Because it's rich in 2% salicylic acid, vegetable charcoal, Amazonian clay, and squalane ingredients, The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Masque may be the anti-acne mask you've been looking to add to your routine.

However, before you add a tube to your vanity tray, ahead are some things (ingredients, ways to use, price, etc.) you'll definitely want to consider before buying.

Key Takeaways

  • The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Masque contains 2% salicylic acid, vegetable charcoal, Amazonian clay, and squalane ingredients.
  • Oily and acne-prone types are best suited to use this mask.
  • However, keep in mind that face masks add little to an already solid skin routine.

The Ordinary Salicylic Acid Masque

The Ordinary Salicylic Acid Masque

Best The Ordinary Mask for Oily Skin

The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Masque

This mask combines salicylic acid, a chemical exfoliator, with charcoal, clays, and squalane to absorb excess sebum, unclog pores, and minimize breakouts without irritating the skin.

Skin types: Normal to Oily Skin
Best for: Unclogging Pores and Exfoliating
Tested on animals: No
How to use: After cleansing, apply the mask all over the face (or on your T-zone, which is generally the oiliest area of the face). Allow it to dry for 10 minutes, and then wash off with lukewarm water. Use one to two times a week.
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Salicylic acid is a great exfoliator for oily skin, because it is oil-soluble and gets deep into the pores to remove excess sebum and debris, leading to a smooth and clear complexion[4]. The 2% concentration in this mask is effective, but gentle enough to minimize the risk of irritation.


  • Oil-free
  • Alcohol-free
  • Vegan and cruelty-free


  • May irritate sensitive skin

In addition to salicylic acid, this mask contains charcoal and clays, which deeply clean the skin, removing impurities that can clog pores. Squalane – a non-comedogenic hydrator – also helps soothe and moisturize the skin.

Benefits of Using A Face Mask

While face masks can differ in ingredients, they usually have the same goal—improve skin moisture.

"Face masks increase absorption, hydrate, and moisturize the skin," says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Sonya Johnson, MD.
"They also allow for greater contact time and deeper penetration than a wash, which can be helpful to those with dry skin," explains New York-based dermatologist Dr. Susan Bard, MD.

However, unlike cleanser and moisturizer products, which are non-negotiable staples inside any skincare routine, dermatologist Dr. Adarsh Vijay Mudgil, MD, suggests that masks add little to an already solid skin routine.

Of course, this does not mean you can't use face masks. At the same time, Dr. Mudgil explains that "these products are more like a massage —you don't necessarily need one, but it sure feels good."

Product Overview

The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Masque contains 2% salicylic acid, vegetable charcoal, Amazonian clay, and squalane ingredients.

This face mask can be used once to twice weekly, and should always be removed after ten minutes.


The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Masque claims to enhance skin smoothness and clarity with each use.

It also is supposed to reveal radiant-looking skin through exfoliation, and rid the pores from facial impurities.

Key Ingredients

1. Salicylic Acid 2%

Salicylic acid (at 2%) is a type of beta hydroxy acid that is commonly used to treat acne because of it's natural ability to promote exfoliation [1].

This ingredient also eases inflammation and unclogs pores, but can be a bit drying to some skin types [2].

2. Vegetable Charcoal

"Vegetable charcoal is a type of activated charcoal that is good for binding excess oils from the skin," says Dr. Mudgil. Because of this, Dr. Johnson explains that "it can rid the skin of oil, bacteria, and other impurities."

3. Amazonian Clay

Amazon clay is a type of clay that absorbs excess oil from this skin. It also helps reduce pore size, according to Dr. Mudgil.

When Amazonian clay is combined with ingredients like vegetable charcoal, the combination only boosts the mask's ability to remove toxins and excess oil from the skin surface, says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Diana Hurwitz, MD.

4. Squalane

Squalane is one of the most common lipids produced by human skin cells and is a component of human sebum. Since it is technically an oil, it is antibacterial and is safe for sensitive skin [3].

Additionally, squalene is an emollient, which helps keep the skin supple and moisturized, Dr. Mudgil explains. "It also acts as an antioxidant, fighting off skin toxins," he adds.

When squalane is incorporated into a mask that contains salicylic acid, Dr. Hurwitz says it can rehydrate the skin, especially since salicylic acid can be a drying ingredient.

How To Use

Here is how to use The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Masque:

  • Apply an even amount of product onto your face with your fingertips, avoiding contact with the eye area.
  • Leave the mask on for ten minutes.
  • After ten minutes have passed, rinse off the mask thoroughly with lukewarm water.

When to Apply

Use The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Masque once to twice week on thoroughly clean, dry skin.

Do not use on wet, sensitive, peeling, or compromised skin, as irritation can occur.

Other tips

1. Over-the-Counter Salicylic Acid is Not As Strong As Other Salicylic Acid Treatments

While The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Masque does contain 2% salicylic acid in its formula, higher concentrations of salicylic acid (a chemical peel containing 20-30% salicylic acid exfoliates a lot more than a 2% face mask or wash) have a more exfoliating effect, Dr. Mudgil explains.

2. Dry Skin Types May Want To Avoid Using This Product

"For my patients with dry, sensitive skin, I have them avoid salicylic acid entirely," Dr. Mudgil adds. "Those with oily skin can tolerate higher concentrations without issue."

3. Don't Overuse This Mask

"If used too often, masks with salicylic acid can cause dryness, irritation, and hyperpigmentation," says Dr. Hurwitz. "This can make it challenging to continue with topical regimens."

What to Expect

While masks feel nice on the skin after a long stressful day, keep in mind that they don't add much value to a sound skincare routine. However, you should still feel encouraged to use one, especially for self-care purposes.

Though if The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Masque causes irritation (or allergic reactions), discontinue using this product immediately, and consult with a dermatologist and a physician.

What Dermatologists Think

1. Dr. Adarsh Vijay Mudgil, MD.

"The price of this mask is certainly reasonable, but one should consult with a board-certified dermatologist to see if salicylic acid is a good fit, and if so, which preparation is best suited for their skin type," Dr. Mudgil says.

2. Dr. Sonya Johnson, MD

"I think this mask is a good introductory product to salicylic acid," Dr. Johnson explains. "However, I do recommend people test it first on their arm before putting it on their face and follow all product instructions."

3. Dr. Susan Bard, MD

"Salicylic acid helps break down clogs in pores, is anti-inflammatory, and exfoliates," says Dr. Bard. "While I do find using charcoal topically to be unhelpful, clay helps absorb excess sebum, and squalene keeps the skin moist and has some antioxidant properties."

4. Dr. Diana Hurwitz, MD

"This is a reasonable price point for a mask and is in range with the over-the-counter competition," Dr. Hurtwiz explains. "For teens, this does not seem to be a big ask for parents and as an adjunctive therapy seems affordable."

The Bottom Line

Because it contains 2% salicylic acid, vegetable charcoal, Amazonian clay, and squalane ingredients, The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Masque can be a suitable product choice for oily and acne-prone skin types.

However, unlike other products in your skincare routine, keep in mind that masks generally add little to an already solid skin routine, so while they can feel nice to use, don't expect them to be a miracle treatment in a bottle.