A few years ago my mother jumped on the Clairsonic bandwagon.  Thrilled with the results, she went crazy and bought Clairsonic Mias for both me and my sister.  It was love at first use for me.  I loved the way my skin felt and was even more in love with the idea of giving my skin a deep clean.

Several months went by and I started to notice my skin doing weird things.  Weird things happening to my skin was nothing new.  Since puberty I have struggled with acne.  I have been on Accutane twice, once when I was in my late teens again in my mid twenties, along with a combination of over the counter and prescription treatments.  Therefore, when I started developing these small red bumps on my cheeks, a place I had never really broken out before, I knew it wasn’t acne.  It was rosacea!  It turned out that the harshness of my Clairsonic Mia was actually wreaking havoc on my skin and brought to the surface a whole new skin issue that I had never dealt with before.

Around the time of my Clairsonic debacle I started using Paula’s Choice skin care products.  I have spoken about my undying love for this brand before.  For years, I had been a huge fan of Paula Begoun’s skin care and makeup reviews on her site Beautypedia and finally decided to give her own Paula’s Choice skin care products a try.  Since then, I have never looked back.  While I use quite a few of her products regularly, there is one in particular that has been such a game changing one that I have to tell you about it.

Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Gel Exfoliant

skin care The biggest bummer about not being able to use my Clairsonic was missing out on being able to exfoliate my skin regularly.  Rosacea aside, I noticed huge benefits.  Without even knowing the ingredients in Paula’s Choice BHA Gel Exfoliant, I was drawn to it for this reason alone.  After using it just one day, I saw the most amazing results.  Not only did my skin feel silky and smooth, I noticed it was less oily, less congested looking and much more vibrant and youthful in appearance.  I was getting the results of a good exfoliation without the harshness of bristles.  But why?

This is when I began to understand how salicylic acid, the main ingredient in this exfoliant gel, works.  I want to share this gem of an ingredient, no matter what or whose product you use, with you because it can help with a laundry list of skin issues beyond just having a healthy glow.

Salicylic acid, also known as beta hydroxy acid (BHA) that is a common ingredient found in many acne products.  Being a longtime sufferer of acne, this is how I first came to know about it even though I never really paid any attention to what it was.  What I didn’t know is that salicylic acid is non-irritating.  Seeing that I usually used salicylic acid with other harsh and drying products, like benzoyl peroxide, I just assumed salicylic acid was equally irritating.  However, salicylic acid is a derivative of aspirin (both are salicylates—aspirin’s technical name is acetylsalicylic acid) which also makes salicylic acid an anti-inflammatory.  Sadly, if you are allergic to aspirin you may also be allergic to salicylic acid.

As I came to learn about salicylic acid, it started to make sense why upon using this BHA gel whenever I would breakout my skin would always seem far less inflamed and red and the lifespan of my breakouts were much shorter.

Yet, there are even more benefits to using BHA’s.  Salicylic acid also has antimicrobial properties and an ability to penetrate into the pores and exfolliate inside the pore as well as on the surface which can be very beneficial in helping to reduce whiteheads, blackheads and acne.

However, you don’t have to be a sufferer of acne, inflammation or roscaea to use salicylic acid.  The product has proved beneficial in improving skin thickness, barrier function, and collagen production while also minimizing wrinkles.

When I started using Paula’s Choice products I started with a whole bunch at once.  Therefore, I had no idea which product was really doing the majority of the heavy lifting for me.  It wasn’t until I accidentally ordered the wrong product that I realized what a game changer this skin care product is.

