I Swear by This the Ordinary Skincare Routine for Acne & It Has Changed My Skin!

the ordinary acne routine

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Ever feel like your face is a perpetual oil spill with surprise acne pop-ups that no magic potion seems to fix? If your bathroom shelf groans under the weight of “miracle” products that haven’t banished a single pimple, welcome to the club.

Enter The Ordinary – my sworn solution to the acne-prone woes. With its lineup brimming with active ingredients, it might just be the real deal in battling those blemishes. But here’s the catch – you probably only need a couple of these gems to kick acne to the curb for good.

So, grab a spot next to me on this virtual couch, and let’s demystify how to leverage this wallet-friendly wonder to clear up your skin. Because honestly, clearing acne doesn’t have to be as complicated as it seems!

The best The Ordinary Skincare Routine for acne-prone skin

Here’s what a good skincare routine looks like, Cleanser < Treatment < Moisturizer < Sunscreen

AM routine – 

Step 1: Cleanser 

Cleansing is a basic step of any skincare routine. You need to remove all the debris and dirt from the skin, and to do that, you need to clean your face with a nice cleanser. 

For oily skin, a foaming or gel-based cleanser is a match made in heaven. Gel-based cleansers have water as their prime ingredient and rarely any oil or almost no oil.

With cleansers, The Ordinary only has one option for you – its squalane cleaner! It is a gel-based cleanser that is highly suitable for acne-prone skin but also works effectively on every skin type. Just clean your face using this cleanser and pat dry your face with a napkin or a soft towel. 

[ What Are The Best CeraVe Cleansers For Acne? ]

Step 2: Toner

I Swear by This the Ordinary Skincare Routine for Acne & It Has Changed My Skin!

I’ll be honest, I’m not really a toner fan until I see some real benefits to it. Rosewater was my only savior. But recently, I gave in to the hype and bought a glycolic acid toner.

And I have to say, it indeed is an excellent exfoliating toner! Glycolic acid being the primary ingredient, it not only balances the pH of your skin (with an acidic level of 3.5-3.8) but also helps reduce the oiliness of the skin – one of the main reasons for acne.

[ How To Use Glycolic Acid In Your Skincare Regime? ]

Step 3: Treatment

Now is the time to find The Ordinary products for treating your current acne and preventing future breakouts. You don’t have to complicate this process because I know listening to all the influencers and supposedly skincare experts can do that.

This is why I’ll give you two options that I can bet work great for acne and won’t react with your glycolic acid toner as well. These are:

Azelaic acid

I Swear by This the Ordinary Skincare Routine for Acne & It Has Changed My Skin!

This is my new addition to my The Ordinary acne skincare routine and I am telling you, I seriously wish I had found it sooner.

Truly a miracle worker, azelaic acid 10% suspension has been proven to clear up skin complexion, reduce the number of blackheads and whiteheads and prove skin texture and discoloration. It smooths out fine lines and wrinkles while also helping to even out skin tone. 

Along with reducing the inflammation and redness around your acne, it is also a great anti-bacterial that can inhibit the growth of Propionibacterium acnes (or P. acne, the major acne-causing bacteria). What more can one ask for?


I Swear by This the Ordinary Skincare Routine for Acne & It Has Changed My Skin!

Oh, this one is my personal favorite! Use it after the glycolic acid toner and you’ll witness the most radiant skin ever.

An impressive multi-tasker, too, niacinamide 10% + zinc 1% is known for its ability to improve the appearance of the skin, it is proven to work by improving the skin’s barrier function, which helps to keep moisture in and irritants out.

It really works to improve everything from elasticity and uneven skin tone to hyperpigmentation. It helps with inflammation, redness, oiliness, hyperpigmentation, acne, and aging signs.

I know, I know, it could be confusing to decide which one to use, azelaic acid or niacinamide, or even both, which is why here’s a complete answer for that.

But in short, azelaic acid works to reduce the appearance of existing damage on your skin, while niacinamide helps protect against future damage by helping to strengthen your skin’s barrier function. So a better way to tackle your acne would be to use them both in the morning! Here’s how to use them together.

[ Can I Use Glycolic Acid With Niacinamide? You Need To Know This! ]

step 4: Moisturize

the ordinary skincare routine for acne

There’s no way oily and acne-prone skin types are skipping this step. It’s just as important as treating acne in the first place!

Of course, it keeps your skin hydrated and maintains skin barriers, but you have to know that it also can prevent acne as well by reducing the likelihood of clogged pores, which can lead to breakouts.

And you know what? Oily skin can still be dehydrated and maybe that can be the reason why your skin’s producing more oil than usual to compensate for the dryness.

Just make sure you’re using a lightweight, non-comedogenic, and oil-free moisturizer. One such hit is The Ordinary’s natural moisturizing factors.

It is a lightweight, hydrating/moisturizing product formulated with hyaluronic acid, triglycerides, ceramides, and other components that easily absorbs into your skin and gives it an even tone without feeling greasy or oily.

And its mattifying finish is always a bonus!

Step 5: Sunscreen 

Are there even second thoughts about why?

Every skincare routine should include broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF above 30. Using enough sunscreen will not only protect you from skin cancer and aging, but it will also help minimize acne scars (YES!) and prevent dull skin. It becomes even more essential when you’re using photosensitive products like azelaic acid and niacinamide in your AM routine.

