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Skin Perfecting 1% BHA Gel Exfoliant

Breakouts, you’re not welcome here anymore. This water-based BHA gel absorbs quickly into skin, unclogging and shrinking pores, dissolving blackheads.
Item #: 202
  • Acne Breakouts, Anti-Aging, Blackheads, Enlarged Pores, Extra Sensitive Skin, Redness, Rosacea, Wrinkles
  • Combination, Oily Skin
  • Reduces redness, evens out skin tone

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

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Customer Ratings:

82 out of 100
(Based on 91 Reviews)
« Prev Page of 4 Next »
  1. Sarah
    Reviewed on Wednesday, August 15, 2012
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Amazing results!
    • I tried this 1% gel in a sample, then got side-tracked with vacations and forgot which product made my skin so smooth! When I found the samples again in my drawer, I was excited to pinpoint the miracle-worker. I haven't been able to get a handle on my mild acne since before puberty, and now this in combination with the Skin Balancing cleanser, toner & lotions has kept my blemishes at bay. Thank you!

  2. Michelle
    Reviewed on Friday, August 10, 2012
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Great product.....
    • When I first sampled BHA products, I was given samples of the Lotion. I prefer gels, but was won over because the lotion was very mattifying. It also absorbed very well on my back, which is where I had a few breakouts. I tried the gel on my face, and it did absorb better, but was also mattifying. It just sits on my back, but fortunately most of my back is covered, so I don't have to worry too much. The lotion is great for the summer, when bathing suits are worn and skin is exposed.

  3. Tradene
    Reviewed on Wednesday, August 08, 2012
    40 out of 100
    • Rating
      Poor / 4
    Prefer the 8% AHA
    • I absolutely love all the Paula's Choice products, they have completely changed my skin. However, this product just didn't work for me, it made me break out quite abit. I will definitely stick to the 8% AHA gel that I had been using. Customer Care Response: Thank you for your comments. We will be sure to share your feedback with Paula and her Product Development Manager. They do take customer feedback seriously. In the meantime we will issue you an in-house credit for this product. Please contact customer care with any questions or concerns. We are always happy to help!

  4. Lisa
    Reviewed on Tuesday, July 31, 2012
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Using it for years
    • I've been using this product for years and it keeps my skin smoother, more even and helps control the breakouts. One thing is I only use it at night and only 2-3 times a week. My skin can't seem to handle it every day. I find this works best for me so have just stuck with it.

  5. nicole
    Reviewed on Tuesday, June 19, 2012
    40 out of 100
    • Rating
      Poor / 4
    not worth the price
    • I have a very oily T-zone and large pores. This product did nothing about either. The best thing I can say about this product is that at least it did not make my skin worse. Although, sometimes I felt like I'd be even oilier than normal if I put this on in the morning. I do like the texture, though. But a nice feeling lotion that does nothing is not worth $20. Customer Care Response: Thank you for your review. We are sorry to hear of your experience with this product. While this response is not typical, we do understand that each customer is uniquely different in how they will respond to products or ingredients. This along with everyday environmental factors can sometimes play a part in how someone will ultimately respond to a product or combination of products. For that reason, we have located your account information and applied an in house credit for the product which may be used on a future phone order. We will send samples of the liquid 2% BHA to see how it works for you and our Shine Stopper Instant Matte Finish for surface oil control. Please contact customer care with any questions.

  6. Emilie
    Reviewed on Saturday, June 16, 2012
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Amazing product! Nothing else has worked!
    • I started using Paula's Choice several months ago after doing a search on the internet for a solution to my acne/poor skin problems. I would get large blemishes randomly across my face, and blackheads across my T zone and cheeks. My skin was also rough, dry, and spotty while being extremely sensitive. I've tried various prescriptions from the Doctor, all kinds of over the counter products, and even went Vegan at one point in my life hoping to eliminate inflammatory foods (felt great but no clear skin)! I now use Paula's cleanser, toner, BHA product every day (this one-lowest strength so it doesn't bother my skin), AHA once a week at night (Resist line-doesn't bother my skin doing it once a week but I started 2x a month at first just in case), the lotion, and the clay mask (the last two I've sampled and loved so buying more tonight!). My skin is now smooth, my blackheads are gone (or so tiny as to be nonexistent), I get one small zit every great once in a while (hormones I suspect), my skin is no longer dry, and my color is awesome! I know this sounds outrageous, but I swear by these products now. I never thought I'd find something that would work without being too harsh on my skin. These really went beyond my expectations. THANK YOU!

  7. Silvia
    Reviewed on Wednesday, June 13, 2012
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Excellent!
    • This is a great exfoliant! It has really helped me with blackheads without causing any irritation even when used twice a day every day. The size of my pores is still the same, but I know there is little that can be done about that, and at least now they look clean which in itself makes them less noticeable.

  8. Alefiya
    Reviewed on Tuesday, June 12, 2012
    60 out of 100
    • Rating
      Neutral / 4
    Burst my bubble :(
    • I do notice some exfoliation occuring with this product, but the claims that this makes just aren't coming true for me. It is helping somewhat with keeping my acne in check (I upgraded to the 2% BHA gel in hopes that that will work better for me), but after more than two months of regular use, I am seeing no difference in the pore size on my face, and my pores are really big, especially on my nose! I am so disappointed, this was my last hope for seeing my pores reduce in size and having better looking skin... it also dries out my skin after a week or so and I feel a burn so that I have to skip a day of treatment, let my skin heal and then I go back to using it again because it does make my skin feel somewhat soft when I use it. I use this in conjuction with the skin balancing toner, and that's been disappointing too... Customer Care Response: Thank you for your review. We are sorry to hear you have not noticed better results. The amount of time it will take to see improvement really can vary from person to person and ultimately depends on the extent of the condition or concern they are trying to address as well has how they are using the products. Some consumers will notice results promptly while others will notice results over the course of a few weeks or months. Ultimately, we would love for you to continue use the products to see how they will work for you but in the meantime will credit you for the products and encourage you to contact customer care so that we may discuss your skin type and how the products were being used.

  9. Nadia D.
    Reviewed on Sunday, June 03, 2012
    60 out of 100
    • Rating
      Neutral / 4
    Not my favorite
    • THis is the only PC product I haven't fallen in love with. I REALLY wanted to like it, but it made my cheeks red and irritated, and I even got a bit of a rash. I don't want to rate it poorly though, cause I feel like maybe it is just an individual reaction, since so many people liked it. That said, it does seem like there are a few people who had a similar response to me, so maybe the texture is irritating to some people? What's strange is that the higher concentration-the 2% liquid-doesn't irritate me at all, so I'm not sure why this didn't work for me...

  10. Nadia D.
    Reviewed on Wednesday, May 30, 2012
    60 out of 100
    • Rating
      Neutral / 4
    Not my favorite
    • I love all of PC products-they are all I use. I love and use the Skin Balancing line, the Resist line, and the Hydralight moisture lotion. This is the only PC product that just didn't work for me. For some reason, it made my skin red and blotchy, and worsened the rosacea around my eyes (which I got randomly last year due to extreme stress). I couldn't finish it, which was unfortunate. The reason why I am not going to give this product a really low rating though is because I really think this was a response unique to me. I'm probably sensitive to one of the ingredients, and it's more of a 'fluke' thing than reflective of the formulation, which seems to work for a lot of people. Customer Care Response: Thank you for your review. It is hard to know exactly which ingredient, combination of ingredients, or outside factors contributed to your skin responding negatively to this product. It can be difficult to identify which ingredient in any formula, even a well-formulated one, which could be causing redness. Based on what you have described, it would be best to discontinue use. We will credit you for the product, if you would like to discuss other options for an exfoliant please contact customer care and we are happy to assist you!

