How does a BHA exfoliant work?

Research has shown that daily exfoliation is an indispensable step for smooth, clear, hydrated skin, and a leave-on BHA exfoliant is one of the best ways to do this.

Leave-on exfoliants gently and quickly remove dead skin cells, so that the softer, younger-looking skin underneath is revealed. Our BHA products go one step further, helping to reduce blemishes, blackheads and enlarged pores. They also improve hydration and contain ingredients that prevent skin ageing.

With a wide variety of BHA exfoliants to choose from, it’s easy to find the best one for your skin type and concerns.

What is BHA?

BHA is an abbreviation for beta hydroxy acid, also known as salicylic acid. Don’t let the word ‘acid’ put you off. BHA is not corrosive or abrasive and actually has soothing properties. Making it much kinder on your skin than scrubs and cleansing brushes.

How does BHA work?

A leave-on BHA exfoliant works on the upper layers of the skin, lifting dead skin cells away from the layer of healthy, radiant skin hidden underneath. BHA also cleanses inside the pores. Although BHAs (like AHAs) have benefits for all skin types (hydrating, making fine lines and wrinkles less visible and improving firmness, skin tone and texture), they are particularly suitable for people with normal to oily skin, congested pores and signs of skin ageing. A BHA can even help if you suffer from milia.

Because a BHA exfoliant helps with so many different skin problems, you'll find one in almost all of our collections, including our Resist line (anti-ageing), our Clear line (for acne-prone skin) and our Calm line (which helps to counteract redness). BHA exfoliants can make a huge difference to how your skin looks and feels. They are powerful enough to deal with skin problems such as milia yet soothing enough for sensitive, rosacea-prone skin.

Our BHA products

The pH value of a BHA exfoliant is very important. Salicylic acid works best at a pH value of between 3 and 4. Products outside this range will be less effective or may not work at all. Every Paula’s Choice BHA exfoliant is formulated within these optimal pH values, so you will experience the best results.

Why not use a scrub?

The word exfoliation is usually associated with facial or body scrubs. Most scrubs, however, are too abrasive and can damage the skin. Scrubs almost always contain coarse ingredients that can tear the skin’s surface, causing visible damage in the long term. Rest assured, BHAs are nothing like a scrub.

For deeper cleansing, a mild scrub gently applied with a washcloth or soft-bristled cleansing brush can be an option. However, this will not unclog your pores or reveal radiant, smooth skin in the same way that a BHA exfoliant does.

Is a BHA exfoliant suitable for you?

Many people wonder if they should use an exfoliant with BHA or AHA (alpha hydroxy acids) or maybe even both. Although some people use both, it is perfectly fine to just use one.

If your main focus is on the skin’s surface (and you don’t suffer from sensitive skin, redness or blocked pores), an AHA exfoliant is a good choice. BHA is best if you suffer from:

  • Clogged pores and bumps on your face and body. BHA is oil-soluble, allowing it to clean inside the pores. The result is fewer bumps and less visible pores. It can also be used if you suffer from Keratosis Pilaris, especially in combination with a water-soluble body wash.
  • Sensitive skin: BHA has soothing properties that are ideal for sensitive, red skin, whatever your skin type.

Paula's Choice has a BHA exfoliant for every skin type and concern, and also a number of exfoliants for the skin on your body.

How do you apply a BHA exfoliant?

Regardless of which exfoliant you choose, it is important that you use it after cleansing and toning. Other products in your routine, such as a serum and a day or night cream, should be applied after your exfoliant, starting from thinnest to thickest texture.

Tips to achieve the best results with a BHA exfoliant

  • You don’t have to wait until your skin has absorbed the different products in your routine. The BHA will still work if you apply other products immediately before or after.
  • Exfoliants can be applied to the skin under and around your eyes, but not underneath your eyebrows.
  • While daily exfoliation works best for most people, exfoliating every other day may be a better option for you. Take some time to experiment.

Customer Service

Need help with finding the right product for you skin? Our customer care team are skincare and product experts and can guide you to the best skin of your life.

Newsletter

Sign up for our newsletter to receive exclusive offers and expert skincare advice, plus get £5 off your next order.