For the imperfect Fashion lover.

Sunday, 29 September 2019

The Ordinary No Brainer Set... What's it all about? Is it for me?

The ordinary no brainer set... is it for me? Fake Fabulous

Today I'm doing an honest review of The Ordinary's "No Brainer" set.

The ordinary is a brand I've been using for a few years now.
I first heard about it because I follow a YouTuber called Wayne Goss.
He is a makeup artist and produces honest (quirky) content.

Here is one of the first videos he did about the ordinary:

He pointed me in the direction of The Ordinary when it was new and totally different from anything else.
As a scientist, the concept sounded exciting.
I loved the idea of the clinical-looking packaging.
I ordered a few products that took an AGE to get delivered.
(Thank goodness that has changed)

I was one of the first people to try their foundation when it launched too.
I've been a fan of the brand ever since.

A brand like The Ordinary can be a little intimidating because we are all so used to our fancy packaging and silicone-based products.
We generally like things to be familiar in every way... scent, texture, packaging, labelling.
Weird names and odd packaging is not for everyone!

Normally we see things like...

  • Nourishing Night cream
  • Hydrating Day cream +SPF 15
  • Eye cream for dark circles

Easy peasy, right?

When products start to say...

  • Moisturising factors +HA
  • Squalene
  • EUK 134  0.1%
  • Pycnogenol 5%

Then things get more interesting!

I've tried quite a lot of The Ordinary products and I like most of them but there are always the ones that I go back to time and time again.

My favourites include...

  • The serum foundation because the colours are brilliant (from the palest of pale to 'proper' dark) and both of my girls love using it.
  • High-Adherence Silicone primer... the best makeup primer I've used for my cheeks. I use the Bioderma Sebium on my t-zone. It's amazing for stopping the oil breaking through.
  • I buy and re-buy the "Buffet"... I've also tried the version with Copper Peptides which is lovely too... if a little more pricey.
  • Squalene cleanser... a good basic cleanser, although I prefer CeraVe at the moment.
  • Moisturising factors + HA... great for on the go. Currently, I'm using my CeraVe morning and night but I still use this when I'm out and about.
  • Retinoid 2% Emulsion... a night-time treatment.
  • 100% Organic cold-pressed Moroccan Argan oil...for hair.
  • Marine Hyaluronics... it smells a bit 'fishy' and is a little on the watery side BUT but I'm fine with that because it works so well! 
  • Vitamin C suspension 23% ... I go off this but come back to it! It's a little "gritty" and can nip BUT it works like a charm.
  • Glycolic acid 7% Toning Solution... Brilliant as a nightly treatment for my youngest's Keratosis.
  • Caffeine solution... half a drop under each eye to combat dark circles.

I don't use all of these products every day!
I dip in an out as the whim takes me.

{I still (mostly) stick to my basic routine.. read about it HERE... I still use all of those products! However, I have swapped the face oil and the wash for Cerave products at the moment.}

This "No-Brainer" set is a great place to start to dip your toe into The Ordinary range.

It contains a moisturiser suitable for day and night PLUS a nighttime treatment and a daytime treatment.

I got my set from Beauty Bay because they deliver quickly and offer free delivery.

{FYI: This post is not sponsored by The Ordinary OR Beauty Bay and I have bought all of the products myself.}

What the NO BRAINER SET contains:


Surface Hydration Formula (moisturiser)

Natural Moisturizing Factors (NMF) are elements that keep the outer layer of the skin protected and well-hydrated. 
NMF are made up of multiple amino acids, fatty acids, triglycerides, urea, ceramides, phospholipids, glycerin, saccharides, sodium PCA, hyaluronic acid and many other compounds that are naturally present in the skin.

This formula offers non-greasy hydration that acts as a direct topical supplement of impaired NMF components. 
It contains 11 amino acids, phospholipids, alpha/beta/gamma fatty acids, triglycerides, sterols and sterol esters, glycerin, ceramide precursors, urea, saccharides, sodium PCA and hyaluronic acid. 
It offers immediate hydration and lasting results with continued use.

Apply after serums as needed for effective surface hydration.



This formulation combines two forms of next-generation retinoid actives:

a) A 2% concentration of Granactive Retinoid which is a complex of solubilized Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate (HPR). HPR is a highly-advanced form of retinoid which is, in fact, a non-prescription ester of all-trans direct retinoic acid that offers a multi-fold better effect against signs of ageing than retinol, retinyl palmitate and nearly all other forms of non-prescription retinoid;

b) A sustained-delivery form of pure retinol in a protective capsule system which supports both the delivery and the effect of Granactive Retinoid.

