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The Ordinary Skincare Routine For Acne

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So you’re curious about how to use The Ordinary in a routine for acne-prone skin. Then you’re probably already somewhat familiar with The Ordinary brand.

Known widely for their effective, targeted formulas and reasonable prices, The Ordinary has made it easier for the budget-conscious to start and stick with a basic skincare routine.

Problem is, the products are so clinical that knowing what to buy can be daunting.

For anyone, finding products your skin loves can be a struggle. Finding skincare when you have persistent acne can be a nightmare. So even though the products are effective and affordable, there is a bit of a learning curve.

So if you’d like to know how to combine The Ordinary into a skincare routine that won’t irritate your acne-prone skin or cause even more breakouts but actually help your skin heal, then keep reading.

How do you use The Ordinary products for acne prone skin?

The key to using The Ordinary in a routine for acne-prone skin, especially if you’re new to acids, retinol etc, or if you’re just starting your skincare routine for the first time, is to start slow and be patient.

First, you start by introducing one product at a time into your routine so you can see how your skin reacts. Then you continue slowly adding products one by one over a few weeks.

This ensures that you’re building your routine slowly and carefully, taking the time to gauge how each product affects your skin before moving on to the next.

Which The Ordinary products are best for acne?

The Ordinary has a lot of products and you probably don’t need half of them.

Unfortunately with so many intimidating options knowing what to buy can be overwhelming. So here are what I think are some of their best products for acne.

What is the best face routine for acne prone skin?

Listen, whether it’s 3 steps, 7 steps or 12 steps if you can’t commit to following it consistently, then it probably won’t be all that effective.

So for that reason, the absolute best skincare routine is one that you can stick with. Yes…it really is that simple.

Morning routine

Step 1. Squalane cleanser

The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser

The first step in any good skincare routine is washing your face. And this cleanser makes that easy to do. It’s super effective yet gentle enough that you can use it in the morning and evening.

However, like most things from The Ordinary, this cleanser has a bit of a learning curve. To get the best results, you need to rub it between your palms until the thick consistency melts into a balm.

In fact, I’d say that only after it warms up does the magic really happen. So stick with it for a few seconds longer than you normally would because the texture can take some getting used to but the results are well worth it.

You can buy The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser on Amazon.

Overall this is a great cleanser but it’s oil-based and for some people, it can cause breakouts. So if you’d rather not use oil to wash your face then here are some other great alternatives.


Step 2. Salicylic acid

When you’re acne-prone, salicylic acid is a must and if you’re not already using one, you really should be.

What does it do? Well, salicylic acid is a great antibacterial exfoliant that helps reduce redness, calm inflamed acne and soothe irritated skin. So if you’ve been eyeing the salicylic acid solution from The Ordinary then definitely go ahead and buy it… if you can find it.

The salicylic acid 2% solution from the brand is currently unavailable because of reformulation but they do have a salicylic acid 2% mask that’s gotten rave reviews that you can buy on Amazon. However, if you’d like to use a serum instead (and not have to wash it off) then here are a few alternatives.


Step 3: Niacinamide 10% + zinc 1% solution

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% Solution

Niacinamide and zinc aren’t really acne treatments. I know what you’re thinking. So why use them then? Well, using them won’t kill acne-causing bacteria but they’ll reduce inflammation which is the underlying cause of acne.

Inflammation is your body’s way of fighting the bacteria trapped underneath your skin. Using niacinamide and zinc just helps to calm that reaction down a little bit.

But that’s not all they do, niacinamide also helps remove those annoying dark spots acne sometimes leaves behind that takes forever to fade and zinc helps control your oil and shine.

You can buy the Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% Solution on Amazon.

Step 4. Natural moisturizing factors HA 

The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors HA 

I have oily skin and for the longest time I never wanted to use a moisturizer, I figured it was only going to make me look even more greasy so why bother. Ah, if only I knew then what I know now.

Hydration is important, in fact, it’s even more important when you have oily skin. Excess oil in some cases is actually a sign that your skin is dehydrated so using a good moisturizer can help control it.

