Thursday, 16 May 2013

Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Salicylic Acid Review and Pictures

Finally, the last of my Paula's Choice product reviews! Previously I reviewed Paula's Choice Extra Care Non-Greasy Sunscreen SPF 45 here and it didn't fare so well. Today I'm going to be reviewing Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Salicylic Acid.

Before I share my experiences about the product, here's some information about salicylic acid, also known as Beta-Hydroxy Acid (BHA). BHA is a liquid exfoliant that sloughs off dead skin cells, opens up clogged pores, neutralises bacteria and helps with oil control. It enables other skincare products to be more easily absorbed into the skin, thus increasing their efficacy.

This Paula's Choice product contains 2% BHA, which is usually suitable for normal skin that is of the oily/combination type. Those with sensitive skin should try using 1% BHA first, to avoid overly irritating the skin. As BHA is drying and increases sun sensitivity, it should only be used in small concentrations and quantities with sun protection. There's another Paula's Choice BHA Liquid Salicylic Acid that comes with an 8% concentration; I'm staying away from that even though I received a sample, as I think it would be too strong for my skin.

As advertised on the front of the bottle, this product
  • Creates radiant, even-toned skin
  • Reduces redness & builds collagen
  • Unclogs & diminishes enlarged pores 

Put simply, it is a liquid exfoliant that can be used after the toner step of your daily skincare routine (cleanse, tone, moisturise and sunscreen!). I don't have pictures of the liquid itself as it's just a clear, slightly viscous liquid. Here are the directions on the back, along with the ingredients:

Ingredients: Water, Methlpropanediol, Butylene Glycol, Salicylic Acid, Camellia Oleifera (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Polysorbate 20, Sodium Hydroxide, Tetrasodiium EDTA.

The ingredients on this list seem to be skin-friendly, and include green tea, an anti-oxidant that protects skin cells from free radical damage, reduces inflammation and builds collagen. The key ingredient, salicylic acid/BHA, exfoliates the skin effectively without the risk of physical abrasion, unlike skincare products with exfoliating microbeads. Physical scrubs only exfoliate the outer layer of the skin and are unable to remove the build-up of dead skin cells within the pores that cause blackheads, whiteheads, pimples and dull skin.

In the past I used a physical scrub (Naruko Tea Tree Oil Out Acne Clay Cleanser) on my face every day. To be fair, it was a rather gentle exfoliating cleanser, but I was not using it right as it's for oily/combination skin and my skin is now dry/combination. That's something I only found out recently when I went for a facial treatment at Glomax Aesthetics, and I'm so glad that I did.

After I realised my mistake, I stopped using physical exfoliants and products for oily skin, and started using this salicylic acid/BHA product. I started out using it only once in a few days as I wanted to test for skin irritation. For me, the ideal frequency of use would be about once in 2-4 days. I don't think I would use it every day as salicylic acid/BHA causes the skin to be extremely sensitive to the sun. This explains why you need to put on sunscreen with at least SPF 15 after using products that contain salicylic acid/BHA. In fact, I take every precaution not to expose my skin to the sun after using products with salicylic acid/BHA, and only use them at night when there's no chance of sun exposure.

I use this product in my current skincare routine that includes the Hitachi HadaCRiE Cool, which I reviewed recently. First, I cleanse my make up/sunscreen with make up remover. Next, I wash my face with a gentle facial cleanser for dry/combination skin (I use the Naruko Rose and Snow Fungus line now). Then I use the Hitachi HadaCRiE Cool's cleansing function. After that, I use Paula's Choice 2% BHA, following the directions to apply a small amount to my face with a cotton pad. I continue my routine with the moisturising and cooling functions of the HadaCRiE Cool, and finally by applying serum, moisturiser and sunscreen (in the day). I sound like a nag, but sunscreen is very important especially if you've used BHA in your daytime skincare routine. As BHA increases sun sensitivity, your skin is at a higher risk of being damaged and those who're darker skinned may experience hyperpigmentation if they use BHA without sun protection.

After 3 months of use, I'd say that I quite like this product. It does not irritate my skin, and does live up to its promises of smoother, more radiant skin and smaller pores. I wish I had great skin now, but my skin's going through a rough patch (hurhur) due to hormonal fluctuations. That means pimples here and there, with patches of clogged pores and redness. Sigh. If you aren't affected by factors such as hormonal fluctuations or other conditions, this product would definitely show even better results. Test it out on your skin first before using it frequently - use it once a week first, then once in a few days according to your skin's condition.

The only gripe with this product I have is the price - S$38 for 120ml of product. Once again, like the sunscreen I mentioned at beginning, I find the price point to be a little on the high side. Given that there are not many good BHA liquid exfoliants, there's not much of a choice though. Also, since it's not used frequently and in a great amount, it will last for a while. The shelf life of this product is a year, so that's long enough for you to finish using it even if you use it only once or twice a week.

If you can't see yourself paying S$38 for this, you can make your own salicylic acid toner too. Just google for the recipe; there are many articles detailing the process, and many people prefer to make their own toner as they can control the concentration of acid and the other ingredients that go into it. As for me, I'd probably finish using this product before considering making my own! If I'm too lazy, I'd probably just re-purchase this product as it will last me a good 6-12 months anyway.

If you're interested in finding out more about salicylic acid/BHA, check out this great post that explains what it does for the skin and how it does this. The Paula's Choice website also gives a good summary of the functions of salicylic acid/BHA and the difference between BHA and AHA (Alpha-Hydroxy Acid), both of which are liquid exfoliants. Thanks for reading, and I hope this post has been helpful for those looking for a good BHA/more information on BHA!

Let's Break It Down

Product name: Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Salicylic Acid
Product type: Liquid exfoliant (BHA)
Amount of product: 120ml / 4 fl. oz.
Price per product: S$38
Comments: Exfoliates gently and well, unclogs pores, requires sun protection to be used, slightly pricey (that's why it's not a 5/5)
To buy or not to buy: It's a yes! Based on reviews I've seen about this product, most people seem very happy with it. It's not easy to find a better liquid exfoliant on the market, unless you're keen on making your own salicylic acid toner.

Product Approved 4.5/5

Disclaimer: I received this product for review. My opinions are completely honest and solely my own. No compensation was received for this review.

Rachel loves sharing about the beautiful things in life from different perspectives. She writes on beauty and lifestyle in Cherchez Beauté , and does more abstract stuff on Antelune . When she's not writing, she's playing with her dog Holly, doodling and reading fiction. You can follow her on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram .