The name of its parent company, Canada-based Deciem (“the Abnormal Beauty Company”) may ring no bells but chances are, you’ve heard of The Ordinary, arguably the most disruptive, unusual skin care brand in the world right now. What makes The Ordinary so, well, extraordinary? Going by the motto “clinical formulations with integrity,” the brand makes potent, innovative, science-backed, cruelty-free, high-quality skin care basics — and prices them all at less than $20.
While its peers mark up products by around 95 percent, The Ordinary isn’t interested in gouging its customer. “It doesn’t make sense for a brand to sell a simple formula that costs $1 to make for $500, while the rest of the world operates on less greedy margins,” co-CEO Nicola Kilner told the Cut. And no, Kilner and co. aren’t skimping on ingredients.
Unlike other beauty brands (among them, fellow millennial-beloved, once-digital-only brand Glossier), The Ordinary doesn’t spend tons of money on marketing. And it appears all those acids and clinical ingredients your skin loves — niacinamide, retinol, hyaluronic acid, etc. — are much, much cheaper than Paula’s Choice’s pricing would have you believe. (To wit: high-quality niacinamide reportedly costs less than $10 per pound.) Thus, The Ordinary sells its hero product, the refreshingly simple-named Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% — the percentages indicate the concentration levels of the products inside — for only $5.90. By contrast, the Paula’s Choice equivalent retails for $42.
As one would expect, between its crazy-affordable pricing, crazy-effective offerings and minimalistic, flat-lay-perfect packaging, the brand is killing it. The Ordinary has sparked countless Reddit threads, Facebook pages and, we imagine, brunch conversations. Last year, the brand sold close to nine million products. In November, Kilner shared that sales had risen over 479 percent from the first quarter — and that was before the brand launched its Sephora partnership and opened its first stateside brick-and-mortar location (in New York City).
Needless to say, we’re hooked. We value transparency. We love a budget-friendly, does-what-it-says-it-does product. To top it off, the brand makes it easy to find the products that will work best for you. All of its offerings boast names as straightforward as the aforementioned niacinamide-centric serum. Each product on The Ordinary’s website is accompanied by a painstakingly detailed account of its ingredients, clinically tested benefits and proper usage. It’s no wonder they’re constantly selling out.
Still, to make your shopping experience even easier (particularly if the word “squalene” means zilch to you), we’ve rounded up the crème de la crème — 11 extra-Ordinary products you absolutely must try. We promise you’ll be an instant convert.