Both forms of retinoid used avoid the irritation associated with retinoids (including retinol) use while delivering better visible results against signs of ageing.

This product uses next-generation retinoid active technologies which have been shown to achieve better reduction in signs of ageing than retinol without irritation. These technologies cannot be compared directly with retinol itself in terms of concentration because they include a different retinoid molecule, in a similar way that Retinol cannot be compared with Retinoic Acid in terms of concentration. 

Caution: Retinoids can make the skin more sensitive to UV radiation. Sun protection is particularly important when using retinoids. This product must not be used in conjunction with other retinoids including retinol or retinoic acid. This product is not a treatment for acne. Acne-prone skin may experience a temporary increase in acne during the first few weeks of using any form of retinoid including those used in this formulation.

Note: When pregnant or breastfeeding, it is recommended to avoid any skincare products containing retinoids such as formulations with Granactive Retinoid or Retinol.

Apply a small amount to face in the PM as part of your skincare regimen, after water-based serums but before heavier treatments. Do not use with other retinoid treatments. Avoid unprotected solar exposure. If irritation occurs, cease use and consult a doctor. Use only as directed on unbroken skin. Patch testing prior to use is advised. Keep out of reach of children.

  • "BUFFET"

Multi-Technology Peptide Serum

This formula combines a comprehensive array of studied technologies to target multiple signs of ageing at once. The technologies are Matrixyl 3,000 peptide complex (with palmitoyl tetrapeptide-7), Matrixyl Synthe'6 peptide complex (with palmitoyl tripeptide-38), Syn-Ake peptide complex (with dipeptide diaminobutyroyl benzylamide diacetate), Relistase peptide complex (with acetylarginyltryptophyl diphenylglycine), Argirelox peptide complex (with acetyl hexapeptide-8, pentapeptide-18), Probiotic complex (with lactococcus lactis lysate), in a base of 11 skin-friendly amino acids and multiple hyaluronic acid complexes. The total concentration of these technologies in the formula by weight is 25.1%.

Apply to the entire face in the AM and PM after cleaning.

The ordinary no brainer set... is it for me? Fake Fabulous

It's pretty hard to tell what a skincare regime does for your skin if you are someone who already has a skincare regime.

If I washed my face with soap and water every day and didn't ever moisturise then I am sure the effects of these products and the differences I would see in my skin would be massive.

However, I am someone who has (for most of my life) enjoyed skincare.
Sometimes I buy expensive products, sometimes cheap ones.

To be honest with you there is not much difference between high end and low end apart from packaging and texture.

As long as you have a look at ingredients lists you can't really go wrong.
Do your research.
Look for active ingredients that have been proven to help the appearance or even the health of the skin.
Don't overdo things with too many harsh treatments or over-exfoliation.

Thes products are nice to use and really deliver when it comes to making your skin feel like it has been given a treat and a treatment!

I felt like my skin looked smoother and more evenly toned BUT that could just be a big placebo effect.
Believing something is true is half the battle anyway!

Whether it's true or not, my skin feels good, I like the products and enjoy using them.

They feel like "real Science in action"... corny and pretty daft in reality but I still get that vibe!

The serums are quite runny but very easy to apply and use and at this price, you can afford to take them down onto your neck and chest.
{Don't forget to rub the excess into the back of your hands!}

If you are curious about the ordinary this set is a great (and inexpensive) place to start.

They also have loads of information on their website ( which can be helpful if you are curious about other products or possible regimes. 

I'm going to be doing more beauty and makeup reviews in the future because I am someone who has tried A LOT of them over the years and feel reasonably qualified to make comparisons.
PLUS, I'm a scientist with a little knowledge of Chemistry so I can sniff out a BS "DNAge" story that's for sure!

I also don't believe in "Anti-Ageing".
I don't like the term or the concept.

Why should we be anti-ageing... it's the same as being anti-living.
The alternative to ageing is dying after all!

I won't be rushing out for procedures and/or surgeries anytime soon (read: EVER).
I'm happy enough to get older.

I'm also under no illusions that face products can make you look younger.

{In fact, I don't think anything can make you look younger except a great attitude and a big smile}

Having said all of that...

I do LOVE the process of selecting, buying and applying "beauty products".
I love taking those few moments out of my day to open my little pots and bottles, massage my skin and feel pampered.

I love a DIY facial.
I also really enjoy beautiful packaging and amazing scents, when the mood takes me.
I love treating my face to a little TLC.

Have you tried any The Ordinary products?
What do you use?
I'd love to know!

