How To Use The Ordinary's Serums With Our Comprehensive Guide To Each Product

The Ordinary (owned by Deciem, The Abnormal Beauty Company, which also owns brands such as NIOD and Fountain) has established itself firmly as one of the most talked-about skincare brands of our generation. With effective products at very purse-friendly prices (we’re talking most things under a tenner), there's a lot to love. However, even I find the names of the products and what they actually do a little confusing. I often wonder how to use The Ordinary's serums.

From the iconic Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 to the retinol formulas and a large line of antioxidants, I did a little digging to discover what each of the brand's serum-like formulas actually do, and who should be using what. While many of The Ordinary’s formulas are targeted at skin that needs a little extra help (they have a huge range of acids which are great for oily or acne-prone skin as well as retinoids for more mature skin), there is something for every skin type in the collection, from sensitive and dry complexions to combination faces.

Scroll down to discover what each of The Ordinary’s serum-like formulas do, and find out which are best to use for your skin type.

Combination skin

Combination skin needs both hydration and treatment for oil and/or spots. For this reason, I recommend using Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 on dryer areas such as the cheeks (rather than all over, which I would suggest for balanced or dry skin types) and the products mentioned under 'For oily skin' in more targeted areas such as on the T-zone.

Dry skin

For dry or dehydrated skin, it's all about the hyaluronics. I can't recommend the Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 enough. I've suggested it to countless friends who come to me for advice on their dry skin, and I will continue to do so. Hyaluronic acid holds 1000x its weight in water, so is an excellent hydrator. There are a great deal of hyaluronic serums on the market, but this will give you change from a tenner and is as good as any.

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5

The Ordinary

A hydrating serum packed with hyaluronic acid, which boosts moisture and plumps skin.

Sensitive skin

Sensitive skin needs to be careful with formulations from The Ordinary, as many contain acids and retinols which can be intense. Serum-wise, I would recommend sticking to the hyaluronic acid formulations, namely the Marine Hyaluronics which is the most lightweight serum on the brand's site.

The Ordinary Marine Hyaluronics

The Ordinary

A hyaluronic formulation derived from vegan water reservoirs that is lighter than the brand's OG Hyaluronic acid 2% + B5.

Balanced Skin

Balanced skin is lucky enough to be able to work with a number of formulations, depending on what you feel you need most. All skin types benefit from a hyaluronic-based serum for hydrating, so I would recommend starting there with the Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5.

The Ordinary Resveratrol 3% + Ferulic Acid 3%

The Ordinary

A concentrate packed full with antioxidants which are great for the skin.

Next, dabble in antioxidants such as those in the Alpha Lipoic Acid (use this as a treatment rather than a daily serum) and the Reservatrol 3% Ferulic Acid.

The Ordinary Alpha Lipoic Acid 5%

The Ordinary

This is a stable, water-free formulation containing Alpha Lipoic Acid, which is a powerful antioxidant. This is more of a treatment than a daily serum.

Balanced skin has the advantage of being able to try and test different ingredients, so give any of the vitamin C or retinoid-based serums a go.

The Ordinary Retinol 0.5% in Sqaulane

The Ordinary

This water-free serum contains an effective dose of retinol, which targets fine lines and wrinkles.

But remember: don't fix what isn't broken. Stronger formulations may irritate your skin rather than improve it, especially if you're getting along just fine already.

Mature skin

Mature skin would benefit greatly from several types of formulas. First, a hyaluronic acid-based serum, whether it's the original (Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5) or the marine version (Marine Hyaluronics), is essential for keeping skin hydrated. As skin gets older, it stops producing as much of its own hyaluronic acid (an ingredient which supports the skin's hydration) and so introducing a formula with some in is ideal to keep skin nourished and to help maintain elasticity.

Mature skin also may be suffering with pigmentation and/or fine lines and wrinkles, meaning it would benefit from two things: brightening vitamin C to reduce the appearance of scarring and hyper-pigmentation, and retinol, to tend to fine lines. Try incorporating the Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12% for a hit of vitamin C, and the Retinol Serum 0.5% in Squalane.

The Ordinary Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12%

The Ordinary

A powerful brightening serum packed full of vitamin C.

However, be wary of retinol formulas; they should only be used up to three times a week and they increase photosensitivity, so layer on the SPF post-use.

Oily skin

Oily skin often equals acne-prone skin, and this is where The Ordinary really comes into its own. The line is famous for its acids and these are ideal for skin that overproduces oil and/or suffers from breakouts. The Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA Concentrated Serum offers a boost of hyaluronic acid while reducing the appearance of spots.

The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA

The Ordinary

A hydrating hyaluronic serum with Alpha Arbutin, an ingredient which reduces pigmentation and the appearance of spots.

The Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% is perfect as it contains pyrrolidone carboxylic acid, which balances the visible signs of sebum and vitamin B3 (Niacinamide) which helps to reduce congestion. But although this is great at balancing the visible signs of acne, it's not actually an acne treatment. You're better to explore the site's list of direct acids and retinoids for long-lasting acne treatments.

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

The Ordinary

This formula contains a high volume of vitamins, including vitamin b5, which helps to reduce the appearance of spots.

The Ordinary's serums are great for all skin types, it's just about finding what works for your skin type. With their affordable products, it's easy to experiment without breaking the bank, too. Shop all of The Ordinary's serums on their website or on Cult Beauty.