The Best Ordinary Products for Acne That Are Honestly Magic

If you have acne prone skin, these are game-changers.

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Roundup of the best Ordinary products for acne

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have definitely heard of skincare brand The Ordinary by now. The brand is famous for their super effective skincare products featuring powerful active ingredients, all at extremely low prices.

The only issue with the brand is… they carry a LOT of products. And if you don’t have a medical degree, it can be frustrating to sort through all of them and figure out which ones are best for you.

After experimenting with their products for years (and spending way too many hours browsing r/skincareaddiction), I’ve become a bit of an expert on The Ordinary, especially their offerings for acne-prone skin.

If you, like me, struggle with acne, here are the best products for acne from The Ordinary:

Disclaimer: Always introduce new skincare products one at a time, be sure to patch test new products before applying all over, and consult a dermatologist before experimenting on your skin!

5 Best Ordinary Products for Acne

1. The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

One of The Ordinary’s most famous products is their Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% solution. It’s been in my rotation for years now and I absolutely love it.

This product has a ton of benefits, from reducing oil production to minimizing the look of large pores and blemishes and brightening skin tone. It’s also pretty gentle as far as acne products go, and it will fit into a variety of skincare routines.

  • Best for Skin Type: Normal, Dry, Combination, and Oily
  • Item Form: Serum
  • Item Sizes: 30mL or 60mL
  • Active Ingredients: Niacinamide (Vitamin B3): Reduces the appearance of skin blemishes and signs of congestion, visibly brightens skin tone, Zinc PCA: Visibly regulates excess sebum activity.

Recommended For: This is a great first acne product to try from The Ordinary. It has a host of benefits for blemish-prone skin and it’s gentle and plays well with other products. It’s an excellent choice if you want to reduce pore size, control oil on your face, and address hyperpigmentation.

While not fully proven as an acne treatment, Niacinamide is a gentle ingredient suitable for sensitive skin, so it’s worth a try, especially if you’ve found other treatments to be too irritating.


  • Helps reduce oil production
  • Brightens skin tone
  • Reduces the look of large pores
  • Reduces hyperpigmentation
  • Contains zinc, which fights microorganisms that can cause acne
  • Non-irritating; great for sensitive skin


  • Niacinamide is not a proven acne treatment, so it may not help with all breakouts
  • May want to apply separately from Vitamin C products (Details here.)

2. The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Masque

Everyone who struggles with acne knows that Salicylic Acid is one of the most popular treatments around. The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Masque gives skin a concentrated dose of the ingredient in a wash-off mask form.

Salicylic Acid is a chemical exfoliant (BHA), so it’s great for “de-gunking” your pores, which helps with acne, excess oil production, and blackheads. This mask also contains charcoal and clays to help absorb excess oil.

  • Best for Skin Type: Normal, Combination, Oily
  • Item Form: Mask
  • Item Sizes: 50mL or 100mL
  • Active Ingredients: Salicylic Acid: Removes dead skin cells on the surface of oily and blemish-prone skin, revealing more radiant skin beneath

Recommended For: If you’re looking a strong acne treatment, this mask is a great option that will help remove dead skin cells and control oil. It uses salicylic acid, one of the most proven acne treatments of all time.

Use it once a week to start as it can be drying and irritating, especially on dry and sensitive skin types. Leave on for 10 minutes and rinse off completely.


  • Salicylic acid is a proven acne-fighting ingredient
  • Contains charcoal and clays to absorb excess oil
  • Easy to use as it’s a rinse-off 10 minute mask
  • Makes skin smooth and soft


  • Strong acne-fighter; may irritate sensitive skin
  • May be drying on some skin types so use with caution on dry skin

3. The Ordinary 100% Plant-Derived Squalane

A common problem when treating acne prone skin is finding products to keep skin hydrated without causing additional breakouts. The Ordinary’s 100% Plant-Derived Squalane is an amazing emollient product that won’t clog pores.

Squalane is widely touted as the best oil for acne prone skin, and it’s non-comedogenic. A few drops are all you need for soft, hydrated skin. If you haven’t tried it yet, it’s a no-brainer at just $9 a bottle!

