The Ordinary For Sensitive Skin

Finding the right skincare product for sensitive skin can be tricky, and dealing with hypersensitive skin issues can cause anxiety and stress.

If this sounds familiar, take heart because The Ordinary for sensitive skin offers some affordable skincare products suitable for those with easily irritated and sensitive skin.

These products will nourish your skin while soothing any redness or discomfort associated with your sensitive complexion.

The Ordinary’s products for sensitive skin make up a complete skincare routine, and I’ve included a few sample routines at the end of this post.

This post contains affiliate links, and any purchases made through these links will result in a commission for me at no extra cost to you. Please read my Disclosure for additional information.

Before we get into the products and routines, I want to stress the importance of patch testing new products before you use them for the first time.

Patch testing is a good idea for everyone, but if you have sensitive skin, it is essential to avoid initial irritation or an allergic reaction.


The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser

The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser contains plant derived-squalane, a highly stable and non-irritating emollient that can help soothe sensitive skin.

The gentle cleanser helps to remove dirt, oil, grime, and makeup without over-drying or stripping the skin’s natural oils. It is non-comedogenic, so it won’t clog pores, and it is soap-free.

If you have sensitive, dry skin, this cleanser will offer gentle yet effective cleansing while keeping your skin’s natural barrier intact.

The cleanser comes in two sizes: a smaller 1.69 oz (50 ml) size shown above, which is excellent for travel, and a larger 5.1 oz (150 ml) size.

The Ordinary Glucoside Foaming Cleanser

If you have oily skin or prefer a foaming cleanser, The Ordinary Glucoside Foaming Cleanser is a water-based foaming gel cleanser formulated for all skin types, including sensitive skin.

It contains plant-derived surfactants to clean your skin while maintaining your skin moisture barrier.

The Ordinary Glycolipid Cream Cleanser

If you would prefer a non-foaming cleanser, The Ordinary Glycolipid Cream Cleanser contains a plant-derived glycolipid cleansing agent that cleanses without stripping your skin or compromising your skin barrier.

For more details on this The Ordinary cleanser, please see my complete review.

Double Cleanse

If your sensitive skin can tolerate a double cleanse, you can pair Glucoside Foaming Cleanser with Squalane Cleanser at the end of the day in your PM skincare routine.

Use Squalane Cleanser to remove makeup, dirt, and sunscreen, and follow with Glucoside Foaming Cleanser or Glycolipid Cream Cleanser to clean your skin.

Hydrating Serum

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5

Don’t let the word acid fool you. The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 (shown above in the larger 2 oz size) is a water-based hydrating serum suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin.

The serum contains low-, medium- and high-molecular-weight hyaluronic acid plus a next-generation HA crosspolymer to ensure your skin is hydrated at multiple layers for an extended period.

In addition, pro-vitamin B5 (panthenol) hydrates the outer layer of your skin.

The Ordinary Amino Acids + B5 is another option if you want a more lightweight, ultra-thin serum texture that offers skin barrier support and anti-irritant benefits.

But please note that Amino Acids + B5 may cause a temporary tingling sensation upon application. The Ordinary notes that you can mix this The Ordinary product with other serums or creams to reduce its strength.


While any new product has the potential to irritate sensitive skin (that’s why patch testing is so important), the following few products we discuss may be too strong for your skin depending on your sensitivity level, so proceed carefully.

Vitamin C Derivatives (If Tolerated)

Pure vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is an excellent active to use in your skin care routine because it offers multiple skin benefits:

  • Antioxidant protection
  • Smoothing wrinkles and fine lines (stimulates collagen production)
  • Brightening and fading hyperpigmentation, dark spots, and uneven skin tone

But for pure vitamin C to be effective, it should be formulated at a pH under 3.5, which can irritate sensitive skin.

This is where vitamin C derivatives come into play.

Vitamin C derivatives are a great alternative because they are usually formulated at a higher, less-irritating pH, are more stable than vitamin C, and convert to pure vitamin C in your skin.

Of course, pure vitamin C will be more potent, but a derivative might be an effective alternative for you if you have sensitive skin.

Whether I use pure ascorbic acid or a vitamin C derivative, I love using vitamin C in my morning skincare routine since it offers antioxidant protection from environmental aggressors like pollution and UV rays.

This super lightweight water-free serum is in an oil base, which makes it excellent for dry skin.

It brightens and balances uneven skin tone with its hydrating formula. It contains vitamin F (Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids), which strengthens your skin’s moisture barrier.

