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hopingforamiracle

Initial breakout or just breaking out?Paula's Choice BHA

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After battling with acne for 17 years, I am at my wits end and have decided to join this forum for some advice and support...

To give a bit of background info, I have been getting my acne under control over the past couple of years with Duac once daily gel, changing to an oil free moisturizer and cutting down on certain foods in my diet (dairy, grains, sugar). I did go totally gluten and dairy free on 2 separate occasions and although my acne did improve, I was still getting a few breakouts and cysts a month and was able to work out that these were hormone and stress related, 2 factors in my life I'm unable to change at present. However, while the Duac works great on acne that has reached the surface of my skin, it does nothing for my clogged pores and after a week or so, they become inflamed pimples, which leads me to extracting the blackheads, causing more pimples and scars. My skin will then start to heal but within a week, my pores are clogged again and start to become inflamed, I extract the blackheads, causing pimples and scars and I'm back to square one. 

I recently discovered BHAs and thought this could be the solution to my clogged pores while still using Duac at night. Paula's Choice also claims that they reduce redness, inflammation and minimize pores. I purchased a trial of the Clear Regular Strength 2% BHA liquid and after only 2 applications, had terrible results. I broke out in large pimples, the usual redness was exacerbated, my skin felt dry and tight, and when I used my usual gentle cleanser and moisturizer, my face was stinging and burning. I contacted Paula's Choice who kindly offered me a refund and recommended the new Calm 1% BHA lotion. I was desperate to see an improvement in my congested skin and redness so I bought it and have now been using it for 2 weeks. After the first application, I broke out in 2 pimples and put this down to my skin playing up because I'd introduced a new product, but because there was no redness or burning sensation, I continued using it once a day in the morning and using the Duac at night. For the first week, apart from those initial 2 pimples, there were no further breakouts but I saw no improvement to my skin whatsoever, apart from it feeling smoother. I still had blackheads, large pores, redness and scarring. I'm now at the end of the second week and I think that some of my blackheads have slightly cleared, although at the same time, new ones have managed to form elsewhere during the time I have been using the BHA. Redness, scarring and the appearance of pores have remained exactly the same though and in the last few days, I have started to break out in loads of red pimples that form a whitehead quite quickly in places I don't usually break out that often and don't have blackheads, just pores filled with yellow gunk. I know it's definitely the BHA because it's only on the one area skin I have used it on ( I decided to proceed cautiously after my expereince with the BHA liquid). Also, I noticed my skin stinging slightly after I applied the BHA today.

Does this sound like an initial breakout or "purging"? Or just irritation and breakouts? I don't want to give up now if it's purging or an initial breakout and I could be just weeks away from clear skin but at the same time, I don't want things to get progressively worse. I'd worked so hard to get my skin to the point it has been the last 2 years on Duac.

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Hey there....don't really have an answer for you whether you're experiencing a purging or an irritation but feel your frustration!  I would probably give the BHA another week before making the call..

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I was in your situation a couple of weeks ago. Started using bha and my skin continued to develop blackheads and whiteheads and more than ever before. I gave it good two months and when there was no improvement I switched to Paula choice AHA gel. Two weeks later (and a lot of squeezing too) my skin has cleared.  
I say give it another week. If there's no improvement ditch it, I did. I don't think it's the bha itself causing breakouts I think it's something in the formulation not necessarily agreeing with clog prone skin. You can ask them for a refund and try the aha it's super gentle works slower but improved my skin massively. Or you can try a different Bha product. Just do some research on the forum to find a recommended one. I think I've seen Dianna Yvonnes range recommended here. Good luck and don't worry! 

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Honestly, I would contact Paula's Choice and ask them for their opinion. They are super helpful and knowledgeable, and should be able to tell you if you're experiencing a normal reaction or not.

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Hi I have also been using the Duac one daily gel for years and seem to be in the same position as you with clogged skin. I'm very tempted to try Paula's Choice BHA after reading about it, would you recommend? Are you still using it/ has it improved your skin?

