I don’t know if it’s the confidence that comes with age or just sheer laziness, but makeup has become less and less appealing to me as the years go on. Most days, I’m trading in my primer for a good pore-blurring moisturizer, an opaque lipstick for tinted lip balm, and some concealer for a solid eye cream. Don’t get me wrong—I’ll never break up with my beloved concealers, foundations, and mascara, but even makeup lovers can’t deny that there’s something really refreshing about letting your skin breathe every now and then.

As someone who loves anything that promises hydration and glow, it’s hard to achieve the same level of radiance I get from my favorite gold highlighter out of my skincare routine. Face oils provided some short-term brightness till they sunk in to my skin, but that wasn’t quite what I was looking for. I found the solution to my lackluster skin woes in the last place I expected to find it—in Paula’s Choice’s TikTok-famous BHA Liquid Exfoliant ($30, Amazon).

On the outside, this seemed like a pretty basic toner. It’s a simple grey bottle, and the toner has a water-like look and texture. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing on TikTok. Hundreds of TikTok beauty lovers with various skin types, from oily to dry to acne-prone, and redness-prone were trying the liquid exfoliant, and every single one of them saw dramatic results fast. Even dermatologists rave about it how good it is at clearing acne and texture.

Honestly, Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant is the BEES KNEES 😻 #paulaschoiceskincare #paulaschoicebha #thisisthesign

Here’s how it surprised me:

It makes my skin glow for hours after I put it on.

I use this both day and night, being careful to pair it with SPF during the day. When I use it during the day, it immediately makes my skin look glowy, and it stays that way for hours.

The biggest surprise I got was using this at night, though. Since I have really dry skin, I usually wake up to see that my skin soaked up every bit of moisturizer and oil I put on it, but when I use this exfoliant, I wake up with my skin looking extra dewy and plump. It almost makes me not want to wash my face in the A.M.

It’s super easy to use.

Technically, the directions say you’re supposed to shake some of the liquid on to a cotton pad/ball before dabbing it in to your skin, but in an effort to be a little bit more eco-friendly (or an excuse to be lazy), I really just pour a teaspoon-sized amount of it in to the palm of my hand and then press it in to my skin.

Just like any toner, I simply apply it right after cleansing and before my serums and moisturizers. I didn’t even have to wait more than a couple of days to see dramatic results.

It makes my skin soft and soothes breakouts.

I have really large pores along my cheeks, so I’m constantly battling the look of texture on my face. The salicylic acid in this deeply penetrates my pores to make my skin feel just as soft (if not softer) as it does when I’ve gotten a facial, done some facial steaming, or used a chemical exfoliant on it.

Salicylic acid is also great at fighting those cystic hormonal breakouts I get along my jawline and chin every month. I wouldn’t say it prevents them, but once they pop up, they heal much faster when I use this on them overnight without irritating them or making them more red, like some chemical exfoliants can.

Needless to say, I finally understand the hype around this. In just two uses, it transformed the texture of my skin, gave me a sun-kissed glow, and cleared my acne. If you don’t trust me, trust the TikTok beauty gods—I’m thankful I did.

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