BOO! Nope, it’s not your friend’s gory Halloween makeup, it’s The Ordinary’s 30% AHA + 2% BHA peeling solution! I posted a picture of myself on Facebook and immediately got questions on PRP (or the vampire facial), getting into a fight with a cheese grater, a chimney sweep and my favorite – my husband proclaiming he did not inflict any damage to his wife. Take a look at my goofy face. For many reasons it’s a little frightening.
The Ordinary is a great little company that has taken the beauty market by storm. Anything but ordinary, they make really good, straightforward products that are both effective and very affordable. It’s a great way to inexpensively try things you’ve never heard of before like HA spheres and squalene. They’ve also recently been incorporated at Sephora, which is an interesting play for them to bring in lower cost options but goes to show you they’ve been making enough noise in the industry for the big players to notice.
A quick intro to acids
Acids are the absolute most essential part to my skincare routine and I suggest that Readhead readers incorporate them as well. My skin both loves it, and requires it. I have dehydrated oily skin. Think of the dehydrated skin as saran wrap over oil. If you don’t get that layer off, the oil gets trapped in my large pores and breakout city. For drier skins, they may be too delicate for harsh scrubs and a lack of cell turnover can produce dull, crepey skin.
The main thing to know about acids is they fall into basically two camps – AHA (or alpha hydroxy acids) or BHA (beta hydroxy acids). AHAs are great at removing the “glue” that holds the top layers of skin together. They will brighten and tighten. Common names are glycolic, lactic and mandelic acids and come in formulations from 7-75%. They are great for resurfacing, treating sun damage and fine lines. BHAs are generally lower percentages, with most functioning properly at 2%. They bypass sebum (aka oil) to get into the pore to unclog them and are generally a form of salicylic acid. You can see some peeling at higher percentages, but this is more of a getting down and dirty type of acid vs. the AHA which will show immediate brightening effects. Rest assured though, they are both acids and require careful use and SPF!
The Ordinary’s 30% AHA + 2% BHA
As mentioned above, it should make sense to you then why formulation in The Ordinary’s 30% AHA + 2% BHA has a much AHA higher percentage than the BHA. But, it’s great that this formulation includes both. especially for skin types like mine – read anything other than very sensitive or reactive. I would also like to throw out there that if you don’t plan on a good SPF/hat/shade game, then please skip this. Not only will you undo any of the benefits, but you’ll also make your skin more photosensitive.
Here’s the ingredients from The Ordinary’s site: Glycolic Acid, Aqua (Water), Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Water, Sodium Hydroxide, Daucus Carota Sativa Extract, Propanediol, Cocamidopropyl Dimethylamine, Salicylic Acid, Potassium Citrate, Lactic Acid, Tartaric Acid, Citric Acid, Panthenol, Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer, Tasmannia Lanceolata Fruit/Leaf Extract, Glycerin, Pentylene Glycol, Xanthan gum, Polysorbate 20, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Ethylhexylglycerin, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol.
You’ll see the AHAs glycolic, tactic and tartaric and citric acids listed which help get to that 30% formulation. Salicylic acid is the BHA. Then you’ve got a host of hydrators and soothers like sodium hyaluronate, sodium hydroxide, glycerin and what gives this stuff it’s signature (and frightening) blood-red color is the Tasmannia Lanceolata Fruit/Leaf extract.
Packaging and Application:
This states, and I agree, that this is for seasoned skincare folks who know how to use and can tolerate high percentages of acids. It comes in a bottle with a dropper. No frills, but looks clean and in line with the Ordinary’s slightly hipster anti-packaging flare. I started with a clean, dry face and put a few drops on my hands and then slathered it on.
The reddish-pink color was a bit shocking but I have to admit that I appreciated that you could easily see where you put the peel on. I then patted in a few extra goes on my forehead, nose, chin and cheeks which need some extra de-clogging. You’ll see that is the more streaky areas from the picture. I let it sit for 10 minutes; it was very simple to use and didn’t require extra steps or tools. I can dig that.
I am very acclimated to OTC acids and I could feel this one. It certainly wasn’t unbearable, but I could feel it. Definitely do not use this with any open cuts, acne, after sun exposure or recent exfoliation.
I rinsed it off and voila! My face was tight, bright and shiny. Here’s my face again with no filter and no makeup…or hair styling for that matter. See Readhead readers, there’s nothing but keepin’ it real here.
You’ll see I’ve got a nice glow customary of AHA peels. My pores were temporarily diminished and the majority were clean. I have two stubborn blackheads that didn’t budge though, unfortunately.
I decided to wait a couple of days to review this to see what happened. My skin felt somewhat dry, but did not visibly flake. That ultra bright glow did fade but as the days went by my skin was still brighter than previous. My one caveat to that was that I broke out in tiny white heads in a few places. Since you’ve read my pimple puzzle post I knew that this was caused by some irritation from this peel. They weren’t ragers, but they popped up and came to a head very quickly. I had read some reviews from others that this happened to. I don’t believe in purging, especially my skin since I’m not starting a skincare routine from scratch, so I chalked this up to irritation. For those who have sensitive skin, you may want to patch test first. I would also caution using this on your neck or your chest area without patch testing as these areas are typically more sensitive and delicate than your facial skin.
This did what a mask of this type should do. It was kind of fun to use in the process as well! The ingredients are good and YOU CANNOT BEAT THE PRICE. It’s a whopping $7.20 compared to the $80 that my beloved Drunk Elephant Sukari Babyfacial retails for.
It’s got a lot going for it, and now that I’m basically back to being a poor college student (more on that in another post) I think this is a great option for budget-seekers. Where it does fall down for me though, is the irritation. For someone of my skin type it is missing that extra blend of luxuriousness like the Babyfacial which left me with similar results, no irritation and missing that feeling of dry “if you rubbed your finger over my skin it would sound like Tupperware” skin afterwards.
When you’re talking $8 vs. $80 though, you’re willing to forego some things. I’d recommend this one, but with a cautionary note. It’s high powered and makes no excuses. It lacks overall availability like a drugstore product, but you can easily order it online or stop by Sephora or another Ordinary shop.
Have you used The Ordinary products? Drop us a line in the comments.