The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution
The Ordinary

Salicylic Acid 2% Solution

This 2% treatment solution helps exfoliate the inside walls of pores to fight the appearance of blemishes and for better visible skin clarity with continued use.
Uploaded by: talkingdrum on 28/02/2017

Ingredients overview

Aqua (Water)
what‑it‑does solvent
Normal (well kind of - it's purified and deionized) water. Usually the main solvent in cosmetic products. [more]
,
Hamamelis Virginiana Leaf Water
what‑it‑does soothing | antimicrobial/antibacterial
The distillate coming from the leaves of Witch Hazel. The leaves contain very few active components, so leaf water has very gentle astringent, soothing and antibacterial properties. [more]
,
Cocamidopropyl Dimethylamine
what‑it‑does emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing
A surfactant that has good foaming properties and can be used in cleansing products both for the skin and the hair. It's often combined with salicylic acid in non-cleansers to make salicylic acid water soluble and stable. [more]
,
Salicylic Acid
what‑it‑does exfoliant | anti-acne | soothing | preservative
One of the gold standard ingredients for treating problem skin. It can exfoliate skin both on the surface and in the pores (pH 3-4 needed) and it's a potent anti-inflammatory agent. [more]
,
Dimethyl Isosorbide
what‑it‑does solvent | viscosity controlling
A helper ingredient that can boost the performance and enhance the delivery of active ingredients. It can penetrate deep layers of the skin helping actives to do the same. [more]
,
Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate
what‑it‑does chelating
A helper ingredient that helps to neutralize the metal ions in the formula (they usually come from water) so it stays nice longer. [more]
,
Citric Acid
what‑it‑does exfoliant | buffering
An AHA that comes from citrus fruits. It is usually used as a helper ingredient to adjust the pH of the formula. [more]
,
Polysorbate 20
what‑it‑does emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing
irritancy, com. 0 0
It's a common little helper ingredient that helps water and oil to mix together. Also, it can help to increase the solubility of some other ingredients in the formula. 
,
Hydroxyethylcellulose
what‑it‑does viscosity controlling
A helper ingredient that can thicken up cosmetic products and create beautiful gel formulas. It's derived from cellulose, the major component of the cell wall of green plants. 
, [more]
Triethanolamine
what‑it‑does buffering | emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing
irritancy, com. 0 2
Helps to set the pH of a cosmetic formulation to be right. It’s very alkaline. [more]
,
Ethoxydiglycol
what‑it‑does solvent
A nice odorless liquid used mainly as a superior solubilizer and efficacy booster for cosmetic active ingredients such as vitamin C or benzoyl peroxide. [more]
,
Potassium Sorbate
what‑it‑does preservative
A not so strong preservative that doesn’t really work against bacteria, but more against mold and yeast. [more]
,
Sodium Benzoate
what‑it‑does preservative
A preservative that works mainly against fungi. Has to be combined with other preservatives. [more]
,
1,2-Hexanediol
what‑it‑does solvent
A multi-functional helper ingredient that acts as a humectant and emollient. It's also a solvent and can boost the effectiveness of preservatives. [more]
,
Caprylyl Glycol
what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant | emollient
A handy multi-tasking ingredient that gives the skin a nice, soft feel and also boosts the effectiveness of other preservatives. [more]
[less]

Highlights

Key Ingredients

Anti-acne: Salicylic Acid
what‑it‑does exfoliant | anti-acne | soothing | preservative
One of the gold standard ingredients for treating problem skin. It can exfoliate skin both on the surface and in the pores (pH 3-4 needed) and it's a potent anti-inflammatory agent. [more]
Exfoliant: Salicylic Acid
what‑it‑does exfoliant | anti-acne | soothing | preservative
One of the gold standard ingredients for treating problem skin. It can exfoliate skin both on the surface and in the pores (pH 3-4 needed) and it's a potent anti-inflammatory agent. [more]
Soothing: Hamamelis Virginiana Leaf Water
what‑it‑does soothing | antimicrobial/antibacterial
The distillate coming from the leaves of Witch Hazel. The leaves contain very few active components, so leaf water has very gentle astringent, soothing and antibacterial properties. [more]
,
Salicylic Acid
what‑it‑does exfoliant | anti-acne | soothing | preservative
One of the gold standard ingredients for treating problem skin. It can exfoliate skin both on the surface and in the pores (pH 3-4 needed) and it's a potent anti-inflammatory agent. [more]

