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The Ordinary: A Guide to my Fave Affordable Skincare Brand

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Being at university can definitely affect your skincare routine. I’ve found myself waking up with last night’s makeup on, forgetting to change my pillowcase and having to reap the consequences of alcohol and drunken McDonald’s induced breakouts. Not to mention the long nights powering through lectures making it both a mental and physical battle to get out of bed and simply wash my face. Yes, we’ve all been there…

But fear not! I’m here to save you time from slaving through endless, often very expensive products to give you my speedy and honest tour of The Ordinary, A.K.A the holy grail of affordable skincare which has left my skin feeling amazing day and night! 

I’d also like to mention that I’m not a skin expert, dermatologist, or doctor. Everyone’s skin is unique and reacts differently to certain products, so please make sure you are patch testing and know what’s best for your own body as what worked for me may not work for everyone!

Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 £5.90/ 30ml

Hyaluronic Acid is a great product found in many moisturisers and skincare serums. It promotes healthier, more supple skin, locking the moisture straight into your facial tissue. This product genuinely made my skin feel nourished and dewy without leaving my face looking and feeling oily. I apply it in the AM and PM after cleansing and before any skincare serums for an extra kick of moisture. It’s an absolute essential for dry skin types and very beginner friendly.

Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% £5.00/ 30ml

Niacinamide + Zinc made my skin GLOW and I certainly saw a reduction in blemishes and blackheads. Studies show that Niacinamide is proven to help build keratin, minimises pore appearance and blotchiness, and retain moisture. When I first started using it, my skin did peel very slightly around the eyes as it takes time to adjust to, but it really helped with the red pigmentation on my cheeks. This must only be used on unbroken skin and cannot be mixed with Vitamin C, so if you are using topical Vitamin C in your skincare routine, make sure you use them in alternation!

Retinol 0.2% in Squalane £4.20/ 30ml

I was scared to use Retinol at first, so I purchased the Retinol 0.2% in Squalane over the 0.5% and 1% options also available – I would suggest doing the same as to build up your skin tolerance to it. During the first few applications it may make your skin peel so make sure to read the caution information on The Ordinary’s website to ensure it is suitable for you! That being said, it does boost the production of elastin and collagen which helps to reduce the appearance of fine lines and pores (however, I only used it twice a week in the PM as it can make your skin sensitive to UV). It may not make a difference overnight but it’s amazing for anti-aging and scarring – your future self will thank you!

Lactic Acid 10% + HA £5.80/ 30ml

I absolutely love Lactic Acid! It’s a peeling formula that exfoliates the skin, offering a better alternative to physical exfoliation such as face scrubs which can damage and inflame your skin. Every time I feel like my face feels rough and dry (particularly around the nose), I use this formula and it perks it up instantly – you’ll be feeling so smooth you won’t be able to stop touching your face! I use it in the PM as instructed and sometimes as prep before applying makeup for a smoother surface. Personally, I don’t use it with Retinol so like to alternate the two and use it around three times a week.

Squalane Cleanser £5.50/ 50ml

If you need a moisturising yet super gentle cleanser, then this one’s for you. You melt it in your hands first and apply the buttery product straight onto your face and wash off with fresh water, leaving your skin feeling replenished without appearing oily. I love how gentle it is, as in the past I’ve always used cotton pads which have left my skin feeling dry, whilst this cleanser provides a deeper clean than the standard surface level cleanse and tone. If you have sensitive skin which flares up due to face scrubs and cotton buds, Squalane is the way to go. 

AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution £6.30/ 30ml

You’ve probably seen this one on TikTok – and with good reason! It’s essentially the same as the Lactic Acid solution but provides a deeper exfoliation in the form of a ‘face mask’ and minimises the appearance of enlarged pores. I apply it once a week (not to be used on the same day as retinol) and for no more than 10 minutes. If it’s your first time using free acids, I would use sparingly and with caution as it can irritate more sensitive skin. Nonetheless, it has certainly left my pores looking smaller and my skin feeling tighter!

There are so many more products I still need to discover from The Ordinary, but these are my definite go to’s – not to mention how pretty they all look lined up in a crate! With a price range of no more than £6 a serum, this extremely affordable company is both animal (testing) and student friendly. I would highly recommend The Ordinary to anyone who is starting or experimenting with their skincare journey. When we’re on the go, we need to make time to look after ourselves, so why not start with your skincare – it’s definitely worth a try!

Laura Batten

Nottingham '23

2nd-year student studying English Lang and Lit with an unhealthy obsession with cats, pasta and Gossip Girl!
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