I’ve included Paula’s Choice products in my skincare routine for a few years now but I keep trying new products even though I already have my favorites. Paula’s Choice Anti-Redness Exfoliating Solution With 2% Salicylic Acid is my holy grail when it comes to exfoliating products and I’ve used both regular and extra strength versions.
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Paula’s Choice Anti-Redness Exfoliating Solution With 2% Salicylic Acid Review
I was reluctant at first in trying out this product when a friend of mine recommended it. Being madly in love with Clinique Clarifying Lotion No.2 for years made difficult even the switch to The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution (review).
At first I bought Paula’s Choice Anti-Redness Exfoliating Solution With 2% Salicylic Acid ($29.50 / £26.00 for 118 ml / .4 fl oz) in regular strength as travel size bottle ($10.00 / £9.00 for 30 ml / 1 fl oz). I didn’t want to invest in the full size before knowing if is worth it for me. You should the same if you are not familiar with BHA. After one week use I ordered the full size version as well and never tried another exfoliating product since. This is my holy grail!
I love the fact that it comes in two sizes and I have them both just for convenience when I travel. My full size bottle is back in London as I brought only the travel size Paula’s Choice Anti-Redness Exfoliating Solution With 2% Salicylic Acid Extra Strength with me. I just finished the extra strength version about 3 weeks ago so I repurchased the regular strength. In the UK there’s a £2.00 difference between the extra and regular strength, but the difference in performance is hardly noticeable.
Key Ingredients & Benefits
My complexion was enjoying the benefits of salicylic acid (Beta Hydroxy Acid / BHA) for almost 2 years when I decided to try this product. Compared to The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution, Paula’s Choice BHA exfoliant has more benefits which explain the price difference. If it wasn’t for The Ordinary being discontinued, I’d probably never made the change.
Salicylic acid is naturally found in the bark of the willow tree, but the type we use in our lotions is made in a laboratory. There’s nothing wrong with that as it doesn’t hurt your skin and keeps the costs down. Everyone is happy!
Salicylic Acid 2%
Is not only the main ingredient but has so many benefits that I dunno where to start. Let me try to summarize the best I can.
- Exfoliates Skin & Pores. Is the best option for oily/ combo skin types like glycolic acid is for dry skin. It removes excess sebum and dead cells, before they erupt in pimples/ breakouts. It exfoliates the pores from within and gets rid of blackheads and whiteheads. Dissolves the glue that holds skin cells together on the surface of your skin and helps even out your skin tone. Smooths out wrinkles and fades away dark spots giving your complexion a radiant glow.
- Anti-Inflammatory Properties. It can reduce the redness that always follows the pimples, calms down inflamed acne and soothe stressed and irritated skin. Since I’m battling redness as well, I’m super grateful for this miracle ingredient. It’s not only ideal for acne-prone skin but also for those with sensitive skin condition.
- Anti-Bacterial Properties. While I wouldn’t rely on this ingredient alone to make your acne disappear, I would definitely include it in my anti-acne skincare routine if that was something I’d be concern with.
Dipropylene Glycol is a clear and colorless liquid used to decrease the thickness of cosmetic products and fragrances. Is responsible for the liquidy texture which I loved from the first application. It has a totally different texture compared to The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution.
This ingredient is derived from oil, doesn’t dry out the skin and when it’s absorbed turns into lactic acid. Our body naturally produces lactic acid when we exercise. There are many reasons why we find Propylene Glycol in our skincare products but here are a few:
- Humectant / Hydration: it draws moisture from the environment into the skin, keeping it hydrated.
- Penetration-enhancer: it helps deliver other active ingredients into the skin.
- Stability: it keeps your skincare from melting at high temperatures or freezing at low ones.
- Solvent: dissolves other ingredients
This one is a synthetic compound used to impart slip to a product. It leaves skin soft and smooth but is considered a mild irritant and can cause dermatitis for some people.
