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Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant - US Versus Pixi Beauty Clarity Tonic

Exfoliator
Toner
American Brand United States
British Brand United Kingdom

Updated on December 05, 2023

Overview

What they are

These products are both cruelty-free and reef safe . They have a total of 3 ingredients in common

Cool Features

They both contain BHA

Suited For

They're both likely to be good for fighting acne, brightening skin, oily skin, reducing pores and scar healing

Free From

They both do not contain any harsh alcohols, common allergens, fragrances, oils, parabens, silicones or sulfates

We independently verify ingredients, and our claims are backed by peer-reviewed research. Spot a product that needs an update? Let us know.

Ingredient Info

Click any item below to learn more and see relevant ingredients

At a glance

Click on any of the items below to learn more

Notable Ingredients

Benefits

Concerns

Notable Ingredients

Benefits

Concerns

Ingredients Side-by-side

found in both products
Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant
Water Skin Conditioning, Solvent

Water. It's the most common cosmetic ingredient of all. You'll usually see it at the top of ingredient lists, meaning that it makes up the largest part of the product.

Methylpropanediol Solvent

Methylpropanediol is a synthetic solvent and humectant.

Butylene Glycol Humectant, Masking, Skin Conditioning
1 / 0

Butylene Glycol (or BG) is used within cosmetic products for a few different reasons:

1 Com. / 0 Irr.
Salicylic Acid Masking, Preservative, Skin Conditioning
BHA IconPreservative IconGood for Oily Skin IconGood for Minimizing Pores IconGood for Scar Healing IconHelps fight Acne IconHelps brighten skin IconCan worsen Dry Skin IconMay cause irritation IconMay worsen Eczema IconMay worsen Rosacea Icon
BHABHA Icon PreservativePreservative Icon 5 Benefits 4 Concerns

Salicylic Acid (also known as beta hydroxy acid or BHA) is one of the most well-known ingredients for treating skin that struggles with blackheads and acne. It helps to exfoliate both the skin's surface and pores, and also acts as an anti-inflammatory agent.

Polysorbate 20 Emulsifying
0 / 0 Not safe for Fungal Acne Icon
Not safe for Fungal AcneNot safe for Fungal Acne Icon

Polysorbate 20 is made by combining ethoxylation of sorbitan, ethylene oxide, and lauric acid. It is a mild cleansing agent, surfactant, and emulsifier.

0 Com. / 0 Irr.
Very Disliked Full details ->
Camellia Oleifera Leaf Masking

Camellia Oleifera Leaf is a green tea plant native to China. It is closely related to Camellia sinensis. Both plants have very similar properties.

Unknown Full details ->
Sodium Hydroxide Buffering

Sodium Hydroxide is also known as lye or caustic soda. It is used to adjust the pH of products; many ingredients require a specific pH to be effective.

Tetrasodium EDTA

Tetrasodium EDTA is the salt formed from neutralizing ethylenediamine tetraacetic acid with sodium hydroxide. It is a chelating agent and used to prevent metal ions from binding to other ingredients. This helps keep the product and ingredients stable.

Disliked Full details ->
Clarity Tonic
Water Skin Conditioning, Solvent

Water. It's the most common cosmetic ingredient of all. You'll usually see it at the top of ingredient lists, meaning that it makes up the largest part of the product.

Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice Skin Conditioning
Helps reduce Skin Redness IconHelps reduce irritation Icon
2 Benefits

Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice comes from leaves of the aloe plant. Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice is best known for helping to soothe sunburns. It is also anti-inflammatory, moisturizing, antiseptic, and can help heal wounds.

Propanediol Solvent

Propanediol helps absorb ingredients into your skin, boosting their benefits. It can act as an emollient, making your skin softer. Propanediol can help products last longer by boosting the properties of preservatives within the formulation.

Glycerin Humectant, Skin Conditioning, Skin Protecting
0 / 0 Helps hydrate Dry Skin IconHelps brighten skin Icon
2 Benefits

Glycerin is already naturally found in your skin. It helps moisturize and protect your skin.

