Everything You Need To Know About The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution Before You Try It

by Gio
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Warning: The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution isn’t for skincare newbies.

If you don’t know how to use it, don’t buy it!

If you’re new to exfoliating acids or only used small concentrations before, this is NOT for you.

If you’re thinking, “5% glycolic acid is awesome, so 30% must be even better,” this is NOT for you.

If you plan to use it in addition to acid toners, this is NOT for you.

Here’s the deal: moderate exfoliation makes your skin softer, smoother and brighter. Too much exfoliation dries skin out like the Sahara, irritates it like hell and makes you more prone to sun damage and hyperpigmentation.

If I had my way, you’d need a prescription to buy The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution (and any other high dose peel, for that matter). But I’m not having my way. These peels are freely available in shops for anyone to get their hands on.

So, I’d better tell you how to use it so you don’t burn your skin (literally!). Here’s all you need to know about The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution: what it does, how to use it and – most importantly – how to figure out if it’s right for you or not (hint: for most people, it’s a HELL NO!):

the ordinary aha 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution review 01

Key Ingredients In The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution

AHAs To Fade Sun Damage Away

The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution is an acid cocktail. It has 4 different types of AHAs: glycolic acid, lactic acid, tartaric acid and citric acid. All together, they build up to 30%.

AHAs (Alpha Hydroxy Acids) are a group of exfoliants that dissolve the glue that holds skin cell together so they can slough off. When they do, your skin looks softer, smoother and brighter.

AHAs are great at removing sun damage, too. Makes sense. The cells on the surface of the skin are the most battered by the sun and elements. They withstood the most damage.

As these surface layers give way to the newer, healthier cells underneath, dark spots slowly fade away. Wrinkles and fine lines look smaller too.

The catch? AHAs can be irritating at small doses, let alone 30%. You see, when you remove the superficial layers, your skin looks brighter and younger. When you remove too many, you’re disrupting the skin’s protective barrier and exposing the raw skin underneath that wasn’t ready to come to the surface just yet.

That dries out your skin, irritates it and makes it more prone to sun damage. Kinda defeats the point of using them, don’t you think?

That’s why it’s best to start with small concentrations of AHAs and build up use gradually. Don’t cheat!

Related: The Complete Guide To Glycolic Acid: What It Is, What It Does & Why You Should Use it?

BHA To Unclog Pores And Prevent Breakouts

The BHA in The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution refers to salicylic acid, a member of the Beta Hydroxy Acids family.

Like AHAs, salicylic acid dissolves the glue that holds skin cells together so they can slough off. Cue brighter, smoother, softer skin.

But salicylic acid goes a step further: it gets into the pores, removing all the crap that’s clogging them up and giving you blackheads, whiteheads and pimples. Bye bye blemishes!

2% is the standard concentration used in OTC exfoliants. But here, it ups the acid count to a whopping 32%! Use it carefully.

Related: Why Salicylic Acid Is Key To Spot-Free Skin

Tasmanian Pepperberry To Minimize Irritation

The Ordinary knows that AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution can be irritating. That’s why they added Tasmanian pepperberry to the mix.

Tasmanian pepperberry has anti-inflammatory properties that reduce redness and irritations. Here, it helps reduce the risk of a negative reaction.

It’s a good move. But I wish The Ordinary had added more anti-inflammatory ingredients to give Tasmanian pepperberry a helping hand.

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How To Use The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution

Here’s everything you need to know:

1. How Do You Use The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution?

The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution is always the first step after cleansing. You cleanse your skin, pat it completely dry and then apply the peel evenly all over your face. Wait a few minutes and wash it off with lukewarm water.

2. How Long Should You Leave The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution On?

No more than 10 minutes.

When you’re just starting out, leave it on for 5 minutes. If your skin’s cool with it, next time leave it on for 6 minutes. Repeat until you reach 10 minutes.

Do NOT go over 10 minutes. I don’t care if your skin is fine with 10 minutes. You don’t see aestheticians leave a peel on for 30 minutes to see if the clients can take it, do you?

There’s a reason for that: the longer you leave the peel on, the more layers of dead cells you destroy. You want to remove the superficial damaged layers, not ALL the layers!!!

3. When Should You Use The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution?

At night. High concentrations of acids make skin more prone to sun damage, so it makes sense to use it when the sun’s not around. Mind you, you still need to be religious with sunscreen for a few days after. Now the superficial layers are off, UV rays can wreak MORE damage if you’re not careful!