The Ordinary’s Moisturizing Factors HA will leave your skin feeling healthy, protected and hydrated without making your skin feel greasy or clogging your pores.

You can buy The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors HA on Amazon.

Step 5. Sunscreen

The last step of your morning skincare routine should always be sunscreen, especially if you’re using acids. Acids make your skin more susceptible to sun damage so you should definitely be using sunscreen. Sunscreen also helps protect your skin from premature ageing and skin cancer.

Now, you can The Ordinary’s Mineral UV Filters SPF 30 but I personally prefer to use something else because it tends to leave a white cast.

So if you’d rather not walk around looking like a ghost, here are some other great alternatives without the white cast:


skincare basics for acne-prone skin

Evening routine

Step 1. Squalane cleanser

The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser

Your nighttime cleanse isn’t much different from your morning cleanse. Unless you prefer to double cleanse, which might not be necessary since the squalane cleanser is oil-based.

Personally, I like and prefer double cleansing, but find that I don’t need to after using this because it does a great job getting rid of my makeup.

Just remember to warm it up first.

You can buy The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser on Amazon.

Step 2. Granactive retinoid 2% in squalane (use 2-3x per week)

The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% in Squalane

Retinoids are good for acne-prone skin because it helps speed up your skin’s natural exfoliating process which helps keep your pores clean. It also prevents dead cells from clogging your pores which goes a long way in limiting and preventing breakouts.

When using retinoids it’s better to start with the lowest possible concentration and build your tolerance slowly. Otherwise, you run the risk of drying out your skin.

If you’re using retinoids for the first time, The Ordinary’s Granactive 2% in Squalane is a good place to start. It’s a super low concentration of retinol so it won’t cause irritation and it’s perfect for beginners and sensitive skin.

Because retinoids make your skin more sensitive to the sun, you should only use them at night.

You can buy Granactive 2% in Squalane on Amazon.

Step 3. Azelaic acid solution 10% (optional)

The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Solution 10%

If you’ve ever tried benzoyl peroxide and thought it was too harsh then azelaic acid might be a better alternative.

What does it do? Azelaic acid helps kill acne-causing bacteria, reduces the inflammation that triggers acne and helps keep your pores clean, thus reducing clogged pores and breakouts.

When I tried this my skin looked amazing. It looked brighter, my dark spots and acne cleared up but… it burned like a mother****! Yeah, unfortunately, my skin had a bad reaction to this product, but it works and I did finish the bottle after I figured out how to stop my face from stinging. Ouch.

It was simple really, I basically just mixed the azelaic acid into my moisturizer to dilute it and that took away most of the burning and itching.

The point is if you’d like to try using azelaic acid but you’re worried you might have a reaction to it or if you’ve already had a reaction to it, try diluting it in serum or your moisturizer and see what happens. The results are well worth it.

You can buy The Ordinary’s Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% on Amazon.


Step 4. Natural moisturizing factors HA and/or 100% Plant-derived squalane

The moisturizer you used in the morning is perfectly fine to use at night; there’s no need for a separate night cream. However, if you find that your skin needs more hydration than it’s currently getting then try mixing a few drops of squalane oil into your moisturizer.

I tried this and my skin loves it! At first, I was reluctant to use any type of oil on my already oily face. But I ended up trying The Ordinary’s Squalane oil when the moisturizer was out of stock and I loved the effect it had on my skin. My skin glows! So now I just add a few drops into my moisturizer at night and my skin soaks it up.

You can buy The Ordinary 100% Plant-Derived Squalane and The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors HA on Amazon.

Final thoughts

If you were curious about the brand The Ordinary and wanted to know if they had products suitable for oily acne-prone skin then yes, they do.

The ordinary routine for acne-prone skin is a simple yet effective one. And the best part is you can add and remove products as your skin needs. For example, if you find that azelaic acid really irritates your skin (like it did mine) then ditch it. And if you already have a moisturizer you love, and can’t be bothered buying another one then don’t.

The point is it’s your skin and your routine so do what works for you. But if you’re starting from scratch feel free to use it as your base. Good luck!

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