Show all ingredients by function

Other Ingredients

Antimicrobial/antibacterial: Hamamelis Virginiana Leaf Water
what‑it‑does soothing | antimicrobial/antibacterial
The distillate coming from the leaves of Witch Hazel. The leaves contain very few active components, so leaf water has very gentle astringent, soothing and antibacterial properties. [more]
Buffering: Citric Acid
what‑it‑does exfoliant | buffering
An AHA that comes from citrus fruits. It is usually used as a helper ingredient to adjust the pH of the formula. [more]
,
Triethanolamine
what‑it‑does buffering | emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing
irritancy, com. 0 2
Helps to set the pH of a cosmetic formulation to be right. It’s very alkaline. [more]
Chelating: Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate
what‑it‑does chelating
A helper ingredient that helps to neutralize the metal ions in the formula (they usually come from water) so it stays nice longer. [more]
Emollient: Caprylyl Glycol
what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant | emollient
A handy multi-tasking ingredient that gives the skin a nice, soft feel and also boosts the effectiveness of other preservatives. [more]
Emulsifying: Cocamidopropyl Dimethylamine
what‑it‑does emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing
A surfactant that has good foaming properties and can be used in cleansing products both for the skin and the hair. It's often combined with salicylic acid in non-cleansers to make salicylic acid water soluble and stable. [more]
,
Polysorbate 20
what‑it‑does emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing
irritancy, com. 0 0
It's a common little helper ingredient that helps water and oil to mix together. Also, it can help to increase the solubility of some other ingredients in the formula. 
,
Triethanolamine
what‑it‑does buffering | emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing
irritancy, com. 0 2
Helps to set the pH of a cosmetic formulation to be right. It’s very alkaline. [more]
Exfoliant: Citric Acid
what‑it‑does exfoliant | buffering
An AHA that comes from citrus fruits. It is usually used as a helper ingredient to adjust the pH of the formula. [more]
Moisturizer/humectant: Caprylyl Glycol
what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant | emollient
A handy multi-tasking ingredient that gives the skin a nice, soft feel and also boosts the effectiveness of other preservatives. [more]
Preservative: Salicylic Acid
what‑it‑does exfoliant | anti-acne | soothing | preservative
One of the gold standard ingredients for treating problem skin. It can exfoliate skin both on the surface and in the pores (pH 3-4 needed) and it's a potent anti-inflammatory agent. [more]
,
Potassium Sorbate
what‑it‑does preservative
A not so strong preservative that doesn’t really work against bacteria, but more against mold and yeast. [more]
,
Sodium Benzoate
what‑it‑does preservative
A preservative that works mainly against fungi. Has to be combined with other preservatives. [more]
Solvent: Aqua (Water)
what‑it‑does solvent
Normal (well kind of - it's purified and deionized) water. Usually the main solvent in cosmetic products. [more]
,
Dimethyl Isosorbide
what‑it‑does solvent | viscosity controlling
A helper ingredient that can boost the performance and enhance the delivery of active ingredients. It can penetrate deep layers of the skin helping actives to do the same. [more]
,
Ethoxydiglycol
what‑it‑does solvent
A nice odorless liquid used mainly as a superior solubilizer and efficacy booster for cosmetic active ingredients such as vitamin C or benzoyl peroxide. [more]
,
1,2-Hexanediol
what‑it‑does solvent
A multi-functional helper ingredient that acts as a humectant and emollient. It's also a solvent and can boost the effectiveness of preservatives. [more]
Surfactant/cleansing: Cocamidopropyl Dimethylamine
what‑it‑does emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing
A surfactant that has good foaming properties and can be used in cleansing products both for the skin and the hair. It's often combined with salicylic acid in non-cleansers to make salicylic acid water soluble and stable. [more]
,
Polysorbate 20
what‑it‑does emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing
irritancy, com. 0 0
It's a common little helper ingredient that helps water and oil to mix together. Also, it can help to increase the solubility of some other ingredients in the formula. 
,
Triethanolamine
what‑it‑does buffering | emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing
irritancy, com. 0 2
Helps to set the pH of a cosmetic formulation to be right. It’s very alkaline. [more]
Viscosity controlling: Dimethyl Isosorbide
what‑it‑does solvent | viscosity controlling
A helper ingredient that can boost the performance and enhance the delivery of active ingredients. It can penetrate deep layers of the skin helping actives to do the same. [more]
,
Hydroxyethylcellulose
what‑it‑does viscosity controlling
A helper ingredient that can thicken up cosmetic products and create beautiful gel formulas. It's derived from cellulose, the major component of the cell wall of green plants. 

