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How To Layer The Ordinary

The Complete Beginner´s Guide to How To Layer The Ordinary Products

how to layer the ordinary

Have you just received your first The Ordinary order and are now wondering How To Layer The Ordinary Products? It can be very confusing, but hopefully, by the time you´ve finished reading this page, it will become clearer. It´s important to know how to layer your skincare products so they can penetrate the skin and get to work and do their job.

Your 30-second guide to Layering The Ordinary

You generally apply your products in the following order or solutions;

  1. Water-Based Solutions
  2. Anhydrous
  3. Oil
  4. Emulsion *
  5. Suspension *
  6. You can find the solution for your products further down the page.

Applying your products

  1. Apply a 2 or 3 drops of serum to cleansed skin by patting or massaging it in.
  2. If you have 2 water-based products, apply the thinnest or the one that targets your most important skin concern.
  3. There is no specific waiting time between layers, but it is best to ensure each layer is absorbed before applying the next.
  4. Patch-testing is recommend
  5. Make sure you check product conflicts!

How To Layer The Ordinary Skincare Products

Above is your very quick guide to layering The Ordinary skincare products. Now, we’ll go into a bit more detail about applying your skincare products and all the different solutions.

Layering The Ordinary Products

If you´re reading this page, you have probably just heard about The Ordinary, ordered lots of products and now wondering what to do with them! How do I layer The Ordinary? Which order do I apply The Ordinary products?

Well, I am pleased to tell you that you are NOT alone because it is probably one of the most asked questions in the Facebook Group! When I first started using The Ordinary, I desperately needed help, and this was the reason why I created The Ordinary & Deciem Chat Room Facebook Group and this site, so I hope this helps you. Download the How to Layer The Ordinary PDF.

The Simple Way To Layering The Ordinary Skincare

The simple way to layer your skincare products is generally from the thinnest/clearest to the thickest/opaque. But remember, you DO NOT have to use all these layers. You may cleanse and apply a Multi-Peptide Serum followed by a Moisturizer, or you might just cleanse and moisturize.

How To Layer The Ordinary Chart/PDF

Here´s a Layering The Ordinary Chart with most of The Ordinary products listed by their solutions. You would add them from left to right; Water-Based > Anhydrous/Oil > Emulsion > Suspension. There are a few exceptions, so continue to read the rest of the page!

How To Layer The Ordinary – Easy PDF Guide To Layering Skincare

There are more products, but they are masques or haircare, which do not apply to the chart.

How to Layer The Ordinary – Layering Guide from The Ordinary

This is the how-to-layer guide from The Ordinary. The Ordinary recommends no more than 3 serums in a routine. Whilst there are many steps here, they are not saying you have to do them all. You may just cleanse – water-based serum – cream – SPF. If you layer too many products, you may experience “pilling”, where you will have lots of bits coming off your face once you apply your SPF or makeup, and it is not a nice feeling.

How to layer The Ordinary Products
Photo from The Ordinary

The Ordinary Solutions

The Ordinary Water-Based Products = 1

Apply water-based products directly after cleansing. If using acids, this would go first. If using numerous water-based solutions, you can apply the one that targets your main skin concern first.

The Ordinary Anhydrous Products = 2

These should be applied after water solutions (if used) and before oils/creams.

The Ordinary Oils = 3

Oils should be applied after water solutions but before creams/emulsions. Some people use these as the very last step. Deciem recommends oils before heavy creams like Natural Moisturising Factors. See which way works for you. You can always mix a couple of drops of oil into the Natural Moisturizing Factors.

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The Ordinary Emulsions = 4

This is where you need to do a bit of free thinking. Emulsions/Creams are supposed to be the last step, but there are some exclusions, as you can see below

Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA
The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + PhytoCeramides
Natural Moisturizing Factors + Beta Glucan (GEL)
Mineral UV Filters SPF 15 with Antioxidants
Mineral UV Filters SPF 30 with Antioxidants


Retinal 0.2% Emulsion
Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion (after water solution, before oil/creams)
Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate 10% (after water solutions, before oils/creams)
High-Adherence Silicone Primer (last step before makeup)

The Ordinary Suspensions = 5

Originally, it was recommended to use these before NMF moisturizers, but then it was recommended to use them after and then it was mentioned that you should use as you wish.

The Ordinary Powders

How to apply your products

You only need 2 or 3 drops of a product. If you feel you need more, use more. Apply using your fingertips or your palms and then pat or massage it into your skin.

Some people like to apply the product directly from the dropper, but you don´t want the dropper to touch your skin, and you have less control over the amount of product.

Once the product has been absorbed, apply the next product.

