The Ordinary Foundations: The Best Budget Base Option

OK, NOW I get it…


If there’s one brand that has been turning heads recently, it’s The Ordinary. There’s a real backstory to the brand, so I’ll point you in the direction of this post from Caroline Hirons; but the brand basically fills a humungous gap in the industry for high efficacy products without a profit margin that makes consumer’s eyes water, therefore delivering formulas that work with a high-street price tag. I see your tweets asking for a brand overview, but if I’m honest I’m just as confused as you lot. If anyone wants to point me in the right direction of the ‘OMG – HOW THE HELL HAVE YOU NOT TRIED THAT?’ buys, then I’m all ears.

Now available on Cult Beauty, the makers of the brand – Deciem – also have a store in Spitalfields which I visited last time I came up to London and saw Lily. Have a watch of the video below if you’d like to see what else we got up to that weekend, but from the store I did pick up two things thanks to LP’s enabling ways. The skincare line is vast and seeing as I currently have SO. MUCH. SKINCARE. that I need to use up (I’m looking at you Glossier), I saved those purchases for another time and instead hauled two foundations, because of course one just wasn’t enough…


The two foundation formulas launched at the beginning of the year and everyone went nuts for them. One – because the Serum Foundation costs £5.70 and the Coverage Foundation just £5.90, and there isn’t much else out there that exists on the market in that price bracket. Two – because the shade range is pretty good. There’s still some expanding that could be done at the deeper side of the shade range, but they do try and cover all bases when it comes to undertones.

When you’re new to a range it’s a little perplexing getting to grips with the shade set-up so you don’t go home with a bottle of foundation that’s going to transform you into an Oompa-Loompa in one quick swipe. In the end I did it probably, swatching the colours on my neck and going into daylight to assess the situation in a mirror (FYI I never do this because I’m lazy, so I felt ridiculously proud of myself for doing so). In the end I went for 1.2N in both formulas (there’s a slight difference between them, but it’s barely noticeable when it’s on the skin) and trundled home with my new buys. I have to say that I’m pretty impressed with both, although there is a clear favourite which I’m sure will be no surprise. Let me round up my feelings, old skool beauty blog style…


The Ordinary Coverage Foundation. It’s no surprise that out of the two current formulas in their line-up that this is billed as the high-coverage, full-on foundation option. This isn’t normally my cup of tea, but seeing as it was such a bargain I thought I’d road test it anyway and even though my suspicions were proved correct, I can still accept that lovers of full coverage foundation will completely lap this stuff up. The texture is thin and slippy, a bit like those serum-to-oil textures, so it glides on to the skin and never feels heavy. They haven’t just slapped ‘coverage’ in the name without reason here though, because damn – does this carry some serious pigment. It’s definitely one to get the right shade in because it’s not the easiest to sheer out. After application it’s almost like the liquid in the formula evaporates and the pigment is left behind – those with dry patches beware.

It’s not matte-looking per se, but it’s not particularly dewy either. It’s worth noting that Mark never normally comments on this kind of thing, but when I did try this out for the first time he said he could see that I was wearing foundation – so this might not be the best for the ‘no makeup, makeup’ look. If you’re dry then I’d say make sure you’ve primed and moisturised well, but those with oilier complexions will appreciate the dry-down. If you’re a fan of the classics in this category like Estée Lauder Double Wear, then this might be the cheaper dupe that could save you some serious dollar.

The Ordinary Serum Foundation. Just as I was writing this post I saw that a new review had gone up on this foundation on the CB site with the title ‘nope‘, so it’s worth noting that this isn’t going to be a winner for everyone. Damn I love the review function on websites. This is like the Coverage Foundation’s little, sheerer, more balmy feeling sister, a.k.a) it’s right up my street. I find this best applied with fingers, because a sponge tends to gobble it all up and again it’s pretty slippy and so a brush just moves it around instead of actually working it into the skin. It’s quick to apply, the colour match is spot on and the finish is skin-like, whilst evening everything out.

