Alternatives For The Ordinary

Cult brand The Ordinary has taken the world by storm since its launch in 2016. It’s famously known for no-frills concept, straightforward product presentation and high-tech formulations minus the hefty price tag.

While the brand is finally distributed by Escentials in Singapore and you can still purchase via online beauty retailers such as Hush.sg, Lookfantastic, Beautylish, Beauty Bay, and Skinx, there are still beauty enthusiasts who are looking for alternatives to these bestsellers that they hope are more easily accessible.

If you’re one of those who are looking for alternatives for The Ordinary products, here are 14 options that you can consider, depending on your favourite The Ordinary formula.

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1. You like: Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5

Hyaluronic Acid 2 Percent B5 30ml Packshot

This oil-free formula delivers multi-depth hydration by combining low-, medium- and high-molecular weight hyaluronic acid (HA), as well as a next-generation HA cross-polymer at a combined concentration of 2%. The addition of vitamin B5 helps to enhance surface hydration.

On The Ordinary’s e-store, the Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 scores 7.7 out of 10 stars. While some users reported that it didn’t do much for their skin, many others raved about how it left their skin feeling bouncy and looking dewy.

One user even said that the formula helped control the skin’s oil production. Another contended that it only required a few drops for the entire face and must be applied on dry clean skin and let dry before moving on to the next step to avoid pilling.

Retails for approx. S$11 (US$8) at The Ordinary.

Try: Common Labs Vitamin B5 Moisture Ampoule

Common Labs Vitamin B5 Moisture Ampoule Packshot

Thanks to a high concentration of panthenol (10.8%), this small yet powerful hydrating ampoule has great moisturising effect that strengthens the skin barrier to keep skin soft and resilient. When panthenol is absorbed into the skin, it transforms to vitamin B5 to combine moisture to improve damaged skin barrier.

Not only that, it also contains a cocktail of trehalose, hyaluronic acid, and honey to improve elasticity, protect skin from moisture loss and neutralise free radicals.

This ampoule gained a lot of traction last year at a pop-up in Takashimaya and sold out so fast that Jungmin Lee, founder of Ksisters, had to airship the product twice from Korea to meet demands.

Users said that they loved how the formula goes onto the skin comfortably and absorbs easily thanks to its non-sticky texture. With continuous twice-daily usage, users reported that it made their skin glow and even held makeup well.

Retails for S$29 at Ksisters.

2. You like: Buffet Multi-Technology Peptide Serum

The Ordinary Buffet 30ml Packshot

Developed to target multiple signs of ageing at once, this formula features a combination of studied technologies including Matrixyl™ 3000 peptide complex, ARGIRELOX™ peptide complex, and probiotic complex in a base of 11 skin-friendly amino acids and multiple hyaluronic acid complexes.

On The Ordinary’s e-store, the Buffet serum scores 8.2 out of 10 stars. Most reported that the peptide solution visibly helped with fine lines, smoothness and plumpness. Another user who has extra dry skin as a result from a full tyroidectomy (surgical removal of thyroid gland) said that she can now go out with little or no makeup as it restored her skin’s glow and health.

However, as with all skincare products containing peptides, it’s wise to exercise caution and do a patch test beforehand as a few users reported that the serum induced sensitivity such as rash and itching.

Retails for approx. S$26 (US$18) for 30ml, and approx. S$47 (US$33) for 60ml at The Ordinary.

Try, Option 1: Garden of Wisdom Anti-Aging MultiPeptide Serum

Garden Of Wisdom Anti-Aging MultiPeptide Serum Packshot

This lightweight gel formulation takes care of key age markers with by encouraging collagen and elastin synthesis, restraining wrinkle-inducing muscle contractions, and tackling free radicals.

It can effectively do all of that thanks to a hardworking concentrate of Matrixyl™ 3000, Argireline, and SYN®-COLL peptides combined with hyaluronic acid, grape seed, resveratrol, and Superoxide Dismutase. Free from fragrance and alcohol.

This is an oldie that has found mainstream success in the recent years, and when the oh-so picky Reddit skincare community go wild for Garden of Wisdom a.k.a (GoW), you know it’s good.

Founded over a decade ago in Arizona, the cruelty-free brand focuses on simple ingredient formulations to target specific skin concerns and encourage skin balance and stability. All of its serums use optimum strength additives and only a bare minimum of inactive ingredients to ensure maximum efficacy.

