Beauty Skincare Here Are 20 of the Best The Ordinary Products—All Under $20 We love that The Ordinary’s Buffet Peptide Serum is like a skin-boosting smoothie all skin types can benefit from. By Courtney Leiva Courtney Leiva Courtney Leiva is an experienced beauty and lifestyle writer. InStyle's editorial guidelines Updated on December 6, 2022 @ 01:03PM Pin Share Tweet Email In This Article Expand Jump to a Section Our top picks Reviews What to Keep in Mind Your Questions, Answered We independently evaluate all recommended products and services. If you click on links we provide, we may receive compensation. Learn more. Joy Kim We've all heard this phrase time and time again: if something seems too good to be true then it probably really is. However, here's a plot twist: The Ordinary actually proves the 'ol phrase wrong, as this cult-favorite (and TikTok viral) brand not only brings the best science-backed ingredients to your skin but most offerings are under $20. Yes, this is no dream— this is really happening. Alas, The Ordinary has tons of products to choose from, whether it be shampoos, retinoids, or facial oils. And while this is definitely a good thing, it makes the task of finding the right products for your skin kind of difficult. To cut to the chase, we reviewed all the products in their line to find the 20 best The Ordinary products. Don't worry, you can totally thank us later! First up, The Ordinary Buffet Anti-Aging Serum claimed top honors for its hardworking blend of actives that suit all skin types. Without further adieu, here are the 20 best The Ordinary products that'll satisfy your skin and hair needs. Our Top Picks Best Overall: The Ordinary Buffet Anti-Aging Serum at Amazon Jump to Review Best Value: The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion at Nordstrom Jump to Review Best Serum: The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid at Sephora Jump to Review Best Cleanser: The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser at Amazon Jump to Review Best Moisturizer: The Ordinary Natural Moisturising Factors at Amazon Jump to Review Best Exfoliator: The Ordinary Peeling Solution at Amazon Jump to Review Best Facial Oil: The Ordinary Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil at Amazon Jump to Review Best Toner: The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution at Amazon Jump to Review Best Mask: The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Masque at Target Jump to Review Best for Scalp: The Ordinary Multi-Peptide Serum at Target Jump to Review Best Overall The Ordinary Buffet Anti-Aging Serum Amazon View On Amazon View On Nordstrom View On Target What We Love: It is chock full of skin-boosting hyaluronic acid, amino acid, glycerin, allantoin, urea, castor oil, and peptides. What We Don't Love: If too much product is applied, it can leave the skin feeling tacky. Cost-effective serums can be hard to come by, as some offerings can be full of filler ingredients that can set sensitive skin into a tizzy. However, this serum by The Ordinary gets it just right‒it cuts down on the B.S. with a formula jam packed with active ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, castor oil, amino acid, and more. This serum is lightweight, alcohol-free, and contains a good pH balance, which is why this product grabs the top overall slot. "This formula combines several peptide complexes with a probiotic complex in a base of hyaluronic acid and amino acids," explains New York-based dermatologist Dr. Hadley King, M.D. "It also contains glycerin, allantoin, urea and castor oil. Urea and glycerin are great humectants to hydrate the skin, allantoin heals, soothes, protects, and stimulates the growth of healthy skin tissue, and castor oil, rich in fatty acids, is anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, hydrating, and moisturizing." Additionally, the included peptide complexes have been trademarked and studied by third parties and all found to have anti-aging benefits. Matrixyl 3000, for example, has been shown to promote the production of collagen and elastin. "And, of course it's great that it's alcohol-free, vegan, cruelty free, with a pH range of 4.5- 5.5," Dr. King says. Price at time of publish: $31 Size: 1.0 oz｜Active Ingredients: Hyaluronic Acid, Amino Acid, Glycerin, Allantoin, Urea, Castor Oil, and Peptide Complexes｜Skin Types: All Skin Types Best Value The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion Nordstrom View On Nordstrom View On Sephora View On Ulta What We Love: The higher concentration of granactive retinoids is more effective than other over-the-counter retinols. What We Don't Love: Retinol cannot be used if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Retinoids are one of those holy grail anti-aging skin care ingredients that is backed by research and dermatologists. After all, they ease fine