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 160 Reviews)
« Prev Page of 7 Next »
  1. Mary Lynn
    Reviewed on Tuesday, May 21, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Great stuff
    • I wasn't sure about this. I knew I needed an exfoliant but I wasn't sure which. I decided on this one because the Resist One is really a two-step process. The 5% daily and then the 10% once week. That's too much trouble to know when to use which. This is 8% which seemed like a happy medium. This has made an amazing difference in the resiliency of my 63-year old skin. This has changed it from saggy to plumper. I know it's the AHA because it was the only recent change in my skin care regimen.

  2. Viva
    Reviewed on Saturday, May 04, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Holy grail
    • For the past couple of months I'd seemed to develop persisting cystic acne. They were huge, painful and red. I had tried numerous products in the market, everything from Neutrogena, Michael Todd to Clinique. Nothing worked, my face was a mess and my confidence took a toll. A friend of mine recommend Paulas Choice, and while I've tried a number of different products this has become my holy grail. My face has never looked better. Thank you.

  3. Maritza O
    Reviewed on Saturday, April 27, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    The best of Paula's Choice
    • I am 55 years old and have been using this product for years. It's excellent. While it doesn't diminish freckles and age spots as claimed (and may actually make you more prone to them if you don't use protection), your skin will be so soft and will GLOW! I never wear any makeup other than mascara and lipstick because I don't want to cover this youthful glow.

  4. GEORGE
    Reviewed on Sunday, April 14, 2013
    20 out of 100
    • Rating
      Worst / 4
    Breakout beware!
    • I have NO idea why, but this gel breaks me out like crazy. I get these little blackheads and small whiteheads along my cheeks where I really get acne. I thought that gels which don't have thickeners like lotions cant break people out--Im so confused and upset that this didnt work. I bought two whole bottles of this gel a while back, and just started using them since I was using BHA's for a long time and wanted to try this. It's probably past the return date by now, but I don't know what to do...

    Customer Service Response
    Replied on: Thursday, May 09, 2013
    Thank you for your review, and we're sorry this wasn't a fit for you! Be sure to contact our Customer Care Department via phone or email. They would be happy to assist with a credit or exchange.
    —Admin
  5. Sarah
    Reviewed on Monday, April 08, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Exactly what I needed
    • I have been struggling with hormonal acne for about a year and even used Ziana (prescription retinoid) for about 6 months but my skin just never cleared up and was always a scaling flaky mess. I decided to throw in the towel and got the AHA gel. Wow! Within 2 days my skin started to clear up, hyper pigmentation from previous breakouts started fading and the flakiness started disappearing. I have dry, acne-prone skin and although the BHA works a bit, its the AHA that made the difference!

  6. Sarah
    Reviewed on Friday, April 05, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Exactly what I needed
    • I have been struggling with hormonal acne for about a year and even used Ziana (prescription retinoid) for about 6 months but my skin just never cleared up and was always a scaling flaky mess. I decided to throw in the towel and got the AHA gel. Wow! Within 2 days my skin started to clear up, hyper pigmentation from previous breakouts started fading and the flakiness started disappearing. I have dry, acne-prone skin and although the BHA works a bit, its the AHA that made the difference!

  7. LINDA S.
    Reviewed on Tuesday, March 26, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    A staple in my routine!
    • I love, love the results of using this along with the BHA 2% gel! I am in my early 50s with sensitive, fair, freckled, sun damaged skin prone to some hormonal break outs. I began using this duo daily last May (but first used the BHA 2% liquid - I prefer the gel). I noticed how my skin evened and smoothed out over the next 8 weeks. In the Fall the compliments started coming! I was asked frequently what I was using on my skin to make it so smooth and soft!! I have converted many friends to this.

  8. Nathan R
    Reviewed on Monday, March 25, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    A wonderful AHA option!
    • I am a huge AHA junkie, and have used some really great AHA exfoliants! I have consistently used this exfoliant for months now, and have never experienced any redness or tingling as I have with other AHAs. I commend Paula for formulating a strong product that doesn't require one to irritate his or her skin.

  9. YOUNA L.
    Reviewed on Monday, March 25, 2013
    40 out of 100
    • Rating
      Poor / 4
    Did not work for me
    • I have very dry, sensitive skin, and in the hopes of improving my skin, I purchased two 8% AHA gels without even having tried it on. They were ones of my first Paula's products, and while I loved other products I ordered, I found 8% did not work for me at all. They left my skin stingy and red, and even more sensitive. So two bottles of 8% AHA gels are just sitting in my bathroom, rarely used. Maybe 8% is too strong for me, or I should have gone with just the regular toner for dry skin.