Retails for approx. S$40.60 (MYR125) at Worthee Cosmetics (free delivery to Singapore for orders above S$65). Also available at Shopee for S$36.90.

Try, Option 2: Dear, Klairs Midnight Blue Youth Activating Drop

Dear Klairs Midnight Blue Youth Activating Drop Packshot

Peptide has been a major buzzword in the beauty industry for quite some time now, and for good reason – it has the ability to diminish fine lines, strengthen skin barrier, lock in hydration and ease inflammation.

Most brands in the market offer peptide-filled formulas at premium prices, which is why the insanely wallet-friendly price tag on The Ordinary’s version is so well-loved by the beauty community.

This version from the K-beauty brand makes a good contender. Its midnight blue formula comes from guaiazulene, a dark blue plant-based crystalline hydrocarbon extracted from chamomile oil. Powered by EGF (sh-Oligopeptide-1) and bFGF (sh-Polypeptide-1), you can count on this 10-ingredient serum to be potent in its anti-ageing properties.

Several users reported that it helped minimise smile lines, maintain hydration, improve texture and raise skin’s ability to accept acids. Another user said that the easy-to-absorb formula managed to calm her red, irritated, and sensitive skin after multiple failed attempts with similar products from other brands to nurse her skin back to health.

Retails for S$37.70 at iHerb, and S$37.90 at Guardian.

3. You like: Niacinamide 10% + 1% Zinc

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10 Percent & Zinc 1 Percent 30ml Packshot

Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3 that has been proven by research to reduce the appearance of skin blemishes and congestion. This formula stands out with a high 10% concentration of this vitamin, and also contains zinc salt of pyrrolidone carboxylic acid for sebum-balancing effects.

Using topical vitamin C in your skin care routine? Then, it’s ideal to use this serum in the morning and vitamin C at night. This is because niacinamide may have the tendency to affect integrity of the vitamin C.

On The Ordinary’s e-store, the Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% serum gets 8.1 out of 10 stars from almost 900 reviews. Users ranked it highly for improvement in appearance of blemishes, reporting that it helped clear acne scars, shrunk pores and reduce dark spots. Some users noted that the high-strength formula also boasted brightening benefits and was able to turn around their dull, dry skin effectively.

Retails for approx. S$10 (US$7) for 30ml, and approx. S$18 (US$13) for 60ml at The Ordinary.

Try, Option 1: Paula’s Choice 10% Niacinamide Booster

Paulas Choice Resist 10 Niacinamide Booster Packshot

Formulas that target blemishes and enlarged pores can sometimes be drying to the skin, but not this ultra-light liquid formula. It is blended with natural calming and hydrating ingredients such as licorice extract, allantoin, panthenol (vitamin B5), and hyaluronic acid to tackle the appearance of enlarged pores plus visible signs of ageing while soothing skin at the same time.

Paula’s Choice is many industry insiders’ go-to when they’re looking to beef up their skin care routine with something solid, and it’s no different with this light-as-water formula.

Based on over 100 reviews on Paula’s Choice Singapore’s e-store, this serum scores 4.5 out of five stars and is highly favoured for its ability to peter out acne marks effectively while remaining gentle even on sensitive skin. Users liked its non-sticky and lightweight texture, and found it easy to be used alone or mixed with other serums or moisturisers.

Retails for S$63 at Paula’s Choice.

Try, Option 2: InstaNatural Niacinamide Serum

Instanatural Niacinamide Serum Packshot

Prefer a botanical-based niacinamide formula instead? This might be the one for you. The formula blends niacinamide with hyaluronic acid, avocado oil, rosemary and other plant extracts to address ageing concerns and reduce irritation caused by breakouts while strengthening skin’s protective barrier and maintaining clear, healthy skin.

On InstaNatural’s website, the serum is rated 4.6 out of five stars and users have reported significant improvement in reduction of redness, breakouts, pore size, and dark spots. On Amazon and iHerb, the formula gets 4.4 out of five stars with generally positive reviews.

However, one particular user cautioned that it may trigger fungal acne on those with oily skin who are more susceptible as the formula contains olive fruit, avocado, meadowfoam and neem oils – all of which are known to be fungal acne triggers.

Retails for S$23.55 at iHerb.