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Hi. Thanks for the replies! I didn't think anyone would reply and so I haven't checked back in a while. So to update, I used the Paula's Choice Calm 1% BHA lotion for a month altogether. I did contact the customer service team who offered me a return on it but they also said it might be a case of my skin having to get worse before it gets better (basically purging). As I thought I could see a difference in the number of blackheads, I carried on using the BHA. The breakout subsided towards the end. I think I just had one inflamed pimple but there was absolutely no improvement in my skin whatsoever. After a temporary reduction in blackheads, they started to come back again just the same as they were before BHA. My pores still looked the same, redness wasn't reduced and now I had old AND new scars from the initial breakout.

I thought maybe the lotion was too greasy for my skin. PC did recommend lotion for drier skin type where mine is oily but the rep I spoke to via email specifically recommended the Calm 1% BHA Lotion, probably because I have sensitive skin and mild/moderate rosacea. I really wanted BHA to work for me so I ordered samples this time, not wanting to waste any more money than I had to. I got 1% and 2% bha skin perfecting lotion (I thought the extra ingredients in the Calm lotion might have been irritating) and the 2% BHA skin perfecting gel and liquid.

Since the Calm lotion didn't deliver the results it promised, I thought I'd jump straight in to the 2% gel. I've been using it 2 weeks now and have seen no improvement whatsoever. I have been breaking out but not nearly as bad as I did with the Calm lotion but the gel has done nothing for my blackheads, sebaceous filaments, redness, or the appearance of my pores. I still have old scars that I originally wanted the BHA to work on, as well as the new scars from the Calm lotion and now the 2% gel. I'm going to give the gel another 2 weeks if my sample lasts that long and unless I start breaking out worse. By then I will have been using BHA for 8 weeks which I have read should be plenty of time for the purging stage to be over.

So would I recommend Paula's Choice bhas? Absolutely not.

I wonder if it's Paula's Choice products that don't agree with me or whether all salicylic acid products would be just as useless. Does anyone have any recommendations?

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Iwikiwi I have just been reading about Dianna Yvonne's BHA. People claim it has a lower ph therefore making it more effective but also more irritating. This worries me a bit because I have tried Paula's Regular Strength Exfoliating Solution (2% BHA liquid) and my face was literally burning and bright red. Maybe salicylic acid just won't agree with me :( I will keep on with PC unless it worsens. I've read that you literally have to soak your skin in it for it to be anywhere near effective. I've also read the importance of leaving 30 mins between cleansing and applying BHA and then another 30 mins before moisturizing to get the right ph. I tried skipping the moisturizer but my skin is just too dry.

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At my house we have found epiology is as effective as salicylic acid products but without the redness and irritation.

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On 4/6/2016 at 10:05 PM, hopingforamiracle said:

Iwikiwi I have just been reading about Dianna Yvonne's BHA. People claim it has a lower ph therefore making it more effective but also more irritating. This worries me a bit because I have tried Paula's Regular Strength Exfoliating Solution (2% BHA liquid) and my face was literally burning and bright red. Maybe salicylic acid just won't agree with me :( I will keep on with PC unless it worsens. I've read that you literally have to soak your skin in it for it to be anywhere near effective. I've also read the importance of leaving 30 mins between cleansing and applying BHA and then another 30 mins before moisturizing to get the right ph. I tried skipping the moisturizer but my skin is just too dry.

Hi i've got some updates on my situation which might help you as well....

Like i said before I switched to the AHA gel and saw massive improvements within  a week. I continued for another two weeks or so and BEHOLD blackhead galore. Again. Back to square one. 

SO I can only assume, the improvement was a delayed reaction from the BHA or an overlap of both. I'm back on the BHA now, one week in, so I'll keep you updated if anything changes. I can say for sure, AHA didn't save my skin. I just thought it did. Overall, I'd say we need patience and at least a month of use. It would make sense for more blackheads to appear in the begging if the product is stripping top layers of skin. However, any red spots will be a sign of irritation for sure, so maybe keep an eye on that and if they appear have a day or two break. Or apply every other day... 

I can see you've been using it for a long time so I'm a bit perplexed. Are all your other productes tested? Are u you sure they are not contributing to the breakouts? Have you been using them prior to BHA with no issues? An oil free moisturizer dosn't guarantee it won't cause clogged pores sadly. I often break out more from oil free sillicone loaded lotions. 
 
