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The Ordinary Salicylic Acid: How Good Is It?

Last modified on December 3rd, 2022

The Ordinary, in my opinion, is one of the best skincare brands out there, and I decided to look into their salicylic acid to see if it’s as good as some of the other products. Below, you’ll find everything you need to know about The Ordinary Salicylic Acid before you decide to buy it.

The Basics of The Ordinary Salicylic Acid

The Ordinary Salicylic Acid actually includes two different products. There’s a Salicylic Acid 2% Solution and a Salicylic Acid Mask. We’ll talk a little about both.

Either of The Ordinary Salicylic Acid products can be used to deal with textural irregularities, uneven skin tone, and signs of aging. Using a salicylic acid product can help improve the clearness and smoothness of your skin and remove impurities that cause your texture to look irregular or that clog your pores.

You might use salicylic acid for acne as well. You can add The Ordinary Salicylic Acid to a pimple overnight, for example, and then it may dry up or be less noticeable in the morning.

The Ordinary’s solution has 2% salicylic acid and witch hazel. The mask also has 2% salicylic acid.

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Image Source: Amazon

How Does Salicylic Acid Work?

Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid that comes from willow bark. It’s part of a class of skincare ingredients known as salicylates. Salicylates have a unique structure that is more oil-soluble, so they can easily penetrate deep into your pores.

Because of its ability to deeply penetrate the skin, The Ordinary Salicylic Acid can target not just acne but also blackheads and whiteheads. When salicylic acid goes into the skin, it starts to reduce inflammation, dissolve debris that could be clogging your pores, and helps eliminate pimples quickly. It can also go so deep into your skin that it breaks down connections between your skin cells.

Salicylic acid is also what’s called keratolytic. Keratolytic are skincare products that are excellent at exfoliation. The Ordinary Salicylic Acid can start to take off the top layer of your skin cells, revealing more even, bright and soft skin.

With any salicylic acid product, you might need to use it consistently for several weeks to see effects, but for some people, effects are almost immediate.

Most salicylic acid products have concentrations between 0.5 and 2%, which is the amount the FDA requires for a manufacturer to say the product can fight acne. The Ordinary’s product is on the high end of this spectrum. If you were to get a chemical peel at your dermatologist’s office that might contain anywhere from 20 to 30% concentrations of salicylic acid.

How Do You Use The Ordinary Salicylic Acid?

How to use this produce depend on whether you’re using the masque or the solution.

The use The Ordinary Salicylic Acid Masque, you should first do a spot test to make sure you don’t have a reaction. The masque should only be used on clean, dry skin. You should not use it on wet skin.

You take the mask and, using your fingertips, spread it evenly across your face, but avoid your eye area. Leave The Ordinary Salicylic Masque on for no longer than 10 minutes and then thoroughly rinse it with warm water.

You should not use this masque product when you’re using direct acids, pure or ethylated vitamin C, peptides, or retinoids.

If you’re going to use The Ordinary Salicylic Acid solution, you can apply it in the morning and evening. You can put it directly on spots if you have blemishes, or you can put a small amount on your entire face for more evenness, but avoid your eye area.

It’s a good idea to start out using the product just once a day and make sure you don’t develop any dryness. Then, if not and you like the results, you can move up to using it twice a day.

We should note that the serum version of this product is being re-formulated currently, so it wasn’t available on Amazon or Ulta at the time of this review.

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Image Source: Amazon

Are There Any Warnings or Interactions?

The biggest thing to remember when using either one of The Ordinary Salicylic Acid products is that they can increase your sensitivity to the sun and might increase the risk of getting a sunburn. That’s true of any product that contains beta hydroxy acid. You should wear protective clothing and sunscreen when you use salicylic acid and also limit your sun exposure.

Who Should Use The Ordinary Salicylic Acid?

If you have oily skin, superficial acne, or whiteheads and blackheads, you might consider using a salicylic acid product like the one from The Ordinary. As long as your skin can handle it, you can use it in moderation up to twice a day.

You should not combine salicylic acid with any other drying ingredients or exfoliating ingredients. Instead, it’s a good idea to combine it with soothing ingredients that have moisturizing effects.

Who Should Not Use This Product?

You might not want to use a salicylic acid product if you already have very dry skin because it can dry it out even more. You should also avoid this product if you have sensitive skin or if you get a lot of sun.

