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Skin care

The ultimate facial treatment that will make your skin amazing

Photography by Tracey Creed
Assisted by Amandine Paniagua
Words by Amandine Paniagua


Published September 25 2020

My friend Isabella gave me a bottle of The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution for at-home facial treatment. This chemical peel was an opportunity to try a winner, given its nine stars out of ten on the Ordinary website. Peeling was never a skincare priority for me, quite the opposite. Is there any Sex and the City lover, who doesn’t remember Samantha’s face after her failed chemical peel session? So I was a bit reluctant to use this chemical exfoliant on my face, but life is about new experiences, right?

I discovered the Ordinary facial treatments and its sister’s brands products, thanks to Isabella and Tracey. Launched by Deciem in 2016, The Ordinary is famous for disrupting the beauty industry with their low price point and transparency about ingredients. Taking a science-driven approach, the brand intentionally focuses on powerful ingredients, percentages and formulas targeting specific skin concerns for significant results. They achieve affordability through minor investment in advertising and massive manufacturing abilities. I also love that their range is mostly fragrance and essential oil-free, vegan and cruelty-free, and their products primarily come in glass packaging.

The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution helps clear pore congestion, improves visible blemishes and acne scars while enhancing skin radiance—making this facial treatment the ally of acne-prone and oily skin. Besides, consistent use will enhance skin texture and reduce fine lines.

Like all The Ordinary products, the name gives you an insight into the composition. This wash-off chemical peeling mask combines multiple exfoliants—30% Alpha-Hydroxy Acid (AHA), mainly glycolic acid with lactic, tartaric and citric acid. 2% Beta-Hydroxy Acid (BHA), commonly called salicylic acid. These ingredients both dissolve the dead skin cells. The BH Acid also deeply exfoliates, going into the pores and pushing out excess sebum, oil and dirt. As such, you cannot go over a 2% BHA formula, and 10 minutes is the maximum your skin should handle this facial treatment. It’s acid after all. So that said, this peeling is not advised on sensitive or damaged skin.

The composition also includes Black Carrot extract, an antioxidant humidifier agent to tone up the skin, and a Tasmanian Pepperberry derivative to reduce irritation and colour the formula. Another ingredient is Vitamin B5, a healing, hydrating pantothenic acid, to soften and brighten the skin. Also, the formula of this facial treatment incorporates Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer. This ingredient is water-binding, creating a film over the skin, continuously delivering bound water and moisturising benefits for product comfort. The rest of the list consists of fragrance ingredients and sodium hydroxide, a cleansing and denaturing agent.

There is a debate on the internet about usage frequency. I would say it depends on your derm type, your goal and how your skin reacts. But The Ordinary does not recommend using this facial treatment more than twice a week. This acid-based peeling mask is highly effective and powerful. Similar to other products of The Ordinary range, it requires that you know your skin well and do your due diligence. For instance, if you are using retinoid solutions in your routine, or have skin sensitivity from regular use of Vitamin C—there is a possibility that your skin barrier is compromised, and wouldn’t handle the potency of the chemical peel, leading to burning. I would recommend lowering the dose of retinol-based products in your routine, and always patch-proof the product 24 hours before a full face application.

The product reminds me of blood, with its colour and viscous texture. I poured a couple of drops into my hand palm and stressed with fingers on a cleaned, dry face, avoiding the eye area. It dries quickly, so you have to apply fast. You can also use more or less liquid and target specific areas. Did it sting, as reviews report? Absolutely. The first time the most, but it was superable. The warm, tingling sensation lasted the whole 10 minutes. If you can’t bear this, it is undoubtedly a sign that this facial treatment is not suitable for your skin. Time off, I washed with a warm wet cloth, followed by a gentle, generous application of rich, moisturising oil.

I don’t consider having particular completion issues, but this chemical peel does something, instantly improving skin texture. Immediately upon washing it off, my skin was brighter, smoother, and tighter. I found the best is the next morning if like me you are doing your facial treatment in the evenings. My skin glows, tone more even and my pores—visually smaller. Not like I care about my pores, but the change was evident. I have been using this chemical peel for two months now, not as regularly as I would like, but the results remain constant. On the other hand, for Trace—who had scarring from historic cystic acne, the peel has worked to reduce the appearance of indented scars, irregular skin tone and pigmentation along her jawline. She found her skin improved so significantly that she cannot see the scars in the mirror anymore, without in-depth observation.

If your goal is achieving radiant skin with a minimum of maintenance and products, this at-home facial treatment is a must-have on your shelf. The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution is as powerful as your skin will be luminous.

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