A few other The Ordinary vitamin C derivative serums may work for sensitive skin. One of my favorites is Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12%.

It is a water-based serum that helps brighten skin while improving an uneven skin tone. This serum is lightweight and doesn’t irritate my somewhat sensitive skin.

For Redness (If Tolerated)

If you deal with redness, The Ordinary EUK 134 0.1% could be an option depending on your skin tolerance.

It has an interesting formula that contains a “self-regenerating molecule” that mimics the effects of two antioxidants found naturally in our skin. While it offers a high level of antioxidant protection, it also helps reduce visible redness.

The Ordinary Mandelic Acid 10% + HA (If Tolerated)

Exfoliating acids like alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) lift away dead skin cells and improve skin texture and tone. But AHAs can also cause skin irritation, especially for those with a sensitive skin type.

AHAs like glycolic acid and lactic acid have a smaller molecule size, which allows them to penetrate the skin faster, but they also can cause irritation.

Mandelic acid is an AHA with a larger molecule size, allowing it to penetrate the skin more slowly and gently. (Mandelic acid has a molecular weight of 152.1 daltons compared to glycolic acid’s 76.0 daltons.)

The Ordinary Mandelic Acid 10% + HA contains a 10% concentration of mandelic acid, which penetrates the skin more slowly than other AHAs and tends to cause less irritation, making this serum suitable for all skin types.

Mandelic acid can also be beneficial for acne-prone skin. Clinical research found mandelic acid (at a high concentration) less irritating than salicylic acid but just as effective at treating acne.

It’s a good idea to start slowly with mandelic acid and gradually increase usage so you don’t over-exfoliate your skin.

As with all exfoliating acids, be sure to wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30 during the day, as AHAs make your skin more sensitive to the sun.

Related Post: The Ordinary Mandelic Acid vs Lactic Acid

The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% in Squalane (If Tolerated)

Unfortunately, some of the most effective skincare actives also cause the most irritation.

Retinol is a well-studied and powerful anti-aging ingredient but can cause stinging, dryness, irritation, flaky skin, and redness.

There is a newer generation retinoid (retinol is a type of retinoid) called Granactive Retinoid that contains an ester of retinoic acid (Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate (HPR)), which is formulated to be less irritating than traditional retinol but provides similar results.

So you get the moisturizing qualities of squalane in addition to the anti-aging benefits of Granacitve Retinoid.

NOTE: It is important to start slowly with retinoids to give your skin time to adjust and build tolerance. Also, it’s very important to wear sunscreen when using retinoids and for a week after, as retinoids increase sun sensitivity.

The Ordinary Hydrators: Moisturizers And Face Oils

The Ordinary hydrators are key for sensitive skin because they help to restore the skin’s protective moisture barrier.

If your skin becomes dehydrated and your skin barrier is weakened, you may experience redness and irritation from external irritants, which is the last thing you need when you have sensitive skin.

These are a few of the best The Ordinary hydrators and oils for sensitive skin that support a healthy skin barrier:

The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA

The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA is a lightweight daily moisturizer formulated with skin-identical ingredients, including amino acids, fatty acids, triglycerides, urea, ceramides, phospholipids, glycerine, saccharides, sodium PCA, and hyaluronic acid.

The Ordinary’s original surface hydrator supports and improves skin barrier function with continued usage. It’s non-irritating and soothes sensitive skin.

This moisturizer is better suited for normal to oily skin types due to its lighter texture.

The cream is powered by plant-derived ceramides and contains almost four times more moisturizing emollients and two times more humectants than Natural Moisturising Factors + HA.

The moisturizer uses skin-identical Natural Moisturizing Factors, PhytoCeramides, and skin lipids to replenish, strengthen and restore the skin barrier that keeps moisture in.

If you have parched, flaky dehydrated, or dry, sensitive skin, this is The Ordinary cream for you.

Related Post: The Ordinary Hydrators and Oils

It occurs naturally in our skin’s sebum in the form of squalene (with en e).

Squalane is a stable and gentle active that nourishes and moisturizes your skin.

It has a lightweight texture and is non-comedogenic (it won’t clog pores or cause acne), which makes it suitable if your sensitive skin is also acne-prone.

It has such a lightweight texture that it can be applied before your daily moisturizer for a boost of emollient moisture.

For even lighter-weight hydration, 100% Plant-Derived Hemi-Squalane hydrates the skin while feeling almost like a dry oil. Super lightweight and nourishing!