0 Com. / 0 Irr.
Sodium PCA Humectant, Skin Conditioning
0 / 0

Sodium PCA is the sodium salt of pyroglutamic acid and is naturally occurring on human skin.

0 Com. / 0 Irr.
Betaine Humectant, Skin Conditioning
Helps hydrate Dry Skin IconHelps reduce Skin Redness IconHelps reduce irritation Icon
3 Benefits

Betaine is a common humectant (a substance that promotes retention of moisture). It's known to be gentle on the skin and can help balance hydration.

Lactobacillus Ferment Lysate Filtrate Skin Conditioning

We don't have a description for Lactobacillus Ferment Lysate Filtrate.

Glycolic Acid Buffering
AHA IconGood for Oily Skin IconGood for Skin Texture IconGood for Minimizing Pores IconHelps with Anti-Aging IconGood for Dark Spots IconGood for Scar Healing IconHelps brighten skin IconMay cause irritation IconMay worsen Rosacea Icon
AHAAHA Icon 7 Benefits 2 Concerns

Glycolic Acid is arguably the most famous AHA with a ton of research to back up its benefits.

Sodium Hyaluronate Humectant, Skin Conditioning
0 / 0 Hyaluronic Acid Icon
Hyaluronic AcidHyaluronic Acid Icon

Sodium Hyaluronate is hyaluronic acid's salt form. It is commonly derived from the sodium salt of hyaluronic acid.

0 Com. / 0 Irr.
Salicylic Acid Masking, Preservative, Skin Conditioning
BHA IconPreservative IconGood for Oily Skin IconGood for Minimizing Pores IconGood for Scar Healing IconHelps fight Acne IconHelps brighten skin IconCan worsen Dry Skin IconMay cause irritation IconMay worsen Eczema IconMay worsen Rosacea Icon
BHABHA Icon PreservativePreservative Icon 5 Benefits 4 Concerns

Salicylic Acid (also known as beta hydroxy acid or BHA) is one of the most well-known ingredients for treating skin that struggles with blackheads and acne. It helps to exfoliate both the skin's surface and pores, and also acts as an anti-inflammatory agent.

Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract Bleaching, Emollient, Skin Conditioning
Good for Dark Spots Icon
Good for Dark SpotsGood for Dark Spots Icon

Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract is an extract of the roots of Licorice. It has been found to have several benefits such as skin hydrating, conditioning, and soothing.

Salix Alba Bark Extract Astringent, Skin Conditioning, Soothing
Good for Oily Skin Icon
Good for Oily SkinGood for Oily Skin Icon

Salix Alba Bark Extract comes from the white willow tree, which is native to Europe and Central Asia.

Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate Antioxidant, Skin Conditioning
Vitamin C IconAntioxidant IconHelps reduce Skin Redness IconGood for Skin Texture IconHelps with Anti-Aging IconGood for Dark Spots IconHelps brighten skin Icon
Vitamin CVitamin C Icon AntioxidantAntioxidant Icon 5 Benefits

Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate (MAP) is a form of Vitamin C and is an antioxidant. It can help to reduce redness, improve skin texture, reduce the effects of aging, reduce the visibility of dark spots, and brighten skin.

Centella Asiatica Extract Cleansing, Skin Conditioning, Smoothing
Helps reduce Skin Redness IconHelps reduce irritation Icon
2 Benefits

Centella Asiatica Extract (Centella) is derived from an herb native to Southeast Asia. It is famous for its anti-inflammatory and soothing properties.

Saccharum Officinarum Extract Moisturising, Skin Conditioning

This ingredient is also called sugarcane extract. It is a moisturizing humectant and has skin soothing properties.

Leuconostoc Ferment Filtrate Antimicrobial, Skin Conditioning

Leuconostoc Ferment Filtrate is created from fermenting leuconostoc, a microorganism.

Populus Tremuloides Bark Extract Antiseborrhoeic, Skin Conditioning

We don't have a description for Populus Tremuloides Bark Extract.