Ingredients explained

Also-called: Aqua | What-it-does: solvent

Good old water, aka H2O. The most common skincare ingredient of all. You can usually find it right in the very first spot of the ingredient list, meaning it’s the biggest thing out of all the stuff that makes up the product. 

It’s mainly a solvent for ingredients that do not like to dissolve in oils but rather in water. 

Expand to read more

Once inside the skin, it hydrates, but not from the outside - putting pure water on the skin (hello long baths!) is drying. 

One more thing: the water used in cosmetics is purified and deionized (it means that almost all of the mineral ions inside it is removed). Like this, the products can stay more stable over time. 

Also-called: Witch Hazel Leaf Water | What-it-does: soothing, antimicrobial/antibacterial, astringent

The distillate created from the leaves of the hazelnut-bush-like-magic-tree commonly called Witch Hazel. The distillate from the leaves is probably the gentlest, most diluted version of any kind of With Hazel ingredient.

The leaves contain much, much less active components than the bark (4.77% vs 0.04% tannins) and distillates are more diluted than extracts. So this one is probably just a "fancy-water" that resembles the properties of Witch Hazel Extract (astringent, soothing, antioxidant, antibacterial) in a very mild and gentle way.

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A surfactant with a positively charged head that has good foaming properties and can be used in cleansing products both for the skin and the hair.

If you see this guy in a non-cleansing product then it's probably combined with salicylic acid. The two together go by the trade name Curcylic 40, and cocamidopropyl dimethylamine works there to make salicylic acid water soluble and stable.

Salicylic Acid - superstar
Also-called: BHA | What-it-does: exfoliant, anti-acne, soothing, preservative
  • It's one of the gold standard ingredients for treating problem skin
  • It can exfoliate skin both on the surface and in the pores (pH 3-4 needed)
  • It's a potent anti-inflammatory agent
  • It's more effective for treating blackheads than acne
  • For acne combine it with antibacterial agents like benzoyl peroxide or azelaic acid
Read all the geeky details about Salicylic Acid here >>

A little helper ingredient that can boost the performance and enhance the delivery of active ingredients in a formula. It can penetrate deep layers of the skin helping actives to do the same.

It's especially useful to help active ingredients for self-tanning (DHA), anti-acne or skin-whitening to penetrate deeper and work better.

Also-called: EDDS | What-it-does: chelating

A helper ingredient that helps to neutralize the metal ions in the formula (they usually come from water) so it stays nice longer. The special property of this particular ingredient is that it's more effective against more problematic ions, like Cu (copper) and Fe (iron) compared to less problematic ones like Ca (calcium)  and Mg (magnesium).

Citric Acid - goodie
What-it-does: exfoliant, buffering

Citric acid comes from citrus fruits and is an AHA. If these magic three letters don’t tell you anything, click here and read our detailed description on glycolic acid, the most famous AHA. 

