I’m A Beauty Editor And I Prefer This $30 Exfoliator To Its $175 Luxe Counterpart


As someone whose skin is prone to a freakout, I don’t take swapping out my products lightly. Particularly when one of those products is a cult favourite (skin care guru Caroline Hirons even said it “sets the bar” for exfoliators) and quite frankly has always been very agreeable with my skin.

However, when a budget-friendly alternative with an equal level of cult-status (I’m talking one sold every minute) landed on my lap, how could I not have given it a try? 

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Let’s start with the luxe $175 buy I was previously using. The Biologique Recherche Lotion P50 is an exfoliator formulated with salicylic acid and widely regarded for its ability to minimise the appearance of pores, reduce breakouts and control uneven texture.

And although it’s straightforward to apply (you just dab it on with a cotton pad), actually getting your hands on a bottle in Australia always seems to prove difficult. It’s so tricky in fact, you can’t even purchase it off the brand’s actual website and when you do find a certified seller, you receive the ‘price on application’. From where I’m standing, it feels like it would be easier to buy drugs. 

However, it’s been my post-cleansing step for about a year now and I thought I’d found a match for life. That was until I met the more wallet-friendly model. The slim-bodied, readily available and sensitive skin-friendly, Paula. 

The first thing you need to know is that Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant retails for $38 – that’s roughly $140 cheaper than the French version!  Also formulated with salicylic acid, and in the same fashion as its more expensive counterpart, it sloughs away dead skin cells, minimises pores and keeps cystic acne at bay. And dare I say it, I think it actually does a better job. It smells better too. 

More hydrating than your regular toners, the Paula’s Choice formula has an oil-esque feeling to it. And because I’m always running out of cotton pads, I usually just tip my head back, drip the formula onto my cheeks and dab it around my face (I also think you waste less product this way). 

In comparison to Biologique Recherche’s exfoliator, the Paula’s Choice version made a greater impact on eliminating blackheads that I thought I’d never be able to get rid of, clearing hormonal chin acne and creating a base that effectively absorbs my serums, moisturisers and oils better than it ever had before. How do I know this is all thanks to the exfoliator? Because if I leave it out of my routine for only a few days, spots that weren’t there appear, my skin is redder and the texture returns to its original rough and oily state.

Plus, the addition of green tea means the budget-friendly version also ticks an anti-ageing box and adds a soothing element to an otherwise potentially irritating formula. 


Already earning a 4.5 star rating on beautyheaven, it feels as though I might be preaching to the converted. But if you need a bit more convincing (and not just my own unequivocal praise) here’s what some of our most trusted members also have to say about this exfoliator…

“SKIN PERFECTING 2% BHA LIQUID is the best BHA out there. Perfect for anyone with fine lines or open pores it is easy to use and super – SUPER – effective. Your dry dull looking skin looks refreshed and brighter with in a few days of using this magic liquid. Every woman (or man for that matter) need SKIN PERFECTING 2% BHA LIQUID in their life.” -dmgale 

“I can’t live without this product. I have been using this for about 2-3 years now and I can’t imagine stopping anytime soon. It’s great for large congested pores, great for smoothing uneven skin texture and gives an amazing glow. Suitable for sensitive skin. Can’t recommend it highly enough.”- SD85

“I have tried almost every acne solution under the sun. After about a week, I felt like a new person. My skin was so clear and radiant. I have even stopped wearing makeup on a daily basis, as my skin looks so much better now and I am proud of it.” – Mezzbeth99

Main image credit: @othersummersWhat is your go-to exfoliator?

Share your thoughts

Comments 48

  1. So glad to see a comparison from a much more expensive product like Biologique Recherche Lotion P50 it is great news that Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant is as good if not better than the more expensive exfoliant. This means that buying more expensive brand is not always the best!

  2. Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant has been super popular for years, and for good reason! I have yet to try it though. Still using my TO 2% salicylic acid which I stocked up on before they started the process of reformulation.

  3. I’ve never tried Paula’s Choice but I have used the Biologique Recherche P50 and had a fondness for its weird smell. If it was easier to get my hands on, I’d continue using it. I’m currently using Farmacy’s exfoliating toner but I have a Josh Rosebrook exfoliating toner on the way that I’m looking forward to trying.

  4. I honestly don’t think I could justify $175 for the Biologique Recherche Lotion. That’s ridiculous in my humble opinion. I absolutely believe in buying good quality products, but I don’t think you need to spend that much.

  5. My fave exfoliator is one that has about 7-10% or more acid and pH of solution about 3-3.5, 4 the most. Ordinary 10% lactic is good and passes pH test. And still testing couple of more.

  6. Heard so many brilliant things about Paula’s choice. I personally use the ordinary glyocic toner exfoliant and love it, and it is even cheaper and can get it delivered so easily to my door from adore beauty. Love adore beauty so much!

  7. Paula puts a lot of research into her products. Due to my sensitive skin and lack of blemishes this may be too much for my skin. Great for the oily, combo and acne sufferers.

  8. I laughed when I read ‘price on application’. If I see this on a Real Estate ad I know I can’t afford it. So the same will go for Biologique.
    I do like the tip about applying with a cotton pad. I hate putting my fingers into tubs of cream because I never know if they are ‘clean enough’ so that I won’t infect the tub. I usually use a wide paddle pop stick for each product.

  9. when this product came out it was ahead of its time and one of the only exfoliates on the market…. now their is heaps of affordable great ones you dont need to spent that price.

  10. I heard about the Biologique product from Caroline Hiron and fleur de force and I was really tempted however I love Paula’s choice products and in my opinion, they don’t get the hype they deserve, they have the same quality as Dermalogica but even better.

  11. I don’t have a go-to exfoliator because I keep on trying different ones. I’ve just started using the Dermalogica Rapid Reveal Peel, and I really like it so far. The only Paula’s Choice product that I’ve tried is the Gentle Touch Makeup Remover and it was great for removing eye makeup.

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