Deciem CEO Nicola Kilner on The Ordinary, NIOD, and Her Top Skincare Tips

If you’ve been keeping up with skincare news, you’d be well-acquainted with beauty brand The Ordinary. Despite their products having plain names and packaging — though we prefer the term ‘minimalist’ — they have, rightly so, stayed on our radars, due to straightforward formulas that put their hero ingredients front and centre, all while keeping to affordable price points. “Clinical formulations with integrity”, is their tagline, and with consumers’ growing interest towards honest beauty, their ethos couldn’t be more apt.

The Ordinary.

That said, it does take a certain amount of skincare knowledge to know where to start — something that DECIEM Co-Founder and CEO Nicola Kilner has in abundance. DECIEM, the parent company of The Ordinary and other brands such as NIOD, Hylamide, counts quality as part of their stable of beauty brands. Similar to The Ordinary, they’re honest, functional, and affordable, and can be considered a low-key disruptor to the traditional mystified world of beauty.

DECIEM Co-Founder and CEO, Nicola Kilner

Kilner herself co-founded the brand in 2013 with the late Brandon Truaxe, and together, built it to an empire that stands out in today’s savvy beauty landscape. Unfortunately, the last few years have been some tumultuous ones for her and the company, as she got ousted, then brought back to run it while seven months pregnant — no easy feat. Still, the strong-willed woman forges on, and remains “committed to putting innovation, function, and design at the heart of everything we do at DECIEM”.


With such an empowering story, we just had to reach out to Kilner to hear her thoughts on DECIEM the beauty brand, as well as gain some practical tips and recommendations on the best skincare products we ought to know about. If you’ve ever been curious too, here’s a good place to start.

What makes DECIEM and the company’s skincare brands stand out in a crowded beauty market?

“We’re a happy and humble umbrella company of beauty brands, that is changing the beauty industry by doing everything others don’t do. We bring honesty and transparency to an industry previously plagued with fear and false advertising. We truly believe great skincare should be led by education, available to everyone, and at honest pricing.”

The Ordinary — from their bestselling Direct Acids category: Lactic Acid 10% + HA ($12) ; Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution ($16) ; Salicylic Acid 2% Solution (USD7).

What are some bestselling items across the DECIEM brands?

“Even though it launched three years after our other brands, The Ordinary continues to be the most popular brand within our portfolio. We notice our top selling products sit under the Direct Acids category, with Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% continuing to be our bestselling product across DECIEM. This year, in particular, we saw a huge increase in popularity for our AHA 30% and BHA 2% Peeling Solution, after the product went viral on TikTok. Our NIOD range, especially our Copper Amino Isolate Serum 2:1, has a loyal following, and we notice the range is popular amongst makeup artists for skin prep.”

The Ordinary — AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution (USD9), another bestseller.

For first-time customers, it may be confusing to go through the entire The Ordinary catalogue — how would you typically go about selecting a skincare regime?

“Skin education and knowing your skin type is integral to building a routine. We recommend our customers to come into the store and discuss their concerns and wants from a skincare perspective. We understand it can be overwhelming, but by understanding what your skin needs, we believe there is a regimen for everyone. We encourage our audience to shop slowly, research, and reflect on their options, before committing to a routine.”

DECIEM AT HOME, a new virtual consultation tool.

“Our passionate retail team is available in-store and more recently via our virtual consultation tool, DECIEM AT HOME which we launched during the pandemic to continue our educational offering. We believe skincare is personal, and something that can not be rushed. Our website and social media channels are other great sources of information. Our comments are always open and our friendly social team will get back to every question.”

The Ordinary — The Daily Set ($32).

“For those brand new to skincare, we have great entry sets, in particular, The Ordinary The Daily Set, which acts as bookends to a core routine. You have your staples grouped together, and then you can switch in serums based on your concerns and priorities. We are currently testing other groups of products in a sequence to cater to multiple concerns, and hope to launch regimen-based sets in the near future.”

What are some general tips for using The Ordinary’s products?

“Layering serums is an important factor to consider when building your skincare routine, therefore we do recommend no more than three serums within any given routine. Start with the thinnest consistency to the thickest, and aim to include your active ingredients at night time as your skin can become more sensitive to sunlight.”

The Ordinary —Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% ($10).

Are there recommended, fail-proof products that go well with each other? 

“When we talk about product pairings, the main takeaway is that certain ingredients mixed together subsequently interfere with another’s efficacy, making it wasteful. When wanting to incorporate two categories with one another, we recommend using one at night and one in the day, otherwise alternating between days.”

How about pairings to avoid or go slow on?

“The main ingredient combinations we do not suggest combining are; Niacinamide and Vitamin C (direct and derivative), Retinoids and Direct Acids, and Retinoids and Retinoids.”

The Ordinary — “B” Oil (USD11) ; “Buffet” ($26).

What’s the story behind the straightforward names of The Ordinary products? How about unique ones like “B” Oil and Buffet?

“The product names typically are the exact percentage of the ingredient found within them, but there are also some unique ones Brandon chose to sum up the products make up! For example, the name for “Buffet” ​was inspired by some brands referring to their expensive products offering combinations of these technologies as a “buffet”, comparing such products to buffets that offer various kinds of food in one sitting. The name for ‘B’ Oil simply comes from the various oils found within it, making it a ‘B’ for blend.”

NIOD — Copper Amino Isolate Serum 2:1 (USD69).

What are some underrated ingredients more people should know about?

“My personal favourite and non-negotiable is our Copper Amino Isolate Serum 2:1 from NIOD. Copper Peptides have fantastic wound healing benefits and when applied as part of a skincare routine put your skin in a constant state of repair. It tricks our skin into behaving younger. Take a five-year-old for example. If they were to scratch their hand and a 95-year-old was to, the five-year-old would heal much quicker. When applied topically, Copper Peptides send a signal to our skin cells to prompt the formation of new ones, improving the appearance of skin elasticity, and firmness whilst minimising the appearance of wrinkles.”

The Ordinary — Squalene Cleanser (USD10).

Which item(s) would you recommend for our humid weather?

“A good cleanser at the end of each day will help to break through any SPF, as well as clean the skin of perspiration. The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser is a balm-like consistency that removes all residue including makeup. The product should be applied to a dry face and warmed in your hands before massaging in. Squalane is a great hydrator, so your skin isn’t left feeling dry or stripped of natural oils.”


The Ordinary — Serum Foundation (USD8) ; Coverage Foundation (USD8).

Tell us more about the Colours series, as well as the upcoming Watercolours product.

“We launched our Colours range in 2017 and had a 75,000+ people waitlist. We could have never anticipated the demand for the foundations, and are still trying to keep up with it to this day! We offer two formulations, serum for a lighter finish, and coverage for a fuller-looking complexion. There are 21 shades in both formulations and they are USD8.”

The Ordinary — Watercolours (teaser picture).

“We are hoping to launch our much-anticipated Watercolours very soon, but what I can tell you is that they will be similar to that of a skin tint, thinner than water and oil and silicone-free.”

What are 3 important values a beauty brand must have in today’s world, both now and for the future?

“Kindness, integrity, and a sustainable plan to ensure we are continuing to do better for the planet and animals.”


The Ordinary, a selected range is available at escentials stores and online at, as they are the official retailer in Singapore. Full collection of DECIEM brands, available online at