The Ordinary Retinols & Retinoids Beginner´s Guide

Everything you need to know about The Ordinary Retinols & Retinoids, their different strengths, the ones you should start with if you’re new to skincare and products you should avoid using in the same routine.

Easy Guide To The Ordinary Retinol & Retinoids

The Ordinary Retinols

There are 3 retinol products with different strengths. It´s recommended to start with the lowest strength first and build up to the higher strengths.

The Ordinary Retinoids

There are 3 The Ordinary Retinoids, and as you can see, the original 2% emulsion is the favourite, but there really isn´t much in it.

The PAO of Retinol/Retinoid

The period after opening is 3 months.

Should The Ordinary Retinol & Retinoids be kept in the fridge?

These should be kept in the fridge.

Which products should not be used with Retinol & Retinoids?

  • Other retinol & retinoid products
  • Direct Vitamin C
  • Copper Peptides (Buffet + Copper, NIOD CAIS, NIOD CAIL, Hylamide Sub Q Skin)
  • Direct Acids
  • Always check the official Deciem page as information is regularly updated.

What is the difference between The Ordinary Retinols & Retinoids?

Deciem posted this on Instagram and they explain the difference between Retinols & Retinoids.

Granactive Retinoid & Retinol are a lot like siblings. ⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ They’re part of the same Vitamin A family, and just like siblings, they appear to be similar but are actually quite different.

Retinol (the “older” sibling) has been around longer than most of us (since the 1930s), and as such, has been studied very extensively. It is often considered one of the most effective skincare ingredients due to its ability to improve the appearance of multiple skincare concerns, including visible signs of ageing and textural irregularities.⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣

Retinol & Retinoids

⁣The Ordinary offers the pure, waterless form of Retinol in 0.2%, 0.5% and 1% concentrations in a base of Squalane. If you’re an inexperienced user, it’s best to start your regimen with our Retinol 0.2% in Squalane, and then adjust to higher strengths of Retinol 0.5% in Squalane and Retinol 1% in Squalane once your skin has grown tolerant to each formula.⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣⁣ ⁣

The “younger” sibling, Granactive Retinoid, is a much newer next-generation advanced retinoid active complex which has been shown to target multiple signs of aging, offering the same long-term benefits as retinol, without any of the drawbacks often associated with retinol use. This technology cannot be compared directly with Retinol itself in terms of concentration because they include a different Retinoid molecule, in a similar way that Retinol cannot be compared with Retinoic Acid in terms of concentration. ⁣⁣⁣

⁣The Ordinary offers Granactive Retinoid of 2% concentration in a creamy emulsion format, as well as a 2 and 5% concentrations in a hydrating, light Squalane base. Sun protection is particularly important when using retinoids and they may increase the skin’s sensitivity to UV radiation.⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ Whether you stick with the tried and true retinol options or go for the next generation granactive retinoids, both are incredibly effective in the long and short-term.

ask Deciem for a regimen

Retinol & Retinoid Q&As

These FAQS have been answered by Deciem on Social Media.

Is it ok to use The Ordinary Buffet + Copper Peptides with Retinol 2%? Copper Peptides have the capacity to support the skin’s natural exfoliating mechanism. If you are already using NIOD’s NAAP, a Retinoid, Retinol, Direct Acid formula, incorporating a copper peptide formula may increase the skin’s sensitivity. We would recommend using them in separate AM/PM regimens.

Can I use The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 5% with Ascorbic acid 8% + Alpha Arbutin 2%? If you wish to incorporate multiple Retinoids, and/or Direct Acids into your skincare regimen, we suggest using them on alternate evenings and waiting until your skin has adjusted to one before introducing another. 

Is it ok to use The Ordinary Retinol with my Hyaluronic Acid 2%? Yes, you may.

Does The Ordinary Retinol have to be kept in the fridge after opening? Is a dark cupboard ok? We suggest storing the Granactive Retinoid and Retinol products in the fridge after opening. Upon opening, please consult the period after opening (PAO) symbol for the product shelf life.

Should I use moisturizer straight after using the Retinol or let the Retinol soak into the skin for a little bit before using moisturizer? You’re welcome to moisturize as your last step. Please note there is no need to wait a certain amount of time in between the application of products. As long as each product is massaged into the skin until absorption, you are welcome to apply the next product! 

