Hey guys

I’ll be reviewing 3 products from the recently launched brand Minimalist today- Minimalist 2% Salicylic Acid, Minimalist Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 and Minimalist AHA 25% + PHA 5% + BHA 2% peel. The brand launched in the later half of last year and has already garnered a lot of attention from skincare enthusiasts across India. Their ideology of clean and affordable skincare products is a welcome addition in India.

I have had the chance to try out 3 products from their range which I’ll be reviewing today. I have been using them for a month now and will be writing about my experience and opinion on these 3 products. But before we get to the specific reviews, let’s start with quickly reviewing their packaging. 


Almost every product from their range comes in translucent glass bottles with a white-colored, fairly useful dropper for dispensing. Even though the general packaging looks the same, every product does have a  small but unique color tag on the label which is handy when trying to identify multiple products in a hurry. Another thing I really like about the packaging is that the ingredient list has been mentioned very clearly on the outer packaging as well as the labels on each individual bottle (which is not always the case with every skincare brand).

The packaging (including the labels and the general look) seems to portray their ideology of clean and effective skincare. It however, also resembles  packaging of the cult favourite brand- The Ordinary. I have seen a lot of polarising opinions on the same but in all honesty, I feel that if the product (and its packaging) is effective and affordable, resemblance to another brand’s products should not be given much importance.

With that being said, now let’s get into the individual reviews.

Salicylic Acid 2%

Product Claims: A daily gentle exfoliant with 2% salicylic acid that wards off blackheads and keeps your oils in check for that flawless matt look everyone dreams.

Ingredients: Aloe Vera Juice, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Propylene Glycol, Salicylic Acid, Propanediol, Ethoxydiglycol, Phenoxyethanol, Pullulan, Ethylhexylglycerin, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Xanthan Gum, Sclerotium Gum, Sodium Hydroxide, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Lecithin

Some science facts: Salicylic acid (like all beta hydroxy acids) is an oil-soluble chemical (in contrast to alpha hydroxy acids such as glycolic acid, citric acid etc.) and thus, has the ability to penetrate deep into the skin. This property helps it scoop out the dirt, debris and sebum clogging the pores; thereby diminishing signs of congested skin, bumps, acne and blackheads/whiteheads. This process is slow and it works over a period of few weeks. 

Although OTC products may contain anywhere from 0.5%-5% salicylic acid, 2% salicylic acid is a good percentage to start and experience good results with overtime. 

My concerns: My skin had been feeling congested as of late. Even though there were no specific bouts of acne that I was dealing with; my skin had been suffering from little bumps, some blackheads and whiteheads scattered here and there. I’ve loved salicylic acid products in the past and know that they work well for me to clear out my skin. Never having used a serum before, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to try one and see if it could help me with the bumps, blackheads and whiteheads.

My experience with the Minimalist Salicylic Acid 2%

Color & Texture: Transparent liquid with a watery consistency.

Fragrance: No discernible fragrance.

My experience: I started by using this serum regularly almost every night. Although I saw no specific result in a day (which was expected), in around 5-6 days, I started noticing that the general skin congestion I was dealing with, had begun to reduce. Bumps had started to diminish, both in size as well as number. In a few days after that, the congestion had cleared out completely. 

Since then, I’ve been using this serum only on my most prone areas.  It has worked well to clear small bumps on my skin. I’ve also noticed that any acne that I have sometimes (1-2 hormonal around the chin) heal much faster with this serum than they normally would. However, I did not find it working that well on the blackheads around my nose.

The Minimalist 2% salicylic acid serum is a thin, watery serum that spreads easily and leaves a matte finish behind. Even though a mild exfoliant, I have never experienced any tingling or any sensation while applying this either. Additionally, I haven’t experienced any specific dryness with this product either even though I have experienced dryness with other salicylic acid products I have used in the past.

Important points to remember while using the Minimalist 2% Salicylic acid serum

1. Salicylic acid in general is used for prevent mild skin congestion or acne. It may not work for very severe forms of acne.

2. 2% salicylic acid needs time to work. It does not work instantly so don’t expect anything overnight. However, if used religiously, you’ll start noticing its effect in a couple of weeks.

3. Even though I didn’t, some people may experience purging with actives such as Salicylic acid. Since salicylic acid penetrates deep into the skin to reveal new skin, the acne sitting deep in your pores may come to the surface sooner. Even though this may temporarily feel like it has increased your skin problems, your skin needs to go through it to get clearer. So definitely do your research on purging and if going through it, stick with the regime. It’ll go away soon. 

4. Always do a patch test of atleast 72 hours and start very slow while using actives such as salicylic acid. Everyone’s skin is different and yours may react differently than expected.

