How to Layer The Ordinary Products for Maximum Results?

If you’ve been following my skincare blog, you know by now that I am obsessed with The Ordinary range. I mean, who isn’t? Their products are not only fantastic but also come at affordable prices. However, with such an extensive product selection, figuring out the right way to layer them can be quite a puzzle.

Just like any skincare brand, The Ordinary formulates its products with active ingredients that deliver the desired skincare benefits. These ingredients come in various bases, including water-based solutions, oils, and emulsions. The challenge lies in understanding how to layer The Ordinary products effectively, especially with such a diverse range of options available.

That’s precisely why I’ve compiled this comprehensive guide on how to layer The Ordinary products. I’ll also share skincare routines, products for specific skin types and concerns, additional tips, and more in this guide.

How to Layer The Ordinary Products?

The Ordinary is a skincare brand that offers a wide range of affordable and effective products. It’s crucial to understand how to layer The Ordinary products to achieve the best results. The general rule of thumb is to apply products in the order of their consistency, starting with the thinnest and ending with the thickest.

The Ordinary offers a variety of skincare products, each available in five distinct formats, which should be layered in the following order for optimal results:

  1. Water-based Solutions
  2. Anhydrous Solutions
  3. Suspensions
  4. Oils
  5. Emulsions/Creams

Understanding these formulations is essential for correctly layering your products, promoting effective absorption, and preventing piling. Let’s now delve into each formulation to grasp the most suitable layering method.

Water-Based Products

Water-based products should be applied after cleansing and before oil-based products. As their name suggests, these products have a watery consistency, which allows for easy absorption into the skin.

The Ordinary Direct Acids and Water-Based Hydrators are two distinct water-based product categories offered by The Ordinary. Here’s a breakdown of each type:

The Ordinary Direct Acids:

These products are formulated with specific types of acids, such as alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) or beta hydroxy acids (BHAs). Direct Acids are typically used for exfoliation, targeting concerns like uneven skin tone, texture, and acne.

When using The Ordinary Direct Acids, applying them after cleansing and toning is generally recommended, but before other water-based serums or hydrators. Start with a low concentration and gradually increase frequency and potency as tolerated by your skin. The Ordinary offers these direct acids: Glycolic Toning Solution, Lactic Acid, and Mandelic Acid.

The Ordinary Water-Based Hydrators:

Water-based hydrators provide lightweight hydration to the skin. They usually have humectants, which help attract and retain moisture. Water-based hydrators from The Ordinary, such as hyaluronic acid serums or moisturizing factors, are typically applied after cleansing and toning but before oils or creams.

You can use them both morning and night to provide hydration and prepare the skin for subsequent products. The Ordinary offers these water-based hydrators: Amino Acids + B5, Marine Hyaluronics, and Hyaluronic Acid.

Additional The Ordinary water-based products include:

Tips for Applying Water-Based Solutions

  1. Begin your skincare routine with slightly damp skin. This facilitates optimal absorption of all water-based serums into your skin.
  2. Arrange your product application in order of thickness, starting with the thinnest consistency. Evaluate each product to identify those with watery or thicker textures.
  3. Apply products containing Hyaluronic Acid as the initial layer. This includes Hyaluronic Acid, Alpha Arbutin, Lactic Acid, Mandelic Acid, and Matrixyl.
  4. Use a facial mist between product layers to promote quick absorption and leave your skin soft and supple.


Once you’ve layered your water-based serums, it’s time to introduce some powders into your skincare routine. The Ordinary offers two fantastic options: L’Ascorbic Acid Powder and the Niacinamide Powder. These powders can be mixed with your water-based serums or moisturizer for added benefits.

If you combine either powder with serums like Hyaluronic Acid, mix them thoroughly before applying the combination to your damp skin. Proper mixing is essential to ensure optimal absorption and prevent any unwanted piling.

Anhydrous Solutions

Anhydrous solutions are products without water content. These products typically have a thicker consistency compared to water-based products. They should be applied after water-based products and before oils and emulsions. Examples of anhydrous solutions from The Ordinary include:


Suspensions are products in which solid particles or active ingredients are dispersed in a liquid base. These particles may not dissolve completely, creating a slightly grainy or gritty texture. Using suspensions, The Ordinary aims to provide targeted treatment and enhanced efficacy for specific skincare concerns.

The Ordinary offers several suspensions in its skincare product lineup. Some of the notable suspensions from The Ordinary include:


Oils are an essential part of a comprehensive skincare routine as they help to moisturize and nourish the skin. They should be applied after water-based products and anhydrous solutions but before emulsions. The Ordinary offers several oils, such as:


Emulsions are mixtures of oil and water, offering a lightweight texture that locks in moisture. They should be applied after water-based products, anhydrous solutions, and oils. Some examples of emulsions by The Ordinary are:

  • Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA
  • Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%

Remember, it’s crucial to layer your skincare products in the correct order to ensure that your skin can absorb and benefit from each product effectively.

