What Not to Mix with The Ordinary's AHA BHA Peel

The Ordinary's AHA BHA peel is one of the best things that Cassandra has found over the counter. It is the most potent chemical peel you can get without a professional license. Cassandra uses this for her legs, blackheads, and sebaceous filaments. She also uses it for oil control. 


The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution - $9.60


Key ingredients:

Glycolic Acid, Lactic Acid,Tartaric Acid, Citric Acid, Salicylic Acid, Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer, Tasmannia Lanceolata Fruit/Leaf Extract


You can easily work it into a routine as well. You simply cleanse, apply the peel for under 10 minutes, and moisturize. It's convenience and effectiveness makes it one of Cassandra's absolute favorites. At the same time though, there are things you should never use with it.



You can use the AHA BHA peel once a week to once a month. However, using it more could be overwhelming. Additionally, you should not use a retinoid directly before or after applying the peel. If you're already used to having AHAs, BHAs, and retinoids in your routine, simply pause your retinoids for a few days before using The Ordinary's peel.

On the other hand, if your skin is sensitive or you're a beginner, generally,  it's less risky to avoid using them together at all. Why? Well, The Ordinary's peel not only works by dissolving bonds between skin cells, but it also helps to exfoliate them. So, adding a retinoid to the mix could be very irritating. While retinoids don't exfoliate, they do speed up skin cell turnover. They can even cause “retinization” which is basically redness and itchiness.

So, avoid layering and using this with prescription retinoids, retinal, or retinol with the AHA BHA peel. The peel exfoliates, and retinoids push off dead skin cells by creating new cells in the skin's deeper layers. So, doing both at the same time could greatly irritate and compromise your skin barrier

L-ascorbic acid

You won't want to mix L-ascorbic acid or most forms of vitamin C with The Ordinary's AHA BHA peel. L-ascorbic acid is a form of vitamin C that breaks down easily, and it can sting the skin. So, if your skin is sensitive, you'll want to use the AHA BHA peel at night and then the vitamin C peel the morning after.

What will happen if I layer L-ascorbic acid and The Ordinary's AHA BHA peel?

It will probably sting and irritate the skin. You could also get a little redness and flushing. That's why it's probably better to use them at different times of the day. Additionally, you'll want to use the AHA/BHA peel in the evening when you’re out of the sun and L-ascorbic acid/vitamin C during the day. That way, you'll be able to boost your sunscreen and get those antioxidant benefits from the vitamin C. But, if you've truly built up your skin's tolerance, wait 8-10 hours or after a good night's sleep, and then, use the vitamin C that morning. Note that something like a gentle vitamin C ester would probably be best.


Benzoyl Peroxide

A lot of people use benzoyl peroxide for acne, blackheads, and whiteheads. So yes, it's a fantastic OTC ingredient!  However, it should not be layered with skincare acids, especially something like The Ordinary's AHA BHA peel. Even though you're supposed to cleanse before applying the peel, you shouldn't even use a benzoyl peroxide facial cleanser before using this peel.

And in reality, if your skin is sensitive and prone to dryness, you shouldn't use benzoyl peroxide at all. However, speak with your physician because some doctors or derms do recommend using benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. Once again though, it's best to avoid trying this combo on your own. 


Chemical Sunscreens

Avoid applying a chemical sunscreen immediately after using The Ordinary's AHA BHA peel. Although protecting our skin after we exfoliate is essential, some people can be sensitive to chemical sun protectants like the avobenzone and oxybenzone. You definitely need to use a sunscreen the morning after using a chemical peel, but it's not a good idea to use a chemical one. So, try a physical sunscreen instead with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.


Other skincare acids

Also, avoid other skincare acids. Well, hyaluronic acid is totally fine because it's not exfoliating. But, avoid other skincare acids like glycolic acid and salicylic acid. When you choose a moisturizer to use after the peel, don’t grab one with AHAs or BHAs, especially if it's your first time. Using skincare acids in excess can cause burning. Yes, The Ordinary’s AHA BHA  peel mixes skincare acids, but you don't want to apply too many things. So, when using this peel, you'll want to avoid using other BHAs/salicylic acids and AHAs.

AHAs include the following:

Lactic acid

Glycolic acid

Mandelic acid

Malic Acid

Citric acid

Tartaric acid