We’ve picked the five best serums from The Ordinary, and they’re all under $10! We're going to help explain which one is right for you and which ones have helped Cassandra the most. These picks are inexpensive and super simple to use. They come in little recyclable glass vials, and they are incredibly effective.
Although these serums are very simple to use, they can be confusing at face value. That’s why we're going to break down what they’re for and how to use them.
Serum for acne, scars, oily skin, and hyperpigmentation
The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion - $10.50
It seems like we’d choose The Ordinary’s AHA/BHA peel as our first choice, right? This would be spot-on, but we’re talking about serums, and the AHA/BHA peel is technically a peeling mask.
The Ordinary’s Granactive Retinoid is so good, especially if you have oily skin. It doesn’t make your skin feel overly greasy, and even if you have dry skin, it’s slightly hydrating and liquidy. The granactive retinoid is a 2% emulsion (mixture of two or more liquids combined into droplets). The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid is a patented molecule, and a lot of industry-funded studies have compared it to adapalene. And based on how it has worked with Cassandra's active acne, blackheads, and scars, she agrees that this is one of the most effective and well-priced retinoid formulas. Cassandra’s second favorite for acne and sebum control would probably be the salicylic acid in oil formula.
However, neither of these OTC formulas compares to more potent vitamin A prescriptions like tretinoin.
Serum for graceful aging
Retinol is a less potent vitamin A because it is converted into retinoic acid, the most potent form of vitamin A. Afterward, retinol binds directly to a little receptor in your cells, and it tells your skin cells to produce more of themselves. So, you’re literally plumping your skin from the inside out. Therefore, The Ordinary’s Granactive retinoid is also great for fine lines and wrinkles too. While you always want to patch test, this granactive retinoid is relatively non-irritating.
If you don’t want to use a retinoid, or you want to use something in addition to one, peptides are another great option.
The Ordinary Argireline Solution 10% - $8.50
Argireline, better known as acetyl hexapeptide, is a specific type of peptide. There is a very interesting product, and it’s pretty impressive for the price. Cassandra has seen this product do amazing things for people online and in real life. While Cassandra can’t say it’s going to work for everyone across the board, peptides do have science to back them up. Kate Middleton has called peptides “Botox in a bottle,” but it’s definitely not Botox. Obviously, this serum is not a neuromodulator that you inject into the skin, but it does plump and hydrates the skin.
What are peptides?
You can think of peptides like pearls on a necklace. Every pearl is an amino acid, and they come together in a string of peptides. When the string is on the skin, it can help promote hydration.The peptides grabs onto water and truly plumps the skin when they get deep enough.
Some studies show that peptides can cause cellular signaling which is basically stimulating your other skin cells to work on fine lines and wrinkles. Moreover, it signals immune cells to arrive and help with things like skin irritation and sensitivity.
This is one of the best anti-wrinkle peptides that The Ordinary has. Although Cassandra recommends the granactive retinoid or any retinoid as the best topical option for wrinkles, this is the best when it comes to The Ordinary’s peptide serums. The Ordinary offers peptide serums such as the matrixyl and copper peptide serum, but this seems to be the best wrinkle mitigator. This peptide serum is a graceful aging booster, and it’s very easy to layer it with moisturizers or other products.
Serum for uneven skin tone
If you notice that your skin is a little patchy, discolored, hyperpigmentation, or brown, red, dark, and purple spots like excess, The Ordinary has something for you.
The Ordinary Ascorbic Acid 8% + Alpha Arbutin 2% -$11
This is one of Cassandra’s go-tos. Ascorbic acid is vitamin C, and vitamin C is brightening. It’s an antioxidant, and it’s wonderful for the skin. Ascorbic acid can help with pigmentation and so can alpha arbutin.
What is alpha arbutin?
Alpha arbutin is related to hydroquinone. Hydroquinone is naturally created by our bodies, but it’s also sold as a perscription for people who are really struggling with pigment. Hydroquinone is normally a prescription because it is very intense, but alpha arbutin related to it, and when it penetrates the skin, it can turn itself into hydroquinone. This is what makes alpha arbutin safe to use at home. But of course, patch test to see if you have any irritation, This serum is absolutely wonderful, and if you’re looking to brighten the skin or even skin tone, this can help.
This alpha arbitin serum has a slightly oily texture, but you can use this during the day or night. You can use a bit of it under the eyes when you have pigmented-related dark circles.
Serum for puffiness
If you have puffiness underneath your eye or lymphatic fluid that’s sticking around, this next one is an eye serum that you can use all over your face.
The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG -$7.50
EGCG is an ingredient that comes from green tea, and it is so wonderful for the skin because it helps with vasoconstriction. Likewise, it helps puffiness. This serum not only works under the eyes but all over the face. EGCG is also an antioxidant that helps to boost up your sunscreen and prevent damage from the environment like pollution or smog too. Plus, the caffeine within the solution is an antioxidant.
This is one of the best serum even though it’s little thicker. So, if you want something that’s more lightweight and deals with discoloration, that’s when Cassandra would recommend the alpha arbutin serum. If you’re looking for something that depuffs the under eye area and feels more hydrating, that’s when she would use the caffeine solution. Cassandra also uses this on her smile lines or all over her face for puffy cheeks, and it’s absolutely brilliant. It’s wonderful to use by itself or you can pair it with pycnogenol.
The Ordinary Pycnogenol 5% -$10
While the pine smell might throw some people off, it is a great choice. It has a beautiful, reddish orange color, and you only need one or two drops under your moisturizer. It blends in so beautifully and turns sheer. This is a super potent antioxidant, and yes, it comes from pine trees! If you’re someone who lives in a polluted city or has a damaged skin barrer from stress, this can really help.
Of course, these all need to be topped off with sunscreen. Sunscreen should be your number one priority, but these are the best serums that The Ordinary has to offer!