Paula's Choice Clear Anti-Redness Exfoliating Solution Regular Strength 2% BHA and Clear Daily Skin Clearing Treatment Azelaic Acid + BHA

 I believe Paula’s Choice’s treatment products are much more popular than their core basics. I’m still in discovery mode as they have a wide range of retinol-, BHA-, and booster-products. One of my biggest wants is their Resist C15 Super Booster, but because of regulations of some ingredient in the formula they are unable to sell it in Europe. But I’ve emailed them about this, and they are currently reformulating an EU-version which hopefully will start selling in the begin of next year. Can’t wait!


Paula's Choice Clear Anti-Redness Exfoliating Solution Regular Strength 2% BHA

Paula’s Choice | Clear Anti-Redness Exfoliating Solution Regular Strength 2% BHA

The product that has become a cult favorite and put Paula’s Choice more or less on the map in the beauty scene is their BHA/Salicylic Acid exfoliant. Their best seller 2% BHA Liquid comes also under the name “CLEAR Extra Strength Anti-Redness Exfoliating Solution“, marketed more towards blemish-prone skin types. But nowadays there’s 1% solutions, and depending on your skin type, there’s also a gel– and lotion-version. And in the US you can get concentrations as high as 4% and 9%!

My experience with Salicylic Acid isn’t the best one. But I thought I’d give this one a shot, as it could all have been down to formulations. Many products developed towards acne has Salicylic Acid, but also alcohol in them. And so it may have not been the SA my skin reacted negatively towards but the alcohol or something else. I was also introduced to a new type of daily exfoliation. As I was starting to like this BHA exfoliator, I saw my Clarisonic feeling neglected.

But I will say, it took me about 1 month and a half for my skin to completely agree with this product! If I hadn’t read the reviews that said “stick through at least 3 months” I would’ve probably given up on it after 3 weeks. I wanted to start off with the 1% lotion, but seeing as summer was about to happen, a lotion would probably have felt too heavy. So I went with something in-between: the Clear Regular Strenght 2% BHA works a bit slower than the Extra Strength/Liquid BHA. I also went to start off with the deluxe sample size instead of buying into the full size before knowing if it truly will work out or not.

OBS! If you are allergic to aspirin, you are advised to not use products with Salicylic Acid. And because it’s an exfoliant, you need to wear and SPF 25 or higher daily when out in the sunshine. Too much usage can also make your skin dry.

I’ve been using it only at night and have only felt slight dryness when I experimented using it twice daily.  It’s the reason my skin feels exfoliated and soft, like I’ve been using my Clarisonic every day – though BHA is much more gentle to the skin than a brush! But I’m a bit disappointed that it hasn’t had much impact on redness or blemishes. When I say that, I really mean that my breakout has not gotten worse from this product, but it hasn’t made them even slightly better. A BHA is only a compliment for better and smoother complexion, not a acne-resolver of some sort.

It recently came to its last few drops and my skin hasn’t changed much since I stopped the usage. A little more black heads, but nothing extreme. However, I’m still using the Clear Daily Skin Clearing Treatment Azelaic Acid which has some Salicylic Acid in it.
But another positive is that it seem to help prevent new scar (but not old scars!), but it could of course be something else, like the niacinamide, the retinol, the vitamin C, and so on…

I still don’t know what to think of this product. It does one thing, but also seem to irritate certain pimples or just not do enough. I get mixed feelings as this exfoliator makes me feel depended on it in a sense that I want to believe it makes a difference. Which it does in skin texture. And I don’t like that feeling. I do like it more than doing manual exfoliation, but using this makes you more sensitive to the sun. Which leads to a sunscreen must. While you do get the best results by using it every day, and probably twice daily, I would rather opt for an exfoliating treatment that you use 1-2 weekly. Because, in the end it’s another layer of product, and my skin is the most happy when I keep it as simple as possible. No Korean 8-step on my face.

I’m going to give the Liquid/Extra Strength a try next time or go for one of their AHA-products and experiment further…

UPDATE: I never came about purchasing more BHA products as I found other products that basically do the same and that my skin seems to agree more with.

Paula's Choice Skin Balancing Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum with Retinol

Paula’s Choice | Skin Balancing Antioxidant Serum with Retinol

When I used the little sample pack of this one I felt like this was the product that helped my complexion and blemishes the most. From preventing them to making redness go away much faster. However, I was not ready to buy the full size just yet, and so I opted for the deluxe sample size instead. It has lasted me 1 whole month, and I’ve been using it sometimes twice daily to only in the evenings.

Unfortunately, this sample didn’t make me more impressed. I seemed to have the same problem many others have pointed out, which is: the product does not blend very well. The Skin Balancing serum is a silicon based gel, and it’s supposed to be quite orange-y in color thanks to Astaxanthin. It says in the directions to shake it well before use. However, no matter how much I shook the thing, the fluid that came out would turn up colorless. Needless to say, I don’t want to buy the full size and gamble to what if I get the well blended one or did I just pay 37€ for just silicon?!

So I’ll be buying the deluxe sample size of Skin Recovery antioxidant serum next time, that has almost the same ingredients, only that it is more fluid and for drier skin types. Hopefully that one is easier to blend.

