At a glance
My detailed review of the Daily Pore-Refining Treatment 2% BHA, an exfoliating liquid treatment from the American skincare brand Paula's Choice.
We need to talk about acids (again)! Chemical exfoliation is still part of my skincare routine, but I’ve changed a lot of things in the last few months… Starting with the products I use. It’s time for me to officially introduce you to my new favorite BHA product: Paula’s Choice Daily Pore-Refining Treatment 2% BHA!
I frequently talk about exfoliating acids here because they’ve been part of my skincare routine for the past 15 years or so! I cannot live without them, apparently!
They’re just the best to smooth my skin, improve its texture, give me radiance and reduce the imperfections of my acne-prone skin (yes, at 41, acne is still there… A remaining part of my teenage years that I would have been fine leaving behind!).
In recent years, I switched to acid exfoliating toners, which I find really convenient to include in my routine. I was hooked on the famous Lotion P50 by Biologique Recherche for a long time but since last year, I’m no longer able to use it.
My skin isn’t especially sensitive, but since I’ve been using stronger retinoid derivatives, it made me feel like I had to make a choice: either Lotion P50 or a powerful retinoid. The two together, my skin can’t take it anymore.
I’m pretty stubborn, so I didn’t want to completely stop the acids, which would have been the prudent choice. However, I had to find options that were compatible with my retinoids!
BHA turned out to be a very good pick: it’s a category of exfoliating acid that my skin likes very much, and that doesn’t irritate me at all. Even when my skin is more sensitive than usual.
Well, you have to keep in mind that my skin is not especially sensitive to start with, that it’s very used to acids (I’m not really a beginner in this category of ingredients!) and that I don’t use them every day either. I don’t push it, three times a week is more than enough to have an effect and avoid irritation, at least on me.
I was therefore able to continue my various retinoid tests while continuing to use BHA. For over a year, Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliating Lotion was my BHA acid toner of choice.
And what can I say, I’m an incurable curious person… So when a reader (Astrid ❤️) told me about another BHA product from Paula’s Choice and that she thought it was even better, I had to know for sure and try it!
So I quickly got my hands on the Paula’s Choice Daily Pore-Refining Treatment 2% BHA.
And you know what? I think Astrid was right and I too prefer it to the Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant! Let me tell you all about it!
Paula’s Choice Daily Pore-Refining Treatment 2% BHA, product presentation:
I already introduced the brand Paula’s Choice in detail in last year’s interview with the skincare legend herself, Paula Begoun.
This American skin care brand is known for its acid products, which I think are among the best on the market. I find the ones I tried very effective without being irritating, which is not an easy balance to achieve in this category!
Paula Begoun herself has very sensitive skin and yet she loves acids and uses them on her every day. She is particularly fond of BHA, which is the main ingredient in this Daily Pore-Refining Treatment 2% BHA.
BHA or salicylic acid, which is present in the formula of this product (2%), is an exfoliating acid that helps remove dead skin cells and debris faster from the skin’s surface. It’s lipophilic, which means that it’s able to work inside the pores (= the skin’s oil/sebum reserves) to deeply cleanse them! It is therefore a very interesting active ingredient if you have easily clogged pores.
It also helps the skin to renew itself faster, which gives it a younger and more radiant appearance.
BHA can be used in the morning or evening, the ingredient itself has no photosensitizing effect on the skin. Now, that doesn’t mean you don’t need to use a sunscreen in your routine, quite the contrary!
I still feel compelled to make this disclaimer but I want to be very clear.
When I use a product with exfoliating acids, I never forget to apply a sunscreen product with a high SPF during the day (ideally, SPF50).
And I do this every day, not just at night after I use my exfoliant. A skin that is regularly exfoliated with acids is slightly thinner so it will be more sensitive to UV rays!
So let’s be clear, if you’re not prepared to apply a sunscreen daily, there’s simply no point in considering this treatment.
