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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 336 Reviews)
Page of 14 Next »
  1. Crystal L
    Reviewed on Tuesday, May 12, 2015
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    New Outlook
    • Not many products make me want to take my personal time to write a review, but this one did. After using it for 4-6 weeks it completely changed my outlook on skin care. With continued use, it resolved my cystic acne and other breakouts. I'm actually willing to leave the house without makeup! As other reviews note, it can be a bit sticky especially in a humid climate mid-summer but i think it's well worth the trade.

  2. BRANDY P. S.
    Reviewed on Monday, May 11, 2015
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Miracle Worker!
    • I have melasma, so I tried a prescription my derm gave me to get that under control. Needless to say I broke out horribly and I still have melasma. Rediscovered this product in my vanity and I am so thankful I did. Within days the breakouts were under control and the redness was gone! I have used the liquid in the past, but certainly like the texture of this much better. Try it, you won't be sorry!

  3. Anonymous
    Reviewed on Thursday, May 07, 2015
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Love this!
    • I love this product! I have combination skin and have always struggled with my pores. I first tried the 2% BHA liquid exfoliant and saw no difference in my skin. The gel made a difference immediately. Although it is a bit tacky at first, I find that the stickiness fades after about 20 minutes and once I follow up with my spf moisturizer.

  4. Denis O.
    Reviewed on Sunday, May 03, 2015
    20 out of 100
    • Rating
      Worst / 4
    Too greasy - shining on the face
    • I am 32 yo male with oily skin. Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Gel Exfoliant make my face greasy and shiny. I am moving back to Skin Perfecting 1% BHA Lotion Exfoliant - that's really super-light, matte finish - what I need.

    Customer Service Response
    Replied on: Monday, May 04, 2015

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

    —Paula's Choice Research Team
  5. Denise
    Reviewed on Wednesday, April 29, 2015
    60 out of 100
    • Rating
      Neutral / 4
    Works but doesn't absorb well
    • I'm 53 and it's depressing to see my pores getting larger by the year. Fortunately, there is no question this product does help shrink pores. I used it faithfully every day and after about 2 or 3 weeks, I could see it working. My issue is the very strange texture. It's a gel, which I wouldn't mind, but it never really sinks in. It just sits on top of the skin and makes it very shiny. I find that I have to now use lots of face powder to cover up the shine. Wish I had bought the liquid.

    Customer Service Response
    Replied on: Wednesday, April 29, 2015

    Hello, and thanks for sharing your experience with! Definitely contact our Customer Care team - they can help you with an exchange.

    —Paula's Choice Research Team
  6. Daniel C.
    Reviewed on Monday, April 27, 2015
    80 out of 100
    • Rating
      Good / 4
    Not too sticky
    • From reading the reviews I worried that the gel would be very sicky/tacky . However the gel is only slightly tackier than the 8% AHA gel. I do not find the consistency off putting and it absorbs into my skin completely in just a bit more time than the lotion did. If you are happy with the AHA gel consistency, you'll likely be happy with the BHA's. Overall I'm very happy with purchase, Ill give it some time and see how my skin compares to when I was using the lotion.

  7. Anonymous
    Reviewed on Wednesday, April 22, 2015
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    ``Miracle Worker``
    • This stuff is awesome. It has the best texture---you barely need anything to cover your entire face and neck (way better than the Pore-Refining Treatment BHA in which you get less product and spend a good amount of it on a cotton ball or pad). The thing that really took me aback about this product is the fact that it totally smoothed out the uneven skin above my eyelid---it is the only product that has been able to do that. Wow!

  8. Tracy C.
    Reviewed on Wednesday, April 08, 2015
    40 out of 100
    • Rating
      Poor / 4
    Sticky!
    • This product is a gel in name only. It is more of a viscous liquid and feels almost oily when applied to my skin. As other reviewers have mentioned, it is very sticky, and doesn't absorb into the skin even after a significant amount of time. This is okay for me because I'm using it on my back before I go to bed, but I would never put it on my face in the morning. I don't have any complaints about its efficacy, but I would skip this one in favor of the liquid if you possibly can.

