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The limits of skincare 

I could tell you I have never been swooned by glamorous ads of premium to luxury brands… that’d be a lie. The beauty industry will tell and sell us that this one product will transform your skin. Expectation management: There is no magic in a jar. 

Despite being wary of unrealistic promises, we keep buying products that we hope will work for us. But most often, we keep waiting for the results that never show.  

About a year ago, my skin suddenly was in serious trouble. I was struggling with dry patches, especially around my mouth and nose. I’m a combination to oily skin type and an get an odd spot here and there, most likely around that time of the month. Having flaking added to my list of skin issues suddenly was whole new territory. 

What does your skin need?  

Oily skin can suffer from dehydration. Actually, in many cases, oiliness is the symptom of dehydration. The skin goes to ‘panic mode’ and starts producing insane amounts of sebum to fix that issue. 

Alas, no moisturizer, cream, serum, mask did work sustainably to hydrate my skin enough to not flake, go oily or break out. Only shortly after a meticulous skincare routine, my skin started flaking around the chin, again.

For months, I was trying everything out there to get my skin to just be normal. I thought I must be going through some serious hormonal issues, as my skin never acted thatstrange and wasn’t responding to anything I was serving it skincare and diet-wise. 

Healthy skin is happy skin is beautiful skin 

I have always taken good care of my skin. In fact, I love to shop for skincare more than anything else. No matter how good the makeup, it is only as good as the skin underneath. So more than just look good, I want my skin to be healthy and functioning at its best at all times.

Healthy skin is happy skin is beautiful skin. 

However, I had reached a point where I didn’t know what to do anymore. No product or routine was working to get my skin back into balance. My skin was still

  • oily
  • dehydrated
  • dull and lacked radiance. 
  • I had breakouts all the time and they took forever to heal, leaving spot marks for weeks.

I thought this is just how the body works, it takes time to heal and regenerate. 

I have been snooping around for skincare that was more ingredient-centric and saw new brands popping up that offer skincare products focused on not concealing but actively treating your skin issues. You know, those that you’d only get in spas and at dermatologists’.

And then along came…

The Ordinary 

Good, affordable skincare… Is this for real? 

First thought: That sounds interesting. But wait a second… Are you saying, I can get a product that answers all my skin’s prayers for five bucks??? Although aware of the insanely high margins of luxury beauty brands, my skepticism was on.

I am willing to invest in good skincare. Good skincare with effective ingredients costs money. And people are willing to spend money on it. There is a reason this a multi-billion dollar industry. Price is not a the only measure of quality, though.

After some initial research and tempted by the attractive pricing, I was willing to give it a shot. Desperation and all…

So I stockpiled my bathroom shelf with a galore of (cute, must admit) pharmalab-esque dropper bottles that raised questions if I was seriously sick or suddenly an apothecary. 

Rather a self-anointed beauty expert who has worked in the beauty industry for years, someone who actually studies the entire package leaflet, researches all reviews available and goes to the store and tests the product to get the full picture. But this stuff was just… overwhelming. I thought I needed a Ph.D. in chemistry to understand how all these different formulas I thought my skin needed work together… and which don’t.

Beauty for those who have seen it all 

DECIEM, the parent company of The Ordinary, calls their line of products “Beauty for the hyper-educated” for a reason. They created their skincare products for beauty nerds like us, who love to do their research about products, who love the science behind it and want stuff that simply works

No fuss, just facts 

What strikes me most about this brand is that they are 100% no-BS. No fancy perfumes, whipped-up feel-good formulas, expensive advertising or any other chi-chi to trick you into believing a product must be good. No fuss, just facts and figures… and results. You get exactly what the bottle says. (If you can read and pronounce it, that is, lol) Pure, concentrated, effective (and ethical) ingredients that are clinically proven to have a particular effect on skin health. Science in a bottle. What a breath of fresh air!

However, the choice can be overwhelming at first, especially when you want to tackle several skin problems at once. Plus, it can be tempting to load up your shopping cart, not least because of that tempting price point.

Building your skincare routine with The Ordinary is like curating your wardrobe. You find products for a wide range of common skin concerns and tailor your regimen to the ever-changing needs of your skin.

Extraordinary results 

Some of the products need a few weeks (= skin renewal cycles) to bring to surface their true magic. Others give you instant results. 