  • Best for Skin Type: All Skin Types
  • Item Form: Oil
  • Item Sizes: 30mL
  • Active Ingredients: Squalane: An exceptional hydrator that can prevent ongoing loss of hydration.

Recommended For: This is The Ordinary’s best hydrator for acne prone skin. Squalane is non-comedogenic and absorbs well, making it a great choice for acne prone skin types. It can be added to most skincare routines without issue.

To use, add a couple of drops on top of any water based products (works particularly well over any products containing hyaluronic acid). I like to use this at night but it can be used during the day as well for extra hydration.


  • Squalane is an emollient to lock in moisture to skin for hours
  • Makes skin incredibly soft
  • 100% plant derived so it’s vegan and cruelty free
  • Can be applied to hair to increase heat protection, add shine and reduce breakage potential


  • Squalane is an emollient, not a humectant. It’s great at trapping moisture but not at adding additional moisture to skin
  • Can add a greasy feel to skin if applied in excess; use sparingly on oily and combination skin types

4. The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser

In my experience, acne prone skin does well with a simple face wash that removes dirt and makeup without stripping or over-drying the skin. The Ordinary’s Squalane Cleanser fits all of these criteria.

This gentle cleanser is formulated to remove makeup while leaving skin smooth and moisturized. It starts out as a balm texture and morphs into a clear oil when you rub it between your palms. It’s lovely and it’s also super affordable.

  • Best for Skin Type: All Skin Types
  • Item Form: Balm-like cleanser
  • Item Sizes: 50mL or 150mL
  • Active Ingredients: Squalane: An exceptional hydrator that can prevent ongoing loss of hydration.

Recommended For: If you need a hydrating cleanser to remove makeup and impurities without clogging pores, this is a winner! It’s gentle and mild, and it doesn’t sting your eyes like some acne face washes can. It’s a great basic cleanser for acne prone skin.


  • Squalane is an emollient to lock in moisture to skin for hours
  • Product uses plant-derived squalane so it’s cruelty-free and vegan
  • Doesn’t sting eyes
  • Removes makeup completely
  • Super affordable at just $7 a bottle


  • No active ingredients to fight acne
  • 50mL is a small size for a face wash; the 150mL size makes more sense for everyday use

5. The Ordinary Peeling Solution AHA 30% + BHA 2%

Proper exfoliation is an important part of treating acne. Exfoliation clears away oil and dead skin cells that can cause breakouts. And chemical exfoliation is best for acne because it’s generally safer for skin than physical exfoliants (scrubs, etc.).

The Ordinary’s AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution is an incredible at-home chemical peel that you apply for 10 minutes and then rinse off, revealing smooth, bright, clean skin. It can help with acne scars and can actually prevent breakouts before they start.

  • Best for Skin Type: Normal, Combination, Oily
  • Item Form: Liquid
  • Item Sizes: 30mL
  • Active Ingredients: Glycolic Acid: Exfoliates the outer layers of skin, Lactic Acid: Exfoliates the outer layers of skin, Salicylic Acid: Exfoliates inside the pores to reduce congestion

Recommended For: This is an amazing chemical exfoliant that works in less than 10 minutes. It contains both alpha and beta hydroxy acids for a “best of both worlds” exfoliant that’s truly effective at removing dead skin cells, brightening skin tone, and unclogging pores.

Be sure to follow directions on the bottle as this stuff is very strong! Never leave on for more than 10 minutes and start by using just once a month and building up frequency from there.


  • Contains powerful concentrations of AHAs and BHAs to exfoliate skin and reduce pore congestion
  • Easy to use: Apply to skin for 10 minutes or less, once or twice a month
  • A little goes a long way; one $8 bottle can last 6+ months


  • Can cause a burning sensation when first applying, use a light layer to start
  • Can damage skin if left on too long or used incorrectly; always start slow and follow directions on the bottle
  • Can increase skin’s sensitivity to the sun; take extra care to wear sunblock when using

What are your favorite products from The Ordinary?

Do you have acne-prone skin? What’s your routine? Are you as addicted to The Ordinary’s acne products as I am? Let me know in the comments section down below.

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