The Best BHA Exfoliant – 2017 Reviews & Top Picks

To continue to be your beauty expert, we have created a list of the best BHA exfoliant products. After much research, we have found that these are the best BHA exfoliants on the market. We believe these products will make your skin feel soft and smooth, as well as look younger and more refreshed.

Beta hydroxy acids, BHAs, are commonly used in anti-aging products because they are great for exfoliating and helping fill in fine lines and wrinkles.

While AHAs work only on the skin’s surface, BHAs can work both on the surface and within the pores to prevent clogging and the signs of aging.

Let’s take a good look at the top choices for top five BHA exfoliants.

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Quick Overview: Our Top Picks for the Best BHA Exfoliant

OUR TOP #1 PICK - Our number one option for best BHA exfoliant is Murad AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser because it contains both AHAs and BHAs. With a combination of acids such as lactic, glycolic, and salicylic, acne and wrinkles are both treated.

OUR TOP #2 PICK - Second on our list is Mizon AHA & BHA Daily Clean Toner. We chose this product due to its combination of AHAs and BHAs. This toner helps remove dead skin cells from the surface of the skin to make it softer and smoother than before. It also helps unclog pores and treat acne.

OUR TOP #3 PICK - Third on our list is Humane BHA Clarifying Toner, because it is made with two percent salicylic acid, which helps get rid of blackheads and shrink pores, as well as reduce the appearance of wrinkles.

OUR TOP #4 PICK - Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid is fourth on our list because it contains eight percent glycolic acid, as well as a number of soothing botanical products. We selected this gel product because its light formula helps prevent wrinkles and fine lines.

OUR TOP #5 PICK - Last on our list is Perfect Image Salicylic Acid 20% Gel Peel. This product made our list due to its BHA strength. With 20 percent salicylic acid, it is able to really get rid of dead skin. It also contains tea tree oil and green tea extract to zap acne and soothe skin.

What are BHAs?

Beta hydroxy acids, also called BHAs, are a group of acids that are used in anti-aging products due to their ability to both hydrate and exfoliate skin.

They make skin look younger by ungluing the bonds that help hold dry, dead skin to the surface of our skin to expose fresh, younger skin.

Like AHAs, BHAs are derived naturally. The two most common BHAs are salicylic acid and citric acid.

The most popular BHA is salicylic acid, which is found in both anti-aging and anti-acne products. It is derived from the willow bark tree. Salicylic acid products are the best option for people battling both skin issues.If you aren’t worried about acne, you may find success using an AHA, alpha hydroxy acid.

Another common BHA is citric acid, which can be either an AHA or a BHA depending on how it is formulated. Citric acid is made from citrus fruits such as oranges, limes, and lemons.

Most commonly, citric acid is an AHA.

Products related to salicylic acid are also considered BHAs. You may find these under the names salicylate, sodium salicylate, and willow extract.

A few less common BHAs are beta hydroxybutanoic acid, tropic acid, and trethocanic acid.

While AHAs are water-soluble, BHAs are oil soluble, which makes them better suited for people with normal to oily skin, while AHAs are better for people with normal to dry skin.

BHAs are better able to penetrate deep within the pore to unclog and shrink pores.

BHAs also help balance the production of sebum in the skin to prevent excess oil production and the acne it can cause.

BHAs also have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial characteristics, which make them better for people with acne-prone skin.

These properties, and the fact that BHAs are generally considered more gentle than AHAs, also make BHAs better suited for people with rosacea, although not everyone with rosacea can handle exfoliating.

Since BHAs strip off the top layer of dead skin, they do produce a few side effects. Your skin may experience sensitivity, stinging and redness.

At the beginning of use, BHAs may cause dry skin, but it should subside after a few weeks.

Advice for Finding a BHA Exfoliant

While BHAs are typically less harsh than AHAs, when you start looking for BHA exfoliants, you may want to consider a product that contains moisturizing and soothing ingredients.

Let’s take a look at some of the ingredients you may want your BHA exfoliant to contain.

To keep skin hydrated, consider selecting a product that contains jojoba or olive oil, or a similar oil that won’t clog pores. Aloe vera is another great hydrating ingredient that also has a number of other great benefits.

Aloe vera can help treat acne, which makes it an ideal ingredient for BHA products. Aloe vera also soothes redness and irritation, which can help with any side effects from using a BHA product.

Green tea and chamomile are other ingredients that can help with calming redness and irritation. They also provide skin with vitamins and minerals that can keep skin healthy.

When you start using a BHA exfoliant, remember to use a moisturizer. Sunscreen is also very important because BHAs can make skin more sensitive to sunlight.

Product Reviews: Our Top 5 Best BHA Exfoliants


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Number one on our list of best BHA exfoliants is Murad AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser because it uses both AHA and BHA ingredients to treat acne and give users younger-looking skin.

This product contains salicylic acid, lactic acid, and glycolic acid. All of these ingredients are known for their exfoliating power.