If you peruse the Paula’s Choice website and search for salicylic acid you’ll find quite a few products show up, 40 to be exact.  For years, I have been using, and continue to use the 2% BHA gel, which is perfect for normal to oily skin like mine.  A few months ago, on a whim, I decided to switch it up and check out the new liquid version of this product.  While I liked it, I found the bottle ran out much quicker and I also felt like I wasn’t getting as much coverage.  The gel can last me several months whereas the liquid seemed to run out in a month.  For my next order I decided to go back to my trusted gel but, oops, I accidentally ordered the 2% BHA lotion which is much better for dry skin.  This minor mistake wound up being a HUGE problem for my skin.  Even though I noticed I bought a lotion instead of a gel, I didn’t read that it was more suited for dry skin, not my oily skin.  Within days, I not only started breaking out badly, my skin looked congested, tired, and lacking in its normal vibrancy because of the extra hydrating I didn’t need.  As soon as I noticed my mistake I ordered the BHA gel and it only took 24 hours after the gel use for my skin to do a total turnaround and get back on track.

Of course, what might be perfect for me, may not for you, and you may need this extra hydrating or prefer the lighter weight feel of the liquid over the gel.  This is why I mentioned all three products, and, clearly, you will need to choose carefully.  However, given how magical my skin rebounded after I started using the proper product is why I love it so much.  I am not kidding when I say, if I was wealthy, I would turn all Oprah-like and just had out this exfolliant to women on the street shouting, “You get a bottle, you get a bottle, you get a bottle!”  Given the fact that my fortune is beyond smaller, all I can do is blog about it.  While I will make a few shekels through my affiliate links, this post is not sponsored or endorsed by Paula’s Choice.  I want to assure you of that.

But wait, there’s more…Paula’s Choice BHA 9 for Stubborn Imperfections

skin care Despite what feels like a lifelong battle with acne, since using Paula’s Choice products, my acne problems have been a thing of the past.  When I do breakout, it’s small and fleeting.  That was until I accidentally used the lotion instead of the gel.  Between my skin breaking out terribly from this mistake and being left with some unsightly red marks as a result, I purchased Paula’s Resist BHA 9 for Stubborn Imperfections and I LOVE it!

Think about what typically happens when you breakout.  You probably put some drying lotion on it, like benzoyl peroxide.  Not only can this be irritating but it often just traps oil under the surface of the dried out skin, causing more breakouts and more oil.  This is why I love this BHA 9 treatment that goes beyond just taking care of breakouts.  If you have redness from past acne, have wrinkles, redness, enlarged pores or even Keratosis Pilaris it will help.  It’s timed release, won’t dry out the skin, won’t irritate it or make it worse instead of better.  This has been my latest weapon in getting my skin back under control and it’s working great!!!

If your skin goes through a massive purge with salicylic acid

If you take my advice and pick up some salicylic acid and notice that your skin starts to get worse before it gets better, don’t send me a hate email.  As I have come to understand, salicylic acid helps skin cells turnover at a faster rate which can more quickly bring to the surface what may had been brewing prior to using the product.  While disheartening, this can actually be good news.  Either the breakout would have come to the surface eventually or it would have remained deep within the pore keeping it clogged and enlarged.

What to look for in a BHA salicylic acid

It really doesn’t matter where you get your salicylic acid, if you choose Paula’s Choice products, like I have, or if you get them somewhere else.  Generally speaking, I think it is a fantastic ingredient that is worth adding to your skin care routine.  Yet, before you drop a ton of cash, here are some tips when purchasing.  In order for BHA exfoliants to work properly, they must have a concentration of at least 0.5% salicylic acid, although amounts from 1% to 2% are far more effective for daily use. The formula’s pH is also a critical factor, with a pH of 3 to 4 being optimal. This is why cleansers with BHAs won’t work—their pH level, typically 5.0-6.0, is too high. (Stick to leave on BHA exfoliants instead.)  For more information on how salicylic acid works, what to look for and how to find the right one for you read more here.

I know firsthand what it is like to struggle with temperamental skin.  It can wreak havoc on your self esteem, sense of wellbeing, confidence, and more.  This is why I love to share my findings on what has helped me on this blog whenever I can.  If I can spare someone else from having to deal with the ups and downs of challenging skin I am thrilled.  I hope this helps!

Oh and one last thing I want to say, to those who love their Clairsonic products or are considering them, please don’t let my experience with them sway you.  I have terribly sensitive skin and it just wasn’t right for me.   For many people it is a wonderful skin care product.