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Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Gel Exfoliant Ingredients Explained

5.0   from 2 ratings
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Updated on July 18, 2023

Overview

What it is

Exfoliator with 13 ingredients that contains BHA

Cool Features

It is cruelty-free and reef safe

Suited For

It has ingredients that are good for fighting acne, brightening skin, sensitive skin, oily skin, reducing pores and scar healing

Free From

It doesn't contain any harsh alcohols, common allergens, fragrances, oils, parabens, silicones or sulfates

Fun facts

Paula's Choice is from United States. This product is used in 254 routines created by our community.

We independently verify ingredients and our claims are backed by peer-reviewed research. Does this product need an update? Let us know.

You should know

Here's our breakdown of the notable ingredients, benefits, and concerns we determined from the ingredients in this product. Click any item to learn more.

Notable Ingredients

BHA

Benefits

Good For Oily Skin
Reduces Irritation
Reduces Large Pores
Scar Healing
Acne Fighting
Brightening

Concerns

Drying
Irritating
Rosacea
Eczema

Ingredient Info

Click any item below to learn more and view relevant ingredients.
alcohol-free
silicon-free
fragrance-free
sulfate-free
paraben-free
oil-free
fungal-acne safe
reef-safe
eu-allergen-free
vegan
cruelty-free

Ingredients Overview

Here's our quick-to-read summary of the ingredients in this product. Keep scrolling if you'd like to learn more about what each ingredient does!
Ingredient
Features
1
Skin Conditioning, Solvent
2
Solvent
3
Humectant, Masking, Skin Conditioning, Solvent
1 / 0
4
Emulsifying
0 / 0
Not safe for Fungal Acne Icon
5
Masking, Preservative, Skin Conditioning
BHA IconPreservative IconCan worsen Dry Skin IconGood for Oily Skin IconMay cause irritation IconGood for Minimizing Pores IconGood for Scar Healing IconHelps fight Acne IconMay worsen Eczema IconMay worsen Rosacea IconHelps brighten skin Icon
6
Skin Conditioning
7
Emulsion Stabilising, Stabilising
8
Antimicrobial, Antioxidant, Skin Protecting, UV Absorber
Antioxidant Icon
9
Astringent, Skin Conditioning
10
Skin Conditioning
11
Masking, Skin Conditioning, Soothing
Helps reduce irritation Icon
12
13
Buffering

Ingredients Explained

This product contains 13 ingredients. Click on any ingredient to learn more about it
1
What it does: Skin Conditioning, Solvent
Community Rating: 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. Talk about multi-purpose! If you see this, drink a glass of water. Stay hydrated!

Learn more about Water
2
What it does: Solvent
Community Rating: Mixed

Methylpropanediol is a synthetic solvent and humectant.

As a solvent, it helps dissolve other ingredients, helping to evenly distribute ingredients throughout the product. This ingredient has also been shown to have antimicrobial properties which makes it a preservative booster.

Methylpropanediol is able to add a bit of moisture to the skin. It also helps other ingredients be better absorbed into the skin, such as salicylic acid.

Learn more about Methylpropanediol
3
What it does: Humectant, Masking, Skin Conditioning, Solvent
Community Rating: Mixed

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

  • It is a solvent, meaning that it helps to dissolve other ingredients. This also enhances the absorption of the product into one's skin.
  • It is a humectant, which means that it helps attract moisture into the skin.
  • It helps improve product application.

Overall, Butylene Glycol is a safe and well-rounded ingredient. It is unlikely to irritate skin, and works well with pretty much all other ingredients.

4
What it does: Emulsifying
Community Rating: Very Disliked

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

As a surfactant, it helps collect dirt and oils for washing. Emulsifiers prevent oils and water from separating.

Polysorbate 20 also adds scent to a product. Since it is made using sorbitol, it has a sweet scent. Sorbitol can also be found in fruits such as apples and peaches.

The lauric acid used to create Polysorbate 20 is often derived from coconuts.

Polysorbate 20 may not be fungal acne safe.

Learn more about Polysorbate 20
5
What it does: Masking, Preservative, Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Liked

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
6
What it does: Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Liked

Phytosphingosine is a phospholipid naturally found in our skin. It helps moisturize, soothe, and protect skin.

Phytosphingosine is already present in our skin. On our skin, it is a building block for ceramides.

Phytosphingosine tells our skin to increase its natural moisturizing factor (NMF). The NMF is responsible for hydration, a strong barrier, and plasticity. Our NMF decreases with age. Increasing NMF leads to more healthy and hydrated skin.

Studies show products formulated with NMF ingredients help strengthen our skin's barrier. Having a healthy skin barrier reduces irritation and increases hydration. Our skin barrier is responsible for having plump and firm skin. It also helps protect our skin against infection, allergies, and inflammation.

