Often credited with having single-handedly democratized skin care, bringing clarity and accessibility to the sometimes exclusionary category, The Ordinary has amassed quite a following over the past few years. But while the Deciem-owned brand's lineup features more than 50 SKUs, spanning serums, moisturizers, treatments, sunscreens, anti-agers, cleansers and even foundations, it has — somewhat bafflingly — never made a face mask. Until now.
On Friday, the brand announced its forthcoming Salicylic Acid 2% Masque, The Ordinary's first-ever offering in the category. Specifically formulated for oily and breakout-prone skin, it relies on a clay-and-charcoal-base, as well as the titular acne-fighting BHA, to exfoliate and de-gunk pores. The formula also "target[s] lackluster tone and textural irregularities," according to a press materials.
Ahead of the mask's launch, I got my hands on a lab sample to give it an early test drive. In general, I really, really love a BHA exfoliator — keep those walnut shells away from me please, Kylie — so I was immediately into the concept of this formula. That said, I'm not always in love with clay masks, which can sometimes be drying and harsh for me.
As to be expected with a charcoal-based formula, the product is inky black; it's more spreadable and a bit thinner (read: less cement-like) than most of the other clay masks I've used. Its faintly minty scent is invigorating and present without being overpowering or medicinal, and the texture of the mask itself is smooth and airy — almost reminiscent of cake frosting. Not wanting to wind up with black residue embedded under my nails, I used a brush to apply it, which also allowed me to get the layer extra-thin and even on my face.
As advised by the included instructions, I left the mask to do its thing for about 10 minutes before rinsing it off. The first thing I noticed, before I'd even removed the formula, was that it didn't behave like a standard clay mask: Instead of turning stiff and pasty, hardening and cracking, it remained somewhat pliable as it dried. I didn't feel any sort of sting or burn, but as someone who has a pretty rigorous exfoliation routine, acids rarely produce those sensations on my face. (When I'm getting a facial and the esthetician warns me something might be uncomfortable, I usually don't experience much more than a faint tingle.)
I've still only had a chance to try it that one time — the brand suggests limiting use to once a week, which I think is a smart place to start, though I'm pretty sure my skin could stand up to more frequent use — but my immediate experience was a good one. My skin immediately felt super-clean (but not totally parched) and looked a little less dull, and I definitely think the mask helped clear up a bit of congestion I'd been experiencing on my chin. I could see it being a tad harsh for sensitive skin types, and I certainly wouldn't recommend it for anyone who already struggles with dryness. But given that we're on the precipice of summer, aka Swamp Season, in New York City, I think this product will make for a solid addition to my personal skin-care routine throughout the next few moths for undoing all the polluting, pore-assaulting damage of daily life in the city.
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