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Skin Perfecting 8% AHA Gel Exfoliant

Get your glow on. Apply this leave-on exfoliant once or twice a day. Smooths skin, fades sun damage, and reveals younger-looking skin.
Item #: 190
  • Anti-Aging, Wrinkles
  • Dry/Very Dry, Combination Skin
  • Hydrates and stimulates collagen production

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Skin Perfecting 8% AHA Gel Exfoliant

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Customer Ratings:

87 out of 100
(Based on 168 Reviews)
« Prev Page of 7 Next »
  1. Satinder
    Reviewed on Thursday, September 12, 2013
    40 out of 100
    • Rating
      Poor / 4
    made my skin break out!!
    • After 3+ years of my mom buying BHA lotion and benzoyl peroxide for me, I decided to order my own products. I purchased this AHA gel hoping to deal with milia because this is supposed to be great for exfoliation. I used it once a day at night in my regular routine. The 2nd week I noticed a few little red spots crop up on my forehead. Now it's been 3 weeks and my face is all broken out! This is the only product that I've added to my routine so it must be causing it.

    Customer Service Response
    Replied on: Monday, September 30, 2013
    Thank you for sharing your experience, and we're sorry the 8% AHA Gel didn't work out for you. It's important to note that AHA is an excellent exfoliant, but as it cannot penetrate to unclog pores (BHA is preferred for this), AHA isn't recommended for issues like milia, blackheads, blemishes and the like. Consider a formula like our Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid instead, and be sure to contact our Customer Care for assistance with a credit or exchange.
    —Admin
  2. JENNIFER A.
    Reviewed on Wednesday, September 11, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    My "essential" product
    • I began using Paula's products years and years ago.......When I found them I knew I had struck gold. As this was the only place to get simple AHA gel. One that had the correct PH level and that wasn't mixed in with other moisturizers. A good,clean, simple and very effective product! The technology of skin care has really advanced over the years. I add and subtract things often. But this AHA gel is one of my 2 constant items. I get complements all the time..Thank you Paula's Choice!!

  3. Anonymous
    Reviewed on Monday, September 02, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Amazing
    • Makes your skin shine, gets rid of red marks, and makes your skin more evenly toned. After using BHA products for a while they seemed to make me break out horribly. I have only been using this for two weeks and have seen amazing results. It makes my skin sting a little bit but after its on for a couple minutes it starts working its magic. My breakouts have diminished after using this. I'm confident that in a couple of months I will have flawless skin. I will keep buying this!

  4. Kristen P.
    Reviewed on Saturday, August 31, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Love!
    • I had been using the Alpha Hydrox AHA soufflé that is given a "Best" rating on Beautypedia. I liked it and saw brighter skin after a few weeks. However, I decided to try Paula's Choice 8% AHA and my skin was even brighter and clearer after one use! And I love the way it glides over my skin - I have very dry skin that usually immediately soaks up products, making me have to use more than I should. Not this stuff. I only need to use a little bit, so a bottle will last me a long time.

  5. SARAH
    Reviewed on Thursday, August 01, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    not loaded with junk+fillers !
    • I have been using Paula's 8% AHA for a few years. My skin is very dry and very sensitive but it just loves this stuff. I've worked up to be able to use this as much as I like (4 or 5 nights a week if I want) without irritation. New users will want to take it slow at first (it used to sting a little in the beginning) and be sure to use a sunscreen during the day. For some reason I can't tolerate BHA, so as long as Paula keeps making this awesome AHA I will continue to use it.

  6. Justin
    Reviewed on Wednesday, July 03, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Impressed
    • I have very typical guy's skin that sweats a lot and gets oily pretty quickly. I've always had issues with whiteheads/acne. I had been using Paula's BHA Liquid Formula which in tandem with Benzoyl Peroxide worked pretty well. However, when I started using the AHA Gel then my skin started looking a lot better. The AHA Gel helps calm my skin, makes it less red, and reduced whiteheads way better than the BHA. Also makes shaving easier by smoothing my skin.

  7. CATHERINE R.
    Reviewed on Sunday, June 09, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Great for many purposes
    • I switched to the 8% AHA gel after the BHA products I'd used for years started to dry out my transitioning skin. It's amazing for exfoliation and has the added benefit of calming my rosacea better than Metrogel, which I've been able to stop using because of it. It helps to keep the occasional breakout at bay for me and keep new ones from occurring.

