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It’s taken me four years to get around to writing this post. I often think that it’s the products you use the most – the unglamorous workhorses – that never get enough attention, but I’d be doing you a disservice if I didn’t give this one its own post. Because the Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting Liquid is definitely a hard-worker and it’s a multi-tasker to boot; whether you put up with the occasional hormonal breakout, suffer from adult acne or simply want a gentle, non-abrasive way to exfoliate, this BHA liquid does it all. Brightening, de-clogging, soothing and clarifying, it’s simple, effective and doesn’t cost the earth. Everyone I’ve recommended it to in my personal life, without exception, has seen great results which leads me to make the uncharacteristically bold statement: you need this on your bathroom shelf.
People often ask me to suggest good skincare products that contain salicylic acid and the Paula’s Choice range of BHA liquids are the ones that immediately come to mind every time. Mainly because they’re really quite uncomplicated – a massive whack of salicylic acid, some bits and bobs to hydrate or make the acid work harder and a formula that you just wipe on and leave. So whether you have redness, sensitivity or you’re constantly battling sore, bumpy breakouts, it’s just a very simple solution.
Because salicylic acid has quite the reputation when it comes to keeping skin clear in a relatively soothing, gentle way – not only is it an excellent exfoliant, helping to slough away dead cells to leave skin brighter and smoother, it’s anti-inflammatory, which means that it can have a calming influence on angsty, sore skin. It’s also effective at getting right into the pores to remove excess oil and give them a de-clogging session – something that alpha-hydroxy acids (your glycolics and lactics and mandelics) can’t do.
The soothing properties make salicylic acid great for more sensitive skin, those with rosacea and anyone suffering with painful, stubborn spots. I particularly like it for the pre-period week, because it feels less harsh than using products with glycolic or lactic acid but at the same time seems to keep spots (as well as dullness) at bay.
Paula’s Choice has quite a big range of BHA products – there are lotions, gels, sprays and liquids, all with different strengths and (very slightly) different formulas targeted at lots of different skin concerns. It’s a clever range, because despite the general function of the product being more or less the same there’s something specific for nearly everyone – those with blackheads, those with stubborn spots, those with spots and advanced signs of ageing – the list goes on. There’s a 1% BHA lotion for very sensitive skin or those with rosacea, there’s a 2% Extra Strength Liquid for stubborn acne. There’s a BHA Gel, a body spray, a 2% Lotion and then – this is the one I’ve probably tested out the most – the Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid*.
The Skin Perfecting Liquid is, apparently, the bestseller; perfect for blemish prone skin, hormonal breakouts and skin with an uneven tone, it’s also great if you simply want a brightening exfoliant that’s gentle and calming. If you don’t get on with AHA products, perhaps finding them too strong for you, then this may just be your bag. Salicylic acid works differently to AHAs because it’s oil soluble, so it gets right into the pores rather than just exfoliating on the surface – it still has a brightening effect, but it’s possibly the pore de-clogging benefits you’ll notice more. (On that note, if you have drier skin and no blemish problems, or sensitivity problems, I’d opt for AHAs over BHAs. Try the First Aid Beauty pads, Liquid Gold, Skinceuticals Glycolic 10* or the L’Oreal Peel Pads*.)
To use the BHA Liquids, just wipe on with cotton wool after cleansing. (Or pour a little into your palm and pat it on, which is what my sister-in-law likes to do because it’s always such a waste of product letting it soak into the cotton wool pad!) You can follow the 2% BHA Liquid with a serum and moisturiser, or just a moisturiser if that’s usually enough for you. (I like to use something light but hydrating; try Toleriane if you’re not into spending zillions, Elemental Emulsion from Omorovicza if you’re feeling incredibly spendy, new Indeed Labs Hydraluron Lotion* if you’re partway to spendy, Sunday Riley Tidal Cream if you’re very spendy but not at Omorovicza level.)
So that’s the beauty of the BHA Liquid – just wipe (or pat) it on and you’re good to go with the rest of your routine. It doesn’t disturb anything else, it doesn’t require any special measures or considerations and the bottle of liquid lasts for ages. Years, if it’s just your pre-period skin fix. The one thing I would say is that too much of anything can have its adverse effects, so if you do start to see any flakiness or feel any tightness or dryness, cut back and adopt a slightly less enthusiastic usage regime.
I’ve put together a couple of little skincare routines for hormonal weeks or for if you’re suffering with adult acne (I had it for a relatively brief but depressing period a few years ago and made extensive notes!) so I’ll get those typed up as soon as I can. They’re very basic – it’s just product combinations that work well for me – but for now I can tell you that salicylic acid features prominently, so if you want a head start then the Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid will slot in very nicely.
Extra reading, should you fancy it: