My Mom Is 71 and Loves Expensive Skincare—Here's Her Review of The Ordinary

By now you all might know my mom. She's fabulous, she's 71, and she knows her way around beauty. In fact, she might own more makeup and skincare products than I do—which is equal parts impressive and terrifying. So you can see why she's the ultimate guinea pig when it comes to trying out the latest, greatest, or buzziest products in the biz. I love that we both represent different generations, have different skincare needs and goals (me: breakouts and dark circles; her: fine lines and pigmentation), and I firmly believe bringing in other age demographics for product reviews really ups the ante when it comes to fishing for efficacy. After all, how the heck will someone like me with 26-year-old skin know if an age-pegged serum is helping? Right? Right.

Enter The Ordinary, the affordable skincare baby of megabrand Deciem which has launched to a very high, covetable status within the skincare-and-beauty industry. Not only are the products priced right around $10 and under, but the brand also boasts potent concentrations, top-notch quality, and consistent, exciting new launches (um, like its brand-new Salicylic Acid Masque, $12!). People, and largely, millennials, understandably flip over the brand, which ultimately marries all of our most pressing product wants. 

"The Ordinary is an evolving collection of treatments offering familiar, effective clinical technologies positioned to raise pricing and communication integrity in skincare," the brand states on its website. "It was created to celebrate integrity in its most humble and true form. Its offering is pioneering, not in the familiar technologies it uses, but in its honesty and integrity. The Ordinary is born to disallow commodity to be disguised as ingenuity. The Ordinary is 'Clinical formulations with integrity."'

So when we were discussing the brand and five of its top-selling formulas during a recent editorial meeting, I couldn't help wondering what my 71-year-old mom would think. Even though she loves a good bargain and does swear by certain drugstore brands and formulas, for the most part, she's extremely picky with skincare and uses an impressively expensive product spread. To put The Ordinary to the ultimate, non-millennial test, I asked my mom to use six beloved products from the brand for about a week when I was home visiting recently. While you definitely need to give skincare a good chunk of time to work its magic, it's also safe to say many of us know quite quickly whether or not we're going to like a product or incorporate it into our regular routine. Therefore, I knew my mom would either love The Ordinary or hate it after day one. 

Ahead, a brief synopsis of my mom's skincare routine and concerns, in addition to her honest thoughts and feelings about The Ordinary. Keep scrolling! 

My Mom's Normal A.M. Skincare Routine

"Before I go walking in the morning, I use Bioderma's Sensibio H2O ($15) on a cotton pad to wipe off my face, and then I apply Australian Gold's Botanical SPF Tinted Face Lotion SPF 50 ($15).

"When I return (and am sweaty!), I wash my face with Avalon Organics Intense Defense With Vitamin C Cleansing Gel ($7), do another sweep of Bioderma, and then wash my face again in the shower with Jason's Aloe Vera Body Wash ($8). (The mineral SPF is very hard to get off and the body wash has great ingredients that are gentle enough for my face!) If I don't go walking, I just use the cleanser from Avalon Organics to cleanse my face."

"Then, I usually alternate between using several different skincare items: La Prairie Skin Caviar Essence-in-Lotion ($270) or RéVive Intensité Complete Anti-Aging Serum ($485). I also sometimes use these three products: SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic ($166) or Timeless CoEnzyme Q10 ($26) and Matrixyl Synthe'6 ($26). I follow with Essentiel by Adele Essentiel Moisture ($39) to moisturize my face."

"Prior to using these products in my daily routine, I had a great deal of redness on either side of my nose and in the upper part of my cheeks. This specific morning routine has helped reduce that redness, and the La Prairie, in particular, has helped to lighten some of the age spots on the outer portion of my cheeks and along my jawline."

My Mom's Normal P.M. Skincare Routine

"I cleanse with Avalon Organics Cleansing Gel (above) if I haven’t worn makeup. If I've worn makeup, I first use one of Simple's Facial Cleansing Wipes ($7), followed by cleansing with Avalon Organics. If I feel like I need it, I'll do a double cleanse, but the second time around, I'll use my Clarisonic Brush ($99) to make sure every last stitch of my makeup is removed."

"Next, I use either the La Prairie Skin Caviar again, the RéVive serum, or the three Timeless products mentioned above. Two or three times a week, I'll cleanse my face and only use SkinCeuticals Glycolic 10 Renew Overnight ($80), which helps promote cellular turnover. No matter what, I always complete the nighttime routine with the Essentiel by Adele moisturizer."