Unknown Full details ->
Lactic Acid Buffering, Humectant, Skin Conditioning
AHA IconGood for Skin Texture IconGood for Minimizing Pores IconHelps with Anti-Aging IconGood for Dark Spots IconGood for Scar Healing IconHelps brighten skin IconMay cause irritation IconMay worsen Eczema IconMay worsen Rosacea Icon
AHAAHA Icon 6 Benefits 3 Concerns

Lactic Acid is an AHA that is derived from fermenting lactose, a carbohydrate from milk. It removes the top layer of old and dead skin cells and helps increase cell turnover.

Sodium Citrate Buffering, Masking

Sodium Citrate is the sodium salts of citric acid. In skincare, it is used to alter pH levels and acts as a preservative.

Sodium Hydroxide Buffering

Sodium Hydroxide is also known as lye or caustic soda. It is used to adjust the pH of products; many ingredients require a specific pH to be effective.

Ethylhexylglycerin Skin Conditioning

Ethylhexylglycerin (we can't pronounce this either) is commonly used as a preservative and skin softener. It is derived from glyceryl.

Citric Acid Buffering, Masking
AHA IconGood for Skin Texture IconGood for Minimizing Pores IconGood for Scar Healing IconHelps brighten skin IconMay cause irritation IconMay worsen Rosacea Icon
AHAAHA Icon 4 Benefits 2 Concerns

Citric Acid is an AHA derived from citrus fruits (think oranges, lemons, and limes!).

Disliked Full details ->
Potassium Sorbate Preservative
Preservative Icon
PreservativePreservative Icon

Potassium Sorbate is a preservative used to prevent yeast and mold in products. It is commonly found in both cosmetic and food products.

Disliked Full details ->
Sodium Benzoate Masking, Preservative
Preservative Icon
PreservativePreservative Icon

Sodium Benzoate is a preservative. It's used in both cosmetic and food products to inhibit the growth of mold and bacteria. It is typically produced synthetically.

Disliked Full details ->
Phenoxyethanol Preservative
Preservative Icon
PreservativePreservative Icon

Phenoxyethanol is a preservative that has germicide, antimicrobial, and aromatic properties. Studies show that phenoxyethanol can prevent microbial growth. By itself, it has a scent that is similar to that of a rose.

Very Disliked Full details ->

Ingredients Explained

These ingredients are found in both products.

Ingredients higher up in an ingredient list are typically present in a larger amount.

Skin Conditioning, Solvent
Loved

Water. It's the most common cosmetic ingredient of all. You'll usually see it at the top of ingredient lists, meaning that it makes up the largest part of the product.

So why is it so popular? Water most often acts as a solvent - this means that it helps dissolve other ingredients into the formulation.

You'll also recognize water as that liquid we all need to stay alive. If you see this, drink a glass of water. Stay hydrated!

Learn more about Water
Masking, Preservative, Skin Conditioning
Loved

Salicylic Acid (also known as beta hydroxy acid or BHA) is one of the most well-known ingredients for treating skin that struggles with blackheads and acne. It helps to exfoliate both the skin's surface and pores, and also acts as an anti-inflammatory agent.

This multitasking property makes it a great ingredient for cleaning out pores, controlling oil production, and reducing inflammation.

Unlike AHAs which are water soluble, Salicylic Acid is oil soluble. This means that it's able to exfoliate the inside of pores and reduce blackheads.

Concentrations of 0.5-2% are recognized by the U.S. FDA as an over-the-counter topical acne product.

It can cause irritation and/or dryness if one's skin already has a compromised moisture barrier, so it's best to focus on repairing that before introducing a Salicylic Acid into your routine.

In general, Salicylic Acid is a great ingredient for oily acne-prone skin.

While salicylic acid does not increase sun-sensitivity, we still recommend wearing SPF.

If you are looking for the ingredient called BHA or Butylated Hydroxyanisole, click here.

Learn more about Salicylic Acid
Buffering
Mixed

Sodium Hydroxide is also known as lye or caustic soda. It is used to adjust the pH of products; many ingredients require a specific pH to be effective.

