How To Layer The Ordinary

The complete beginner´s guide to layering The Ordinary

This is the general rule for layering products.

  1. Water
  2. Anhydrous
  3. Oil
  4. Emulsion
  5. Suspension

You´ve just received all your products, and you’re super excited to start your new skincare routine, but you have no idea how to layer The Ordinary. Well, I can assure you that you are not alone, and I really hope this page makes it a little easier to understand.

  • Remember, you can now get your very own personalized Deciem routine here.
  • 2/3 drops of each serum is all you need.
  • A pea-size amount of creams for the face and neck. If you feel you need more, use more.
  • Massage or pat until each product is absorbed before applying the next.
  • Deciem says 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 most.

The Ordinary Solutions – How To Layer The Ordinary

How To Layer The Ordinary

There are 5 different solutions. Deciem recommends layering them in the following order to allow the products to penetrate the skin, although there are some exceptions to the rule!

  1. Water
  2. Anhydrous
  3. Oil
  4. Emulsion
  5. Suspension

* 2 products are powder form. Niacinamide Powder and L-Ascorbic Acid Powder. Mix these with the recommended products.

The Ordinary Products By Solutions

Water-Based Products = 1

Anhydrous Solutions = 2

Add number 2 to all these products if you have them. These should be applied after water solutions (if used) and before oils/creams.

Oil-Based Products = 3

Oils should be applied after water solutions but before creams/emulsions.  Some people leave this as their 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.

Emulsions = 4

This is where it gets a little more confusing, and you need to do a bit of free-thinking. Emulsions/Creams are supposed to be the last step, but this doesn’t really work except for the Natural Moisturising Factors and the Sun Creams.

Suspensions = 5

These products cause a bit of confusion for good reason. Deciem first recommended using these products before a cream like Natural Moisturising Factors. Now Deciem recommends using these after. If you find it too much on your skin, leave out the Natural Moisturising Factors.


Mix these with the suggested products.

The Ordinary Regimen Examples

In bold, you can see numbers (as above) 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 just do 2+3 or 1+1 or 1+2.

The Ordinary Skincare Routines

Below are just a couple of examples of skincare routines, but you can find lots more The Ordinary routines, including rosacea, signs of ageing and lots of personalised routines here.

Signs of Ageing
Morning: Squalane Cleanser,  Buffet (1), Natural Moisturising Factors (4), SPF
Evening: Squalane Cleanser, Buffet (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.

The Ordinary Conflicts

Hopefully, you’re a little clearer on how to layer The Ordinary and the different solutions. Now to the really confusing part, the conflicts. The products you should not use in the same routine.

I recommend regularly looking at The Ordinary Regimen Guide on the official website because it’s often updated with new information. You can also find The Ordinary Product Conflicts here.

Keep The Ordinary Simple

If a product has too many conflicts, for example, Buffet + Copper Peptides, you may find it difficult to use alongside other products.  

Ask Deciem for a regimen, so you can be sure all the products can be used together. Don’t buy too many products of the same solution or category and stick to the same routine for a good few weeks for the best results. Remember, in a routine, there should only be one of the following;

  • Direct Acid
  • Pure Vitamin C
  • Retinol/Retinoid
  • Peptides (non-copper peptides can be used with retinol).

I know from experience that you will fill your basket right up when you first hear about The Ordinary because the products look so cheap. But please, don’t waste money. You will end up with lots of products that conflict and not enough time to use them all.

Why you should start using The Ordinary Slowly?

If you use 3 products all at once for the first time and your skin has a reaction, how will you know which product caused it? That’s why it´s important to introduce one product at a time.

Patch Testing The Ordinary

Deciem recommends patch testing all their products. In reality, the majority of people will not patch test, but you have been warned! If you decide not to patch test, at least introduce one product at a time. Read how to patch test The Ordinary here.