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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)
« Prev Page of 13 Next »
  1. Daniela B.
    Reviewed on Thursday, January 16, 2014
    80 out of 100
    • Rating
      Good / 4
    Good Exfoliant
    • I have very sensitive and acne prone skin. I've been using this gel for months now, and I've tried the liquid version as well. I prefer the liquid version to this gel because I'm not too fond of how the gel feels on my face. Using the liquid on a cotton pad seems to work better for me. But overall, this gel does work great!! I noticed a significant improvement all over my face over the past few months. I would definitely recommend adding either this or the 2% BHA liquid to your skin regimen!!

  2. alex e.
    Reviewed on Saturday, January 11, 2014
    80 out of 100
    • Rating
      Good / 4
    pores have reduced dramatically in 2 days
    • Im amazed that i can tell such a difference so fast in the pores around my nose and forehead between my brows. I've only been using it for 2 days so i think thats pretty amazing i havent seen any difference in my black heads but its only been two days soi have my hopes set high paula!

  3. Carolyn S
    Reviewed on Wednesday, December 25, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    It really works for me
    • I have battled with adult acne for going on 11 years. I had good results with prescription medication for several years until they suddenly stopped working. I heard about Paula's Choice products and I was skeptical thinking I have used salicylic acid before without seeing any results. I think what sets the 2% BHA gel apart from other products is that the pH of the product is sufficiently low enough to make it effective. In less than a month I saw amazing results. I am now a loyal customer.

  4. Karen D.
    Reviewed on Monday, December 09, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    SKEPTICAL
    • I have struggled with acne most of my life. A year ago my face broke out like never before and I was mortified. The money spent on drug store products and nothing worked. I heard about PC's products and tried the samples of BHA gel. I use it every night after cleansing with PC's reg acne cleanser. The combination of these products since last August has truly saved my face. Thanks PC!

  5. VANESSA V.
    Reviewed on Monday, December 09, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    The Only BHA That Clears My Skin
    • This is the only version of BHA that makes my skin clearer. I've tried every other kind available from PC (including the BHA 9!) and this is the only one that has noticeable improvement. The others didn't seem to do anything--the acne wasn't affected at all. Don't give up on BHA, just try the different formulas and strengths! (I will try each for over a month before making a decision.)

  6. Bethany
    Reviewed on Monday, November 25, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    It works!
    • Best BHA product I have ever used! I bought this 2% BHA gel over six months ago and it cleared up my cystic acne and blackheads. I had stopped using it when my skin became clear. Big mistake! My acne came back and blackheads/clogged pores were scattered all over my face. I have since continued to use this gel every night on it's own, no moisturizer as my oily skin feels comfortable with this by itself. My skin is looking beautiful again and I will continue to purchase this wonderful product!

  7. CARLY G.
    Reviewed on Saturday, November 09, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Used to think it was too sticky, but it's been great for my dry skin!
    • I have recently switched back to using the BHA 2% Gel both in the morning and the evening, and it seems to absorb into my combo skin very well. I previously tried using this in the summer and it felt a bit heavy and my makeup wouldn't stay put; now it works better for me than any of the primers I've tried. If you have an aggressive anti-acne skin care routine (BP/prescription meds) or oily/combo skin that dries out in the winter, you should give this a try. You only need a small amount!!

  8. theyhaveways
    Reviewed on Thursday, October 17, 2013
    60 out of 100
    • Rating
      Neutral / 4
    Good, a Bit Heavy
    • This really helped my pores. Though I found that it left a sheen on my face, that sorta made it difficult to apply makeup, made everything feel heavy. It's a liquid like gel, that's slimily in feel, and smells like the 2% BHA liquid. A very medicinal-glue-like odour, that isn't really noticeable after you apply. Maybe one of the pros of this is that it gives your skin moisture, but not too much moisture, and is easier to spread compared to the liquid. It works, but unsure if it's right for me.

  9. Anh T.
    Reviewed on Thursday, October 10, 2013
    60 out of 100
    • Rating
      Neutral / 4
    Doesn't work
    • Have been using it religiously for more than a year and there's no improvement in my pores size. Trying the bha 9 now to see it is better.

