I want to start by saying that I actually kind of hate skincare. As a category I find it to be the most misleading, trumped up, insecurity-encouraging corner of the beauty industry, and that is certainly saying something. Just yesterday I was exorted by Olay to 'let your eyes show your emotions, not your age'.
Literally fuck off.
I hate hate hate the way the skincare industry has begun to attempt to conflate the vilification of ageing with women's empowerment. Nope. Not buying it. Olay, I am not in the least convinced. Do one.
The above rage which surfaces in me at the slightest exposure to any kind of mainstream skincare advertising is probably the reason I have in my 26 years barely bothered with skincare at all, let alone establish a 'routine'. A good makeup remover and a moisturiser which doesn't break me out was all I could bring myself to engage with, until now.
The Ordinary have gone where no brand has gone before. I has bucked decades of skincare trends by opting not to underestimate female consumers' intelligence and has (gasps) done away with the bullsh*t.
Yep. The Ordinary only uses compounds which are proven to have beneficial effects on skin, and because it skips the snazzy packaging, marketing and unnecessary scents, it's cheap as chips. In other words, it works, and it's not a rip off. And for that, I am willing to get my wallet out. How did we have to wait til 2017 for a brand that doesn't treat us like superficial youth-obsessed stepford wife type morons? I despair. But that brand is here, at long last.
But now for the part you've all been waiting for: what I bought, and why
Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5
As someone with permanently dehydrated skin, this was something I really wanted to try. Despite the name, hyaluronic acid is actually a moisturising aid - not an exfoliator - which attracts water from the atmosphere and can hold up to 1000x its own weight in in moisture. The Ordinary's version is a mixture of 3 different sized molecules of the stuff, so that it penetrates the top layers of the skin and avoids drawing all your skin's moisture out to the surface, which can happen with some hyaluronic acid products. So, it's fab, basically.
Since receiving my order about a month ago I have been surprised to find that I actually use this one the least, as I have found the moisturiser cream and the Buffet serum have sorted out my skin so well I don't really need it, but it's great to use under makeup the morning after exfoliating with the lactic acid serum, for super comfortable, plumped up feeling skin. It 100% works for me, but if I made a second order, I'd probably skip it, as the other bits do the job of moisturising plus more.
Niacinamide 10% Zinc 1%
Niacinamide is the ingredient used in those morally ambiguous 'whitening' creams beauty companies tend to sell in asian countries. At the 10% concentration used by The Ordinary you won't see any kind of whitening or *shudders* 'bleaching' effect on your skin and it is totally safe. Instead, this lower concentration helps to reduce redness, particularly those pigmentation spots left behind by breakouts. The 1% concentration zinc also helps to prevent future blemishes by preventing pores from becoming clogged. I tend to break out on my chin in line with my hormones, and recently had some nasty spots thanks to a reaction to a NARS tinted moisturiser *gives side eyes*. While I didn't wake up with totally clear skin the morning after using this, nightly application turned a full on nasty crack-out-the-strong-concealer breakout into a two day flash in the pan. After 3 applications (two at night and one on a makeup free Sunday morning) what had been those gross, swollen, painful spots were reduced to little red dots which could easily be covered with makeup. I now use this nightly in combination with the Buffet serum and my skin has been behaving incredibly well.
Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2%
This is one the The Ordinary's many chemical exfoliators. I chose this 5% concentration because my face is a sensitive little diva and will react adversely to anything too intense. I am also very pale and freckly, so I wanted something which wouldn't increase my sensitivity to UV rays too dramatically after using (though it's always a good idea to wear an SPF the day after using an acid serum). That said, this particular serum is so mild you can use it every day, and let it gently slough away those annoying dry skin patches that make your foundation look cakey.
I have noticed a big difference from using this 3 - 4 times a week. The bumpy, textured area on my forehead is gone - just totally gone! - and the dry patches that appear on my nose and cheeks are nowhere to be seen. My makeup applies and sits a lot better. Would 100% recommend.
If you only want to get one thing from The Ordinary, or you're unsure what your skincare concerns are (or you don't have any?) I would recommend the Buffet serum. It's a combination of several of The Ordinary's clinically proven compounds, including matrixyl (for reducing fine lines), hyaluronic acid complexes and all the peptides a girl could ask for. My favourite way to use this is in combination with niacinamide serum and to slather it on before bed. It's not an instant miracle worker but after about a week of use I could see that my skin was looking clearer, calmer and a lot bouncier (you know what I mean right?).
NATURAL MOISTURISING FACTORS
I wouldn't call this a must-have unless you have sensitive skin. As I said earlier, my face is of the diva variety, routinely breaking out in sore red spots when exposed to something it doesn't like. The list keeps growing but so far I know lavender is a no-go and that minty Lush face mask is pretty much my kryptonite. It destroyed my skin for a full 3 weeks with one application. So as you can imagine I was very happy to finally - finally!!! - find a reasonably priced moisturiser that is completely free of perfumes, essential oils and other unnecessary stuff. This doesn't offer any long-term anti ageing or brightening effects, but is brilliant moisturiser to use under makeup, as it keeps skin soft and plumped without being oily or at all shiny, and is also very quickly absorbed. It beats my usual Nuxe day cream hands down for both price and results. Again, would recommend.
Overall I think The Ordinary is a game changer. Not just because its products are both affordable and good but because, ahead of everyone else in the beauty game, they seem to have realised that there's money to be made in not treating women like idiots. Are you tempted to try anything from the range?