4. How Often Should You Use The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution?

The Ordinary recommends no more than twice a week. I’m even more conservative and tell you to use it once every 7/10 days. Start slow and see what your skin can take before going all in!

5. What Should You Do If The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution Irritates Your Skin?

With high concentrations of acids, a little tingling is totally normal. But if you’re experience painful stinging, burning or your skin turns red, wash it off immediately and throw the product away.

6. How Should You Care For Your Skin After Using The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution?

I know I start to sound like a broken record but PILE ON YOUR SUNSCREEN!

Here’s the deal: those damaged layers of dead cells are there for a reason. They protect the younger skin underneath from sun damage. Now they’re off your face, your skin is more photosensitive and prone to wrinkles and dark spots.

For a few days after a peel, apply a generous dose of sunscreen. Reapply it as often as necessary. Seek the shade whenever possible. Wear a hat. Use a parasol. You get the drift.

One more thing: it may also be a good idea to hold off prescription medications, like tretinoin, for a few days before and after the peel to minimise the risk of irritation. Talk to your doctor about it before using the peel.

7. Can You Use The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution With Acid Toners/Exfoliants?

No. You either use peeling solutions with high acid concentrations once every 7/10 days or acid toners/exfoliants with smaller concentrations every day/every other day.

Which one works better? You’re asking the wrong question, my smart friend. The right question is, “what can your skin tolerate?”

Higher doesn’t mean better if it irritates your skin!

8. Who Can Use The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution?

The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution is for expert acid users only. Expert acid users are people who have been using exfoliating acids for years, slowly building up tolerance to them. They go for regular peels and know how to handle high doses without burning their skin.

Hint: if you’re reading this post because you don’t know how to use the peeling solution, you’re NOT an expert acid user.

9. Who Shouldn’t Use The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution?

  • Anyone who’s never used acid exfoliants before.
  • Anyone who’s only used toners/exfoliants with small concentrations of acids.
  • Anyone who’s heard raves about this peeling solution and wants to see what the hype is about.
  • Anyone who doesn’t know what this peeling solution is but buys it anyway because “my skin may need it.”
  • Anyone who wants quick results.
  • Anyone with sensitive skin.
  • Anyone with peeling or cracking skin.

If you’re on prescription medication like tretinoin, talk to your doctor before adding the peel to your skincare routine. Using too many harsh products can backfire!

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Let’s Put It To The Test: Personal Use & Opinion

The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution looks like blood. The deep red hue turns into a soft pink when you apply it on your face, so you won’t look like someone just stabbed you. Ugh.

The texture is lightweight and comfortable on. It tingles a little, but that’s normal. It’s IF it starts to be painful, burn or turn your face red that you’re in trouble.

I’m an expert acid user so I keep it on for 10 whole minutes. My skin can take it. Heck, it can take peels at a derm’s office and those have a lower pH (around 2) that makes exfoliation more aggressive. The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution is meant to be used at home, so the pH is higher (3.6). It’s still effective, but gentler on the skin.

When I rinsed it off, my cheeks were a little red. I totally expected that. My skin is pretty resistant and can tolerate pretty much everything but in winter that area tends to get a little drier and more prone to redness. So I just slathered on moisturiser and went to bed.

When I woke up the next morning, my skin looked much better. You could see on it all the benefits of acid peels: my skin was softer to the touch, the texture’s smoother and the whole complexion brighter.

I have very little sun damage and no dark spots yet, but if you do, you’ll slowly see them fade away. Again, don’t rush it. Your skin didn’t get damaged in a day. It won’t heal in a day.

The BHA also helps keep my pores clear and free from blackheads and pimples. If excess oils and dead cells can’t accumulate in pores, you can’t get blemishes. But don’t put the peel directly on pimples! That’s too irritating.

If you’re an expert acid user, The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution is the closest thing to a dermatologist’s peel you can do at home.

Everyone else, keep using acid toners/exfoliants to build your tolerance slowly overtime. Don’t cheat!

Available at: £6.30 at Beauty Bay, Cult Beauty and Feel Unique

Have you tried The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution? Share your experience in the comments below.

Ingredients: 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.

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Lia February 26, 2019 - 2:23 pm

This product is not available in Australia bc skincare with this kind of strength can only be administered by a professional. I think that’s pretty responsible. Though doesn’t stop me from wanting to try it! Your article helps and I shall build up my skin resistance the slow ol’ way.