4. You like: Squalane Cleanser

The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser 50ml Packshot

This gentle cleanser is formulated with squalane and other lipophilic (fat-loving) sucrose esters to efficiently lift away makeup and impurities whilst leaving the skin feeling smooth and moisturised. Non-comedogenic and soap-free, it is mild enough for daily use and suitable for all skin types including oily-combination skin.

On The Ordinary’s e-store, the cleanser has an impressive 8.5 out of 10 stars from more than 270 reviews. Many users reported that they loved how the formula rinses off easily without an oily after-feel and leaves skin purified but soft.

Retails for approx. S$14 (US$10) for 50ml, and approx. S$33 (US$23) for 150ml at The Ordinary.

Try: Biossance Squalane + Antioxidant Cleansing Oil

Biossance Squalane Antioxidant Cleansing Oil 25ml Packshot

This antioxidant-rich cleanser dissolves makeup and grime and washes off equally well but uses sugarcane-derived, sustainable squalane oil in its formulation instead to lock in moisture.

On the Biossance website as well as Sephora, it has an average of 4.2 out of five stars and is generally favoured for its ability to thoroughly cleanse without drying the skin. It’s worth noting that a handful of users cautioned to avoid using the product to remove eye makeup as it can sting the eye area.

Retails for S$15 for 25ml, and S$44 for 200ml at Sephora.

5. You like: Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution

The Ordinary Glycolic Acid Percent Toning Solution 240ml Packshot

The Ordinary’s popular must-haves include the Salicylic Acid 2% Solution, daily-use, lightweight, dry-finish formula for blemish-prone skin, and the AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution, a 10-minute, twice-weekly liquid masque treatment for texture and skin tone improvement.

But if you’re looking for an instant radiance boost, the Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution is the answer. With a cocktail of Tasmanian pepperberry, black carrot, ginseng root and aloe vera, this daily-use toner offers mild exfoliation for improved skin radiance and clarity without compromising skin comfort, and also refines the appearance of skin texture with continued use.

On The Ordinary’s e-store, this formula rakes in 8.3 out of 10 stars from over 250 reviews and has very good reviews overall. Users with normal to oily-combination and acne-prone skin types seemed to benefit from the toner the most as it helped tone down and control angry zits. Many are pleasantly surprised that, unlike other acid formulas in the market, this acid-based toner remained hydrating to the skin.

However, one user advised to start slow and use it three times weekly instead to build up tolerance if you have sensitive skin or are not used to using acids in your skin care routine yet.

While the glycolic acid concentration is not as strong as some other formulas out there in the market (Pixi Glow Peel Pads have 20% concentration, for example), it is still substantial enough to cause a tingling sensation upon application, even for users who are accustomed to having acids in their routine.

Retails for approx. S$16 (US$11) at The Ordinary.

Try, Option 1: CosRx AHA 7 Whitehead Powder Liquid

Cosrx Aha 7 Whitehead Power Liquid Packshot

This mild exfoliating liquid helps to resurface the skin, flush out dead skin and whiteheads in pores, and renew lacklustre complexion with apple water, which contains natural AHA and glycolic acid. As a result, skin looks healthier, brighter and clearer. Hyaluronic acid in the formula helps to hydrate the skin while exfoliating.

Based on more than 230 reviews on iHerb, the high-performance liquid exfoliator has 4.3 out of five stars with many users praising its skin-smoothing, pore-cleaning benefits. A little goes a long way for this product, as one user noted that it only required no more than two pumps of product to cover the entire face.

Retails for S$27.10 at iHerb, and S$27.90 at Watsons.

Try, Option 2: La Roche Posay Effaclar Clarifying Solution

La Roche Posay Efflaclar Clarifying Lotion Packshot

La Roche-Posay is one of the go-to French drug store brands, and for good reason. The no-fuss brand is relatively inexpensive and works great for sensitive skin. This medicated toner contains glycolic acid, micro-exfoliant LHA (Lipo-Hydroxy Acid) and sebo-regulating active ingredients to unblock pores and eliminate excess oil.

On La Roche-Posay’s US website, the product has close to five stars based on 48 reviews while on Amazon, it scores in 4.5 out of five stars based on almost 400 reviews. Many users noted that the formula not only helped regulate acne, but also decreased inflammation and soothed redness without drying out skin.

Retails for S$33.90 at Watsons, Guardian and Lazada.