lines and wrinkles, clear up dark spots, and leave the skin with an oh-so-radiant glow. The only caveat? Obtaining retinoids usually requires a trip to the dermatologist's office. Sigh. However, when it comes to OTC products, trust that this retinoid emulsion is your next best option, making it our best value pick. Sure it may not be able to guarantee the same results as a prescription-strength product, but it still improves skin radiance and texture without causing irritation, according to Tara Adashev, a nurse practitioner at Neinstein Plastic Surgery in NYC. "This is one of the cheapest, best formulated retinoids you can find without a prescription," she tells InStyle. "It's gentle enough that most people can use it without irritation. Plus, the formula also provides some hydration to the skin." Price at time of publish: $12 Size: 1 oz｜Active Ingredients: Next-Generation Retinoid Active｜Skin Types: Normal, Oily, Dry, Combination, and Sensitive Best Serum The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 4.2 Sephora View On Sephora View On Ulta View On Theordinary.com What We Love: It plumps the skin and locks in moisture. We Don't Love: If you layer too many products, too quickly, this serum tends to pill. If you're new to serums or want one that is generally well tolerated by all skin types, this serum is definitely worth a look. It's jam-packed with vitamin B5 and hyaluronic acid, an ingredient that envelops skin in deep hydration. What's even better is that the form of hyaluronic acid is also vegan, so animal conscious-shoppers won't have to worry that they are using products that contain animal-derived ingredients. If that's not enough to entice you, then take it from Adrienne O'Connell, D.O., Medical Director and President of Laguna Beach Aesthetics. "This is one of my favorite serums," she says. "The hyaluronic acid penetrates the skin's layers to lock in moisture and vitamin B5 helps reduce inflammation. This wonderful blend leaves the skin plumper, smoother and reduces imperfections." Price at time of publish: $9 Size: 1 oz｜Active Ingredients: Ultra-Pure, Vegan Hyaluronic Acid｜Skin Types: Normal, Oily, Dry, Combination, Sensitive Best Cleanser The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser 4.8 The Ordinary View On Amazon View On Sephora View On Ulta What We Love: It removes excess oils and makeup without drying out the skin. What We Don't Love: It has a heavy texture and requires a thorough rinsing to ensure all product is removed. Let's be real: a cleanser is an essential product, but finding the right formula for you is a challenge. There are tons of cleansers to choose from with different benefits and ingredients to boot, however, if what you're after is a creamy, gentle cleanser, then be sure to add this fan-favorite to the top of your shopping list. Thanks to hydrating squalene and exfoliating malic acid, it rids the skin of oils, grime, and makeup without disturbing the skin's moisture barrier. "This is a great daily cleanser for all skin types with a blend of squalene and malic acid," says Dr. O'Connell. "It gently removes excess oils and makeup (high-five as a lot of cleansers do not remove makeup) while protecting the skin's moisture barrier. The product feels heavy, but rinses off completely, leaving the skin soft and smooth." Price at time of publish: $9 Size: 1.7 oz｜Active Ingredients: Squalene｜Skin Type: Normal, Dry, Combination, and Oily Best Moisturizer The Ordinary Natural Moisturising Factors + HA Amazon View On Amazon View On Target View On Sephora What We Love: Its mix of amino acids, lipids, and hyaluronic acids provide long-lasting hydration. What We Don't Love: It can cause breakouts on acne-prone skin. Light, airy, and full of moisturizing superstars, this moisturizer definitely lives up to the hype and it's not hard to see why. Not only is it non-irritating, but it also layers nicely over serums and treatments, so it will fit seamlessly into any skin care routine. Still unconvinced? Even derms dig it, as board-certified dermatologist Nazanin Saedi, M.D. says, "This moisturizer consists of multiple amino acids and ceramides which all strengthen the skin barrier. Glycerin helps seal in the moisture and hyaluronic acid draws more moisture into the skin. Overall, this mix of ingredients provides longer lasting hydration." Price at time of publish: $10 Size: 1.0 oz｜Active Ingredients: Amino Acids, Dermal Lipids, and Hyaluronic Acid.