Everything You Need To Know About The Ordinary

The Ordinary is far from ordinary.

There’s no way any self-proclaimed beauty buff has not heard of The Ordinary. The no-frills skincare brand has disrupted the entire industry with its line of hardworking products that does away with the fancy packaging and names, and focuses on proven ingredients that deliver real results—at jaw-droppingly low prices. Here’s your cheat sheet to the brand that’s on everyone’s lips (and face).

The origin story

In August 2016, Toronto-based beauty company Deciem launched The Ordinary, a line of 27 products sold only online. Deciem’s co-founder (and unofficial face of the brand) Brandon Truaxe, was all about transparency, and he had a question: if there are just a couple of potent ingredients that are proven to be beneficial to skin, and these ingredients are cheap to produce, if we ditch the marketing and advertising and buzzwords, why can’t we sell them directly to customers at better prices?

Why not, indeed? Within two weeks of launching, the brand sold 43,000 units of product.

Applying that same theory to colour cosmetics, The Ordinary launched two foundations in April 2017 (they had a 25,000 person waiting list), and in June that year, beauty behemoth Estée Lauder announced they were investing in Deciem.

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Cheap thrills

As we mentioned, The Ordinary is built around affordable prices, with most serums hovering around the $10 mark; in fact, most of the range is under 20 bucks. How do they do it? By focussing on just one or two ingredients per product, The Ordinary can deliver active skincare at phenomenal prices. There are no filler ingredients, no unnecessary fragrances, no fluffy cleansers or moisturisers or so-hot-right-now ingredients that don’t have a proven track record. All you’ll find are treatment products with scientifically-researched ingredients like vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, zinc, retinol and niacinamide.

But The Ordinary doesn’t skimp on style. The apothecary-style packaging is sparse but totally Instagrammable, and the products are both vegan and cruelty free.

The other buzz

The Ordinary is not just making headlines for its products. Truaxe died suddenly in January 2019 after falling from a building in downtown Toronto, The Guardian reports.

Truaxe was notorious for his hands-on approach in managing all areas of the company, including both their social media accounts and marketing department. He also controversially fired and rehired his co-CEO Nicola Kilner, who is now the company’s CEO—as appointed by major shareholder Estée Lauder.

While that might not directly affect its customers, there is the another factor to consider: because The Ordinary website and product packaging information focuses on the ingredients and the science, it can be a little confusing. So if you’re new to the brand or not familiar with the benefits of specific ingredients, you’ll need to do some reading before you add to cart. And because each serum hones in on one specific ingredient, you may need two or even three products to adequately cover all your skin concerns. It’s like a beauty mix and match—but seriously, when they’re this cheap, buying multiples is still more cost-effective than one super-expensive serum.

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Coming up

Rumour has it that concealers and blush will be rolled out next. Colour us intrigued.

The fab five

Looking to take your skincare routine to extra-Ordinary levels? Here are our top picks.

  1. Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5, $12.90: A weightless serum that works instantly to plump dehydrated skin.
  2. Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%, $11.50: With brightening vitamin C and moisturizing hyaluronic acid, this one packs a double punch.
  3. “Buffet” Multi-Technology Peptide Serum, $24.90: An anti-ageing serum that repairs damaged skin cells and protects new ones. And there’s hydrating hyaluronic, too.
  4. Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2%, $12.40: Pigmentation and uneven skin texture? This exfoliating serum is for you.
  5. Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%, $9.90: A personal favourite in the Gritty Pretty office, this helps smooth pores, treat blemishes and keeps skin healthy.


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