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So I've been using Paula's Choice 2% BHA GEL for almost 4 weeks now (that's as long as my samples would allow). For 3 weeks I used it once a day in the mornings as I use a combination of benzoyl peroxide and clindomycin gel at night. However, in the last week I was frustrated with seeing no improvement so I increased it to twice daily, leaving at least 30 minutes between the BHA and BP/clindomycin. I have also been making sure that I left at least 30 minutes after cleansing my face before putting on the BHA so that my skin would have enough time to adjust to it's normal ph before adding the BHA which would take the ph down even lower which I have read is crucial for BHA to work. I then waited a further 30 mins at least before I added my moisturizer, again so that I wouldn't disrupt the BHA doing its work. Some days I would even skip the moisturizer to see if my skin actually needed it as I have found the gel to be moisturizing itself but then after cleansing my skin would be really dry and flaky so it turns out I do need the moisturizer after all.

During the last week of using BHA twice daily, I have been breaking out more. First of all, I had a couple of small whiteheads and thought ok, maybe this is purging again because of increasing the dosage again so to speak, but then I got two large inflamed pimples again, almost like cysts but not as deep. These could have been bound to happen due to hormones during that week. I also broke out in other areas of my face where I hadn't been using BHA and I don't usually get so many large inflamed pimples now that I use BP. My guess is it could also be down to exercise. I've just recently started doing 30 minute workouts several times a week. I always shower and wash my face straight away but I've been breaking out in large inflamed pimples all over the place. I'm still breaking out now and I haven't exercised in a few days. I'm also pretty stressed at the minute, which again could account for the breakout so it's hard to tell what is causing what.

My skin does not look any better for using the 2% gel. Pores are the same, blackheads are the same, scars are the same, redness is the same, I'm still breaking out (more so than usual) and to top it off, I've now got MORE scars.

As for my other products, yes I had been using them for some time before starting BHA but I can't rule them out as the culprits. I still got mild breakouts before BHA and have recently done a lot of research into which ingredients should be avoided in skincare products when you have problematic skin and I know that my cleanser and moisturizer could potentially be irritating. I didn't want to overhaul my whole skincare routine at once though because I just know I will breakout like crazy. I currently use Witch Oil Controlling Foaming Face Wash and Nivea Daily Essentials Oil Free Moisturizing Day Cream. The face wash tends to make my skin very dry and flaky so I did try Simple Refreshing Facial Wash Gel (supposedly free from harsh chemicals) but after only 2 uses my face was red and felt like it had a chemical film or residue and I broke out in huge red pimples. I have some samples to try from Paula's but I'm too scared to use them after the BHA and Simple's wash  :smileys_n_people_42:         

 

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Hi hopingforamircle, very sad to hear you're not seeing improvements. I'm not either! I was really hoping you would report back with some good news to give me some hope or at least an assurance that I'm not wrecking my skin with all this BHA bullshit. 

One thing I would suggest tho, that helped me GREATLY in the past and even now - don't use a facewash if it's making your skin flakey. If you have oily skin and flakes that's a recipe for irritation and blackheads.
Do you wear make up? If you don't I'd recommend using micellar water... I know it mostly advertised for delicate make up removal but it actually does a very good job of removing dust and sebum and you'd be doing your skin a favour by not changing it's natural ph and stripping it with water. 
It's also sooooo good and gentle to use straight after work out and saves so much time. 
I use Eucerin's but it's quite expensive, so when I ran out I used Simples, it cost a couple of pounds and works just as well. In fact, probably any cheap micellar water will do. As long as there's no alcohol or irritating ingredients.
Don't buy into the hype of medicated facewashes, they really don't work. They don't stay on for long enough. As long as i'ts cleaning your face properly and dosen't dry it out - it's good. 

Since I've switched to it a year ago, my problems with dryness and irritation disappeared and so did inflamed breakouts! Blackheads are still here but they always were and perhaps always will be... 

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On 20/04/2016 at 8:10 PM, Iwikiwi said:

Hi hopingforamircle, very sad to hear you're not seeing improvements. I'm not either! I was really hoping you would report back with some good news to give me some hope or at least an assurance that I'm not wrecking my skin with all this BHA bullshit. 

