Following its debut cleanser, The Ordinary let slip that its first face mask would feature popular skincare ingredient salicylic acid 2%. Otherwise known as a BHA or beta hydroxy acid, salicylic acid is approved by dermatologists everywhere for its ability to gently break down the outer layer of skin. This helps to prevent the formation of acne lesions, including whiteheads and blackheads, and to reduce the inflammation that characterises acne, like redness and raised bumps. In other words, it's an all-rounder when it comes to treating spots, whatever kind.
As a beauty editor, I'm very lucky to have access to lots of great skincare products (some eye-wateringly expensive). But not long ago, a top dermatologist recommended The Ordinary's Retinoid 2% In Emulsion, £8, AHA 30% BHA 2% Peeling Solution, £6.25, and Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2%, £5.80, and they soon became staples in my acne skincare routine. Sometimes, I need a bit of extra help when it comes to treating my pesky blackheads, though, so I jumped at the chance to try the new Salicylic Acid 2% Masque, £9.90, formulated for blemish-prone skin.
The masque isn't actually available yet (you can get your hands on it next month) but a tiny lab sample would do for this huge fan. When I whipped off the lid, I was surprised that the masque was jet black, as most salicylic acid treatments in my skincare routine are clear, gel formulas. Then I discovered that the masque has been souped up with other oil- and grime-busting ingredients, such as charcoal and clays. Unlike any other acne mask I've tried, the texture is jelly-like, but as soon as I smoothed it onto my face it dried down fast. I felt a slight tingle for a few seconds but the sensation disappeared quickly. It didn't crack or make my skin feel uncomfortably taut like other clay-infused masks.
As instructed, I left the formula on for 10 minutes before rinsing off. Immediately, my skin looked much brighter and even glowy in places. A red spot which had popped up on the end of my nose during the day looked considerably less angry and my forehead was slightly smoother. It's evident that this is both a quick fix, thanks to the inflammation-reducing properties, and a good regular exfoliating treatment, especially if you're wary of leave-on liquid acid toners.
My only gripe is that it got absolutely everywhere, including under my fingernails, all over my white bathroom tiles and my new face towel. For this reason, I'd suggest rinsing it away carefully with a damp flannel, rather than splashing it clean off. To maximise my acne skincare routine, I followed the mask with a retinoid to help speed up exfoliation. If you choose to use acids and retinoids together, it pays to apply a high factor SPF during the day. Choose something non-comedogenic (which is less likely to clog your pores), like Heliocare's Gel Oil-Free SPF 50, £31, or La Roche-Posay Anthelios Anti-Shine Matte Fluid SPF 30, £16.50.