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How to Use The Ordinary to Get Perfect, Glowing Skin for Under $30

This article is for anyone who is interested in learning how to use The Ordinary skin products. I’ve struggled with cystic acne all my life and this is how the ordinary helped with my acne. So below you’ll find all the best ordinary products for glowing skin, plus my exact regimen.

How to Use The Ordinary

I’m OBSESSED with The Ordinary. But my journey to perfect, glowing skin was riddled with ups, downs, and chemical burns – ha.

Today I’ll be teaching you how to use The Ordinary for acne-prone skin and to remove marks/scars.

I’ve tried over 10+ products with The Ordinary so I consider myself a veteran.

But with that being said, be sure to consult your dermatologist as well about what is right for you.

In total, The Ordinary routine that I use is about <$30, which frees up extra budget for more travel – YAY! Affordable skincare done right.

I’ve included my entire daily skincare regimen – which also includes Clinique – because both lines address multiple concerns that may arise when traveling.

In the photo above, I’m wearing ZERO FACE MAKE-UP. I repeat this is my real skin – unedited – and without photoshopping any wrinkles, discoloration, or imperfections.

There’s no concealer, foundation, or even primer! This is me, all-natural, enjoying my life – the palest I’ve ever been in my life (Thanks UK weather!).

But this isn’t how it always used to be…

See my Current Skincare Routine!


Acne has plagued me and my two sisters for as long as we can remember. All three of us are on a first-name basis with our local dermatologist and we’ve tried every anti-bacterial and hormonal birth control combination in the book.

This is definitely a genetic issue and BLESS my future offspring (if I have them). Hopefully, this horrible horrible condition skips over them.

My skin is particularly prone to cystic acne (schmexy) and it would scar quite easily (*puts paper bag over face*) so my skin would prevent me from doing things I love (i.e. working out) and seeing friends.

I was just SO self-conscious and no make-up guru like the 21st-century 14-year-olds all over Instagram that it prevented me from living my life to the fullest.

Eff that ish, we’re gonna get into it.

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Step 1:

Clean skin is healthy skin. I use the Clinique 3-Step Skin Care Regime (Intro Kit Here). I’ve been using this for the last 6 months and my oil/breakouts have SIGNIFICANTLY reduced!

clinique starter kit

Clinique has a long history of exceptional products so you can always be confident in the quality of their work.


  • Wash your face with the liquid facial soap
  • Use the clarifying lotion
  • THEN STOP. Gel later.

Step 2:

Next, I use Kiehls’ Daily Reviving Concentrate. This is so so amazing for your face and it really does brighten your skin.

I was especially impressed with how my acne scars faded and pigmentation disappeared!

I also use it around/under my eyes for lightweight moisture instead of an eye cream. THIS PRODUCT BREATHES LIFE INTO MY SKIN!!!

So yeah, you can say I like the product… Use this after the Clinique face wash and clarifying lotion.

Step 3:

Now we’re going to use The Ordinary! I first start with my eyes and I gently apply the Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG to the under bits of my eyes with my ring finger, moving in an upward patting motion.

caffeine solution the ordinary

Here’s what you’ll see:

  • Immediate improvement of dark circles
  • Reduced puffiness
  • less tired eyes

Step 4: 2 Options

In my private life, I call the Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% “Baby’s Butt Formula” because my face LITERALLY feels like a baby’s butt.

azelaic acid the ordinary

So soft, so smooth. So free of scars and marks. With just one use, my skin felt smoother and softer.

This is a POTENT product so be cautious with layering it alongside any of the Retinoids.


You can bring out the heavy guns and lather the Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion on your face to combat marks and scarring.

I would NOT recommend using both at the same time.

I would consider my skin to be on the tougher side, but when I combined an 8-minute AHA 30% + BHS 2% Peeling Solution/mask and then layered on the Retinoid before bed, a bit of my skin burned off – eekkkkk.

Move Abroad Starter Kit

But then my nightly rotation of Retinoids and Azelaic Acid immediately made it indictable a few days later. LIKE WITCH CRAFT.

For me, rotating between the two is enough for my skin to look absolutely breathtaking. If you’re a big risk taker, let me know what happens when you layer both in the comments section!

Step 5:

Next, I apply the Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% liberally all over my face to combat my acne.


For more serious spots, I use the Salicylic Acid 2% Solution on the spots but be careful with how much you use when layering the two on top of each other.

This could cause irritation and redness! I found the Salicylic Acid to be especially effective on the cystic acne that was on my cheeks.

Step 6:

Now you top it all off with Clinique’s Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel. It’s oil-free, but heavy enough to last through the winter as your main moisturizer.

clinique moisturizing gel

I found it to be quite creamy, but not heavy enough to clog any pores. It also improves the texture of your skin so your makeup goes on smoother with each use.

Mask Options:

I SWEAR by The Ordinary’s AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution.

Despite the earlier story (haha – loser Vanessa), I still use the Peeling Solution 2 -3 times a week because it is VOODOO MAGIC and I’ve never seen such an effective product sold for drug store prices in my life.

It completely removes marks, scars, and makes pores less visible. Too good to be true? Maybe.

Just don’t fly too close to the sun by exceeding the 10-minute MAXIMUM that is recommended on the bottle. You’ll regret it.

This goes on after you wash your face BUT before the clarifying toner (slight tingling after you put it on!) 

So there you go, kids! This is how I keep my skin absolutely spotless – on a budget – because good skincare shouldn’t be such a pain in the ass!

Leave comments below about your experiences with The Ordinary and if you have any recommendations or tweaks to my regiment. Happy Travels <3

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Thanks for Stopping By!

Don’t forget to follow my journey around the world on social media! I promise you’ll learn how to keep your skin clear and your bank account STACKED.