Yes, even if you live in Canada. Yes, even in winter. And no, sorry, your tinted cream with SPF is not enough. Unless you put on an super thick layer, the kind that makes your face look like wax, which nobody wants (you can see how it looks in this article by Hannah English if you want a scare/laugh!).
Foundation is not a good sunscreen, BB creams are not good either, and neither are cushion foundations, no matter how high the sunscreen index is on the packaging. Only sunscreen products can give you the necessary protection, assuming you use the right amount of course, i.e. 1/2 teaspoon for the face, neck, nape of the neck and ears.
Another advantage is that if you protect yourself properly and don’t expose yourself to the sun too much (it’s bad for your skin anyway!), you can continue to use your acid products without worrying about it during the summer 😉
Paula’s Choice Daily Pore-Refining Treatment 2% BHA is an exfoliating treatment based on BHA, but not only!
This product is especially designed for mature skin, with dedicated anti-aging ingredients: nordihydroguaiaretic acid which is an antioxidant and repair peptides (Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1) which help the skin to regenerate faster.
This lotion also contains several soothing ingredients: allantoin, panthenol, licorice root ( which also helps with the glow factor) as well as moisturizing ingredients such as glycerin and hyaluronic acid (low molecular weight).
Its texture is very liquid, like water, so it absorbs into the skin super fast. It’s perfect for the season, you can barely feel it once applied!
The brand recommends a daily application (morning or evening, as preferred) but personally, I use it three times a week (I explain everything below).
Paula’s Choice Daily Pore-Refining Treatment 2% BHA, my experience:
As I said in the introduction of this review, I have been doing several tests with quite powerful anti-ageing actives in the last few months.
These days, I use tretinoin (it’s a medical prescription as I explained in my article dedicated to retinoids, so I won’t elaborate further). As a result, I had to adapt my use of acid products.
I also decided a few months ago to use copper peptides in the evening (more info in my Focus article on copper peptides), so I had to completely change my skincare routine (I talked about it in detail in this article by the way).
In short, I decided to use my BHA product in the morning, just before my vitamin C serum. When I started doing it this way, I was still using my Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliating Lotion from Paula’s Choice.
I switched to using it three times a week in the morning and everything was going well but I have to admit that the “heavy” texture of this Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliating Lotion is not ideal for use in the morning on my combination skin. Even though it absorbs very well, I could still feel it on my skin, especially in this season (it’s over 45 degrees in the summer in Dubai).
When I finished it, I decided to try Paula’s Choice Daily Pore-Refining Treatment 2% BHA to replace it and it was a big revelation!
The texture of the latter is absolutely perfect for morning use! It’s super light and absorbs into the skin in a few seconds, you can barely feel it on the skin!
I also find it very soothing, and probably slightly more moisturizing than the Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliator.
Regarding the results, I have not noticed any change in my skin compared to when I was using the other Paula’s Choice BHA product, so I guess that means that they both work just as well on me!
Specifically, with this product, my skin is smoother, I almost no longer have a “textured” appearance. I have also seen an improvement in the size of my pores (at least they are less visible) and I almost no longer have blackheads (it’s worth noting that the retinol also helps a lot with this).
In short, I think that the Paula’s Choice Daily Pore-Refining Treatment 2% BHA (blue bottle) has replaced the famous Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliator (black bottle) in my heart!
I also like the idea that the Daily Pore-Refining Treatment 2% BHA is suitable for mature skin with dedicated anti-aging ingredients, they will probably help my skin in the long run 😉
I think I found my new favorite BHA acid toner!
Paula’s Choice Daily Pore-Refining Treatment 2% BHA is perfect for me right now: it’s effective, it makes my skin more beautiful without irritating it and the icing on the cake, I can use it while I’m on tretinoin!
The bottle is a bit smaller than the Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant one (88ml vs 118ml), and it’s also more expensive ($33 for the blue one vs $29.50 for the black one) but I still prefer it!