  8. Jenny M.
    Reviewed on Sunday, June 09, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Try this, it may be your Holy Grail product!
    • I'm 35, with oily, breakout-prone, very cranky sensitive skin, and I can't use benzoyl peroxide (not even Paula's!). This seems to be my missing evening step after cleansing and toning with Clear products. When I follow this with the Resist Anti-Aging Clear Skin Hydrator, I wake up with amazingly smooth skin. The sample packets are generous--2 packets held plenty of product for me to give it a good 2-week test, applying every other night. I find it odorless and have had no peeling/drying.

  9. Mary Lynn
    Reviewed on Tuesday, May 21, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Great stuff
    • I wasn't sure about this. I knew I needed an exfoliant but I wasn't sure which. I decided on this one because the Resist One is really a two-step process. The 5% daily and then the 10% once week. That's too much trouble to know when to use which. This is 8% which seemed like a happy medium. This has made an amazing difference in the resiliency of my 63-year old skin. This has changed it from saggy to plumper. I know it's the AHA because it was the only recent change in my skin care regimen.

  10. Viva
    Reviewed on Saturday, May 04, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Holy grail
    • For the past couple of months I'd seemed to develop persisting cystic acne. They were huge, painful and red. I had tried numerous products in the market, everything from Neutrogena, Michael Todd to Clinique. Nothing worked, my face was a mess and my confidence took a toll. A friend of mine recommend Paulas Choice, and while I've tried a number of different products this has become my holy grail. My face has never looked better. Thank you.

  11. Maritza O
    Reviewed on Saturday, April 27, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    The best of Paula's Choice
    • I am 55 years old and have been using this product for years. It's excellent. While it doesn't diminish freckles and age spots as claimed (and may actually make you more prone to them if you don't use protection), your skin will be so soft and will GLOW! I never wear any makeup other than mascara and lipstick because I don't want to cover this youthful glow.

  12. GEORGE
    Reviewed on Sunday, April 14, 2013
    20 out of 100
    • Rating
      Worst / 4
    Breakout beware!
    • I have NO idea why, but this gel breaks me out like crazy. I get these little blackheads and small whiteheads along my cheeks where I really get acne. I thought that gels which don't have thickeners like lotions cant break people out--Im so confused and upset that this didnt work. I bought two whole bottles of this gel a while back, and just started using them since I was using BHA's for a long time and wanted to try this. It's probably past the return date by now, but I don't know what to do...

    Customer Service Response
    Replied on: Thursday, May 09, 2013
    Thank you for your review, and we're sorry this wasn't a fit for you! Be sure to contact our Customer Care Department via phone or email. They would be happy to assist with a credit or exchange.
    —Admin
  13. Sarah
    Reviewed on Monday, April 08, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Exactly what I needed
    • I have been struggling with hormonal acne for about a year and even used Ziana (prescription retinoid) for about 6 months but my skin just never cleared up and was always a scaling flaky mess. I decided to throw in the towel and got the AHA gel. Wow! Within 2 days my skin started to clear up, hyper pigmentation from previous breakouts started fading and the flakiness started disappearing. I have dry, acne-prone skin and although the BHA works a bit, its the AHA that made the difference!

  14. Sarah
    Reviewed on Friday, April 05, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Exactly what I needed
    • I have been struggling with hormonal acne for about a year and even used Ziana (prescription retinoid) for about 6 months but my skin just never cleared up and was always a scaling flaky mess. I decided to throw in the towel and got the AHA gel. Wow! Within 2 days my skin started to clear up, hyper pigmentation from previous breakouts started fading and the flakiness started disappearing. I have dry, acne-prone skin and although the BHA works a bit, its the AHA that made the difference!

  15. LINDA S.
    Reviewed on Tuesday, March 26, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    A staple in my routine!
    • I love, love the results of using this along with the BHA 2% gel! I am in my early 50s with sensitive, fair, freckled, sun damaged skin prone to some hormonal break outs. I began using this duo daily last May (but first used the BHA 2% liquid - I prefer the gel). I noticed how my skin evened and smoothed out over the next 8 weeks. In the Fall the compliments started coming! I was asked frequently what I was using on my skin to make it so smooth and soft!! I have converted many friends to this.