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How to layer The Ordinary products skincare tips

  • Firstly, do not stress. Relax, learn and enjoy pampering yourself.
  • You can now build your very own personalized The Ordinary Skincare Routine.
  • Always start with cleansed skin. If acids are used, these are applied directly after cleansing.
  • 2/3 drops of each serum is all you need. If you feel you need more, use more.
  • A pea-sized amount of cream for the face and neck. If you feel you need more, use more.
  • Massage or pat the product in until each product is absorbed before applying the next.
  • The Ordinary says to use no more than 3 serums in one routine.
  • If using multiple water-based products, use the one for the skin concern you wish to target the most.
  • If a product has too many conflicts (e.g. Buffet + Copper Peptides), you could find it challenging to use alongside your other products. Make sure you check The Ordinary products you can and cannot mix.
  • For the best results, avoid buying too many products of the same solution or category and stick to the same routine for a few weeks.
  • I know from experience that when you first hear about The Ordinary, you will fill your basket up because the products look so cheap. But please, don’t waste your money. You will end up with lots of products that conflict and not enough time to use them all.
  • Always check conflicts and when the product should be used, ie. AM/PM. If you have products that conflict, use them in alternate routines.

Why are The Ordinary products pilling?

When you have applied your serums, moisturizer and SPF, you might touch your skin and feel “bits”. This is called “pilling” or “balling”. It´s not your skin, it´s the product. Read more about The Ordinary pilling and how to prevent it.

The Ordinary Regimen Examples

Firstly, you shouldn’t use 15 layers of skincare, as seen on Instagram and TikTok. Less is more!

You can see numbers (as above) in bold, which hopefully will help you understand how to layer The Ordinary. Remember, thinnest / clearest to heaviest / opaque. This is the order, but it doesn’t mean you have to always use all 4 of them. You might do 2+3 or 1+1 or 1+2.

The Ordinary Skincare Routines – How To Build Your Skincare Routine

Below are some examples of skincare routines. You can find lots more routines here. The Ordinary routines include rosacea, signs of ageing and lots of personalised routines.

Signs of Ageing Skincare Routine
Morning: Squalane Cleanser,  Multi-Peptide Serum + HA (1), Natural Moisturising Factors (4), SPF
Evening: Squalane Cleanser, Multi-Peptide Serum (1), Retinoid
Dehydration Routine
Morning: Hyaluronic Acid & Natural Moisturizing Factors  (1 + 4)
Evening: Hyaluronic Acid,  Plant-Derived Squalane (1 + 3)
Note: Alternatively, Marula Oil or Moroccan Argan Oil can be used instead of Plant-Derived Squalane in the PM.

How To Layer The Ordinary by The Ordinary

Video by The Ordinary explaining how to layer your skincare products.

The Ordinary Conflicts – products you should not use in the same routine

Hopefully, you are clearer on how to layer The Ordinary and all the different solutions. Now, to the really confusing part, the conflicts. The Ordinary products you should not use in the same routine. There is also a NIOD conflicts chart.

Keep The Ordinary Simple

The Ordinary recommends using 1 of the following products in a routine.

  • Direct Acids
  • Pure/Direct Vitamin C
  • Retinol/Retinoids
  • Peptides/Copper Peptides (non-copper peptides can be used with Retinol/Retinoid)

Why start slowly with The Ordinary?

The reason to start slowly is in case of any reactions. If you use 3 products all at once for the first time, followed by a reaction, how will you know which product caused it? This is why it´s important to introduce one product at a time.

Patch Testing The Ordinary

The Ordinary recommends patch-testing all products before use; however, in reality, the majority of people will not patch-test. If you decide not to patch-test, at least introduce one product at a time. Read how to patch-test The Ordinary here.

How To Use The Ordinary Step-by-Step

Hopefully, this page has answered all your questions about using The Ordinary step-by-step regarding layering, conflicts, and routines. Use the search box at the top of this website and look through the menus for more information.

The Ordinary Skincare Routines

Save 10% When You Buy The Ordinary Collections

The Ordinary now offer “collections”; if you buy these, you save 10%.

The Ordinary Guides

How To Layer The Ordinary

The Ordinary Product Conflicts

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Products You Can & Cannot Mix

The Ordinary Skincare Regimens

Side Build Your Own Skin Care Regimen

the Ordinary Discounts

Rosacea Regimen – products to help redness

Rosacea Regimen


Pigmentation Regimen

Signs of Ageing Regimen

signs of ageing regimen

Nicola Kilner’s Regimen

Nicola Kilners Skincare Routine

Top 10 Ordinary Best Selling

The Ordinary Bestsellers

The Ordinary Product You can & Cannot Mix

The Complete Beginner’s Guide to NIOD

NIOD Guide

How to Layer The Ordinary

Confused? Ask Deciem for FREE Personalised regimen

Ask Deciem For A Regimen

Dull skin? Try this brightening routine

Brightening Routine

Signs of Congestion

Blemishes & Congestion Regimen

Simple Skincare Routine

Simplistic Regimen

Hydration Regimen

Hydration Regimen

The Ordinary For Men

The Ordinary For Men
NIOD CHeatSheet