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Skin Perfecting 8% AHA Gel Exfoliant

Get your glow on. Apply this leave-on exfoliant once or twice a day. Smooths skin, fades sun damage, and reveals younger-looking skin.
Item #: 190
  • Anti-Aging, Wrinkles
  • Dry/Very Dry , Combination Skin
  • Hydrates and stimulates collagen production

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Skin Perfecting 8% AHA Gel Exfoliant

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Customer Ratings:

87 out of 100
(Based on 188 Reviews)
Page of 8 Next »
  1. MELODY R.
    Reviewed on Thursday, January 15, 2015
    80 out of 100
    • Rating
      Good / 4
    best kept secret
    • im an african american woman in my mid 30's, my skin has started to change and i felt i needed to change my skin care. Winters dry my already dry skin out and my face had began to peel in various places. I wanted to exfoliate but not with a harsh scrub..so i turned to PC...i started using the sample to find out which strength to use...this is perfect...and after a week of use, i didnt need to use a miosturizer afterwards..my face never dried out or peeled- i have a brand new face & smooth textur

  2. Brenda S.
    Reviewed on Wednesday, January 14, 2015
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    LOVE!!!
    • Tried it ALL. What works for others, even same skin type, may not be my answer. May work for 100 others, but I may be the 1 person that it DOESN’T work for. PC 8% AHA gel should NOT work for me, but it does. My skin loves it. Don’t look for results in 1-2 weeks. At 2-3 months you may marvel. If not, try something else, return policy is great. You will find products that should have worked and don’t, and sleeper products that wow you. Thank you PC, skin never better, even when temperamental.

  3. Anonymous
    Reviewed on Monday, January 05, 2015
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Awesome product!
    • I absolutely love the 8% AHA Gel Exfoliant. I have only been using it for about 1 week now (once daily) and have noticed my skin is more radiant, smooth, and a bit more firmer than before. I cocktail this product with a Paula's Choice retinol based light moisturizer every morning. Thank you for making this product. I will use it for a long time!

  4. Joy A.
    Reviewed on Monday, January 05, 2015
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Worked for my Oily Skin
    • I am absolutely loving this product. Bought this along with the 2% BHA liquid. Sadly I've had bad luck with the latter (maybe liquid isn't for me?), but this AHA gel has found a permanent mainstay in my routine. Started using it 2 weeks ago every night and have noticed a substantial improvement in my skin. Don't know how to describe it, but I can tell my skin looks more even in color and even has a glow to it? Whatever it is, I'm in love. My skin is picky w products, but has loved this AHA!!

  5. Amanda W.
    Reviewed on Monday, January 05, 2015
    60 out of 100
    • Rating
      Neutral / 4
    Sadly this isn't for me
    • This product worked for me in the beginning but over time it left my skin horribly flaky, even if I cut down how often I used it. Luckily the customer service on this site is amazing and sent me some different samples (which didn't work either lol) for free. I'll definitely be buying sample sizes from now on before committing to something full size.

  6. Emily E.
    Reviewed on Sunday, January 04, 2015
    20 out of 100
    • Rating
      Worst / 4
    Caused my worst breakout ever
    • I'm incredibly disappointed with this product. I was SO excited to try it as I'd heard it was great for helping reduce hyper pigmentation and scars from acne. Unfortunately, after a week of using this, I was breaking out as badly as when I was a teenager. This was three months ago and my skin is still breaking out with new acne on a daily basis. (I wish I could post a picture.) I've been using a topical and antibiotics from my dermatologist to try to get things under control for about a month.

    Customer Service Response
    Replied on: Monday, January 05, 2015

    Thanks for your review! We suspect the breakouts were coincidental as there is nothing in this gel that would trigger acne, and definitely not acne that continues for months. It may be something else you're using, random hormonal shifts, or something else. Regardless, we certainly don't want you to keep a product you don't feel comfortable using, so please contact us to request a refund or we can process an exchange for you.

    —Admin
  7. Crystal E.
    Reviewed on Saturday, January 03, 2015
    60 out of 100
    • Rating
      Neutral / 4
    Too harsh for my dry sensitive skin
    • I recently tried out 3 different PC AHA and BHA exfoliants and this one was just too harsh for me. Now, I have dry sensitive skin and I've read reviews and know this isn't meant for sensitive skin so it wasn't a shock. I didn't have a terrible reaction, but I did have enough contact redness that I wouldn't put it on my face again.

