Being in my mid-twenties my skin sometimes still behaves like I'm in my teens. I hate it when people get a blemish or two and get all dramatic, saying things like 'I need to use a full coverage foundation today to even show my face' and posting ridiculous posts like '5 items that will get rid of blemishes for sure' when I've tried it all and there's certainly not a one-product solution for this issue. There are a lot of causes, mainly stress, unbalanced diets and wrong skin care items people decide to use - I'm guilty of all three, but throughout the years or trial and error I have discovered some products that actually have an effect on fighting and reducing acne and blackheads. One of those almost *miracle* products for me is Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Salicylic Acid.
I first heard of this brand thanks to Wayne Goss and after a little google-ing discovered that they are actually a brand that is sold in Slovenia. Since some ingredients approved by the FDA aren't approved in the European Union you won't be able to find all their products, but I think the majority is sold in both Europe and USA.
The Skin Perfecting BHA Liquid is a watery liquid, but with an almost oily slip to it. It is a chemical exfoliant used on the skin to increase it's radiance, reduce redness and unclog pores. It's unscented and I usually use it on my skin as a toner, after cleansing. Chemical exfoliants need a low pH environment to be the most effective and this product works in a range between 3,2-3,6 pH. Depending on the % of acid inside and their pH, acids have a different effect on the skin. Low pH and high % works more aggressive, while formulations with higher pH and lower % have a milder effect on the skin. BHA's (Beta-Hydroxy Acids) exfoliate both the skin's surface and inside the pore, making them ideal for clogged pores and blemish-prone oily skins.
I first started using it about a year ago and it's a product I don't use daily. I usually apply a couple of drops into the palm of my hand and proceed to tap it onto the skin after cleansing (using a cotton pad seems wasteful). Cleansing disturbs the acid mantle of the skin, so you can wait for about 20 minutes or proceed with using a low pH toner to restore it quicker. I've used acids before trying this product, but the concentration was lower, so this one proved to be really effective on my skin without side effect like redness, burning, drying or increased sensitivity. Often I use it on it's own, but if you're new to acids you might want to follow up with a moisturizer after about 20-30 minutes, when the product gets absorbed into the skin. Lately I've been using it once or twice weekly at night and in combination with a clay based mask the next morning I immediately notice how my skin is more radiant, while my pore size is visibly reduced and blemishes either dry faster or completely disappear from my skin. It's one of the most effective products to use on blackheads, because it cleans the pores from the inside. My skin occasionally still has a mind of it's own, but at least I've found something effective to tame it a bit.
Ingredients/instructions for use:
Water (Aqua), Methylpropanediol (slip agents/penetration enhancers), Butylene Glycol (slip agents/penetration enhancers), Salicylic Acid (beta hydroxy acid/exfoliant), Polysorbate 20 (solubilizing agent), Camellia Oleifera (Green Tea) Leaf Extract (anti-irritant/antioxidant), Sodium Hydroxide (pH balancer), Tetrasodium EDTA (chelating agent).
Apply once or twice daily after cleansing and toning. Lightly soak a cotton pad and apply over the entire face, including the eye area (avoid the lower lash line and eyelids). Do not rinse. For daytime, follow with a broad-spectrum sunscreen rated SPF 25 or greater.
Applied to the skin/once it soaks in:
If you're looking for a magical cure to help with blemishes you first need to rethink and streamline the products you're putting on your skin. I find that the less I complicate with my skin care the better my skin looks. There is a variety of products available that promise immediate results, but fighting blemishes is usually a long journey of discovery of what might work and what doesn't. I would recommend getting a sample of this before jumping in to buy the full size, but in my case it has proven to be highly effective with my skin. Paula's Choice offer a nice selection of travel sized skin care products here. If you're eager to try a salicylic acid for the first time you could also try the milder Paula's Choice Clear Regular Strength Anti-Redness Exfoliating Solution With 2% Salicylic Acid that has a lighter water-like consistency and has a slightly higher pH range (I use both interchangeably a couple times weekly). Click here for the Slovenian site/shop.