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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 294 Reviews)
« Prev Page of 12 Next »
  1. Cheryl
    Reviewed on Sunday, August 18, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    AMAZING!!
    • This gel is absolutely amazing! This has been my key to clear, soft, glowing skin. I have combo/sensitive skin that can get dry in the winter, and I was worried this would make it worse, but I was delighted to discover that it never makes my skin feel tight or itchy. After I apply, my skin looks and feels beautiful. I will keep using this product as long as PC keeps making it. Side note to Paula's Choice: please never stop making it!

  2. RACHEL
    Reviewed on Monday, August 12, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Amazing
    • After fighting with acne since age 12, I started using this daily a few years ago and haven't had a breakout since. I had literally tried everything--prescriptions, oil cleansing, masks, BP, etc, and this is what did the trick. It is incredible.

  3. Denise C.
    Reviewed on Monday, July 29, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Smooth skin
    • There's nothing like this product out there. This gave me baby smooth, and I mean SMOOTH skin in just the first use. I also waited a while to see if I would react negatively to this exfoliant as I have sensitive reactive skin if in contact with irritating products, but this caused NONE of that horrible peeling, reddening, or painful tender skin after using an exfoliant. After 5 months of consistent use my skin just keeps getting better and better; I didn't think it would be possible so thank you

  4. Angelika Y.
    Reviewed on Friday, July 26, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    This is the real stuff!!!!
    • Never tried a skin care product that works amazingly like this, At Home!!!!! Who ever done BHA peels at clinics knows how the it feels like, skin becomes glowey but not greasy, much less oil produced during the day.. and Smooth!!!!!! Very smooth from one single use!!!! for $20 !!!! And you can use it every day to get amazing results.. not like the clinic where you have to pay $120 for a single session and same result.. This works sooo much better because over time you accumulate the results!!!!!

  5. Sharon L.
    Reviewed on Monday, July 22, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    helps control oil
    • I have sensitive, combination skin with a very oily t-zone (forehead and nose). In summer especially my face used to get so, so disgustingly oily. But since I started using this product my summer oil production has noticeably decreased. (FYI: my routine is CeraVe normal/oily cleanser, Paula's 2% BHA gel, Paula's Hydralight moisturizer, Paula's RESIST BHA 9 Treatment on the t-zone at night, and Laura Mercier's Secret Finish Mattifying before makeup.)

  6. Kristin M.
    Reviewed on Friday, July 12, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Tears of Joy
    • I am a 40+ adult who has been suffering from giant acne cysts. I was a frequent visitor to my dermatologist for cortisone shots. They had me buy a ton of expensive products and undergo expensive procedures as well as wanting me to take medication(which I declined) . None of it worked. I waited to write this review because I was sure these products would fail me too. I thought there was something wrong with me. Well I began using paulas choice products and finally, clear radiant skin!!!! Thanks

  7. Kiah K
    Reviewed on Thursday, July 11, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Best so far
    • This may be the best Paula exfoliant for combination skin that is blemish prone but in a dry climate. I imagine it would be a little sticky in more humid climates but I live in a mountain desert so this works. 1% lotion was nice but not strong enough; 2% lotion was much thicker than 1% for some reason and hard to spread--I would only consider using it in winter if ever. The 2% BHA body exfolient is the ideal lotion texture so they should make them more similar!

  8. Amy H.
    Reviewed on Thursday, July 11, 2013
    40 out of 100
    • Rating
      Poor / 4
    Unpleasant Texture
    • I purchased this for traveling, as I've found the CLEAR liquid has a tendency to leak during travel. I thought the gel would give me an alternative that wouldn't leak. Unfortunately, I really dislike the texture of this product when it dries on my skin. It remains sticky after drying and leaves an unattractive shine on my skin, which is impossible to deal with for daytime use. I was disappointed, rather being able to use twice a day as anticipated, I could only use at night.