6. You like: 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil

The Ordinary 100 Percent Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil 30ml Packshot

Packed with 100% pure rosehip seed oil that is both cold-pressed and organic, this formula is rich in linoleic acid, linolenic acid and pro-vitamin A, all of which degrade when the oil extraction process involves heat. With cold-pressed extraction, The Ordinary is able to preserve all the qualities of the oil which has been shown to reduce signs of photo-ageing and several other skin conditions.

The brand also contends that the oil’s high omega fatty acid content imparts a slight aroma which is an indication of purity and not rancidity as some may believe.

On The Ordinary’s e-store, the oil gets 8.5 out of 10 stars from 210 ratings. Reviews are generally positive across the board, with many noting that the product gave their skin a good nourishment and nice glow. One user even reported that the scarring on her skin was significantly reduced, and her skin looked plumper and more even.

Retails for approx. S$17 (US$12) at The Ordinary.

Try: Good Molecules Pure Cold-Pressed Rosehip Seed Oil

Good Molecules Pure Cold Pressed Rosehip Seed Oil Packshot

Also using pure cold-pressed rosehip seed oil, which the brand sustainably sources from Chile, this substitute is as close as you can get to The Ordinary in terms of formulation, benefits and price point.

On Beautylish, the oil garners five full stars based on 19 reviews while on the Good Molecules’ website, it has about 4.6 out of five stars from 10 reviewers. Many pointed out to the formula’s remarkable hydrating properties that helped seal in moisture without feeling greasy on the skin. It’s also worth noting that the oil imparts an instant glow upon application.

Retails for approx. S$14.10 (US$10) at Beautylish.

7. You like: 100% L-Ascorbic Acid Powder

The Ordinary 100 Percent L-Ascorbic Acid Powder 20g Packshot

Like your fresh-pressed orange juice that keeps you healthy on the inside, this formula offers a very fine L-Ascorbic Acid powder that rejuvenates your skin from the outside by visibly targeting the appearance of uneven skin tone, dullness, and signs of ageing.

With its ultra-fine, anhydrous form, it provides the most direct exposure of extremely high concentrations of vitamin C topically and is specifically formulated to be mixed with other serums or moisturisers (except treatment formulas containing niacinamide or extra-strength antioxidant ingredients).

On The Ordinary’s e-store, this product brings in 8.8 out of 10 stars from 158 reviews.  Most users were initially wary of the formula’s high vitamin C potency, so they cautioned to start with small amount and gradually increase the dosage only when your skin has adjusted to the product. Other than that, users were generally happy that the formula helped improve their skin tone and radiance, enhance glow, and fade away acne scars.

Retails for approx. S$10 (US$7) at The Ordinary.

Try, Option 1: Clinique Fresh Pressed Daily Booster with Pure Vitamin C 10%

Clinique Fresh Pressed Daily Booster With Pure Vitamin C 10 4 Capsules Packshot

Easily incorporated into your existing skin care routine, this unique, super-potent booster harnesses the full power of pure, fresh vitamin C at the brand’s highest concentration to brighten, even and re-texturise skin.

Thanks to its simple packaging, you can easily dispense the vitamin C powder without making a mess. Plus, it doesn’t mix with the enclosed emulsion until you want it to, so it stays as fresh as possible in the meantime.

On Sephora, the product has 4.5 out of five stars based on 18 reviews. Most users liked that it didn’t feel sticky when applied onto the skin, and worked great on brightening the skin and improving scar marks significantly without feeling harsh on the skin.

Retails for S$100 (4 x 8.5ml) at Sephora and TANGS.

Try, Option 2: Philosophy Turbo Booster C Powder

Philosopy Turbo Booster C Powder Packshot

Another vitamin C powder that can be mixed fresh daily with your favourite water-based serum or moisturiser to give your skin a youthful glow. It also helps to defend the skin against environmental aggressors and prevent premature ageing.

On Philosophy’s website, it garners 4.7 out of five stars from 182 reviewers. Users reported that it was easy to use and delivered visible difference to their skin’s appearance, in terms of brightness, evenness and firmness. A little goes a long way for this product, as many users agreed that the small bottle can last for months even with daily use.

Retails for S$57.90 at iHerb.

8. You like: AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution

The Ordinary AHA 30 Percent + BHA 2 Percent Peeling Solution 30ml Packshot

Intended to be used as a 10-minute masque, this powerhouse contains an extra-strength blend of 30% alpha hydroxy acids (glycolic, lactic, tartaric, and citric) and 2% beta hydroxy acid (salicylic acid) to offer deeper chemical exfoliation for improved skin radiance, texture and smoothness.