    Customer Service Response
    Replied on: Monday, January 05, 2015

    Hello, and thank you for your comments - we're sorry to hear this didn't work as expected for you! Please contact a member of our Customer Care team, who can assist you with a possible exchange or refund.

    —Paula's Choice Research Team
  8. Sarah
    Reviewed on Tuesday, December 30, 2014
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Amazing even for Combo Skin!
    • I have used this product for years now and absolutely love it. I use it every night and every morning before my ultra-light antioxidant serum, and ultralight resist moisturizer. I have sensitive, acne prone, combination skin and this product is perfect for my skin even though it was designed for those with dry skin. It helps prevent breakouts, brightens my skin and leaves it feeling soft. In fact, I used this throughout my pregnancy to control breakouts since I couldn't use the BHA products.

  9. Tracy N.
    Reviewed on Tuesday, December 23, 2014
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Da bomb!
    • 44 year old with acne prone skin my whole life...BHA's never work for me, they break me out but give me some AHA's and my skin is awesome. This stuff is the best of the best! My skin glows after each use...never will be without this one!!

  10. VICTORIA D.
    Reviewed on Saturday, December 20, 2014
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    the best treatment
    • This AHA is the best I have ever tried in my whole life. Keeps my skin clear, moist and glowy. Use 3 pumps every night before my Resist Anti aging clear skin hydrator. I can tell when I skip using it my skin looks dull and dry. I can use it every night without any irritation. Highly recommended!

  11. Emily S
    Reviewed on Sunday, December 14, 2014
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Wow!
    • This has saved me! Pairing with the 2% BHA gel, 80% of my closed comedones, cysts, and dryness are gone. I use this only at night and have not had any problems with dryness since. I never had any adverse reactions like I did with Ole Henriksen's AHA resurfacer. The biggest difference I have seen besides the acne and dryness cutting down is that my red/pink acne marks on my jaw are slightly fading. Packaging and value on this are great! :)

  12. Laura V.
    Reviewed on Thursday, December 11, 2014
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Adore this!
    • After only a few uses, it's like I have a brand spanking new skin. Smells odd, but that's to be expected from acids. Leaves my face glowing. That said, I find it very strong, and can't use it more than 3x a week, even though I've had it for months now. I know some folks can handle it daily, but I'm not one of them. Would love if PC had a lactic acid option for sensitive skin.

  13. Anonymous
    Reviewed on Tuesday, October 28, 2014
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    It Just Works
    • You know how everyone says their product reduces wrinkles, blah blah and then nothing happens? This is NOT that product. I use it every night and it makes such a difference. My skin texture is improved and, best of all, the fine lines that were developing around my eyes (I'm 31) are now practically invisible. For real. It does sting just a tiny bit, but doesn't irritate/dry out my skin (unlike the Alpha Hydrox AHA I'd been using). I really think Paula makes the best facial products out there.

  14. Amber W.
    Reviewed on Monday, October 27, 2014
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Holy grail!!!!
    • If I had to choose just one skin care product to take to a deserted island with me, this is it. I love many of paula's products, but this is my absolute favorite! I've struggled with acne, acne scars and clogged pores for a long time and the 8% aha gel is the only product I've ever come across that makes my skin look smooth and glowing. It is a life saver and I will continue buy it as a long as paula's choice sells it. (Hopefully forever! ) ? ? ?

  15. Mary S.
    Reviewed on Thursday, October 23, 2014
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    My personal miracle
    • I had acne for many years until I started using this product. It's been night and day - my skin has been clear for the last few years. I hope you never stop making this. I have also been buying it for my teenagers, so they don't suffer like I did. Thank you, Paula!!!

  16. rana s.
    Reviewed on Tuesday, September 16, 2014
    40 out of 100
    • Rating
      Poor / 4
    it did nothing
    • Thank God I didn't order the full size. I tried the samples for 4 weeks and nothing. It did nothing. The first use my face was ok it seemed brighter but as the weeks continue nothing. I didn't feel any burning just sticky on my face. Discoloration didn't fade, acne marks are even redder. I followed up with sunscreen even though I stay more indoors but my skin is now duller. I'm now on the hunt to find something stronger.

