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I used this product religiously for four weeks to see if it's worth the hype. My skin gave me the answer.
It’s confession time: For the past six to nine months, I’ve zoomed in on every single picture of my face for analysis. Is it the lighting, or is that a blemish? A stray hair or a new line? I’ve visited the dermatologist to discuss Botox because the aging process is real, and I am not willing to go gentle into that good chapter of my life. Ultimately, I decided to hold off on injections for a few years. Instead, I’m changing up my skin care routine to see if some new products made a difference. Enter Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting Liquid Exfoliant.
I love trying new products, but I’m also a creature of habit. And when it comes time to replenish my beloved essentials, I often chicken out and just stick to what I know. I’ve been using the same routine for about three years now, but it’s finally time to try something new—and my dermatologist agreed. After some research, I took the plunge and ordered some products from a brand I had heard of but never tried, including a new exfoliant.
With more than 47,000 five-star ratings on Amazon, Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting Liquid Exfoliant is one of the most popular exfoliators out there. Surely there’s a reason for all the raving, right? I thought so and took the plunge to find out for sure. I added it to my updated skin care regimen and used it consistently for four weeks. Spoiler alert: Three weeks in, I was already receiving compliments on my glowing skin.
What is Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant?
Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting Liquid Exfoliant is a gentle, leave-on exfoliant formulated to unclog and shrink pores. It’s formulated with salicylic acid (also known as Beta Hydroxy Acid, or BHA), which helps to dissolve dead skin cells, and soothing green tea leaf extract. These key ingredients leave skin soft, smooth, and even-toned.
Unlike other facial scrubs and exfoliators, which are often recommended for use just once or twice a week, Paula’s Choice is so gentle that it can be used twice a day. It doesn’t contain any microparticles, aka those miniscule little scrubbing beads that are in some other exfoliators. Instead, it’s a lightweight, water-based formula that goes on easily and absorbs quickly into your skin. That’s right! You leave it on. No rinsing required.
How we tested it
courtesy Marissa Hillman
Since I previously used an exfoliator just once a week, and because this was a brand-new product, I was set on following the instructions. I expected to receive my new exfoliant in a box with an insert that explains exactly how to use it. However, the bottle arrived wrapped in what seemed like a pound of plastic, presumably to prevent the box from becoming a soggy mess should the bottle leak or break.
On the back of the Paula’s Choice bottle is a square with the number three next to the word exfoliate, followed by directions. They instruct applying the product all over the face and neck every other day, then working up to twice a day, and wearing sunscreen after application in the daytime. Simple enough, but I still had some questions.
First of all, does the number three mean this product should be the third step in my skin care routine? What are steps one and two? How many steps are there? Can I put moisturizer on over this? These may seem like no-brainers to some. But the products I’ve used for years are designed to be mixed together and put on all at once, so I’m not used to steps.
Since the directions on the bottle didn’t address any of my questions, I visited the Paula’s Choice website for answers. I learned that I was correct in my assumption that this exfoliant is the third step. The website also told me that the right way to apply my skin care products is to follow up with a face serum and moisturizer.
For the first week, I applied the exfoliant every other day, per the instructions. I applied it at night using a soft cotton round and let it dry before moving on to my other products. I also used a moisturizer with SPF in the mornings. I didn’t feel any stinging, burning, or irritation, so when week two rolled around, I graduated to using it every night.
It was during the second week that I noticed my first—and only—instance of irritation while using Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting Liquid Exfoliant. I applied it after using my dermaplaning tool and immediately felt stinging and discomfort. Going forward, I’ll know to skip using exfoliator after dermaplaning.
By the third week, I noticed a difference in my skin. It actually looked healthier than it had in a while. And I wasn’t the only one who thought so! During this week, a friend told me that my skin was glowing. I began using it every other morning in addition to every night, and by week four, I used it twice a day. After four weeks of use, my skin was looking and feeling better.
Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting Liquid Exfoliant product features
This award-winning Perfecting Liquid Exfoliant has a lot going for it, starting with its main ingredients. Salicylic acid unclogs and shrinks pores and dissolves dead skin cells, leaving your face with an even, glowing tone. Meanwhile, soothing green tea extract helps repair sun damage and fight signs of aging. The non-granulated formula is gentle enough for all skin types, so it’s a simple yet beneficial addition to your skin care routine.
What we liked about Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting Liquid Exfoliant
- Leaves noticeably smoother, brighter, healthier skin
- The gentle leave-on formula is easy to apply and doesn’t require rinsing
- Can be used up to twice daily, so there’s no tracking which day(s) to exfoliate
- Doesn’t leave your face greasy, sticky, or dry
What to consider about Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting Liquid Exfoliant
- Has a very mild smell, but only if you put your nose right up to the bottle
- Some people may have a salicylate allergy
- Can sting if you use immediately after dermaplaning
How do you use Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting Liquid Exfoliant?
Gently apply over your entire face and neck with fingers or a cotton round after cleansing and toning. Do not rinse off. Follow with your go-to face serums and moisturizer. For daytime, always finish with sunscreen.
How often do you use Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting Liquid Exfoliant?
Start out by using this product once every other day to see how your skin responds. You may gradually increase usage up to twice a day.
Can you wear makeup while using Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting Liquid Exfoliant?
Yes. This exfoliant just becomes a part of your normal skin care routine. Once you finish the last step in your routine, go ahead and apply makeup as you normally would.
What other reviewers have to say
As Paula’s Choice’s number-one-selling product, it has no shortage of users who take to the Internet to share their thoughts on the Skin Perfecting Liquid Exfoliant. In fact, it has garnered more than 47,000 glowing—pun intended—five-star reviews on Amazon.
“I’ve seen YouTubers recommend this product a million times, and I always wrote it off thinking it would never be as good as they say. I am so glad to report I was wrong,” says verified Amazon purchaser Anna. “I’ve had this stuff about a week, and it is WORKING. I’ve never seen anything work on my hormonal acne like this does. I can see a difference with the blackheads and sebaceous filaments on my nose.”
Verified Amazon purchaser ACooper2 writes, “I’ve struggled with hyperpigmentation, acne scars that stay for years, and worst of all were the blackheads and large pores. I have only been using this product for two weeks, and the changes I’ve seen in my skin have been amazing. I can’t believe that my face is no longer bumpy and rough. 100 percent worth a try!”
And if you thought this exfoliant was just for your face, think again. Verified Amazon purchaser Dani writes, “I bought it to use on my legs to help with the appearance of my keratosis pilaris. I literally watched this product improve my skin right in front of my eyes. It pulled up so much ‘dirt’ and dead skin from my pores I could instantly see my legs looking better with every wipe.”
I’m no stranger to exfoliants—in the past I’ve tried (and loved) Tula So Polished Exfoliating Sugar Scrub and Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial. Comparing Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting Liquid Exfoliant to the others, I can confidently say that Paula’s Choice delivered the most noticeable results over the course of four weeks.
As far as formulation goes, I love that the Tula exfoliator is infused with probiotics and superfoods, giving my skin a dose of healthy goodness two to four times a week. And when it comes to at-home spa days, Drunk Elephant’s once-a-week exfoliating facial mask does leave my skin baby smooth. But since I could incorporate the Paula’s Choice exfoliant into my daily routine as opposed to just once or twice a week, it stands out as the easiest to use.
In short, I’m amazed by Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting Liquid Exfoliant. It’s affordable, easy to use, and most of all, highly effective. Its four-ounce bottle still feels quite full even after four weeks of consistent use. I’d happily recommend it to anyone, regardless of skin type.
Where to buy Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting Liquid Exfoliant
If you’re looking to shop Paula’s Choice’s entire line of products, you’d have an easy time buying directly through the brand’s website, since everything is right there. But if you’re just looking to scoop up a bottle of this liquid gold, then you can find it on Amazon, Sephora, Dermstore, and Nordstrom. Each bottle will cost you $32—a low price to pay for visibly glowing, compliment-worthy skin.
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