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Resist BHA 9

This concentrated salicylic acid spot-targeting formula visibly minimizes bumps, redness, wrinkles and enlarged pores.
Item #: 773
  • Anti-Aging, Blackheads, Enlarged Pores, Bumpy Skin
  • For All Skin Types
  • Controlled, sustained release of salicylic acid via unique technology
  • Minimizes the appearance of enlarged pores
  • Plant extracts allow the formula to work without causing dryness

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Resist BHA 9

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What makes this product unique?
Resist BHA 9 is a first-of-its-kind spot treatment specially formulated to address your most stubborn skin imperfections. The technology behind BHA 9 is indeed unique, allowing for a controlled, sustained release of salicylic acid without diminishing any of its effectiveness. In fact, you will have enhanced results without dryness or irritation! BHA 9 for Stubborn Imperfections has a pH range of 3.2-3.6.

BHA 9 can do all of the following:
  1. Unclog pores with the first use
  2. Diminish white bumps
  3. Minimize enlarged pores
  4. Refine and smooth skin's texture
  5. Minimize sebaceous hyperplasia
  6. Smooth and soften dry, rough patches
  7. Help balance oily skin
  8. Fade red marks from breakouts
  9. Reduce breakouts

Who is this product for?
Resist BHA 9 is designed for anyone who has struggled with stubborn skin imperfections who wants enhanced results over and above the treatments they've been using.

NOTE: Those allergic to aspirin (acetylsalicylate) should not use products containing salicylic acid (beta hydroxy acid).

Sources to support the claims made for Resist BHA 9

The New Ideal in Skin Health: Separating Fact From Fiction, Allured Books, 2010, page 110; Cosmetic Dermatology, Second Edition, McGraw Hill, Baumann, Leslie, MD, 2009, pages 150–151; Dermatologic Surgery, April 2009, pages 638–644; Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology, and Leprology, March-April 2005, pages 87–90; Pharmazie, March 2005, pages 215–220; Journal of Cosmetic Science, November 2004, pages 519–531; and Drugs Under Experimental and Clinical Research, Volume 3, 2003, pages 101–105.

Key Ingredients: Boerhavia diffusa root extract, Avena sativa, glycerin, arginine, sea whip extract, salicylic acid

Product Ingredients:

Propylene Glycol (solvent/penetration enhancer), PEG-75, PEG-8 (thickeners), Water, Salicylic Acid (beta hydroxy acid/time-released exfoliant, 9%), Glycerin (skin-repairing ingredient), Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Extract (anti-irritant), Butylene Glycol (slip agent), Boerhavia Diffusa Root Extract (antioxidant plant extract), Sea Whip Extract (soothing plant extract), Arginine (amino acid/skin-conditioning agent), Polysorbate 20 (stabilizer), Disodium EDTA (chelating agent).

DIRECTIONS: At night, apply as a leave-on spot treatment for stubborn imperfections. Dispense a very small amount of Resist BHA 9 onto a clean fingertip, and massage a thin layer over affected areas. Suitable for use around the eyes, but avoid contact with eyelids and do not apply along the lower lashline. For best results, use after cleansing and toning, but it can also be used as the last step in your skincare routine. Experiment to see which method works best for your skin concerns. May be applied on its own or over a Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting exfoliant. May be applied over larger areas if needed. Reduce frequency of usage if irritation or flaking occurs.


This product contains 9% salicylic acid. Please note:

  • Do not use if you are allergic to aspirin
  • If you experience irritation, rinse from skin and discontinue use
  • Avoid direct contact with eyes
  • Protect skin with sunscreen daily
  • Ask your doctor before using on children
  • Keep out of reach of children
  • If pregnant or breastfeeding, ask your doctor before use

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 is the strength of BHA 9?

BHA 9 contains 9% salicylic acid in a unique formula, time-released to prevent irritation without sacrificing the result of its 9% strength. This allows even those with sensitive skin (perhaps even those who cannot tolerate our 2% BHA formulas) to reap the incredible results possible with BHA 9.

Is BHA 9 just a spot treatment or can I use it all over my face?

A thin layer of BHA 9 may be applied all over your face if needed, but you would want to use it first over smaller areas where stubborn imperfections (for example, blackheads that have not responded to a BHA exfoliant with 2% salicylic acid) are an issue to see how your skin responds.

How often can I use BHA 9?

We recommend applying BHA 9 once a day preferably in the evening, after cleansing and toning. Many will find that their imperfections respond favorably with less frequent usage, such as 2-3 times per week. For best results, experiment to determine the frequency of application that works best for you.

Is it OK to use BHA 9 if I am also using a skin lightening product that contains hydroquinone?

Yes. Apply the BHA 9 to affected areas first and follow with the skin lightening product where needed. Finish with your Paula's Choice serum and moisturizer. During the day, follow with a product rated SPF 25 or greater.

Can BHA 9 be applied at the same time as my retinol or prescription tretinoin product?

Yes, but for use with prescription retinoids, check with your doctor first. If you decide to try the BHA 9 use it as part of your evening skincare routine. Apply a thin layer of BHA 9 first, as either a spot treatment or all over your face and then follow with your retinol or prescription retinoid product, and finish with serum and/or moisturizer. Pay close attention to how your skin responds.

Can I use the BHA 9 at the same time as one of Paula's Choice BHA or AHA products?

Yes, though for some skin types applying two exfoliants at the same time increases the risk of irritation and that is never the goal. It is also fine to apply any of our BHA or AHA products to areas of your face where you are not applying the BHA 9 exfoliant, or you can alternate by applying your regular exfoliant in the morning and BHA 9 at night. BHA 9 was designed to be a spot treatment though lots of people are having great success using it all over their face and chest.

Is BHA 9 recommended for use around the eyes?

Yes, but only up to the orbital bone area (the bony ridge that stops just before the immediate undereye area). Do not apply BHA 9 to the eyelid or underbrow area.

Can BHA 9 be used on the body?

Yes. BHA 9 is excellent for treating stubborn imperfections on the body, too, especially white bumps, breakouts, and stubborn blackheads or patches of persistent keratosis pilaris. It is slippery so you would want to be careful what you wore to go to bed.

Will BHA 9 help fade acne scars?

Regular use of BHA 9 will help fade pink, red, or brown marks (known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation) from acne breakouts, but will not affect deep or pitted scars such as those that can occur from cystic acne.

I have eczema. Can I use BHA 9?

Yes, but to start, apply this treatment to stubborn imperfections only, once daily or a few times per week, morning or evening. If applying over patches of eczema, pay close attention to how your skin responds. If signs of flaking or dryness occur, do not continue applying BHA 9 to these areas or reduce frequency of application. Follow with an emollient moisturizer.

I have rosacea and/or sensitive skin. Can I use BHA 9?

Yes, but to start, apply this treatment to stubborn imperfections only, once daily or a few times per week, in the evening. Pay close attention to how your skin responds. If signs of flaking or dryness occur, do not continue to apply BHA 9 to these areas or reduce frequency of application.

Is BHA 9 better than the Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid exfoliant?

Not necessarily better, but it is stronger and designed to be a targeted treatment. BHA 9 is designed for stubborn imperfections (blackheads, white bumps, red marks from acne, sebaceous hyperplasia) that have not responded well (or at all) to one of our Skin Perfecting BHA exfoliants with 2% salicylic acid. BHA 9 is a potent treatment that for most will work best when applied to problem areas. For routine, daily exfoliation, continue to use one of our other BHA exfoliants on other parts of your face, neck, and chest.

How come BHA 9 is not part of the Clear line of anti-acne products?

Paula feels strongly that the benefits of BHA 9 are great enough to extend it beyond keeping acne breakouts under control. It is an excellent spot treatment for many types of skin issues such as sebaceous hyperplasia which primarily affects women over 40 who have oily skin and that wouldn't fall under the category of acne. Without question, BHA 9 can benefit acne-prone skin and can be used as part of a Clear routine if a stronger exfoliant to treat areas with stubborn imperfections, including Resistant blackheads and white bumps (milia) is needed.

What is the pH of BHA 9?

Resist BHA 9 has a pH range of 3.1-3.6, just like most of our other BHA exfoliants.

What's the difference between BHA 9 and your skin-lightening products?

The salicylic acid in BHA9 fades discoloration by increasing skin cell turnover rate, while key ingredients in Resist Pure Radiance Skin Brightening Treatment and our hydroquinone-based skin lighteners work to interrupt the pathways in skin that melanin (skin pigment) needs to form the discolorations. Used together on dark spots, these products will have a complementary, synergistic effect. And don't forget the sunscreen, a must when figting brown spots and uneven skin tone.

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.

I keep depressing the pump, but no product is coming out.

This product is packaged in an airless pump dispenser which utilizes a vacuum system to dispense and keep the contents fresh. Airless packaging helps to keep air and contaminates out of the product, which enhances the formula's stability and effectiveness.

When using your product for the first time, you may need to “prime” the dispenser. To prime, simply pump the dispenser slowly about 10-15 times. If the dispenser stops working at any time, simply repeat the "priming" step. Do not attempt to dismantle the package.

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