Skincare Sunday | Battle of the BHAs

My skin has been a complete mess these past few months up until recently, and I honestly don’t know why. I have pretty much always gotten a pimple or two before my period, but earlier this year, I started getting constant break outs all along my chin and jaw, which is a new and unpleasant experience for me. As such, I’ve turned my attention toward BHA-containing products and have been trying a few of the fan faves.

If you don’t know, BHA stands for beta hydroxy acid. Salicylic acid falls into this category, and you may remember salicylic acid from your pre-teen Proactive days. It’s an acne-fighting powerhouse. Over the last few months, I’ve been testing 3 different BHAS:

  1. Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA liquid
  2. Drunk Elephant TLC Framboos Glycolic Night Serum (this is an AHA/BHA blend, so it is supposed to not only fight acne but also provide the benefits of an AHA: resurfacing, eliminating fine lines, etc)
  3. Stridex Maximum Pads (Stridex in the red box)

Before I go into this review, I want to give a quick background on my skin type. I have a Mediterranean complexion (pale neutral olive-toned) and is not sensitive (I do not burn or get irritated easily). My skin gets very dry in the winter and is more of a combination-dry type in the summer. I have large pores on my cheeks and black sebaceous filaments all over my nose. I’m 22, so wrinkles aren’t really something I worry about. I get periodic breakouts on my cheeks, chin, and jaw. What I am looking for in a skincare product is pore minimizing and acne fighting. If any of that sounds like you, then you may like what I like.

Paula’s Choice SKIN PERFECTING 2% BHA Liquid ($29.00 for 4 oz): This product is beloved by many. I have heard that it is good in particular for people with dry skin because it is not drying at all unlike other BHAs. I tried this product for about 2 months before tossing it in the trash. I’m not really sure why, but this product broke me out like crazy. My skin is not particularly sensitive and I’ve honestly never reacted to a product like I did to this one. I heard that there could be some acne in the first week or two of use, so I powered through two weeks…then a month…then two months. At the end of that second month, I had to finally accept that I wasted my money on this. Maybe this will work for you. It has excellent reviews. Something about this product did not work for me at all, so this is a no.

Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum ($90.00 for 1 oz): First of all, this is widely overpriced. I did not actually purchase this myself. I got a deluxe sample from Sephora, and decided to give this a try after giving up on Paula’s Choice. I don’t have a lot of money, but skincare is one of those things that I would be willing to set aside money for if the product really did work. This product doesn’t really work (for me). This is supposed to “reveal a smoother and more radiant complexion” but honestly, those vague descriptors are so hard to quantify, and I never know what to look for. This didn’t really help my acne. This didn’t really help my texture. It just kind of didn’t do anything. Again, this is a product that people love, but I’m not boarding the hype train here. I wanted to love it because of the cute packaging and the brand aesthetic (I’ll be 100% honest, I fall for that shit) but when I really looked for results, this didn’t give me any. Pass.

Stridex Medicated Pads Maximum Strength 90-count ($14.97 on Amazon, also found in most drugstores): I was most hesitant to use these because I associate these Stridex pads with middle school. I remember my brother used to use these, and they just kind of look ugly and don’t make skincare feel really glamorous so I was always meh about using them. Well, I WAS WRONG. I fucking love these pads. They make my pores less noticeable. They cleared up my breakouts. They prevented new breakouts. And they’re hella affordable. My one gripe is that they are slightly drying, so after wiping my face with one of these and letting it dry for about 20 minutes, I go in with a moisturizer. Problem solved. I will be repurchasing these until the end of time.

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