  9. Joanne R.
    Reviewed on Friday, April 03, 2015
    80 out of 100
    • Rating
      Good / 4
    Skin looks better but skin feels tacky after apply gel
    • My skin looks better after using this product. One thing I'm not a huge fan of is the tackiness my skin feels after applying it. I would prefer something that dries faster.

    Customer Service Response
    Replied on: Monday, April 06, 2015

    Hello, and thanks for sharing your experience with us! You might want to try out our Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid, which dries much faster.

    —Paula's Choice Research Team
  10. JOANNE R.
    Reviewed on Sunday, March 22, 2015
    40 out of 100
    • Rating
      Poor / 4
    Seems to have made my skin worse
    • I have been using this product for over a month. Previously I was using one of the liquids. I don't know what it is, but since I started using it, I have had more blemishes than I have had in years. I'm 54 so I should not be experiencing this almost every week. Very strange - I am going to stop using it.

    Customer Service Response
    Replied on: Monday, March 23, 2015

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

    —Paula's Choice Research Team
  11. melissa
    Reviewed on Wednesday, March 11, 2015
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Favorite skin care product
    • I have very combination acne prone skin and Nothing makes as much of a difference in my overall skin appearance than this product. Highly recommend it. This combined with a PC toner has worked magic for my skin. The samples are super cheap also so why not give it a try?

  12. Kim
    Reviewed on Tuesday, February 24, 2015
    20 out of 100
    • Rating
      Worst / 4
    Doesn't work on me
    • I had used it about 3 weeks, it dryed out my skin, and made my skin looked horrible. Last time when I used it, my face got ichy and I had to wash it off. So bad now I have a full of bottle and I don't want to use.

    Customer Service Response
    Replied on: Wednesday, February 25, 2015

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

    —Paula's Choice Research Team
  13. Erin N.
    Reviewed on Wednesday, February 04, 2015
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Highly recommend!
    • I decided to write a review since it was the reviews of this product that helped me decide which of Paula's products to order.I have oily, sensitive skin along with rosacea. I also tend to have slightly rough texture. I have been using this product for several weeks now and I am hooked. I have gotten compliments at work saying I look like I am glowing. My skin definitely feels smoother and looks more even. You can definitely expect a fresher appearance and glowing skin. I highly recommend.

  14. Cecilia S.
    Reviewed on Monday, January 26, 2015
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    pretty good
    • I've been using this at night with pure organic unrefined shea butter as my moisturizer at night and my husband told me my skin looks really bright. I also use african black soap as my cleanser. So good job PC

  15. Ariana B.
    Reviewed on Thursday, January 22, 2015
    60 out of 100
    • Rating
      Neutral / 4
    Not convinced
    • Not happy. I use to be about 97% clear. Now I have cystic acne around my mouth and on my cheeks that won't go away. I know the PC gel is to blame because my breakouts happened within a day of using it. Now I have this full bottle of the gel I don't want to use. I'm so unhappy :(

    Customer Service Response
    Replied on: Thursday, January 22, 2015

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

    —Paula's Choice Research Team
  16. Becca B.
    Reviewed on Monday, January 19, 2015
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Excellent exfoliation - plus extra goodies!
    • An excellent exfoliant without damaging ingredients that often accompany BHA products (menthol, alcohol,etc.). PLUS it has some other antioxidant goodies packed in to make your skin extra happy. I've had clogged, sad pores for the longest time and Never thought BHA was appropriate for me (I associated salycillic acid with my teenage acne years, and I am definitely not a teen anymore!) Glad I wised up and gave this a try.

  17. BRANDIE D.
    Reviewed on Sunday, January 18, 2015
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Gel vs Liquid
    • I love this product, started with the liquid and have stayed loyal to that format. I wanted to try something that didn't need to "dry" and purchased the gel. Fantastic so if you're thinking of testing this compared to the liquid you should. I do still use the liquid particularly if I'm in the city because I find with a cotton pad it exfoliates but removes all the dirt that is left behind after using Cetaphil.