Gio March 1, 2019 - 9:36 am

Lia, I do agree with the Australian regulations. I know there are responsible people out there who can easily learn to use it properly and build their way up to it, but there are also many who want a quick fix. For them, this could be a disaster waiting to happen. Glad to hear you’re willing to do it the slow ol’ way. It’s slow but it works. 🙂

Viviana Simcox January 17, 2020 - 4:00 am

Can I use serum and moisturizer after the peel ?

Gio January 17, 2020 - 4:59 pm

Viviana, yes, as long as they don’t contain any harsh actives, like retinol and vitamin C.

[email protected] March 2, 2019 - 4:58 am

Thank you so much. I’ve used the peeling solutions for 3 times now and i am a new acid user and i keep it on for 10 whole minutes. Last 2 times it went Ok but it tingles. Although, applying the peel for 3rd time, it starts pain and burn small circles on my cheeks. Please can you give me some suggestions?

Gio March 8, 2019 - 3:36 pm

RIMOLAMAHARJAN, Stop Using It! If it burns, it’s destroying your skin’s protective barrier. Stick to cleanser and moisturiser only until your skin is back to normal and fully healed, and then try an exfoliant with a much, much lower concentration of acids.

Valenchia Hershberger March 21, 2019 - 10:42 pm

I’ve used peels before and feel confident using this for a lesser amount of time. However, I’m wondering, can you dilute the product prior to applying it to your face?

Gio March 29, 2019 - 1:11 pm

Valenchia, I don’t recommend diluting it as you could make too ineffective. Just leave it on for less time. Even just a couple of minutes will do.

Teri September 5, 2019 - 11:38 pm

I’ve been using The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toner for almost a year without any problems. I begin with Cerave Bar Cleanser with HA, then the Toner, followed by HA serum, Retinoid Serum and last 100% Aloe Gel directly from my plant. My skin loves this routine, but I have been unable to get rid of the fine lines on my upper cheeks and the famous 2 “Worry Lines” on my forhead. I recently purchased The Ordinary Peel, but was wondering if my face will turn out looking “mismatched” if I only use it in those areas or it be best to use it on my entire face? Also, would it be safe to use my regular moisturizing with HA Serum followed by the Aloe Gel after the peel for both moisture as well as a little soothing, skipping the retinoid of course?

Gio September 14, 2019 - 7:03 pm

Teri, It’s best to apply it all over the face for even results. Yes, if they’re basic moisturisers, they’re fine for use after a peel.

Alejandra Machado January 13, 2020 - 12:34 am

Hi. I just have one question. Can I use the Rosehip Seed Oil after this peel?

Gio January 16, 2020 - 4:37 pm

Alejandra, unless your skin is super sensitive, yes you can.

Liz April 17, 2019 - 8:59 pm

This was really helpful advice, thank you. I’ve just started using it, as I hate the downtime of the tca peels I do over the winter, and it’s a great product. I find I get excellent results if I use it after I dermaplane, even though it’s “stingly” (stings and tingles) for the first minute or so. I’m also using it on my decotellage (only twice a month and only for 5minutes at a time) and on my hands and my sun damage is starting to fade. My skin is smoother, brighter and my fine lines are fading. It would be helpful to know if I should be using vit c and retinol after using this product, as I don’t when I apply the tca peels, but do after this.I also use a sheet mask and hylauronic acid after using this, as it puts all the moisture back into my skin. My husband worries that my face is going to fall off one of these days.

Gio April 20, 2019 - 2:59 pm

Liz, I would wait a couple of days before using retinol and vitamin C. It’s still a peel so you don’t want to overwhelm your skin. But it’s ok to use sheet masks and hyaluronic acid to put the hydration back into your skin.

Limat April 25, 2019 - 10:12 am

Is it ok for pregnant women

Gio April 26, 2019 - 9:26 am

Limat, small concentrations of acids are ok for pregnant women. But higher concentrations can be problematic so I wouldn’t risk it with this one.

RW April 26, 2019 - 5:14 am

Is it ok to use this with an at-home microdermabrasion machine? I just started using the Silk’n microderm product and don’t want to overwhelm my skin.

Gio April 26, 2019 - 9:22 am

RW, noooooo. Dermabrasion is an exfoliation technique. If you do that, you don’t need any other exfoliant.

