This is a review of two skincare products from The Ordinary: The serums I’ll be talking about are The Buffet and Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%. I reviewed some products from TO a while back that didn’t impress me at all, and again, the low price seems to reflect the low performance.

The Buffet

The Ordinary The Buffet review
The Ordinary The Buffet – a serum that consists mainly of peptides that are anti-aging.

TO’s schtick is usually to make one ingredient products (Vit C, Azalaic Acid, Coffeine…), to which the Buffet serum is an exception. Its full name is Multi-Technology Peptide Serum, and, per Deciem (TO’s parent company), it’s supposed to “target multiple signs of aging”, staying purposefully vague. But then, peptides are one of the superstars of anti-aging cosmetics. They’re, though, scientifically not as good researched as retinoids or acids. The thing with peptides is that you’ll need to apply them religiously over a long time (longer than four weeks) to see their effects. Supposedly, there’re some skin types that don’t react to them at all. I haven’t used a product that focuses solely on peptides before (they’re often mixed into skincare products as an added benefit, though). It comes in a frosted dropper bottle, and though cheap, it seems good quality packaging.


The Buffet serum worth it
For me, The Buffet has the same off-putting formula like the Vitamin C serum that made my foundation pill.

It has the same gloopy gel-like texture that many TO serums seem to have. It sinks in quickly, though, but leaves a slightly sticky feeling on my skin. Unfortunately I can’t say if that would lead to the issue I had with TO’s Vitamin C serum that would make all further skincare, sunscreen and foundation roll off my skin. I didn’t test it with that in mind, and I can’t remember now if I wore it with makeup at all. It didn’t leave a negative impression in my mind, so there’s that? (For a closer look at formula and ingredients, have a look here – in German). It doesn’t contain any alcohol or silicones and I can’t detect any fragrance.

My experience

two serums from The Ordinary
The Ordinary Niacinamide serum and peptide, anti-aging serum The Buffet.

Whenever I tried to regularly use it, I started to get whiteheads after about three days. Something in it apparently caused my pores to clog. When I used it infrequently, this didn’t happen. But then, peptide serums only really make sense to use continuously, so I retired the serum. I did, though, in the wake of my post what to do with unloved skincare items think about how to use it otherwise. I noticed recently that my décolletage shows some lines, and presto! The Buffet is now my weapon of choice for that. I can’t remember to use it everyday, but I like giving that area some love, and it seems to result in more supple and firmer skin with some diminished fine lines.

Would I recommend? Only if you don’t want to try acids and retinoids to combat signs of aging. (Get it here or here – I usually prefer ordering at Victoria Health in England. You can also order at Asos and Beautybay. It’s also vegan and cruelty-free. 14,80$/ £12,70/ 14,86€)


Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

Niacinamide Booster The Ordinary
The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% serum review

Niacinamides are the Swiss army knife of skincare products – it truly does it all. It has anti-aging properties, can minimise an unregular skin tone, and it has great anti-acne properties (it’s anti inflammatory, spots heal faster etc.). There’s just one but: It takes time to work. Most cosmetics companies claim at least one month, I’d say even two or three. Zinc on top of that is also anti-inflammatory, and that’s the likely reason why TO markets this just as “a skin treatment serum for blemishes and balancing sebum”.

In fact, Niacinamide is a lot more. It also doesn’t play nice with Vitamin C, but instead doing what TO wants you to do (“ideally Vitamin C in the PM and this formula in the AM”) and miss the antioxidant boost to your sunscreen, just wait 20mins until your skin’s pH has normalised again. I find it quite weird that TO doesn’t sell this for other skin issues that Niacinamide is usually praised for, but what do I know.


The ordinary niacinamide serum
The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% ingredients

While the formula is good and the price is right, the texture is tacky and unpleasant (see below), making sunscreen and foundation pill. I went right from the Paula’s Choice Booster to this one, and my skin hasn’t gotten worse, so I guess it’s effective enough, but everything else? I just can’t. It doesn’t contain any alcohol or silicones and I can’t detect any fragrance. I read Labmuffin’s review that states that there’s a newer formulation of this, and she didn’t experience any pilling. I bought my version last year, her review is from April this year and the ingredients are definitely different. BUT she also states that there’re a lot of reviews of the new formulation that complain that there’s still pilling.

My experience

The Ordinary Niacinamide serum claims
The Ordinary Niacinamide serum and its claims

I’ve formerly used Paula’s Choice Niacinamide Booster which is a very handy product to mix into your skincare and give it a (wait for it!) boost. I loved it and can’t find anything wrong with it but the price. Now, TO’s product isn’t a booster but a regular serum. I tend to mix it into other serums or my moisturiser, because I can’t face adding another layer to my skincare AM and PM routines. The ingredients would support that, the texture doesn’t. But then, the texture is equally troublesome when I use it on its own, so there’s truly no winning team for this one.

Why? It apparently has the same film forming agent in it that spoiled my use of the Vit C serum, with all the annoying consequences. Whatever I use over it rolls off my skin in little crumbs. That is especially annoying when you try to massage in a sunscreen that’s a bit less emollient – the Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% makes it come off again. There’s only one solution to that: you’ve to give your skin time to absorb it completely. That takes more than 30mins, and who’s got the time for that?! Now, for their claims, I can’t say that I’ve noticed a sebum balancing effect (but then, my skin is combination skin and not overly oily). On the whole, though, Niacinamides have, during the last months, made my skin better, and I usually enjoy using them. This serum, not so much.

Would I recommend? Only if you absolutely can’t pay the price for a better product and have the time to let it absorb every day, every morning. (Get it here or here. Also available at Asos or Beautybay. It’s 5,90$/ 5£/ 5,85€.)


Conclusion: The Ordinary The Buffet and Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% review

The Ordinary serums in-depths review
The Ordinary Niacinamide and The Buffet serums – I’m not convinced.

I’m very undecided if I ever should try another TO product, because right now the tally isn’t exactly in favor for it (see my other review for the other products that fell through for me). And that gets seriously expensive, even though the products themselves are cheap. What I’ll definitely buy again is the Paula’s Choice Niacinamide Booster.

For me, the issue is not that the products are bad. They aren’t. But their performance is seriously lacking for my particular lifestyle, taste and skincare/makeup routine, and although their price point is great, I wouldn’t mind paying more for a better performance.

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Beauty junkie with about 20 years of beauty experience under her belt. Editor, writer and twindly's PR heroine. Has an unbelievably large nail polish stash and a passion for skincare. Gets a kick out of pretty powders.

1 Comment

  1. I hear people raving about the Ordinary and I still haven’t tried any products by them. I’m unsure about the concept and to be absolutely honest, I very rarely change my skincare because my skin is incredibly acne prone. I might try their caffeine or vitamin c though, because I know my skin loves these ingredients and take it from there.

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