｜Skin Type: Normal, Combination, Oily, Dry, and Sensitive. Best Exfoliator The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution The Ordinary View On Amazon View On Sephora View On Ulta What We Love: It brightens, exfoliates, and smooths texture in mere minutes. What We Don't Love: This potent formula must be used carefully, it can cause sensitivity if left on the skin too long. Chemical peels, without a doubt, can correct uneven skin tone, wrinkles, and spots like a champ. However, they can also cost a pretty penny depending on where they're administered. To give your skin an exfoliating treatment without the hefty price tag, look no further—this product reveals brighter, tighter, and smoother skin with each use, according to Dr. Rosmy Barrios, M.D., head of the regenerative aesthetics and anti-aging department at IM Clinic, and Medical Content Author at Health Reporter. "This at-home peel effectively exfoliates, promotes skin regeneration, brightens, and fights the signs of aging," Dr. Barrios tells InStyle. "Besides that, it is suitable for all skin types and contains no irritating fragrances." However, the important thing to note is the manufacturer's recommendation to use the product as a face mask and keep it on for no more than ten minutes. Leaving this at-home peel for a long time will make its effects too strong, causing skin sensitivity. Price at time of publish: $10 Size: 1.0 oz｜Active Ingredients: Glycolic Acid, Lactic Acid, Tartaric Acid, Salicylic Acid, Tasmanian Pepperberry, Hyaluronic Acid, vitamin B5, and Black Carrot｜Skin Type: Normal, Combination, and Oily. Best Facial Oil The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil 4.2 Ulta View On Amazon View On Nordstrom View On Target What We Love: It contains a singular ingredient that improves dryness and dullness. What We Don't Love: The oil has a pungent smell. Looking to add more hydration in your skin care routine? Yes, a moisturizer can and should suffice. However, if you are looking for something next level, a facial oil is definitely worth adding to your vanity tray for that extra dose of goodness. To give your skin a pick-me-up, reach for this oil because it features osehip seed oil ingredient—which targets dryness and dullness—but it's also 100 percent organic, so you're only giving your skin the best of the best. Price at time of publish: $11 Size: 1.0 oz｜Active Ingredients: Rosa Canina Seed Oil｜Skin Type: Normal, Dry, Combination, and Oily Best Toner The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution 4.5 Sephora View On Amazon View On Target View On Sephora What We Love: This is a great pick for targeting texture on your face or body. What We Don't Love: It can only be used two to three times a week. A toner is another skin care product that should be on your radar, as it can be helpful in removing deep seated dirt, oil, and impurities from the skin, plus helping to keep breakouts at bay. However, a toner can be equally helpful in combating dark spots and aging, making this one a must-have for those targeting hyperpigmentation and cell turnover, which helps with skin aging, according to Dr. O'Connell. "This is a chemical exfoliant and should not be used daily. While I like that it contains soothing aloe, I recommend using it two to three times a week to avoid causing any damage to the skin," she says. Price at time of publish: $13 Size: 8 oz｜Active Ingredients: Glycolic Acid, Tasmanian Pepperberry Derivative, Ginseng Root, and Aloe Vera｜Skin Type: Normal, Dry, Combination, and Oily Best Mask The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Masque The Ordinary View On Target View On Sephora View On Ulta What We Love: It features kaolin clay, silica, and charcoal to deep clean pores. What We Don't Love: The salicylic acid may be too potent for sensitive skin types. While workouts mean cute coordinating sets, sweaty selfies, and endorphins, it also can bring breakouts, especially if you have oily skin. And yes, an anti-acne cleanser or treatments can make a difference, but if you are looking for something that can really breakup buildup and dead skin cells, then this mask is about to become your new favorite fling. The pH (3.5-4.0) helps maintain a proper 'skinvironment' balance, while the right ingredients work to absorb but not further exacerbate dry skin, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Ava Shamban, M.D. tells InStyle. "The 2% salicylic acid does the job to break down dead skin cells and any build up in the pores." Plus, pore degunking kaolin clay, silica, and charcoal works on acne and blackheads. Price at time of publish: $14 Size: 1.7 oz｜Active Ingredients: Salicylic Acid, Vegetable Charcoal, and Clay｜Skin Type: Normal Best for Scalp The Ordinary Multi-Peptide Serum for Hair Density 4.7 Sephora View On Target View On Walmart View On Sephora What We Love: It promotes thicker, denser, and healthier hair with continued use. What We Don't Love: It can take several months to see results. A healthy scalp is the foundation for healthy hair. Board-certified dermatologist, Jeannette Graf, M.D. suggests investing in this serum, as it's full of concentrated ingredients that'll help stimulate hair growth. Even better is that it can also be used as a nighttime treatment, so you'll never have a hard time styling after