Cathy April 30, 2019 - 5:21 pm

I normally use Paula’s Choice BHA 2% and AHA 8% lotions. If I decide to purchase this should this be the only acid I should use or can I use the PC ones in between?

Gio June 4, 2019 - 9:16 pm

Cathy, this should be the only acid you use.

Dean September 25, 2019 - 8:43 am

Hey there thanks for this article, can i ask a question if i use this then i will not use anything in next day like mosturizer or retinol

Gio October 5, 2019 - 6:56 pm

Dean, you can use moisturizer but not retinol.

E. Bal May 10, 2019 - 2:32 am

Hi! Can i use the ordinary niacinamide or klairs vitamin e mask or nature’s republic aloe vera 92% after using this peel? Thanks so much for the answer.

Gio June 5, 2019 - 12:39 pm

E. Bal, yes. Anything that’s soothing is ok after this peel.

Turi May 25, 2019 - 11:35 pm

Apart from the days I use this peel could I still use my witch hazel toner?

Gio May 31, 2019 - 12:57 pm

Turi yes, if you don’t find the toner too drying for your skin, you can use it.

Ray June 6, 2019 - 5:17 am

Thank you for all the info! My normal nighttime moisturizer is argan oil. Do you think that would be appropriate to use after removing the AHA solution?

Gio July 6, 2019 - 12:07 pm

Ray, yes.

Natasha June 12, 2019 - 11:45 pm

Hi, I’m so happy I found your blog and I love the content. So I used this peel once every 7-14 days. Is it ok to use the olehenrickson dark spot toner, the ordinary resevratol 3% ferulic acid 3% and the inkey effect hyaluronic acid on the days I don’t use the AHA + BHA peel? I use everything in that order and then moisture. I usually mix the resevratol and hyaluronic acid together.

Gio July 6, 2019 - 1:14 pm

Natasha, if your skin is happy with this mix, I don’t see why not.

Xiao-hui June 15, 2019 - 12:13 am

I get you don’t want people to end up hurting themselves.. But there are some of us out here who has tried a lot of things and they just don’t work. Like me for instance. I can’t seem to get rid of my blackheads and I’ve just tried just about everything from drugstore with the 2% salicylic acid and the charcoal nonsense.. The only thing I actually found effective is extracting them. But i hate pressing my skin with the tool and i have to do it more than once a week. I want these blackheads and large pores gone. If the product was as dangerous as your making it out how could it possibly be so easily available? Besides people are getting good results and feeling great about their skin. If your sticking to the instructions and listen to your skin, who knows this could be the solution for all of us out there with this blackhead large pored people who haven’t found what works for them yet.

Gio July 6, 2019 - 12:30 pm

Xiao-Hui, I think this product is dangerous IN THE WRONG HANDS. If you’re desperate or don’t know much about skincare, you may be tempted to misuse it and end up hurting yourself. You need to consider that this is a public blog open to everyone. I’m talking both to experts and newbies alike, and I want the newbies to know that, no matter how well it works for others or how desperate you are to get rid of blackheads, this ain’t for you yet. Build tolerance. FYI, this doesn’t have a higher concentration of salicylic acid than other products at the drugstore, so if you’re looking for a miracle cure to your blackheads, this ain’t it.

Asma fatima June 18, 2019 - 4:27 pm

I am using it for two months. Now Im having hormonal acne. Can i still use it ?

Gio July 6, 2019 - 12:12 pm

Asma, you can, but using smaller doses of salicylic acid daily may be more beneficial for you now.

Naz July 4, 2019 - 11:10 pm


I bought this product and then found your website (so thankful I did) – would you have any suggestions for newbies on what products to use to start building acid tolerance and then eventually getting to this product? I currently use a cleanser, hyaluronic acid mixed with vitamin c, retinoid, and sun screen as a part of my daily routine, but I know I’m missing a key element – exfoliation, would be great if you could suggest something for that or even tell me what steps I need to add to my skin care routine. Thank you!

Gio July 6, 2019 - 2:28 pm

Naz, it really depends on your skin type. You can check out this post for tips on finding the right exfoliant for you and how to get started with it: https://www.beautifulwithbrains.com/best-exfoliator-skin-type/

Lynne July 20, 2019 - 8:36 pm

Hi, I have just received this product. I double cleanse at night which is when i want to apply it, so would i do my first cleanse, apply the peel, then do my 2nd cleanse or should i double cleanse, apply peel, then rinse off? I have used glycolic and salicylic before (pads and lotion) and these have been left on overnight, just wondered if washing after the peel was necessary to remove it all so it didn’t cause irritation? Thanks 🙂

Gio August 8, 2019 - 6:31 pm

Lynne, you can rinse the peel off with water. It’ll neutralise the acids.

