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Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Gel Exfoliant

Break up with breakouts, clogged pores, and redness for good. This exfoliant removes old skin cells both on the skin’s surface and inside pores using 2% salicylic acid.
Item #: 204
  • Acne Breakouts, Anti-Aging, Blackheads, Enlarged Pores, Extra Sensitive Skin, Redness, Rosacea, Wrinkles
  • Combination, Oily Skin
  • Great for blackheads, acne breakouts
  • Smooths wrinkles, reveals younger looking skin

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

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Customer Ratings:

81 out of 100
(Based on 311 Reviews)
Page of 13 Next »
  1. Anonymous
    Reviewed on Saturday, October 11, 2014
    80 out of 100
    • Rating
      Good / 4
    Wouldn't go without it
    • I only began liking this product when using other PC products (a good cleanser and a BP product after). It made my skin too shiny and oily at first - when mixing with other proper products, I wouldn't go without this! I tried going without it and definitely noticed more breakouts - it's now an essential part of my skincare routine, twice a day. Let it dry after applying before putting on BP.

  2. Emily E.
    Reviewed on Saturday, September 20, 2014
    80 out of 100
    • Rating
      Good / 4
    Sticky, but does its job
    • Purchased this because I felt that I went through the liquid version too quckly, and that product was wasted on a cotton ball. The gel version is very sticky and tacky feeling. I use it at night so it's not really a problem for me. The bottle lasts a long time. The pores on my nose are smaller. I stopped use for a week and could feel the buildup on my skin.

  3. S.W.
    Reviewed on Monday, September 15, 2014
    80 out of 100
    • Rating
      Good / 4
    Texture is really not for everyone
    • I have relatively normal-sensitive skin with large pores & texture issues. The gel does what it's supposed to do, & I can use it nightly without any irritation problems. The only thing is- like others, I ended up hating the texture of the product. Originally I ordered a sample & liked it, but now with the bottle I feel like it gets stickier every time I use it. I'm going finish it up because it does work well! But I'll switch to the lotion or liquid or the Resist Daily treatment after it's gone.

  4. Sasha
    Reviewed on Sunday, September 14, 2014
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    The best BHA treatment I have tried
    • Anyone with acne should try this product. I used PC Clear Regular Strength toner with the same 2 % salicylic acid content but the effect was barely noticeable. I had a bad breakout on my chin that looked like cystic acne because it was deep under the surface and decided to use the gel sample - the next morning redness was gone and the pores actually started to clear up. I ordered the full size - three weeks after daily usage my chin is practically clear. Use the amount recommended- no issues.

  5. Chelsea E.
    Reviewed on Saturday, September 13, 2014
    40 out of 100
    • Rating
      Poor / 4
    Harsh and Ineffective on Face
    • This was one of my first products from Paula's choice, and I tried it on my face first to help with mild/moderate acne. My acne is usually small bumps scattered here and there and not a huge problem, but I often have a larger blemish or a few. Unfortunately, this product did not seem to help, and used frequently, it really dried out my skin and caused some redness, and maybe increased my small bumps. It has helped with KP on my shoulders, though, so I use it there instead of on my face.

  6. Laura
    Reviewed on Sunday, September 07, 2014
    80 out of 100
    • Rating
      Good / 4
    Almost perfect
    • I really liked this item for the most part. It helped reduce my acne and inflammation, and kept new breakouts at bay. In conjunction with the AHA gel and my prescription Adapalene, my face was nearly glowing, and uber soft. HOWEVER... It did not work well with my favorite sunscreen if I used both in the morning. I really didn't want to have to alternate with AHA at night, and wanted some chemical exfoliation during the day. Sadly, when I applied my sunscreen after this, it would peel and flake.

  7. K, Robertson
    Reviewed on Friday, September 05, 2014
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    2% BHA Gel Exfoliant
    • Skin: oily with mild acne Use: 3 months 2x a day With fingers: -tacky texture -not the easiest to apply (I felt like I had to touch my face too much) -combination of texture & amount of touching made the process feel unsanitary With cotton round--LOVED IT: -texture is not noticeable -easily smooths over face & can target areas -can look greasy after applying--not noticeable after sunscreen&makeup (same with fingers) -dramatically reduced acne &clogged pores -saw results in 2 weeks

  8. Cecilia A.
    Reviewed on Wednesday, August 27, 2014
    40 out of 100
    • Rating
      Poor / 4
    Order a sample first - could be a bit harsh for you!
    • My skin started to peel the day after using this once daily for two days! I doubt it's a normal response to BHA but at least I only had a sample! I've been using Resist 2% BHA for 3 months without incident, but I don't enjoy applying the liquid with my fingers; I believe using a cotton ball wastes the otherwise great product. I have now got a few sachets of some 1% BHA gel and lotion on order & I look forward to seeing how they go... once my skin stops peeling & has a few days rest from BHAs!