applying. "This product is a concentrated scalp serum to achieve thicker, denser, and healthier hair," Dr. Graf explains. "Massaging this product into your scalp regularly can promote better hair growth and health. Plus, it can also be used as a leave-in treatment at nighttime." Price at time of publish: $30 Size: 2.0 oz｜Active Ingredients: Redensyl™, Procapil™, and Baicapil™｜Hair Types: Straight, Wavy, Curly, and Coily Best Eye Serum The Ordinary Caffeine 5% + ECGC Depuffing Eye Serum 4.2 Amazon View On Sephora View On Ulta View On Skinstore.com What We Love: It soothes puffiness and corrects hyperpigmentation around the eyes. What We Don't Love: It can take weeks of use to see noticeable results. If you're looking for an eye product that'll perk up puffy and tired-looking eyes in a flash, you're in luck — this eye serum is like the extra espresso shot you need to get going in the morning. After all, it's full of high-solubility caffeine and green tea catechin, ingredients which tame puffiness and address darkness in the eye area overtime. Unlike the traditional crop of eye creams, we love that just a little bit of eye serum is lightweight in texture and just a little goes a long way. Now, you won't have a glob of product around your eyes hoping it'll sink in enough to work. Even better is that this eye serum also doubles as a de-puffing facial serum, so if you're running low on your go-to, you'll have something to use until your restock arrives. Price at time of publish: $9 Size: 1 oz｜Active Ingredients: High-solubility caffeine and green tea cathechin｜Skin Type: Normal, Dry, Combination, and Oily Best Retinol The Ordinary Retinol 1% in Squalane 4.2 Amazon View On Amazon View On Asos View On Beautybay.com What We Love: It can help fight fine lines and wrinkles without drying the skin out. What We Don't Love: It can cause peeling and irritation in the early stages of use. Retinol under $10? Again, you're not dreaming, as this skin care staple works over time to correct dullness, improve skin texture, and smooth fine lines and wrinkles. While retinol is definitely the star product of this product, the addition of squalene prevents it from drying the skin out, making it perfect for those who are prone to flakiness with retinol, according to Dr. Shamban. "This is a very good level of retinol suspended in a squalene for moisturization," she says. "It helps to balance out the potential for drying and any skin downsides or adverse events of using retinol products. This retinol has enough to support and manage an ongoing steady and efficient cellular turnover to help fight fine lines and wrinkles." Price at time of publish: $16 Size: 1.0 oz｜Active Ingredients: 1% Retinol and Squalene｜Skin Type: Normal Best Vegan The Ordinary Marine Hyaluronics Beautybay View On Sephora View On Ulta View On Beautybay.com What We Love: It utilizes marine-derived water reservoirs that attract and hold water to the skin, similar to hyaluronic acid. What We Don't Love: The formula has a very thin, watery texture. Hyaluronic acid is nothing short of a superstar hydrator that is usually well-tolerated by all skin types. However, you'll be surprised to know that this ingredient isn't always vegan, making this product a considerable alternative to products containing animal derivatives. Not only is this product packed with marine-derived water reservoirs that help the skin retain moisture, but it's also packed with amino acids that strengthen and protect skin health overall. Additionally, it blends well with other serums and treatments in your routine, and when topped off with a moisturizer, it's basically like treating your skin to a huge glass of water. Price at time of publish: $9 Size: 1.0 oz｜Active Ingredients: Marine-Derived Water Reservoirs and Amino Acid｜Skin Type: Normal, Dry, Combination, and Oily. Best for Sensitive Skin The Ordinary 100% Plant-Derived Squalane Sephora View On Sephora View On Ulta View On Asos What We Love: Its squalane is derived from plants and is gentle to use on sensitive skin. What We Don't Love: If too much product is applied it can clog the pores. Sensitive skin types, rejoice! This product won't ignite redness and inflammation, as it contains plant-derived squalane, which is an ingredient that packs a hydrating punch. But aside from hydration, we love that when drops are added to your moisturizer, it gives skin a natural, dewy glow. Now, people will be asking who your facialist is even if it's been a while, er, never, since your last treatment. Other reasons why it's our top pick for sensitive skin? Because it's gentle, and also suitable for rosacea and dermatitis-prone skin, too. Price at time of publish: $5 Size: 1.0 oz｜Active Ingredients: 100% Plant-Derived Squalane｜Skin Type: Normal, Dry, Combination, and Oily Best Antioxidant The Ordinary 100% L-Ascorbic Acid Powder Sephora View On Sephora View On Beautybay.com