The Ordinary Starter Kit & Skincare Routine


The Ordinary is arguably one of the most complex and popular skincare brands on the market right now, and there’s a lot of reason for this.

We’ve spoken about The Ordinary extensively because some of the product names can be confusing,  especially if you don’t have a background in cosmetic chemistry or skin care. So, for someone who’s trying to get started with The Ordinary, what should you choose? Let's talk about products to get started with from The Ordinary. Although The Ordinary does sell starter kits, Cassandra doesn’t love them. 


So, here are a few customized products from The Ordinary that not only work for acne, but for mature skin, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, and other concerns.


Step 1: The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser -$7.90

At this point, the only cleanser The Ordinary has is the squalane cleanser. This is an oil-based cleanser that removes makeup pretty well, but honestly, Cassandra wouldn’t recommend this one out of all cleansers. You can use this product because it's not a bad one, but Cassandra feels like there are much better cleansers available on the market. It does remove your makeup, but on the other hand, there’s not that much in it. Because it’s only 1.7 FL/OZ, 50 ml, someone who wears makeup will need to use a lot of it. Likewise, it will run out very quickly. 


Step 2: The Ordinary Glycolic Toner - $10

The second step is using a toner. The Ordinary’s Glycolic Acid Toner is inexpensive, effective, and alcohol-free. Many toners on the market have very drying alcohols, and although not all alcohols are bad in skincare, they can be very drying and aggravating when used in toners. But, finally, we've found a toner that is alcohol-free and also includes an active (glycolic acid). 


Glycolic acid is an exfoliating AHA acid. Its molecules are very small so they penetrate deeply and do a great job at clearing out pores. Glycolic acid is water-soluble and brightens the skin. This particular formula goes onto the skin like a dream, and it has a pH of 3.9. The pH is 3.9 (low pH), meaning it's acidic and penetrates deeply. AHAs balance the face. If you use a cleanser that is more basic like the squalane one, the toner will return the face to its more natural acidic pH. This is actually one of Cassandra's favorite toners because of how smoothly it goes onto the skin and absorbs perfectly. 


The glycolic acid toner also has aloe vera and rose. Both ingredients are very soothing to the skin. Additionally, the formula includes hydrating glycerin, urea, and sucrose. Urea and sucrose give even more exfoliation and are great for getting anything left behind. You can use this toner during the day or night, and after using it, there is no film left on the skin. And furthermore, the face is well-prepped for other products. 


How do you use a toner?


Toners are often used improperly because they’re portrayed as something that smoothes over the skin when really that’s what moisturizers are for. Truthfully, the cosmetic purpose of a toner is to balance the skin’s pH, which is how acidic or basic your skin is. Toners also help your other products penetrate deeper, and they can also help with blackheads. 

Step 3: Use a serum with actives – Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion - $10.50

The next step of the starter kit is applying serums with actives. Actives (treatment ingredients) are The Ordinary’s specialty. And when you know how to use these actives properly, you can mix and match them with your other skincare. So, what are some of the actives you should choose for your Ordinary starter kit as there are so many?


Retinoids are amazing, and they are for all skin types. Retinoids are a vitamin A derivative, and they are a couple of steps down from retinoic acid (i.e tretinoin). Our skin naturally synthesizes it and converts it to retinoic acid. Retinoids help with scar reduction and wrinkle reduction. There is also scientific evidence that retinoids decrease breakouts and blemishes. You can use this product on areas that have wrinkles, and it will absorb nicely. Cassandra does wish this had retinaldehyde though. Retinaldehyde is one of the best vitamin As you can get without a prescription.

The other active serum that The Ordinary did an amazing job with is The Buffet. The Buffet is basically a multi-peptide serum. Peptides are interesting. The science is still out on how effectively they work or if they work at all. Peptides are normally expensive because they are patented by cosmetic companies. So, someone creates and owns a specific molecule, and other companies have to pay to use it. Given that, many peptide creams are $40 - $90, but The Ordinary has made a more affordable one. 


The Ordinary Buffet 30ml -$16.80

The Buffet and Copper Peptide Serum is a great start if you’re looking to try peptides. The price is reasonable and the actives and ingredients have validity to them. When they are applied to the skin, peptides are supposed to penetrate very deeply because they’re tiny molecules. The molecules are supposed to stimulate your skin to produce its own amino acids, help with collagen synthesis, and strengthen the skin. 


“Buffet” + Copper Peptides 1% -$13.90

Step 3: Moisturize


The Ordinary Vitamin C Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate 10% - $10.50

This is one of Cassandra’s favorite vitamin Cs. Vitamin C is amazing at brightening, refreshing, and rejuvenating the skin. Vitamin C can help with plumpness, the way your skin glows, and potentially with some wrinkles. However, vitamin C can sting sometimes, especially if you’re using it with other acids, treatments, facial peels, or chemical peels. Vitamin C can sting and finding a vitamin C that brightens and gives you a glow without stinging is difficult, but The Ordinary has done it. 


This is the magnesium ascorbyl phosphate at 10%. It is a vitamin C moisturizer, and it does not burn super-sensitive skin. You can patch-test to make sure, but overall it's great. 


It comes out in a cream-like emulsion. It’s beautiful, and it absorbs into the skin wonderfully. This formula also has anti-inflammatory properties. If you have dry or oily skin, you could use it as well. But, you might want to use other products in your routine to balance it. This melts into your skin within 10-20 seconds, and it also doubles as a moisturizer.


The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors HA 30ml - $5.80

This is another great moisture that absorbs well. You can choose this one or the vitamin C moisturizer. 


Step 4: The Ordinary Mineral UV Filters SPF 30 with Antioxidants -$8.90

When it comes to sunburns and sun damage, prevention is easier than treatment. Especially if you're using a retinoid, you need to make sure you’re using a sunscreen during the day. 


Ultimately, all of these are wonderful products for a starter kit, but if you just want to pick a few, stock up on the actives like the toner and serum because that is where The Ordinary shines.


Coverphoto cred: Beauty Bay