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The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Masque Review

If you deal with clogged pores and excess oil, sometimes no amount of cleansing or exfoliating seems to help. That’s where a charcoal mask comes in. Clay face masks are well-known for drawing out impurities and unclogging pores. And luckily, clay is not an expensive active, so you can usually find it in products at a reasonable price.

The Ordinary Salicylic Acid Masque 2%

Enter the very reasonably priced The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Masque. I was interested in trying this face mask because, once in a while, I like to clean out my pores with a clay mask, and what better brand to use than one of my favorites, The Ordinary?

I’ll discuss my experience with the masque in this The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Masque review.

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The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Masque

The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Masque handheld.

The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Masque is a charcoal and clay face mask infused with kaolin clay to address dull skin tone and textural irregularities. It’s also formulated with a 2% concentration of salicylic acid to fight blemishes and prevent future breakouts.

You’ve probably heard of salicylic acid (SA), which is one of the most effective acne-fighting ingredients. A 2% SA concentration helps clear out pores and reduce breakouts. Clay and charcoal work together to absorb impurities that can cause pore congestion.

Ideal for oily and acne-prone skin, this mask works to decongest pores, control excess sebum (oil), and smooth skin, resulting in a more radiant complexion.

The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Masque Key Ingredients

Kaolin Clay

Kaolin clay is a type of clay that’s gentle on the skin but effective at absorbing impurities like excess oil that can clog pores and cause breakouts. It’s less drying than other types of clay, like bentonite clay, so it is better suited to those with dry or sensitive skin.


Squalane is a saturated and stable hydrocarbon found naturally in the skin in the form of squalene (with an e).

It’s an emollient, which means it helps to soften and smooth the skin. It is also a very lightweight moisturizer and doesn’t feel heavy or greasy, making it ideal for all skin types, including those with oily and acne-prone skin.


Glycerin is a humectant that helps attract and retain moisture in the skin. It also defends against irritation and supports a healthy skin barrier.

Salicylic Acid

A BHA (beta hydroxy acid) salicylic acid is an exfoliating acid that sweeps away dead skin cells and helps to unclog pores, prevent breakouts, and control excess oil production.

Unlike alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) like glycolic acid or lactic acid, BHAs like salicylic acid are oil-soluble, which means they can penetrate into the pores to clear out congestion.

Salicylic acid also has anti-inflammatory properties that help soothe the skin and reduce redness, which is ideal for those with acne-prone skin.

Charcoal Powder

Charcoal is very effective at drawing out dirt, oil, and other impurities from the skin. It absorbs excess oil and also mattifies the skin, so it’s an excellent ingredient for those with oily skin.


Also known as SymSitive, this molecule helps to reduce sensitivity, stinging, and burning.

By reviewing the ingredients, you can see that this salicylic acid masque has some serious oil and blemish-busting power.

The masque is available in two sizes: a 1.7 oz. (50 ml) tube, or a larger 3.4 oz. (100 ml) tube. The masque comes in a tube with a 6-month shelf life from the date of opening.

To learn more about the shelf life of The Ordinary products, please see my post on The Ordinary Expiration Dates. It comes with a convenient downloadable PDF printable.

Like all The Ordinary products, this facial mask is vegan and cruelty-free.

The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Masque Review

The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Masque tube next to sample on back of hand.

I have somewhat sensitive skin that leans to the oily side, especially in my t-zone (nose, forehead, and chin), so The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Masque sounded like it would be a good fit for me. Salicylic acid often irritates my skin, but since this is a rinse-off mask, I figured it could work for my skin.

This dark gray/black masque goes on smoothly and has a thick paste-like texture.

I’m happy to report that this mask didn’t irritate my skin at all. After leaving it on for 10 minutes and rinsing with lukewarm water, my skin felt clean, smooth, and refreshed.

I really like this mask for my t-zone. It helps clear out blackheads and oiliness and reduces the look of my pores.

Some users complain of an unpleasant scent, but I don’t notice much of a scent.

I like to follow with a nourishing hyaluronic acid serum like The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 and a gentle moisturizer.

This is the perfect weekly or bi-weekly treatment for oily and acne-prone skin at a very affordable price.