  11. Bazli
    Reviewed on Tuesday, April 24, 2012
    60 out of 100
    • Rating
      Neutral / 4
    Good to try
    • I had high hopes for this BHA product for my blackhead, but so far my blackheads are still there. I Perhaps I need to try the 2% next time. Other than that, it smelled like glue for a while but then I guess I got used to it. However whenever any part of my skin felt itchy, I used this and it relieves the itch.

  12. Happy
    Reviewed on Sunday, April 22, 2012
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Happy
    • I am very happy with the results this product did for my skin. When I first started using this along with Purpose cleanser, I would apply the BHA after washing and wait 10 minutes and apply my acne.org benzoxyl peroxide 2.5% and then wait 10 minutes and apply cetaphil moisturizer. My skin texture improved dramatically, but then i found out that this may have been to harsh as my skin went flaky again, so then I decided to be brave and just apply the BHA in the morning and the BP at night. And it is a perfect fit! My skin has never looked and felt better. I am no longer suffering from dry flaky skin bc of the BP, and makeup goes on beautifully with this. And my skin feels balanced and not oily after a long day. And my skin continues to remain clear :)

  13. Dana
    Reviewed on Monday, April 16, 2012
    20 out of 100
    • Rating
      Worst / 4
    Disappointed
    • I got this BHA gel in November of 2011 and used it up until last month. There was never a change in the size of my pores or the smoothness and redness of my skin. After a couple months of using it, it even made my skin feel sticky when I put it on. I am very disappointed. Customer Care Response: Thank you for taking the time to review this product. We are sorry to hear the product did not produce more favorable results for you personally. We understand that each person will respond differently to products and ingredients. Regarding your purchase with us, we will be sure to credit your account for the purchase price of the product. We do encourage you to try the 2% strength and the Skin Balancing Pore Reducing Toner to see how they work for you. Please contact customer care with any questions, we are happy to help.

  14. Christina
    Reviewed on Friday, March 30, 2012
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    I like it
    • My mom recommended Paula's Choice products after hearing about it from her dermatologist. When I started using the 1% BHA, I was a little skeptical (and worried after some of the negative reviews). I think sometimes we are hoping some kind of a miracle, and mass media advertising promotes those kind of ideas. While I haven't awoken looking like Angelina Jolie or anything, I am quite happy with this product. My skin is noticeably clearer and smoother, and while I used to experience occassionaly breakouts, I have had none. It was a subtle and gradual change for the better. I will for sure buy this product again!

  15. Anna-Marie
    Reviewed on Thursday, March 29, 2012
    20 out of 100
    • Rating
      Worst / 4
    Wanted to like...
    • I wanted to like this and thought I would love (have used the 1% lotion with success), but unfortunately experienced a reaction on my chin/cheek, like a rash. A little annoyed as initially tried to order samples of this online, but was going to be charged 2.00 for shipping several sample packets which seemed excessive (later learned that the system should not have done this).So went ahead and placed an order for full size which now have to go through hassle and expense to return. On a positive note, I ordered the Hydralight Moisturizer which is fabulous and actually felt very soothing on my rash. Customer Care Response: Thank you for your review. We are sorry to hear of your experience with this product. While the response you have indicated is not typical, we do understand that each customer is uniquely different in how they will respond to products or ingredients. This along with everyday environmental factors can sometimes play a part in how someone will ultimately respond to a product or combination of products. We will credit you for the product and are happy to hear the other products you have tried work better for you! Please contact customer care with any questions or concern.

  16. Janice
    Reviewed on Friday, March 09, 2012
    40 out of 100
    • Rating
      Poor / 4
    Didn't work for me
    • I don't know what it was about this product, but it didn't work for me at all! Combined with the skin balancing toner, it only made me break out like crazy on my forehead! Took weeks to clear! I'm not a fan of the smell of this gel either. Customer Care Response: Thank you for your review. We are sorry to hear of your experience with this product. While the response you have indicated is not typical, we do understand that each customer is uniquely different in how they will respond to products or ingredients. This along with everyday environmental factors can sometimes play a part in how someone will ultimately respond to a product or combination of products. We will credit you for the product. Please contact customer care with any questions.