  17. Stella L.
    Reviewed on Saturday, September 06, 2014
    40 out of 100
    • Rating
      Poor / 4
    dried up my skin
    • I purchased after reading positive reviews with the view to reducing fine lines on my forehead. I have dry to combination skin. I tried three times in two weeks. My face felt stingy and found breakouts every time after using it. It did not improve my skin complexion, it instead dried up my skun and increased fine lines of my forehead despite I followed by moisturizer gel. This is definitely not the skin care product for me.

    Customer Service Response
    Replied on: Monday, September 08, 2014

    Thanks for your review! We're sorry this didn't work for you. Most likely, your skin is sensitive to one or more of the ingredients in this exfoliant and you experienced what's known as an irritant contact dermatitis. This reaction can resemble acne breakouts, but is not true acne. Please contact us for a refund or exchange.

    —Admin
  18. Cynthia T.
    Reviewed on Friday, August 08, 2014
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Sensitive skin - but wasn't strong enough?
    • I had a sample of the PC 10% AHA lotion and applied to my face because of some photo damage. I was so impressed by how in just ONE use - it became lighter! So I bought this product because I read that gel-formulated products works faster. Unfortunately for me, it wasn't a high enough percentage of AHA. For me, I found that the AHA lotion and the Resist 10% AHA Weekly treatment (I use it daily) works better. I didn't take off stars because its more my skin's fault, not the product.

  19. Jennifer K.
    Reviewed on Tuesday, August 05, 2014
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Terrific Product-Consider Combining With Retinol Serum
    • This product is great! As others have said, it smooths on easily (you only need a little bit) and absorbs quickly. It doesn't leave your skin sticky or greasy either which is nice since I use a moisturizer over it. Always apply sunblock over this in the daytime! It really does increase photo-sensitivity. This REALLY works well layered under the PC retinol serum in the silver pump. I've been using that for a while and definitely noticed an improvement in skin texture when I added this AHA.

  20. Vikki
    Reviewed on Saturday, August 02, 2014
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Love this!
    • My skin always looks smooth, clear, and even in the morning after using it at night. I will definitely purchase this again.

  21. Tina A.
    Reviewed on Thursday, July 24, 2014
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Amazing!
    • I used this exfoliant on my forehead and ever-so-sensitive cheeks, and in just a few days my face was smoother than ever before. I will always repurchase this, as it's become a staple of my regimen.

  22. Krystee
    Reviewed on Tuesday, July 22, 2014
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Will not ever be without it!
    • I have only been using this for about a week and I am already in love! I have recently revamped my skincare routine with Paula's Choice products and product recommendations. I think this has by far made the biggest difference! I don't really like using scrubs on my face because I have dry skin and it always leaves it felling even drier... plus, they can be too harsh for my sensitive-ish skin. This has made my skin look so much younger and softer!

  23. Christina C.
    Reviewed on Monday, July 21, 2014
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    The absolute best!
    • This product has changed my skin! I've struggled with 13 years worth of acne and hyperpigmentation, and this product is slowly fading all of it. Breakouts are a rarity these days thanks to a combination of this product and an oral androgen blocker prescribed by my dermatologist.

  24. jasmine
    Reviewed on Friday, July 18, 2014
    60 out of 100
    • Rating
      Neutral / 4
    Reaally wanted to try out but…WHYYY the PARABENS???
    • I really wanted to try out this product,(After trying the AMAZING 10% weekly AHA treatment) however, right as I was about to order it came to my attention- parabens!. I know it is used in this formulation as a preservative, but no other AHA product nor the BHA gel includes this as the preservative. I am so very disappointed not to be able to try this likely excellent gel however I have met sufficient research linking parabens to breast cancer and finding traces of it in breast tumors. sigh..Darn

    Customer Service Response
    Replied on: Monday, July 21, 2014

    Thanks for your review! Sadly, the information about parabens and their link to breast cancer has been widely taken out of context and has actually been refuted, as we discuss in this article. Unfortunately, though, once negative information about a group of ingredients takes hold, it's hard to convince people that the ingredienrs are safe as used. For that reason, Paula's Choice has been phasing parabens out of our products, with the 8% AHA Gel scheduled to be paraben-free by next year. In the meantime, though, we want to assure you that there is NO harm is using the current formula that contains parabens. It is safe and approved for sale around the world.