In small amounts, sodium hydroxide is considered safe to use. However, large amounts may cause chemical burns due to its high alkaline.

Your skin has a natural pH and acid mantle. This acid mantle helps prevent harmful bacteria from breaking through. The acid mantle also helps keep your skin hydrated.

"Alkaline" refers to a high pH level. A low pH level would be considered acidic.

Learn more about Sodium Hydroxide

Ingredient Ratings

Here's what our community thinks of the ingredients in these products.

Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant
2
3
2
1
liked
mixed
disliked
not rated
Clarity Tonic
16
4
4
1
liked
mixed
disliked
not rated

When to use

3,492 Routines
27% use in am
73% use in pm
67% use every day
When to use See routines that use it ->
73 Routines
42% use in am
58% use in pm
84% use every day
When to use See routines that use it ->

Reviews

Here's what our community thinks

Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant 8 ingredients

4.2 /5
from 39 ratings
Works Well (9) Expensive (7) Light (3)
skinogre's avatar

skinogre

3 months ago · Oily Skin
Review

The first night I used Paula’s choice exfoliant just once, it cleaned up my skin scraping it whole, I was left GLOWING but it felt kind of tight...

The first night I used Paula’s choice exfoliant just once, it cleaned up my skin scraping it whole, I was left GLOWING but it felt kind of tight like I had been using corsx salicylic acid for 3 days straight, it takes some getting used to, to the extent that the instructions literally say to start off once a week and slowly build your usage up overtime, it’s really strong but does the job well. I’ve noticed that if I overuse it, I get extremely coarse skin and whiteheads slowly appear in the places I use it most (my nose). This is why I highly advise to purchase the small sample bottle first and to build your way up, at MOST every other day. I’ve used it 3-4 times a week since and on the few days I don’t I use a daily-friendly exfoliant toner pad so my skin barrier isn’t destroyed but bacteria doesn’t also build. It dries up all the forehead gunk, removes residue on the sides of my nose and dried up the pimples I had been trying to rid of for so long, my skin is left gleaming, exfoliated as ever, and I know my skin wouldn’t be as flawless without it. 30ml sample version Lasted 2 months from Dec-Feb used every other day. I now use the 118ml version since Feb and there’s plenty left, will most likely last for about 7 months and 3 weeks in total (based on how long i went through the sample size). As much as I love this I deeply suggest researching and sampling because there are mixed reviews of people claiming that it ruined their skin which doesn’t surprise me -since it is pretty harsh exfoliant and skin is diverse. I tend to be wary of western products but one thing western products do well is harsh exfoliants. If you have a lot of bacterial residue, sebaceous filaments and the feeling of gunk on your face even after your exfoliant, this is a good one to consider. This combined with my Needley daily Toner pad is the only reason why my forehead looks like a glazed doughnut

MichelleR's avatar

MichelleR

8 months ago · Dry Skin
Review

Viral for a REASON
This product is popular for a reason. Back in the day [showing my age] we used to use Noxzema and Stridex for our acne. But...

Viral for a REASON
This product is popular for a reason. Back in the day [showing my age] we used to use Noxzema and Stridex for our acne. But those products were so harsh, burned, and didn't produce any results. This product not only clears pores but is also nourishing [suspect it is the green tea]. After I apply, my skin doesn't feel raw or sensitive. The formulation of this product is FANTASTIC. Truly viral for a reason. It will forever be in my skincare collection.

Pixi Beauty Clarity Tonic 25 ingredients

5.0 /5
from 1 rating
Absorbs Well (1) Great Value (1) Hydrating (1)
sarape's avatar

Sara

5 months ago · Combination Skin
Review

I think i've been purchasing this Toner since i started in skincare. It's very lightweight and perfect for my very oily skin. It provides a very...

I think i've been purchasing this Toner since i started in skincare. It's very lightweight and perfect for my very oily skin. It provides a very gentle exfoliation (with BHA and AHA), so i can use it almost every day without irritating my face. Plus, it has a very mild and lovely smell, like something clean. I love it.