How To Use The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Masque

The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Masque flatlay.

You can use this rinse-off face mask once or twice a week in your evening skincare routine. Be sure your skin is clean and dry.

Use it in the treatment step of your skincare routine, after cleansing but before applying serums, oils, suspensions, or face creams.

Apply it evenly across your face with your fingers. Avoid the delicate eye area. Leave on for no more than 10 minutes, and then rinse with lukewarm water.

Do not use on sensitive, peeling, or compromised skin. Be sure to patch test before using this or any other new skincare product for the first time to avoid an adverse initial reaction.

When using this and any product formulated with salicylic acid, be sure to use sunscreen during the day, as salicylic acid exfoliating properties can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight.

The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Masque Conflicts

You should not use The Ordinary Salicylic Acid Masque with other direct acids (exfoliating acids) like alpha hydroxy and beta hydroxy acids, pure vitamin C (ascorbic acid), peptides, copper peptides, niacinamide powder, and The Ordinary EUK 134 0.1%.

The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Masque Alternatives

The Ordinary has a few other salicylic acid options if this clay masque isn’t your favorite:

The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution

The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution: This rinse-off exfoliating mask is formulated with glycolic (AHA), lactic (AHA), tartaric (AHA), citric (AHA), and salicylic (BHA) acids to brighten the skin’s appearance, improve skin texture, and reduce the look of pores.

It contains a high concentration of alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA) at 30% and beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) salicylic acid at 2%. The rinse-off serum is known for its striking blood-red color.

This The Ordinary peel should only be used by experienced users of acid exfoliation and should not be used by those with sensitive skin.

The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution (Reformulated) handheld on blue background

The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution: This leave-on exfoliating solution is formulated with 2% salicylic acid to target congestion, blemishes, and breakouts and exfoliate dead skin cells for brighter, smoother, and clearer skin.

The serum helps reduce redness and the look of blemishes. It has a lightweight, water-based texture that feels comfortable on the skin.

The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Anhydrous Solution

The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Anhydrous Solution: Like The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution, this serum contains 2% salicylic acid to help fight acne and clear pores.

But this version is anhydrous, meaning it doesn’t contain any water. That makes it a good choice for those with a dry skin type and new users since the serum is in a squalane base (a super lightweight moisturizer) and contains hydrating polyglycerides, which disperse the salicylic acid over time. This helps to reduce irritation.

If you want to avoid exfoliating acids like salicylic acid altogether but are still looking to increase cell turnover, you can opt for indirect forms of skin exfoliation. The Ordinary recommends their sister brand NIOD’s Non-Acid Acid Precursor.

A few other salicylic acid clay masque options include:

Paula’s Choice CLEAR Purifying Clay Mask: This clay mask is formulated with three types of clay to control shine and salicylic acid to reduce breakouts. Eight soothing ingredients, including green tea, chamomile, and willowherb, calm redness and reduce the look of acne scars.

Nip + Fab Salicylic Fix Clay Mask: This clay mask combines salicylic acid with a 25% clay blend that includes Kaolin clay to clear out pores, reduce blackheads and absorb excess oil. Licorice root extract reduces irritation and inflammation.

Dermalogica Sebum Clearing Masque: This clay mask is filled with skin-loving actives. It’s formulated for combination and oily skin, helps reduces breakouts with salicylic acid, and contains oil-absorbing clays (Bentonite and Kaolin) to detoxify.

Oat and bisabolol soothe the skin, while safflower oil helps to reduce the look of fine lines from dehydration. Licorice root and niacinamide help brighten the skin and reduce uneven skin tone.

Final Thoughts On The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Masque

The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Masque was a pleasant surprise. It has an effective ingredient list that gets results.

And…it’s affordably priced, which I always look for in a clay mask because clay face masks aren’t usually the product you want to splurge on. (I save my money for skin care products like serums and other potent treatments!)

Using this mask a few times a week, my skin feels softer, looks brighter, and my pores appear smaller.

If you’re looking for an affordable clay mask to help with breakouts, I recommend giving this one a try.

Thanks for reading!