One thing I would suggest tho, that helped me GREATLY in the past and even now - don't use a facewash if it's making your skin flakey. If you have oily skin and flakes that's a recipe for irritation and blackheads.
Do you wear make up? If you don't I'd recommend using micellar water... I know it mostly advertised for delicate make up removal but it actually does a very good job of removing dust and sebum and you'd be doing your skin a favour by not changing it's natural ph and stripping it with water. 
It's also sooooo good and gentle to use straight after work out and saves so much time. 
I use Eucerin's but it's quite expensive, so when I ran out I used Simples, it cost a couple of pounds and works just as well. In fact, probably any cheap micellar water will do. As long as there's no alcohol or irritating ingredients.
Don't buy into the hype of medicated facewashes, they really don't work. They don't stay on for long enough. As long as i'ts cleaning your face properly and dosen't dry it out - it's good. 

Since I've switched to it a year ago, my problems with dryness and irritation disappeared and so did inflamed breakouts! Blackheads are still here but they always were and perhaps always will be...




I am now on Paula's Choice 2% BHA Skin Perfecting liquid. I'll report back in a few weeks to let you know how it goes. I'm not expecting much to be honest. If it was going to work, surely it would have by now with the gel? I have already ordered samples from Diana Yvonne and Paula's Choice AHAs. The annoying thing with acne is everyone is different and what works/doesn't work for one might cause havoc or perform miracles for another.

I have never heard of micellar water. All I want from a face wash is something  that cleans my very oily skin and doesn't leave a residue, doesn't irritate my sensitive skin and doesn't break me out. I'm very wary of Simple products after my terrible experience with their gel wash. I don't know enough about chemistry to pinpoint which ingredient was the culprit but it was honestly the worst face wash I've ever used, and I've used a lot over the years. Any idea what it could have been?

I took a risk and tried Paula's Skin Balancing oil-reducing cleanser. I've only used it 3 times so far. I'm still getting dry flakes after cleansing and today I got an inflamed pimple on my cheek which is a bit out of the ordinary. It could have happened anyway as I do get clogged pores there, or it could have been stress related. It could be the cleanser though and I'm scared to continue with it :(

I'm wondering if I'm going to flake with whatever cleanser I use because of using BP.
 
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I almost ordered the Paulas Choice clear set but then I looked at the ingredients and I think one or two of the products contained sls, the same with the la Roche posey effaclar. It's so hard to find products without irritants. I've just ordered 3 new products myself, I'm awaiting them. I'm hoping they will be as gentle as they seem.

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Well I have just finished my sample of Paula's Choice oil balancing cleanser for several days. I did get a couple of zits but it's hard to say whether it was or  wasn't the cleanser. I have to say though, although I did get these 2 zits and my skin was still a bit flaky, my skin looked SO much better over those few days - far less oily and red. I'm really tempted to repurchase but I have been scrutinizing the ingredients lists of all my skincare products recently as well as every single one  of Paula's Choice products (sounds neurotic, I know) searching for products free from comedogenic and irritating ingredients and I have found there are a couple of not so good ingredients in the oil balancing cleanser ( Cetearyl Alcohol, Sodium Chloride). In fact, there are very few PC products that don't include some kind of chemical which either clogs pores or exacerbates acne. I'm not saying Paula's Choice products necessarily will cause breakouts, but I was surprised and I wondered if that would kind of explain why I don't seem to be getting along with them as well as I initially hoped.

I couldn't find any ingredients  that should be problematic for me in the Skin Perfecting 2% BHA liquid (which I'm currently using) and I'm STILL getting breakouts in my test patch and my skin looks rubbish so I'm beginning to think that I'm breaking out from the salicylic acid itself. Definitely still getting blackheads and not seeing any improvements.

I have just ordered the acne.org cleanser btw. Hope it works for me!

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Hey, please don't rely on the comodegenocity list too much honestly it's a bit bullshit. It's a good indicator but I found for example that shea butter works for me when it shouldn't. Also ingredients behave differently in a formation than they do on their own which is how they were tested. If that cleanser made your skin feel good, please stick with it! Otherwise you will be going round in circles. Also if it doesn't leave a film on your skin than the potential clogging ingredients will also be washed away. Medicated washes are crappy for exactly the same reason. 

Ps the salicylic toner left a film on my skin that neve sunk in which is why I think it caused me to breakout even tho the ingredients were fine.. Just something I've noticed and might be worth considering... 

Ps I've been back to eucerin micellar water and moisturiser and my skin is loads better which I have I think is a testament to how dry and irritated skin will break out more by default. Seriously if you think the cleanser made your skin better, it is so important! Even if you medicate your skin a drying cleanser will undo all the good work you're doing
.

