The Ordinary has taken the skincare world by storm. At-home skincare experts and novices alike have flocked to the brand, mainly due to its low price point and simple, science-backed products. While the brand doesn’t have the most extensive range of acne-targeting products, there are some great options for those dealing with acne.
Read on and discover the 5 best The Ordinary products for acne, as well as how to implement them into a skincare routine.
Best The Ordinary Products for Acne
1. The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Masque (Acne, Blackheads and Pimples)
This product is excellent for both treating current acne and preventing breakouts, making it one of the best The Ordinary products for acne. It contains a 2% concentration of salicylic acid. This is enough to exfoliate the skin and fight acne, while minimizing the risk of irritating the skin. Alternatively, it can be used as a spot treatment to diminish current acne.
How to Use: Cleanse the skin. Gently apply all over the face, or apply it to any active acne spots. After 10 minutes, wash off with lukewarm water. Start with once a day application, and then move to twice a week if your skin can tolerate it. If mild redness or irritation occurs, cut back your use to every other day. Acids can increase sun sensitivity, so always wear sunscreen during the day.
2. The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% (Anti-Acne and Anti-Redness)
If you are dealing with a combination of redness, acne, and oily skin, this product is an excellent choice. The high concentration of niacinamide works to reduce blemishes, calm irritated skin, and brighten skin tone. This formula also features zinc, which helps balance sebum production.
How to Use: Cleanse the skin. Gently massage a few drops over your entire face. It may be used in the morning and evening. If you use a vitamin C serum in your routine, alternate it with this product. The two products don’t work well together, and can limit effectiveness.
3. The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% (Anti-Acne and Anti-Redness)
This product is another great choice for reducing redness, inflammation, and acne. It has a high concentration of azelaic acid, which means it effectively speeds up cell turnover rate to reveal brighter and smoother skin. The lightweight cream-gel formula absorbs quickly into the skin.
How to Use: Cleanse the skin. Gently massage the gel all over your face. It may be used in the morning and evening. Follow with a moisturizer.
4. The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution (Anti-Acne and Skin Tone)
The Ordinary has created a powerful formula that is a great weekly or bi-weekly addition to an anti-acne skincare routine. This intense exfoliating solution contains salicylic acid, along with the alpha hydroxy acids glycolic acid and lactic acid, which exfoliate the outer layer of the skin. Paired together, these acids pack a powerful punch for fighting acne and improving skin texture. That being said, only those who have experience with acids should use this product, as it is very potent. In addition to the acids, the solution contains Tasmanian Pepperberry, which reduces irritation, as well as vitamin B5 to assist with healing.
How to Use: Apply to clean and dry skin. Leave on for up to 10 minute, and then rinse it off. Use at night, and use no more than twice a week.
5. The Ordinary Retinol 1% in Squalane (Anti-Acne and Anti-Aging)
The Ordinary carries three retinol in squalane formulas, with this one having the most potent concentration of retinol. It helps to promote cell turnover and prevent skin-clogging debris from causing breakouts. The retinol is mixed with squalane, a plant-derived solution that is non-comedogenic and very hydrating.
How to Use: Cleanse the skin. Apply a small amount of the formula all over the face on dry skin. Use only in the evening. It may take time for your skin to build tolerance, so some redness, irritation, or peeling can occur when first using the formula. To avoid irritation, start off with every other day application. Retinol causes sun sensitivity, so be sure to apply sunscreen in the morning.
Key Acne-Fighting Ingredients in The Ordinary Products
Before diving into the best The Ordinary products for acne, let’s take a look at some of the star acne-fighting ingredients you’ll find in the brand’s formulas.
1. Salicylic Acid (Anti-Acne, Redness and Inflammation)
Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid, or BHA, that exfoliates the skin. It is oil-soluble and able to dive deep into the pores, so it can break up and dissolve debris that causes acne. This makes this star ingredient particularly useful for treating and preventing acne.
2. Niacinamide (Anti-Inflammatory, Skin Lightening, Reducing Large Pores)
Niacinamide (also called nicotinamide) is a form of vitamin B3 that is known to help treat acne, as well as rosacea. It is anti-inflammatory and works to calm irritated skin, and is also great at lightening the skin (making it useful for acne scars). On top of that, niacinamide can help reduce the appearance of large pores.
