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Skin Perfecting 1% BHA Lotion Exfoliant

Breakouts, we’re through. This super-light, matte finish BHA lotion unclogs and shrinks too-big pores, dissolves blackheads.
Item #: 200
  • Acne Breakouts, Anti-Aging, Blackheads, Eczema, Enlarged Pores, Extra Sensitive Skin, Redness, Rosacea, Wrinkles
  • For All Skin Types
  • Calms redness, builds collagen
  • Contains quickly absorbed 1% salicylic acid

Please Note: Do not use if you are allergic to aspirin or its derivatives.

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Customer Ratings:

77 out of 100
(Based on 179 Reviews)
Page of 8 Next »
  1. Phyo Htet H.
    Reviewed on Tuesday, November 04, 2014
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    good for sensitive skin
    • My skin was flaking when I used the 2% bha gel and didn't see the good effect of bha at all. A PC rep. suggested to switch to this 1% lotion because it releases the bha slower and milder. I tried it only for about 5 days now and the bumps on my chin is almost gone! I avoid the part where I flake but I'm seeing good smoother skin with this. On my cheeks there were a lot of small acne that haven't surfaced yet, after I used this, some has gone away and some surfaced. I'm very glad with the result.

  2. Avery W.
    Reviewed on Monday, October 27, 2014
    60 out of 100
    • Rating
      Neutral / 4
    Unpleasant smell but otherwise nice
    • In testing a sample, I noticed a fresh clean burst of smell followed by a longer lasting much more unpleasant odor like mildew. It dissipated within ten seconds so longer lasting is relative but relevant. I see it's being reformulated so this problem will likely not recur but I'm moving on to my samples of 2% lotion.

  3. MARIA
    Reviewed on Thursday, September 25, 2014
    40 out of 100
    • Rating
      Poor / 4
    What happened?
    • I have used this product for years and loved it. It has given me fantastic results in terms of decreasing redness and diminishing my pores/blackheads. I recently started a new container and the smell is unbearable. I see other comments that it smells like cucumber. Mine definitely does not smell like cucumber (I wish!). I am very disappointed as this product has worked so well for me for so long.

    Customer Service Response
    Replied on: Wednesday, October 29, 2014

    Hi there! Thank you for sharing your experience, and we're sorry this wasn't a fit for you.  We are happy to share that we are hard at work developing a reformulation that will be due out mid-2015 (BHA is so tricky to formulate with, but we want to be sure the new version is loved by all). 

    —Admin
  4. Christina E.
    Reviewed on Sunday, September 21, 2014
    80 out of 100
    • Rating
      Good / 4
    Smelly but effective
    • Used the 2% lotion for a while, but found it too strong and drying for my skin. This 1% lotion is a perfect fit for me! It is both gentle and effective. Five days a week, I use AHA, one day a week, I use this, and one day a week, I give my skin a break from exfoliation. It does smell weird, like moldy or musty cucumbers. However, the smell isn't as important as the fact that this works well. Plus, the smell goes away quickly.

  5. Sam
    Reviewed on Thursday, September 11, 2014
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Absolutely in love, cucumber fragrance is powerful but I don't mind
    • Paula's choice was kind enough to send me the 1% lotion samples without me even asking and I'm in love. I was hesitant about using such a low concentration but it really really penetrates and works, I was pleasantly surprised. Yes the scent is powerful but it's kind of exciting to use for that reason and smells loads better than the 2% lotion which is greasy and hard to blend.

  6. Lindsey B.
    Reviewed on Thursday, August 28, 2014
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Gentle
    • I love this lotion. It's fluid, light and sinks right in. I really do not understand all of the excitement I read in prior reviews about the smell. It smells mildly like cucumbers! I don't find it offensive at all. It's much more gentle than the 2% BHA lotion, which was way too strong for me. I have developed very sensitive skin and eyes and anything remotely harsh is miserable for me. My sensitivities are how I ended up finding out about Paula. This brand has been a true life saver.