  10. Virginia S.
    Reviewed on Wednesday, September 25, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Transformed my combination skin
    • I've been using this product for about eight months, and it's so amazing! I've been struggling for years with blackheads, raised bumps, enlarged pores and blemishes in my T-zone, and this exfoliant has diminished the appearance of my large pores and smoothed my bumps. Additionally, if you wax any part of your body and are prone to those painful red blemishes resulting from ingrown hairs, this product is AMAZING for clearing them up, and gentle enough to use on the most sensitive skin.

  11. Sarah
    Reviewed on Wednesday, September 11, 2013
    60 out of 100
    • Rating
      Neutral / 4
    I'll stick with the 2% Liquid
    • I thought the gel would be better for me since it has a few more beneficial ingredients. The texture was a little hard to get used to but it really does "dry" after ~15 minutes and I didn't notice any difference in my skin compared to the liquid so it was definitely getting the job done, but after about 2 weeks of using it, I noticed that the gel would cause my Resist moisturizer to "ball up" on my face. This didn't happen with the liquid so I guess the gel isn't for me. I do LOVE the liquid!

  12. haley w.
    Reviewed on Thursday, September 05, 2013
    80 out of 100
    • Rating
      Good / 4
    Worth Every Cent!
    • Love It! Has definitely improved my acne (even during hormonal periods), reduced pores, and improved skin tone. There is some shine, so I only use it at night before I go to bed. I'm going to try using the liquid in the morning and see how things work. I'm also going to try the BHA9 for breakouts. My skin is combination, acne prone & very sensitive and I have not had any problems with this product - THANK YOU!

  13. Tingting Z.
    Reviewed on Monday, September 02, 2013
    20 out of 100
    • Rating
      Worst / 4
    Sticky
    • I have been using this product for a month so far, and didn't see any change in my skin. I purchased this product to get rid of some of the clogged pores, and is not feeling the purchase worth it. What makes it worst is that the texture is SO STICKY. It makes my face shine, and i don't want to put on any make up after applying.

    Customer Service Response
    Replied on: Thursday, September 05, 2013
    Hi there! We're sorry this wasn't a fit for you. Don't hesitate to contact our Customer Care team for help with alternatives (our CLEAR Regular Strength BHA 2% is a liquid, and quite water like) or a return.
    —Admin
  14. Amanda C.
    Reviewed on Monday, September 02, 2013
    80 out of 100
    • Rating
      Good / 4
    Works; but not a daily product for me
    • Initially, I was using the BHA product maybe a couple of times a week. It certainly does reduce the bumpiness I have along my jawline and the appearance of blackheads on my 'T-zone'. Then I decided to try it as a daily product and it did NOT work for me in that sense. I got one of the worst breakouts I have had in years! It has been a few months now, and I still may try it on a once or twice a week basis. Seems to do well, but I just cannot use it daily.

  15. Poppy
    Reviewed on Thursday, August 22, 2013
    20 out of 100
    • Rating
      Worst / 4
    Really wanted it to work.
    • I've only ever had minor monthly breakouts but wanted to give this a go for a few stubborn blackheads etc. I began to break out but after reading reviews put this down to "the great purge" lol. I really wish i'd not continued use because 3 weeks later I'm left with a mass of cystic acne on one side of my face. I've never had anything like this before and it just won't go away! Even with continually 5% BZ use. I'm sure it's not a "bad" product just a warning to others to consider before use.

  16. Emily S
    Reviewed on Wednesday, August 21, 2013
    80 out of 100
    • Rating
      Good / 4
    Love it!
    • I ordered some samples from the site and ended up going back and purchasing the full bottle of this because I liked it so much. It helps keep my skin looking better throughout the day, and the blackheads on my nose are looking better than ever. I live in a very humid and hot climate and so I was a little bit worried about the claims of it being super sticky - and while it does indeed go ON sticky, it dries on me pretty quickly and works well under my makeup.

  17. Tjasa L.
    Reviewed on Monday, August 19, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    good product
    • I'm using this product every second night and since I started using it my skin doesn't breakout any more, it's smooth with no dark spots. You have to be consistent and use it regularly and it'll definitely do it's job.

  18. 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!

  19. 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.

  20. 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

  21. 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!!!!!

  22. 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.)

  23. 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

  24. 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!

  25. 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.

« Prev 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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