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Everyone has their own method for nixing pimples or other blemishes. Some of us love covering our faces in acne dots before we go to sleep. Others prefer a cleanser or mask infused with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. And then there are some who find success by doing nothing at all and simply riding the inflammation out. My personal preference is a mix of all these things, but the constant switching of products poses the risk of doing more harm than good. So I’m attempting to narrow down my routine by sticking with one of the best The Ordinary products for acne-prone skin.
I’m currently obsessed with the chemistry-driven NIOD products from DECIEM, but I can’t front—it’s been challenging for this product junkie to use just one brand for so long. However…it might be growing on me?! So while I’m grateful to not have cystic acne or some other severe condition outside of mild eczema, I still think it’s worth sticking with the same brand for those random breakouts too. Thankfully, The Ordinary already has a solid rep for affordable formulations that actually work, so I asked a brand expert to recommend the best blemish-fighting products.
As I always say when it comes to The Ordinary, just be sure to read the instructions first, as the application method can vary from product to product (and affect the results).
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Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%
This is a high-strength vitamin and mineral formula that visibly targets the look of blemishes and signs of congestion. Niacinamide has also been shown to have a visible brightening effect. Pro tip: if you already have a vitamin C product in your routine, just be sure to alternate with this one so your skin doesn’t experience any adverse effects.
AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution
A blend of exfoliating acids to transform skin texture, the appearance of blemishes, and improve radiance from the first application, with extended benefits after continued use. Just be sure to only use once per week at night, as it’s very strong. It’s pretty much a facial in a bottle, and it’s an excellent dupe for Renée Rouleau’s Triple Berry Smoothing Peel.
Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution
This is an alpha-hydroxy acid that will help to exfoliate the skin to improve radiance, clarity, and texture. It also speeds up your cellular turnover rate to prevent trapped sebum, dirt and oil which can lead to congestion and the sign of blemishes.
Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5
Dehydration can actually lead to an overproduction of sebum as the skin tries to balance itself. Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 is a lightweight hydrating serum that uses 3 unique hyaluronic complexes to flood the skin with water. It also features Vitamin B5 to support skin health and further improve hydration levels.
Hydrating the skin can bring balance to an overproduction of oil that can lead to acne. This formula has a water-light texture that is great for doing just that.
Mandelic Acid 10% + HA
If glycolic acid is too intense for your skin, this exfoliating AHA offers similar benefits, but with a larger molecule size so it will be gentler on sensitive skin or those new to direct acids.
This cleanser and makeup remover is mostly squalane, a naturally-derived multitasker that hydrates the skin in such a way that it balances oil production so blemishes are less likely to form. It’s a balm to oil texture that is good for all skin types, is gentle on the skin, and removes all makeup and sunscreen.
Salicylic Acid 2% Masque
This features salicylic acid to unclog the pores and refine skin texture, charcoal and clays to absorb excess oil and build-up, as well as squalane to nourish and moisturize the skin.
Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA
A lightweight, filler-free moisturizer that uses skin-identical ingredients to hydrate, protect, and repair the skin barrier.