Aly July 20, 2019 - 9:35 pm

i’m using the glyclic acid toner 7% for a few days and the peeling solution should arrive soon, when do you recommend me starting using the peeling solution and its not good to use that toner after it right so how often can i switch between them, also can i use niacinamide + zinc followed by tea tree lotion after the peeling solution?
Thank you <3

Caroline July 31, 2019 - 2:52 pm

What products did you use after the peeling? Is it ok to use the Effaclar Toner on the day after the peeling, or should I wait a few days?

Gio August 8, 2019 - 6:56 pm

Caroline, afterwards, moisturize well. You can either use the peeling solution once a week OR Effaclar Toner every other day. Don’t use more than one exfoliating product!

Gbemisola Olumide August 6, 2019 - 11:51 am

I just thought to improve on how I cared for my skin and thought to use the peeling solution, never tried a chemical peel although my skin is no where close to sensitive as I get away with so many things I try, I try to be careful and not overdo it though. With your review, I think getting the peeling solution isn’t a good idea as there more subtle chemical peel I can use, thank you very much for this review. I’d hate to see my skin through tantrums because of a strong acid peel. Thank you again, i get to save some coins😁

Gio August 8, 2019 - 6:30 pm

Gbemisola, use the peeling solution once a week OR glycolic acid toner every other day. You CAN’T use both, it’s too much exfoliation.

Gabriela October 28, 2019 - 7:10 pm

Hi! You said it cannot be used a acid toner every other day + the peeling solution every week at the same time, but what about moisturizers that contains acid? I’m using the Bioderma Sebium Global every morning, can I use the peeling solution once a week (or once every two weeks) too?

Gio November 8, 2019 - 12:22 pm

Gabriela, if you want to use the peel once a month, then you can use moisturisers or toners with acids too. Otherwise, I wouldn’t do it.

Thanh Vy August 14, 2019 - 9:29 am

Hi 🙂 I have used so many exfoliating products over the past few years but they didn’t really work with my pores, blackheads and “underground” pimples. I decided to use this product and just ordered it online. The think is I have never used aha and bha, but I really want to give it a try, how should I use it?

My skin is normal skin type but a little bit dry with a lot of blackheads and pimples under the skin.

Thank you for your information in the blog, very helpful and it stops my thought of misuse it in the first place!

Gio September 14, 2019 - 12:40 pm

Thanh, only salicylic acid can unclog pores and remove blackheads. All other exfoliating products won’t help you with this. My advice is for you to return this and get an exfoliant with 2% salicylic acid you can use every other day.

Melissa August 21, 2019 - 6:45 pm

Hi! I have been using this product and love it. Tonight though, I foolishly applied whilst busy and left it on for over 10 mins. Around 20 I think. I applied a very thin layer. I feel no discomfort and see no damage. But I’m paranoid I will wake up tomorrow with damage or burns. I applied Hyarulonic acid and moisturiser after washing it off. Can the negative effects of leaving a peel on too long show up later, or would I notice immediately?

Thank you, Melissa

Gio September 14, 2019 - 12:13 pm

Melissa, it happens to everyone! That’s why I’m not a huge fan of these products. Usually, there’s some irritation straight away. If it didn’t experience that, I guess your skin is pretty resilient or has gotten used to it. Having said that, I don’t recommend you leave it on for more than 10 minutes anyway. And be very diligent with sun protection for the upcoming days.

Mary August 22, 2019 - 7:56 pm

I was completely new to acids (& completely new to skin care, in general) and jumped in head first with this product. A little more than a month in, and about five 10 minute applications later, I have the most beautiful I’ve had in YEARS. The directions clearly state not to leave it on for more than 10 minutes and to use no more frequent than 1x a week. Plus, Deciem clearly cautions all users to spot test all products before incorporating them into a regimen. People with sensitive skin usually know they have sensitive skin, and this isn’t really a product people just stumble upon unless they are looking for something to help them with specific skin issues. It’s barely sold in brick and mortar stores; most people will have to purchase online, pay shipping, and wait a week. I appreciate your post because it is a strong product and people should be warned, but … I don’t know, it just read like an alarmist piece.

