As a teenager I tried a few salicylic acid facial washes that promised clear skin but always fell short. I assumed this popular anti-acne ingredient was something that worked well for others but not for me because I was in some unlucky minority that didn't respond well. My troubled skin was still relatively good at the time so I didn't have a strong motivation to figure out why salicylic acid did nothing for me. Fast forward into my 20s and I realized it was worth looking into again. A few google searches revealed what many skincare bloggers already knew: salicylic acid is pretty much only effective at pH 4.0 or below. In other words, the foaming cleansers I'd used in my teens were too alkaline for its main ingredient to effectively keep the breakouts at bay. What a waste!
Even with this new knowledge it took me some time to decide on buying Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant. What finally tipped me into being interested was finding out the pH of this product was between 3.5 and 3.9, an excellent range that is perfect for beta hydroxy acid (BHA), or salicylic acid, to work its magic. Most products can require several weeks to be effective (the time needed for skin turnover) but within 1-2 weeks of using this liquid I saw jaw-dropping positive results! =D