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Skin Perfecting 1% BHA Gel Exfoliant

Breakouts, you’re not welcome here anymore. This water-based BHA gel absorbs quickly into skin, unclogging and shrinking pores, dissolving blackheads.
Item #: 202
  • Acne Breakouts, Anti-Aging, Blackheads, Enlarged Pores, Extra Sensitive Skin, Redness, Rosacea, Wrinkles
  • Combination, Oily Skin
  • Reduces redness, evens out skin tone

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

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Skin Perfecting 1% BHA Gel Exfoliant

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What makes this product unique?
Skin Perfecting 1% BHA Gel Exfoliant exfoliates both the skin's surface and inside the pore, reshaping the pore lining to unclog pores and improving skin cell turnover rate. This creates a dramatic improvement in the skin's appearance, feel, and function and overall leads to healthier 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 antibacterial properties that attack blemish-causing bacteria. The silky gel consistency is a great option for oily to very oily skin and also provides light hydration.

This product is 100% fragrance and colorant-free with a pH range of 3.2-3.8 for superior exfoliating properties. Every Paula's Choice BHA product is formulated with additional soothing agents.

Who is this product for?
1% BHA Gel works well on all skin types, but the texture is especially suited for those with normal to very oily skin.

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 1% BHA Gel EXFOLIANT

International Immunopharmacology, August 2009, pages 1,126–1,130; Chemical Research in Toxicology, January 2008, pages 53–69; Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, June 2007, pages 124-135; The Journal of Investigative Dermatology, February 2006, pages 416–421;Journal of Cosmetic Science, November-December 2004, pages 519-531; Archives of Internal Medicine, July 2002, pages 1531–1532; Annals of Dermatology and Venereology, January 2002, pages 137–142; Archives of Dermatology, November 2000, pages 1390–1395; Dermatology, 1999, volume 199, number 1, pages 50–53; and Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, volume 175, issue 1, pages 76–82.

Key Ingredients: green tea, willow herb, salicylic acid, BHA (beta hydroxy acid), bisabolol

Product Ingredients:

Water, Methylpropanediol (slip agent/water-binding agent), Xanthan Gum (thickener), Salicylic Acid (beta hydroxy acid/exfoliant), Polysorbate-20 (emulsifier), PEG-12 Dimethicone (silicone thickener), Butylene Glycol (slip agent), Camellia Oleifera (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, (anti-irritant/antioxidant), Epilobium Angustifolium (Willow Herb) Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract (anti-irritant), Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract (antioxidant), Portulaca Oleracea Extract (antioxidant), Tetrasodium EDTA (stabilizing agent), Bisabolol (anti-irritant), Chlorphenesin (preservative), Sodium Benzoate (stabilizer), Sodium Hydroxide.

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 1% BHA Gel Exfoliant compare to the Skin Perfecting 1% BHA Lotion Exfoliant?

The main difference lies with each product's texture. The 1% BHA Lotion has a light lotion base with a touch of moisture. Our 1% BHA Gel has a water-light base that also has hydration benefits. Those with oily to very oily skin may prefer the gel's texture.

Is Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 1% BHA Gel Exfoliant stronger than the Skin Perfecting 1% BHA Lotion Exfoliant?

From a percentage of active ingredient standpoint, no. However, because the 1% BHA Gel has a glycol base, it is better able to penetrate the skin, which may produce faster (but not necessarily better) results.

I tried Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 1% BHA Lotion Exfoliant and did not care for the texture, and Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant was too strong for my skin. Will the Skin Perfecting 1% BHA Gel work for me?

Quite possibly, yes. If you're looking for a BHA exfoliant whose texture is lighter than our 1% BHA Lotion but not as strong as our 2% BHA Liquid, the 1% BHA Gel should be an ideal "happy medium" for your skin.

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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