I Tried The Ordinary's $12 Face Mask — & It's Perfect For Acne-Prone Skin

Earlier this month, Deciem took to Instagram to announce that its beloved budget-friendly brand The Ordinary would make its first foray into face masks this spring. Naturally, skin-care obsessives all over the globe cleared space in their bathroom cabinets — myself included.
Just over two months after launching its debut cleanser, The Ordinary revealed that its inaugural mask would be the Salicylic Acid 2% Masque. Otherwise known as BHA (or beta-hydroxy acid), salicylic acid is a go-to ingredient approved by dermatologists everywhere for its ability to gently break down congestion in the skin's outer layer. The gentle exfoliating activity helps to prevent the formation of acne, including whiteheads and blackheads, and to reduce the inflammation associated with acne, like redness and raised spots. In other words, it's an all-rounder when it comes to treating breakouts of any kind.
I've tried any number of great skin-care products, sometimes at eye-wateringly expensive prices — but not long ago, a top dermatologist recommended The Ordinary's Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion, AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution, and Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2%, and they soon became staples in my acne skin-care routine. Still, I sometimes need a bit of extra help when it comes to treating my pesky blackheads, so I jumped at the chance to try the new mask.
The product won't actually hit the market until the end of the month, but a tiny lab sample would do in the meantime for this huge fan. When I twisted off the lid (the final formula will come in a tube), I was surprised to find that the mask was jet black, whereas most of the salicylic acid-based treatments I've tried have been clear gel formulas. The color here is thanks to the other oil- and grime-busting ingredients, like charcoal and clays, that the mask is souped up with. Unlike any other acne mask I've tried, the texture is jelly-like, but it dried down quickly as soon as I smoothed it onto my face. I felt a slight tingle for a few seconds, but the sensation disappeared soon after, and 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, I noticed that my skin looked much brighter, and even glowy in places. A red spot that had popped up on the end of my nose during the day looked considerably less angry, and my forehead was slightly smoother. The inflammation-reducing properties make this mask a good quick fix for freaked-out skin, but it's also a good regular exfoliating treatment, especially if you're wary of leave-on chemical exfoliants.
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 over the sink. I followed the mask up with a retinoid at night to speed up the exfoliation process; if you decide to do the same, always be sure to wear a high-factor SPF during the day. You can shop the Salicylic Acid 2% Masque — priced at just $12 — starting May 29, straight from The Ordinary's site.
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