  7. Anonymous
    Reviewed on Monday, August 18, 2014
    20 out of 100
    • Rating
      Worst / 4
    Please bring back original formula!!
    • This 1 % lotion was my staple in the original formula and I have been trying for years now to find a replacement. This smells disgusting to me and many others....and I happen to adore cucumbers! I have tried your other 1 % options and I just don't like the textures. I have gone to other lines but still wish for that wonderful, original formula.

    Customer Service Response
    Replied on: Wednesday, August 20, 2014

    Thanks for your review! We're sorry, but the original formula for 1% BHA Lotion cannot be brought back due to various formulary issues. We are working on making further refinements to the current version so it will be more universally pleasing.

    —Admin
  8. theyhaveways
    Reviewed on Friday, August 15, 2014
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Surprisingly Pleasant
    • I originally purchased this in the Hydralight Set. I was originally using 2% BHA gel day and night. I was afraid, because I have oily/combo skin, I assumed that the lotion would be too heavy and bring too much moisture. But I discovered that it dries down very nicely, and has a pleasant feel and oat-like smell to it. It didn't "over moisturize" my skin like I thought it would. I now use this as my day time exfoliant, and use the 2% BHA gel at night. It has become a staple in my morning routine.

  9. Liz
    Reviewed on Thursday, July 24, 2014
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Love this stuff!
    • I used this product a long time ago when Paula Choice first came about. It was discontinued and I was so disappointed. Then I saw that they added it back again so I immediately ordered. I have once a month hormonal breakouts on my chin but since using this I haven't had any. I use this with my Retin-A and it's fabulous. I like the 1% because the 2% is too strong for me and causes me to peel. Please don't stop making this!

  10. Wendy
    Reviewed on Thursday, July 24, 2014
    20 out of 100
    • Rating
      Worst / 4
    Hoping for Formula Change
    • I'm still hoping this product is changed to resemble the previous formulation which didn't contain the smelly cucumber extract and also didn't burn my Rosacea-prone skin. I had to switch to the 1% gel which balls up and isn't ideal for dryness. I very much preferred the gentle 1% lotion that I had used for years before it was reformulated.

  11. Anonymous
    Reviewed on Monday, July 21, 2014
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Love It!
    • I love this BHA lotion. It has been very effective for me. It helps reduce redness and is very gentle. As for the smell that some are complaining about, I don't find that it smells bad at all. I hope this formulation is never changed because of that reason. If you don't like the smell, try one of Paula's other BHAs. That's why there's different formulas. I don't think you could go wrong with any of them. I love Paula's products.

  12. Trace
    Reviewed on Friday, July 11, 2014
    20 out of 100
    • Rating
      Worst / 4
    Not for me and Stinky
    • I ordered a sample of this and hoped it would work for me after trying the Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant and it being over drying. It states that this product is 100% fragrance free but the sample I got was stinky. I could barely stand it and couldn't use it again. I don't know if it was bad or that's just how it smells. I love that you can order samples to see if a product is something you will like or not. I use several other PC products and I am very happy with them.

  13. Zee
    Reviewed on Monday, July 07, 2014
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    I like!
    • I was put off my the smell at first, but I don't even notice it now. It reminded me of cucumbers and medicine. I have combination-dry skin and this works like a charm. Light, yet moisturizing. Fast-drying. And my skin genuinely feels firmer and smoother. Thanks, Paula!

  14. Sara M.
    Reviewed on Wednesday, July 02, 2014
    40 out of 100
    • Rating
      Poor / 4
    Trying Again!
    • Eek! I tried this lotion for the first time two days ago and broke out in a sunburn like. My forehead is itchy and sore and my cheeks are bright red and tender. I'm going to let it calm down and try it again as I combined this with another PC product that were both new to me, so I'll try both again separately, but from what I've read, this is probably the main culprit. I'm sure this is my skin issue and not her products, just my personal experience! Really want to make this one work!

