Single-Ingredient Skincare Brands To Try If You Love The Ordinary

The simplest way to do skincare.

A woman uses a skincare cream for her face.

Single ingredient-led skincare brands have been dominating beauty for several years now. Ever since big players such as The Ordinary and The Inkey List entered the market, we've all gone wild for these easy-to-understand, simple collections that are both affordable and accessible. But, in 2020, our interest in single ingredient-led skincare brands sky-rocketed and, as a result, so did the number of products available on the market.

The fact that "The Ordinary" was the most searched for beauty term for Boots in 2020 tells you a lot. "Customers are stripping back their skincare regimes and building a curated collection of active skincare products that they are confident will deliver results," the retailer wrote in their Beauty Trends 2021 report. They also noted that their in-house single-ingredient brand, Boots Ingredients, "outsold our expectations by more than double since it launched last year." Similarly, sales of The Inkey List increased by over 350% in 2020. Wild.

As the name suggests, single-ingredient-led brands are, quite simply, brands that create skincare based on one ingredient. The formulas often feature trending ingredients such as retinol, niacinamide, or hyaluronic acid, and make it easier than ever to try them out in a simple, straight forward way.

Here are six of the best single ingredient-led skincare brands to check out now.

The Ordinary

Perhaps still the best known of the bunch, Deciem's The Ordinary was one of the founding pioneers of the single ingredient movement. Making skincare that truly rivals more expensive counterparts on the market, The Ordinary's formulas are cheap as chips and super effective. The only issue you may encounter is the sometimes-complicated beauty jargon on their products and website. But once you've mastered this (and it's worth persevering), you'll be laughing.

The Inkey List

Still one of the best around, Inkey was launched in 2018 by Colette Newbury and Mark Curry. The pair had long worked for beauty corporations, but broke out on their own to deliver an affordable, ingredient-led brand that today is found all across the globe. The main goal of The Inkey List is to make skincare affordable and accessible to all, with knowledge and learning at the centre of the brand. Stock up on their bestselling hyaluronic acid serum, along with their other bestsellers like the Retinol, Vitamin C, and Niacinamide.

Boots Ingredients

One of the newer players in the game, Boots Ingredients was launched after the retailer noticed a huge influx of searches for single ingredient brands like The Inkey List and The Ordinary. They've now thrown their hat into the ring with a small but perfectly formed range of serums, toners, and moisturisers, which feature all the trending ingredients you could hope to find. Try their retinol serum, or if you prefer a natural, gentler alternative, the Bakuchiol.

Freya + Bailey

Freya + Bailey are not a strictly single ingredient only brand, but they do have some excellent single ingredient-led formulas, such as their hyaluronic, collagen, and retinol moisturisers that make choosing what's right for you all the easier. Founded by Abbie Oguntade, the fairly-priced brand focuses on ingredients and products that help to protect and treat evidence of modern life, including pollution and other environmental stressors.

Revolution Skincare

Revolution Skincare is an offshoot of the popular Revolution beauty brand (formerly Makeup Revolution). It was founded on the basis of better skin = better makeup application; in short, if you want that flawless finish and enviable glow, you've got to start with the skincare. Their line is largely single ingredient-led and, like its predecessors, everything is super affordable for all. Want to know where to start? Try their niacinamide, hyaluronic, and salicylic acid-based serums.

Garden Of Wisdom

If finding something natural is important to you, you should definitely try Garden Of Wisdom. Their products are all free from nasties like synthetic fragrances and colourants, as well as SLS and parabens. Everything is simple to understand, fairly priced, and packaged in understated monochrome bottles, which are ideal if you prefer a stripped-back shelfie.