I think that if I use it 3 times a week, it will still last me a while (probably at least 6 months)!
Product Review in detail
Paula's Choice Daily Pore-Refining Treatment 2% BHA
"A daily leave-on liquid exfoliant with BHA, also known as salicylic acid, that offers multiple benefits for those struggling with visible signs of sun damage, aging, bumpy skin, and enlarged, clogged pores.
- Targets multiple signs of aging
- Visibly reduces pore size
- BHA gently and naturally exfoliates skin
- Lightweight liquid formula
- Use once or twice daily after cleansing & toning."
A hidden gem!
- it gives the skin a more radiant complexion,
- it helps to clarify the skin,
- it really helps to reduce pore size and smooth the skin texture,
- it's moisturizing,
- I don't find it irritating at all, on the contrary, I find it quite soothing,
- its anti-aging properties,
- its liquid texture is super pleasant to use.
- expensive but the bottle lasts for a really long time.
Daily Pore-Refining Treatment With 2% BHA
A light blue plastic bottle with a white cap, very simple.
Very liquid, like water. It absorbs very quickly and doesn't leave a sticky effect on the skin.
For all skin types, and especially for:
– combination skin with visible pores,
– mature skin,
– tired skin,
– dull skin,
– acne prone skin (especially with blackheads).
– tired skin
– dull skin
– skin exposed to the pollution
– mature skin
– sagging skin
– wrinkles and fine lines
– dark spots
– large pores
– uneven texture
– blackheads, whiteheads, pimples.
I use it in the morning, 3 times a week at the moment, but you can use it every day if you want to (that’s what the brand recommends, once a day). You can also use it in the evening if you prefer.
I apply it after I cleansed my face with a mild, low pH cleanser (acids work best on a low pH environment) on a clean, dry face. Whenever possible, I let my face dry for a few seconds before applying it, as wet skin is more sensitive to acids (if you have very sensitive skin, it’s even better to let the skin dry completely for 20-30 minutes).
I had no irritation with this product, I can handle it 3 times a week without trouble.
You can use a cotton pad to apply it (by dabbing the skin) but I prefer to apply it directly with my hands on my skin, to avoid wasting product. I shake the bottle so that I have a small amount in the palm of my hand and I apply it by pressing it on my face until it is completely absorbed. I don’t forget the neck and décolleté.
Once the product is absorbed, I simply move on to the rest of my skincare routine, usually with the application of a moisturizing toner and/or a Korean-style essence, but at the moment I most often use my vitamin C serum right afterwards.
The formula is super interesting, with some great soothing and anti-ageing ingredients !
It contains mainly salicylic acid (BHA) which is an exfoliating ingredient (its concentration here: 2%). It eliminates dead cells and debris from the surface of the skin. Because of its lipophilic nature, it’s also able to go inside the pores to unclog them! Very interesting when you have combination skin and/or blackheads.
But it also contains several soothing ingredients: allantoin, panthenol, licorice root (which also helps the complexion to look more radiant) as well as moisturizing ingredients: glycerin and hyaluronic acid (low molecular weight).
The formula also includes anti-aging ingredients: antioxidant nordihydroguaiaretic acid and repairing peptides (Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1)
Water (Aqua), Dipropylene Glycol, Salicylic Acid 2.0%, Pentylene Glycol, Butylene Glycol, Polysorbate 20, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Nordihydroguaiaretic Acid,Oleanolic Acid, Sodium Hyaluronate, Allantoin, Trehalose, Panthenol, Glycerine, PEG-60 Almond Glycerides, Sodium Metabisulfite, PEG/PPG-17/6 Copolymer, Methyl Gluceth-20, Bis-PEG-18 Methyl Ether Dimethyl Silane, Glycereth-26, Sodium Hydroxide, Carbomer, Disodium EDTA, Caprylyl Glycol.
Ingredients not included
– mineral oil,
– essential oils.