  9. J
    Reviewed on Sunday, August 24, 2014
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Love this
    • 33/oily skin/enlarged pores/discoloration/blackheads starting to get blackheads in other areas around my face which is why i gave this a shot! Never thought it'd help with the other issues stated above-but has helped more than anything else in the past 20 yrs! Blackheads on my nose are less visible, discoloration is better, smaller pores on my cheeks & has removed blackheads from around my face COMPLETELY! My skin is softer & overall has improved vastly. Can't recommend this enough!

  10. KC
    Reviewed on Friday, August 22, 2014
    60 out of 100
    • Rating
      Neutral / 4
    Not working as well for me
    • I've been using this product at night for awhile now and it hasn't really done all that much for me. It does go on a bit sticky and almost doesn't absorb into your skin. I could get past that, but it really hasn't done all that much for acne that I can tell. I think changing/washing my pillowcase more often has been more effective than using this gel. I'm male and my skin gets very oily so perhaps this product just wasn't meant for my skin type.

  11. Ranessa K.
    Reviewed on Monday, August 18, 2014
    40 out of 100
    • Rating
      Poor / 4
    Caused breakouts
    • I tried a couple of samples of this product and it seemed to not cause any irritation, but not much difference on my skin either. I figured 2 samples is not enough to see how well it works, so I proceeded to get the 3.3 fl. oz. bottle. After about 5 days of use I saw an increase in blackhead production and started to breakout:( I was using this in combination with the Resist Daily Pore Treatment 2%BHA. Stopped using the gel and continued with the Resist BHA which has cleared my skin. Whew!!

  12. Nancy E.
    Reviewed on Sunday, August 17, 2014
    80 out of 100
    • Rating
      Good / 4
    So Glad I Tried This
    • I've used BHA before in acne skincare lines but found the formulas too harsh and drying. Instead I've used my regular oily skincare cleanser, toner and gel moisturizer for decades. Thanks for offering the BHA 2% Gel samples at checkout. I've been using it for 3 days and my pores are already clearing out. My skin feels great and I've decided to add 2% BHA to my skincare routine. The gel version does leave my face shiny for a while after application so I've ordered the 2% BHA liquid.

  13. Heeyoung C.
    Reviewed on Thursday, August 14, 2014
    80 out of 100
    • Rating
      Good / 4
    Solid product, But.
    • I've always had problems around my nose: white & black heads and enlarged pores. Then, I started using 2% BHA gel as my everyday routine -once or twice as suggested. The product works great: my skin looks much clean and even-toned. "But" comes because after using this product for almost 3 years my skin got sensitive - now I often feel tingling and heated to some products that I used with no problem. I am still using it, but no more than once a day at night.

  14. Lynn D.
    Reviewed on Monday, August 11, 2014
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    In love again!
    • I had a love/hate relationship with this product. I have very oily skin - in the past, I used to break out 3 days after using this product, but not anymore. Now, I mix a very small amount of benzoil peroxide with the 2% gel and apply it to my face and neck. My skin is flawless and there's no irritation at all. I also use this product on the back of my arms...smooth skin. Needless to say, I'm back in love with this product and will purchasing another bottle. :)

  15. Felysa F.
    Reviewed on Thursday, August 07, 2014
    20 out of 100
    • Rating
      Worst / 4
    causing cystic acne for me
    • I really want to love this since I saw the results on my friends. she got it from me when she living at States, along with the Balancing Moisturizer (which I love), toner and cleanser. after a month I start to get acne. at first I think it was purging so I wait, but then after 6 months of trying my skin just getting worse and for the first time in my life I got cystic acne! after I stop using this, my acne stop! I still have one one cystic acne though but it's getting better. very traumatic

    Customer Service Response
    Replied on: Monday, August 11, 2014

    Thanks for your review! It's always difficult to respond to such indicents as theyr'e so uncommon and, from a formulary standpoint, there is truly nothign in this product capable of causing cystic acne. This type of acne is strongly based on hormones and excess oil production, with skin care treatments having little effect. We're sorry this didn't work out for you, and hope that the lingering breakout you have subsides soon.