Whether or not something is available OTC, by prescription, or not at all in one country and not another isn’t really a good measuring stick. Tret is only available by prescription in the USA, Australia, England and many others. However, you can walk into a chemist in France or Greece and buy it OTC. Back in 2013 I had to mail order a medication that was sold for nausea relief OTC in Australia to help me boost my milk supply after I had a baby. Not only was the drug not OTC in the USA, the FDA had banned it! Still, my highly regarded and well respected OB recommended I give it a try, and it is still widely considered a gold standard medication for lactation support.

As for working your way up to an acid of this strength, is there any research backing that? What would be the point? Or would it just be psychological, for users to become mentally prepared for a stronger acid? I’d love to read more about this recommendation, so please let me know your sources.

I appreciate your explanations for why people should not mess around with this product, but people also shouldn’t be terrified of it. For anyone curious about this product, here’s my message: Read reviews before you purchase. Spot test before putting it all over your face. Read & follow the directions and do not deviate. Discontinue use if it jacks you up.

Gio September 15, 2019 - 7:16 pm

Mary, thank you for your comment and sharing your experience. I didn’t mean to scare people off, but as a skin coach, I’ve worked with so many women who ruined their skin by over exfoliating. It’s so easy to be seduced by the marketing and go overboard sometimes. I just want people to know what they’re getting into and it’s important to use it only if needed and by following instructions carefully.

As for the building up recommendation, that’s something I’ve heard from many dermatologists over the year. Again, this is a group that tends to work with people with sensitive skin/rosacea/acne etc that often get irritated by acids. If that’s you, starting small and building up has been proven to help.

Orla Bird August 23, 2019 - 4:22 pm

Hey, thanks for helpful article. I’ve used AHA’s and BHA’s before, but during summer I use only Azelaic acid once per week, and Niacinamide + Alpha Arbutin. I have problems with hyperpigmentation :/ In the winter I plan to use this one with higher AHA’s and BHA’s. My question is, can I still use Niacinamide + Alpha arbutin those evenings after I put this stronger acid on? Or should I wait at least a day and moistrurize? Tnx.

Gio October 5, 2019 - 5:26 pm

Orla, you can use niacinamide, but not stronger actives like Alpha.

Lauren September 2, 2019 - 4:21 am


Can I use spot treatment after the peeling solution?

Gio September 14, 2019 - 6:31 pm

Lauren, I don’t recommend it. Better use it on a different day.

Janice September 13, 2019 - 10:54 pm

What about using this less often in conjunction with gentler exfoliants? (Eg. salicylic 2% most days, then this maybe once a month?)
Does it have to be an either-or scenario (either only gentler exfoliants with regular use or only a stronger acid like this once a week?)

Gio September 15, 2019 - 1:21 pm

Janice, it has to be an either-or-scenario and the reason is simple: dead cells are there for a reason. They protect the younger skin that’s not ready to come to the surface yet. If you exfoliate too much or too often, your remove too many dead cells, which leads to dryness, irritations and all sorts of problems.

It’s ok to go for a stronger peel at your dermatologist 3 or 4 times a year, around which time you’ll stop using gentler exfoliant. But don’t overdo it every few weeks.

Sarah September 16, 2019 - 10:37 pm

Am a newbabie in this I just oder mine today I have sun damage and high pigmentation black spots on my face can I use vitamin E serum as moisturiser after washing off the chemical from my face?

Gio October 5, 2019 - 5:12 pm

Sarah, yes you can.

Anu September 18, 2019 - 3:47 pm

Hi Gio,

Its a wonderful post. I have used the peel 10 years ago and it was always the dermatologist who applied for it. I have started using this peel and used it 3 times now, first 2 times I felt it better and the 3rd time when I used it immediately I got 2 big Acne/Pimple. I was not sure I got the acne due to the peel or something to do with my food habits. Have you come across the comment before getting acne just after using the Ordinary Peel?


Gio October 5, 2019 - 6:54 pm

Anu, peels can cause purging. If a breakout was brewing underneath your skin, exfoliation will bring it to the surface sooner.

Sarah September 25, 2019 - 8:56 pm

Hello! After using the product, can I apply the ordinary niacinamide 10% + zinc 1%
Thank you 🙂

Gio October 5, 2019 - 6:56 pm

Sarah, it depends on how well your skin can tolerate it. It could be a little drying after a peel.