    Customer Service Response
    Replied on: Wednesday, July 02, 2014

    Hi Sara! We're sorry to learn of your experience, and it sounds like your skin cannot tolerate the use of the 1% BHA in combination with your current routine (it may be the use of another potent PC or other skincare product). However, we can help with a refund or exchange. Please contact our Customer Care Team and they will help (as well as lend tips on what alternatives may be possible for you)!

    —Admin
  15. Beth B.
    Reviewed on Thursday, June 12, 2014
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Perfect exfoliant!
    • A friend recommend Paula's Choice products and I'm a total convert! I needed a daily exfoliant to battle some skin build-up around my nose and under my chin. I've seen some of the reviewers mention wanting to go stronger next time. If you're looking for a daily exfoliant then I think this is a great go-to option. It's not harsh at all but gets the job done. I use it everyday with the Moisture Boost Essential Hydrating Toner and I have had great results - my skin feels brighter & looks healthier.

  16. Tabitha H.
    Reviewed on Tuesday, June 10, 2014
    80 out of 100
    • Rating
      Good / 4
    Like, but will go stronger next time
    • I started using this 6 months ago along with some products from the Skin Balancing system. Overall, my skin has improved dramatically. This exfoliator has helped fade splotchy marks from past acne, as well as prevent new outbreaks by unclogging pores. I chose the 1% remembering how badly I reacted to acne products in the past, but I had no adverse reaction. Now I know my skin can handle it, I'll try the 2% next, for what I hope will be even better results.

  17. RV
    Reviewed on Wednesday, May 28, 2014
    40 out of 100
    • Rating
      Poor / 4
    So close...then breakout city
    • The sample I received of this worked great and so I bought the full size product, but after using it for a few weeks, I got tons of hard little inflamed clogged pores all around my nose and mouth. Will be tossing this and trying something else.

  18. Mark G.
    Reviewed on Tuesday, May 06, 2014
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    light, gentle, & not greasy
    • I love this 1% BHA lotion. It leaves my skin matte but not dry, it makes my skin look clearer, it seems to reduce the size of my pores, and I have fewer pimples. I have very sensitive skin and I have no problem using this stuff at night. It seems to get rid of my redness and blotchiness, too.

  19. Ann M.
    Reviewed on Monday, April 28, 2014
    80 out of 100
    • Rating
      Good / 4
    Very Good
    • One pump's worth dotted all over my face and then I connected the dots and blended it into my skin. It absorbed quickly. Yes, it does have a bit of an odd odor to it. I applied my other products and asked my husband to smell my face. He said, "it's fine". (This was after having slathered it over my forearm the night before, and letting him smell that right away to teach him the scent I wanted him to smell for later). Also, later in the day, my face still smelled "fine"/nothing unusual.

  20. ASHLEY M.
    Reviewed on Friday, April 11, 2014
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Great for sensitive combo skin!
    • My highest recommendation on this product! I have crazy sensitive skin with rosacea, so have never found an exfoliator that wouldn't irritate it. This one has made a huge difference for me! I can even use it every night with no problems, and my skin is more hydrated and calm than ever. It has also helped balance the extreme combination of very oily & very dry areas of my face. I'm skincare obsessed, have tried SO many products, and always come back to PC products; they're just the best.

  21. Kelly
    Reviewed on Wednesday, March 12, 2014
    60 out of 100
    • Rating
      Neutral / 4
    Interesting....
    • Ordered both the Skin Balancing and Hydralight sample kits. I personally find the 2% BHA to be more effective for my combo skin. The 1% BHA has Cetyl Alcohol, which tends to clog my pores. Also, the 1% BHA smells! Didn't find that the other products in the Hydralight line smelled.

  22. Anonymous
    Reviewed on Wednesday, March 05, 2014
    60 out of 100
    • Rating
      Neutral / 4
    Okay, but clogs my pores
    • I bought this six months ago as a replacement for Neutrogena's discontinued BHA, but it's not as effective. I'm still getting closed comedones and some pimples. I tried a sample of the CLEAR exfoliant and it seemed to work better for my skin.