Side Effects

The Ordinary’s Salicylic Acid product is considered generally safe, but it could cause some irritation and dryness. Other possible rare side effects could including stinging or tingling, itching, peeling skin, or in people with allergies, hives.

What Do the Reviews Say?

We looked through a variety of sources of reviews for The Ordinary Salicylic Acid, focusing on the masque since the serum is currently being reformulated.

The Masque is a well-rated product, and some of the perks that users say they enjoy with this include the fact that it unclogs their pores effectively, and a little goes a long way.

Many users say that this helps them significantly when dealing with acne, including hormonal acne. Users also say that it’s great for shrinking their pores, especially in the T-zone area and the chin. Many people report seeing effects very quickly with the masque.

Some reviewers describe the product as a game-changer, saying their skin not only looks beautiful but feels smooth and wonderful every time they use it.

There were some negative reviews to be aware of too though. Some people felt that it was painful to use this, and there was one review of someone who said they got a chemical burn from the product.

This doesn’t seem to be the norm, however, and it’s important that you do a spot test before using the masque on a large area of your skin. You also need to carefully follow instructions and leave the masque on no longer than 10 minutes. You should potentially leave it on for significantly less time than that if you know you have sensitive skin.

Even though the serum salicylic acid isn’t currently available, it has excellent reviews, and many customers seem to hope it’s going to come back into The Ordinary lineup.

Something that we saw a lot of as far as reviews of The Ordinary Salicylic Acid is that the packaging for the masque isn’t great. While many people said the product itself is great, they rate the packaging lower. It’s difficult to get the product out of the squeezable tube, and there were people who said that for a masque product like this one, a jar would be better packaging.

Where To Buy The Ordinary Salicylic Acid

Again, at the time of this review, the serum version of The Ordinary Salicylic Acid wasn’t available on Amazon or Ulta, but the masque was available on both sites. If you have an Ultra near where you live, buying it there means you’ll get the best price. If not or this product isn’t available at your local store, you can buy it on Amazon, but it tends to cost a little more.

The Ordinary Brand

The Ordinary Brand is one of the biggest gamechangers in skincare, in our opinion. It makes professional-quality skincare affordable and accessible to all of us. These products are clinically proven, minimalistic and have simple but effective ingredients. There are also no products from The Ordinary that cost more than $20, and most end up costing less than $10.

All of the products are vegan, and none are tested on animals.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below we quickly answer some of the most frequent questions about The Ordinary Salicylic Acid.

How Do You Use The Ordinary Salicylic Acid?

If you’re using The Ordinary Salicylic Masque, you should apply it to clean, dry skin. You can put it all over, avoiding your eyes, or use it as a spot treatment. Don’t leave it on for any more than 10 minutes. You can use the masque a couple of times a week.

With the currently out-of-stock salicylic acid solution, you can also use it as a spot treatment or apply it all over. You can use that up to two times a day, if your skin tolerates it well.

When Will the Ordinary Salicylic Acid Be In Stock?

This was a common question and we weren’t able to find an answer to it. The masque is currently in stock, but the serum is being re-formulated according to the company, and we couldn’t find a timeline on when it can be expected to be available again.

We found Reddit threads on the topic from way back in 2019 wondering when the serum version would be back in stock, so your only option may be the masque.

What Are the Benefits of The Ordinary Salicylic Acid?

The benefits of this product include clearing up acne, exfoliation and getting rid of blackheads and whiteheads. Salicylic acid can also help with the evenness of your skin tone and it works well for oily skin.

Salicylic Acid vs. Benzoyl Peroxide

Two products that are similar to one another are salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. These products are among the most popular for dealing with acne, and both are available over-the-counter.

Benzyl peroxide may not be safe for sensitive skin, however, and it’s more drying than salicylic acid, so it can cause severe irritation.

Final Thoughts

If you’re hoping to find an answer to when The Ordinary Salicylic Acid serum will be back in stock, the answer is that we don’t know. Luckily, the masque version is available.

We think this is a good product if you have oil or acne-prone skin. It can help clear clogged pores as well. This product is also ideal for blackheads. In fact, it’s one of the best blackhead-removing products at this price point that you’ll find. It’s even comparable to much more expensive products in how effective it is.

Use it carefully to make sure you don’t have any type of reaction, and be aware that it is a drying product. If you already have dry skin, this probably isn’t right for you. Any time you’re using The Ordinary Salicylic Acid or any similar product, be careful about your sun exposure.

Overall, the masque is well-rated, however, and we feel comfortable recommending this product.

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