Are these budget skincare brands about to replace The Ordinary?

Posted by
Lydia House
Best Affordable Skincare

A new line-up of fuss-free skincare products are hitting the beauty market - and they’re set to rival The Ordinary. Here’s what you need to know…

When it comes to skincare, we have always assumed that expensive = expertise. That was until The Ordinary decided to challenge extortionately priced products with what they labelled ‘A new transparent way of talking’.

Through their open approach, The Ordinary has acquired a cult following of consumers, sell out serums, and fans that fawn over every new release. So it came as no surprise that other brands wanted in on the action – cue the no-frills skincare squad, and since The Ordinary’s founder announced closure of the company, we couldn’t be happier about the alternative products available.

Who are these newbies?

Labelled as the natural alternative, and also the brand that Reddit skincare addicts are obsessing over, Garden Of Wisdom, isn’t strictly new, it’s actually older than The Ordinary. But until recently it wasn’t available in the UK, and since their exclusive launch on Victoria Health, the brand hasn’t stopped selling. 

Garden Of Wisdom’s most talked about product has to be the Niacinamide Serum, £9, for 30ml. Getting Reddit users in a flurry, the serum works to regulate oil production, calm your complexion and gives it a brightening effect.

But it’s their latest launch that we are most excited about. Garden Of Wisdom PHA Plus Serum, £14, drops on to Victoria Health this October and is said to offer skin transforming abilities that rival products three times the usual price. 

Next in is The INKEY List. Created by cosmetic whiz kids Colette Newbury and Mark Curry, The INKEY List offers straight-talking skincare at an extremely affordable price. Launching only a month ago, INKEY already has multiple items out of stock, and unsurprisingly their biggest hits are skin plumping potions and complexion charging serums like; Caffeine, Hyaluronic Acid and Q10.

But don’t fret if you can’t get your hands on the products, as the brand assures us that everything will be replenished soon.

The latest and also most surprising brand to jump on the bandwagon is Revolution. Known for their budget, but brilliant makeup products, Revolution is now delivering ingredient focused serums direct to your local Superdrug. If you’re interested in scoping the range out, you better hurry in on this one too. Because yep you guessed it, the stock is already running seriously low. 

How are these brands cutting costs? 

Low price skincare sounds incredible, but how is it possible? Colette Newbury from The Inkey List explains, “We select premium ingredients direct from the source. There’s no middle man. We also spend less on packaging and marketing as we believe our products can speak for themselves and don’t need the extra fluff.”

Celebrity facialist, Michaela Bolder supports this way of selling, “Brands may spend a lot of money on packaging or paying a celebrity to be the face of their latest lotion, but social media has enabled experts to share and educate everyone about why we choose the products we work with, without having to jazz them up. The Ordinary and The Inkey List offer us ingredients at a crazy affordable price and show that a lot of things on the market carry a huge markup. That being said this doesn’t apply to ALL products and some actives do need to come at a price.”

So is it time to replace our expensive skincare? 

Hold your horses! It is unlikely that you will love every single product that any brand produces. Everyone has different skin types and issues, and like most cosmetic companies there will be gems that everyone goes mad for and other products that don’t hit the mark. Pamela Marshall from Mortar and Milk advises purchasing with caution, “Lots of creams, expensive and affordable, will claim to make a long-term difference to your skin, but instead only work to give you an immediate effect. Yes, your complexion will appear plumper and more hydrated, but they can’t always change things deep down. It’s important to be aware of that.”

Pointers to look for when trying to fix a real skin issue are brands that have put their formulas through clinical trials, not just consumer ones. This means that the product has been appropriately balanced and contains stable actives that provide the appropriate ph. and molecular weight. And even though brands are highlighting key ingredients that the lotions contain, you should still look at the Ingredient list for full transparency. 

The best ones to buy?

The INKEY List Rosehip Oil

Best affordable skincare
Best affordable skincare

Packed full of antioxidants this natural oil is excellent at making complexions glow.    


Revolution Skincare 2% Hyaluronic Acid

An instant fix for your face, this hydrates, plumps and smooths. 


Garden Of Wisdom for Victoria Health Vitamin C 23% and Ferulic Acid

Best affordable skincare
Best affordable skincare

Selling out every time it comes back into stock, we’re not surprised it is their best seller.


Garden Of Wisdom 100% Pure Squalane Oil

A naturally light oil that is less likely to cause breakouts.


Main image: courtesy of brands