Product ingredients lists:
  • Natural Moisturising Factors + HA: Aqua (Water), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Cetyl Alcohol, Propanediol, Stearyl Alcohol, Glycerin, Sodium Hyaluronate, Arginine, Aspartic Acid, Glycine, Alanine, Serine, Valine, Isoleucine, Proline, Threonine, Histidine, Phenylalanine, Glucose, Maltose, Fructose, Trehalose, Sodium PCA, PCA, Sodium Lactate, Urea, Allantoin, Linoleic Acid, Oleic Acid, Phytosteryl Canola Glycerides, Palmitic Acid, Stearic Acid, Lecithin, Triolein, Tocopherol, Carbomer, Isoceteth-20, Polysorbate 60, Sodium Chloride, Citric Acid, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Pentylene Glycol, Triethanolamine, Sodium Hydroxide, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin.
  • Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion: Aqua (Water), Glycerin, Ethyl Linoleate, Propanediol, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Cetearyl Isononanoate, Bisabolol, Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate, Retinol, Tasmannia Lanceolata Fruit/Leaf Extract, Inulin Lauryl Carbamate, Glyceryl Stearate, Ceteareth-12, Ceteareth-20, Cetearyl Alcohol, Carrageenan, Xanthan gum, Acacia Senegal Gum, Cetyl Palmitate, Sucrose Laurate, Polysorbate 20, Isoceteth-20, Behentrimonium Chloride, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Disodium EDTA, Dehydroacetic Acid, Benzoic Acid, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin.
  • Buffet: Aqua (Water), Glycerin, Lactococcus Ferment Lysate, Acetyl Hexapeptide-8, Pentapeptide-18, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-38, Dipeptide Diaminobutyroyl Benzylamide Diacetate, Acetylarginyltryptophyl Diphenylglycine, Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer, Sodium Hyaluronate, Allantoin, Glycine, Alanine, Serine, Valine, Isoleucine, Proline, Threonine, Histidine, Phenylalanine, Arginine, Aspartic Acid, Trehalose, Fructose, Glucose, Maltose, Urea, Sodium PCA, PCA, Sodium Lactate, Citric Acid, Hydroxypropyl Cyclodextrin, Sodium Chloride, Sodium Hydroxide, Butylene Glycol, Pentylene Glycol, Acacia Senegal Gum, Xanthan Gum, Carbomer, Polysorbate 20, PPG-26-Buteth-26, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Ethoxydiglycol, Sodium Benzoate, Caprylyl Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin.



  1. I use the caffeine solution and I wouldn't be without it. I'm not sure if it does a great job or if I just think it does, but it really doesn't matter. I feel better and more awake with it on.

    But, I think I'm going to order the buffet and the retinoid emulsion from them. I may throw in the Moroccan oil. I have the squalane right now. I'm on the fence about how well it works on my face, but it is great for preventing chapped lips.

    1. Hi Gwen.
      I love the caffeine solution as well.
      I know what you mean about not being sure if it does much but it makes me feel good too!
      Hahaha... that's 80% of it I think
      Try the buffet and retinol, they are worth a go :o)

  2. I purchased the Buffet and the 2% hyluronic acid.
    Your recommendation of glycerin and rosewater is just as effective as you described for body hydration Sam! I trust your judgement and greatly appreciate your tips!

  3. Hi, I just bought the no brainer set, but am new... So I'm confused as to which item to use when....
    The buffet says am and pm, but the granactive retinoid stuff says pm, so... In the .. pm, which do I use first? Or do I actually use one after the other in the pm? Should they both be used or just one, and if only one, which one?
    This is so new and confusing to me! Lol
    Any advice on the pm regime for the no brainer set would be great!
    Thank you

    1. Hi Anne!
      no problem... it's easy once you know how.
      You can layer the products BUT you must layer them from the water-based to the cream-based.
      OR... to put it another way... from the thinnest to the thickest!
      Buffet goes first, day and night.
      It's water based and should go on clean skin... not bone dry just patted dry.
      Retinoid at night on top.
      Then your moisturiser.
      Remember to use an SPF during the day too.
      Retinoids can make your skin more sensitive to the sun.
      You can layer a few products like this just remember to go from the runniest/clear products through the emulsions to the oils to the creams.
      Good luck!

  4. Hi I just received my order so happy for my first time im using this product, though I'm so confused!!! So I bought The No-brainer set, Ethylated Acid 15% Solution and the Vitamin C Suspension 23% + Ha Spheres 2%, my problem is how to use them step by step coz I don't really understand let's say water-based ecc (sorry😢) would be a great help if u can help me out, Thanks a million Denise xx


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