    Customer Service Response
    Replied on: Monday, April 08, 2013
    Thank you for your review, and we're sorry this wasn't a fit for you! While there may have a variety of reasons for your experience, there definitely isn't any reason to keep your 8% AHA Gels if they didn't work out for you! Please contact our Customer Care and they will be happy to help with an exchange, credit or refund.
    —Admin
  10. Anonymous
    Reviewed on Saturday, March 23, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Works well for me
    • Excellent product! My skin has been it's best since I included AHA/BHA into my skincare 2 years ago after reading the advice from Paula's website - mostly blemish free and even toned. Pimple scars and discoloration from sun damage have faded. I started with the RESIST line but decided to try this instead since it's 8% and water based. I much prefer the gel texture. In terms of pricing I think it's value for money, the gel lasts ages. Thanks Paula!

  11. Pamela D.
    Reviewed on Tuesday, March 19, 2013
    20 out of 100
    • Rating
      Worst / 4
    Disappointed :(
    • I am sorry to say that this product did not work for me. I have used the 5% daily and 10% weekly with success, but the 8% definitely does not agree with my skin. I have broken out pretty badly from it and I am still trying to get rid of the breakouts a week later! I will definitely be going back to the 5% as that seemed to agree with me. I mistakenly thought that more was better but not for me in this case.

  12. Anonymous
    Reviewed on Thursday, March 14, 2013
    40 out of 100
    • Rating
      Poor / 4
    weird texture and smell
    • i love the idea of the AHA/BHA products as exfoliants and think that Paula has done a lot of great reserach to support her products. however, this texture is just not easy to apply and feels like slime. more, it smells really weird too. i know she doesn't like to use fragrance, but this product could definetly use some low dose of a fresh fragrance. i wish there was a lotion for the face in this one, but i've decided to try the 10% AHA body lotion instead but haven't received it yet.

  13. Stephanie
    Reviewed on Thursday, March 07, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    AHA versus BHA
    • I have used different forms of glycolic acid for a few years always with good results. After reading Paula's book, I decided because I have acne-prone skin to switch to a BHA. Well for whatever reason, after using for several months, my skin was reacting badly to the BHA. Not sure why but my skin has always tolerated AHAs well and so I switched to this product. Absolutely NO tingling/burning/redness associated with using it. I use this in AM and Retin-A in PM and my skin looks beautifully clear!

  14. Michelle G.
    Reviewed on Monday, March 04, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Wonderful!
    • I've been using Paula's Choice BHA Gel and love it. I decided to add the AHA to my skin care routine. I am 38, combination, acne prone skin and have some cystic acne on my neck. I wasn't thinking this product might help my cystic acne breakouts but it has! I've been using this stuff for a little over a week and my breakouts on my neck are actually going away. I don't know how the Glycolic Acid helps the breakouts but its the only thing that has helped. My skin is looking better than ever.

  15. LISA M.
    Reviewed on Wednesday, February 27, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Perfection!
    • Only 2 weeks and my skin looks more refreshed and wrinkles have softened. Tone has improved too. Must have if you need an anti-aging formula!

  16. SARAH H.
    Reviewed on Saturday, February 02, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Life changing
    • I know skin care is an art and not a science, but for me this is a miracle product. I have been using it for years and love it. Occasionally I run out and go without, and I am always amazed when I return to it. Smooth, even skin. Love it.

  17. MH
    Reviewed on Tuesday, January 08, 2013
    40 out of 100
    • Rating
      Poor / 4
    The texture is nice but it didn't work for me
    • I had high expectations for this product considering the previous ratings. I really wanted this to work for me, so I used this for more than a month but unfortunately my skin broke worse than ever, especially in the T zone :( I used this product combined with other Paula's Choice products, including Skin Balancing Oil-Reducing Cleanser and Toner but it seems that this was not the right combination for me. However, I liked the feeling of the product after the application. I hope that I can find another Paula's Choice product that can help me to improve my skin, so I don't look as a teenager anymore!! Customer Care Response: Thank you for your comments. We will be sure to share your feedback with Paula and her Product Development Manager. If you would like to contact customer care we are happy to discuss your skin type and make suggestions for some alternative options, as well as arrange for samples to be sent out. If you have any questions please let us know, we are happy to help!

  18. Anonymous
    Reviewed on Sunday, December 09, 2012
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    The best product ever
    • This is the only thing that has worked for me to reduce acne scars. Please don't ever stop making it! :D

  19. S.
    Reviewed on Tuesday, November 06, 2012
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Amazing for my combination, acne prone skin!
    • I've been using the CLEAR Regular Strength BHA with much success for about eight months or so. After really enjoying the Weekly 10% AHA, I decided to try using this 8% at night, keeping the BHA in the morning. And, WOW, what a difference. While the BHA kept my skin pretty clear, it didn't help as much as I'd like with hyperpigmentation left over from old acne. This AHA not only make my skin much softer and more glowing than BHA alone, it's fading all the red on my face at a much faster rate. My skin almost looks like porcelain, compared to a red, pitted mess. I had tried the RESIST 5% a while ago, and it was too heavy for my skin, but this is just right. I think it's worth trying in rotation with BHA if you have acne and aren't getting the results you want with BHA alone.

