Salicylic acid or BHAs (beta-hydroxy-acids) are a miracle worker for clogged pores and exfoliating. They’re oil soluble and can penetrate the skin deeper then an AHA which makes them exceptional at unclogging pores and combating acne. Even dry skin can benefit from a BHA, and as someone with dry, sensitive skin I can’t imagine not using one. Here are a couple different options from The Ordinary to experience the goodness that BHAs offer.
Salicylic Acid can be used as a serum or treatment. Depending on your skin type, you may not need to use salicylic acid all that often so a weekly treatment can be a great option. At 2% BHA, this treatment mask by The Ordinary is effective yet non-irritating on the skin. Some serums range up to 20% acid and your skin does not need anywhere near that much to see a difference.
The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Masque is a leave-on treatment containing charcoal clay and salicylic acid. It’s great at drawing out oils and imperfections from your pores. It exfoliates dead skin cells while unveiling a radiant and smooth complexion upon washing it off. If I’m breaking out, this is the mask I use. As someone with dry, sensitive skin I really enjoy this mask and I think it does a great job at achieving what it claims.
The Ordinary advises this mask to be left on for no longer than 10 minutes, I leave it on for about 8 minutes and wash it off sooner if it’s burning or uncomfortable. I still see a noticeable difference after 8 minutes. I would call this the best clay mask I’ve ever used and you can use this as a spot treatment to target a specific blemish.
On nights when you use this mask, it should be used in place of your typical acid or active. No need to use retinoids or actives on days when you use this mask. You’ll want to follow up the mask with a hydrating serum like Hyaluronic Acid or Marine Hyaluronics and a moisturizer as it may make your skin feel dry.
The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Masque Pros
- Super effective clay mask for a very affordable price.
- Contains charcoal clay and salicylic acid to unclog pores and target acne and blemishes. This mask does a fantastic job at clarifying the skin.
- Great for oily and blemish-prone skin.
- Works wonders for clogged pores.
- Fantastic weekly treatment mask. You can also use it as a spot treatment on blemishes.
- The squeeze tube bottle is very easy to use.
- Alcohol-free formula.
- Cruelty-free and vegan.
- The formula contains squalane to help hydrate.
- Better suited for all skin types rather than the SA solution because you can control how long you leave this on your skin.
The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Masque Cons
- This can dry your skin out. The combination of clay and BHAs is drying and even irritating for some which is why it’s used weekly.
- Patch test before using to avoid irritation.
- If you experience burning or tingling you may not be able to leave this on for the full 10 minutes. But, you should still notice a difference in your skin.
- BHAs make your skin more sensitive to the sun so wear an SPF.
- Only to be used 1-2 times a week. If you have oily skin, you may have better luck with a BHA serum you can use more frequently.
Use this mask up to once a week in your PM routine. If you have sensitive skin it may be better as a monthly or biweekly treatment. Replace it with your go-to acid or retinol on that night and follow up with a hydrator. It’s advised to leave this mask on for 10 minutes at most but if it tingles or feels uncomfortable you can wash it off sooner. If it’s burning, wash it off immediately.
This clay mask is available at
After the introductions on the SA mask, the 2% SA Solution similarly exfoliates the skin, unclogs pores and breaks down oil build up. This solution performs with very similar functions as their 2% masque. But, at 2% just like the weekly salicylic acid masque from The Ordinary, you can’t help but wonder, is this solution intense? Yes, this product is pretty intense and it’s best for oily or blemish prone skin types. It’s also a product that does not need to be used very often.
Like the 2% Salicylic acid masque, this product is an acid and should not be used daily. If your skin can tolerate this product you probably want to use it a few times a week at most. It conflicts with other acids, retinoids and vitamin C so save this for your nighttime routine. It pairs very well with The Ordinary’s Niacinamide serum and the two together are great at combating acne.
Luckily TO is working on updating this product as well as releasing an 0.5% and 1.0% formulation of salicylic acid. These will be much better suited for more sensitive skin types. The Ordinary has a pretty vast collection of acids but only 2 BHA products. We’ve learned, BHAs perform differently then AHAs and it benefits your skin to use both.
I experienced stinging and burning with this product and it’s the only direct acid from The Ordinary that irritated my skin. I much prefer their other acids or to just use the Salicylic Acid Masque. It has a lightweight, viscous texture and water based formula like most of their acid serums.
This product is not for all skin types and if you have sensitive skin, proceed with caution But, with The Ordinary’s new updates, there should be an option that can suit everyone soon!
The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution Pros
- Salicylic acid is great for combating acne and clogged pores.
- This serum is very affordable.
- This product gets amazing and raving reviews from those who liked this product.
- The Ordinary is updating the formula and adding two lower formulations to their product line.
- Great for targeting acne and clogged pores.
- Salicylic acid is oil-soluble.
- BHAs can penetrate the skin and your pores deeper than an AHA.
- Alcohol, oil, and silicone-free formula.
- Vegan and cruelty-free.
- Can be used as a spot treatment to target specific areas of congestion.
The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution Cons
- This product is pretty harsh and causes burning and stinging for many.
- Those with sensitive and dry skin are likely unable to use this product.
- The Ordinary is updating this product so it’s a little tough to find at the moment. The Ordinary has been working on the new formulation since early 2020.
- The sticky, viscous texture is not ideal for everyone.
- The color of the product varies from clear to light beige. A darker hue does not mean it has gone bad.
- In the worst-case scenario, some can experience salicylic acid burns.
The Salicylic Acid Solution 2% is a water based serum to be used in the AM or PM after cleansing and before creams. Normally direct acids are not used in the AM, but TO advises that you can use this in the morning and night. Make sure to always pair this with an SPF.
As it’s a direct acid, it does have a few conflicts: do not use this with Direct Acids, Peptides, Retinoids, Vitamin C (LAA/ELAA), 100% Niacinamide Powder or EUK 134 0.1%. This product does not need to be used daily, maybe a few times a week if you have oily skin that can tolerate it. If you have more sensitive skin, maybe once a week if it does not make your skin burn.
Keep an eye out, the Salicylic Acid 2% Solution is not available as of now because it’s being updated. It’s been out of stock since early 2020 so hopefully the end is near! The Ordinary is updating their offering of BHAs with a 0.5% Salicylic Acid and 1.0% Salicylic Acid solution. It looks like they are updating the 5.0% formula as well. Once it is available it should be available at:
We’re so happy that The Ordinary’s small line up of BHAs is growing and growing for those with more sensitive skin! BHAs do wonderful things for your skin – since they penetrate the skin deeper and are oil soluble they are great for targeting clogged pores and acne. Regardless of your skin type, everyone gets clogged pores and they work wonderfully to eliminate those in ways AHAs can’t.
The star BHA product from The Ordinary is the Salicylic Acid 2% Masque. It has a little more give between skin types because you can control how long you leave the product on for. It’s an effective weekly treatment and it does the job if you are looking for something to draw out oils and impurities. As always the price is fantastic and with once weekly use, it’s a great product to incorporate into your routine.