It’s most similar to the Glossier Perfecting Skin Tint, but it has just a little more oomph – the same amount of glow and radiance, but with a tad more coverage. It’s not much so for me it’s definitely one that I’ll pair with a concealer or reserve for CBA weekend brunches where I’ve sleepily just slapped this on my chops, but it’s a good one to have in the arsenal if like me you’re dehydrated and love anything that makes you look like you need to powder, but haven’t. Ain’t no blotting going on here!

Photos by Lauren Shipley

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  • I use the Estée Lauder Double Wear for more makeupey kind of days, so I will check out the coverage one for sure. The Serum one will not work for me, anything glowy has me running!

    Linda, Libra, Loca: Beauty, Baby and Backpacking

  • Great to hear your thoughts and a comparison Anna! I really want to try some bits from the Ordinary but the range is quite overwhelming! xx

    Frances Kayleigh | Fashion & Beauty

  • I’m still yet to try this brand as I’m a little confused with it all. Good to hear your thoughts 🙂 x

    Tiffany Tales | Lifestyle & Beauty

  • zldn

    I find that applying two layers of the serum foundation (with a damp real techniques) sponge actually gives me a medium to full coverage but needs quite a bit of ‘bopping’ into the skin to sit nicely

  • Angela Davies

    I have the serum foundation in 1.2N (I am normally the same shade of foundation as you) but I find it a little yellow. I have quite a bit of the skincare, Nadine Baggott did a good video about it, showing which Ordinary products are similar if not dupes for higher end skincare!

  • Zeljka Simac

    Thank you so much for your post! I’ve just ordered both foundations at CB. After watching your video I ordered 2.0N and 1.2N just in case… Guess I can mix it if one color is too light for me. It’s difficult to buy a foundation online but because the prices are really fair you can’t go wrong… Even though I have a mature & dry skin (bare in mind that I’m 46) and it seems like Serum Foundation is the right one for me I’ll give both foundations a go. And say Lily that it was so good to see her! Hope she is getting finally better…. Love, Zeljka

  • Lucy

    great post but lily continues to be insanely miserable and dull. Anna she was a detriment to this video

    • Stacey Loves

      i agree 🙁 used to love lily but she’s like a dark cloud

    • Sarah Tomlinson

      Put yourself in a real life situation, would you actually say this to Anna’s face, something not very nice about one of her closest friends? If you don’t have something nice to say then don’t say it at all

      • Zeljka Simac


  • I like my foundation to be full coverage which is why I’ve been wanting to try the coverage foundation. Having said that, I like my foundation to look like my face and not cakey so I’m worried about that. I’ll still give it a try as it’s quite a great price. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Anna! xx

    PS: I’ve used a couple of stuff from The Ordinary and the standout products so far for me are the Rosehip Oil and the 30% AHA + 2% BHA Peeling Solution. The oil feels really good and is not greasy. And the peeling solution is great for exfoliating. 🙂

    Coco Bella Blog

  • HarrisonBeach

    You HAVE to try the retinoid serum & the hyrlonic acid! Both incredible products & i’ll be writing my review soon!

  • Eva

    I’ve been hearing sooooo much about this brand and I’m so desperate to try it! I just cannot get over the prices – so so amazing! I absolutely love the packaging too. I’m definitely going to add these to my makeup wishlist! x

  • Sass

    Since I’m such a tightwad about wasting money on unsuccessful products, please could you do a magical foundation review comparing Mac Waterweight Foundation with Glossier Skin Perfecting Tint and The Ordinary Serum?? Mac costs £27 for 30ml so is at the pricier end – but the dropper seems easier to handle than the Glossier bottle. And I can apply it with a brush, which you suggest doesn’t works so great with The Ordinary. Noone’s talking about Mac Waterweight at the moment, and I can’t work out why… is it just the price or am I missing something?

    • Lia

      I tried the Waterweight and it just melted away. Patchy coverage to begin with, but faded quite rapidly in the day. And even though I got matched in store I found the foundation oxidised and made me orange, which is never a good look. If you can get to a store, grab a sample to see if it works for you!

  • i’ve been meaning to try products from deciem but it’s not available in my country — i’d have to shop online and pay for the ridiculous shipping x

    erin | erinazmir

  • I really want to try both of these out! At under £6 each it surely would be rude to say no..?

