Understanding The Ordinary

The Ordinary Coverage Foundation

As I am browsing at Deciem’s Covent Garden store, I overhear another shopper complaining to staff that since Kim Kardashian revealed she uses her favourite skin emulsion, it has been sold out and she hasn’t been able to get hold of any. It is true, many of the shelves are empty. It is so busy that they are selling out before they can restock. For a company that famously shies away from flash and hype, there sure is a lot of hype around Deciem. Particularly its cheapest range, The Ordinary. This is a small collection of reasonably priced, simply packaged, scientifically named skincare and beauty products, that everyone is talking about. In just a couple of years since its launch, it has won numerous awards and celebrity endorsements, all (we are led to believe) on a tiny marketing budget.

Basket containing a range of products from The Ordinary by Deciem

The Abnormal Beauty Company

Deciem comes from the Latin word for ten. There are ten small lines in the Deciem stable, each with a different focus from skincare to supplements. Together they are intended to change the face of the beauty industry by focusing on ‘function and authenticity’.

Packaging costs have been kept to a minimum. The prices at The Ordinary fall between £5-£10, and you can return an opened product up to a year after buying it if you are not happy with its performance.

James, a friendly worker bee who shows me around, explains that The Ordinary products differ from conventional beauty lotions and potions because they contain little more than the active ingredient. So nothing unnecessary, like perfume.

An out of stock sign at the Deciem store in Covent Garden

Say what?

These are not beauty products as we know them. You will not find a cleanse tone and moisturise routine at The Ordinary. The potions, oils and emulsions are broken down into the following categories. You need to educate yourself before shopping….

Retinoids  There is evidence to suggest that retinoids have an anti-ageing effect because they encourage skill cell regeneration.

Vitamin C  Vit C is an anti-oxidant which has also been shown to have an anti-ageing effect. They claim it will brighten the appearance of your skin too.

Direct Acids sound a bit scary, and so do some of the warnings on the packaging, but these are exfoliating products.

Hydrators and Oils Hydrating, but not necessarily traditional moisturisers.

Colours Makeup

Sales assistant at The Ordinary store in Covent Garden

Thank you to James from The Ordinary Covent Garden for showing me around

My shopping basket

I bought a small selection of products to try, based on what I thought I might stick with if I like them.

100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil £9

A hydrating oil to be used at bedtime. Contains 100% pure organic Rose Hip, which again has anti-ageing qualities. Already tried it, and it is a very nice light oil which feels good on the skin.  Whether it’s taking the years off I could not say yet.

Granactive Retinoid* 2% Emulsion £8

This is the Kim Kardashian stuff.  The claim is that it will make your skin appear younger by encouraging cell regeneration. Use after cleansing and before moisturising at night.

A fridge containing a selection of products from The Ordinary by Deciem

An Ordinary fridge

Vitamin C Suspension 30% in Silicone £5.80

Another one formulated for its anti-ageing and brightening qualities. I was told that I shouldn’t use vitamin c and retinoids on the same day. It’s all about working out which of the formulations work for your skin.

AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution £6.30

Snappy name. This is a 10-minute face mask. It’s big on Instagram because it has a deep red colour that looks like blood. The AHA bit exfoliates the top layer of skin, the BHA goes deeper into the pores. The red comes from Tasmanian Pepperberry.

Read about my Beauty Heroes series, only products recommended by friends

Coverage Foundation £5.90

Foundation is the only item in The Ordinary’s make up range at the moment, although mysterious ‘Watercolours’ are coming soon. There is a light tinted moisturiser called Serum Foundation, but I have selected the more grown-up Coverage Foundation. I’m rooting for this product because it costs around 1/6 of what I am currently spending on a foundation. The jar is small however.

A neon sign in the Deciem store in Covent Garden

I can’t help but ask myself whether the hype around The Ordinary has genuinely come via word of mouth or is a stroke of branding and marketing genius? There is nothing like a shortage of products to get people wanting them desperately. For now, they are so attractively packaged and priced, that I am willing to give it a try. I will report back on whether I am converted.

The Ordinary is available to buy at London stores and online at Cult Beauty and Asos.

Before I go, the best of the rest….

All ten Deciem ranges are available to buy at the Covent Garden store (when they have stock!). Two caught my eye.

The Chemistry Brand

Pretty special looking hand creams, a fake tan that doesn’t smell of fake tan, and most interesting perhaps, products that promise to slow the speed and discomfort of hair regrowth.


Several products from the other Deciem ranges look good, but this neck cream would be top of my wishlist

This is the line for grown-ups and pricing reflects that. The one I would like to try is Neck Elasticity Catalyst, £50. Nigella Lawson recommended this on her Instagram recently, only to be accused of selling out by taking money to promote it (she had not). I’m not in love with the way my neck is ageing so it might be a future investment.

I paid for everything that I bought at the Deciem shop myself.

If you have been using any of these products or would like to then I would love to know what you think.

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What's your View?

11 comments on “Understanding The Ordinary

  1. Jules on

    Interesting. Do they offer any ‘skin analysis’ service? I suspect my skin is not what it once was and would benefit from a regime overhaul – but where to start? It’s time the skincare industry was disrupted. Products are getting ridiculous in cost, contents and claim!

    • @not_about_the_kids2017 on

      You can have a good chat with the staff in the store, they seem pretty knowledgeable. There are various combinations of each type of products (a range of retinoids, or the vit c, or masks) and they would advise you on what might suit. Formal skin analysis, no. For these prices, you can afford a bit of trial and error maybe? I liked the look of the Niod range, but then you are getting pricey again…..

  2. Jo Miles on

    Thanks, this is really interesting, and I’m coming to the end of my night cream! Up in London in a couple of weeks, so may try to call into the store. Would be really interested to hear how you get on with what you bought ?

    • @not_about_the_kids2017 on

      Hello Jo, lovely to see you here :). I will report back at some point in the not too distant with a review. They don’t stock anything so traditional as a night cream, but I used the Rose Hip Oil at bedtime last night and it was very pleasant indeed. Helen x

  3. Kate Scott on

    Great comprehensive breakdown H – might pop up for a shop to London soon and include a trip there. Definitely tempted by their products.

    • @not_about_the_kids2017 on

      Hi Kate, thanks for stopping by I do appreciate it :). I will let you know if I can particularly recommend any of the bits I am trying. It’s certainly interesting from a business and marketing perspective if nothing else! Hxxx

    • @not_about_the_kids2017 on

      I can’t speak for the skincare yet Mackenzie, but I have been using the foundation for a week and think that’s pretty respectable. Especially when you consider it is £5.90. Good match for my skin tone, and excellent coverage, in fact, I am often applying too much. Thanks for stopping by. Hxx

  4. Nicola on

    My mum introduced me to The Ordinary at Christmas buying me the 0.2% retinol in Squalane..I’m 39 and have reasonably good skin..after just finishing my first bottle I am a total convert, it is brilliant stuff! The dark spots I had from adult spots have completely gone, and even the Squalane oil it is mixed with has done a great jo of hydrating my problem skin over winter, I haven’t had a flaky patch for 3 months!

    Am so pleased to hear that it’s stocked in Cov Gdn, am now planning a trip there to check out the foundations!

    • Helen on

      Hey Nicola, thank you for stopping by! The Covent Garden store is great because it also allows you to check out the other Deciem ranges which are all kind of fascinating and funky. Enjoy! Helen x


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