The Not-So Ordinary


By subverting the traditional go-to standards of the beauty industry, new skincare brand The Ordinary has gained legions of loyal fans, spreading the gospel of the little brand that packs a big punch. With minimal, unisex, pharma-inspired packaging the brand’s focus is on the integrity of the clinical formulations it creates, at prices that leave you with change from a tenner.

Let’s break down some of the game-changing approaches that have helped them disrupt the beauty industry:

User generated content via Instagram 
  1. Be transparent, don’t make extravagant claims While many cosmetic companies still include misleading statements about the anti-ageing or beautifying results their products can yield, people are becoming increasingly cynical about whether a lip gloss can really give you a Kylie Jenner pout. The Ordinary makes few claims about what its products will do for your skin, the clinical ingredients speak for themselves.
  1. Lead with science, don’t make it an afterthought The Ordinary’s ‘clinical formulations’ are exactly that; free from parabens, sulphates and mineral oils (i.e. fillers) they are focused on a few active ingredients. Aside from anti-aging cocktail Buffet the products are not descriptively named but just titled as per their contents ie Advanced Retinoid 2%. In combination with the scientific looking glass bottle with pipette, The Ordinary does the opposite of the patronising ‘here comes the science bit’ approach, instead being bold and putting science at the forefront of the brand.
The glass bottle and pipette makes everyone feel like a skincare expert 
  1. Skip celeb endorsements, let consumers be your champions As of yet, The Ordinary hasn’t partnered with any big names, celebrities or even models. Its runaway success has been propelled by word of mouth, and micro influencers online. The brand is so strong that it inspires people to create content around the products. The user generated content looks professional; when your consumers are creating such great content there is less impetus to spend money on marketing. The choice not to show any models in The Ordinary’s content (mainly driven through Instagram) gives the user more space to implant themselves in the brand, and further encourages them to create their own content.
User generated content from Instagram 
  1. Credit your customer, don’t spoon-feed them The minimalist packaging only reveals the product’s active ingredients with little further explanation about what benefits it has for your skin. The onus is on the consumer to research what formula will be best for their skin prior to purchase. Putting your customer in control over how they treat their skin, and not preaching to them about what it will do is both revolutionary and refreshing.

  1. Ignore the drugstore, look to new retail Rather than partner with large drugstore and beauty chains to promote their products, The Ordinary instead recognised that online retail would offer a new route to market. When The Ordinary was launched on ASOS earlier this year, they exploded. Suddenly it seemed everyone was buying the products, and ASOS were keen to promote themselves as the home of future-facing and innovative skincare, as well as fast fashion.
Available on


In a short space of time, The Ordinary have totally changed the beauty game. By cutting through the patronising and hard-to-believe promises of other brands, they have staked a claim as a transparent, honest, and innovative brand. We’re excited to see how other beauty brands will respond, and most importantly, what The Ordinary will do next.

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