  18. Miranda P
    Reviewed on Saturday, January 10, 2015
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    ABSOLUTE LIFE CHANGER
    • I'm a 16 year old girl that likes to wear makeup, my face began to break out with closed comedones when I started wearing makeup and I hated the way it made my face feel and look. I looked around and decided to buy this and I'm so happy I did!! I added this to my existing skin care routine, consisting of a drugstore cleanser, toner, and moisterizer; This stuff is very worth the price! My skin is now soft and smooth, but beware it can make already oily skin a bit more oily. Overall great product!

  19. MimiO
    Reviewed on Friday, January 02, 2015
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Really works
    • After using this product for a few months, I have noticed a visible change (for the better!) in the blackheads on my nose. The product was easy to integrate into my evening skin care routine: I put it on, brush my teeth while it dries, then continue with serum and moisturizer.

  20. Colleen W.
    Reviewed on Wednesday, December 31, 2014
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Took awhile to work but fixed everything.
    • After 4 months of using this product I feel like I can finally write a review. The first 2 months of using this I had to keep going back and forth with myself on whether I should quit it or not. My face wasn't the worst it has ever been but it was bad. When I first started using this the only problems I had with my skin was a lot of redness and uneven skin tone. Now my skin tone is finally where I want it to be! NO more redness. no bumps. I prefer the gel over the liquid for my sensitive skin.

  21. Sarah
    Reviewed on Tuesday, December 30, 2014
    80 out of 100
    • Rating
      Good / 4
    Like the Liquid Over the Gel
    • The BHA 2% gel works just as well as the 2% BHA liquid for me but I prefer the texture of the liquid better. I tried the gel thinking it would be easier to apply and it is but the liquid seems to "soak" into my skin faster and in the mornings. I am a working mom and trying to get husband, kids, and myself all out the door in the morning, I appreciate the quick "drying" of the BHA liquid. Either way PC's BHA products are the best. They leave my skin feeling soft, bright and breakout free.

  22. Anonymous
    Reviewed on Thursday, November 13, 2014
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    This is a game changer.
    • I've always had at least 2 blemishes on my face at any given time since I was 20 (now 44). Always. Important events, vacations, wedding, anniversaries, holidays-you name it- always 2 pimples. Three months ago, I tried this and after a couple weeks, I had none. None. It's shocking to me. I have oily skin and use it twice a day. God help me, I will never be without it again. It is a little tacky when on, but not noticeable under sunscreen or moisturizer.

  23. Hollie K
    Reviewed on Monday, November 10, 2014
    40 out of 100
    • Rating
      Poor / 4
    Disappointed
    • I had high hopes for this product, but was once again let down. I have very oily, acne prone skin and have tried what seems like everything on the market to clear my acne, you'd think at 37 I would have this problem, but i do. I got a sample of this and loved it, but after buying it and using it for several weeks my skin is worse than ever. Back to the drawing board I go. I'm out 26 bucks and my skin is still horrible.

    Customer Service Response
    Replied on: Monday, November 10, 2014

    Thanks for your review! First, our products are sold with a money-back guarantee, so be sure to contact us for a refund! We'd also be happy to discuss your current situation and suggest alternate products you may wish to try. Sometimes those new to using a BHA exfoliant can experience a temporary worsening of breakouts, often referred to as "purging". That may be what's happening in your case.

    —Admin
  24. Lacy B.
    Reviewed on Wednesday, November 05, 2014
    80 out of 100
    • Rating
      Good / 4
    Ill use the rest of it
    • When I ordered the sample, I knew I had to get a bottle. The first week my skin felt brand new, with an even tone and smooth texture. Now that it has been two months into using the product, and I am acclimated to my improved skin I am still waiting for the blackheads to diminish even after using twice daily. I feel like I may want to bump it up to the 5%, and still have about half a bottle left.

  25. Cecilia S.
    Reviewed on Saturday, November 01, 2014
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    love it
    • A little hx I've been using retin a for about 6 mths and believe it or not my skin looked horrible. It was extremely oily and I still had lil bumps under my skin plus I was still breaking out. So I started using this and clinique emergency acne solution 5% bp about 2wks ago and mt skin looks great. Thx pc!

Page of 14 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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