How To Layer The Ordinary

The complete beginner´s guide to layering The Ordinary – Updated May 2022

This is the general rule for layering your skincare products and you can see all the solutions of each product below.

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

The longer version of layering products including cleanser + SPF is as follows;

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

How to layer The Ordinary Products

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.

I can assure you that you are not alone, and I really hope this page makes it a little easier to understand. How do I layer my products is probably the number 1 question!

How to layer skincare tips

  • Firstly, do not stress. Enjoy pampering yourself.
  • Remember, you can now build your very own personalized Deciem routine here.
  • 2/3 drops of each serum is all you need. If you feel you need more, use more.
  • 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 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 most.
  • 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 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. There are some exceptions to the rule so watch out.

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

* 2 products are powder form. Niacinamide Powder and L-Ascorbic Acid Powder and you can mix these with the recommended products. If you are a beginner at skincare, I would personally avoid using powders and stick to the serums.

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 a good reason. Deciem first recommended using these products before a cream like Natural Moisturising Factors. Now Deciem recommends using these after. Leave out the Natural Moisturising Factors if you find it too much on your skin.


Mix these with the suggested products.

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 just do 2+3 or 1+1 or 1+2.

The Ordinary Skincare Routines

Below are some examples of skincare routines. You can find lots more routines here. The Ordinary routines, including 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.

Deciem – How To Create A Skincare Routine & How To Layer The Products

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.

Keep The Ordinary Simple

Deciem 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)
  • If a product has too many conflicts (e.g. Buffet + Copper Peptides), you could find it challenging to use alongside your other products.
  • 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 you will fill your basket when you first hear about The Ordinary 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.

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.

The Ordinary Layering Guide – photo from The Ordinary

This is a guide from The Ordinary on how to layer products. The Ordinary recommend 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 or Cleanser + Anhydrous + Creams + Suspension + SPF as an example. If you layer too many products, you will probably 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