  20. Anissa
    Reviewed on Saturday, November 03, 2012
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    8% AHA plus 2% BHA = GREAT SKIN!
    • I use this product plus the 2% bha almost every day and my skin's texture has improved dramatically, though it's leveled off now. (which I would expect since I'm 40+ lol) My 13 year old daughter also uses the 2% BHA daily and, when I can get her to do it, this product as well. Her hormone-riddled skin looks best when she uses both products, one in the am, one at night. The only down side to this AHA product is that it's a gel and she hates the stickiness of it, which she claims she feels no matter how small of an amount she uses. I tend to agree with her. Love the product --but would prefer it in the liquid form. I really encourage people to buy both AHA and BHA since they exfoliate at different levels. Customer Care Response: Thank you for your review. While for some, using both an AHA and BHA may work well, we do not recommend this for everyone as most people really only need one or the other. You can always contact customer care for recommendations and with questions to determine what type of exfoliant will work best for your skin type. We are happy to help!

  21. Carrie
    Reviewed on Thursday, November 01, 2012
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Works on Pores
    • Bought the new Resist BHA 9 and after using it for a few weeks hoping to minimize pores, gave up and found this 8% gel from ages ago. Tried it on enlarged pores, and found it works better than any BHA product, CLEAR product, et cetera, that I have been using for years (all Paula's products). What's up? Thought BHA worked on enlarged pores? This producted produced results far superior to any other! Customer Care Response: Thank you for your feedback. BHA Exfoliants are a better option for helping to unclog pores and reduce blackheads because they penetrate the pores as well as exfoliate on the surface level. AHA's exfoliate only on the surface of the skin and help to smooth out dry skin, and reduce sun damage. For some AHA's may work better than BHA's. It is possible that you needed that extra surface exfoliation. While no product can shrink your pores, BHA's help your pores to behave more healthy, and to return to their normal healthy state over time. If you would like to contact customer care, we are happy to discuss your routine and make further suggestions.

  22. Matthew
    Reviewed on Tuesday, October 23, 2012
    60 out of 100
    • Rating
      Neutral / 4
    Redrum!
    • I have tried both of paula's choice exfoliants; this AHA 8% and the BHA 2% and know for sure that BHA is better for my skin than AHA. There is nothing wrong with this product but my skin just can't tolerate AHA. It's murder on it;turns it red and irritated after using it twice. BHA is somehow better and seems to calm my skin rather than flare it red. I would suggest to anyone trying AHA for the first time to get a sample of both AHA & a sample of BHA to see what your skin tells you works best.

  23. Shawndra
    Reviewed on Monday, October 01, 2012
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    My skin feels so nice...
    • This product has drastically improved my skin. I used to scrub my face mercilessly until I found this product - now it does all the exfoliation for me and is WAY better for my skin. I love it and highly recommend it. I use it at night because for me makeup does not apply well over the top of it. One of my favorites in my Paula's Choice arsenal!

  24. Lena
    Reviewed on Thursday, September 27, 2012
    80 out of 100
    • Rating
      Good / 4
    Great but less is not more...
    • The product itself is great and although my skin type needs a BHA, using this AHA once a day has really improved my skin. It's more smooth and soft after adding this to my routine. However, my complaint is that with the new packaging they are selling a smaller amount of product for the same price!!! Customer Care Response: Thank you for your review! We are happy to hear this product has worked well for you. The change to more functional, attractive packaging, plus sturdier more stable dent free plastic and rising manufacturing costs resulted in a slight reduction in fill weight. We understand you may be disappointed with this change; however, please know that the Paula's Choice exfoliants remain some of the most affordable, well formulated options the cosmetics industry has to offer. Feel free to compare your options at www.beautypedia.com As you may know our BHA and AHA exfoliants are particularly unique; no other cosmetics line offers as many options in this category-all formulated to provide the impressive results you have experienced. We will certainly note your feedback and pass it along to Paula. Please contact customer care with any questions, we are happy to help!

  25. D. H.
    Reviewed on Tuesday, September 25, 2012
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Wonderful
    • I really am impressed Paula's AHA here. This one goes on silky and absorbs very well. I will definitely be buying this one again. Deb

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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 3.5-3.8.

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 Skin-Care 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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