Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant – Review – Used On Combination, Acne Prone Skin.

I’ve seen this product raved about by skincare fanatics and acne pages alike all over my Instagram feed. Since this product first came onto my radar last year I’ve only really seen one non-plussed review which naturally made me incredibly excited to try it. I thought this would be “the one” for me when it comes to chemical exfoliants. I’ve previously used the REN Ready Steady Glow toner which really helped me with pore congestion. I liked it, but decided to try the Pixi Glow as it was more budget friendly and this did nothing for me apart from sensitise my skin. Through my basic skincare powers of deduction I concluded the REN product had worked better for my congested pores because it contained a BHA as well as AHA which led me to the Paula’s Choice purchase. I bought this, along with 4 other products, as part of Feel Unique’s Beauty Kit which cost me a total of £16.90 including shipping and came with a £3.95 voucher to use on their website.

First Impressions

It has quite a strong smell which reminds me of a diluted nail varnish remover scent. It was also thicker, not like water, and far oilier in texture than I expected.

Product Claims (As Per the Paula’s Choice Website)

  • fast absorbing liquid which fights blackheads and removes dead skin cells
  • for breakouts, redness, blackheads and enlarged pores
  • reveals smoother, clearer more radiant skin

My Experience Using Paula’s Choice BHA

2 weeks before starting this product I opened my first oil cleanser – I chose one by Simple. Within 2 weeks of using the BHA and 4 weeks of the oil cleanser I began breaking out in areas I normally have clear skin. My only real “problem” area is my chin and jawline but at this time I had several pimples across my forehead and cheeks which is pretty unheard of. I stopped using the oil cleanser and continued with the BHA at the advice of Paula’s Choice. I was grateful that they responded to my Instagram message within a day and advised me to keep going to 4 weeks of use.

It’s weird this breakout happened because the oil cleanser I thoroughly washed off and followed up with Cerave’s Cream To Foam Hydrating cleanser so it wasn’t left on my skin long. I’m no stranger to salicylic acid, the active ingredient in the BHA, so although I was aware of purging from products thought it strange I was breaking out. I’ve previously used cleansers, toners and spot treatments with salicylic acid in over the last 6+ years with no purging incidents. I’m still not able to pin point which product caused this reaction but luckily it did stop after I gave up oil cleansing and hit end of week 3 of the PC. I’m certain a product was the cause as my lifestyle habits remained the same throughout this period.

I had such high hopes for this BHA. I’d even previously seen some skincare accounts on Instagram claim they’d seen overnight results from just one use of this – as far as I recall they weren’t sponsored posts or ADs. I’m now wondering how on earth they saw these apparent results as 4.5 weeks in I was still waiting on mine.

I applied this as instructed by breaking it in gradually. At first I used it twice a week and by week 3 I progressed to every other day as I hadn’t experienced any dryness or sensitivity from using this product. 4 weeks in, asides from the slightly alarming mystery breakout which was by this point on it’s way out, I noticed no difference in my skin at all. The enlarged dark pores around my nose and across the tops of my cheeks looked exactly the same as usual. There was also no improvement to the uneven texture of my skin which I’m most aware of across my chin. At this point I was exceedingly glad I hadn’t forked out £10 for the mini 30ml bottle or even worse £28 for the 118ml full size.

By week 6 when using clay masks I noticed the pores on the area across my nose and upper cheeks looked less significant. Without the clay masks in some lights I thought there was a minor improvement and in others I thought I was imagining things. By week 7 I can comfortably say there were improvements to my congested pores without any sensitisation which is great. There were no improvements to the overall texture of my skin by the end of my 8 week trial period. At best guess the 30ml bottle is half full or slightly less at this point. At week 6 I reintroduced the oil cleanser using it 3 times a week as I hate products going to waste, 2 weeks later I hadn’t experienced any mystery breakouts – make of that what you will!

Likes: it can easily be applied using 1 or 2 drops on clean fingers to save using cotton pads, didn’t dry my skin out when breaking in gently, didn’t sensitise my skin when used every other day, 2 months in it improved the look of my congested pores.

Dislikes: slower than expected to see results, slightly oily texture – I prefer more watery liquids personally, price – it is rather expensive. This also didn’t address my breakouts any more effectively than The Ordinary’s Niacinamide serum which costs £5 per 30ml so is far cheaper.

Rebuy? Certainly not immediately, I wouldn’t rule out trying another of these minis at a similar price to what I paid for this one in the future. At the moment I can’t wait to get back to the REN Ready Steady Glow. From memory this product addressed pore congestion for me in a shorter time frame, it is less expensive and REN have better eco credentials than most beauty companies which I like. I didn’t hate this Paula’s Choice product at all, I know it’s a cult favourite for so many but it just left me a little underwhelmed. It did eventually deliver the results I wanted when it came to clearing pore congestion but I’m not crazy about the oily texture of it or the RRP of £28 for 118ml. REN has an RRP of £15 for 100ml which is almost half the price and I seem to recall this making my skin look more radiant.

Once I’ve switched back to the REN Ready Steady Glow for a decent length of time I’ll provide a comparison post of the 2!

Comments Welcome

2 thoughts on “Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant – Review – Used On Combination, Acne Prone Skin.

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