Beauty Lifestyle

Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid Review

A worthy exfoliant and best-selling product, the 2% BHA Liquid by Paula’s Choice is a staple product in many skincare routines around the world.

Photo: Paula’s Choice

After years and years of battling breakouts with every weapon from the pharmacy, I’ve finally found my bazooka. Here enters the 2% BHA Liquid by Paula’s Choice; a best-selling product part of the SKIN PERFECTING line of exfoliants. To many loyal fans, yours truly included, this stuff is “miracle water” in a bottle.

Beta hydroxy acid (BHA) or salicylic acid is a popular cosmetic ingredient with a library-worth of published research attesting to its benefits for multiple skin conditions. It is closely related to the anti-ageing superstar alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), but considered to be gentler due to its intramolecular structure. A chemical exfoliant, BHA is able to remove built-up dead skin cells on the uppermost layer of the skin, thereby revealing the “new” layer underneath. This exfoliation and rejuvenation process results in a smoother complexion.

Moreover, being oil soluble, salicylic acid is able to clear pores without disrupting normal skin function. Thus making it particularly suitable for oily, combination or acne-prone skin; though all skin types can benefit from daily use of a leave-on BHA cosmeceutical product, formulated within the Goldilocks pH range of between 3 and 4. Also noteworthy, BHA boasts some soothing properties that can help minimize and fade post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation; the red marks left behind after a pimple attack.

The SKIN PERFECTING 2% BHA Liquid feels weightless on skin and absorbs well. However, as some reviewers on the product page note, if you over apply it can leave a “greasy” feel on skin. This is due to the high concentration of butylene glycol; a hydration agent that also helps the salicylic acid penetrate deeper into pores. Another point about zealous application is that it can cause drying. So remember, more is not always better when it comes to chemical exfoliants. Experimenting with the amount and frequency of application will help you determine the optimal exfoliation your skin needs and can handle. Switching to a lotion-based 2% BHA is also an option worth considering if the liquid proves too potent; as the additional emollients in the lotion’s composition can help act as a buffer to the action of salicylic acid. All that said and done, in the spirit of all honesty it must be confessed that I too belong in that group of zealots who wets their face with BHA every night.

Aside from hydrating and exfoliating ingredients, Paula’s Choice also included in the formula camellia oleifera leaf extract; i.e. green tea, a potent antioxidant with calming and soothing properties. The literature on green tea in cosmetology is very promising. Furthermore, as is the case with all Paula’s Choice products, the 2% BHA does not contain fragrance; an irritant that causes inflammation, which is bad news for breakout-prone skin; for acne, by definition, is a chronic inflammatory skin disease.

Applying the 2% BHA Liquid is easy; simply soak a cotton pad and swipe it all over your face and neck; oh yes, you can get acne flare-ups on your neck too. I use it once a day, as part of my evening routine, along with the moisturizing RESIST Omega+ Complex and a few drops of the 1% Retinol Booster. The combination has worked out quite well for my skin; especially as a maintenance therapy to keep pimples at bay.

For those of you searching for a solution to your acne woes, feeling crestfallen from all the battles fought and loss, do consider giving the Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid a try. It is a weapon of breakout instruction!

By Boripat Lebel

Boripat Lebel is a research coordinator at the Unit for Social and Environmental Research at Chiang Mai University. He authored the eBook “A Vomit of Diamonds.” Boripat can also be found on LinkedIn .