I Always Reach for This £5 Product When I Have a Major Breakout

It was only a few weeks ago, when I was singing the praises of a certain £6 product that had converted me to eye creams, that I took the time to actually take a proper look at my bathroom beauty stash and realised just how many other products from the same brand had a permanent home in my skincare rotation.

As I've mentioned previously, The Ordinary is an affordable beauty brand offering up high-performance formulations with ingredients at their core. Ask any beauty junkie or skincare fanatic about them and chances are they'll have a couple of products in their bathroom cabinets.

Admittedly, if you aren't already clued about the ingredients you should be putting on your face, The Ordinary can feel a little overwhelming at first. But with a little research into your skin concerns and needs, it's a great affordable beauty brand to get on board with.

For reference, my skin is combination, prone to regular hormonal breakouts, has dehydrated patches around my nose and chin, and is starting to show those early signs of ageing in the form of some very small (but definitely present) fine lines around my eyes—and The Ordinary offers up products that suit all of my very specific skin needs.

Keep scrolling to shop my favourite products from The Ordinary, along with advice on what skin concerns they'll solve and how to use them.

Serums

Who should use it: People with oily skin who are prone to breakouts.

If I could only pick one product to recommend from The Ordinary, it would be this. Niacinamide is something of a wonder ingredient when it comes to congested skin, as it manages to both calm inflammation and reduces blemish-causing bacteria while improving your skin's moisture retention so it won't feel dried out. The addition of zinc helps to repair any skin damage and boost collagen for plump, healthier-looking skin. I apply it to clean skin (before my moisturiser) on days when I have a major breakout and want to calm down blemishes fast.

Who should use it: People who have puffy under-eyes and hate traditional eye creams.

I've raved enough about this caffeine-infused eye serum here, so I won't go on about it. To put it simply, it's a lightweight eye serum that genuinely refreshes and brightens the under-eye area when you're looking tired. I apply it every morning after my other serums and before my moisturiser.

Who should use it: People who want to minimise fine lines and plump tired skin.

This is one of the first products from The Ordinary that I remember the beauty community going wild about. Unlike the brand's other formula, it contains a mix of ingredients—hence its name—all chosen to nourish skin and restore radiance. Matrixyl 3000 might sound like something out of a sci-fi film, but effectively, it's a complex that stimulates collagen production to plump up skin and reduce the depth of fine lines. For me, though, it's a great basic serum that manages to be both hydrating and firming. I love using this as morning serum, as it sits really well beneath makeup.

Who should use it: All skin types who want all-day hydration.

If you haven't heard of squalane, it's an incredible hydrator that's actually found naturally within our skin. This one uses a plant-based version to improve the skin's suppleness by boosting its moisture levels. It has a similar effect to hyaluronic acid but actually does a better job of locking the moisture in the long-term. I'll apply this over my other serums as final hydration step. Plus you can also use it on your hair to add shine and moisture.

Treatments & oils

Who should use it: Retinol newbies.

If you've never tried retinol before, or your skin tends to be irritated by it (like mine is), then this low-concentration formula might just be up your street. While stronger doses tend to cause me to break out in a red rash, this 0.2% formula offers all of the benefits of tacking blemishes, reducing dark spots and softening skin without the irritation. I apply a small amount to my skin at night a couple of times a week and follow with a nourishing moisturiser.

Who should use it: People with dry, dehydrated skin who need a moisture boost.

Straight up, this is a great dupe if you're a fan of the Drunk Elephant Marula Oil but can't justify the £61 price tag right now. It's rich in fatty acids and antioxidants, and does an amazing job of creating that radiant, dewy skin look we all want. For me, this is too rich to use daily, but I'll smooth a couple of drops onto my skin once or twice a week at night as the final step in my routine, and I'll apply it to the ends of my hair after washing.

Who should use it: Those with ageing skin or who want to even out skin tone.

Making the most of the truly brightening properties of vitamin C, The Ordinary has added it in its purest form—L-Ascorbic Acid—to this lightweight lotion. Combined with hyaluronic acid, it hydrates for plumper skin, improves uneven skin tone and fights dark spots and creates a more luminous complexion. I apply this at night and always wake up to brighter skin. You might feel a slight tingling as your skin gets used to it, but don't worry—this is quite normal with vitamin C products.

Who should use it: People with very dry skin.

I've already spoken about the fact that everyone I know with great skin uses argan oil but it's particularly beneficial if you suffer with chronically dry or flaky skin. This one from The Ordinary is 100% organic and cold-pressed and can be applied directly to your skin and hair to restore strength and add lustre.

Who should use it: All skin types that are looking for sun protection.

I am a big believer in wearing SPF daily, but if you're mixing and matching any of these mentioned acid formulations from The Ordinary, then it becomes even more important to protect your skin from the sun. This mineral formula offers enough protection for an average day in the UK as well as antioxidants to neutralise free radicals and other potential environmental damage. I apply this as the final step in my skincare routine, always allowing about 20 minutes before I leave the house for it to soak in.

Acids

Who should use it: Combination to oily skin types that are prone to breakouts.