  16. Nathan R
    Reviewed on Monday, March 25, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    A wonderful AHA option!
    • I am a huge AHA junkie, and have used some really great AHA exfoliants! I have consistently used this exfoliant for months now, and have never experienced any redness or tingling as I have with other AHAs. I commend Paula for formulating a strong product that doesn't require one to irritate his or her skin.

  17. YOUNA L.
    Reviewed on Monday, March 25, 2013
    40 out of 100
    • Rating
      Poor / 4
    Did not work for me
    • I have very dry, sensitive skin, and in the hopes of improving my skin, I purchased two 8% AHA gels without even having tried it on. They were ones of my first Paula's products, and while I loved other products I ordered, I found 8% did not work for me at all. They left my skin stingy and red, and even more sensitive. So two bottles of 8% AHA gels are just sitting in my bathroom, rarely used. Maybe 8% is too strong for me, or I should have gone with just the regular toner for dry skin.

    Customer Service Response
    Replied on: Monday, April 08, 2013
    Thank you for your review, and we're sorry this wasn't a fit for you! While there may have a variety of reasons for your experience, there definitely isn't any reason to keep your 8% AHA Gels if they didn't work out for you! Please contact our Customer Care and they will be happy to help with an exchange, credit or refund.
    —Admin
  18. Anonymous
    Reviewed on Saturday, March 23, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Works well for me
    • Excellent product! My skin has been it's best since I included AHA/BHA into my skincare 2 years ago after reading the advice from Paula's website - mostly blemish free and even toned. Pimple scars and discoloration from sun damage have faded. I started with the RESIST line but decided to try this instead since it's 8% and water based. I much prefer the gel texture. In terms of pricing I think it's value for money, the gel lasts ages. Thanks Paula!

  19. Pamela D.
    Reviewed on Tuesday, March 19, 2013
    20 out of 100
    • Rating
      Worst / 4
    Disappointed :(
    • I am sorry to say that this product did not work for me. I have used the 5% daily and 10% weekly with success, but the 8% definitely does not agree with my skin. I have broken out pretty badly from it and I am still trying to get rid of the breakouts a week later! I will definitely be going back to the 5% as that seemed to agree with me. I mistakenly thought that more was better but not for me in this case.

  20. Anonymous
    Reviewed on Thursday, March 14, 2013
    40 out of 100
    • Rating
      Poor / 4
    weird texture and smell
    • i love the idea of the AHA/BHA products as exfoliants and think that Paula has done a lot of great reserach to support her products. however, this texture is just not easy to apply and feels like slime. more, it smells really weird too. i know she doesn't like to use fragrance, but this product could definetly use some low dose of a fresh fragrance. i wish there was a lotion for the face in this one, but i've decided to try the 10% AHA body lotion instead but haven't received it yet.

  21. Stephanie
    Reviewed on Thursday, March 07, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    AHA versus BHA
    • I have used different forms of glycolic acid for a few years always with good results. After reading Paula's book, I decided because I have acne-prone skin to switch to a BHA. Well for whatever reason, after using for several months, my skin was reacting badly to the BHA. Not sure why but my skin has always tolerated AHAs well and so I switched to this product. Absolutely NO tingling/burning/redness associated with using it. I use this in AM and Retin-A in PM and my skin looks beautifully clear!

  22. Michelle G.
    Reviewed on Monday, March 04, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Wonderful!
    • I've been using Paula's Choice BHA Gel and love it. I decided to add the AHA to my skin care routine. I am 38, combination, acne prone skin and have some cystic acne on my neck. I wasn't thinking this product might help my cystic acne breakouts but it has! I've been using this stuff for a little over a week and my breakouts on my neck are actually going away. I don't know how the Glycolic Acid helps the breakouts but its the only thing that has helped. My skin is looking better than ever.

  23. LISA M.
    Reviewed on Wednesday, February 27, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Perfection!
    • Only 2 weeks and my skin looks more refreshed and wrinkles have softened. Tone has improved too. Must have if you need an anti-aging formula!

  24. SARAH H.
    Reviewed on Saturday, February 02, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Life changing
    • I know skin care is an art and not a science, but for me this is a miracle product. I have been using it for years and love it. Occasionally I run out and go without, and I am always amazed when I return to it. Smooth, even skin. Love it.

