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Far from (The) Ordinary

Affordable skincare from an 'abnormal' company

The packaging is totaly unadorned -- the products are either simple laboratory-type dropper bottles or plain grey tubes.

THE Ordinary is a range of apothecary-style skincare products from just about the hottest beauty company in existence right now: Deciem.

Deciem, also self-titled The Abnormal Beauty Company, is based in Toronto, Canada. It was founded in 2013 by beauty entrepreneur, Brandon Truaxe, who named the company after the Latin word "decima", which means "10". He said he chose that name because everyone was always telling him not to do 10 things at once - but that that was exactly what he wanted to do.

Well, Deciem now owns and operates more than 10 brands in the beauty world, among them NIOD, Hylamide, and Hand Chemistry.

But it's one of their newest lines - The Ordinary - that's the focus of Cult Status this month.

Market voices on:

"The brand was created to celebrate integrity in its most humble and true form," its website says. "Its offering is pioneering, not in the familiar technologies it uses, but in its honesty and integrity."

It may sound like a bold claim, but there is truth in it.

The Ordinary's offerings are marketed with few bells and whistles, if any; its products are housed in either simple laboratory-type dropper bottles or plain grey tubes. And, instead of being labelled with fancy names suggesting all manner of miracle cures, the products are simply christened according to their main active ingredient.

So, you have product names such as "Advanced Retinoid 2%", "Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%", and "AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution", and so on.

Detailed product descriptions on The Ordinary's website focus on the product's list of ingredients and a matter-of-fact explanation of what the product does, instead of the usual farfetched claims of most beauty products.

In this way, The Ordinary appeals to both beauty geeks - who obsessively research and take apart the formulations of products on offer - as well as the skincare noobs.

If you know nothing about skincare, and cannot be bothered to spend too much time or money on it, The Ordinary's website is a dream. In simple terms, it tells you what goes into each product and what these do; and also how to use their products - the offerings that suit a particular skin type or issue, and the order in which to use them (which any skincare junkie will tell you is paramount for ensuring a product's efficacy).

But perhaps the most appealing aspect of this range is its price.

The Ordinary's offerings are among the most affordable skincare items out there, making them a very low-risk experiment or venture for those who have either not tried the range nor such skincare products before.

For example, its Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% formula (which helps to reduce blemishes and congestion) is US$9.80 for 30ml, and its AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution (which helps to exfoliate skin and clear pore congestion) is US$12.30 for 30ml.

Its Advanced Retinoid 2%, said to be a stable emulsion of two forms of retinoid actives and gentle on the skin (good news for first-time users), is US$14.90 (S$21.00) for 30ml. Retinoids, which are vitamin A derivatives or relatives, are one of the few products scientifically proven to be effective in treating wrinkles, photoaging, acne and psoriasis. Most high-end formulations, in a comparable size, are priced in the region of US$100.

As with all skincare products, how well they work would depend - in addition to their formulation - on how much they suit your skin type or skin issue and how you use them. But, at The Ordinary's price point, it wouldn't hurt much to experiment.

I've tried a host of their products - and some have produced more obvious results than others. I am especially a fan of their Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG, which works a treat at depuffing my eyes and face on congested mornings (typically after little sleep, which happens more often than not, these days).

I also like their 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Moroccan Argan Oil, which effectively moisturises my very dry face and hair (it is formulated without silicones and so won't build up in your hair).

I have stayed away from The Ordinary's vitamin C products for now, with many blogs criticising their texture and feel. But their primers are next on my list.

You can purchase The Ordinary products from its own site, from Asos - which is my personal favourite place to shop for them because Asos is always well-stocked and offers free shipping to Singapore - Look Fantastic's Singapore site, or Beautylish.

  • Cult Status is a monthly column focused on the best products, services and experiences we come across.