“The brand was born to disallow commodity to be disguised as ingenuity [in the skincare industry], by offering clinical formulations with integrity,” says the brand’s co-founder and CEO Nicola Kilner. “We set out on a mission to be transparent with the customer, and have since seen them become more aware of ingredients and what they are putting on their skin, educating themselves on their skin type, concerns and how to use certain ingredients. People think the beauty industry is a scam, but innovation does progress and audiences become savvier—we’ve seen this change hugely over the past few years.”
If you don’t already know The Ordinary, don’t judge it by the low price tag, because the formulas housed in its simple, clinical-inspired packaging are really good. They don’t over-promise, and they do deliver visible results. In fact, it’s the brand’s authenticity and straightforward approach to skincare that, Kilner believes, is the secret to its wild success. “When you are transparent with your customer, they are more likely to put their trust in you,” she says. “We are honest with our research and well-studied ingredients, and didn’t rush into marketing campaigns to convince people to love us. We did the right thing and waited for our audience to follow.” Word of mouth was a huge brand driver for The Ordinary, but as Kilner points out, that doesn’t happen unless you’re producing quality products that people rate highly enough to recommend to their family and friends.
Now, The Ordinary is launching into the sparkly new H-Beauty, Harrods’s new standalone beauty store in Intu Lakeside, Essex (and online), an Aladdin’s cave of high-end beauty products. But how is a brand offering budget-friendly skincare deemed luxurious enough to be a good fit for Harrods? “Luxury is no longer defined by price point,” Kilner points out. “It’s defined by quality, authenticity and shared values. The consumer profile has changed—they no longer just buy a product, they buy into a brand. For far too long the industry was plagued with a lack of integrity in communication and pricing. Our founder, Brandon Truaxe, made it easier for customers to know when they were overpaying for ingredients. Consumers use the information to make their own decisions, and we simply present clear facts. There is no point in spending time and funds promoting the same product to all people, because it may not be suitable for their concerns or skin type.”
Mia Collins, head of beauty at Harrods attests to this, agreeing that the brand has provided consumers with a “thorough and transparent understanding of a plethora of different formulations and ingredients”. It seems an ideal partnership, since Collins also notes that the Harrods beauty customer—like most beauty aficionados today—has a “clear desire to know more about their skincare”, and values no-fuss efficiency over anything confusing or complicated.
Here in Singapore, The Ordinary is sold exclusively at escentials, who say that the line is thriving, with customers “receptive to the high performing, effective formulas.” Singapore’s current best-sellers include Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%, Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution, and Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG.
An escentials spokesperson shares that its success in Singapore is also largely due to “its affordable price point which makes the brand accessible to all, coupled with the comprehensive range of products that address different skin concerns. Consumers have been waiting for it to officially launch in Singapore for a long time, and we are glad to be able to offer it to them.”
A number of Vogue editors have also found themselves forgoing the expensive lotions and potions they were used to in favour of The Ordinary’s fuss-free approach. Fashion news director Olivia Singer now counts herself among the brand’s avid fans. “My job means that I am able to trial some of the most extortionately-priced skincare on the market, but even with a wealth of options available, The (incredibly affordable) Ordinary remains my firm favourite,” she says. “It’s been my staple brand now for 18 months, and my skin has genuinely never been better: the Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% stops me from breaking out, Buffet keeps me hydrated, and weekly application of the masks (both the peel and the clay) keeps my complexion clear. It’s the simplest my routine has been in an age, as well as the cheapest—and, for me, it’s the best.”
Yet to launch on our shores, the latest product from the brand, 100% Niacinamide Powder, comes just as the ingredient is enjoying a real moment in beauty. But lest we forget, The Ordinary was also ahead of this particular curve, having already offered its Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% back when it launched. Now, one sells every three seconds worldwide, it’s still one of the best on the market. All in a day’s work for Kilner and her team. “I want everyone to have access to great skincare,” she says. “After all, beauty is being human.”
Shop the best from The Ordinary below:
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The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5
For an instant boost in surface hydration, this combination of high, medium and low molecular weight hyaluronic acid—which famously can attract up to 1,000 times its weight in water—with vitamin B5 smoothens and hydrates the skin. Oil-free and suitable for all skin types.
The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5, $12 for 30ml; available at escentials
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The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%
Fans swear by The Ordinary’s Niacinamide or vitamin B3 serum, which helps to reduce the appearance of blemishes and congestion while balancing sebum production and resulting shine.
The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%, $10 for 30ml; available at escentials
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The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2%
A mild exfoliator with purified Tasmanian pepperberry, to help reduce signs of inflammation and sensitivity that is often associated with exfoliation.
The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2%, $12 for 30ml; available at escentials
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The Ordinary Buffet
As the name suggests, this smörgåsbord of skin-reviving ingredients in 11 amino acids and multiple hyaluronic acid complexes work to target multiple signs of ageing in just one serum.
The Ordinary Buffet, $26 for 30ml; available at escentials