How To Layer The Ordinary

The complete beginner´s guide to layering The Ordinary

how to layer The Ordinary

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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 ask Deciem for a personalized routine.
  • 2/3 drops of each serum is all you need.
  • A pea-size amount of the 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

How To Layer The Ordinary

There are 5 different types of solutions (bases) and Deciem recommends layering them in this order in order to allow the products to penetrate the skin. Please note that there are some exceptions to the rule! You could number all your products or write the solution on the bottle or box.

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

*There are also 2 powder form products, 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 using) 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.

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 with good reason. Deciem recommended to use these before a cream like Natural Moisturising Factors but now they recommend to use after (if using).


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, 1+2+3+4.  You might just do 2+3 or 1+1 or 1+2.

The Ordinary Skincare Routines

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

Pigmentation Issues
Morning: Alpha Arbutin,  Niacinamide & Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate  (1 + 1 + 3) * please note Deciem now say to avoid Niacianamide & Vitamin C.
Evening: Alpha Arbutin, Azelaic Acid  (1 + 4)
Note: Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate Solution can be applied in the PM before Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% for added support.
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

So 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 and shouldn´t use in the same routine.

It’s really important that you regularly look 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 will find you can´t use many of your products together.  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 when you first hear about The Ordinary you will fill your basket right up because the products look so cheap. But please, don’t waste money. You will end 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 bother patch testing, 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.