    —Admin
  16. Elise I.
    Reviewed on Tuesday, August 05, 2014
    80 out of 100
    • Rating
      Good / 4
    Lovely nighttime product!
    • I received this as a sample in one of my orders and am really glad. I had originally used an AHA at night after reading good reviews but after doing more research realized BHA may be better for my oily acne prone skin and larger pores. This gel is very silky and goes on really smoothly but takes a bit to dry. I've had a few tiny pimples here and there since using it so it's not like it completely stopped that but overall I feel like my skin looks and feels clearer. Bought the full size!

  17. Angela
    Reviewed on Sunday, August 03, 2014
    40 out of 100
    • Rating
      Poor / 4
    Not for me
    • I have been using PC BHA's on and off for well over 5 years and decided to try the gel again instead of the liquid. Two years ago I started getting bad cystic acne along my jaw and lower cheeks. It look me a lot of trial and error to figure out it was the BHA products that were causing it. Since i've been off it, the deep cystic acne is gone, but I still break out regularly. It's very frustrating to deal with adult acne in your 40's. I might try the 4% foam once it comes back in stock.

  18. ERIN F.
    Reviewed on Saturday, July 19, 2014
    80 out of 100
    • Rating
      Good / 4
    Good for back of arms
    • Maybe not the intended use, but I like this in the warm weather for the back of my arms for keratosis pilaris. Does a great job. I use the BHA moisturizer in the winter for the same purpose. Keeps my skin smooth. Didn't like the texture too much for my face.

  19. Stan
    Reviewed on Friday, June 27, 2014
    20 out of 100
    • Rating
      Worst / 4
    Harsh product with gross texture/feel
    • After using this product for 2 days, my skin began to flake in scales all over my face. It happened in the middle of the day where I couldn't do anything about it. Embarrassing and it took a week to recover. I find the feel and texture of the product very pore clogging and like a heavy film. I've been using the resist daiy pore refining with the same bha % and loving it.

  20. LW
    Reviewed on Wednesday, June 25, 2014
    20 out of 100
    • Rating
      Worst / 4
    Not for oily skin
    • This is supposed to be for oily skin, but it leaves your skin shiny. Obviously, this is something you are trying to avoid. I wish I had tried a sample before I bought the whole bottle.

    Customer Service Response
    Replied on: Tuesday, July 01, 2014

    Hi there! We're sorry the BHA Gel wasn't a fit for you! Be sure to contact our Customer Care Team and they will be happy to assist with a refund or exchange.

    —Admin
  21. Elizabeth C.
    Reviewed on Saturday, June 21, 2014
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    I love it!
    • I have seen a HUGE difference in my skin since using a BHA! I have oily skin, pretty sensitive and VERY prone to blackheads. This didn't in any way irritate my skin (amazing!) and is the only thing that has every really worked (Very Exciting!!) I have only tried the gel formula but am interested in trying out the liquid. The gel is easy to apply but has a sticky texture that is shiny so I use it at night. I recommend buying a sample to see which texture is for you but HIGHLY recommend PC's BHA's

  22. Jessica N
    Reviewed on Friday, June 13, 2014
    20 out of 100
    • Rating
      Worst / 4
    Disappointed
    • I really wanted to like this product and had such high hopes but sadly I am left extremely disappointed. I've been using this along with the 8% AHA gel for about a month and initially both products seemed to work well for my skin. Then after a couple of weeks I started to break out badly. I was developing acne on parts of my face that I had never gotten acne ever before. I've used AHA & BHA products before no problem, but sadly these products aren't working well for me. I will be returning them.

  23. Michelle B.
    Reviewed on Sunday, June 08, 2014
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    works really well for me
    • I purchased this product several years ago and really liked it back then. Recently, I ordered several samples and was pleased to see that it still works very well. I have combination skin with rosacea & very large pores, as well as moderate fine lines developing around eyes & forehead. Consistent use of this product has decreased redness, smoothed the texture of my sometimes bumpy skin, & dramatically shrunken my pores. I've tried to order the 3.3 oz three times now, but it's never in stock.

