Toronto-based beauty product line, The Ordinary, sent the beauty industry into actual meltdown when it launched in August 2016. It was cheap, it was scientific and best of all, it actually worked.
One of its first products was a bottle of £5.80 retinol. No big deal you think...WRONG. The average bottle of retinol, before The Ordinary came along, would set you back around £25. The item sold out and the brand, which comes under the Deciem umbrella (with the likes of Hand Chemistry, Niod and Hylamide) suddenly landed on the top of every beauty editor's watch-list.
Deciem was the brainchild of Brandon Truaxe, 40, who tragically died in January this year. The revolutionary founder began as a computer programmer before falling into the beauty business. He had a lightbulb moment after working on software for a skincare lab. He noticed the drastic cost difference between the raw ingredients and the finished products and how much of a mark-up was being added by the big cosmetics companies. He realised that if he created the chemicals himself, in a lab, and sold them in their purest forms, he could wipe out the middleman and offer hugely competitive prices. So, he did just that.
The Ordinary is launching its first line of cleansers and they look major
The Ordinary launched with 27 products sold exclusively online (the trend we’ve seen with Glossier and the rise of the digital-first beauty brands).
Word quickly spread and orders swept in at a rate greater than the lab could meet which meant long waiting lists quickly developed. Then in 2017, the company announced it was branching into makeup, introducing 21 shades of foundation for a mere £5.90. They contained a non-chemical SPF 15 (kind to pores) and gave the dewy natural glow and was barely visible to the naked eye. Or there was the full coverage highly pigmented foundation that made pimples look as if they’d been airbrushed. They sold out too, accumulating a waiting list of over 75,000 names. Truaxe said in an interview that “it was the biggest disaster...we don’t plan a waiting list. Nobody plans a waiting list. This is not an Hermès bag. It’s skin care.”
We tried The Ordinary's £5.90 foundation and here's our verdict
The Ordinary was slowly proving that good skincare and makeup didn’t need to cost the earth. Fans loved the fact that it was refreshing - there was no misleading advertising or marketing lingo, no unrealistic claims or silly packaging. The ingredients list, for instance, wasn’t complicated and didn’t need a Google translate.
The products looked like they’d come straight out of a lab (so apothecary chic) and encouraged users to feel like amateur scientists using them, mixing bottles together - a drop of this, a squirt of that, creating their own personalised skin potions. Who knew science could be so fun?
Seven month after launching, the brand opened the doors to its first-ever store, situated in London’s Spitalfields. Today, there are 29 stores globally, with a total of four in London, as well Toronto, Mexico, Australia and South Korea, with new lines of skincare and makeup being added every few months, including the latest edition of a Salicylic Acid 2% Masque, which is already being hailed as a hero in the making.
That's not to say it was all plain sailing. The brand was the centre of ongoing controversy, surrounding its famous founder, Brandon.
An oily-skinned girl puts The Ordinary Niacinamide serum to the test
But although Mr Truaxe was removed from his role in October by minority investor, Estée Lauder, there's no denying he was a true visionary. Following his death, a statement from Estée Lauder companies read: "Brandon Truaxe was a true genius, and we are incredibly saddened by the news of his passing. As the visionary behind Deciem, he positively impacted millions of people around the world with his creativity, brilliance and innovation. This is a profound loss for us all, and our hearts are with Nicola Kilner and the entire Deciem family."
These sentiments were shared in a photo shared on the brand's Instagram page of Brandon, alongside the caption: "You touched our hearts, inspired our minds and made us believe that anything is possible.
"Thank you for every laugh, every learning and every moment of your genius. Whilst we can't imagine a world without you, we promise to take care of each other and will work hard to continue your vision."
The brand, and the beauty, live on in a true testament of Brandon's unrivaled vision.