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On 28/04/2016 at 6:28 PM, Iwikiwi said:

Hey, please don't rely on the comodegenocity list too much honestly it's a bit bullshit. It's a good indicator but I found for example that shea butter works for me when it shouldn't. Also ingredients behave differently in a formation than they do on their own which is how they were tested. If that cleanser made your skin feel good, please stick with it! Otherwise you will be going round in circles. Also if it doesn't leave a film on your skin than the potential clogging ingredients will also be washed away. Medicated washes are crappy for exactly the same reason. 

Ps the salicylic toner left a film on my skin that neve sunk in which is why I think it caused me to breakout even tho the ingredients were fine.. Just something I've noticed and might be worth considering... 

Ps I've been back to eucerin micellar water and moisturiser and my skin is loads better which I have I think is a testament to how dry and irritated skin will break out more by default. Seriously if you think the cleanser made your skin better, it is so important! Even if you medicate your skin a drying cleanser will undo all the good work you're doing
.

Hmmmm....well my skin was still a bit flaky in patches but I wonder if that was from the BP but it did look better overall. I have taken a break from the salicylic acid and my skin does look better for it. I am testing PC AHA (the weekly one) at the moment. I did get a couple of spots from it but my scars do look better after one application. I might try it in combination with the BHA but use both less often.

Now you mention it, I find that the PC BHA liquid doesn't absorb into my skin and just sits on top forming a "film". I found the lotion to be better in that respect but it seemed too much for my already oily skin.
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Cool good luck, this might be the ticket!
Ps, Been using acids for a while now thinking my skin looks fine and isn't flaking or irritated, went out in the sun for 10 mins yesterday and gave myself the worst sunburn. Acids are definitely not something to mess with too much, haha! Def use less rather than more. I think daily application is too much in most peoples cases. You might be breaking out from using it too often?

A bit of flakiness from BP is to be expected. However, a good way to test a cleanser is tightness after washing. If you feel tight, ditch it right away, I'd say... 

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Hey hopingforamiracle, sorry to be babbling on about my skin in your thread but I've had some breakthroughs lately and I think it might help you also...
So last few weeks I was tired of seeing no improvement with acids and eased then out a bit and switched to BP everynight. I've actually found it to be quite effective on non inflamed acne, seems to dry it up and make it flake away. I let my skin adjust to this and slowly reintroduced Paula's bha gel and now it's been working beautifully. Evening out my skin tone and keeping pores small... I have a theory that bha on its own is not aggressive enough to break down those clogs so it's best to extract them or treat with Benzoyl and use salicylic to keep the troubles away. This along with very gentle cleanser and trusted moisturiser! 

Edited by Iwikiwi
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My skin is finicky with salicylic acid too. Moisturizing always seemed to add to the irritation and acne. I found a really great one lately though called Vicco Turmeric Skin Cream. I use the one that has sandalwood oil in it and it's doing wonders for my oily skin. The congestion and irritation are gone. I'm seeing less new pimples and my scars are fading. I really wish I would have documented what was happening when I first started using it. It's been such a big help and I'm not quite finished my first tube yet. Hang in there hopingforamiracle and everyone, I know how frustrating it is trying to find something that will help. :)

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Paula's choice bha and aha both broke me out and made my skin very greasy and oily I remember from using them years ago. I'm sensitive to bha but before trying neostrata pc was the only aha I had tried.  The neostrata formula is a lot better though it has lead to an initial breakout for me. 

I say if after 3 weeks you are still breaking out on any new product, and it's not getting any begter?  Dont continue. If its still happening but showing improvement... Give it another week. If its getting much better then stick it through 

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hey mate, i found myself to be sensitive to paulas choice 2% bha liquid and i gave it two rounds to give it a good go but no. it broke me out sooooooooo bad with dark scars to linger around for months now since i have brown skin. i realized thats bcos its supposed to work on my skin due to their selling idea, it doesnt mean it will. now i remember why in all my teenage years all drugstore products did not work for me as they were all mostly based on salicylic ingredients. i have oily sensitive and acne prone skin and bha is 'supposed' to be the best for me? i dont think so. you deseverve good skin as we ALL on here do. i decided im no longer gonna use the bha and stick with something that works for me. proativ exfoliating toner of 5% aha worked the best for me!

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