How To Layer The Ordinary

May 2023 – Your easy guide on how to layer The Ordinary

The Ordinary Solutions – How To Layer The Ordinary Skincare

Here´s a quick chart with most of The Ordinary products in their solutions. You would add them in the order from left to right, although there are a few exceptions. So make sure you continue to read the rest of the page!

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

  1. Water-Based Solutions
  2. Anhydrous
  3. Oil
  4. Emulsion *
  5. Suspension *

How To Layer The Ordinary – EASY PDF GUIDE

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

So, you have probably just heard about The Ordinary, ordered a whole load of products and now wondering how to apply them and in which order. Well, you are not alone, and I hope this page helps you. Download the How to Layer The Ordinary PDF.

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

  1. Water-Based Solutions
  2. Anhydrous
  3. Oil
  4. Emulsion *
  5. Suspension *

The Ordinary Solutions – How to layer The Ordinary Products

Layering your products in the correct order is important because this allows the products to penetrate the skin and do their job. This is the general rule for layering your skincare products. Thinnest to thickest consistency and clearest to opaque.

  1. Water-Based Solutions
  2. Anhydrous
  3. Oil
  4. Emulsion *
  5. Suspension *

Here is a longer version of layering skincare products, including cleanser + SPF;

  1. Cleanser
  2. Water-Based Solutions
  3. Eye Serums
  4. Anhydrous Solutions
  5. Oils
  6. Creams *
  7. Suspensions *
  8. SPF

* The reason these 2 are starred is that they cause confusion because there is a lot of conflicting information. For example, The Ordinary has mentioned Azelaic Acid can be used before moisturizer, after moisturiser, or whichever way suits you.

How to layer skincare tips

  • Firstly, do not stress. Relax, learn and enjoy pampering yourself.
  • You can now build your very own personalized The Ordinary Skincare Routine here.
  • 2/3 drops of each serum is all you need. If you feel you need more, use more.
  • A pea-sized 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.
  • 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. Think before buying.
  • 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.
  • 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.

The Ordinary Products By Solutions – How To Layer The Ordinary

The Ordinary Water-Based Products = 1

Apply water-based products directly after cleansing. You can apply the one that targets your main skin concern first. On each box, it will say whether to use AM or PM.
AHA 30% + BHA 2% * 10 minute rinse-off masque
Alpha Arbutin
Amino Acids
Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12%
Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA
Argireline Solution 10%
“Buffet” now called Multi-Peptide + HA Serum
Buffet” + Copper Peptides 1%
Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG
Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution after cleansing/before serums
Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5
Lactic Acid 5% + HA
Lactic Acid 10% + HA
Mandelic Acid 10% + HA
Marine Hyaluronics
Matrixyl 10% + HA
Multi-Peptide + HA Serum (Buffet)
Multi-Peptide Eye Serum
Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%
Salicylic Acid 2% Solution

The Ordinary Anhydrous Products = 2

These should be applied after water solutions (if used) and before oils/creams.
Ascorbic Acid 8% + Alpha Arbutin 2%
EUK 134 0.1%
Ethylated Ascorbic Acid 15% Solution
Granactive Retinoid 2% in Squalane
Granactive Retinoid 5% in Squalane
Resveratrol 3% + Ferulic Acid 3%
Retinoid 5% in Squalane
Retinol 0.5% in Squalane
Retinol 1% in Squalane
Salicylic Acid Anhydrous Solution

High-Spreadability Fluid Primer (last step before makeup)

The Ordinary Oils = 3

Oils should be applied after water solutions but before creams/emulsions. Some people use these 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.
Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate Solution 20% in Vitamin F
“B” Oil
Borage Seed Oil
Moroccan Argan Oil
Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil
Organic Virgin Chia Seed Oil
Cold-Pressed Virgin Marula Oil
Organic Virgin Sea-Buckthorn Fruit Oil
100% Plant-Derived Squalane
100% Plant-Derived Hemi-Squalane

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

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, then it was recommended to use after. Then it was mentioned to use as you wish.
Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%
Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%
Vitamin C Suspension 30% in Silicone

The Ordinary Powders

Mix these with the suggested products.
L-Ascorbic Acid Powder
100% Niacinamide Powder

The Ordinary Regimen Examples

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

How To Layer The Ordinary by The Ordinary

How to layer The Ordinary skincare video

Keep The Ordinary Simple

The Ordinary recommends only using ONE of the following in any routine.

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

Why you should start slowly with The Ordinary?

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

The Ordinary recommends patch-testing all products before use. 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.

The Ordinary Skincare Routines

How to Layer The Ordinary – Layering Guide from The Ordinary

This is a guide from The Ordinary on how to layer products. The Ordinary recommends no more than 3 serums in a routine, and they are not saying to do all 8 steps here. You may only use cleanser + Water-based Serum + Creams + SPF in a routine or cleanser + Anhydrous + Creams + Suspension + SPF as an example. 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
Photo from The Ordinary

Remember – this is the order of how to layer your skincare products, but you DO NOT need to use all these products.

I hope this page/website has answered all your questions like…

How do I put my ordinary products in order?

Which Ordinary products should not be used together?

Can you use 2 ordinary serums at once? Yes!

How do you use Ordinary step-by-step?

If not, come and join The Ordinary & NIOD Chat Room Facebook Group and ask for help.

The Ordinary Mistakes