5. Even with mild exfoliants, sunscreen is a must.

Overall thoughts: The Minimalist 2% Salicylic Acid serum has worked great to prevent and speed up healing of bumps on my skin and even small acne here and there. I did not, however, find any effect on my blackheads and whiteheads.

Recommended or not: It works great to prevent and keep the skin clear. Certainly recommended for oily, acne-prone skin types looking to prevent acne, heal small acne and bumps. 

My rating: 4/5

Minimalist Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5

Product Claims: A hydrating booster with a punch of Vitamin B5 that pulls moisture deep into the skin & locks in there, leaving instant plump, baby-soft skin.

Ingredients: Aloe Vera Juice, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Sodium Hyaluronate, Propanediol, Ethoxydiglycol, Panthenol, Phenoxyethanol, Pullulan, Ethylhexylglycerin, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Xanthan Gum, Sclerotium Gum, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Lecithin

Some science facts: Hyaluronic acid is a well-known, very potent skin humectant. This means that it hydrates the skin not  directly by itself but by pulling and retaining water from the surroundings onto the skin’s surface. This makes the skin look more supple, wrinkles seem to diminish and the skin radiates with moisture. Hyaluronic acid is generally produced by the body but its production starts to decrease as we age. This decrease in the natural hyaluronic acid has been primarily linked to skin ageing. Hence the addition of topical hyaluronic acid over the skin can help improve the skin’s hydration and moisture-binding capacity.

My concerns before using this serum: I had recently shifted to a new place and my skin had been struggling with dry patches in some areas. The dry, winter weather has not been helpful either. So I had been looking for something that might increase my skin’s hydration without making it oilier. I’ve used HA moisturizers in the past with good results so thought of trying a Hyaluronic Acid serum this time. 

My experience with the Minimalist Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 serum

Color & Texture: Transparent and quite viscous liquid; slightly sticky as well.

Fragrance: No discernible fragrance.

Usage: Apply 2-3 drops immediately after washing and toning onto damp skin and follow-up with a good moisturizer.

My experience: Even though a little viscous, the serum is quite easy to apply and glides  well over the skin. I found it to be a little sticky on the skin when first applied. However, it absorbs pretty well within a couple of minutes leaving a smooth and matte feel to the skin.

When I first started using this serum,I noticed that my skin would mildly (but instantly) plump up and radiate with moisture. As I had been struggling with dry patches, this was a very welcome development.

However, as the days passed by, I noticed that my skin started to need much more moisturizer than usual and even then, would  feel drier. It was losing moisture fast too upto the point that after a few weeks of usage, it started to feel rough and coarse within the next couple of hours. It would only happen on days that I would use HA serum + moisturiser combination and not on days I used only my moisturiser.

I tried tweaking the amount of the serum to more and less. When that didn’t help much, I tried to apply it on much more damper skin and also switched my moisturizers from the lightest to the heaviest. After lot of trial, having a close look at its ingredient list and doing some research, I found out that the combination of aloe vera base (a natural humectant) + hyaluronic acid was creating a very powerful humectant. And when it could not get enough hydration from my moisturizer and the dry weather outside, it was sucking moisture from the deep layers of my skin. In turn, leading to the dry, coarse and irritated skin I was experiencing.

After switching many of them and not wanting to invest in any more moisturizers, I gave up using this serum altogether. As expected, my skin returned to its usual happy and hydrated state in a few days with only using my moisturizer. 

Important points to remember when adding hyaluronic acid to your skincare

1.Hyaluronic acid is a very potent humectant. You need to supplement the skin with a very good emollient moisturiser on top of it. Especially so if the HA serum has an aloe base (another humectant) instead of water.

2. It will also be helpful if you live in a moist climate or use humidifiers so that the HA molecules can attract moisture from the air rather than the deeper layers of your skin.

3. Always apply HA serum on damp skin.

4.Quantity of the serum you apply matters. As well as the frequency you use it. Don’t overdo it.

Overall Thoughts: Although the product did help me initially to deal with the isolated dry patches on my skin, overtime, it caused much more dry skin. I might try the product again in monsoons but for now, sadly, it hasn’t worked well for me. 

Recommended or not: Only recommended if you live in a moist climate or use humidifiers and can supplement with a thick, emollient moisturiser afterwards as this is a highly potent humectant serum. Otherwise, it’s better to skip it.

My rating: 2.5/5

Minimalist AHA 25% + PHA 5% + BHA 2%

Product Claims: A powerful peeling trio of 25% AHA, 5% PHA & 2% BHA that provides multi-level exfoliation, both on the surface & inside the pores, giving you a healthy, plump, and glowing skin. A whopping 25% AHA, 5% PHA & 2% BHA blend formulated at a pH of 3.4 – 3.8 for maximum effectiveness.

