The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution review

I don’t know what it is about my nose, but blackheads love it.

It’s the only area where they show up (well, that and the skin just around it). All the time. They make my nose look like a dalmata and enlarge my pores so much, I swear you can see them from the moon.

The only thing that gives them the boot and keeps them from coming back is salicylic acid (but I have to be super diligent with it).

I usually get my fix from Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant but this year, I’m cheating on it with The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution.

Will I switch back to my first love? Mmmm….

What’s In The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution?


Pretty much every exfoliant out there promises to clean your pores and rid them of the crap that’s clogging them up. But unless they use an acid that’s oil-soluble and can get through the skin’s lipid (oil) barrier, they can’t.

Salicylic acid (also called BHA) is one of the few acids that can do the feat. It penetrates the pores and unclogs them from within.

This is essential when you’re dealing with blackheads (and other types of acne). If you just scrub away the black head of the blemish and leave the tail inside the pore, it’s only a matter of time before that little bugger rears its ugly head again.

Salicylic acid also exfoliates the surface of the skin so the dead cells that pile up on its surface can’t fall into the pores and clog them up again. Plus, surface exfoliation make skin softer, smoother and more even-toned.

FYI, this makes exfoliation a regular job. If your skin’s prone to blackheads and pimples, using salicylic acid every day can keep them from coming back in the first place.

One more thing: salicylic acid also has anti-inflammatory properties. It means it can soothe irritations and reduce the redness that always comes along with pimples.

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

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A watery-gel that dries down a little tacky. If you apply a little too much, it also foams a little.


It’s fragrance-free.

How To Use It

Every other night, after cleansing.

Performance & Personal Opinion

Ever wondered why The Ordinary is so cheap? They give you all the best active ingredients to target your skin concerns, but they compromise on textures.

The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution is the perfect example. While Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant has a lovely, silky texture, The Ordinary Salicylic 2% Solution is tacky and foamy.

If that’s cool with you, you’ll get the same results from both exfoliants. Within a week, The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution made all my blackheads disappear.

Usually, I use salicylic acid at night only on my nose area cos that’s where the little buggers like to take up residence.

But a week before my period is due, when hormones are sending my sebaceous glands into overdrive and forcing them to produce way too much oil than my skin needs, I also apply a couple of drops on my chin area, where I’m prone to hormonal acne.

It usually does the trick but on the rare occasion a pimple does spring up on my chin (because pimples are evil and if they can pop up before a special occasion, they will), I apply a drop of this on the nasty bugger a couple of times a day to make it go away a little faster.

It’s not a magical potion and doesn’t make the pimple disappear overnight. But the next day, the pimple does look smaller and less red. I repeat the process a couple more days and puff, my skin’s clear again.

Keep in mind, though, that salicylic acid works best at prevention than cure. If you have a pimple that’s come to a head, waiting three days for it to disappear completely can feel like an eternity. That’s why, if your skin is prone to them, it’s best to use this stuff regularly to prevent them in the first place.

I didn’t experience any dryness or irritation even though I use it daily on some areas. If your skin’s on the sensitive side, though, you may want to use it a little less often, just in case.

the ordinary salicylic acid 2 solution

Who Is This For?

  • Acne-prone skin
  • Combination skin
  • Oily skin

Who Is This NOT For?

If you don’t have acne/blackheads, you don’t need this.


A small, white bottle with a dropper applicator. Sleek and practical.

Does The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution Live Up To Its Claims?

This 2% treatment solution helps exfoliate the inside walls of pores to fight the appearance of blemishes and for better visible skin clarity with continued use. True.
Use in the AM and PM. I don’t recommend exfoliating twice a day every day (unless you use it on pimples only) because that’s too much for skin and can cause dryness and irritation.

Price & Availability

$5.30/£4.20 at Beauty Bay, Cult Beauty and Sephora

Do You Need It?

If you’re looking for a cheap BHA exfoliant and you don’t mind the foaming texture, this is worth checking out.

Dupess & Alternatives


Aqua (Water), Hamamelis virginiana leaf water, Cocamidopropyl Dimethylamine, Salicylic Acid, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Citric Acid, Polysorbate 20, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Triethanolamine, Ethoxydiglycol, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol