The Ordinary is one of the beauty world’s biggest success stories. Well-known for its affordability, it’s honesty is attracting fans all over the globe.
The Rise of Vegan Beauty
When the Economist named 2019 the “Year of the Vegan” it mainly referred to the rise in a vegan diet. It credited Millenials for driving the change in perceptions, citing that “a quarter of 25- to 34-year-old Americans say they are vegans or vegetarians.“
However, what it failed to mention was the rise in vegan beauty trends. According to data by Grand View Research, the global vegan cosmetics industry is projected to reach $20.8 billion by 2025.
With so many people now paying more attention to the ingredients in every-day products, big brands are finally beginning to respond to demand.
U.S. makeup brand COVERGIRL made headlines last November. It became the biggest-ever beauty brand to receive the “Leaping Bunny” accolade from Cruelty-Free International (CFI). The brand has since vowed to make its entire range cruelty-free, and released a huge campaign to make the announcement.
What Makes It Vegan Beauty?
Various beauty brands are now recognizing the value of offering vegan and cruelty-free products. However, the two terms are not interchangeable.
The term vegan in beauty means the complete absence of animal or animal-derived ingredients, while cruelty-free describes a product that doesn’t test on animals. The New York Times explained, “it’s possible for a vegan item to have been tested on an animal and a cruelty-free product to contain animal ingredients.“
Founded in 2013, The Ordinary is part of the DECIEM group, otherwise known as The Abnormal Beauty Company. According to the company website, the main principle behind the brand is “Clinical formulations with integrity.”
Although the brand has seen some turmoil in its history, with ex-CEO and Founder, Brandon Trauxe found dead in January last year, it has built a loyal following. This is thanks in part to its reasonable prices — the most expensive item costs £18 ($23.55) at the time of writing.
Its clinical looking packaging and confusing names may seem intimidating, however, the main aim has always been to “communicate with integrity and bring to market effective, more familiar technologies at honourable prices.“
In a bid to clarify the uses of its products, the brand recently began a series of explanations via its Instagram page. A post read “A few of you have mentioned that our too-extensive range and website might be a bit confusing for some, particularly those who are new to skincare.“
The post went on to say “we’re doing a brief overview of each category within The Ordinary over the coming weeks,” and has since provided clarification on several categories from its website.
All its products are designed to provide raw, concentrated versions of common ingredients found in every-day beauty items. Users aren’t then paying for the “filler” materials that bulk out most cosmetics.
Not only is The Ordinary affordable, its entire range is also currently completely vegan. If you were in any doubt, the website has a handy key for each item, which shows customers a range of attributes. Buyers can see whether their favorite is gluten-free, nut-free and more crucially, cruelty-free.
The brand’s website states that as well as being free from parabens and sulphates, all its products are free from animal oils. It also states “[Parent Company] DECIEM does not test on animals and does not pay others to do so.“
The Ordinary’s Vegan Products
The Ordinary’s website is helpfully broken up into product types. In order to make it easier for people to introduce them into a beauty routine, they offer different concentrations of various products. But if you’re not sure where to start, how do you even begin deciding what’s right for you?
Considering the whole range is vegan and cruelty-free, you can’t really go wrong – the below list looks at the huge variety of products available.
Most people are familiar with antioxidants thanks to the rise of supposed “superfoods”. Various berries have been credited as containing high levels of antioxidants, which can help fight the process of oxidation. In terms of our diet, the free radicals that cause damage are produced by our cells.
However, when it comes to skin, free radicals can come from external sources, such as pollution and the sun. Therefore the use of “topical” antioxidants can help in a similar way to applying suncream. This can help fight against signs of aging, for example, brown spots or wrinkles caused by the breakdown of collagen in the skin.
The Ordinary offer several options, each with their own benefits and concentrations:
- Alpha Lipoic Acid 5% – “can restore a renewed skin appearance, improving visible skin texture and tone.” As 5% is a high concentration, it should only be applied 1-2 times a week.