So citric acid is an exfoliant, that can - just like other AHAs - gently lift off the dead skin cells of your skin and make it more smooth and fresh. 

Expand to read more

There is also some research showing that citric acid with regular use (think three months and 20% concentration) can help sun-damaged skin, increase skin thickness and some nice hydrating things called glycosaminoglycans in the skin. 

But according to a comparative study done in 1995, citric acid has less skin improving magic properties than glycolic or lactic acid. Probably that’s why citric acid is usually not used as an exfoliant but more as a helper ingredient in small amounts to adjust the pH of a formulation. 

What-it-does: emulsifying, surfactant/cleansing | Irritancy: 0 | Comedogenicity: 0

It's a common little helper ingredient that helps water and oil to mix together. Also, it can help to increase the solubility of some other ingredients in the formula. 

What-it-does: viscosity controlling

A nice little helper ingredient that can thicken up cosmetic products and create beautiful gel formulas. It's derived from cellulose, the major component of the cell wall of green plants. 

What-it-does: buffering, emulsifying, surfactant/cleansing | Irritancy: 0 | Comedogenicity: 2

It’s a little helper ingredient that helps to set the pH of a cosmetic formulation to be just right. It’s very alkaline (you know the opposite of being very acidic): a 1% solution has a pH of around 10.

It does not have the very best safety reputation but in general, you do not have to worry about it. 

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What is true is that if a product contains so-called N-nitrogenating agents (e.g.: preservatives like 2-Bromo-2-Nitropropane-1,3-Diol, 5-Bromo-5-Nitro- 1,3-Dioxane or sodium nitrate - so look out for things with nitro, nitra in the name) that together with TEA can form some not nice carcinogenic stuff (that is called nitrosamines). But with proper formulation that does not happen, TEA in itself is not a bad guy. 

But let’s assume a bad combination of ingredients were used and the nitrosamines formed. :( Even in that case you are probably fine because as far as we know it cannot penetrate the skin. 

But to be on the safe side, if you see Triethanolamine in an INCI and also something with nitra, nitro in the name of it just skip the product, that cannot hurt.

What-it-does: solvent

A nice odorless liquid used mainly as a superior solubilizer and efficacy booster for cosmetic active ingredients such as skincare bigshot vitamin C, self-tanning active DHA or the anti-acne gold standard, benzoyl peroxide

Other than that it can also be used in hair care products where it gives a longer-lasting and more uniform coloring. According to a manufacturer, it might even prevent the formation of split ends.

What-it-does: preservative

It's one of those things that help your cosmetics not to go wrong too soon, aka a preservative. It’s not a strong one and doesn’t really work against bacteria, but more against mold and yeast. To do that it has to break down to its active form, sorbic acid. For that to happen, there has to be water in the product and the right pH value (pH 3-4). 

But even if everything is right, it’s not enough on its own. If you see potassium sorbate you should see some other preservative next to it too.

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BTW, it’s also a food preservative and even has an E number, E202.

What-it-does: preservative

A helper ingredient that helps to make the products stay nice longer, aka preservative. It works mainly against fungi. 

It’s pH dependent and works best at acidic pH levels (3-5). It’s not strong enough to be used in itself so it’s always combined with something else, often with potassium sorbate.

What-it-does: solvent

A really multi-functional helper ingredient that can do several things in a skincare product: it can bring a soft and pleasant feel to the formula, it can act as a humectant and emollient, it can be a solvent for some other ingredients (for example it can help to stabilize perfumes in watery products) and it can also help to disperse pigments more evenly in makeup products. And that is still not all: it can also boost the antimicrobial activity of preservatives

It’s a handy multi-tasking ingredient that gives the skin a nice, soft feel. At the same time, it also boosts the effectiveness of other preservatives, such as the nowadays super commonly used phenoxyethanol

The blend of these two (caprylyl glycol + phenoxyethanol) is called Optiphen, which not only helps to keep your cosmetics free from nasty things for a long time but also gives a good feel to the finished product. It's a popular duo.

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