The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution

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Caroline Lubow
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The Ordinary’s AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution is a skin care product that has received a lot of attention in the media. Known for it’s blood-like appearance, this product helps with skin exfoliation, congested pores, and increased radiance. In regards to the product’s ingredients, this peeling solution contains few environmentally concerning ingredients, though the product has been known to cause some skin irritation due to the strength of its ingredients. While the product is vegan and free of many environmentally destabilizing ingredients such as parabens and silicone, The Ordinary still has much to accomplish in the realm of sustainability. The brand lacks transparency in regards to their production process. Additionally, The Ordinary still has many changes to implement before it can be considered a sustainable beauty brand, but it does serve the brand well that they recognize this and are formulating new practices to help achieve this goal.

What it's made of:


Ingredients: Glycolic Acid, Aqua (Water), Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Water, Sodium Hydroxide, Daucus Carota Sativa Extract, Propanediol, Cocamidopropyl Dimethylamine, Salicylic Acid, Lactic Acid, Tartaric Acid, Citric Acid, Panthenol, Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer, Tasmannia Lanceolata Fruit/Leaf Extract, Glycerin, Pentylene Glycol, Xanthan gum, Polysorbate 20, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Ethylhexylglycerin, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol.

The Ordinary’s AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution contains a great deal of ingredients which are likely unfamiliar to most individuals. Despite the overwhelming vocabulary in this ingredient list, The Ordinary’s AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution does not contain many concerning ingredients. This product is alcohol-free, oil-free, silicone-free, nut-free, vegan, and gluten free. In fact, glycolic acid, which is the first ingredient listed, is actually known as an anti-pollution skincare ingredient. This is because glycolic acid exfoliates skin and protects it from the effects of air pollution, and is itself not an environmental toxin. Additionally, the ingredient panthenol is not only beneficial for the skin, but it is another sustainable ingredient given that it is biodegradable and can be obtained without large amounts of energy or water.

One ingredient within this list which raises more concern than others is sodium hydroxide. Because sodium hydroxide has a higher pH level, it can harm aquatic organisms. However, this requires a high concentration of sodium hydroxide, and the runoff generated from consumers using this product is not likely to overwhelm aquatic ecosystems.

How it's made:


The Ordinary does not disclose how this product is produced. The Ordinary is a parented by the parent brand Deciem. Deciem is based in Toronto, so presumably The Ordinary’s products are too manufactured in Canada.

Though The Ordinary is not transparent in terms of how they make this serum, they do provide information about how to dispose of the product. On their webpage for purchasing the product online, The Ordinary includes a description of packaging disposal instructions. They describe which parts of the container are recyclable and how to ensure that one’s local recycling facility accepts their containers.

Who makes it:


All products sold by The Ordinary, and all Deciem products broadly speaking, contain no parabens, sulphates, mineral oils, methylchloroisothiazolinone, methylisothiazolinone, animal oils, coal tar dyes, formaldehyde, mercury, or oxybenzone.

Deciem has true commitment to not testing on animals. Not only are all of their products cruelty-free, but no subsets of the Deciem brand, The Ordinary included, sell their products in mainland China. Chinese authorities mandate animal testing on cosmetic products sold within the country. Many cosmetic brands which claim to be cruelty-free still export their products to China with the excuse that China’s animal testing policies are not within their realm of control. Benefit Cosmetics is one such brand which claims to be cruelty-free but distributes products to China. Deciem’s decision not to export any products to China demonstrates the company’s true commitment to cruelty-free beauty.

As far as sustainability goes, Deciem admits that it is not presently a sustainable beauty company, but that they are committed to changing this. This transparency is commendable. Deciem has transitioned to using carbon neutral cardstock to make their unit boxes. This means they are purchasing their cardstock from a certified low-emission paper producer. Deciem is also currently working with The Ontario Biodiversity Afforestation Project and The Southern Quebec Afforestation Project to support carbon offset funds that focus on planting trees.

Unit boxes, however, are different from the packaging that The Ordinary uses for their online orders. Currently, The Ordinary uses packing made of recycled and recyclable materials. Deciem is ceasing use of plastic and transitioning to biodegradable and recyclable materials. The company admits that they have not yet found a way to completely avoid plastic packaging, but they are actively looking for sustainable alternatives.

Deciem, and thus The Ordinary as well, will also be transitioning to 100% recyclable paper bags for in-store purchases, but will still encourage customers to reuse their shopping bags.

Deciem has an in-store recycling program at all of their in-store locations where they accept all empty packaging for recycling.

Lastly, Deciem composts all of the natural waste produced at their headquarters in Toronto. Within the Toronto headquarters, Deciem also works to conserve energy through reasonable climate control setting, turning off lights which are not being used, and providing reusable coffee cups and lunchware for employees.

Deciem is very transparent not only about their sustainable practices, but also about their room for improvement in this arena. This is commendable and seems to demonstrate the brand’s true commitment to becoming more sustainable, though only future progress will truly confirm this.