  • Fiona Pridmore

    Browns Department store in York now stock the skincare from this brand. Just ordered a serum foundation from Cult Beauty. Sounds perfect for me. Deffo don’t want to look like an oompa loompa!

  • I’m sorry Anna but i’m gonna have to say it… WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN??!! the serum foundation is a godsend.. i love it so much 🙁 as for the skincare.. i have about 4 products now but i honestly can’t see too much of a difference. but i really want it to work! so i’m giving it a month to see if it does anything.

  • Jo

    Wayne Goss did his bit and has a good MAC comparison of the shades in his video on these foundations (posted around April?). I like both variations, the serum for good skin days and coverage for the not-so-good-ones.

    It was lovely to see Lily! <3

  • Imogen

    I’ve had a total base overhaul, with the serum foundation in this post and the stretch concealer I’m so happy! Partnered with Becca first-light primer and boy-brow, I’m sorted, thank you for all your excellent recommendations!

  • Really want to try this foundation out!

  • Sarah Tomlinson

    I love love love the hyaluronic acid serum! I’ve heard it’s quite like the glossier super bounce, but it’s 30mls so might last a bit longer for you

  • Lindsay Julio

    would love for you to compare glossier super bounce/ the ordinary hyaluronic and glossier super pure/ the ordinary niacinamide and zinc! I have tried the ordinary’s version of both but would love to know if the glossier versions are worth the extra $$

    • Nikki

      I’ve heard reviews that that the niacinamide and zinc is comparable to the super pure glossier version. The hyaluronic acid however is a bit more tacky than the super bounce! Personally, I have both of The Ordinary’s version and am quite happy with it!

  • I needed your thoughts on these two!

    I do want to try the serum foundation but until now, I’ve always stopped myself weighed with too many doubts. I’m a face toucher, and every review I’ve seen has mentioned it can be tricky to work into the skin.

    For the sake of it though, and because it’s a bargain, I would like to try it out. Specifically for those CBA weekend wanders where I just need to not look dead when I walk out of my front door.

  • This is a great and fair review – I’m so desperate to try them!

    Mel //

  • Mini_Miny

    I’m so surprised by your review of the coverage foundation. I’ve tried it and it’s the first product I actually got rid of without thinking twice. I used it with and without primer, with different moisturisers (face oil, serum, etc.) and it simply never set. Ever. I remember trying clothes in a shop and looking at my face in the mirror- it could be wiped off by just lightly rubbing my finger on top. I spilled one drop on the lid of my concealer, and days after it was still as fresh as the first day. I just think it never dries down or sets! Maybe that’s why it looks so obvious on the skin.

  • I have been wanting to try this foundation for a while now since its been constantly raved about. Am so glad you’ve reviewed it. I shall give it a try and hopefully its all the range as per popular demand 🙂

  • I’m so glad you reviewed this Anna! I’ve been hmming and ahhing about whether to get them or not for ages now, I think I’ll go for the serum version!

    Sara – Flemingo

  • Thanks for the review Anna! I haven’t tried their foundations but I use their Lactic Acid as a part of my night skin regime and it works wonders. And the best part about them is the price!!!

  • I just love seeing you two together. It makes my week. Lily and Anna together…Everything’s right in the world again.


  • Julia Deutschen

    I’ve wanted to try out one of the foundations from The Ordinary for a long time, so this post is right up my street.
    I think I am going to order the Serum Foundation. So convenient that they also offer it on asos.

    xx Julia

  • Lisa Autumn

    The serum looks more like my thing.. will check it out.. the price is amazing too!

    xx Lisa |

  • I would love to try the foundation but I don’t think it comes in my shade 🙁

  • Nana

    Hi Anna,
    I just bought one or two (okay four) things from the skincare range and so far so good. The serum foundation sounds interesting.
    If you’re confused about the explanations (or lack of) on their website, I would advise you to watch Renée videos about the brand (her youtube name in Gothamista). She explains it quite well in a really clear – educational way!
    Have a good day!
    xoxo from France


  • Oooh these look good and they are so affordable! Impressed so far by The Ordinary, love their lactic acid serum 🙂 xx

    Emma |

  • I love your pictures. Really Cute ! The content is also very interesting. Nice blog