Best Serums From The Ordinary + An Esthetician’s Top 10 Ingredient Picks

According to an esthetician, here are the best serums from The Ordinary and some of the top skincare ingredients to look for!




What does niacinamide do?


Niacinamide 10% And Zinc PCA - $6

This is one of the best Ordinary products of all time. Because of how well it works on both oily and dry skin types, it's a best seller. The niacinamide and zinc help to regulate sebum production in the skin. 


Sebum is natural, and our skin makes it. But, it can be bothersome, especially when it leads to blackheads or enlarged-looking pores. That's why things like niacinamide come in handy. Although niacinamide, or vitamin B3, can’t shrink pores, it can make pores appear smaller. 


Niacinamide is wonderful because it can also help with a little pigmentation. It doesn’t stop your skin from producing pigment, but it prevents hyperpigmentation from spreading. 


Cassandra loves niacinamide for anyone with acne-prone skin, and she uses it all the time. Niacinamide helps to regulate oil production, and it’s good for blemish-prone skin. If you’re dry, you can still use this, but Cassandra recommends layering it with a moisturizer. But for oily skin, you can use it without a moisturizer.


Overall though, this is amazing for oily, combo, and dry skin, and it can be used during the day or night. 




Pycnogenol 5% - Best Serums From The Ordinary - $11.50


This is a super potent antioxidant serum that truly rivals vitamin C. And often, it can be even better than vitamin C. Some people have issues with vitamin C though, especially with L ascorbic acid. Sometimes, L ascorbic acid can sting and burn. 


Pycnogenol is very efficacious, and Cassandra loves this. She loves the dark, amber color. Because pycongenol comes from pine trees, it has a wonderful scent.


Simply take one or two dots and apply it to the skin. Because it provides antioxidant benefits, it’s wonderful to use in the morning, and it can even boost up sunscreen by protecting you from free radical damage. 


So, if you live in a polluted city, this is wonderful to have on hand. It’s fragrance-free as well, but remember, it does have an earthy scent which could sensitize some skin types.


But, in general, this is a great option for skin types that don’t tolerate vitamin C well. 


L Ascorbic Acid Powder - Best Powder From The Ordinary - $6.60

Speaking of vitamin C, this is pure L ascorbic acid. This can be difficult for people to use, and it’s not a top seller because a lot of people don’t know how to use this. But, as a medical esthetician, Cassandra loves mixing this with other products.


What is L ascorbic acid? 


There are many different forms of vitamin C.  L ascorbic acid is the least stable, and it can cause stinging on some. Most of the time when brands sell a vitamin C serum, they use an L ascorbic powder and mix it in with a formula. However, the formula can go bad quickly. Because L ascorbic acid serums degrade so easily, this powder form is an esti fave. Anytime you want vitamin C, you can just use it fresh and mix it.  


Ascorbic acid is water soluble. So, it’s going to work best when mixed with water-based formulas. If you use an oil-based formula, it’s going to feel gritty. 




Basic peptide Serum The Buffet - $19.90

Cassandra loves this for mature skin and dry skin. But, you can even use it on oily skin! It can be used during the day or night, but Cassandra prefers to use this at night because it’s hydrating and soothing. 


In addition to hydrating peptides, this also includes hyaluronic acid.  Hyaluronic acid holds water in the skin by combining with water molecules, and it keeps the skin barrier from losing moisture. It holds moisture in, and it’s great for keeping moisture from your skincare routine in the skin. So, this serum is very plumping. Likewise, it helps with fine lines, and wrinkles, especially the ones that come from dehydration. 


Pink Soothing Barrier Support Serum With B12 - $17

The pink color is from the vitamin B12 or “cyanocobalamin.” So, the pink color is natural, and there are no artificial dyes. Along with the B12, there are also a bunch of other antioxidants. However, Cassandra is the least confident in this one because she hasn’t used it for that long. To Cassandra, it feels like a serum and moisturizer because she has oily skin. But, for people with dry skin, it’s best to use with a moisturizer. You can use it during the morning or evening. and it helps to soothe your skin barrier.


Fine Lines & Wrinkles Multi Peptide + Copper  Peptide 1% Serum  - $32

If you need wrinkle support and hydration, this is amazing. Copper peptides are phenomenal at plumping up the skin. This rehydrates the surface layers and also the deeper layer of the skin. This is best tolerated when used regularly, but because of the copper peptides, you just have to be careful how you layer it with other products.


If you use this in the morning and you follow it up with a retinoid in the evening, this is a wonderful graceful aging treatment for fine lines and wrinkles. 




Glycolic Acid Toning Solution 7% - $13

This is an intense AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) toner, and you shouldn’t necessarily use this every day. The molecules are very small so they penetrate very deeply. This could irritate some skin types, but at the same time, it won’t dehydrate the skin the way a BHA might.  You shouldn’t necessarily use this every day, but it does work well exfoliating both oily and dry skin. 


It even works well during the winter, and it’s best used at night. The following morning though, you still need to wear a susncreen. 


Best Cleanser with no residue: Glucoside Foaming Cleanser  - $12.50 

This cleanser contains phytic acid, which is a mild AHA that tones and exfoliates. This isn’t a serum, but if you’re looking for a simple, effective, and affordable cleanser to pair with these serums, this is one of the best. This is a nice, gentle foaming cleanser. It’s still hydrating, but the glucoside foam breaks down dirt. This contains very gentle ingredients and no fragrance. It also doesn’t leave a film on the skin, and it’s very easy to rinse off. It gives you a clean canvas before putting on things like products and makeup. You can use it as a body cleanser as well. 

Salicylic acid

Chemical Peel AHA BHA Peeling Solution - $9.50

This is one of Cassandra’s favorites as a medical esthetician. This is a 10-minute exfoliating solution. If you don’t want a full chemical peel, this is a great fragrance-free option that you can rely on. This is better to use at night and then with sunscreen the next day. 


What does The Ordinary’s AHA BHA Peeling Solution do?

This peeling solution helps with acne and blackheads. It makes your skin look clearer, more fresh, hydrated, and glowy. Chemical peels, including this one, are the main thing that helps with Cassandra’s acne scars. It makes scars look less obvious and indented. However, because it has salicylic acid, it can be a little intense for dry skin. 


For Acne and Dry Skin - Anhydrous Salicylic Acid Solution  - $7.50  

As another option, this is a BHA in oil. It’s anhydrous so there’s no water in it. However, the Ordinary also has a regular salicylic acid serum at 2%, and let’s just take the time to recognize how many different options for salicylic acid the Ordinary has!


Azelaic acid

For Redness: The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% - $7.50

Some people don’t respond well to BHAs and AHAs. And in this case, azelaic acid works well. It comes in higher amounts for prescriptions too. Azelaic acid is a dicarboxylic acid, and it’s made naturally by our bodies. Plus, it’s pregnancy-safe! It works for rosacea.  This feels like a moisturizer on the skin. And even though it’s not a serum, you can layer this with other serums and even put a thick moisturizer over the top. You can use this in the morning or the night. Another good choice is Paula's Choice Azelaic Acid Booster 10%. 



Starter Retinoid For Wrinkles and Acne Granactiv Retinoid 2% Emulsion  - $12.10

This absorbs well oil on the skin, and you can use it as a starter retinoid. More simply, you can use this to work your way up to a higher percentage or stronger retinoid. This has a creamy texture, but it’s not a full-on moisturizer. This works well for blackheads and acne-prone skin. 


You can use it in the morning or the evening, but since the sun breaks down retinoids, it’s probably better to use during the evening. This can also plump up deep layers, help with fine lines, and improve acne.