Is a clear and colorless liquid and works as a solvent. You’ll find it often in makeup removers as it dissolves traces or makeup and impurities. Remember that I was thanking Dipropylene Glycol for the texture? Well this ingredient also helps with decreasing the thickness of liquid products. As a side effect it can cause milk skin irritation for some people. It never happend to me though and I’ve been using for almost 1 year.
The ingredients list is long, so I’m not going to analyze it all. There are many ingredients here for skin-soothing, hydration, texture enhancing and so on but I just gave you the first 4 on the list.
Personal Use & Thoughts
Let me first start with the packaging which is easy to use for the full size bottle. When it comes to the travel size, this one has another small cap underneath the normal one, which I don’t like. It makes me waste time whenever I use it so I prefer jsut a simple, normal cap.
The texture which is a watery-liquid, thin just like a toner. It reminded me of Clinique Clarifying Lotion for which I also used a cotton pad to apply it and swipe it across my face.
When I repurchased the regular strength I also choose the extra strength in travel size. I just finished using it about 3 weeks ago. My bf has an important role in this review because he forgot to mention he didn’t put the full size product in the package he sent me. Only when the package arrived and the product was missing I rushed to order from Paula’s Choice Romania.
Since my extra strength version just finished, by the time I found out I had to actually repurchased from Paula’s Choice Romania and until I received my order, 2 weeks passed. During this time I couldn’t believe how much of a difference daily use of Salicylic Acid made for my complexion. At first I started to see breakouts on my jaw line and going towards my ear. A few more days passed and small breakouts were starting to go up, halfway on my cheeks and blackheads on my nose and chin were becoming visible.
My complexion was a bit more oily and shiny than usual and I couldn’t keep the sebum at bay. I couldn’t believe that for my combination skin type, not using any product that contains Salicylic Acid for about 2 weeks could have such a major impact on the way my complexion looked. It wasn’t even that “period of the month” when my skin likes to play around for 2-3 days.
Once I’ve received my ordered from Paula’s Choice Romania and I started using again Paula’s Choice Anti-Redness Exfoliating Solution With 2% Salicylic Acid, this time morning and evening, my skin went back to normal in about 4-5 days. The breakouts from my jaw line where the ones to disappear last but on my complexion I already saw results after 2-3 days use.
Normally I use this product only once a day in the morning but when that “monthly period” comes then I apply it morning and evening after cleansing my skin. While I also tried the extra strength version which apparently is a little bit more powerful, I didn’t notice any major differences. So I’m going to go with the regular strength option which is cheaper as well but if you are living in U.S. you can order both versions for the same price.
I love the water-light formula and the fact that it also calms redness, while providing a light hydration. It doesn’t feel greasy or tacky and gets absorbed by the skin instantly. To calm redness I’m also following up with Paula’s Choice Calm Redness Relief Repairing Serum (review) and finally in the morning applying also Paula’s Choice Resist Anti-Aging Moisturiser SPF 30 (review) which has a soft tint that evens out my skin color.
When I first bought this product I posted a video on IGTV that you can watch but I’ve also mentioned it recently in my current skincare routine video. If you’ve tried this product please let me know how your experience was because for me this is a holy grail. 🙂
Active: Salicylic Acid 2%
Inactive: Water (Aqua), Dipropylene Glycol (hydration), Pentylene Glycol (hydration), Polysorbate 20 (stabilizer), Butylene Glycol (hydration), Glycerin (skin replenishing), Sodium Hyaluronate (hydration/skin replenishing), Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate (skin-soothing), Allantoin (skin-soothing), Panthenol (hydration), PEG/PPG-17/6 Copolymer (texture-enhancing), Methyl Gluceth-20 (hydration), Glycereth-26 (texture-enhancing), Bis-PEG-18 Methyl Ether Dimethyl Silane (hydration), Sodium Hydroxide (pH adjuster), Tetrasodium EDTA (stabilizer), Sodium Metabisulfite (stabilizer).