When it comes to exfoliators, I've always been firmly in #teamscrub or namely, physical exfoliants. There's just something so satisfying about giving your skin a good, deep-down scrub to get that squeaky-clean feeling, but in the past couple months, I've begun to see the benefits, and results, of using chemical exfoliants.
Unlike physical exfoliators, chemical exfoliators use acid complexes to trigger your skin's natural renewal process to shed dead skin cells. If you have sensitive or oily skin, or hyper-pigmentation, then chemical exfoliants are ideally suited for you.
Last month I started out by trying the Neostrata Securewhite Brightening Serum, which uses alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) and loved my results, so I was curious to see how using beta hydroxy acid (BHA) would differ. The Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant is designed for combo-oily skin, but is gentle enough for all skin types and is focused on improving skin's radiance, tone, and smoothness, while preventing breakouts and blackheads.
Although both AHA and BHA products work similarly, they do differ. According to Paula's Choice, AHA are more suited for dry and sun-damaged skin as they exfoliate primarily on the surface and help increase moisture levels, due to being water-soluble. As BHA are oil-soluble, they therefore are suited best for oilier and more clogged skin as they penetrate deeper into the epidermis; BHA are also great anti-inflammatories, so are ideal for those suffering from redness, rosacea and ultra-sensitivity. As well, another difference between AHA and BHA is in terms of concentrations required as you will need a higher percentage of AHA to get the same effectiveness acquired with BHA. In the end though, if your skin is kind of in the middle spectrum like mine, I don't think it makes much difference whether you use AHA or BHA as the end results will be about the same.
The primary ingredients in the Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant are:
- Methylpropanediol - a solvent that helps other ingredients, particularly salicylic acid, penetrate more easily into skin
- Butylene glycol - very similar purpose as methylpropanediol with some moisturizing abilities
- Salicylic acid - this is the primary BHA in this product and acts as an exfoliant, an anti-inflammatory with antimicrobial properties, and it also fights hyper-pigmentation
- Polysorbate 20 - a cleanser and emulsifier
A 118 ml bottle retails for $28 USD off Paula's Choice. Again, definitely pricier than similar toning/exfoliating products, but not unreasonable considering its added benefits and Paula's Choice being a mid-range beauty line.
The bottle itself is nice and compact, with a small opening at the top for easy dispensing onto a cotton pad.
Although it's marketed as an exfoliant, I've been using this as a night-time cleansing toner after I wash my face. It does a great job at balancing my skin and washing away any leftover makeup and dirt. Unlike with other AHA products I've used, I didn't experience any tingling whatsoever with the Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant and I found it gentle enough to use every night.
I've been using the Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant for almost a month now, and compared to their Resist Weightless Advanced Repairing Toner, I love this one way more. While I thought the former did a better job at controlling oil production, I think the Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant has visibly improved my skin. My face feels significantly softer, especially on my forehead which literally feels like silk! I actually can't stop touching my face and even got Mr. Artist to verify it too the other day, although he wasn't as impressed obviously as I was. I've also noticed that the fine lines on my forehead are reduced and my pores seem clearer. I usually get a couple blemishes around my period, but I haven't had a single dot pop up at all!
In terms of glow and repairing sun damage, the Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant wins there as well. My skin appears more even and looks glowing even before I apply any makeup. Unfortunately those damn pesky dark spots are still there, so I may have to alternate between using this and the Neostrata serum to knock those down.
Buy - a reasonable price and amazing results means this is a must-have for glowing, supremely soft and smooth skin.
*This post contains PR samples