The Ordinary's Best Acne Product Is Back & It's Better Than Ever

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Not long ago, if you were to ask any skincare enthusiast to share their top products for treating breakouts, The Ordinary’s Salicylic Acid 2% Solution would almost always feature on the list. With 2% salicylic acid — an effective exfoliating ingredient — the serum was regarded as a powerful (and budget-friendly) product, nixing spots and preventing blackheads with each use. Despite its popularity (there are countless Reddit threads dedicated to it), The Ordinary decided to discontinue the product in 2019.

Curiously, you could still search for the Salicylic Acid Solution on Deciem’s website and it became the stuff of skincare legend, the “email when back in stock” button frustrating those who swore by it. Soon it was the brand’s most in-demand product, racking up a waiting list of over 400k loyal skincare obsessives — but it hadn’t existed for almost two years. Fast-forward to this week and there’s good news from the formulators at The Ordinary, who have been working long and hard to get the product back on the shelf, this time even better.

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On 20th January the Salicylic Acid 2% Solution will return to Deciem.com and at £5.10 it’s still as affordable as ever. So what has changed? A spokesperson for The Ordinary told R29: “We took some time away to perfect our formulation to ensure a pleasant experience for as many users as possible,” hinting that the new product might be a gentler version. The star ingredient is, of course, 2% salicylic acid, a beta hydroxy acid (or BHA) which exfoliates skin. It does so by absorbing deep inside pores to break apart the mixture of oil and dead skin cells that forms a spot or a blackhead, lending a clearer, smoother complexion. It’s also known to be anti-inflammatory and can calm down angry, red spots pretty fast.

“The reformulated Salicylic Acid 2% Solution is aimed towards blemish-prone skin,” confirms the brand. Like other exfoliating skincare acids, salicylic acid has the potential to irritate some skin types (especially when overused). The brand adds that getting the product just right contributed to the wait and while it certainly took a long time, a new, improved product is sure to be welcomed.

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You might wonder how the OG Salicylic Acid Solution compares to the Salicylic Acid Anhydrous Solution launched last year. The biggest difference is the texture. The Anhydrous Solution is suspended in squalane, which feels a bit like an oil on the skin. While it’s very moisturising and non-comedogenic (less likely to clog pores), it does feel heavier than the Salicylic Acid Solution, which typically absorbs much faster. If you don’t like the feeling of products on your skin, the original salicylic acid product is probably better suited to you. If your skin becomes dry easily, then the Anhydrous Solution could be your best bet.

Using the new, improved serum is pretty simple. The Ordinary suggests applying it once a day in the evening — a small amount to the area you’d like to treat (for example a breakout or your nose if you want to counteract blackheads) or a thin amount all over if you’d like to treat your entire face. This is only recommended if you have spot-prone skin. Even the gentlest of acids can cause sensitivity and result in red, flaky, sore and dry skin so it’s best to start very slowly. Give it a go once or twice a week at night so that your skin builds up tolerance and follow with a simple moisturiser like The Ordinary’s Natural Moisturising Factors + HA, £4.90, or CeraVe’s Moisturising Cream, £9. Always wear a broad spectrum SPF 30 or 50 during the daytime, too, as acids can make skin very sensitive to sunlight. If in doubt, contact a skincare specialist.

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If you haven’t yet set an alarm for the new drop, head to Deciem to join the waiting list. This time it won’t take two years.

Refinery29’s selection is purely editorial and independently chosen – we only feature items we love! As part of our business model we do work with affiliates; if you directly purchase something from a link on this article, we may earn a small amount of commission. Transparency is important to us at Refinery29, if you have any questions please reach out to us.

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