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*All about Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA)* BHA is oil soluble that is designed to penetrate into the pores deeper than surface exfoliation can manage, exfoliating deep down into the skins pore, dead skin cells lead to clogged pores and congestion, which eventually all lead to blackheads and spots. BHA also exfoliates the skins surface of dead skin cells so there is no need for a separate exfoliator unless you have really dry skin. BHA is designed for all skin types except for very sensitive but is best used for skins prone to blackheads and spots. BHA products work on a pH level of 3 to 4, which is low enough to facilitate exfoliation, anymore than 4 means the effectiveness of the product is diminished; most BHA products come with a percentage of 1 or 2%. *Why I want this product* I have been on the look out for a product that will help with my skin problems for as long as I can remember and even more so since the birth of my daughter two years ago. You can use all the spot fighting creams and lotions in the world but if you still have blackheads and congestion unfortunately spots may never disappear. I had read a lot about the uses of BHA and its benefits to the skin, I was so impressed I want to try for myself. *About the product* I went for Paula's Choice 2% Beta Hydroxy Acid Gel, which is suited more for skins that are normal, oily to combination but can be used on all skin types. The gel is water based and because it is designed for oily to combination skin the gel helps to control shine, there is also a 2% BHA lotion that is designed for drier skins and a 2% liquid that is designed for skins that is just oily and these are applied like you would a toner. However if you have very oily skin you may prefer 1% BHA gel. BHA absorbs into the skin and is so lightweight they are barely felt. The main ingredients in BHA's are salicylic acid, salicylic acid is commonly used to treat acne it does this by correcting the abdominal desquamation (this is the natural process when skin cells are shed away and replaced). It works as an exfoliant penetrating deep down into the hair follicle (pores) helping to keep the pore clear of blockages that cause breakouts on the skin. Methylpropanediol is an ingredient that enhances the penetration of salicylic acid and with water binding properties for the skin to keep in moisture. With all BHA's it is recommended to use a sun screen in all weathers due to skin sensitivity and to keep your new skin cells healthy after turnover. *Packaging* The packaging is simple and it is for all of Paula's Choice's products and I like it this way as more money is being spent on the product itself instead of how pretty the bottle looks. It comes in a 118ml opaque white shiny plastic bottle with a flip top lid that clicks securely back into place after use. The black writing states Paula's Choice 2% BHA Gel and for all skin types, the back state what 2% BHA gel is and how to use it. You have your ingredient list in smaller writing with an expiry date of 12 months. *Applying the product* Unlike the liquid and lotion you can purchase, which is applied on a cotton pad like a toner the gel is applied with your fingers. It is a clear gel and completely free from fragrance. Make sure your face has been thoroughly cleansed and toned if required and wait for your face to dry before application, give the bottle a quick shake before squeezing a 10p size amount onto the tip of your clean fingers dotting the product around your face. Gently rubbing the product in and paying more attention where you are affected by blackheads, congestion and persistent breakouts. Once done leave the product to dry and a moisturiser can be applied afterwards if needed. At first you can apply it once a day and work up to twice a day if needed. *How it felt on my skin* If you are not used to using a BHA product that contains salicylic acid you may experience a slight tingling sensation but this will quickly fade within a few minutes. Flaking and redness may occur after a few days due to the deep exfoliation and should subside within a week as your skin gets used to its new product, applying a moisturiser afterwards may help with the dryness. Instead of using it once a day you can use it every other day or twice a week if needed until your skin has got used to it. If your skin carries on being red after a few weeks with persistent flaking it might mean you are unable to tolerate a 2% BHA product, you may want to try 1% BHA product and see if it still happens. On the skin this product feels silky as well as being a little sticky, little is a lot more with this product and because it is a gel a little goes a long way and only a thin layer on the skin is needed to be beneficial. If too much is applied you may be left with a shiny and sticky face with a product that doesn't seem to want to sink in, however if a tiny amount is applied all over the facial area the product sinks in quickly and you're not left with a really sticky face but it still will feel slightly tacky to the touch, shine has also been minimised. If my skin feels dry that night a moisturiser can be applied afterwards once the gel has had significant time to sink in, this way also minimises the tacky feeling. Most people won't feel the need for a surface exfoliator but I find if I experience more dryness than BHA can handle a surface exfoliator is needed to quickly slough off the dead skin cells. *Price and availability* You can only purchase 2% BHA gel from paulaschoice.co.uk as is priced at £19.95. BHA may be purchased else where but you need to make sure you are receiving the full percentage and pH levels. *What I think about it/do I like it?* I really do like this product and it has significantly reduced my breakouts and if I do experience one the healing time is reduced by a few days especially if benzoyl peroxide is also applied gently to the affected area. Even though I really like this product I am not overly happy with it, after six months of use I still have persistent blackheads on my nose and chin I have to admit on close inspection they don't look as black as they were but I expected this product to clear them completely by this time and it hasn't. On a plus side congestion around my chin has been reduced as well as texture to the rest of my face as my skin now feels softer and looks smoother, calmer looking on the cheek area as redness has been reduced and looks brighter in the morning. Also my shiny face in the day has been reduced. *Would I purchase again?* Even with the disadvantages I have received with this product and not experiencing all the benefits I was promised I will continue to purchase and have done. I contacted Paula's Choice about my persistent blackheads and they suggested trying BHA 2% lotion or liquid in the morning as well like a toner and using the gel at night, which I am currently doing. In all it is a great product from Paula's Choice, I have been using it for six months plus now and I have at least three to four months of use.