Related Post: The Ordinary 100% Plant-Derived Squalane Review

Rich in moisturizing fatty acids, borage oil contains a high concentration of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), an essential fatty acid that nourishes the skin.

It’s naturally sourced, cold-pressed, and ideal for skin irritation due to dryness. Please note that if you are sensitive to scent, this borage oil has a natural, earthy scent.

The oil is rich in omega-3 (alpha-linolenic) and omega-6 (linoleic) fatty acids that calm and moisturize the skin.

It also contains antioxidants that protect the skin from environmental stress.

Like borage oil, this chia seed oil has a natural scent due in part to its high alpha-linolenic acid content.

It’s ideal for sensitive and dry skin and provides an extra layer of hydration that won’t feel heavy or weigh down your skin. It’s an excellent hair oil, too!

The Ordinary Mineral UV Filters SPF 30 with Antioxidants

Sunscreen is an essential part and one of the most important steps of any skincare routine. Sunscreen protects the skin from damaging UV radiation that can contribute to premature aging, sunburns, and skin cancer.

UV radiation can irritate sensitive skin, so sunscreen is key for sensitive skin types.

Since some chemical sunscreen ingredients can irritate sensitive skin, a mineral sunscreen/physical sunscreen is your best bet if you have sensitive skin.

The sunscreen also contains antioxidants to help protect the skin from environmental stress and sodium hyaluronate (the sodium salt of hyaluronic acid) for hydration.

The Ordinary Skincare Routines For Sensitive Skin

I’ve included two morning and evening routines: one for sensitive skin and one for sensitive and aging skin.

For all routines, if you need added moisture, feel free to incorporate your oil of choice from The Ordinary, such as 100% Plant-Derived Squalane, 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Borage Seed Oil, or 100% Organic Virgin Chia Seed Oil before or after your moisturizer, whichever works best for your skin.

For Sensitive Aging Skin

As an optional add-on for the aging, sensitive skin routines, if your skin can tolerate it, you can apply The Ordinary Multi-Peptide Serum after hyaluronic acid.

It is an excellent serum to address the visible signs of aging. Just avoid using this peptide serum on any nights you use mandelic acid since peptides conflict with exfoliating acids.

Also, The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil is ideal for aging skin as it supports skin elasticity, brightens your skin, and helps reduce uneven skin tone.

Sample Morning The Ordinary Skincare Routine For Sensitive Skin

  • Squalane Cleanser
  • Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5
  • Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA OR Natural Moisturizing Factors + PhytoCeramides*
  • Mineral UV Filters SPF 30 + Antioxidants or preferred sunscreen

*Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA tends to be better suited for normal to oily skin types, while Natural Moisturizing Factors + PhytoCeramides is better suited for normal to dry skin types.

Sample Evening The Ordinary Skincare Routine For Sensitive Skin

  • Squalane Cleanser and/or Foaming Glucoside Cleanser (can double cleanse if tolerated)
  • Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5
  • Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA OR Natural Moisturizing Factors + PhytoCeramides

Sample Morning The Ordinary Skincare Routine For Aging & Sensitive Skin

  • Squalane Cleanser
  • Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5
  • If Your Skin Can Tolerate It: Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate 20% + Vitamin F
  • Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA OR Natural Moisturizing Factors + PhytoCeramides
  • Mineral UV Filters SPF 30 + Antioxidants or preferred sunscreen

Sample Evening The Ordinary Skincare Routine For Aging & Sensitive Skin

  • Squalane Cleanser and/or Foaming Glucoside Cleanser (can double cleanse if tolerated)
  • Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5
  • If Your Skin Can Tolerate It: Granactive Retinoid 2% in Squalane (can alternate nights with Mandelic Acid 10% + HA)
  • Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA OR Natural Moisturizing Factors + PhytoCeramides

A Few Final Notes on The Ordinary For Sensitive Skin

The Ordinary suggests introducing one new product into your skincare regimen at a time to allow your skin to adjust. This also allows you to determine what works best for your skin.

For more details on how to patch test new skincare products, please see The Ordinary’s guide to patch testing.

It’s always a good idea to wear sunscreen daily. Look for a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 protection.

The Ordinary Conflicts

Some The Ordinary products should not be used together, so please see my The Ordinary Conflicts Guide for more details.

Be sure to follow the suggested usage instructions for The Ordinary products, as some products are best used at night and/or in the morning.

Remember to listen to your skin, and always seek advice from a dermatologist if you are ever unsure about a product or how to use it.

Thanks for reading!

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