’s not to say it’s not good — it is, especially for the price! It’s just that I’ve been using other great oils for a long time now, and this one isn’t as rich or thick as those. I think if your skin is less dry than mine, or you’re looking for a good all-purpose introductory oil, you will love this.

DO I REGRET PURCHASING THIS? Nah. It was less than $10 and worked just fine.

WILL I KEEP USING THIS? Yes, but I’ll probably mix it in with a cream or one of my other oils now that my ‘testing’ phase is over.

WOULD I REPURCHASE THIS? Probably not. One bottle of oil lasts a looooong time, so I’d rather splurge on The Best Possible Oil For My Skin (which isn’t this one).


While I think these products are good quality and a FANTASTIC value for the cost, restricting my face to three The Ordinary products (+ a favorite serum, since my face was DYING of thirst) over the past few weeks has resulted in drier skin than usual, and I’m relieved to try something new.

Do I plan on trying other The Ordinary products? Down the road, yes! But I have a limited quantity of money, and I’ve been saving up for other skincare products that are higher on my priority list.