A little goes a long way
Doesn't irritate skin when used in moderation
Minimizes the appearance of large pores
Smoothes skin texture overtime
Melts into the skin
Could be irritating for some skin types
Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant
We put Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant to the test after receiving a complimentary sample from the brand. Keep reading for our full product review.
Exfoliating is one of the keys to attaining glowing, blemish-free skin. After years of using every exfoliating method under the sun, it's safe to say my skin doesn't particularly care for it. Well, if I overdo it or use physical exfoliants that are too harsh on my sensitive skin. Throughout my years of personal research, I find that my skin often responds well to chemical exfoliants as there's a perfect balance of how and when to use them.
I haven't given an exfoliating toner a try in a long time. But, I have noticed my skin hitting a plateau with my current routine, so I decided to add Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant to the mix. Even though I was open to adding this to my routine, I can't say I wasn't nervous about this, leaving my skin dry and irritated after a few uses. Keep scrolling to read more about how my skin reacted to this liquid exfoliator.
Best for: Oily and acne-prone skin or anyone who experiences texture
Uses: Exfoliation and smoothing skin
Active Ingredients: Salicylic acid and green tea
Byrdie Clean?: Yes
About the Brand: Founded by Paula Begun in 1995, Paula's Choice is one of the first online skincare brands. It's known for its science-backed, clean skincare products along with its online ingredient dictionary.
My Skin: Combination, sensitive with hyperpigmentation
My skin is very sensitive and reacts within a day or two when it doesn't like a new product. The reaction is usually visible with angry pimples, and skin that is sensitive to the touch. For these reasons, I've whittled my routine down to about six products: a cream cleanser, vitamin C, retinol, a face oil, and a clay mask. Simplifying has helped keep reactive breakouts away. However, this shift isn't helping fade my hyperpigmentation.
The Packaging: Easy to open and seal
The round grey bottle requires just a couple of light shakes to give enough toner to swipe across my entire face. Once you finish your bottle, you can recycle it on your own or use TerraCycle to send your empties back to be recycled while you earn points to redeem to help nonprofits.
The Ingredients: Exfoliating and calming
Two standout ingredients in this formula are salicylic acid and green tea. If you're prone to blackheads, whiteheads, and enlarged pores due to oil production, salicylic acid is a form of BHA that is excellent at keeping those issues in check. However, some can find the breakout buster irritating and drying. In a previous Byrdie story, Ellen Marmur, MD of Marmur Medical and MMSkincare, recommended using salicylic acid in moderation at the start of use to ensure your skin can tolerate it.
After a full week of use, I could feel and see the difference in my skin texture.
Green tea benefits aren't just for drinking. The skin can benefit too. Green tea contains anti-aging antioxidants called catechins, which help protect the skin from free radicals. In addition, the anti-inflammatory ingredient is often found in formulations with actives like salicylic acid to help topical soothe the skin while your active does its job.
The Feel: Lightweight
This exfoliator is lightweight and feels like a toner.
The Results: The appearance of smaller pores without any irritation
After a full week of use, I could feel and see the difference in my skin texture. Since I only use this two to three times a week on nights when I don't use retinol, my results may take a little longer to show. I felt a little tingle on my skin the first night I applied the toner, but I woke up the next morning without any irritation or visible angry bumps. Lately, I can skip foundation and only wear concealers, which is always a sign that my skin is changing for the better. My hyperpigmentation spots are still visible, but I think "my spots," as I like to call them, will fade away with continued use.
The Value: Worth every penny
This product retails around $30. Finding an exfoliator that works without disrupting your skin barrier or causing irritation isn't always the easiest to find for those with sensitive or reactive skin types. You only need a few drops of this, and the bottle design ensures you don't go overboard. I think it's worth the price.
Similar Products: You have options
Perricone MD No:Rinse Intensive Pore Minimizing Toner ($45): Formulated with salicylic acid, copper complex, and DMAE, this toner exfoliates, plumps, and hydrates.
Glossier Solution ($24): Made with three acids: alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), beta hydroxy acid (BHA), and polyhydroxy acid (PHA), this daily liquid exfoliator is formulated to zap blemishes, reduce redness, and minimize the appearance of pores.
I'm a skeptic when it comes to products with nearly all five-star reviews. But Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant lives up to the hype and has been a visual game-changer for my skin.
- Product Name Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant
- Product Brand Paula's Choice
- Price $30
- Weight 4 oz.
- Ideal for Oily Skin, Acne-Prone Skin, Mature Skin, Sensitive Skin, Normal Skin, Combination Skin, Dry Skin
- Ingredients Water (Aqua), Methylpropanediol (hydration), Butylene Glycol (hydration), Salicylic Acid (beta hydroxy acid/exfoliant), Polysorbate 20 (stabilizer), Camellia Oleifera Leaf Extract (green tea/skin calming/antioxidant), Sodium Hydroxide (pH balancer), Tetrasodium EDTA (stabilizer)