  24. BINA G.
    Reviewed on Friday, June 06, 2014
    40 out of 100
    • Rating
      Poor / 4
    Not for me...
    • Product may work but I can't convince myself to put it on consistently. The texture is super tacky no matter how much/little I put on. When I go to put on the next PC product I feel like it can't soak into my skin and do it's job.

    Customer Service Response
    Replied on: Friday, June 06, 2014

    Thanks for your review! The texture of this BHA Gel isn't for everyone, which is one reason we offer a variety of BHA exfoliants (and samples!). Some people love the gel, some dont. Please contact us so we can help you find your ideal BHA exfoliant.

    —Admin
  25. ren y.
    Reviewed on Friday, June 06, 2014
    80 out of 100
    • Rating
      Good / 4
    Visible results overnight, but icky texture
    • I received this product in the sample size with my purchase and decided to give it a go. I have dry, sensitive skin so I only use it once a day (at night). The first night I used it I woke up with smaller pores and smoother skin. I've been using it for about 4 days now and wow, the change in my skin is dramatic. My only complaint is that this product makes my face sticky and does not seem to absorb well. It just sits on top of my face for 10 mins until I get fed up and put moisturizer over it.

    Customer Service Response
    Replied on: Friday, June 06, 2014

    Thanks for your review! We're sorry the finish of this product didn't work well for you, but know that we offer many other BHA exfoliants with 2% strengths, so we're confident you can keep getting great results with a texture/finish that you'll love just as much!

    —Admin
Page of 13 Next »

What makes this product unique?
Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Gel Exfoliant is a water-based formula that exfoliates both the skin's surface and inside the pore, reshaping the pore lining to unclog pores and improve skin cell turnover rate. This creates a dramatic improvement in the skin's appearance, feel, and function especially for blemish-prone 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 anti-bacterial properties that attack blemish-causing bacteria. The silky gel base of this exfoliant is similar to the texture of the Skin Perfecting 1% BHA Gel Exfoliant but has twice the amount of salicylic acid to combat stubborn blemishes, including blackheads and white bumps.

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 very oily skin prone to blemishes.

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 2% BHA Gel EXFOLIANT

The Journal of Investigative Dermatology, February 2006, pages 416–421; International Immunopharmacology, August 2009, pages 1,126–1,130; Contact Dermatitis, June 2006, pages 303-312; British Journal of Dermatology, July 2005, pages 124-131; Journal of Cosmetic Science, November-December 2004, pages 519-531; Archives of Internal Medicine, July 2002, pages 1531–1532; Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, volume 175, issue 1, pages 76–82; Preservatives for Cosmetics, 2006, 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: willow herb, bisabolol, BHA (beta hydroxy acid), phytosphingosine, grape seed extract, green tea, salicylic acid

Product Ingredients:

Water, Methylpropanediol, Butylene Glycol, (solvent/water-binding agent), Polysorbate 20 (emulsifier), Salicylic Acid (beta hydroxy acid/exfoliant), Phytosphingosine (cell-communicating ingredient), Hydroxyethylcellulose (gel-based thickener), Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Extract (antioxidant), Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract (antioxidant) Epilobium Angustifolium (Willow Herb) Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract (anti-irritant), Bisabolol (anti-irritant), Sodium Hydroxide (pH-adjusting agent), Tetrasodium EDTA (chelating agent).

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 2% BHA Gel Exfoliant compare to the Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant?

The main difference lies with each product's texture. The 2% BHA Liquid has a toner-like consistency. The 2% BHA Gel features a water-light base. Both products are also appropriate for all skin types.

I currently use Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Lotion Exfoliant. Should I switch to the Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Gel Exfoliant? Is it all right to use both?

It is entirely a matter of personal preference. It is completely acceptable to use more than one of our 2% BHA products, though use only one at a time. A typical regimen would be to apply the 2% BHA Gel in the morning under makeup and the 2% BHA Lotion in the evening.

I have tried Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Lotion Exfoliant and Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant and did not care for the texture. Will the Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Gel Exfoliant work for me?

Quite possibly, yes. It's worth trying because your skin may prefer the feel of a gel to a lotion or the slip of the liquid.

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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