Get The Ordinary Skincare Routine For Under $50

deciem - the ordinary - the abnormal beauty company - style apotheca

It's really easy to get into the mindset that "Expensive" means "Better", especially when it comes to skincare. It's not uncommon to spend $50 or more on a 1 oz jar of eye cream that promises to reverse the signs of aging, fill in your crows feet and brighten your dark computer-screen-glued, 60 hour work week, avocado-toast-loving, Millenial undereye circles. I don't know about you, but I've definitely fallen for it before. If you check out my previous "My Nighttime Skincare Routine" post, that routine easily runs over $200. And that's just for nighttime. 

What is SKII's mysterious "Pitera" or La Mer's "Miracle Broth" anyway? Well, J-Lo, Kim Kardashian and Posh Spice have us trampling over each other to get to the fancy skincare counters in droves just begging these brands to "Take My Money". 

The truth is, skin is simple. It doesn't need a lot to be happy, and the active ingredients (as well as the fillers) that go into even the most expensive skincare can commonly be quite cheap (e.g. petrolatum aka: Vaseline, anyone?). We often pay a premium for hype, packaging and name brands. 

I wasn't really in search of a new skincare regimen, but I kept seeing bloggers mentioning this "super awesome, super affordable" skincare brand on Instagram more and more, the name kept creeping up in my feed. I'm talking about Deciem, The Abnormal Beauty Company. A friend of mine actually recommended it months earlier where she said "You've gotta try this super cheap but amazing skincare line!". That's when I connected the dots and decided to check them out. Deciem are a Toronto-based, vegan and crutelty free beauty supplier who carry multiple different skincare, makeup and bodycare brands, but each with a common vein: that beauty and skincare should be QUALITY, EFFECTIVE, UNCOMPLICATED and AFFORDABLE

One of the most popular brands Deciem carries is called The Ordinary.

Given the skincare junkie that I am, I decided to give The Ordinary a try. It's generally good rule of thumb to give a minimum of 4-6 weeks to see if a skincare item really works for you, so I tested out 5 products from The Ordinary for the past 4 weeks to really give you an honest review.

 The short of it: I'm very impressed and you absolutely cannot beat the price for the result. Five bucks (yeah, you read that right) for a quality, organic cold pressed marula oil or retinol serum? I'll take that over $90 any day. 

The long of it: keep reading. And yeah, five bucks...seriously.

In total, my entire skincare routine cost me $45.

(Disclaimer: not including a daily cleanser) 

deciem - the ordinary - the abnormal beauty company - style apotheca


One of the key things I learned in my weeks testing out The Ordinary is the secret to any good skincare routine is SIMPLICITY. Deciem has recommend that any skincare routine in the AM or PM should not exceed 3 items. When you first go on the website, the list of products to choose from can be very overwhelming, so I e-mailed their team describing my skin type (oily, dehydrated, hyperpigmentation issues, acne-prone), and the types of ingredients my skin typically responds well to. Within a day, they sent me my new skincare routine with a list of suggestions to choose from. After cleansing with a gentle cleanser (currently: Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser), I go in with the Hylauronic Acid 2% + B5 serum, followed by the Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate 10% as my brightening moisturizer. After applying, I follow-up with my daily SPF 30 and any makeup I may be wearing for the day. 


AM Step 1) The Ordinary Hylauronic Acid 2% + B5


$6.80 CAD

Use after cleansing but before moisturizer AM and PM. Improves skin hydration and elasticity. Hylauronic acid (HA) attracts up to 1000x its weight in water and vitamin B5 works together with HA to improve skin surface hydration for plumper, more hydrated skin. 

PROS: lightweight, hydrating, noticeable improvement in feeling of skin plumpness and dullness, price  

CONS: tends to ball up under make-up if rubbed in too hard 

the ordinary magnesium ascorbyl phosphate 10% style apotheca

AM Step 2) The Ordinary Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate 10% 


$9.60 CAD

Apply AM and PM after serums. A pure vitamin C-derivative cream works to brighten dull skin and even out the skintone. 