More Faqs

Can I use The Ordinary Retinol and Buffet around my eyes together? Our retinoid products should be avoided around the eyes. You are welcome to apply “Buffet” around the eyes.

I use The Ordinary Buffet, Squalane, Vitamin C & Glycolic Acid together. Would you please suggest how to add Retinoid to my day and night skincare regime? For best results, we suggest alternating between “Buffet” and Glycolic Acid. We recommend adding Retinoid to the PM, alternating with Glycolic Acid to begin.

Can The Ordinary Buffet & Retinoid be used together? Buffet can indeed be used with Retinoid.

I use Retinoid & Pure Vitamin C together. Is that ok? We suggest alternating between Retinoid and Pure Vitamin C to begin. 

How often should I start with The Ordinary 0.5% Retinol? We recommend slowly incorporating Retinol 0.5% into your routine. You may wish to begin by using it 1-3 times per week.

Which Retinol or Retinoid is best for a beginner? We suggest starting with Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion/Squalane.

I have pilling with 5% Granactive Retinoid in Squalane when using with Hyaluronic Acid. How should these be layered? Granactive Retinoid should indeed be layered after Hyaluronic Acid. We suggest massaging each product into the skin until it is fully absorbed in order to move onto the next.


Can I use Granactive Retinoid 2% and The Ordinary Ascorbyl Glucoside 12% in the same routine and how do I apply these? Yes, they may be used together! Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution should be applied before Granactive Retinoid.

How often should I use retinol? We strongly advise building your skin’s tolerance to Retinol due to its potency. We recommend to start your regimen with our 0.2% in Squalane, and then adjust to higher strengths of 0.5% in Squalane and our 1% in Squalane. That way, you will achieve the same end results and reduce the chances of experiencing any signs of skin irritation. 

Would I use Retinoid before or after The Ordinary. Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate 10% ?  We suggest using MAP as the final step.

I´m using The Ordinary Retinol 1% in Squalane and the irritation and redness have worsened. It’s important to note that with any active ingredient that affects skin behavior, there can be an initial purging period during which breakouts are normal. It is also important to note that when introducing new products and sciences into your regimen, your skin may require up to a month to adjust. At this time, we would recommend taking a break from the products until your skin has calmed. Then you may wish to try diluting with most oils per application to reduce strength. 

More FAQs

Other than Buffet, what else can I use with The Ordinary Retinols & Retinoids? You may also wish to explore The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil which is a daily support oil for healthy, hydrated skin; Rose Hip Seed Oil is rich in linoleic (omega 6) and linolenic (omega 3) acids as well as pro-vitamin A, which enables it to target signs of photo-aging and several other skin conditions. 

Can I use The Ordinary Salicylic Acid or Lactic Acid in the same routine as Granactive Retinoid or Retinol in Squalane? If you wish to incorporate multiple Vitamin C’s, Retinoids, and/or Direct Acids into your skincare regimen, we suggest using them on alternate evenings and waiting until your skin has adjusted to one before introducing another. 

Is it ok to use Granactive Retinoids with Ferulic Acid? You may indeed! 

More FAQs

So what is the difference between the Granactive 2% Emulsion and the 2% Granactive in Squalane? The difference between both the products is simply the consistency and formula. The potency of retinoid complexes are the same. The Granactive Retinoid 2% in Squalane is a light-weight solution and absorbs into the skin efficiently, allowing for multiple serums to be applied in your regimen. Squalane also has the added benefit of being an exceptional hydrator. The Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion is milky/creamy in consistency and is also hydrating. It is a great option for anyone who is not comfortable with oil-like consistencies. 

Is it ok to use Granactive Retinoid 2% emulsion and NIOD NAAP in the same routine? We recommend using one of the products per regimen as it is not necessary to use them together. 

Can I use The Ordinary Retinoid and Niacinamide + zinc in the same routine? Yes, you may.

Is it possible to use Retinol after Glycolic Acid 7%? We would suggest using them on separate evenings to begin. If you wish to incorporate multiple Vitamin C’s, Retinoids, and/or Direct Acids into your skincare regimen, we suggest using them on alternate evenings and waiting until your skin has adjusted to one before introducing another.

The beginners guide to The Ordinary Retinol & Retinoids

Caroline Hirons explains all about The Ordinary Retinols & Retinoids better than anyone else I can find on the internet.   You can find many more fantastic videos by Caroline Hirons on YouTube and you can also find her on Facebook and Instagram.

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