Phytosphingosine is also abundant in plants and fungi.

More ingredients that help boost collagen in skin:

Learn more about Phytosphingosine
7
What it does: Emulsion Stabilising, Stabilising
Community Rating: Mixed

Hydroxyethylcellulose is used to improve the texture of products. It is created from a chemical reaction involving ethylene oxide and alkali-cellulose. Cellulose is a sugar found in plant cell walls and help give plants structure.

Hydroxyethylcellulose helps stabilize products by preventing ingredients from separating. It can also help thicken the texture of a product.

This ingredient can also be found in pill medicines to help our bodies digest other ingredients.

Learn more about Hydroxyethylcellulose
8
What it does: Antimicrobial, Antioxidant, Skin Protecting, UV Absorber
Community Rating: Loved

Vitis Vinifera Seed Extract comes from the grape vine. Grape seeds are a byproduct of creating grape juice or wine.

The components of grape seeds have many skin benefits. Research has found it to be antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory. It also contains many potent antioxidants such as Vitamin E , Vitamin C, proanthocyanidins, polyphenols, flavonoids, and anthocyanins. Proanthocyanidin has been shown to help even out skin tone.

Antioxidants help fight free-radical molecules. Free-radical molecules are capable of damaging our cells and other genetic material. Antioxidants help stabilize free-radicals by donating extra electrons. Grape seed extract may help reduce the signs of aging.

The antimicrobial properties of grape seed may help treat acne. However, more research is needed to support this claim.

Grape seed has also been found to help absorb UV rays. Grape seed extract should not replace your sunscreen.

Learn more about Vitis Vinifera Seed Extract
9
What it does: Astringent, Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Loved

Camellia Oleifera Leaf Extract is the extract of the leaves of Camellia Oleifera, Theaceae.

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

Camellia Oleifera Leaf is rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants help fight free-radical molecules. Free-radical molecules are capable of damaging our cells and other genetic material. Antioxidants help stabilize free-radicals. Antioxidants may help reduce the signs of aging.

Camellia Oleifera Leaf also has anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties.

Learn more about Camellia Oleifera Leaf Extract
10
What it does: Skin Conditioning

We don't have a description for Epilobium Angustifolium Extract.

11
What it does: Masking, Skin Conditioning, Soothing
Community Rating: Loved

Bisabolol is pimarily used to add fragrance to a product. However, it is also famous for helping soothe skin.

Bisabolol comes from German chamomile essential oil. Synthetic Bisabolol has been shown to be less effective.

Bisabolol helps soothe skin. It does this by blocking the inflammatory signals, helping to reduce your body's reaction to irritation.

Bisabolol also interferes with the process of hyperpigmentation. This can help with reducing dark spots and uneven tone.

Bisabolol is an antioxidant. Antioxidants help fight free-radicals. Free-radicals are molecules that may damage your skin cells. By fighting these free-radicals, Bisabolol may slow down signs of aging.

Studies have shown Bisabolol to have antimicrobial properties and may be a fungicide. These properties help preserve a product's shelf life.

Bisabolol also helps the absorption of other ingredients.

Learn more about Bisabolol
12
What it does:
Community Rating: Disliked

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.

Tetrasodium EDTA comes as a white solid and is soluble in water.

13
What it does: Buffering
Community Rating: 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
Embed Ingredients

Here's what our community thinks of the 13 ingredients in this product ✨

46% are loved or liked
31% have mixed ratings
15% are disliked or very disliked
8% have no rating yet

When to use

We've created a guide with info on when you should use Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Gel Exfoliant. We've also included some recommended products to use it with, as well as some routine inspiration!

Read our guide on when to use Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Gel Exfoliant ->
Verified by SkinSort

We're dedicated to providing you with the most up-to-date and science-backed ingredient info out there.

The data we've presented on this page has been verified by a member of the SkinSort Team.

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Reviews

5.0 /5
from 2 ratings
No Scent (1) Sticky (1) Works Well (1)
nafi_saa's avatar

nafi_saa

11 months ago Β· Combination Skin
Review

Single-handedly cleared up my ever present stubborn blackheads!

MichelleR's avatar

MichelleR

5 months ago Β· Dry Skin
Review

I started using this product during the day and layering it under my sunscreen. It wasn't bad for that, but I just find using it at night is much...

I started using this product during the day and layering it under my sunscreen. It wasn't bad for that, but I just find using it at night is much more effective. It is a thick enough consistency that it can go on as the last layer of a night-time routine and act as an overnight mask.

I love the BHA liquid exfoliant and use that during the day now, due to its quick absorption. I am not able to use the BHA lotion exfoliant at all, due to my Dimethicone allergy. The gel and liquid products are my GO TO products when i'm battling a break out. I literally wake up with better skin.

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