    —Admin
  25. Ren Y
    Reviewed on Friday, July 18, 2014
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Does what it's supposed to
    • I have dry, non acne-prone skin. I bought this to help combat flaky skin and fade acne PIH from my teenage years. I've been using it every other day (alternate with 2% BHA) for about 2 weeks now and have visible results. My skin no longer flakes under foundation and my PIH has lightened. This product also does not irritate my skin and does not feel tacky like the 2% BHA gel does. I have encouraged my mother to try this for her dark spots and fine lines and probably be ordering another for her.

Page of 8 Next »

What makes this product unique?
Skin Perfecting 8% AHA Gel Exfoliant has a sheer, weightless texture that works to exfoliate the skin's surface and fade signs of sun damage. The ultra-light formula corrects uneven skin tone for a brighter, smoother, more radiant complexion. Substantiated research shows that AHAs improve collagen production for firmer skin and increase skin's moisture-binding ability. 8% AHA Gel works to sustain the results of professional peels and wears beautifully under a moisturizer or serum.

This product is 100% fragrance- and colorant-free with a pH range of 3.5-3.9.

Who is this product for?
8% AHA Gel is great for all skin types but those with normal to dry, sun-damaged skin will find it especially beneficial.

Sources to support the claims made for SKIN PERFECTING 8% AHA Gel EXfoliant

Seminars in Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery, September 2008, pages 170–176; Dry Skin and Moisturizers: Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, April 2005, pages 1156–1162; Cutis, August 2001, pages 135–142; Dermatologic Surgery, May 2001 pages 1–5; Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, July 2000, pages 280–284; American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, March-April 2000, pages 81–88; Chemistry and Function, edited by Marie Loden and Howard Maibach, 2000, page 237; Skin Pharmacology and Applied Skin Physiology, May-June 1999, pages 111–119; Journal of Cell Physiology, October 1999, pages 14–23; and British Journal of Dermatology, December 1996, pages 867–875.

Key Ingredients: green tea, AHA, sodium PCA, glycolic acid, sodium hyaluronate, chamomile, Aloe barbadensis

Product Ingredients:

Water, Glycolic Acid (alpha hydroxy acid/exfoliant), Sodium Hydroxide (pH adjuster), Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract (chamomile/soothing agent), Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice (water-binding agent), Camellia Oleifera (Green Tea) Leaf Extract (antioxidant), Sodium Hyaluronate (skin-identical ingredient), Panthenol (water-binding agent), Sodium PCA (skin-identical ingredient), Propylene Glycol, Butylene Glycol (slip agents/penetration enhancers), Hydroxyethylcellulose, Polyquaternium-10 (thickeners), Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylparaben, Isobutylparaben (preservatives).

DIRECTIONS: Apply once or twice daily after cleansing and toning. Apply a dime-sized amount over the entire face, avoiding direct contact with eyes and lips. 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.

Can the AHA and/or BHA products be used during pregnancy or while lactating?

Although topical exfoliants should not pose a problem for pregnant woman, we do recommend asking your doctor before using any product you are concerned about.

Can I alternate using an AHA and BHA exfoliant? Is this even necessary?

You can alternate using an AHA and BHA exfoliant if desired, but it isn't necessary. Both work to exfoliate skin, improving texture and tone. Ideally, consider an AHA if breakouts and blackheads are not a concern but visible sun damage is. Choose BHA if you're concerned with signs of aging and are struggling with breakouts, blackheads, and white bumps. If you opt to use both, choose one to apply in the morning and one to apply at night. If you're only using an exfoliant once daily, alternate use between the AHA and BHA product.

At what point after my laser and/or peel procedure can I begin using my AHA 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 an AHA exfoliant, please contact the doctor's office where you had the procedure done. Otherwise, our general advice is to wait until skin has returned to its normal texture and color. This may mean waiting a few days or, depending on the depth of the peel or laser procedure, it may mean waiting several weeks. Both peels and laser procedures can temporarily leave skin extra-sensitive, so if in doubt it's best to wait rather than rush things. Once you begin using your AHA exfoliant again, pay attention to how your skin responds and adjust frequency of use accordingly. Discontinue use if you notice signs of irritation.

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