Also in the formula are hyaluronic acid (HA) cross-polymer to provide moisture, vitamin B5 to assist healing, black carrot as an antioxidant, and Tasmanian pepperberry to help reduce acid-induced irritation. Oh, can we also give a moment to appreciate how beautiful the red liquid is?

On The Ordinary’s e-store, it scores a whopping nine out of 10 stars from over 350 reviewers. Most of the users referred to it as magic in a bottle as it helped smoothen their skin drastically without any irritation. Users dealing with acne, pigmentation and scarring marks reported that the formula helped reduce these concerns while soothing the skin at the same time.

Retails for approx. S$13 (US$9) at The Ordinary.

Try: Revolution Skincare Multi Acid Peeling Solution

Revolution Skincare Multi Acid Peeling Solution Packshot

Also tinged with a deep red hue, this supercharged weekly treatment is jam-packed with 30% AHAs (lactic, glycolic and fruit acids) and 1.5% BHA (salicylic acid) to get deep into pores to alleviate congestion and help prevent breakouts by sloughing away the top surface of the skin.

On Revolution Beauty’s website, the solution rakes in almost perfect five stars from 14 reviews with most users reporting that it helped to shrink pores, smoothen and brighten skin without drying it out.

Retails for S$19 at ASOS.

9. You like: Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG

The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5 Percent + EGCG 30ml Packshot

If you’re a slave to your morning coffee like us, you’ll be happy to know that caffeine also works wonders on your skin. This light-textured formula’s hero ingredient is an extremely high 5% concentration of caffeine, supplemented with highly-purified Epigallocatechin Gallatyl Glucoside (EGCG) from green tea leaves. The robust duo helps to reduce looks of puffiness and of dark circles in the eye contour.

On The Ordinary’s e-store, it scores 7.4 out of 10 stars from more than 280 reviews. Most of the users reported that it helped to reduce puffiness significantly but didn’t exactly deliver results on dark circles. A few users experienced adverse reaction towards the product and seeing that it’s a concentrated formulation, it is best to approach this with extreme caution and do a patch test first before you apply directly.

Retails for approx. S$11 (US$8) at The Ordinary.

Try: The Inkey List Caffeine Under-Eye Serum

The Inkey List Caffeine Undereye Serum Packshot

Suitable for all skin types including sensitive skin, this eye cream treatment is loaded with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits to take care of common concerns in the eye area while preventing skin damage from free radicals.

On Sephora, the eye serum has about four out of five stars based on 125 reviews. Generally, most users reported that it is not for those who are looking for an instant fix as it took some time for small improvements to be visible but they also agreed that the formula is lightweight and rather hydrating.

Retails for S$18 at Sephora.

10. Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion 

The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2 Percent Emulsion 30ml Packshot

Previously known as Advanced Retinoid 2%, this creamy hydrating emulsion employs next-generation retinoid active technologies – 2% Granactive Retinoid and an encapsulated form of pure retinol – to achieve better reduction in signs of ageing and deliver baby smooth skin minus the irritation. 

On The Ordinary’s e-store, the formula rakes in 8.6 out of 10 stars from 208 reviews. Many users favoured the emulsion highly as the high-performance formula remained hydrating and gentle on the skin. Other users who are more prone to acne reported that the formula helped them control and calm down their breakouts without any sensitivity or flaking.

Retails for approx. S$17 (US$12) at The Ordinary.

Try: Indeed Laboratories Retinol Reface Retinol Skin Resurfacer

Indeed Labs Retinol Reface Packshot

Smoother, softer and visibly younger-looking skin is yours to keep with this night cream that’s fast-absorbing and lightweight. With a Tri-Retinol formula that’s made of  encapsulated retinol, bakuchiol and a retinol-like peptide, the slow-release cream helps to effectively target major age markers while easing skin redness.

On Indeed Laboratories’ website, it has close to five stars from 134 reviews. Users reported that the cream helped enhance skin tone, boost hydration and brightness as well as improve radiance, firmness, texture and elasticity, leaving them to wake up with a healthy glow each morning.

Retails for S$29.50 at Lookfantastic.

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About the Author
Lynnett YipLynnett is a self-proclaimed crazy cat lady who loves a good skincare and a red lip as much as her two rescue cats. When she's not writing, you'll fin...Read More

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