This Best-Selling Liquid Exfoliant Makes My Pores Noticeably Less Visible

It’s on sale for a limited time.

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Paula's Choice BHA Sale
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Paula's Choice/ InStyle

I’m perennially plagued by large, visible pores, particularly along the sides of my nose. Of course, pores are natural; they’re also necessary, as they release sebum  (nature’s moisturizer) to the skin surface. Nevertheless, from an aesthetic standpoint, I’d prefer fewer gray-hued, oil-filled dots on my face. Not to be confused with blackheads, which are typically darker in color and less evenly-spaced, these  oil-rich sebaceous filaments may extrude pillars of sebum if squeezed — a decided no-no according to virtually any dermatologist I’ve asked. In fact, doing so can actually enlarge pores over time. I, for one, fiddled far too fiercely with a pore in high school, leaving a chasm so visible, my dad asked whether I’d had my nose pierced just a few months ago. May my mistake be a lesson: Leave extractions to the pros, kids.

Contrary to popular belief, pores cannot physically shrink in size, but they can certainly appear smaller. Specifically, by nixing the excess sebum and other pore-plugging debris that make them more noticeable, so consider a chemical concoction created specifically to nix excess sebum and, consequently, leave pores significantly smaller-looking. The gold standard, in my opinion, is the Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant, which shoppers dub a “miracle in a bottle” — and it’s currently on sale for 20 percent off.

Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant

Paula's Choice

Shop now: $27 (Originally $34); paulaschoice.com

The formula stars salicylic acid, a Beta Hydroxy Acid. Otherwise known as BHA, salicylic acid is an oil-soluble chemical-exfoliant, and counterpart to water-soluble Alpha Hydroxy Acid. Whereas AHAs work on the surface of the skin, BHA can work on a deeper level within pores, where it dissolves excess sebum and other debris that can lead to blemishes and prominent pores.

The Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid is the brand’s number one best-seller, which, considering its countless fan-favorite, dermatologist-approved products, is a truly impressive feat. Shoppers of varying skin types swear by its sebum-squelching powers. Those with acne-prone and oily skin report pore clear of blemish-promoting debris: “Even after just the first use, my acne was so much less inflamed,” one reviewer notes. Per another, it “shrunk my problem pores and has significantly increased [the] smoothness and overall brightness of my skin.” And a final shopper says, “My skin [has] literally never looked better.”

In my experience, a few shakes of the cylindrical bottle deposits just the right amount of clear, watery liquid. After saturating half of a cotton pad, I like to swipe the exfoliant down the bridge of my nose and along the sides. The product lacks the stinging nature many exfoliators have (that said, my predilection for chemical peels has likely bolstered my tolerance for skincare tingling, so take my word with a grain of salt). One shopper, who says they have sensitive skin, validates my experience: “I never have any irritation when I use [the BHA liquid] after my toner,” they say. 

While, technically, you can use the exfoliant up to twice a day, every day, I prefer a biweekly cadence, which works for my nose-pore-clearing needs. After biweekly use for a little over a year, I absolutely notice a difference in pore prominence. In fact, I no longer feel compelled to physically extract excess sebum from the sides of my nose, which, in and of itself is a win. 

If you’re curious to experience Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant for yourself, consider this your sign to grab one this very instant: It’s 20 percent off for a limited time, and we can’t promise this fan favorite will stay in stock.

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