Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Gel Exfoliant

Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Gel Exfoliant
No Title


243 reviews

70% would repurchase

Package Quality: 3.9

Price: $$$

Package Quality: 3.9

Price: $$$

Not tested on animals


Water, Methylpropanediol, Butylene Glycol, (solvent/water-binding agent), Polysorbate 20 (emulsifier), Salicylic Acid (beta hydroxy acid/exfoliant), Phytosphingosine (cell-communicating ingredient), Hydroxyethylcellulose (gel-based thickener), Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Extract (antioxidant), Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract (antioxidant) Epilobium Angustifolium (Willow Herb) Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract (anti-irritant), Bisabolol (anti-irritant), Sodium Hydroxide (pH-adjusting agent), Tetrasodium EDTA (chelating agent

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on 4/14/2017 8:45:00 AM

Age: 30-35

Skin: Combination, Fair-Medium, Not Sure

Hair: Blond, Other, Other

Eyes: Brown

It's not a miracle product (not that those exist), but does keep my skin clearer and has been in my skincare routine for a long time. It is overpriced imho, so I'm trying The Ordinary salycilic acid right now. But overall a good solid product for those with clogged pores, blackheads and acne-prone skin.

Age: 25-29

Skin: Combination, Medium Brown, Warm

Hair: Black, Curly, Medium

Eyes: Brown

So here's a list of every BHA product I've tried:
Paula's Choice (PC) 2% BHA Gel (this product)
PC 2% BHA Liquid
PC 4% BHA Foam
PC Dark Spot Treatment w/Hydroquinone
Neutrogena Pore Refining Toner (AHA and BHA formula)
Silk Naturals BHA Toner

I think it’s safe to say I’ve tried enough BHA exfoliants to have a good grasp on what works for my oily, acne-prone (mainly hormonal) skin. I should also mention that my skin is not sensitive, at all. I can pile on a variety of active ingredients with little to no issues. However, this product, at a 2% concentration, is great for people with sensitive skin, but it will also prove effective for those with tougher skin like me.

The gel formula has been GREAT through these winter months. I was using the liquid formula during warmer seasons, and then the temperatures dropped so I needed something a bit thicker. The PC website says this is better for normal to oily skin, but honestly, I think this gel formulation would still work well as a year-round pick for dry skin.

I can tell a visible difference when I use this stuff. I wake up in the morning with brighter skin in general, and when I’m applying moisturizer, sometimes I can actually see small flakes of skin peeling off - but not to the point where my skin is truly peeling. This product gives such a subtle exfoliation. Definitely give it a try, even if you only use it once or twice a week, it’s going to make a difference.

The price point is a bit steep. There are so many drugstore options popping up these days with BHAs/AHAs as the main ingredients, it's getting more and more difficult to see why PC is charging so much for this product. I'm sure there will soon be a dupe available for half the price.

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

on 10/29/2016 10:27:00 AM

Age: 25-29

Skin: Sensitive, Fair, Warm

Hair: Brunette, Wavy, Fine

Eyes: Hazel

I have happily used the 1% gel for many years, but after feeling that my skin could do with a boost I ordered samples (thankfully) of the 2% gel. Sadly I got increased acne and worst of all small patches of burnt looking red skin!

on 10/21/2016 3:22:00 AM

Age: 30-35

Skin: Combination, Medium, Not Sure

Hair: Brunette, Other, Other

Eyes: Brown

I prefer the 4% bha foam or 2% liquid because of the texture. All of Paula's Choice BHA products dissolve BHA (salicylic acid) in propylene or butylene glycol. Choose the texture that you like the best.

See my notepad for a $10 referral link.

I've used Paula's Choice BHA for the last six years, and just learned something new. Salicylic acid (or BHA) is not soluble in water at concentrations of more than 1%. This is why so many companies add alcohol to their BHA products: to dissolve the BHA before adding water to get higher BHA concentrations. Paula's Choice uses propylene or butylene glycol to dissolve salicylic acid in their water based BHA products. Is this a good thing? It's better than alcohol, which is drying, and it works. Propylene glycol is the active ingredient in my deodorant, and is in premade banana cream pies that I used to eat at work, e-cigarettes, and animal-safe antifreeze. I noticed that there are only two options on the market for water based BHA: Paula's and the cheap alcohol based BHA products like Stridex and Clearasil. However, there is one more way to buy BHA at the drugstore: Psoriasis cream. I might try one in the future, since I have combination skin that can handle lotions.

EDIT: Sorry for the misinformation. While most drugstore BHA is alcohol based, Stridex is not. I believe they dissolve their BHA by using the somewhat harsh surfactant Ammonium Xylene Sulfonate.