  9. Anonymous
    Reviewed on Sunday, July 07, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Effective
    • I am mid-20s with normal skin. The gel texture suits my skin type well. I get some hormonal acne and some little acne bumps and millas on my cheeks. My chin and cheeks also like to get flaky. Immediately after using this product, I saw improvements in all of the above. This product even has the power to stop some acne that is just forming in its tracks. I also used it on my back, and it eliminated my mild acne. I still have some small blackheads around my nose, but I'm not too concerned.

  10. Claire H
    Reviewed on Tuesday, July 02, 2013
    20 out of 100
    • Rating
      Worst / 4
    did nothing
    • I had really high hopes for this product but after 4 Months of daily use, I still have clogges pores :( Hope it does more for other people. wont be repurchasing.

  11. SARAH B.
    Reviewed on Monday, July 01, 2013
    20 out of 100
    • Rating
      Worst / 4
    Sticky
    • I wish this had a better texture/feel. It goes on sticky and even after it dries completely it still feels tacky and looks shiny. No way could I use this during the day -- only at night. I LOVE the liquid CLEAR version but wish I liked the gel since with the liquid I suspect I am just washing away my toner. Would be nice to use Paula's Balancing toner and then a BHA gel but I cannot deal with the consistency/feel of this one.

  12. Monica S.
    Reviewed on Sunday, June 23, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    PORES ARE GONE - ALREADY!!
    • As I've aged, I've noticed not only do I have them, my pores have gotten large - I've had to use pore "fillers" prior to using any foundation as make up and primer alone just accentuated the ugliness. It smells (sorry, it does), it stings initially (for me anyway) but IT WORKS! My husband, who would NEVER even fathom skin care (only for women) now has me placing orders for him. He is noticing my skin changing, and so quickly, that he wants it too. I have dry/fair skin so not just for oily skin!

  13. Ginger
    Reviewed on Tuesday, June 18, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    goodbye poison ivy!
    • I have used this for years for acne and blackheads.... but then a really bad case of poison ivy struck and I realized that any area I had used the BHA on was almost clear of blisters. It helps when all the usual remedies have proven worthless in years past. I have very sensitive skin and this product is great to have on hand for occasional use. Otherwise, I use the 1% and save this for my arch-enemy, poison ivy! I seem to catch it from my dog's coat no matter how careful I am.

  14. SUSAN M.
    Reviewed on Tuesday, June 11, 2013
    20 out of 100
    • Rating
      Worst / 4
    Sticky
    • I got this recently & am pretty turned off by the consistency. It goes on sticky & makes your face feel tight until it dries. I'm surprised. Also I can't tell that it's doing anything. Great if it works for you, but be aware of the texture.

  15. Emily P.
    Reviewed on Tuesday, June 11, 2013
    40 out of 100
    • Rating
      Poor / 4
    2% BHA Gel
    • I bought this because I thought it would help to clear up my blackheads that other products didn't get rid of and it came highly recommended. When I got it I had an issue with the shine. I started using less and letting it set. I've been using it with the Skin Balancing Pore-Reducing Toner. Unfortunately, this product has not made any change in my blackheads, but it does reduce breakouts, which is a huge plus. I am thinking of trying the liquid version and hopefully it will work better for me.

  16. L.
    Reviewed on Friday, May 31, 2013
    40 out of 100
    • Rating
      Poor / 4
    Wish I bought the liquid instead
    • I tried some samples of the BHA Liquid and loved it but I thought a gel texture would be easier to apply so I purchased this. This doesn't seem to be as effective as the liquid and I have had breakouts on my cheeks...wish I would have just purchased the 2% liquid instead!

  17. Amy S.
    Reviewed on Sunday, May 26, 2013
    60 out of 100
    • Rating
      Neutral / 4
    Wish it worked
    • I have been a Long time user of all Paula's products. I really wanted this to work for me but I don't see any difference. I've also developed 2 cysts (not sure I'd they are related to this) which I never get. I may consider trying the bha lotion instead.