  17. Jenn
    Reviewed on Friday, March 02, 2012
    60 out of 100
    • Rating
      Neutral / 4
    Great range, but I might need a change
    • I love PC products, they definitely cleared up the problem skin I had always experienced. I have been using the 1% BHA for about 2 years now and I thought it was doing the trick because from the outside the skin looked pretty clear, however I recently has a facial and the esthetician seemed to suggest that I wasn't even using an exfoliator and the days following the treatment by chin broke out with dozens of spots...perhaps my skin became immune to the product? I will try the 2% and see if it clears up those beneath the surface bumps. Customer Care Response: Thank you for your review. Skin does not become immune to products. You will notice a more noticeable difference in the skin when you first start using well formulated products such as a BHA but the skin will still continue to be exfoliated with ongoing use. It also depends on what was applied to your skin right before the breakout in order to narrow down the cause. We may discuss your options more if you would like to contact customer care. Feel free to contact us at any time.

  18. amy
    Reviewed on Monday, January 09, 2012
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    good stuff
    • Is this new packaging?I've been using this product from paula's choice for over 2 years..it's been consistently great at keeping my skin as normal as it can be. Customer Care Response: Thank you for your review. Yes, this is new packaging but the formula remains the same. Please contact customer care via email, live chat, or over the phone with any questions, we are happy to help!

  19. Silviya
    Reviewed on Monday, December 26, 2011
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    1% BHA GEL Exfoliant
    • Please, never stop making this. This was my first time to try 1% Beta Hydroxy Acid Gel, recomended from a friend. I absolutely love this product. I have been using it for 2 months now and I can notice huge difference in my skin. The texture appears nicer and best of all I am not having any breakouts at all. Question to customer care: do you think I should try the 2% gel, or since I am happy with this one to stick to it for now?

  20. Carolyn
    Reviewed on Thursday, December 15, 2011
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Sebaceous Hyperplasia
    • As an add-on to my last comment, I use the BHA1% after toning, but I let the toner dry thorougly and then wait about 2 mins before using this product. I also let the 1% BHA product dry thoroughly after applying only with my clean fingers. I wait for it to dry thouroughly plus an extra 2 mins before using the serum. I don't have any negative interaction this way-- no tingling or irritation of any sort. My skin is sensitive in the winter, especially when the weather turns dry and cold and the indoor heating kicks in everywhere I go.

  21. Carolyn
    Reviewed on Thursday, December 15, 2011
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Sebaceous Hyperplasia
    • After using 3 sample packs, I noticed the bumps that were diagnosed as Sebaceous Hyperplasia have diminshed to a great extent. No longer can I feel a raised bump above the surface of my skin.Some bumps have disappeared completely.My dermatologist stated that many women opt for laser or chemical peels but he did not recommend them in my case. I thought it was hopeless until I tried the samples. Of course I bought the full size bottle to keep them in check and prevent any further breakouts that I was told plague women who are going through menopause. I wonder what his response would be about using 1% BHA and PC?

  22. Anjanette
    Reviewed on Monday, November 28, 2011
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Smooth skin
    • I love this product - when I use it consistently twice a day with benzoyl peroxide, my skin gets an amazingly smooth, soft, and silky texture, and I am virtually acne-free. I used to use Neutrogena's 2% salicylic acid product, but for some reason it didn't work as well as the Paula's Choice 1% product. I highly recommend this - it isn't irritating but it is so effective.

  23. annika
    Reviewed on Sunday, June 26, 2011
    80 out of 100
    • Rating
      Good / 4
    Awesome!
    • I love this product, I use the gel instead of the liquid because you need cotton pads for the liquid and it gets used up so quickly. Although the bottle size was small for the price. You only need a little bit to smooth over the entire face but I always use a bit too much, because it coms out so easily. All in all, an awesome product.

