Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant review

Quick verdict: This viral TikTok product is a bit of a rocky road, but the end result is all worth it.

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What we liked

  • Super affordable
  • Skin texture is the best it's ever been
  • Pulls out all the gunk buried deep in your skin
  • Cruelty-free
  • 100% money-back guarantee if you're not pleased within 60 days

What we didn't like

  • The skin purge

If you have a TikTok account, then chances are you've come across the Paula's Choice 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant. It's a skincare product that everyone cannot stop talking about.

While the liquid exfoliant has been on the market for some time now, it's because of a viral TikTok from Amelia Olivia that it became a must-have for many skincare junkies. The video, which now has 3.8 million views, had everyone basically losing their marbles, as they couldn't believe Amelia wasn't wearing any makeup. Apparently, it's all thanks to Paula's Choice.

The best part? It's only $38.

What does it do?

According to the brand, the Paula's Choice 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant is a "gentle leave-on exfoliant with salicylic acid that quickly unclogs pores, smooths wrinkles, brightens and evens out skin tone"

Paula's Choice claims that this product will clear and minimise enlarged pores and increase the cellular turnover of dead skin cells. This means you'll be left with bright, radiant and clear skin.

The product's most powerful ingredient is the 2% BHA (beta hydroxy acid), which you may also know as salicylic acid. This ingredient dissolves the glue that holds skin cells together to exfoliate the dead cells away. As scary as that sounds, this product isn't going to melt your face off. Still, you'll want to be careful and ease into it.

The brand recommends using it once every second day and noting your skin's reaction before increasing usage. If you have sensitive skin, then definitely only once or twice a week to start.

Does it work?

When I got my hands on this little bottle of magic, I was ready and raring to go. Safe to say, I got a bit too excited and my skin reacted accordingly.

I only used the exfoliant twice a week, but I also used other acids on the alternating nights, and my skin had an absolute fit. We're talking that horrible moment when your foundation just won't stick to your face and it's all over red rover.

When starting out using this product, do not use any other intense products with it. Stick to gentle products like your cleanser, moisturiser and oils.

During my second week of using the liquid exfoliant, the purge began. What is skin purging? Well, it basically means you're gonna break out.

I'm unsure if this happens to everyone who uses this product, but I've definitely read reviews of others who also experienced skin purging.

While this obviously isn't an ideal situation, it showed me that the product was doing exactly what it was supposed to do. It was pulling all the gunk and dirt that was deep in my skin to the surface and banishing it to the depths of hell where it belongs.

The frustrating thing about skin purging is that it can last anywhere from two weeks to two months. Mine lasted about three to four weeks but thankfully, it wasn't super intense acne. More like three or four spots a week that each lasted a couple of days.

The Paula's Choice Liquid Exfoliant feels like if a face oil and a toner had a baby. A lot of toners can dry out your skin, however, the slightly oily texture of this exfoliant means you're not stripping away hydration. I didn't really notice any scent to the product either.

This product really forces you to trust the process because damn, my skin has never looked this good. I've struggled with pesky blackheads and large pores my entire life. I always looked longingly at pictures of people with that perfect Pinterest skin and I'd be surprised if this wasn't the product they were using.

Should you buy it?

  • Buy it if: You’re willing to go through a skin purge for the most radiant skin of your life.
  • Don't buy it if: You have incredibly sensitive skin, because I imagine this would likely irritate it.

A small amount of the Paula's Choice 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant goes a long way and one bottle ended up lasting me three to four months once I started using it every day.

It's worth noting that I didn't introduce any other nighttime acids back into my skincare regime purely because I didn't need them. This exfoliant gives you radiant skin, clears your pores and reduces fine lines, so there wasn't a reason for me to chuck another product into the mix.

Pricing and availability


RRP $38

Where to buy

How did we test this product?

The members of our editorial team review hundreds of beauty products and reflect on their own personal experiences when testing each one. To test the Paula's Choice 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant, the reviewer used the product for four months as part of their everyday skincare routine.

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