The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution - review


Earlier this year I did what many people have done when The Ordinary became available: I went bonkers.

Yes I wanted to see for myself what all the fuss was about, but I also felt it was important as a beauty blogger to explore the range - and while I wouldn't usually go and buy so much stuff just because everyone else is, in this case I did because this is some of the most affordable skincare on the market and I do also love active ingredients.

The Ordinary has given me a way to try different things without spending heaps of money - I'm sure a lot of people would say that - so I'm now able to work out if there's anything I've so far been missing that works well for my skin.

You'll see a bunch of reviews online from people who've bought a lot from The Ordinary and have gone ahead and introduced various products together or followed one of The Ordinary's suggested regimes. 

Therefore I've decided to do things differently: I'm focusing on one product at a time so I can see exactly what each item is doing, rather than juggling different products and perhaps missing any effects of one because others have stood out more or worked differently in conjunction with each other.

First up is this Salicylic Acid 2% Solution, which I've been using for over three months now. It's the first product from The Ordinary that I tried so it's the one that I'm most ready to review.

The Ordinary claims/product details:
  • Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxyl acid (BHA) that exfoliates the skin
  • 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
  • This formula should not be used on sensitive, peeling or compromised skin
  • While exfoliating acids can result in quick visible benefits, we generally suggest indirect forms of skin exfoliation in favour of direct forms such as this formula due to potential inflammation and sensitivity associated with acids
  • Sunburn alert: this product contains a BHA that may increase your skin's sensitivity to the sun and particularly the possibility of sunburn; use a sunscreen, wear protective clothing, and limit sun exposure while using this product and for a week afterwards
  • ph 3.2 - 3.5
  • Free of water, alcohol, oil, silicone, nuts, gluten and soy
  • Vegan and cruelty free
  • To use: use in the AM and PM; apply a small dot directly on spots for visible improvement or apply a small amount over the face to maintain visible clarity with continued use; avoid the eye contour and contact with eyes; do not rinse off
  • RRP $8.80 AUD for 15ml

The product comes in a frosted glass bottle with a dropper applicator and it's a lot better made than I thought it would be. Given how cheap and no-frills the range is, I was expecting it to be a dodgy plastic bottle with a bung dropper (because I've received bung droppers from budget brands before), but it's not.

Indeed, the product looks and feels more special than you might think, and it does come in a neat little white box when you buy it. Yes the packaging is plain, but it's clean-looking and good-looking.


This product works. Note, though, that because I have dry skin, I haven't used a lot of salicylic acid based products so I can't tell you whether it works any better or worse than other comparable products on the market. But I can tell you it works.

It's a runny liquid that sits somewhere between a gel and an oil in texture. It's a little on the sticky side and it has a faint, chemical scent that I'm only aware of if I hold the product up to my nose.

One thing to note with this is: don't apply too much. If you do, it turns a bit white and streaky, and it can be hard to rub in. So go easy. You don't need much.

While I don't have blemish-prone skin, I do get the occasional big one and I always have little heads of the black and white variety along my chin. The reason I bought this product was because I wanted a spot treatment and I didn't want to pay a lot for it since pimples aren't my primary concern, but I do get them so I like having something on hand.

Shortly after this product arrived in the post, I got one of those painful under-the-skin blemishes - the ones that you're always aware of and that you know are going to get a lot worse before they get better. The ones that feel like a gargantuan lump under your skin but are never quite as big as all that when they finally emerge (although they're certainly big enough). For me, these normally sit there for a few days before eventually rising up to the surface and announcing themselves in all their red, angry glory. I don't get a lot of these but I do know how they behave when I do.

Anyway. I felt that blemish under my skin, and that evening I applied a drop of this product on top. I slept, woke up, and it felt a bit smaller. It wasn't so painful. I applied some more in the morning and then again in the evening. That was all it took. I don't know where that pimple went, but it never arrived. That's never happened to me before: those things always arrive and sometimes they take bloody ages to do so. This was a first.

After that, I started applying this product all along my chin area, every morning and every evening. What of course happened after that was, within a week, I got more whiteheads than I've ever had along my chin at one time. Ok, I thought, so we're purging. Then, after about two weeks, they stopped coming altogether.

This product works. It doesn't work on blackheads in my experience (I don't get any more or less of those when I'm using it) but it does work on big angry blemishes and little whiteheads. It works on the visible ones straight away and it also works to pull up the hidden ones earlier and target clarity overall, so after getting more of them, you'll eventually get less. That's what happened to me, anyway.

To test this theory, I started applying this to my whole face. The same thing happened. I started getting white things everywhere, then they died down, and then I stopped getting them. 

Since I don't really need to apply this product to my whole face, I stopped using it for a few weeks to see what happened, and my skin did return to its normal state - that being, constant bumps along my chin and rarely anywhere else.

I reintroduced this a few weeks ago. As predicted, first I started breaking out more and then I stopped getting as many bumps as I'm used to. I still do get my usual blackheads, but I find things like glycolic acid work better on those (for me, anyway), whereas this stuff targets the...ahhh...more 'fluid' bumps. Yeah ok, the pus-y ones.

Overall, this is a great product that works and I recommend it. It's cheap, it does what it's meant to do and I think you'd be hard-pressed to find something that's this effective - and fast - for less than nine bucks.


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