The Ordinary Morning Skin Care Routine For Persistent Acne

The Ordinary is a Canadian skin care brand that strives to provide affordable, effective, and transparent skin care products. They have a multitude of treatments available which can make it difficult to choose a morning skin care routine specifically for those suffering from persistent acne. Continue reading to learn about the affordable products you can use to treat your acne, and learn about why key ingredients will work for your skin.


It is important to cleanse the skin, ridding it from excess oil, makeup, and residual sunscreen and other skin care products left on during the day and night. Your choice of cleanser greatly affects the integrity of your skin barrier, so it is important to choose one that will minimize skin damage and help to nourish the skin, in addition to providing a great cleanse.

While The Ordinary has many options for many different treatments, they have narrowed down their selection to just one cleanser they have available; The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser. Let’s dive into why this cleanser would be beneficial to acne-prone skin.


The Ordinary’s website states that their cleanser has a pH between 5.5-6.5. The skin’s normal pH should be between 4.5-6.0, making this a suitable cleanser. Higher pH values result in the growth of yeast, as well as disruption of the skin barrier, leading to an increased risk of skin diseases (1). An increased pH allows for an optimal environment for growth of certain bacteria, such as Staphylococcus aureus which interferes with the process of wound healing (1). 

A study was done in which the pH of the skin was tested in both acne patients as well as a control group. The results showed that pH of the skin was higher in both men and women with acne, in comparison to the pH of those in the control group (2). There are multiple factors that can influence the pH of the skin, including your age and ethnicity. In terms of factors that can be changed; diet, the type of cleanser you use, and topical products are all factors that can change the pH of the skin (2). In order to maintain the health of your skin and prevent acne, lowering the skin’s pH is a good option. Consumption of vitamin A has been shown to decrease skin pH. Also, a diet containing a lot of histidine (an essential amino acid) present in meat, nuts, and seeds also showed to decrease skin pH (2). 

Cleansers containing soap tend to be alkaline, increasing skin pH. Even short-duration use of a high pH cleanser was shown to have long-term effects on an increased skin pH (2). This is why The Ordinary’s cleanser is a great option to maintain skin pH, as its pH range is close to the pH of skin. 


Squalene is found abundantly in shark liver oil, as well as in olive oil and palm oil, and is naturally produced in the human body. It functions as an antioxidant and hydrator in the skin (3). Over-the-counter products contain squalane, the end product of hydrogenation of squalene. It is more shelf-stable and less likely to be oxidized (4). 

In skin care products, the use of squalane can make skin supple and hydrated. It can increase the speed at which the skin barrier repairs itself, and it also protects the skin from UV-induced oxidative damage (3). This is a great ingredient that cushions the blow of cleansing the skin, which ultimately disrupts the skin barrier. 


Glycerin is a humectant that has hydrating properties when applied to the skin (5). Humectants bind to water, keeping your skin hydrated and helping to prevent transepidermal water loss. It has also been shown to increase the rate of wound-repair, support the skin barrier, and protect the skin from irritating substances (6). The addition of glycerin to this cleanser will help soften the skin, reduce skin irritation, and provide a gentle cleanse before the rest of your morning skin care.

Sucrose Laurate and Sucrose Trilaurate

The Ordinary has steered clear of traditional, harsh surfactants including soap, and sodium laureth sulfate (7). Sucrose works as a skin hydrator, and when combined with fatty acids, they have surfactant properties (8). These gentle surfactants prevent dry skin, loss of skin proteins, and skin tightness. 


The Ordinary has a splendid option for a creamy moisturizer that easily sinks into the skin, providing your skin with the essential nutrients it needs to fight the day’s external stressors. This is the next step in your morning skin care routine that will help to shield your skin from pollutants and keep it hydrated all day. Let’s take a look at the ingredients in the Natural Moisturizing Factors Moisturizer by The Ordinary.

Sodium Hyaluronate

This is a derivative of hyaluronic acid that has a smaller molecular weight, allowing it to penetrate the skin and provide hydration to the layers underneath (9). Those suffering from acne often use drying treatments that disrupt the skin barrier. Using a moisturizer with sodium hyaluronate provides moisture and can reduce erythema or redness in the skin (10).

Amino Acids

Amino acids are compounds found throughout the body. In the skin, they function to retain water and protect the skin from UV damage (11). They function as humectants, binding water to the skin and providing hydration. Arginine, an amino acid present in this moisturizer, has been shown to improve the texture of the skin (12), and also plays a role in creating urea, which moisturizes the skin (13). In addition, when applied to the skin, the amino acid glycine has been shown to repair wounds (14). This moisturizer’s ability to retain water in the skin, boost hydration, and support the skin barrier makes it a great choice for those suffering from persistent acne, as it creates a healthy skin environment, deterring bacteria from growing and causing acne.


Urea is a type of emollient that plays a role in maintaining the moisture content in the skin, improving the skin barrier, and has anti-microbial effects (15). As an emollient at low concentrations, it helps to disrupt the dry skin cycle and provide smoothness to the skin (16). Topical application of urea has also been shown to reduce redness and scaling on the skin, which is beneficial to those experiencing frequent acne breakouts (15). 


This is an incredibly important step in your skin care routine. It should never be skipped. Adding sunscreen to your routine will not only significantly reduce your chances of getting skin cancer, but also prevent darkening of pigmentation and many more benefits. See below to learn about The Ordinary’s Mineral UV Filter Sunscreen SPF 30.

The Ordinary’s sunscreen contains physical UV filters, such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to protect against the sun’s rays. Physical filters are more suited for people with acne-prone skin, because these filters sit on top of the skin, creating a physical block from the sun’s rays. On the other hand, chemical UV filters sink into the skin, absorbing the sun’s rays. This can irritate sensitive skin, leading to breakouts.

Zinc Oxide

Zinc oxide protects the skin from a wide range of UVA rays. These rays contribute to pigmentation and photoaging (17). It is very stable when used in cosmetics, and does not react with other UV filters. It works by reflecting UV rays when they come into contact with the skin, providing a physical block to prevent rays from entering the skin.

Titanium Dioxide

The other active ingredient in this sunscreen is titanium dioxide, another physical filter that actually provides more UVB protection than zinc oxide (17). However, in comparison to zinc oxide, it provides less protection against UVA 1, which are UV rays that have a specific wavelength. Therefore, it is important that these filters are combined in this sunscreen to provide maximum protection. 

Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil

This ingredient is otherwise known as sunflower seed oil. The addition of this ingredient in this sunscreen provides the skin with moisture, maintains the stratum corneum (outer layer of the skin), and does not cause redness when applied (18). This oil contains a higher concentration of linoleic acid (an omega-6 fatty acid) in comparison to oleic acid (an omega-9 fatty acid) (19). Studies on acne patients have shown that they have a decreased amount of linoleic acid in the skin in comparison to those that do not suffer from acne (20). Therefore, topical applications of oils containing high linoleic acid levels may alter the fatty acid levels in the skin, improving acne. 

The takeaway here is that the important steps in your morning skin care routine should include a gentle cleanser, a moisturizer, and a sunscreen. The Ordinary presents a great line up of these types of products. These will help to maintain and nourish the skin barrier, helping you on your journey to clear skin. 


(1) Kuo SH, Shen CJ, Shen CF, Cheng CM. Role of pH Value in Clinically Relevant Diagnosis. Diagnostics (Basel). 2020 Feb 16;10(2):107. doi: 10.3390/diagnostics10020107. PMID: 32079129; PMCID: PMC7167948.

(2) Prakash C, Bhargava P, Tiwari S, Majumdar B, Bhargava RK. Skin Surface pH in Acne Vulgaris: Insights from an Observational Study and Review of the Literature. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2017 Jul;10(7):33-39. Epub 2017 Jul 1. PMID: 29104722; PMCID: PMC5605222.

(3) Huang ZR, Lin YK, Fang JY. Biological and pharmacological activities of squalene and related compounds: potential uses in cosmetic dermatology. Molecules. 2009 Jan 23;14(1):540-54. doi: 10.3390/molecules14010540. PMID: 19169201; PMCID: PMC6253993.