Combining Acids and Peptides

When learning how to layer The Ordinary products, it’s essential to consider how certain active ingredients, such as direct acids and peptides, interact. Pay attention to their compatibility, as some active ingredients may lose their effectiveness if combined improperly.

  • Niacinamide and Zinc: This combination works well for regulating sebum production and controlling breakouts.
  • Amino Acids and Copper Peptides: Pairing these ingredients can support collagen production and provide anti-aging benefits.
  • Ascorbyl Glucoside and Retinoids: Combining these active ingredients enhances skin brightness and reduces signs of aging.

Avoiding Conflicts between Active Ingredients

How to layer The Ordinary products correctly? To ensure the best results, avoid layering incompatible active ingredients. Some combinations may cause irritation, render products ineffective, or even harm your skin. Here are a few examples of conflicting ingredients:

  • Direct Acids and Retinoids: Combining these may cause over-exfoliation, sensitive skin, or irritation.
  • Niacinamide and Vitamin C: Using these together can cause flushing and may reduce the effectiveness of both ingredients.

Remember: Always patch test new products to avoid reactions, and consult a dermatologist or skincare expert for advice on layering products tailored to your skin type and concerns.

Creating a Skincare Routine with The Ordinary

In this section, I will share how to create The Ordinary skincare routine for all skin types.

Step 1: Cleansing

Begin your skincare routine with a gentle cleanser to remove dirt, oil, and makeup. In The Ordinary range, you’ll find the Squalane Cleanser, the go-to cleanser that caters to all skin types. Now, let’s address the question you’ve been asking: Do you need to double cleanse?

For those with dry or sensitive skin, a single cleanse in the morning and evening is sufficient to keep your skin clean and refreshed.

If you’re dealing with acne concerns, here’s the recommended approach: Start with a single cleanse in the morning. Then, in the evening, opt for a double cleanse. Begin with an oil cleanser to remove makeup, sunscreen, and excess oil. Follow up with The Squalane Cleanser to ensure a thorough cleanse.

Choose a cleanser suitable for your skin type and ensure it does not contain harsh ingredients that may irritate your skin.

Step 2: Exfoliating

Exfoliation helps to remove dead skin cells, unclog pores, and improve your skin’s overall appearance. The Ordinary offers a range of AHA and BHA exfoliating products to include in your routine, such as the AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution. Limit exfoliating to once or twice a week, depending on your skin’s sensitivity.

Remember to apply the product evenly on your skin, avoiding the eye area, and leaving it for 10 minutes before rinsing off with lukewarm water.

Step 3: Applying Actives

After cleansing and exfoliating, apply water-based serums(not more than three) or treatments, such as The Ordinary’s Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5, Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%, or Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA. These products help with hydration, oil production, and brightening, respectively.

Layer the serums by applying the one that targets your main concern first. Ensure you pat the products gently onto your skin, allowing them to absorb before proceeding to the next step.

Step 4: Moisturizing and Nourishing

Following your actives, apply a moisturizer to lock in hydration and protect your skin’s barrier. The Ordinary offers various moisturizers to cater to different skin types, such as the Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA for all skin types.

You may also opt for oil-based products or emulsions, like the “B” Oil or the Rose Hip Seed Oil, to provide additional nourishment to your skin. Apply the moisturizer or oil last, as they help to seal in all the previously applied products.

Step 5: Sun Protection

Lastly, it’s crucial to apply sunscreen daily, regardless of the weather conditions. Sun protection is an essential step in your skincare routine to prevent premature aging, dark spots, and skin cancer. Choose a sunscreen with broad-spectrum SPF 30 or higher and apply generously to your face and neck. Remember to reapply every 2 hours, especially when spending extended periods outdoors.

Identifying Your Skin Type

It’s essential to identify your skin type, as this will help you choose the most suitable products for your skin. Generally, there are three main skin types: dry, oily, and sensitive. Understanding your skin type is the first step in creating a personalized skincare routine.

Dry Skin

Dry skin often feels tight, rough, and lacks moisture. It can be prone to flaking, cracking, and premature aging. To determine if you have dry skin, some common signs include:

  • Tightness after washing your face
  • Visible dry patches or flakes
  • Prone to irritation and redness

For dry skin, moisturizing and hydrating products should be a priority. Look for The Ordinary products containing hyaluronic acid, squalane, and natural oils to help restore your skin’s moisture balance.

Oily Skin

Oily skin is characterized by an overproduction of oil, which can lead to shine, enlarged pores, and acne. Some signs that you have oily skin are:

  • Shiny or greasy appearance
  • Enlarged pores
  • Frequent acne breakouts

For those with oily skin, focus on using The Ordinary products that can help regulate oil production, like niacinamide, and include lightweight, water-based formulations. Avoid using heavy oils and creams.