2 of 2 people found this helpful.

on 6/12/2016 12:00:00 PM

Age: 44-55

Skin: Combination, Olive, Neutral

Hair: Brown, Curly, Medium

Eyes: Brown

Pros : Soothes Skin, Moisturizes, Lightweight
Cons: None
Best Uses : Daily Use, Enlarged Pores, Sensitive Skin, Redness/ Blotchiness

I've tried almost all the BHA products in the PC's line, and this is one of my favorites. It is not a daily use product for me, but it could be, depending on skin type. Since my skin is normal-to-oily with dry patches on my cheeks and neck, there are times when I need a little extra boost of moisture, but not quite to the point where I would need the 2% BHA Lotion. The product is soothing, and does reduce my red spots in short order, sometimes as quickly as over night. As others have commented, it is a little sticky. The trick for daytime use is to apply sparingly. The small amount of stickiness will be overcome by the next skin care step (eg, I use Hydralight 30SPF). The thicker texture also makes this a great product for treating small spots, or for my weekly skin care routine, where I apply a much larger amount as a kind of BHA facial mask. Overall, this product is extremely versatile--recommended!

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

on 6/4/2016 3:35:00 AM

Age: 18 & Under

Skin: Oily, Fair-Medium, Not Sure

Hair: Brown, Other, Other

Eyes: Brown

I bought this because I thought it would help get rid of all the blackheads on my nose without being to greasy. I must say I'm dissapointed. It leaves a sticky layer on your skin after applying, as if it doesn't want to sink in. My blackheads have not improved, and I've used this for weeks morning and night! I'll try the liquid and see if that's any better, but I wouldn't recommend the gel!

2 of 3 people found this helpful.

Age: 19-24

Skin: Acne-prone, Other, Not Sure

Hair: Black, Other, Other

Eyes: Brown

I absolutely love, LOVE this stuff! This saved my skin when I thought nothing would work after trying way too many products. I leaves my skin feeling smooth, calm and most importantly acne-free. I use it all over my face and neck every night and when I do have a pimple breaking through, I like to spotttreat them during the day. Packaging is great. The pump dispenses exactly the right amount of product. Love how easy and quick this gel works. I like to use this over the liquid. I don't have to use this with a cotton round, just my fingers. I could not live without this anymore. I got my friend, her sister and her mom hooked on this stuff. I would repurchase this over and over again! 😻

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

on 4/1/2016 8:10:00 AM

Age: 19-24

Skin: Combination, Fair, Neutral

Hair: Blond, Straight, Fine

Eyes: Blue

First of all, be very careful using this types of products! It can be very damaging for your skin if not used with caution!

I have normal/combination skin with hormonal acne on the chin/cheeks/forehead (i use birth control for non hormonal acne)

After using this for 1 week the BHA 2% burned my cheeks, leaving it with scars/flakey and very thin skin that reacts to everything.

The product itself comes in a clean and hygienic packaging with a pump dispenser.
It smells like ''plastic'' in my opinion.

I would not repurchase this product.

Age: 19-24

Skin: Combination, Fair, Cool

Hair: Brunette, Wavy, Medium

Eyes: Hazel

Now, as a disclaimer, I do not believe in miracles when it comes to skin care. I'm pretty realistic and I don't expect anything to clear my skin up magically in 2 or 3 days.

With that being said, this is a great product! I can tell a difference in my skin and I've been using this morning and night for about 3 weeks now. I rarely get pimples and my skin texture is like silk! I still have some pigmentation/acne scarring and some blackheads, but these things can take months of use to diminish so I'm not too worried about that right now.

I love that the gel is gentle, non-drying and fragrance free as my skin is pretty sensitive, especially to acne products. I do sometimes still get pimples, but really only caused by my period or shamefully sleeping in my makeup (ugh). Speaking of makeup, I'm really happy that I no longer have to slather my face in acne concealer. c: Yay!

Anyway, the only things I don't like about this product are that it takes a little while to absorb (I don't wanna wait around for that, honestly...) and it pills easily under my sunscreen and certain moisturizers (I had to switch from CeraVe AM which was a pilling nightmare to Clinique All-Over Clearing Treatment, which is working out way better for my skin!). I think I'm going to try skipping this during the daytime to see if I can go without it without breaking out...

So, quick summary:
Pros - Clears up acne, exfoliates skin well, no fragrance, no alcohol, lots of good ingredients, price is not particularly evil, not tested on animals, wearing less makeup on my skin is cool!
Cons - Pilling/doesn't wear well under ss (so avoid use during day), takes a while to absorb which is annoying during the day

Overall a great product! Really, really helped my acne and saved me a painful trip to the French dermatologist.

2 of 3 people found this helpful.

on 3/9/2016 5:36:00 PM

Age: 19-24

Skin: Acne-prone, Medium, Warm

Hair: Brunette, Straight, Medium

Eyes: Brown

This BHA gel actually made many of my blackheads disappear! I've used the liquid in the past, but really didn't like the runny texture and the stickiness of the product. So I ended up giving the bottle to my sister.
The gel however takes about 5 minutes to absorb, so even when I'm in a rush in the morning I can use it. I use it once in the morning and once in the evening, after I've washed my face. Make sure to wait 15 minutes to apply this if you're using a product with vitamin c first. Also, put spf on your face during the day.
This product won't make your blackheads disappear overnight, but with consistent use it will definitely reduce them. I noticed the difference after 1,5 months. One bottle lasts me 6 to 7 months, and I will absolutely repurchase this product once I run out.

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