View On Deciem.com What We Love: The powder is a more stable form of vitamin C that brightens complexions. What We Don't Love: It may be too abrasive for extremely sensitive skin. Topical powder may feel a little foreign to some when it comes to skincare. However, because this product is rich in l-ascorbic acid—aka vitamin C—you can expect to see more brightness and fewer breakouts as you use it. "This is a great product choice for skin brightening and for those who like to DIY and personalize their skincare," says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Kemunto Mokaya, MD. "You can mix it into a compatible serum or moisturizer (like one for hydrating with few actives), and it is best to use it with a water-based product—or just plain water. And because it's a powder, it is a stable product that will not degrade over time (unlike other formulations of vitamin C that can be oxidized by exposure to air and light)." Price at time of publish: $7 Size: 0.7 oz｜Active Ingredients: Vitamin C｜Skin Type: Normal Best for Dry Skin and Hair The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Moroccan Argan Oil 4.5 Sephora View On Walmart View On Sephora View On Ulta What We Love: It strengthens hair and improves shine. What We Don't Love: It may be too heavy for those with oily or fine hair. This one may come as a surprise, but facial oil can also double as a moisturizer for hair too, especially if it is rich in argan oil, which helps protect the hair against breakage, according to Dr. Mokaya. "While it doesn't have ingredients like minoxidil that are clinically-proven to help stimulate new hair growth, 100 percent cold-pressed moroccan argan oil can strengthen hair and add a soft sheen to it," she says. "It also easily be used as a scalp treatment." While great for breakage-prone or thinning hair, argan is a fairly thick oil and feel too greasy on oily or fine hair. Consider mixing into a mask or trying as an overnight treatment and rinsing it out in the morning. Price at time of publish: $8 Size: 1 oz｜Active Ingredients: 100% Cold-Pressed Moroccan Argan Oil｜Skin/Hair Type: Dry, Curly to Coily hair Best Shampoo The Ordinary Sulphate 4% Shampoo Cleanser for Body & Hair 4.8 Sephora View On Sephora View On Ulta View On Asos What We Love: It rids the hair of excess oil and buildup. What We Don't Love: It has a thinner texture and does not lather as well as other shampoos. If your typical shampoo isn't cleansing your scalp as thoroughly as you want, then this shampoo may come in handy. Not only does it wash away product buildup and oil, but it also leaves hair smooth and manageable, so there'll be no frustrating knots to deal with afterwards. Use like you would a clarifying shampoo for a weekly or monthly deep clean. Plus, because it's ultra gentle it's also great to use as a body wash, says double-board certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon Jaimie DeRosa, M.D. "The Ordinary Sulfate 4% Cleanser offers deep cleansing properties that wash away excess oil and buildup from the hair and body leaving it soft and shiny," she tells InStyle. "It's great for those who have sensitive skin and are looking for a great cleansing shampoo and body wash with less risk for irritation." Price at time of publish: $9 Size: 8.1 oz｜Active Ingredients: Sulfates (SLES-2):｜Hair Types: Straight, Wavy, Curly, and Coily Best Conditioner The Ordinary Behentrimonium Chloride 2% Conditioner Sephora View On Sephora View On Ulta View On Cloud10beauty.com What We Love: It is unscented and does not weigh the hair down. What We Don't Love: While marketed for all hair types, we found this may not be moisturizing enough for curly to coily hair. If you're someone who likes their shampoo and conditioner to work as a pair. This conditioner is the ideal match for the above shampoo. While its price tag may have you arching an eyebrow, this conditioner isn't another gimmicky beauty buy that'll leave you disappointed. Instead, it's lightweight and keeps frizzy hair under control. "This lightweight conditioner is a nice budget-friendly pick," Dr. Graf says. "The 2% Behentrimonium Chloride is meant to conditioner, but not weigh down your hair. Frizzy and damaged hair would especially benefit from this product." Price at time of publish: $9 Size: 8.1 oz｜Active Ingredients: Behentrimonium Chloride｜Hair Types: Straight, Wavy, Curly, and Coily Best for Brightening The Ordinary Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate 10% The Ordinary View On Theordinary.com What We Love: It offers a stabilized form of vitamin C that has a lower risk of oxidizing. What We Don't Love: It has a grainy-like texture that can be harsh to sensitive skin. Like sunblock, vitamin C serums and treatments are a must-have for maintaining healthy skin. After all, they can correct dullness, dark spots, and scarring caused by pimples and sun exposure. However, it's