(4) Sethi A, Kaur T, Malhotra SK, Gambhir ML. Moisturizers: The Slippery Road. Indian J Dermatol. 2016 May-Jun;61(3):279-87. doi: 10.4103/0019-5154.182427. PMID: 27293248; PMCID: PMC4885180.

(5) Milani M, Sparavigna A. The 24-hour skin hydration and barrier function effects of a hyaluronic 1%, glycerin 5%, and Centella asiatica stem cells extract moisturizing fluid: an intra-subject, randomized, assessor-blinded study. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2017 Aug 11;10:311-315. doi: 10.2147/CCID.S144180. PMID: 28860834; PMCID: PMC5560567. 

(6) Fluhr JW, Darlenski R, Surber C. Glycerol and the skin: holistic approach to its origin and functions. Br J Dermatol. 2008 Jul;159(1):23-34. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2133.2008.08643.x. Epub 2008 Jul 1. PMID: 18510666.

(7) Bondi CA, Marks JL, Wroblewski LB, Raatikainen HS, Lenox SR, Gebhardt KE. Human and Environmental Toxicity of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS): Evidence for Safe Use in Household Cleaning Products. Environ Health Insights. 2015 Nov 17;9:27-32. doi: 10.4137/EHI.S31765. PMID: 26617461; PMCID: PMC4651417.

(8) Sucrose Trilaurate.Cosmetics Info. (n.d.). 

(9) Nunez, K. (2020, November 6). Sodium Hyaluronate in Skin Care: Benefits, Side Effects, How It’s Used. Healthline.

(10) Article – JDDonline – Journal of Drugs in Dermatology. JDDonline. (2019, November 21).

(11) Solano F. Metabolism and Functions of Amino Acids in the Skin. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2020;1265:187-199. doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-45328-2_11. PMID: 32761577.

(12) Gad, M. Z. (2010, June 9). Anti-aging effects of l-arginine. Journal of Advanced Research.

(13) Wohlrab J, Siemes C, Marsch WC. The influence of L-arginine on the regulation of epidermal arginase. Skin Pharmacol Appl Skin Physiol. 2002 Jan-Feb;15(1):44-54. doi: 10.1159/000049388. PMID: 11803257.

(14) Razak MA, Begum PS, Viswanath B, Rajagopal S. Multifarious Beneficial Effect of Nonessential Amino Acid, Glycine: A Review. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2017;2017:1716701. doi: 10.1155/2017/1716701. Epub 2017 Mar 1. PMID: 28337245; PMCID: PMC5350494.

(15) Pan, M., Heinecke, G., & Bernardo, S. (2013, December). Urea: A comprehensive review of the clinical literature. Research Gate.

(16) Lodén M. Role of topical emollients and moisturizers in the treatment of dry skin barrier disorders. Am J Clin Dermatol. 2003;4(11):771-88. doi: 10.2165/00128071-200304110-00005. PMID: 14572299.

(17) Gabros S, Nessel TA, Zito PM. Sunscreens And Photoprotection. [Updated 2020 Sep 29]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. 

(18) Danby SG, AlEnezi T, Sultan A, Lavender T, Chittock J, Brown K, Cork MJ. Effect of olive and sunflower seed oil on the adult skin barrier: implications for neonatal skin care. Pediatr Dermatol. 2013 Jan-Feb;30(1):42-50. doi: 10.1111/j.1525-1470.2012.01865.x. Epub 2012 Sep 20. PMID: 22995032.

(19) Lin TK, Zhong L, Santiago JL. Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils. Int J Mol Sci. 2017 Dec 27;19(1):70. doi: 10.3390/ijms19010070. PMID: 29280987; PMCID: PMC5796020.

(20) Ottaviani M, Camera E, Picardo M. Lipid mediators in acne. Mediators Inflamm. 2010;2010:858176. doi: 10.1155/2010/858176. Epub 2010 Aug 25. PMID: 20871834; PMCID: PMC2943135.


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