‘I tried the internet’s favourite facial peel and it’s as amazing as they say’

The Ordinary is the internet’s favourite skincare range, and this chemical peel is one of its hero products. But does it live up to the hype? Yes, says this writer. 

If you’ve sleuthed social media for beauty trends, chances are you’ve stumbled upon the faces of people covered in a red, almost bloodlike liquid.

Enter cult skincare brand The Ordinary’s AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution, a very, VERY powerful chemical exfoliant to improve skin texture, slough away dead skin cells, and fight blemishes.

It has over 560 reviews on the Deciem website, with an average score of 9.1 stars out of 10.

You may have also read of how one particular user suffered horrific chemical burns in a now-viral cautionary tale of not reading the instructions properly. She insists that she did, but I have my doubts.

Before I go into the nitty-gritty, this product is not available to purchase in Australia, though there are ways around this just consult your fave skincare Facebook group, because according to the brand, “it is qualified as pharmaceutical-grade and is permitted for use by medical/dermatological clinics only.”

But I’m in New York, and the Federal Drug Administration has lower safety standards (it’s also why if you ever travel to the US you should ALWAYS bring Australian sunscreen. No joke, I have mum courier me Ultraviolet’s Supreme Screen SPF 50+).

Can’t argue with the price, though, it retails for USD $7.20, which is under $10 dollarydoos.

This product’s main, active ingredients are Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) and Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs). The former exfoliates, while the latter goes deeper into the pores to combat congestion.

Like what you see? Sign up to our bodyandsoul.com.au newsletter for more stories like this.

Given the horror story of the aforementioned user, I admit I was a bit nervous to try this mask. My skin can typically take a fair bit, but since the start of the pandemic I have simplified my routine significantly and honestly, I think my face is better for it.

The application

Anyway, the label has some very clear instructions on how to apply this mask. First of all, your skin needs to be DRY, so after double cleansing, I patted my face with a dry face washer and waiting a few minutes for it to dry completely.

The rather thin, serum-like consistency makes it a little difficult to apply, and I was not going to become one of those people who press droppers to their face (ugh, bacteria much?) so I sort of hovered the dropper over my face and spread it around as evenly as I could, avoiding any particularly sensitive areas like around the temples.

The mask is only meant to be left on for no longer than 10 minutes. This is so important the label actually mentions this twice. Since this was my first time using it, I erred on the side of extreme caution and left it on for a total of four minutes.

It tingles a bit, but nothing that even comes close to uncomfortable. I have also used Drunk Elephant’s T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial™ AHA + BHA Mask (also not available in Aus) and thought that one was fairly unpleasant and tingly. But this peel looks downright horrifying. My fiancé actually thought I’d cut myself and you can see why.

The removal

Again, instructions say to wash it off thoroughly, so I first used reusable cotton rounds wet with warm water, then several splashes of water on my face after to get every single molecule off. I was not going to take any chances. Because of its potency, I decided not to use any serums following, but just opted for a very soothing, fragrance-free moisturiser by way of celebrity esthetician Angela Caglia’s Soufflé Moisturizer.

The results

So the reason I haven’t included before and after shots is that chemical exfoliants aren’t really the ‘instant results’ kind, but you likely will notice them over time. Having said that, my skin was baaaaby soft. Would I use it again? Definitely, but not until next week.

Experts say you shouldn’t exfoliate more than twice a week and this stuff is so strong once is absolutely enough.