Sensitive Skin

Sensitive skin can be tricky to identify, as it encompasses a range of skin concerns. Generally, sensitive skin reacts easily to products and environmental factors, and may experience redness, itchiness, or burning. If you suspect you have sensitive skin, look for the following symptoms:

  • Skin reacts quickly to new products
  • Prone to redness, inflammation, and irritation
  • Easily affected by changes in the environment, like wind, sun, or temperature changes

For sensitive skin, it’s crucial to choose gentle The Ordinary products and avoid potential irritants such as fragrance, alcohol, or harsh acids. Opt for soothing ingredients like aloe vera, centella asiatica, or azelaic acid to calm your skin.

Identifying your skin type may vary, and some people may fall into the combination skin category, which can feature characteristics of two or more of the above skin types. Once you have determined your skin type, you can confidently choose the best products from The Ordinary to incorporate into your skincare routine.

The Ordinary Products for Specific Skin Concerns

In this section, I will discuss some of the best products from The Ordinary to address specific skin concerns such as anti-aging, acne and breakouts, pigmentation and uneven skin tone, and hydration and nourishment.


For my friends looking to combat signs of aging, it is important to incorporate retinoids, peptides, and antioxidants into your skin care routine. Some of The Ordinary’s best anti-aging products include:

  • Granactive Retinoid 2% in Squalane: This effective yet gentle retinoid helps to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
  • “Buffet”: This multi-peptide serum targets multiple signs of aging, promoting a youthful-looking complexion.
  • Ascorbic Acid 8% + Alpha Arbutin 2%: Combining Vitamin C and Alpha Arbutin, this formula targets uneven skin tone and dullness, rejuvenating your skin.

Acne and Breakouts

Managing acne and breakouts can be frustrating, but The Ordinary offers a range of products to help tackle these issues. Some top picks for acne-prone skin include:

  • Salicylic Acid 2% Solution: This beta hydroxy acid (BHA) gently exfoliates the skin, unclogs pores, and reduces breakouts.
  • Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%: Azelaic acid is known to reduce inflammation and redness, making it effective in treating acne.
  • Lactic Acid: Available in both 5% and 10% concentrations, Lactic Acid provides gentle exfoliation, improving skin texture and reducing the appearance of blemishes.

Pigmentation and Uneven Skin Tone

To improve an uneven skin tone and address pigmentation concerns, consider incorporating the following products by The Ordinary into your routine:

  • Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA: Alpha Arbutin reduces the appearance of dark spots and helps to even out skin tone.
  • Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%: Vitamin C is essential for brightening the skin and reducing signs of hyperpigmentation.
  • Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution: This toning solution offers mild exfoliation and helps to improve skin clarity and tone.

Hydration and Nourishment

Keeping your skin hydrated and nourished is important for a healthy complexion. The Ordinary has a variety of products that cater to these needs:

  • Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5: This serum combines the powerful hydrating benefits of hyaluronic acid with the nourishment of Vitamin B5.
  • Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA: This non-greasy formula offers hydration and supports the skin’s barrier function.
  • Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG: This potent formula, containing caffeine and EGCG from green tea, hydrates and nourishes the delicate under-eye area.

Additional Tips and Precautions

When learning how to layer The Ordinary products, it’s important to keep in mind some additional tips and precautions, especially for those with sensitive skin or specific skin concerns.

  • Pores: Be mindful of products that may clog pores or cause breakouts, especially if you have acne-prone or sensitive skin. Always perform a patch test before applying a new product to your entire face.
  • Sensitive skin: Some products, such as exfoliating acids, may be too strong for those with sensitive skin. Look for gentler options like The Ordinary’s Mandelic Acid 10% + HA, which is a milder exfoliating acid that can be layered with other products.
  • Pigmentation: To address pigmentation concerns, consider incorporating Alpha Arbutin or Niacinamide into your routine. These ingredients can help reduce the appearance of dark spots and even out skin tone.
  • Exfoliation: It’s important to gradually introduce exfoliating products into your routine to avoid over-exfoliating and causing irritation. Start with a lower concentration (e.g., Lactic Acid 5% + HA) and increase as your skin tolerates it. Remember to use sunscreen during the day, as exfoliation can increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun.
  • Dead skin cells: Regular exfoliation helps remove dead skin cells and promote a healthy, radiant complexion. Choose a suitable exfoliating product, like The Ordinary’s AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution, but use it sparingly – no more than once or twice a week, and never combine it with other strong acids or retinoids.

Be cautious when introducing new products and address your specific skin concerns with the appropriate formulations. And always remember to wear sunscreen to protect your skin from potential damage.

Wrapping Up

The Ordinary offers many unique products, but understanding how to integrate them into a skincare routine can be challenging. To properly layer The Ordinary products, begin with water-based serums, proceed with anhydrous solutions and suspensions, and conclude with richer creams and oils.

Remember to prioritize daily sunscreen application as the final step in your skincare regimen. This crucial step helps protect your skin from harmful UV rays. Which The Ordinary products do you use in your skincare routine? Tell me in the comment section.

I hope my guide on how to layer The Ordinary products answer all your queries.

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