My skin loves salicylic acid—so much so that I use it on a daily basis in some form or another. My application method of choice tends to be in a toner but this 2% salicylic acid treatment is incredible for the low price point. It offers up gentle exfoliation to unclog pores and clear away congestion as well as witch hazel to calm and soothe active blemishes.

Who should use it: People who have congested skin.

I didn't use this exfoliating treatment for a long time because I was a little scared. First up, I wouldn't recommend that anybody new to acids or with sensitive skin uses this. But if you've dabbled in acids before with good results, then give it a go. At just £6, this treatment offers up the same kind of results as an actual facial. You apply it to clean, dry skin and leave for 10 minutes before rinsing off with lukewarm water to reveal brighter, clearer-looking skin. The AHAs exfoliate the top layer of the skin for improved radiance, while the BHAs work beneath to clear pores and diminish congestion. I'll use this about once a week when my skin is looking dull and tired. I'm always amazed at how much better my skin looks afterwards. I'd recommend using this in the evenings and using an SPF the next day to keep your skin protected.

Who should use it: People who have irritated skin and want to even out their skin tone.

During one particularly desperate period with my skin, I paid a horrific amount of money to see a private dermatologist, and I left with an even more costly prescription for a multitude of topical ointments. I discovered this affordable azelaic acid when looking for an alternative to the expensive one prescribed. A natural antioxidant, azelaic acid is an ultra-gentle ingredient that protects the skin, brightens tone, improves texture and minimises blemishes.

After a few weeks of using it, I noticed that old acne scarring was reduced and my skin looked all-around clearer and healthier. I apply it every morning after my serums. Sometimes I'll use this as my moisturiser step, and on days when I'm feeling dry, I'll follow with a heavier lotion. I always use an SPF when using this product, as it can leave your skin more sensitive to the sun.

Who should use it: All skin types that are looking for gentle exfoliation.

My skin loves lactic acid, and while this formulation is available in a stronger 10% Lactic Acid option, this 5% version does the job perfectly. It gently removes dead skin cells to reveal brighter, softer skin, and stimulates cell regeneration to improve pigmentation and scarring. The addition of hyaluronic acid improves plumpness and bounce so your skin looks instantly more radiant. I use this every other evening after cleansing.

Who should use it: Basically everyone can benefit from the addition of hyaluronic acid in their skincare routine.

A huge hit amongst beauty editors, this affordable hyaluronic acid proves that you don't have to spend a lot for a hydration boost. This oil-free one is enhanced with vitamin B5 to enhance performance and sinks quickly into skin to plump fine lines, deeply hydrate and smooth the surface of your complexion.

Who should use it: Those with dull skin who need exfoliation.

The star of the show here is glycolic acid, an alpha-hydroxy acid that does an amazing job of exfoliating the skin. Although there's always some risk of irritation when using acids, this solution also contains Tasmanian pepperberry, ginseng and aloe vera to soothe skin at the same time. I apply this two or three times a week in the evening. I pour a small amount onto a cotton pad and sweep over my skin, making sure to avoid the delicate eye area.

Miscellaneous 

Who should use it: People who are losing the density, volume and thickness of their hair.

This is a less-than-sexy thing to admit, but when I stopped taking the contraceptive pill last year, I had about three months of my hair shedding insane amounts. I was so worried I'd end up going completely bald that I was looking for solutions everywhere. The Ordinary wasn't my first port of call—this is the only hair product in the brand's range—but it worked. When applied directly to your head, it penetrates your scalp to stimulate the hair follicles and encourage growth and healthy strands. Maybe it was my hormones falling back into balance, or maybe it was this, but either way, after about four weeks of use, my hair looked fuller and healthier. When my hair was really shedding, I applied this to my scalp daily at night—there's no need to rinse out. Now I use it once a week as a topical treatment.

Who should use it: Anyone looking for lightweight, natural-looking coverage.

The Ordinary is much more renowned for its skincare than its makeup. Apart from a couple of primers, the only colour cosmetics the brand offers are two foundations. This serum one is my favourite, and I have to say, it really stands up to some of the more expensive foundations on the market for a fraction of the price. Don't be put off by the mention of serum. Yes, it is lightweight, but this foundation still does a great job of covering over spots, redness and dark circles. Available in 21 shades, just be sure to give it a good shake first for the best coverage possible. I like to apply this with a damp makeup sponge or my fingers for a natural-looking finish.

Who should use it: All skin types who are looking for a great for a no-fuss cleanser and makeup remover.

I'm highly impressed with this cleanser, considering its low price point. It feels like a balm when you first squeeze it out of the tube, but once you rub your hands together, it melts into a nourishing oil that makes light work of removing stubborn makeup and dirt and grime from the day. It doesn't have a particularly notable scent (so it won't feel as luxurious as some of the more costly balm cleansers), but it leaves your skin clean, clear and soft without stripping away any of your natural oils. I'll use this as my evening cleanse, massaging into dry skin and then rinsing clean with a damp cloth.

Who should use it: Anyone that wants to create a smooth base for makeup and doesn't like silicone-based primers

I rarely use primers on a daily basis but when I do make the effort to apply one I always wonder why I don't wear them more. While I hate the feeling of layering on multiple products—and am definitely not a fan of tacky-feeling, silicone-based primers—this one from The Ordinary is so lightweight and actually makes it easier to apply your makeup on top.