Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Gel Exfoliant

Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Gel Exfoliant
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249 reviews

71% would repurchase

Package Quality: 4.0

Price: $$$

Package Quality: 4.0

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 11/28/2017 1:41:00 PM

Age: 25-29

Skin: Combination, Fair-Medium, Warm

Hair: Brunette, Straight, Fine

Eyes: Blue

Wayyyy too sticky for me - the liquid one is the one I always return to. I felt like it was blocking/clogging my pores, not cleansing them.

on 6/2/2017 6:20:00 PM

Age: 56 & Over

Skin: Combination, Fair, Cool

Hair: Brown, Curly, Coarse

Eyes: Blue

Not a huge PC fan, but this is a great BHA. I used to use the 1% (they don't make it any more) and that is how I got started. I have dry skin. The liquid was just too drying for me and the lotion felt irritating. This sits on the skin and therefore feels less drying but it works. Really cleans my pores. Not torture to let it sink in. I follow with lots of moisture. I use it for SF and redness. I am not ance prone but found BHA helpfull for aging skin. Gets the funk out my pores so it can accept moisture and not get all red. This is the one, though I alternate with something gentler. Not everyone will like the gel texture, so do get sampes of a few. This is not recommended for dry skin but I found it less irritating than the lotion. I like that it doesn't drip so I don't need a cotton pad to apply.

on 5/22/2017 3:49:00 PM

Age: 19-24

Skin: Acne-prone, Fair-Medium, Not Sure

Hair: Brunette, Other, Other

Eyes: Brown

This stuff rocks! I originally tried out the lotion, thought it was too tacky, then tried the BHA Liquid, but the packaging wasn't all that great. Finally the Goldilocks solution was the Gel formulation! This has done wonders for my skin. My skin type is oily-combo and VERY prone to ACNE. This has never broken me out or given me a terrible reaction. The first time I used it, it did not burn or irritated by skin. This formulation I find, is more gentle than the liquid version. I apply this at night time after toner/essence and before moisturizer. It does make your skin look shiny after applying it, so I would recommend sticking to applying it at nighttime. This product has significantly reduced any formation of pimples or acne on my face, and has FADED most of my PIH. It makes my face feel so smooth and soft after each application. I started to see results within 2 weeks, using it every other day. Now, my skin can tolerate it being used daily. This did not get rid of ALL of my blackheads, but did reduce the APPEARANCE of them. For the few that it did manage to "dissolve", the 'pores' seemed to look bigger because all the gunk was taken out of them. I would much rather have "larger" pores than blackheads though! This does not prevent my oiliness though, I found that her skin-balancing toner is much better at that. I find that the BHA gel is better at preventing acne and is more of a "clarifying" product, whereas the 8% AHA gel is more for rough texture on the face. The BHA gel is my holy grail skin product and MUST bring it with me whenever I travel! This is a must-have and I totally understand why everyone raves about it. I highly suggest looking into more of her products and read multiple reviews of people with different skin types and compare! I don't know if this is allowed or not, but I do have a referral link that will get you $10 off of your first purchase, which would drop the price of the gel from $29 + 15% off + $10 off = to $14.65 . I believe there is also a promo on free shipping. Obviously you do not have to use this link, but if you would like to, here it is :

Pros: great for preventing acne, fading PIH, reduce appearance of blackheads, lasts a long time (9 months for me!)
Cons: if there's no promo can be expensive with the US rate, doesn't prevent oiliness

3 of 3 people found this helpful.

on 5/13/2017 12:58:00 AM

Age: 25-29

Skin: Other, Other, Not Sure

Hair: Other, Other, Other

Eyes: Other

I stopped using PC BHA exfoliants for 1 month and my skin went crazy...small blemishes all over the face... BHA is a must in my routine and this one is particularly nice because of its gel texture. I just apply one pump all over my face and neck, wait a little bit for it to absorb and then apply a moisturizer as it can be drying. Keeps my skin glowing and blemish free, for $10 off follow this link

on 5/4/2017 8:30:00 AM

Age: 30-35

Skin: Combination, Tan, Not Sure

Hair: Black, Other, Other

Eyes: Brown

I have been using this product for over 3 months now and I love it! I have seen a difference in my skin and my face, it feels smoother, has cleared out and has smaller pores. I apply this every morning, let it sit on my skin for 10-15 minutes and without washing my face I then apply a moisturizer with SPF in it. If you are trying the product for the first time, of course, do a patch test! My skin is not sensitive so it worked well for me. I have tried many skin care products over the years, but this is one I can not do without.

Here is a $10 off code for your first purchase if you'd like to try it.

Age: 36-43

Skin: Other, Other, Not Sure

Hair: Other, Other, Other

Eyes: Other

I've tried all three Paula's Choice 2% BHA formulations - the liquid, lotion, and of course the gel - and of the three, the gel is by far my favorite. It's the one BHA exfoliant that I constantly come back to. It has a really nice texture and feels quite luxurious during its application. It's more gentle than the liquid, and as long as I don't overuse it I experience no skin irritation (and my skin is normally very, very sensitive!). Generally I'll use it every other night.

I like that it contains other beneficial ingredients - such as willow herb, bisabolol, phytosphingosine, grape seed extract and green tea extract. A lot of exfoliant products will you just include the active and not much else, so this is a nice perk.

Price wise... I've been purchasing products from Paula's Choice for years and have noticed that price increases are a constant thing. At 3.3 oz, however, the bottle is a pretty decent size and lasted me well over a year, so I think it's fairly priced. There are also many sales throughout the year that leave it marked down, sometimes significantly so.

The only downside to this product is that it does leave a tacky and shiny finish on my face, so I don't find it suitable for daytime use.

If interested, you can get $10 off your order with my referral link:

4 of 5 people found this helpful.

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.

2 of 2 people found this helpful.

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

Age: 25-29

Skin: Sensitive, Fair, Neutral

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.

6 of 7 people found this helpful.

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