3. Azelaic Acid (Anti-Inflammatory, Improving Skin Tone and Anti-Acne)
Azelaic acid is able to reduce the growth of bacteria that causes acne, as well as decrease skin inflammation and redness. It can also speed up cell turnover rate, helping to even out skin tone and fight acne. This ingredient is a great addition to a skincare routine, particularly because it is safe and effective to use alongside many other acne-fighting ingredients – namely salicylic acid.
4. Retinol (Anti-Acne, Anti-Aging)
Retinol is a form of retinoic acid, which is a vitamin A derivative. For years, this ingredient has been the gold standard for fighting both acne and signs of aging. It is able to increase skin cell turnover, which means skin debris isn’t able to clog the pores. Retinol products are available over-the-counter (like The Ordinary retinols), whereas stronger retinoids are available with a prescription.
How to Use The Ordinary Products for Acne
The key to using The Ordinary products for acne into your skincare routine is to start slow and be patient. It is vital that you start by implementing one new product into your routine at a time. Gauge how your skin reacts to the one product over a few weeks, and then add another product to your routine (if it seems necessary).
The Ordinary Anti-Acne Routine
- First, gently cleanse your skin and wash off with lukewarm water, pat dry
- Next, use The Ordinary 2% Salicylic Acid Masque
- Follow-up with The Ordinary anti-acne serum (Retinol, Azelaic Acid, or Niacinamide)
- Lastly, finish up with your favorite moisturizer and then sunscreen
If you use a mask solution at night, you shouldn’t follow up with an acid or retinol, since it can be harsh on the skin. You can use the niacinamide afterwards, or simply a moisturizer.
Note: You may not need all of these products. One product may be enough for you, or you may choose to alternate between using different products. Build up your routine slowly, taking the time to see how one product affects you before moving on to another.
How to Patch Test 'The Ordinary' Products
Before applying a new product, it is important that you do a patch test to make sure your skin doesn’t have any negative side effects. Each product mentioned above has its own patch testing guidelines.
- Salicylic Acid 2% Masque - The Ordinary recommends applying the product to a small area of skin once a day for three days. If you experience any severe irritation, blistering, hives, or any adverse effects, cease use and talk to a doctor.
- Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% - Apply one product to a small area of clean skin. The forearm will work well. Keep this area dry for 24 hours, and then rinse off. If you experience burning, itching, redness, irritation, or blistering, cease using the product.
- Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% - Apply one product to a small area of clean skin. The forearm will work well. Keep this area dry for 24 hours, and then rinse off. If you experience burning, itching, redness, irritation, or blistering, cease using the product.
- Retinol 1% in Squalane - Apply one product to a small area of clean skin. The forearm will work well. Keep this area dry for 24 hours, and then rinse off. If you experience burning, itching, redness, irritation, or blistering, cease using the product.
- AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution - Since this is used as a mask, you’ll only need to test it for 10 minutes. Apply the product to a small area of clean skin, such as on your forearm. Leave it on for 10 minutes, and then rinse off. If you experience burning, itching, extreme redness, irritation, or blistering, cease using the product.
Has The Ordinary 2% Salicylic Acid Solution been discontinued?
Because The Ordinary Salicylic Acid Solution has been out of stock for so long, many wonder if it has been discontinued. According to DECIEM (the brand's parent company), the product is being updated. So no, the product has not been discontinued, they are simply re-working it and bringing it back at a later time. In the meantime, Paula's Choice 2% BHA makes a great substitute. This article will be updated when The Ordinary 2% Salicylic Acid is back in stock.
What are the best The Ordinary products for acne?
The best The Ordinary products for acne include the following: Salicylic Acid 2% Masque, Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%, Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%, Retinol 1% in Squalane, and AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution.
Is The Ordinary good for acne?
The Ordinary line doesn't have a ton of acne-fighting products. However, there are a few key formulas in the line that contain ingredients known for reducing current acne flare ups and preventing future breakouts.
Can I use The Ordinary niacinamide every day?
Yes, you can use the Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% product every day, up to two times per day. Be sure to patch test before using the product to make sure you don’t have any adverse reactions.
The Bottom Line
The Ordinary doesn’t have the widest range of acne-fighting products, but the few that target acne and acne-related issues pack a powerful punch. Their best anti-acne products include; salicylic acid, niacinamide, azelaic acid, and retinol. Fight the temptation to use all of the products at once. When creating a skincare routine using these products, you should introduce one at a time, and slowly build from there. Patch testing is also vital to ensure safety.