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Is The Ordinary a Clean & Sustainable Brand?

Better Goods

Apr 29, 2021

the ordinary

The Ordinary is a popular, budget-friendly skincare brand that's been blowing up, in part to do with its presence on social media platforms like TikTok.

The wide availability of the brand, being in both Sephora and Ulta, along with the clean branding, inexpensive prices, and products addressing every skin issue under the sun, has lead to a huge brand that was eventually scooped up in a majority stakeholder share of 76% by Estée Lauder.

But how do they rate in terms of ingredients, sustainability and animal rights? Let's find out.

Ingredients (Rating: Iffy)

The Ordinary isn't a clean beauty brand, nor do they claim to be. While they do avoid the use of some typical iffy ingredients like parabens and chemical sunscreens, there is nothing inherently clean about the company.

You'll find ingredients like silicones, cyclopentasiloxane (which is toxic to aquatic life, and heavily regulated in the EU), and PEG ingredients, which have the potential to be contaminated with carcinogenic byproducts.

All in all, the brand isn't a clean beauty brand, although there are a lot of brands that do worse in the ingredients department.

Sustainability (Rating: Iffy)

The Ordinary is not a sustainable brand, and they admit this on their website. However, they have some initiatives that are paving the way toward a more sustainable brand.

  • Online shipping packaging - The brand's e-commerce packaging currently is made from recycled and recyclable materials.
  • In-store recycling program - The brand accepts empties from any beauty brand to be recycled. This includes packaging that doesn't typically get recycled in municipal recycling facilities.

While many of the brand's products are available in recyclable glass containers, they still use a lot of plastic in the packaging.

While they do have some sustainable initiatives, the brand still has a long way to go before being considered a sustainable brand.

Animal Rights (Rating: Good)

Cruelty-Free

The Ordinary is a cruelty-free brand. The products and their ingredients are, at no time, tested on animals, and the brand is not available in China, where animal testing is sometimes performed by law. However, Estée Lauder—a non cruelty-free company—owns 76% of the brand.

Vegan

The brand is also 100% vegan, as claimed on their website. This means their products contain no ingredients that are animal derived.

Brand Ratings

Our rating scale ranges from "Best" (for having the best practices) to "Bad" (for having unacceptable practices). We rated The Ordinary as follows.

IngredientsIffy - Not a clean beauty brand. Ingredients are better than many traditional brands, but you'll still find some ingredients that should be avoided.
SustainabilityIffy - With some sustainable policies like in-store recycling, recyclable e-commerce packaging, and buying carbon offsets, we hope the brand continues to push toward more sustainable practices.
Animal RightsGood - The brand is both cruelty-free and 100% vegan.

Overall Rating: Iffy

The Ordinary is a cruelty-free and vegan company with some forward-thinking sustainability practices, but we would be hard pressed to call them a sustainable or clean brand.

While their ingredients tend to be better than some other beauty brands, they aren't a clean beauty brand, nor do they claim to be.

While better than some competing brands, they have a long way to go before we could consider them a clean or sustainable brand.

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