Having been a beauty editor for years now, it takes a lot to get me excited and fanatical about a product. But every now and then, I come across a game-changer that makes me really take notice. Sometimes it's because it's just so damn pretty; others, it's because the branding is majorly on point. In this case, it's neither. My apologies to Paula, but both the name of her brand, Paula's Choice, and its packaging are thoroughly off-putting to me. But what Paula's Choice lacks in chicness or cool-girl cred, it more than makes up for with its formulas, many of which are actual skin miracles. My favorite example: the company's Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant. It's a thin, liquid toner that looks like the living beauty product embodiment of the word "meh." But. It. Is. The. Best.
What does it do? All of the things, that's what. It gently exfoliates, de-gunks pores, smooths skin, increases radiance, hydrates, smooths fine lines and any weird patchiness, fights breakouts and blackheads, improves clarity — and you will notice actual, visible results the first time you use it. All of that might sound like insane infomercial hyperbole, but in the words of DJ Khaled, "I promise you!!!!!!"
In case you haven't had time to brush up on exfoliation recently, BHA (beta-hydroxy acids) fall into the category of chemical exfoliants, which dermatologists often favor for their gentler approach as compared with scrubs, which can be abrasive to the skin. And because BHA molecules (in contrast with AHA ones) are oil-soluble, they penetrate deep into pores, getting all up in there to slough off the dead skin cells that can accumulate and oxidize, creating blackheads. It's science! But BHAs are also soothing and anti-inflammatory, so they won't cause skin to get all angry and agitated.
Other good stuff in this formula: salicylic acid to fight breakouts, green tea to act as an antioxidant, and methylpropanediol (a moisturizer). You can use it every day, which I do, and I like to pair it with a gycolic peel, like the Pixi Glow Peel Pads (which is totally kosher, since glycolic acid is an alpha-hydroxy acid that doesn't penetrate as deeply but is awesome for fighting aging, correcting dark spots and aiding in dead-skin-cell-sloughing). I only wish that it came in a larger — and, fine, more aesthetically pleasing — bottle.
Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant, $29, available at Paula's Choice.
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