I saw first visible results in less than a week. After a month, my skin was entirely cleared out and dry patches gone. After two months, it was much more balanced and less shiny during the day. The dullness was gone, and it looked healthier. Fine dry lines around my eyes and forehead were smoothed out. After three months, my skin was smooth, plump and glowing. From there, it only got better and better. 

It took a few weeks until I had completed my research and built a full skincare routine that worked for me. If you are a newbie to the brand or -like me- don’t want to take a chemistry class, behold, I have done the work for you. 

The following list is a round-up of my personal faves which I got amazing results from and work for every skin type. 

Top 10 products from The Ordinary that work for every skin type:

Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 

The only hydrating serum you’ll need. (I’m on my fourth bottle.)

Water-based serum with a variety of HA molecules for multi-depth hydration. Effectively hydrates and plumps the skin. 

Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% 

Bye bye pores & shine 

High-strength mineral and vitamin formula. Great for blemishes and oily skin. Minimizes enlarged pores, reduces oiliness and promotes general skin health. 

Alpha Lipoic Acid 5%

Hello glow! 

Weekly anti-oxidant nighttime treatment for glowing skin and reduction of scars and spots. Absolute game changer.

Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA (NMF) 

Holy grail moisturizer. I haven’t used anything else since. 

Creamy, but non-greasy, hydrating formula for optimal surface hydration and protection from moisture loss. Use after serums. 

Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution 

Eliminates acne scars in no time and gives you the glow. 

Exfoliating toner with glycolic acid and botanicals. Perfect for acne-prone skin, fades scars and prevents new spots, stimulates cell regeneration, improves overall skin radiance and texture for a ‘glass skin’ glow you won’t believe. Absolute fave! Alternative to the hyped Pixi Glow Tonic.

AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution 

A beauty and a beast. Highly effective exfoliant for ‘woke up like this’ kinda days. 

Weekly acid-based exfoliation mask for every skin type. Brightens and evens skin, improves skin radiance and fine lines, clears congested pores, fights blemishes. 

Buffet 

Short but sweet. Serves your skin like a buffet of high-tech ingredients.

A lightweight but jam-packed peptide serum for all signs of aging. Secret side effect: makes brows and eyelashes grow! 

EUK 134 0,1%

Better safe than sorry. 

Self-regenerating super-antioxidant to fight free radicals all day and prevent skin damage. Mix with moisturizer (NMF or any other moisturizer) for an antioxidant boost. 

100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil 

Nourishing, non-comedogenic oil, great oil for all skin types, also acne-prone skin. Naturally contains pro-vitamin A (Retinol), prevents signs of photo-aging. Brightens, nourishes and balances skin. 

Great nighttime oil as last step in the skincare routine. 

Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12% 

aka. Vitamin C. If you’re new to actives, start with this one or check out their other Vitamin C formulas

Water-based serum with a non-irritating and highly stable form of vitamin C. Brightens the skin and works against signs of aging. 

I further recommend to use Retinol or its less irritating derivates. Retinol is on of the most effective active ingredients to fight and prevent signs of aging as well as many other skin issues.

Worth the hype? 

In my opinion, this is currently the most effective and most affordable skincare out there. My skin is so well-hydrated that dry patches and oiliness are gone entirely. Breakouts are minimal to zero, and if they occur, they heal lightning-fast. Spot marks fade in no time. Most importantly, before discovering The Ordinary, the only glow I knew was an oil slick on my t-zone. Now my skin is smooth, glowy and just looks fresh and healthy.

Once you get your skincare regimen set, it becomes a no-brainer. I apply 3-5 products morning and night, and it never takes me more than 5 minutes, unless I am masking. 

Don’t be fooled by the name, the results that can be achieved are extra-Ordinary.  

Thanks to my skincare regimen with DECIEM products, my skin is the best it has ever been. So good I feel confident to ditch foundation. 

My skin has never been happier and I have never been happier with my skin. 

The Ordinary is a perfect starting point to test ingredients like actives, e.g. Retinol, Vitamin C or getting into acids. 

The Ordinary doesn’t sell you hope, it gives dramatic results. And they prove that really, really good skincare does not have to break the bank. 

What are your skincare faves?