Ingredients: Aloe Vera Juice, Glycolic Acid, Lactic Acid, Propylene Glycol, Gluconolactone, Mandelic Acid, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Sodium Hydroxide, Salicylic Acid, Propanediol, Ethoxydiglycol, Curcuma Longa (Turmeric) Root Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Phenoxyethanol, Pullulan, Ethylhexylglycerin, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Xanthan Gum, Sclerotium Gum, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Lecithin

Some science facts: Alpha Hydroxy Acids/AHAs (like glycolic acid, citric acid, lactic acid) and PolyHydroxy Acids/PHAs (like gluconolactone, galactose etc) exfoliate the top layer of the skin while BHA (like salicylic acid) delves deep down into the pores  to deliver clear skin. They are useful to prevent and treat acne marks, scars and blemishes.

My concerns: With the dry, unforgiving winter winds around, my skin had been suffering from dry patches, congested pores and dead skin. The idea of a chemical exfoliator that could clean my skin thoroughly sounded great. I’ve never really found a good chemical exfoliator so when Minimalist came up with their version of an AHA+BHA+PHA peel, I knew I had to try it!

My experience with the Minimalist AHA 25% + PHA 5% + BHA 2%

Color & Texture: A deep yellow, thick and viscous liquid; The yellowness of the product is a result of turmeric root extract.

Fragrance: No discernible fragrance.

Usage: Use it once (or twice, only if your skin can take it) every week (preferably at night) on thoroughly cleansed and dry face. Apply a thick layer avoiding the eye area and let it sit for upto 10 minutes; after which wash off with warm water and follow-up with a good moisturizer. 

My experience: After doing a patch test for 72 hours (which you must do with every new skincare product), I started using this peel a month ago, every weekend at night time. The peel causes a mild sensation on my skin (very similar to a facial bleach). That being said, I don’t feel that it is very uncomfortable and I actually like it as an indication of the acids working their magic on my skin. Anyway, it all settles down in the next 3-4 minutes. Then, when 10 minutes have passed, I remove the peel thoroughly with water and follow it up with my moisturizer.

Coming onto my favourite bit- the results! Immediately after using this product, my skin feels super smooth and well exfoliated. Sometimes, there is a little bit of redness, which if present, subsides in a couple of hours. The best part of this peel for me has been that it immediately deals with skin congestion and whiteheads. The effect is such that the first time I used it, it reduced the size of a very persistent and large whitehead around my nose to about 1/4th of its original size. Needless to say, I was super impressed! Initially, I was concerned that turmeric extract in the serum might leave a yellow tint on my skin but I have not experienced any sort of tinting whatsoever. 

I had used the Dot & Key 10% AHA + 2% BHA peel a couple of months ago but found it was too mild for my skin. In comparison to that product, the Minimalist AHA 25% + PHA 5% + BHA 2% is much stronger (as you can judge from the percentages of AHAs and BHAs in each product). It also does not have any fragrance- a fact which I love! 

Another great thing that I love about this product is that it has improved the texture of my skin and any acne scars and pores that I had are less visible now.

All in all, my skin and I are loving this product! I haven’t felt the need to reach out for my physical exfoliants for the past month. It exfoliates well and as a bonus, takes care of the little congested areas as well- something physical exfoliants are not able to do.  

Important points to remember when adding chemical exfoliant peels to your skincare

1. Always do a patch test for atleast 72 hours; It is important for every skincare product but more so with such strong chemicals.

2. Wearing a sunscreen is a must. Otherwise you maybe risking your newly exfoliated (and hence sensitive) skin to sun damage and spots.  

3. Always apply these peels on dry skin. Damp skin is much more receptive and the potency of the peel might be unexpectedly increased which may damage your skin.

4. Never apply it for more than 10 minutes.

Recommended or not: Absolutely! Highly recommend for oily, acne prone skin types who are looking for exfoliate their skin and in the process treat acne scars, acne marks, pores, bumps, blackheads and whiteheads. However, please note that this is fairly strong peel so if you’ve never used a peel or chemical exfoliants before, it might be a bit much for your skin; in which case I recommend starting with lower percentages of chemical exfoliants and working your way up. Sensitive skin types may need to be careful while using this product. I also  recommend a patch test beforehand to make sure your skin is not allergic to it. 

My rating: 4.5/5

*PR Samples; My opinions however, as always, are 100% honest 

2 Comments on Minimalist 2% Salicylic Acid, Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 and AHA 25% + PHA 5% + BHA 2% review

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