Enter The Ordinary

"Even before Erin asked me if I'd try some of the products, I'd definitely heard of The Ordinary, but I'd never tried anything from the brand. I knew it was a very popular, very affordable brand but wasn’t knowledgeable about specific products in its line. To be quite honest, I was a little skeptical about a brand titled The Ordinary. Why would a brand bill themselves as basic? Because of the brand name, and the cheaper prices, I also assumed its products were more geared toward skincare concerns of younger women rather than my age demographic."

The new a.m. routine: "After cleansing (as indicated above for my previous a.m. skincare routine), each morning I've been applying the brand's Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 ($7), followed by the Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% ($7). I follow this with Essentiel by Adele, sunscreen, and then makeup."

The new p.m. routine: "After cleansing (see number one above), I apply the Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution ($9) to a clean, dry face. (I know this is one of Erin's favorites!) Next, I apply the Granactive Retinol 2% Emulsion ($9) before applying the 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil ($10)."

The twice-per-week add-on: "The AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution ($7) used after cleansing at night and before serums."

The Reviews

"Since I'd previously used hyaluronic acid and know how important it is to adding and retaining moisture in the skin, I knew what to expect with this product. It applied easily and definitely delivered on the promise of adding and retaining moisture for the skin. Honestly, I can't tell a difference between this serum and hyaluronic acid serums 10 times the price!"

"I was aware that niacinamide is important to help improve the appearance of enlarged pores, uneven skin tone, dullness, and fine lines. This formula applies easily and absorbs into the skin rapidly, providing an excellent base for skincare products that follow.

"My only issue is how fast it absorbs. You need quick fingers to ensure you cover enough ground without adding more and more product! Overall though, I definitely think it helps to brighten my face immediately, and I think it's helped over the course of the week with improving the clarity of my skin."

"Because this is a peel, I was concerned that it would be too harsh or strong for my drier, sensitive skin, so I was a bit reluctant to use it. However, I had no negative skin reactions and only felt a slight tingling sensation in one small area on my cheek where I'd had a blemish that was in the process of clearing up. It was easy to apply and not the least bit messy or cumbersome like some peels I've seen.

"I kept it on for 10 minutes and rinsed it off with lukewarm water, as directed on the packaging. My skin felt amazingly soft afterward, so I was definitely pleased with the results."

"Toning solutions I'd used previously were refreshing and light but also contained alcohol, which can dry the skin. This toning solution has no alcohol and is packed with a number of beneficial ingredients. Since it does contain alpha hydroxyl acid, which can increase sensitivity to the sun, it's important to always wear sunscreen when using this product. 

"The bottle has a cap which simply pulls up so the product can easily be applied to a cotton pad for application. I like using this product to prepare my skin for the skincare products that follow, and I think it's helped to smooth out the texture of my skin. And for what it's worth, Erin swore it helped clear up a random, stubborn breakout while she was home!"

"Since there seems to be agreement among dermatologists that a vitamin A–derived retinol product packs the most punch to help prevent and diminish the look of fine lines, a retinol product is a must for my skin, and I was definitely in need of a product like this. The white milkiness of this product caught me a little off-guard, but this formulation seems to apply easily. It's too early to comment on results, but stay tuned. It didn't irritate my skin or cause any issues like flaking—as some retinol formulas can—so, so far, so good!"

"I have to admit that I was a little reluctant to use this product. I'd tried some oils in the past, and though I'd initially had good results, I always seemed to end up with a blemish and couldn't help but think that the oil was clogging some pores. So I was aware that I needed to use a very light hand—especially around my nose and my chin area where I'm the oiliest.

"Despite knowing this, I somehow managed to apply too much of this oil and ended up blotting my skin with a paper towel to absorb some of it. My second try was a bit more promising. I applied a very small amount and rubbed it in thoroughly. Though it did wonders for moisturizing my skin, the jury's still out on whether this will continue to work for me, and I'm not a big fan of the initial feel of oil on my skin.

"This product is another work in progress along with the Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion. Only time will tell if these are working since it usually takes at least eight to 10 weeks of product use to really see how effective the products are."

Some Parting Thoughts

"I think using only products from one skincare line will help me make the use of all these products become a more ingrained habit. On the other hand, I can't help but wonder if the skin benefits from the use of a wide variety of different products, and I do like having the freedom to swap in new things and stray from a monogamous brand relationship. I need to do more research!

"That said, I do really appreciate the fact that these are all fragrance-free products, and I love that the oil is organic and cold-pressed. However, I do wish the directions on each bottle would indicate the amount of product to use. It's so good at explaining everything else! As it stands, it becomes a bit of a  trial-and-error process to determine how much to use, and I'd prefer to have some guidance—especially when it comes to skincare products."

Next up: People Don't Believe My Mom Is 71—Here Are 8 Anti-Aging Serums She Uses