Nonetheless, the antioxidant serums has a beautifully well composed ingredient list, from soothing extracts to helpful actives: Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Retinol, Astaxanthin, Green Tea, Raspberry Seed Oil, Salix Alba, and more. In other words: it’s got everything you wish in a serum! One thing my skin (read: blemishes) responds very well to is Retinol. Some may have trouble with it, but it’s one ingredient that I know makes a good difference in preventing new blemishes to form and helps with scar healing too. These serums are also super light and goes on like a primer. It doesn’t feel like another layer of product at all.

I also think the price is unbelievably cheap for the formula this product packs. And if we don’t mind its one little fault, this could be my staple product for years to come I feel.

UPDATE: I bought the Skin Recovery Antioxidant Serum and been using it for a month. This formula is better blended and has a clear orange color from the Astaxanthin. It’s thicker but more fluid in consistency than the Skin Balancing serum which is more like a gel. It spreads out nicely and sinks in fast. Because it’s for dry skin, I feel as if with my normal skin it’s all I need for moisturizer. It would definitely not work for someone with very oily skin. It’s perfect during fall and winter time, but I feel it may be too heavy during summer months. Though the Skin Balancing serum feels good, it has its drawback. And in a way, I wish Paula just made a serum for normal skin.


Paula's Choice Clear Daily Skin Clearing Treatment Azelaic Acid + BHA

Paula’s Choice | Clear Daily Skin Clearing Treatment Azelaic Acid + BHA

Also called “Resist Anti-Aging Skin Transforming Multi-Correction Treatment with Azelaic Acid + BHA” and only available in the EU. Substitute to CLEAR Daily Skin Clearing Treatment with Benzoyl Peroxide.

Long story short: I wanted something that would help fade post-blemish redness much quicker without making my face white and too sensitive. Because their vitamin C serum wasn’t available I went for this products that were supposed to have similar qualities as well as maybe help with blemishes.

If you’ve had acne you’d probably at least once come across Finacea. Finacea is an Azelaic acid product, usually prescribed for people with acne, but mostly rosacea. It wasn’t helpful in my teens, but I thought I’d give this version of it a try as my acne isn’t nowhere near as severe it once was.

Just to put it in Paula’s own word:

“Clear Daily Skin Clearing Treatment triple-action, totally unique formula that not only lessens breakouts but also diminishes red marks from past blemishes, lightens skin color, fades brown spots, and reduces wrinkles. This one-of-a-kind treatment is also lightly hydrating and leaves a velvety matte finish that minimizes enlarged pores. Its potent anti-aging ingredients smooth skin’s texture and imparts a noticeably smoother, glowing skin tone.”

You’ve probably heard Lisa Eldrige mention this product. And while I didn’t get the result I was hoping for, nonetheless it is a little multi-correction product indeed. It just makes your skin better. But it does not fade post-blemish redness in my opinion – not as fast as I would like it. However, it will smooth out your skin, making it feel soft and youthful looking. It’s got almost the same properties of Benzyl Peroxide, where it inhibits the growth of acne-causing bacteria. But it’s much less harsh than BP, so if your acne is bacteria-related and you don’t do well with BP, this may be an alternative. Much the reason why Paula’s Choice made this product, as in the EU you are not allowed to sell BP in cosmetics over the counter, unless you’re a medical cosmetics company.

The way Azelaic acid may help with acne is by regulating the production of keratinocytes (skin cells), which prevents them from building up and clogging your pores. It supposed to also help with fading dark spots that acne leaves behind. But like I said, don’t rely on that.
But what makes it good for treating hyper-pigmention is that it selectively target the hyperactive pigment-producing cells, while having little effect on normal melanocytes. This means that, unlike lightening products like hydroquinone and arbutin – that will make your whole face pale – Azelaic acid only target the pigmentation and lightens it to your natural skin tone. So it’s a safe product for all skin types, or when you just got that tan and want to keep it.

I’ve been using it for a month or so, in the combinations of: every evening to twice daily. My skin looks really good when waking up, but this product has its problems.
My biggest annoyance is that it irritates my eyes if I apply it before my moisturizer, and even when I let it sink in for 5 minutes. I’m someone who smears my moisturizer all over my face and even over the eye area. So when I then go on to applying my moisturizer, it’s like the product gets picked up and distributed to my eye area. It starts to painfully sting and a second wash it needed for it to go away. So the only way to apply Clear Daily Skin Clearing Treatment is by either applying it as my last step, or moisturizing my eyes first. I haven’t noticed any huge difference in whether which order I apply it. Though, while it sinks in, it can feel a bit sticky and heavy. At least on my skin. It’s almost as if this would totally do fine as the only moisturizer on oily skin.

This multi-correction tube also contains some Salicylic acid, as well as some calming extracts and antioxidants. It hasn’t worked in reducing my breakouts, but I feel the anti-aging benefits of waking up to a more glowing and youthful appearance. I will continue the use and see what benefits I may reap from it. And in many ways I do prefer using this cream instead of the BHA Liquid.

UPDATE: Besides it having a softening effect on the skin, and making some redness go away, I have sadly not experienced reduced breakout from this one, nor have it reduced any dark/red-spots that I would’ve liked. I’m wondering if a stronger Azeliac Acid cream would work better?

Related Articles: Paula’s Choice Products Review: Base Products

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