Chemical exfoliation offers a ton of benefits to the skin: improved skin tone, resurfaced brightness, and refined texture.

This exfoliating method is known for encouraging healthy skin cell development and new collagen, turning your complexion for the better. It’s also a must-do for removing sun damage spots, avoiding breakouts, and keeping the wrinkles at bay.

There are, generally speaking, two ways of chemical peeling: at-home peels and professional peeling in a clinic.

Today we discuss the first one.

One of the most popular products on the skincare market when it comes to chemical exfoliation is The Ordinary’s AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution. I’m here to dig deeper into it and see what this product can offer and how to use it in your skincare routine.

What is The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution?

The Ordinary’s AHA 30% + BHA 2% peeling solution is, without doubt, a must-try product for anyone with post-acne problems or those of you who want to resurface healthier, younger-looking skin.

If you haven’t tried chemical exfoliation – don’t worry! It’s nothing scary and the results are mind-blowing!

So the first thing you need to know about TO’s AHA 30% + BHA 2% peeling solution is that it contains alpha-hydroxy acids and beta-hydroxy acids (30% AHA and 2% BHA as the name reveals). They’re both chemical exfoliants with different roles.

About AHAs

AHA benefits for skin

Alpha hydroxy acids eliminate the dead skin cells from the topmost layer of your skin while providing moisturizing properties. Such acids are:

  • glycolic acids;
  • lactic acids;
  • tartaric acids;
  • citric acids to name a few.

They’re also good for tackling acne and reducing acne scars.

About BHAs

BHA benefits for skin

On the other hand, beta hydroxy acids are salicylic acid and citric acid. They are unbeatable at pore unclogging!

They’re the main worker who deals with breakouts, acne, and skin that is prone to congestion. The best part is that they’re oil-soluble, which means they’re appropriate for oily skin too, providing soothing and anti-inflammatory properties.

Now that you know the basics, let’s go back to The Ordinary’s peeling solution. Apart from AHA and BHA, it also contains hyaluronic acid crosspolymer, vitamin B5, black carrot, and Tasmanian Pepperberry.

The formula is cleverly designed to offer double action, both deeply exfoliating the skin and removing any blemishes. As a result, you’ll feel a nice, smooth skin texture from the very first use and will notice a dramatic improvement of fine lines as you regularly use the product.

I mentioned Tasmanian Pepperberry and it’s worth noting that this ingredient matters a lot as it eliminates irritation that could occur when using acids. It’s plant-based and comes in different colors based on seasonality.




This is why you might notice that the TO peeling solution may sometimes come in different shades Some people are quick to think that this is perhaps a sign of a bad batch but this is not the case. Don’t worry, it simply has to do with the Tasmanian Pepperberry content.

And the rest of the ingredients? Let’s take a look:

  • Crosspolymer from hyaluronic acid – provides comfort and acts as a hydrating agent, giving the skin all the moisture it needs.
  • Vitamin B5 – supports healing and helps the skin retain its moisture. It also prevents flaking and itchiness.
  • Black carrot – offers antioxidant properties and helps the skin look glowing, healthy, and young.

Other details worth noting regarding this product:

  • free of oil, water, alcohol, silicone, nuts, and gluten;
  • it’s also completely vegan and cruelty-free;
  • It comes with a pH of around 3.6.

Although there are vast amounts of benefits from using this exfoliating solution, perhaps it’s not best for super sensitive skin as it may cause irritation.

How to use The Ordinary AHA/BHA chemical peel?

You shouldn’t overuse it even if your skin can handle this potent product.

It’s best to use it twice a week at most, in the evening, and never forget to apply sunscreen the morning after.

Apply it to clean and completely dry face and let it sit for 10 minutes or less, as you can handle it. The Ordinary suggests not to hold it on for over 10 minutes because you risk damaging your skin.

Wash off with lukewarm water and follow up with a soothing and minimal routine.

Side effects from The Ordinary’s Peeling Solution

This chemical peel is one of the strongest on the market. As with any powerful product, you may notice some side effects of using it.

Upon application, expect to feel itching and even stinging on areas where your skin barrier is compromised (say you have a pimple).

After you wash it off, you may notice some redness that can persist to the next day – it’s key to not use any other actives until your skin recovers completely, or else you risk damaging your skin barrier.

The Ordinary AHA/BHA Peeling before and after results

The Ordinary AHA, BHA peeling solution before and after

from: Reddit; 
results measured on July 2020 vs March 2021

Should you use a toner before The Ordinary peeling solution?

There is no need or benefit of using a toner before applying The Ordinary’s AHA/BHA Peeling Solution.

The instructions that you’ll find for using the product suggest that it’s recommended to apply the peeling solution to clean and dry skin, before any other skincare.

Using a toner before The Ordinary peeling solution could only interfere with the treatment. It can make the serum more potent that it already is and this can dry out your skin. Since moisture paves the path to the serum to penetrate even deeper into your skin, you can even see some damage in the form of severe irritation, pilling, and more.

You need to make sure to apply the peeling solution to completely dry skin.

Great, so we’ve solved the mystery. Apply toner after TO’s peeling treatment.

What toner can you use after The Ordinary peeling solution?

