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The Ordinary

AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution

1.00 fl. oz. for $ 7.20
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Some people wonder if a high-strength AHA exfoliant will produce better results than lower strengths—a question The Ordinary's AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution seeks to answer.

Presented as a 10-minute peel and packaged in a glass bottle with a dropper applicator, this pH-correct exfoliant is built around a blend of the AHAs glycolic acid, lactic acid, tartaric acid, and citric acids. These acids comprise 30% of the formula, while the BHA ingredient salicylic acid kicks in at 2% for a grand total of 32% exfoliating acids, which is what has us very concerned—and why we're glad you are directed to leave this on skin for only a few minutes, and then rinsed off, as you would with a facial mask.

Left on longer, this concentrated blend of acids will assuredly tip the scales in favor of irritating skin rather than offering benefits. Skin needs help exfoliating, but this kind of intense hit doesn't provide natural help with exfoliation; rather it can be a shock to skin. It's also worth noting that regulatory boards around the world recommend no more than 10% concentrations of AHAs in skincare products, at least for those you use daily.

Thankfully The Ordinary advises using this no more than twice weekly and only if your skin isn't sensitive (although to some extent everyone's skin is sensitive given age, sun damage, and the sheer number of skincare and makeup products most women apply). Still, it would've been better had this formula contained a better mix of soothing agents to offset the potential irritation.

This at-home peel demands extra caution, but if you have advanced signs of sun damage and prior experience with AHA exfoliants (or have had professional peels with AHAs), and you're applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen daily, this is worth considering. For best results, don't apply other leave-on products with active ingredients like high-strength retinol or vitamin C the same night you apply this peel.

Pros:
  • Contains a mix of glycolic acids and salicylic acid in a pH-correct formula.
  • Good mix of hydrating ingredients.
  • Potentially impressive results if you have advanced signs of sun damage.
  • Inexpensive and fragrance free.
Cons:
  • The high amount of AHA can definitely prove irritating to many skin types.
  • Despite the fact The Ordinary does not recommend using AHA or BHA exfoliants, it sells many of them.
Jar Packaging: No
Tested on animals: No
Alpha hydroxyl acids (AHA) exfoliate the skin's topmost surface for a brighter and more even appearance. Beta hydroxyl acids (BHA) also exfoliate the skin with an extended function to help clear pore congestion. This combined 32% AHA/BHA solution offers deeper exfoliation to help fight visible blemishes and for improved skin radiance. The formula also improves the appearance of skin texture and reduces the look of fine lines with continued use.
Glycolic Acid, Aqua (Water), Arginine, Propanediol, Cocamidopropyl Dimethylamine, Triethanolamine, Salicylic Acid, Aminomethyl Propanol, Lactic Acid, Tartaric Acid, Citric Acid, Panthenol, Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer, Tasmannia Lanceolata Fruit/Leaf Extract, Daucus Carota Sativa Extract, Glycerin, Pentylene Glycol, Polysorbate 20, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Ethylhexylglycerin, 1, 2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol.

It's not an overstatement to say that Canadian brand The Ordinary has taken the global beauty world by storm. In fact, no skincare line in recent memory has generated as much buzz as this brand!

Why all the commotion? Its because of The Ordinary's combination of clinical-looking products that contain high amounts of proven skincare ingredients and their unusually low prices (near rock-bottom prices). The curiosity to try these latte-priced products is intense; after all, you can assemble an impressive collection of anti-aging products for around the cost of one anti-aging product from a pricey department store brand!

The Ordinary is one of several brands that are part of a larger company, named DECIEM, whose tag line is The Abnormal Beauty Company, and with that we agree 100%. According to company founder Brandon Truaxe, DECIEM exists to create beauty brands with one mission common amongst them: to marry function, design and authenticity. Were not sure about the function, design, and authenticity part, but The Ordinary is certainly not ordinary at all in the world of beauty!

Frankly, we don't see how DECIEM can rationalize the low prices of The Ordinary products when the products from the other DECIEM skincare brands are so expensive. The difference is so glaringly strange it seems to border on a bait and switch - more about that in a moment.

Some of the ingredients in The Ordinary products are indeed inexpensive, but some of them absolutely qualify as expensive. These expensive ingredients are part of the reason why well-formulated anti-aging products, like serums and retinol treatments, typically cost much more than what The Ordinary charges.

The owner has been quoted as saying that the fill (fill is actual product inside the package) for his products costs less than $1 (less than $1 for how much? ). Depending on the formula, that can be true, but a skincare products retail price isn't just about whats inside the packaging, but also about how whats inside got there. There are costs for packaging, global regulatory testing, development, stability and safety testing, distribution, and on and on. Surely, The Ordinary didn't avoid some of these steps, but it does make us wonder.

We generally don't comment on a company's marketing strategy, but in this case its hard not to. We suspect The Ordinary is possibly a loss leader for the pricier DECIEM brands; that is, it gets DECIEM a ton of media and viral attention. Consumers, drawn by the low prices of The Ordinary, check out the site aiming to try the cheap stuff, but then, in sometimes not-so-subtle ways, they're lured into considering the expensive stuff from their other lines. Again, were just guessing here because its just so intriguing. Is The Ordinary a crusader for consumers or something else?

In terms of the quality of The Ordinary's products, the majority are one-note formulas. That is, rather than containing a robust mix of ingredients proven to help skin, most of their products focus on providing an efficacious amount of a single key ingredient, but to the exclusion of others. To give your skin an essential mix of antioxidants, skin-replenishing ingredients, and skin-restoring ingredients, you'd have to purchase several products from this line, and, since most of them have similar fluid-like serum textures, layering them, and knowing which product to apply first becomes a confusing guessing game. Plus, the Ordinary brand doesn't include sunscreens or cleansers, so it isn't one-stop shopping.

The Ordinary does one more unusual thing that reinforces their slogan of being The Abnormal Beauty Company: They routinely point out what they believe are the negative aspects of the very ingredients they use! For example, The Ordinary states clearly that it does not recommend exfoliating with AHA or BHA ingredients, but they sell AHA and BHA products. They also state they don't like silicones because of how they interact with certain ingredients, but they sell products that contain silicones.

They downplay retinol (vitamin A) as being inferior to other forms of vitamin A, but they still sell retinol products. Aside from the fact that these statements about retinol, AHAs, BHA, and silicones are wrong, its just bizarre to sell products you dont really want people to use, but then there's an allegedly superior, more expensive option from one of DECIEMs other brands, just waiting for you.

As you'll see from our reviews, there's a handful of The Ordinary's products worth checking out, but there are also several products that simply don't supply enough of what all skin types need to look and act younger, healthier, and more radiant. Low prices are great, but not when the trade-off is getting less than your skin deserves.

For more information about The Ordinary, call (800) 513-6088 or visit www.theordinary.com.

About the Experts

The Beautypedia team consists of skin care and makeup experts personally trained by the original Cosmetics Cop and best-selling beauty author, Paula Begoun. We’re fascinated by skin care and makeup products and thrilled when they meet or exceed our expectations, but we’re also disappointed when they fail to perform as claimed, are wildly overpriced, or contain ingredients scientific research has proven can hurt skin.

Our mission has always been to help you find the best products for your skin, no matter your budget or preferences. Beautypedia’s thorough and insightful reviews cut through the hype and provide reliable recommendations for all ages, skin types, and skin tones.