- EUK 134™ 0.1% – “has been shown to improve visible redness and protect against the appearance of UV damage.” This product is easily destroyed by acids, so shouldn’t be used with any of the “Direct Acids” products below.
- Pycnogenol ® 5% – This is derived from the bark of French maritime pine trees and is best for “enhancing skin hydration and elasticity.“
- Resveratrol 3% + Ferulic Acid 3% – These two ingredients are both derived from plants and “help support the skin’s defense against oxidative stress caused by environmental factors.“
The Ordinary currently only has one cleanser in its repertoire — its Squalene Cleanser.
Squalene, normally derived from shark’s liver for commercial purposes, is found in humans too. It is naturally secreted by glands in the skin to provide protection, according to a study published in the International Journal of Agronomy. However, plant-derived squalene is usually extracted from olive oil, although other plant sources have been identified.
According to The Ordinary, its cleanser is soap-free and non-comedogenic, therefore it is suitable for a range of skin types.
Unlike other cleansers, this one should be applied to dry skin only once it has transformed into an oil-like texture (one of three phases). This is achieved by rubbing the cleanser between the fingers and allows the product to dissolve facial impurities and makeup.
The Ordinary doesn’t just do confusingly scientific named skin care products — it has its own ranges of foundations and primers too!
Its foundations come in two types – coverage and serum. The coverage foundations have a slightly higher pigmentation for those looking for — you guessed it — fuller coverage. Both types are designed to give a smooth finish, however, it can be hard to decide. If you are still struggling to figure out which is the best for you the brand’s website offers a handy guide.
If the skincare regime isn’t enough to create a solid base, two primers are also available. Its Silicone Primer provides a matt long-lasting finish, whereas its Fluid Primer tackles dry skin to prevent unevenness in coverage.
4. Direct Acids
The use of concentrated acids in skincare has taken off in recent years. Though existing beauty and skincare products have included low levels of acids, most consumers are now aware that they are paying for filler ingredients and brand mark-ups.
Generally speaking, acids are designed to encourage cell-death, which may seem counterintuitive. However, by encouraging the death of surface-level skin cells, room is made way for new younger cells to emerge. This ultimately gives a fresh, dewy look to the skin.
The Ordinary has made the best of this situation by offering various concentrations of different acids to its customers. It should be noted that not all acids are alike. The Fashion Spot explains “knowing the differences between the acids used in skin care is essential for targeting complexion concerns.”
When beginning to use acids, it’s best to patch test and always try to use before going to bed rather than first thing in the morning. It’s best to avoid sun exposure after using, as skin will be even more sensitive to UV rays.
- Mandelic Acid 10% + HA – Is designed to “target uneven tone, textural irregularities, and fine lines.” It is suitable for all skin types due to its “large molecular weight.“
- Alpha Lipoic Acid 5% – As mentioned above, this formula is a great antioxidant, which “aims to enhance the appearance of radiant skin.“
- Salicylic Acid 2% Solution – The most commonly known acid, this solution “targets dullness, texture irregularities and aims to promote visible skin clarity.” The brand is planning to add lower concentrations to the range for those wanting to add it in gradually.
- Lactic Acid 5% (or 10%) + HA – Designed for those who prefer a more aqueous (water-based) formula. It is best used to “[target] mild exfoliation of the top layer of the skin.“
- Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution – Another mild exfoliator, this solutions aims to give “improved skin radiance, texture and visible clarity“
- Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% – The best option for beginners, this “acts as an effective antioxidant while visibly targeting uneven tone, textural irregularities and the look of blemishes.“
- AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution – Definitely for the more experienced users of acids, this product “offers deeper exfoliation to help fight visible blemishes and for improved skin radiance.“
Unfortunately, the final two products aren’t currently available in the U.S. and Canada, according to the brand’s Instagram. This is due to “regulatory restrictions”, however, the brand is working to reformulate them so they may be available soon!