  18. Mary P.
    Reviewed on Sunday, April 28, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Unexpected use
    • I'm not even sure if they will be able to post this but I just wanted Paula to know that this has been a life saver for me when I have a fever blister. It works beautifully on my very oily skin I figured let me see what happens if I dab it on my fever blister. It calms the redness and swelling and knocks it out in fewer days than prescription creams have ever done. To me this is truly a multi use product. My skin is flawless now that I have you in my life! Thank you so much!

  19. POPPY C.
    Reviewed on Friday, April 26, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Wonderful skin saver
    • I have acne-prone skin, even in my 30's, but thanks to this product combined with a few other Paula's Choice products I rarely have skin problems anymore. And if I do, they don't last long. I think this product is the #1 defense against pimples and blackheads, but also a great healer if those things do pop up (ha!). I tried the lotion but like the gel much better as it absorbs into my skin quicker. Great stuff.

  20. cheryl z.
    Reviewed on Wednesday, April 24, 2013
    40 out of 100
    • Rating
      Poor / 4
    Doing Nothing for me
    • I've been using this and this alone for the past 3 months and I don't see any improvement in my skin. Still red and my pores are the same. The stubborn acne is still there as is discoloration. I really wanted this to work for so many reasons, one being it seemed clean and pure. Will use up on my neck.

  21. Courtney Y.
    Reviewed on Thursday, April 18, 2013
    60 out of 100
    • Rating
      Neutral / 4
    Just OK
    • I have oily/combo skin with occasional breakouts. It's helped to reduce the visible blackheads on my nose but does not seem to have a large effect on the rest of my face. After a month of daily use, I think it may be preventing minor whiteheads as I see less than usual, but it has not stopped them completely and I still get acne. I like the texture but my face feels shiny and greasy afterward. Might try the liquid version. Maybe BH9 would be better for me?

  22. Kristen P.
    Reviewed on Friday, April 05, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid (This is my life saver!)
    • I really never had breakouts as a teen but, starting around 27 or so I starting getting acne! I started trying so many different products even proscription products and nothing worked! Some time before my 30th birthday I started trying the " Skin Perfecting BHA 2% Liquid" and it cleared my skin! Along with the "Skin Perfecting 1% Lotion" and CLEAR pore Cleanser, I have been so happy with this Company!

  23. QUEENIE
    Reviewed on Wednesday, March 27, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    THE BEST STUFF
    • This is probably one of the best products EVER! I have followed Paula's books for years to educate myself on what is out there. She provides remarkable info. I will admit that initially I had a problem with the launch of her own line. Just thought it was too self promoting. However, she does the research and has the knowledge from all these other lines to make superior products. I HAVE NEVER SEEN SUCH AN UNBELIEVABLE IMPROVEMENT IN MY SKIN WITH JUST THIS ONE PRODUCT! HAPPY, HAPPY!

  24. LINDA S.
    Reviewed on Tuesday, March 26, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Love!
    • I use this along with 8% AHA gel. I am in my early 50s with sensitive, fair, freckled skin prone to hormonal breakouts. I have use this duo daily since last May and seen my skin become more smooth and radiant. I get compliments from complete strangers. Give it some time of daily use (I use one in the morning and the other in the evening, for me it doesn't matter which one, just that I use both in the same day). These have helped give me the best skin of my last 15 years. Be patient.

  25. LINDA S.
    Reviewed on Tuesday, March 26, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Love!
    • I use this along with 8% AHA gel. I am in my early 50s with sensitive, fair, freckled skin prone to hormonal breakouts. I have use this duo daily since last May and seen my skin become more smooth and radiant. I get compliments from complete strangers. Give it some time of daily use (I use one in the morning and the other in the evening, for me it doesn't matter which one, just that I use both in the same day). These have helped give me the best skin of my last 15 years. Be patient.

« Prev Page of 12 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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