You can now use the Mineral UV Filters SPF 30 with Antioxidants from The Ordinary. It’s a great broad-spectrum sunscreen that effectively protects the skin from those harmful UVA and UVB rays and also tends to have a moisturizing effect on your skin. This is the reason we have skipped applying moisturizer in this AM routine. 

I hope you now understand why I chose this simple 5-step The Ordinary skincare routine for acne-prone people. Now let’s see what the nighttime regime has for us!

PM Routine- 

No matter whether you come home after a hectic day of meetings or just run a few errands, you got to have a routine for the night if you seriously want to tackle your acne and aim for smoother skin.

Step 1: Remove your makeup with cleansing

I cannot stress enough how important it is to remove even the slightest amount of makeup you wear that day. IDK if it’s true for you, but I get new pimples the very next day if I choose to become lazy one blue moon.

And no, you cannot call it a day with your wet wipes. In fact, it’s one of the worst things you can do, as you’re literally inviting future breakouts to attack you all at once. Due to the praising effects it has had on my oily, acne-prone skin, I advocate double cleansing. Wondering how it’s done?

Start with taking a little amount of non-comedogenic oil in your palm, rub it for 10-20 seconds, and then massage it into the skin for about 5 minutes. Massage it till all the gunk comes out of your skin, and the makeup has been melted off entirely.

Then use the Squalane Cleanser to gently remove the oil, makeup residue, and other impurities.

You can do double cleansing twice or thrice a week, or on days you have to put on heavy makeup. A foaming or gel cleanser will do the handful if you do light makeup.

Step 2: Exfoliation

If you do this part religiously, trust me, your acne will be a gust for just a few weeks!

The ordinary peeling solution

I Swear by This the Ordinary Skincare Routine for Acne & It Has Changed My Skin!

At first glance, The Ordinary’s Peeling Solution may seem slightly intimidating. I mean, it’s called a “peeling solution,” so it’s not exactly subtle. But trust me when I say that this product is well worth your time (and money).

Not only does it give you an at-home facial worthy of a celebrity, but it also leaves your skin looking and feeling softer, smoother, and brighter. Not to forget, the AHA and BHA in it is an acne savior and would treat the scars left behind as well. So, it’s kind of a big deal!

Use it twice a week at night, and your acne will improve SO DAMN MUCH by the end of the third or fourth week. It indeed is the strongest and most potent skincare for acne, so be sure of how you use this peeling solution.

Oh, you can even use it to exfoliate underarms or any other dark areas of your body. How cool is that?!

Salicylic Acid 2% Solution 

I Swear by This the Ordinary Skincare Routine for Acne & It Has Changed My Skin!

The Ordinary’s salicylic acid solution is another one of my holy grails. This product would unclog the pores and penetrate deeply into the skin if you suffer from congestion and blackheads. Besides, it aids in oil control and is gentler than the peeling solution above!

As I would like to think, each slick skin individual ought to have somewhere around one item that has salicylic corrosive. To avoid over-exfoliation, you should use it on alternate nights, no more than three times per week. Make sure to apply two drops after your skin has completely dried out from cleansing.

Lactic Acid 

I Swear by This the Ordinary Skincare Routine for Acne & It Has Changed My Skin!

Lactic acid 5% + HA is a lot gentler exfoliator for your acne-prone skin and would give you a smoother and clearer complexion with regular use. If bluntness and whiteheads are your greatest concern, pick this.

Start with their 5% version if you have sensitive skin and gradually go for their 10% version.

You could even use salicylic and lactic acid together.

Just make sure which acid addresses the majority of your concerns and use that twice. To be safe, the total number of exfoliations should not exceed three times per week. 

[ Can You Use Lactic Acid And Niacinamide Together? Um, You Need To Know! ]

Step 3: Moisturizer

the ordinary skincare routine for acne

The final step in your The Ordinary skincare routine for acne should be to apply a water-based, lightweight moisturizer that doesn’t feel greasy or clog pores.

Our skin already contains Natural Moisturizing Factors (NMF), which protect and hydrate the skin’s outer layer. So The Ordinary’s natural moisturizing factors would be a great fit indeed!

It has several amino acids, glycerin, ceramide precursors, urea, hyaluronic acid, and other ingredients to ensure that your skin is well-hydrated and healthy. 

As for sunscreen, I don’t like to use it in my PM routine, but some people advise the opposite. I think, why do I need another layer of the product while I’m just sleeping? So if you want, you can skip that step too!

Wrapping up The Ordinary skincare routine for acne-prone skin

So now you know why a skincare routine is necessary, especially when you’re treating acne. Let’s see a quick review of the entire article in short

AM – 

  1. The Ordinary Squalane Cleaner
  2. The Ordinary Glycolic Acid Toner
  3. The Ordinary Azelaic acid 10%suspension or Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 3% Serum
  4. The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA Moisturizer 
  5. The Ordinary Mineral UV Filters SPF 30 with Antioxidants 


  1. The Ordinary Squalane cleanser
  2. The Ordinary AHA BHA peeling solution or Salicylic Acid Serum or The Ordinary Lactic Acid Serum
  3. The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA Moisturizer 

From cleanser to moisturizer, this simple yet powerful The Ordinary skincare routine for acne utilizes amazing products that actually work AND won’t break the bank. However, if you are a guy and would want a guide on clean skin care for men, here you go!

Also, if you want to use any other actives or want to seek some other suggestions for your specific skin issue, I’m always here to guide you well. Just drop down your query in the comments, and I’ll be happy to assist!

Till then, toodles!

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