Lou September 26, 2019 - 6:42 am

Hi! I have been trying to figure out a new regime for my skin (i’m in my mid 20’s now and that natural teen glow is starting need a little help!) for a few months. I’ve tried peel off masks (which ended badly because i have sensitive AND combination skin), clay masks, sheet masks, steaming, coconut oil as a makeup remover and moisturizer (which left my t-zone pretty bumpy), products with salicylic acid (only cleansers though because i’ve never had problems with acne), and raiding my mum’s extensive skin care products etc. Every time I find a routine that works, the products get discontinued and I have to start over. I have been doing ALOT research based on acids, and considered a more natural route because I don’t want my skin to get used to something and then I have to find another alternative once it’s discontinued (which i’ve heard can happen with some skin care products- i.e. they create some skin-to-chemical dependence). Now then to my point, I read your article and it had me thinking very hard about what I should be including and forgetting about (at the end of the day sometimes less is more… and it’s easier to maintain when it is a simple routine of course)… I have seen a lot of mixed reviews on the peeling solution by the ordinary. Lot’s of good ones of course, but I think that depends on your skin type and climate that you are surrounded with (I live in Kenya where it is more often than not hot and dusty). I want to more knowledgeably incorporate acids into my skin care routine (i’ve been doing it accidentally over the years which probably explains why I haven’t been able to maintain a routine and replace products). I will get the derma-e G.A cleanser, Thayers witch hazel toner, vit C eye cream or the ordinary caffeine solution (which is apparently good for dark circles), the ordinary H.A serum, an H.A day cream, Vit C night cream and a mineral powder sun protection. Is this routine safe to use with the peeling solution? or what sort of cleanser would you recommend if I cannot use G.A with the peeling solution (seeing as one of it’s active ingredients is G.A). I have very dry cheeks and then a really oily t-zone . My cheeks can be sensitive but I generally enjoy the masks that warm up on your face. I basically want to maintain that dewy, tight, youthful appearance without too much fuss every evening. I also wanted to ask if it is safe for me to give the peeling solution to someone with dry skin. I want to gift this, as well as a VA and G.A cleanser, neutrogena H.A serum, eye cream E.L.F, H.A night cream, face oil, H.A serum; the buffet and; granactive retinoid- the last three by the ordinary and want to know what products are just overkill. she is over 40, so of course some products that hydrate and smooth the appearance of fine lines would be fabulous. It’s difficult shopping for yourself let alone other people! I would appreciate any advice you have.

Gio October 5, 2019 - 6:59 pm

Lou, since you live in Kenya, I don’t recommend the peeling solution. Exfoliation always makes skin more prone to sun damage, so keep it to a minimum. 2% Salicylic acid for you and 7% glycolic acid for your friend 2/3 nights a week is more than enough.

OS October 5, 2019 - 2:42 pm

Hello, can I use retinol (urbanskinrx rapid repair and dark spots treatment to be precise) the night after using this peel or it’s better I wait for a few more days?

Gio October 5, 2019 - 7:22 pm

OS, I’d wait at least a couple of days.

OS October 5, 2019 - 2:43 pm

I mean a day after the peel.

HW October 13, 2019 - 5:05 am

I was looking forward to try this, but after reading your comprehensive review here, I’ve a second thought of using this. Could you recommend any other alternatives? Thanks!

Gio November 8, 2019 - 11:45 am

HW, it really depends on your skin type.

Here are my fave exfoliants for oily skin: https://www.beautifulwithbrains.com/best-salicylic-acid-exfoliants/

Here are my fave exfoliants for dry skin: https://www.beautifulwithbrains.com/best-exfoliants-glycolic-acid/

Nicole October 14, 2019 - 4:20 pm

How long would you recommend to leave before using the 7% Ordinary toner after using the peeling solution? I know not to use the same day, but would the next day be fine?

Gio November 8, 2019 - 11:43 am

Nicole, you EITHER use the peel every few day OR the glycolic acid every other day. You don’t want to over exfoliate.

Anita October 21, 2019 - 6:51 pm

i recently purchased the alpha arbutin, niacinamide and the peeling solution. i suffer from hormonal acne and had the worst hit 2 years ago. now i have acne scars around my jawline and under my chin its soo embarrasing. how would you suggest i use these 3 products? considering getting the rosehip oil and toner as well, but i wanna try the 3 products above first

Gio November 8, 2019 - 11:33 am

Anita, are you talking about scars or discolouration? You can’t treat acne scars with skincare products: https://www.beautifulwithbrains.com/treat-acne-scars/

These products can only lighten the dark spots pimples leave behind. If that’s what you have, use Niacinamide in the AM, glycolic acid followed by alpha arbutin at night.

