10 Best Products from The Ordinary for Acne

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The Ordinary has skyrocketed in popularity the past few years, especially on Instagram and TikTok, cementing itself as a reliable skincare brand that may be cheap but doesn’t skimp on quality. Its skincare offerings are simple and yes, ordinary, with transparent ingredients so customers always know what they’re putting on their face–plus the price points are incredibly low, opening up access to those who don’t have $75 to drop at Sephora on luxury brands. A lot of their products can help with acne and rosacea and are easy to incorporate into your routine. Keep reading for 10 items to help ward off pimples and reveal your best skin yet. As with any skincare, make sure to always carefully read the specific instructions for proper dosage and use. Patch testing is advised with every new product you’re introducing into your routine.

Best The Ordinary Products for Acne:

First on the list is the Salicylic Acid 2% Solution, a light and breathable formula that works best for mild acne like blackheads and whiteheads. Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid with anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. It gently removes dead skin that can lead to clogged pores, removes oil and helps fight off future breakouts. Because this product is a BHA, it may increase your skin’s sensitivity to sunlight.

Sunburn risk: Make sure you’re applying sunscreen during your morning regimen (as always) and limit sun exposure while using it and for a week after.

Next up is Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%. Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3, AKA an essential nutrient that can be found in many of the foods we eat including eggs, green veggies, fish and milk. The Ordinary says the 10% concentration of this vitamin and zinc salt of pyrrolidone carboxylic acid can reduce the look of blemishes, brighten skin tone and improve your skin’s radiance over time. If you have sensitive skin, you may want to start with a lower concentration of niacinamide.

If you’re looking for a different form of niacinamide, why not give powder a try? The 100% Niacinamide Powder is a more direct topical option that lets you have some DIY fun and personalize your experience. In its truest form, it can be mixed into water-based treatments to target multiple skin concerns at once. The Ordinary recommends mixing the niacinamide powder with one of these other brand products:

  • Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5

  • Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA

  • “Buffet” + Copper Peptides 1%

  • Matrixyl 10% + HA

  • Argireline Solution 10% 

This is a lot, I know, especially if you’re a beginner. Click here for a guide on incorporating multiple Ordinary products in your routine.

You’ve probably seen this blood red TikTok-famous face peel. There are a lot of videos that provide helpful tips and tricks–but there are also some that use this in a dangerous way. Right off the bat, I want to make it clear that this is a very high concentration of acids. The Ordinary only recommends this product if you’re an experienced user of acid exfoliation and your skin isn’t sensitive. It also should not be used on peeling or compromised skin. The solution, made from 30% AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) and 2% BHA, deeply exfoliates to fight acne and reduces the look of fine lines with continued use.

Sunburn risk: Make sure you’re applying sunscreen during your morning regimen and limit sun exposure while using it and for a week after.

Azelaic acid, naturally found in grains along with yeast that lives on the skin, is used to fight pimples and swelling caused by acne. This 10% cream-gel formula works as an effective antioxidant, evening out skin texture and reducing the look of blemishes. Dermatologists say this is milder than other ingredients like salicylic acid and adapalene, which means it’s more suitable for those with sensitive skin, acne and rosacea. Prescription-level azelaic acid products – which are available at 15% and 20% strengths – have more research backing them up, so if that’s something you’re interested in, speak with a dermatologist.

Retinols and retinoids both have anti-aging claims to fame, but retinoids are generally stronger. They have a higher concentration of vitamin A and skin turnover happens at a faster rate than with retinols. Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion is the perfect way to kick off your retinoid journey, as The Ordinary rates this product as one that is moderate strength with little chance of irritation. Retinoid is shown to reduce pesky fine lines and wrinkles by increasing the production of collagen. Experts usually recommend starting in your late 20s to early 30s. Keep in mind it can make your skin more sensitive to UV radiation.

Cover all your bases with The Balance Set. The four-piece kit includes the Squalane Cleanser, Salicylic Acid 2% Masque, Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% and Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA. Here’s a quick summary of each one’s benefits:

  • Squalane Cleanser: Removes makeup while moisturizing your skin

  • Salicylic Acid 2% Masque: Gently removes dead skin that can lead to clogged pores, removes oil and helps fight off future breakouts

  • Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%: Reduces the look of blemishes, brightens skin tone and improves skin’s radiance

Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA: Keeps the outer layer of skin protected and well hydrated in a non-greasy way

This next solution contains 7% glycolic acid, amino acids, aloe vera, ginseng and tasmanian pepperberry. It’s an example of a chemical exfoliation. Glycolic acid is an AHA that exfoliates the skin to reveal a brighter complexion and allows for new cell generation. This is great for acne, as it removes dead skin cells and oil, so your pores won’t be as clogged. Do not use this on sensitive, peeling or compromised skin.

Sunburn alert: Make sure you’re applying sunscreen during your morning regimen and limit sun exposure while using it and for a week after.

Rose hip oil is a skincare superhero! The 100% organic cold-pressed formula can help reduce inflammatory acne, get rid of acne scars and clear your skin. It has high amounts of vitamin A, B vitamins, and vitamin E, meaning it contains regenerative properties. It also works well with most products and ingredients, so incorporating it into your routine shouldn’t be a challenge. Seriously, what’s not to like?

Technically this isn’t a skincare item, but I had to include it. The Coverage Foundation is full coverage, so if you’re feeling insecure about redness or acne, this may help boost your self-confidence. It comes in 36 shades and the texture is similar to a lightweight, non-oily cream. What’s even better, it specifies every single shade’s undertone by color and what it corresponds to; P (pink) and R (red) indicate cool undertones, N indicates a neutral tone and Y (yellow) indicates a warm undertone.

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