5. Hair Care
The Ordinary currently only has one product in its hair care range – its Multi-Peptide Serum. Designed to be a leave-in product, and applied to clean dry hair, the serum “supports hair health so that it looks and feels thicker, denser and fuller.”
6. Hydrators and Oils
For some, the idea of adding oil to their face might be fear-inducing, however, the benefits of plant-based oils are becoming more well-known. Thankfully The Ordinary do just about all of them; from Argan Oil through to the less recognized Sea-Buckthorn Oil.
As with most cosmetic products, it really is a case of trying a few and seeing which works best. Luckily the brand’s affordable pricing makes this more than possible, without breaking the bank!
If you’re looking for a more one-size-fits-all option, the brand’s “B” Oil is made up of “marula, argan, baobab, pataua, brazil nut, inca inchi, rosehip and borage.”
7. “More Molecules”
Another molecule commonly used in cosmetics is Niacinamide, usually used to “reduce the appearance of skin blemishes and congestion.” The Ordinary’s version of this product also contains Zinc, to “balance visible aspects of sebum activity.”
The category also includes the brand’s Caffeine 5% + EGCG (which stands for Epigallocatechin Gallatyl Glucoside – the active ingredient in green tea). According to its website, “topical use of each of caffeine and EGCG can help reduce looks of puffiness and of dark circles in the eye contour.”
- “Buffet” – According to the brand’s website “This formula combines a comprehensive array of studied technologies to target multiple signs of aging at once.” Hence the name.
- “Buffet” +Copper Peptides 1% – The added copper peptides in this formula have a range of benefits, including supporting collagen production. It offers a more all-round focus on skin health.
- Argireline Solution 10% – The active ingredient in this formula is proven to help areas that are “prone to developing dynamic folds.” Essentially areas like the forehead where wrinkles are created by movement from facial expressions.
- Matrixyl 10% + HA – Another formula that “has been shown to reduce the look of static and dynamic wrinkles.” The active ingredient is patented by French Company Sederma Inc.
The Ordinary’s Retinoid range can be broken down into three products, which are available at different concentrations.
- Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion – This product combines “two forms of next-generation retinoid actives”, which supposedly offer less irritation than traditional retinoid products. It can be used to reduce signs of aging.
- Granactive Retinoid in Squalene (2% or 5%) – The different concentrations of this product both “offer a very-light-weight solution.” The use of Squalene means it can be more easily combined into a multi-step routine.
- Retinol in Squalene (0.2, 0.5 & 1%) – Retinol is traditionally more irritating to the skin than the brand’s Retinoid products. However, these formulas “can reduce the appearances of fine lines, of photo damage and of general skin aging.“
The days of thick, white suncream are long gone, with many brands now offering lightweight formulas for every-day wear. The Ordinary is no exception — it offers SPF 15 & 30 options, with SPF 50 on the way shortly.
Its mineral formula uses Zinc and Titanium Oxides for their refractive properties, as well as their ability to absorb UV rays.
11. Vitamin C
According to the brand’s website, Vitamin C is a great antioxidant, and can be used to brighten skin tone and reduce signs of aging. The brand offers different products with varying types of Vitamin C. It warns against using pure forms alongside Peptides, Niacinamide, EUK and direct acids in order to reduce irritability.
The brand’s Vitamin C products are listed below, and all offer different benefits. Similarly to its Foundation Guide, The Ordinary has a useful Vitamin C guide to help you distinguish between them!
- 100% L-Ascorbic Acid Powder
- Ascorbic Acid 8% + Alpha Arbutin 2%
- Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12%
- Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate Solution 20% in Vitamin F
- Ethylated Ascorbic Acid 15% Solution
- Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate 10%
- Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%
- Vitamin C Suspension 30% in Silicone
12. Fask Masks
The Ordinary introduced its first-ever face mask, the Salicylic Acid 2% Masque, in May 2019. Formulated with acne-fighting salicylic acid, vegetable charcoal, Amazonian clay, and squalane, it targets “lackluster tone and textural irregularities.” It’s especially suitable for oily and blemish-prone skin.