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!):
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?
If you’re worrying about doing The Ordinary wrong, get your butt on this The Ordinary speed training (affiliate link). It’s by my scientist friend Cheryl Woodman and in it she’s teaching you how to use The Ordinary to get makeupless skin you love.
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.
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.