Mariam Khan November 6, 2019 - 11:38 am

Hi can i use E45 moisturizer lotion right after using this peeling solution?

Gio November 8, 2019 - 2:15 pm

Mariam, yes you can.

Nerine November 8, 2019 - 3:10 pm

Hi, which is the best moisturiser and sunscreen to use immediately after washing off the peeling solution.

Gio December 15, 2019 - 11:03 am

Nerine, you can use anything that doesn’t contain any harsh actives, like retinol and glycolic acid.

James November 13, 2019 - 9:05 pm

Hello 🙂

Can I use this peel after cleaning my face with a vitamin C cleanser? I believe the cleanser is mild enough but I just wanted to make sure.


Gio December 15, 2019 - 11:19 am

James, yes you can. Vitamin C is rinsed off together with the cleanser, so it shouldn’t interfere with the peel.

Mar November 20, 2019 - 4:51 am

Can i use this than leave aloe Vera gel from plant on overnight

Gio December 20, 2019 - 7:48 am

Mar, yes you can.

Katherine A. Rodriguez November 22, 2019 - 12:35 am

Hi, I tried today for the first time for 6 mins, it went really good. My question is, how long should I wait to apply vitamin C? Could it be next day? Also, my regular routine is cleaning, toning, and hydrating. Should i stopped the toner for a day or more?

Gio December 20, 2019 - 3:32 pm

Katherine, I’d wait a couple of days, just to be sure. No need to stop toner, unless it’s an exfoliating one.

chirag b nibjiya November 24, 2019 - 2:18 am

Hey, I want to ask as t how do I use this acid along with Salicylic Acid? also after applying this product what do I or should I apply afterward?
I know I have to apply Sunscreen but any other lotion? or products from The Ordinary?

Gio December 20, 2019 - 3:34 pm

Chirag, you either use this or salicylic acid. NOT both.

Use it at night, moisturise well afterwards and use sunscreen in the morning.

Melissa Worthen December 2, 2019 - 2:10 am

This may be a dumb question, but I just wanted to ask and get your opinion. My skin is pretty normal, I rarely have any breakouts or any problems areas, but I do have some texture problems. I also have a few blackheads on my nose and chin. I was just wondering if I could only apply this to the problem areas instead of the entire face or would that be bad for my face? I have tried everything when it comes to blackheads and texture, nothing has seemed to really work for me! A friend of mine who works for Sephora recommended this to me and I really want to try it, but i’m unsure if I should use it on the entirety of my face or put it on the areas where I really need it. I’d love to hear your opinion!

Gio December 20, 2019 - 3:39 pm

Melissa, I’d recommend Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid exfoliant for blackheads. BHA works better when you leave it on your skin than when you rinse it off for a few hours.

If you want to use this, apply it all over the face.

Ashleigh December 11, 2019 - 5:42 am

So I just used this for the 1st time and have read up on it for over a month before even purchasing. I have like 40 white bumps all over my cheeks that go down towards my chin and neck. At 1st I thought it was milia, but they tend to also be like white heads as well. When I get irritated with them, I sit and pop them and they do pop. So this is my last hope before scheduling an appointment with a professional.

NK December 14, 2019 - 6:53 pm

My question is, right now I’m at 5%lactic acid with a little glycolic acid toner and of course, HA and moisturizer. I was curious of how and when should I step up the game, like.. should I go for 10%lactic acid next, or can I directly go for aha+bha peel after a month or two? And fyi, I’ve been using 5%for 2 weeks now and that too, daily. My skin seems ok with it. I have quite a bit stubborn acne marks and uneven bumps on my skin. Your reply would be highly appreciated.

Gio December 20, 2019 - 5:00 pm

NK, I’d go with 10% glycolic acid first. But upgrade because you really need to (i.e. the current concentration isn’t working well), not because you think you’re missing out. Higher concentrations don’t just give you better results. They also give you a bigger risk of irritation.

Wednesday December 25, 2019 - 3:42 pm

Can I use Tamanu oil to moisturize after the peel?

Gio January 17, 2020 - 5:06 pm

Wednesday, yes you can.

luxelemon January 8, 2020 - 9:48 am

can i use this with 10% azelaic acid?

Gio January 17, 2020 - 8:55 am

Luxelemon, I’d wait a couple of days before using this. Don’t use any actives when you peel.


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