  23. Shirley A.
    Reviewed on Friday, February 28, 2014
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Magical in combination with retinoid
    • I have combination skin, and this was too strong for me to use twice daily. I currently use it every other night together with Tazorac cream, and the results are amazing. I started this routine after reading Paula's comments on the use of retinoids and exfoliants together. When I combine them, I always wake up with clear, refreshed skin.

  24. Anonymous
    Reviewed on Tuesday, February 25, 2014
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    love
    • This makes my skin so smooth and soft. It hydrates my oily skin without being greasy or heavy. I haven't used it long term but I will be buying the full sized product because so far I love the results!

  25. Samantha P.
    Reviewed on Friday, February 07, 2014
    80 out of 100
    • Rating
      Good / 4
    Love at first try
    • I heard about this product from a youtuber who swears by it. I have combo acne prone skin and I bought this and the first night I tried it my skin felt so soft and was glowing in the morning! ! I've been using this product for a month now and I truly see a difference in skin texture, theres less blackheads and acne. This product is the best and not too drying but some peeling will happen. Love this and will repurchase! !! ?

Page of 8 Next »

What makes this product unique?
Skin Perfecting 1% BHA Lotion Exfoliant has a lightweight lotion texture that works to reveal smooth, clear skin by exfoliating both the skin's surface and inside the pore. Because BHA helps reshape the pore lining, it unclogs pores and exfoliates the built up layers on the outside of skin while improving cell turnover rate. The result is healthier, smoother skin. This creates a dramatic improvement in the skin's appearance, feel, and function, especially if blemishes are a concern. There is a great deal of research indicating that BHA (beta hydroxy acid) increases collagen production and drastically smooths the surface of skin. Additionally, BHA has anti-bacterial properties that attack blemish-causing bacteria. This elegant formula is non-occlusive, contains no waxy, heavy ingredients and absorbs easily, setting to a soft matte finish.

This product is 100% fragrance- and colorant-free with a pH range of 3.2-3.8. Every Paula's Choice BHA product is formulated with additional soothing agents.

Who is this product for?
All skin types may use this product, but the texture is especially suited for those with normal to dry skin.

NOTE: Those allergic to aspirin (acetylsalicylate) should not use products containing salicylic acid (beta hydroxy acid).

Sources to support the claims made for SKIN PERFECTING 1% BHA Lotion Exfoliant

Biochemistry and Pharmacology, June 2007, pages 1,786-1,795; The Journal of Investigative Dermatology, February 2006, pages 416–421; Archives of Internal Medicine, July 2002, pages 1531–1532; Annals of Dermatology and Venereology, January 2002, pages 137–142; Archives of Dermatology, November 2000, pages 1390–1395; Preservatives for Cosmetics, 1996, by David Steinberg, Allured Publishing, pages 39-40; Pain, January 1996, pages 71–82; and Seminars in Dermatology, December 1990, pages 305–308.

Key Ingredients: caprylic/capric triglyceride, Avena sativa, salicylic acid, allantoin, glycerin, BHA (beta hydroxy acid)

Product Ingredients:

Water, Cetyl Alcohol (thickener/emollient), Butylene Glycol (water-binding agent), PPG-14 Butyl Ether (thickener), Salicylic Acid (beta hydroxy acid/exfoliant), Allantoin, Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Extract (anti-irritants), Alteromonas Ferment Extract (water-binding agent), Dimethicone, Dimethiconol (silicone slip agents), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (skin-repairing ingredient/emollient), Glycerin (skin-repairing ingredient), Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract (antioxidant), PEG-40 Stearate, Sorbitan Stearate (thickeners), PVM/MA Decadiene Crosspolymer (film-forming agent), Neopentyl Glycol Diheptanoate (skin-conditioning agent), Polyacrylate-13 (film-forming agent), Polyisobutene (thickener), Polysorbate 20 (emulsifier), Sodium Hydroxide (pH adjuster), Benzoic Acid, Dehydroacetic Acid, Phenoxyethanol (preservatives).