The choice of face toner that you’ll apply after using a chemical peel is significant.


Because it can help soothe the skin after the treatment but it can also cause harsh irritation and discomfort if you opt for the wrong product.

There are a lot of toning solutions available on the market but, generally speaking, they can be divided into two main categories – those that are hydrating and soothing and those that are exfoliating and contain acids.

Let’s go back to the TO’s peeling solution and remember that it’s a very potent exfoliating mask. It’s no wonder that it should only be used once or twice a week! Having this in mind, let’s see what types of toner you can and cannot use after the peeling treatment.

I’ll start with the “no-no” toners.

My advice is to always stay away from toners that contain glycolic acid or other types of AHAs. The TO’s toning solution already has a huge amount of these acids. Applying toner with glycolic acid is like exfoliating the skin twice. It will almost always lead to skin irritation and severe dryness. You can use such toners the next day or two days after the peeling solution, once the skin has calmed down and has restored its protective barrier.

It’s also best to avoid products that contain a certain percentage of salicylic acid or lactic acid as they’ll have a similar effect.

Toners that contain witch hazel are also on the black list of toners to stay away from as they’re very strong and aggressive to the skin. The same goes for toners with strong fragrances.

So what can you use?

Well, the toners that you want to be looking for should be calming and soothing.

Some toners are specifically designed as calming toners or advanced replenishing toners. They offer a lot of hydration and will calm the skin, giving it back everything that it needs and has lost during the peeling process.

Keep the toner simple and without any aggressive chemicals, acids, or other ingredients that may cause irritation.

Some ingredients you want to look for are ceramides, which help restore the skin’s protective barrier, and hyaluronic acid, which offers extra hydration.

Two products that I absolutely love using alongside TO’s peeling solution are:

  • PURITO Centella Unscented Toner with panthenol, allantoin, sodium hyaluronate, and lots of skin barrier strengthening ingredients.
  • Pyunkang Yul Facial Essence Toner – a truly pampering essence with only seven ingredients. The main hero here is the Astragalus root extract – a deeply moisturizing ingredient that quenches my skin after a chemical peel. I use it barehanded, with no cotton pads.

People in their 30s and onwards can also use a peptide-rich product after the peel. This will help these invaluable ingredients to penetrate even better into your skin and work their magic. I like the Naturium Multi-Peptide Moisturizer as it has everything your skin may need after a peel, plus some invaluable peptides, and it’s also very soothing.

The Ordinary Peeling Solution dos and don'ts

What to avoid using after The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution

And toner is not the only thing you should be worried about. If you’re using The Ordinary’s peeling solution in the evening, your routine could look something like this:

Gentle cleanser > Exfoliating solution > Soothing toner > Hydrating/soothing serums > Moisturizer

It’s important to note that the other products that you use in the same routine should also be chosen with caution.

When selecting the products you’ll be using after the peeling treatment, remember a few important rules:

  • Avoid using other exfoliating products or products with harsh ingredients;
  • Stay away from retinoids;
  • Don’t use other active treatments.

Why? Because all of the above could cause serious irritation, dryness, redness, and discomfort.

Can I use glycolic acid after AHA, BHA peel?

No, you shouldn’t use any other additional acids in your skincare routine after this chemical peel serum. Your skin already has had enough exfoliation with a 30% AHA mix in The Ordinary Peeling Solution, you don’t need more than that. In fact, if you attempt to exfoliate more, you’ll only end up irritating and over-exfoliating your skin.

Can I use moisturizer after The Ordinary Peeling Solution?

Yes, you should follow up the aha/bha chemical peel with a soothing moisturizer designed to help support the skin barrier.
I like the Naturium Marshmallow Root Barrier Balm or the Purito Dermide Relief Barrier Moisturizer – both are equally effective at alleviating any potential irritation while giving your skin the building blocks it needs to restore its protective functions post-treatment.

If you wanna go the extra mile, I also suggest trying a barrier-supporting serum such as the Aveeno Calm + Restore Triple Oat Serum. I use it anytime my skin feels stressed and it soothes it immediately.

Can I use hyaluronic acid after The Ordinary Peeling Solution?

Yes, your skin can really benefit from a hyaluronic acid-based product after The Ordinary’s AHA/BHA peeling solution. However, you will be prone to irritation from it, if you’re using a product with small molecular weights of hyaluronic acid as they are known to penetrate into the deeper layers of your skin.

If you want to use a hyaluronic acid product, I suggest you opt for a brand that is known to develop non-irritating products specifically targeted to sensitive skin. Such one is the La Roche-Posay Hyalu B5. I also like The Ordinary Marine Hyaluronics because of the lightweight texture and the affordable price point.

Wrapping up

If you want to remove the dead skin cells from the skin’s surface and enjoy restored and perfectly clean skin, The Ordinary’s AHA 30% + BHA 2% peeling solution can quickly win its place in your list of favorites.

However, use it with caution and be careful when selecting the rest of your skincare products and the toner you’ll be using after.

I’d love to hear your stories and feedback on toners that you’ve tried using before or after the peeling solution and some of the results you’ve seen. You can share your thoughts by leaving a comment in the comment section below.

Until next time!