PROS lightweight, skin absorbs well, excellent price, sleek packaging 

CONS: doesn't feel overly hydrating on its own, sometimes makes skin feel tight, not sure if it really brightened anything 


In the evening, I will remove my makeup with the same cleanser and  I'll go back in with the Hylauronic/Vitamin B5 serum I use in the morning. Then I will apply the Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion, followed by the 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil as a last step. And that's it for my evening skincare routine.  I will use the retinoid serum about 4-5x a week. Once weekly to once every other week, I will use the 10% Lactic Acid + 2% HA as a chemical exfoliant if I feel like my skin is congested and needs something extra. I will do this sparingly to avoid over-treating and irritating my skin, since I'm using a lot of acids and vitamins in my daily skincare.  


The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion  


$9.80 CAD




Apply after cleansing and serums. Improves brightness, texture and pigmentation. Wear SPF in the daytime. 





PROS: thin yet creamy texture, really have seen improvement in skin brightness, pigmentation and smoother texture, price  

CONS: must wear SPF as sun sensitizing


The Ordinary 100% Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil


$9.90 CAD

A hydrating face and body oil. Apply after all PM skincare is complete to seal in hydration. Rose Hip Seed Oil is shown to be pro-Vitamin A to improve complexion and reduce signs of photo-aging and sun damage. 

PROS: hydrating, absorbs quickly, unscented, thin texture, no residue, organic, price  

CONS: orange colour in colour - may stain pillowcase if not fully absorbed 

The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2%


$6.70 CAD

Used in place of Advanced Retinol 2% once weekly as a gentle chemical exfoliating peel to improve skin texture.  May increase sun sensitivity, wear SPF during the day. 

PROS: skin feels smoother the next day after use, price

CONS: may irritate, burning sensation on skin, sun sensitizing, use sparingly 1x/week to 1x every other week, may just stick with retinol after this bottle is finished  



deciem - the ordinary - the abnormal beauty company - style apotheca


I really think Deciem and brands like it are onto something when it comes to how they approach us as consumers. They are educating us on what goes into their products and what they do, they are ensuring these products are safe, ethically sourced, and effective, and they are offering them to us at, above all, FAIR PRICES.

When comparing the ingredients to products I already owned or have been eyeing, the active ingredients listed in the high end products going for $65.00 a bottle were the EXACT SAME as what was in the $5-10 Deciem product. Aside from some packaging and formulation differences, the main result and goal of each product was the same. So why not go with the more affordable alternative? Deciem's approach and philosophy has really made me stop and think about what my skincare goals are, to understand what ingredients I should be looking for, and to think about what price I am willing to pay to achieve these results. It turns out, I don't have to pay that much. 

Since using the simplified skincare routine above for exactly 4 weeks, I really feel like my skin has been very happy. I am having fewer and fewer painful "under the skin" breakouts, my bumpy skin texture has improved quite noticeably (I usually have a small "beard" of little whiteheads around my jawline most of the time), and much of my scarring from picking at previous acne is fading slowly. Of note, I am only halfway through each 1 oz bottle so the cost-per-use of each item is beyond peanuts!

To me, this shows that my $200+ dollar skincare routine that I was truthfully completely satisfied with could be achieved with similar and ultimately more affordable products.

In all, I don't think The Ordinary will be leaving my vanity any time soon. 

Have you tried anything else from Deciem? What's your favourite not mentioned here?  Let me know in the comments! 

Disclaimer: this blog post is not sponsored. All products were purchased myself and opinions stated in this document are my own. The products that have worked for me may not necessarily work for you and your situation.  Consult your pharmacist or dermatologist before trying a new skincare product to ensure it is safe and right for you. Some of the products mentioned above are not safe in pregnancy or breastfeeding and should be avoided. 

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Photos: photos that are property of are referenced via links. All other photography is mine.