fair to say not all vitamin C serums are created equally, as some formulations can oxidize quickly and lose their potency. This is not the case with this formula: it features magnesium ascorbyl as an active ingredient, which is a stabilized form of vitamin C that has a lower risk of oxidation, says board-certified dermatologist Jeffrey Hsu, M.D. "This product is great because vitamin C is an incredibly hard to stabilize ingredient. A company can put in 40% ascorbic acid (vitamin C), but it could be ineffective the moment it hits light, oxygen, or is diluted with other ingredients. However, in recent years, scientists have come up with a form of vitamin C—magnesium ascorbyl, also known as Mag C. This is a stabilized form of vitamin C, so the chances of this being oxidized within the bottle is slim." Price at time of publish: $12 Size: 1.0｜Active Ingredients: Vitamin C｜Skin Types: Normal Best Primer The Ordinary High-Adherence Silicone Primer The Ordinary View On Walmart View On Sephora View On Ulta What We Love: It blurs imperfections, reduces shine, and minimizes the appearance of pores. What We Don't Love: This primer can feel heavy on the skin due to its higher level of silicones. If you're looking for a primer that can stand tall against a summer in the sun, dancing at a wedding, or a marathon work day, consider your search over. This mattifying primer keeps makeup intact and can be used by a range of skin types, says board-certified dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, M.D. "This primer contains silicone cross polymers and dimethicone to make skin appear more matte," he tells InStyle. "It blurs texture, keeps shine at bay, and minimizes the appearance of pores. Plus, this primer can be used on its own, or under makeup to help foundation stay on longer and smoother." Price at time of publish: $7 Size: 1.0 oz｜Active Ingredients: Silicone Cross Polymers and Dimethicone｜Skin Type: Normal, Oily, Combination, Dry, and Sensitive What to Keep in Mind Packaging Considering size isn't just about bottle size, as Dr. King explains, it also applies to the amount of product you use. "The bottle should be proportional to the amount of the product you are using on a daily basis, as well as to the number of days the product stays fresh once opened." The application method of the product will also determine if the packaging is right for your needs. If you're doing an oil for your hair, you may want a dropper applicator to easily deposit it in your strands versus a squeeze tube for moisturizers or cleansers. Active Ingredients Active ingredients are the ingredients put into a formula to deliver results. What benefits you are looking for and what active ingredients are included are equally worth considering. "The active formulas in the product are what is going to give the results advertised by the item," says Adashev. "For example, a product containing hyaluronic acid from The Ordinary is going to be super hydrating as it only contains the active meant for that job." The Ordinary creates a lot of serums, which are better able to penetrate the skin than a lotion, so therefore sink to the deepest levels of the skin with the potent ingredients. Skin Type "Skin type also matters in regards to the product being used," explains Adashev. For example, patients with skin concerns, like rosacea, or more sensitive skin should be using lighter products with less potent ingredients to prevent adverse reactions. The weight of a product also matters, a super moisturizing formula is a savior for dry skin, but a nightmare for oily skin types. Knowing your skin types, skin needs, and formula preferences will make purchasing a product that works for you easier. Your Questions, Answered How do you know what ingredients your skin needs? Different ingredients target different skincare concerns. For example, salicylic acid is great for oily and acne-prone skin, retinol is a gold standard for anti-aging, niacinamide can be helpful for tone and texture, and glycolic acid can be used for exfoliation or for anti-aging, Dr. King says. Identifying your skin concerns and goals can direct you to the products you need as well as help you create a consistent skin care routine. What does the strength of the ingredients mean? The strength of an ingredient refers to the percentage that is in the product. Take retinol, for example, it is available in formulas from 0.25% up to 2%. The lower concentration may be best for retinol newcomers or those with more sensitive skin whereas some people can work their way up to the heavy hitters for more significant results. "It's helpful to know the strength of an active ingredient because this gives you information about potency — higher strength may be more effective," Dr. King says. "However, it may also increase risk of irritation or other adverse effects. So, finding the right balance is key."