  25. MH
    Reviewed on Tuesday, January 08, 2013
    40 out of 100
    • Rating
      Poor / 4
    The texture is nice but it didn't work for me
    • I had high expectations for this product considering the previous ratings. I really wanted this to work for me, so I used this for more than a month but unfortunately my skin broke worse than ever, especially in the T zone :( I used this product combined with other Paula's Choice products, including Skin Balancing Oil-Reducing Cleanser and Toner but it seems that this was not the right combination for me. However, I liked the feeling of the product after the application. I hope that I can find another Paula's Choice product that can help me to improve my skin, so I don't look as a teenager anymore!! Customer Care Response: Thank you for your comments. We will be sure to share your feedback with Paula and her Product Development Manager. If you would like to contact customer care we are happy to discuss your skin type and make suggestions for some alternative options, as well as arrange for samples to be sent out. If you have any questions please let us know, we are happy to help!

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What makes this product unique?
Skin Perfecting 8% AHA Gel Exfoliant has a sheer, weightless texture that works to exfoliate the skin's surface and fade signs of sun damage. The ultra-light formula corrects uneven skin tone for a brighter, smoother, more radiant complexion. Substantiated research shows that AHAs improve collagen production for firmer skin and increase skin's moisture-binding ability. 8% AHA Gel works to sustain the results of professional peels and wears beautifully under a moisturizer or serum.

This product is 100% fragrance- and colorant-free with a pH range of 3.5-3.8.

Who is this product for?
8% AHA Gel is great for all skin types but those with normal to dry, sun-damaged skin will find it especially beneficial.

Sources to support the claims made for SKIN PERFECTING 8% AHA Gel EXfoliant

Seminars in Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery, September 2008, pages 170–176; Dry Skin and Moisturizers: Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, April 2005, pages 1156–1162; Cutis, August 2001, pages 135–142; Dermatologic Surgery, May 2001 pages 1–5; Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, July 2000, pages 280–284; American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, March-April 2000, pages 81–88; Chemistry and Function, edited by Marie Loden and Howard Maibach, 2000, page 237; Skin Pharmacology and Applied Skin Physiology, May-June 1999, pages 111–119; Journal of Cell Physiology, October 1999, pages 14–23; and British Journal of Dermatology, December 1996, pages 867–875.

Key Ingredients: green tea, AHA, sodium PCA, glycolic acid, sodium hyaluronate, chamomile, Aloe barbadensis

Product Ingredients:

Water, Glycolic Acid (alpha hydroxy acid/exfoliant), Sodium Hydroxide (pH adjuster), Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract (chamomile/soothing agent), Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice (water-binding agent), Camellia Oleifera (Green Tea) Leaf Extract (antioxidant), Sodium Hyaluronate (skin-identical ingredient), Panthenol (water-binding agent), Sodium PCA (skin-identical ingredient), Propylene Glycol, Butylene Glycol (slip agents/penetration enhancers), Hydroxyethylcellulose, Polyquaternium-10 (thickeners), Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylparaben, Isobutylparaben (preservatives).

DIRECTIONS: Apply once or twice daily after cleansing and toning. Apply a dime-sized amount over the entire face, avoiding direct contact with eyes and lips. 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.

Can the AHA and/or BHA products be used during pregnancy or while lactating?

Although topical exfoliants should not pose a problem for pregnant woman, we do recommend asking your doctor before using any product you are concerned about.

Can I alternate using an AHA and BHA exfoliant? Is this even necessary?

You can alternate using an AHA and BHA exfoliant if desired, but it isn't necessary. Both work to exfoliate skin, improving texture and tone. Ideally, consider an AHA if breakouts and blackheads are not a concern but visible sun damage is. Choose BHA if you're concerned with signs of aging and are struggling with breakouts, blackheads, and white bumps. If you opt to use both, choose one to apply in the morning and one to apply at night. If you're only using an exfoliant once daily, alternate use between the AHA and BHA product.

At what point after my laser and/or peel procedure can I begin using my AHA 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 an AHA exfoliant, please contact the doctor's office where you had the procedure done. Otherwise, our general advice is to wait until skin has returned to its normal texture and color. This may mean waiting a few days or, depending on the depth of the peel or laser procedure, it may mean waiting several weeks. Both peels and laser procedures can temporarily leave skin extra-sensitive, so if in doubt it's best to wait rather than rush things. Once you begin using your AHA exfoliant again, pay attention to how your skin responds and adjust frequency of use accordingly. Discontinue use if you notice signs of irritation.

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