DIRECTIONS: Apply once or twice daily after cleansing and toning. Apply a dime-sized amount over the entire face, including the eyes (avoid the lower lash line and eyelids). Do not rinse. For daytime, follow with a broad-spectrum sunscreen rated SPF 25 or greater.

Detailed instructions on how/when to apply your Paula's Choice products can be found in our How to Put Together Your Own Skincare Routine article.

What's the difference between AHA and BHA exfoliants? Do I need both?

When properly formulated, both AHAs and BHA are brilliant options for exfoliating the surface of skin. Both AHA and BHA work to reduce wrinkles, stimulate collagen, and firm skin but each has its special qualities you'll want to consider when deciding which one to use:

  • AHAs are preferred for sun-damaged and dry skin because they exfoliate on the surface of skin and have the added benefit of also improving moisture content. 
  •  BHA is preferred for oily, acne-prone skin and for treating blackheads and white bumps because BHA can get through the oil that's clogging your pores, normalizing the lining of the misshapen pore that contributes to acne.
  • BHA has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial action. Those are two more reasons to use a BHA exfoliant if you have acne or sensitive, reddened skin.
  • BHA is preferred for those struggling with rosacea. Not everyone with rosacea can tolerate an exfoliant, but it is wise to experiment with a BHA product to see how your rosacea responds.

If your skin is sun-damaged and you're also struggling with acne or clogged pores, add a BHA product to your routine.

If you'd like to use an AHA and BHA at the same time, that is an option, though not really necessary. Some people find they work well when they're applied at the same time, but if you want to give this a try it is best to apply them separately, one during the day and one in the evening.

How do I use an AHA or BHA exfoliant?

  • You can apply an AHA or BHA product once or twice a day.
  • You can also apply either of these around the eye area but not on the eyelid or directly under the eye.
  • Apply the AHA or BHA product after your face is cleansed and after your toner has dried.
  • Once the AHA or BHA has been absorbed, you can apply any other product in your routine, such as moisturizer, serum, eye cream, sunscreen, and/or foundation.
  • If you're using a topical prescription product such as Renova, other retinoids, or any of the topical prescription products for rosacea, apply the BHA or AHA first.

Your AHA (glycolic acid) products have a higher percentage than your BHA (salicylic acid) products. Does this mean AHA is a stronger exfoliant?

AHA products are most effective at a 5% to 10% concentration and BHA at 1% to 2% concentration. Think about it like making bread, the amount of yeast you need is tiny in comparison to the amount of flour you use but equally important to get the results you want. The percentage of effectiveness varies depending on the ingredient. Rest assured that the BHA products are not any less effective due to lower concentrations of the exfoliant.

What strength of BHA should I use? Will a higher concentration provide better and faster results?

Which BHA strength you opt to use should be based on your skin type and the stubbornness (or severity) of your acne, white bumps, or blackheads. The 1% BHA strength is a great starting point to see how using a pH-correct BHA can improve the skin's condition. The 2% concentrations can be something you step up to if and when the need arises or if your skin isn't responding well enough to the 1% concentration.

At what point after my laser and/or peel procedure can I begin using my BHA exfoliant again?

First, we urge you to follow the post-procedure instructions your doctor or nurse provided. If nothing was mentioned about when to resume use of a BHA exfoliant, please contact the doctor's office where you had the procedure done. Otherwise, our general advice is to begin using your BHA again as soon as possible. Or, if your skin seems extra-sensitive, you may want to wait and apply the BHA exfoliant a few days post-procedure. Salicylic acid is an excellent anti-inflammatory ingredient that can enhance skin's natural healing process as it works to reduce post-procedure redness.

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