  24. Barbara
    Reviewed on Thursday, June 16, 2011
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Finally Uncongested
    • Exfoliating 1% BHA Gel is the first product to actually loosen and empty the clogged pores I've battled my whole life. It's utterly amazing to use it before bed and then, when I'm doing my A.M. skin care regime, WOW! The clogs (blackheads)are actually loose and bits of them are hanging out! Makes them easier to remove and remain clear.Thanks, Paula.

  25. Siobhan
    Reviewed on Sunday, June 05, 2011
    60 out of 100
    • Rating
      Neutral / 4
    tacky
    • I got the gel as part of the skin balancing pack and I found it gentle and effective. However I found the texture of the product tacky, and I had to wait a little while after applying my toner before using this gel as otherwise the gel would slightly lather/foam. I did not find this effective with my mild blackheads and have had greater success with the 2% liquid.

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What makes this product unique?
Skin Perfecting 1% BHA Gel Exfoliant exfoliates both the skin's surface and inside the pore, reshaping the pore lining to unclog pores and improving skin cell turnover rate. This creates a dramatic improvement in the skin's appearance, feel, and function and overall leads to healthier skin. 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 antibacterial properties that attack blemish-causing bacteria. The silky gel consistency is a great option for oily to very oily skin and also provides light hydration.

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

Who is this product for?
1% BHA Gel works well on all skin types, but the texture is especially suited for those with normal to very oily 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 Gel EXFOLIANT

International Immunopharmacology, August 2009, pages 1,126–1,130; Chemical Research in Toxicology, January 2008, pages 53–69; Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, June 2007, pages 124-135; The Journal of Investigative Dermatology, February 2006, pages 416–421;Journal of Cosmetic Science, November-December 2004, pages 519-531; 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; Dermatology, 1999, volume 199, number 1, pages 50–53; and Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, volume 175, issue 1, pages 76–82.

Key Ingredients: green tea, willow herb, salicylic acid, BHA (beta hydroxy acid), bisabolol

Product Ingredients:

Water, Methylpropanediol (slip agent/water-binding agent), Xanthan Gum (thickener), Salicylic Acid (beta hydroxy acid/exfoliant), Polysorbate-20 (emulsifier), PEG-12 Dimethicone (silicone thickener), Butylene Glycol (slip agent), Camellia Oleifera (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, (anti-irritant/antioxidant), Epilobium Angustifolium (Willow Herb) Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract (anti-irritant), Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract (antioxidant), Portulaca Oleracea Extract (antioxidant), Tetrasodium EDTA (stabilizing agent), Bisabolol (anti-irritant), Chlorphenesin (preservative), Sodium Benzoate (stabilizer), Sodium Hydroxide.

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.

How does Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 1% BHA Gel Exfoliant compare to the Skin Perfecting 1% BHA Lotion Exfoliant?

The main difference lies with each product's texture. The 1% BHA Lotion has a light lotion base with a touch of moisture. Our 1% BHA Gel has a water-light base that also has hydration benefits. Those with oily to very oily skin may prefer the gel's texture.

Is Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 1% BHA Gel Exfoliant stronger than the Skin Perfecting 1% BHA Lotion Exfoliant?

From a percentage of active ingredient standpoint, no. However, because the 1% BHA Gel has a glycol base, it is better able to penetrate the skin, which may produce faster (but not necessarily better) results.

I tried Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 1% BHA Lotion Exfoliant and did not care for the texture, and Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant was too strong for my skin. Will the Skin Perfecting 1% BHA Gel work for me?

Quite possibly, yes. If you're looking for a BHA exfoliant whose texture is lighter than our 1% BHA Lotion but not as strong as our 2% BHA Liquid, the 1% BHA Gel should be an ideal "happy medium" for your skin.

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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