New, fresh skin will be brought to the surface when these ingredients slough off dead skin cells.

Murad AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser helps balance the production of sebum in the skin. It helps moisturize dry areas and controls oil production in oily areas. This helps prevent acne.

The salicylic acid also helps treat acne breakouts, including both blackheads and whiteheads.

With jojoba seed oil, this cleanser is the mostly like product on our list to hydrate skin and prevent dryness. We noticed that our skin feel much more hydrated with this product than the others on the list.

This product may cause breakouts and dryness for some people. Test it on a small patch of skin before use.

What We Like

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    Removes dead skin to reveal smoother, younger skin
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    Cleans skin and unclogs pores

What We Don't Like

  • Can cause dryness and redness
  • May cause acne breakouts

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Mizon AHA & BHA Daily Clean Toner is second on our list of the best BHA exfoliants. Because this product contains both AHA and BHA ingredients, it is highly effective at reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

We like that Mizon AHA & BHA Daily Clean Toner is gentle when it exfoliates the skin. Once dead skin cells are sloughed off the surface of the skin, the salicylic acid can also treat acne.

This toner is a great acne fighter because it penetrates deep into pores. It kills the bacteria living in pores to get rid of acne blemishes.

It can even get rid of blackheads, which are notoriously hard to treat.

We like that this product helps support cellular turnover, which will shed skin on a more frequent basis to reveal new, more youthful skin.

Like many BHA exfoliants, this product may cause mild irritation like redness, dryness, and itchiness. It also leaves skin feeling tacky.

What We Like

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    Reduces acne breakouts
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    Has a nice citrus smell

What We Don't Like

  • Leaves a sticky residue on skin after use
  • Leaves skin slightly red

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Third on our list is Humane BHA Clarifying Toner. Due to its two percent salicylic acid formula, this toner helps reduce wrinkles and the size of pores. It also helps treat acne, including blackheads.

We like that this toner helps remove dead skin with gentle exfoliation. The foamy nature of this toner also penetrates deeply into skin to unclog pores and get rid of tough acne.

Salicylic acid helps speed up cellular regeneration. This helps with exfoliation and reducing the appearance of wrinkles.

Salicylic acid, in conjunction with green tea, helps boost the production of collagen to fill in fine lines and wrinkles. This product is one of the best for people who want to reduce the appearance of wrinkles.

We like that this toner also helps balance pH levels in the skin.

Unfortunately, this product can leave the skin feeling sticky. It can also cause skin irritation like redness and itchiness.

What We Like

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    Helps reduce acne breakouts
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    Eliminates wrinkles and prevents them in the future

What We Don't Like

  • May make skin red and itchy
  • Leaves skin feeling sticky

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Number four on our list is Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid because it helps improve the look and texture of skin. This BHA exfoliator also reduces the appearance of pores.

We like that Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid helps even out skin tone while getting rid of wrinkles and fine lines.

Salicylic acid helps treat the signs of aging, as well as getting rid of acne.

Salicylic acid is a common acne fighter. This product is no exception. The salicylic acid removes dirt and bacteria from pores; it also shrinks the appearance of pores to prevent future breakouts.

Part of the reason we chose this product is because it is fragrance-free. It is also not tested on animals. It was also created to be non-irritating, which makes it a good choice for most people.

Unfortunately, this product may cause issues for people with sensitive skin. A burning sensation and redness may occur.

What We Like

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    Helps with skin hyperpigmentation
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    Makes skin look younger and smoother

What We Don't Like

  • May cause dryness
  • May cause a burning sensation, especially for those with sensitive skin

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Last on our list of best BHA exfoliants is Perfect Image Salicylic Acid 20% Gel Peel. This peel helps get rid of wrinkles and fine lines, while also treating acne and hyperpigmentation issues.

We selected this peel because it not only helps make skin look younger, but it also treats acne. Blackheads and whiteheads are eliminated because salicylic acid penetrates deep into pores to remove bacteria.

Tea tree oil helps kill the bacteria that causes acne. Green tea helps fight free radicals. Both of these ingredients also provide nutrients to the skin.

Another reason we like this product is that it helps balance pH levels in the skin. It also helps control the production of sebum to prevent excess oil production, which can lead to acne.

While this product is effective, it is also very harsh. We like that it will give you the results you want, but people with sensitive skin will probably have issues with redness and irritation.

It may cause a burning sensation due to the high amount of salicylic acid, as well.

What We Like

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    Unclogs pores and helps get rid of acne
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    Removes dead skin cells

What We Don't Like

  • Causes a burning sensation during use
  • May be too harsh for sensitive skin

The Bottom Line

Our number one pick for the best BHA exfoliant is Murad AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser.

We chose this product because it contains both AHA and BHA ingredients, including salicylic, glycolic and lactic acids. It also treats acne including blackheads and whiteheads.

Each product on this list is designed to make skin look younger and healthier by removing dead skin cells from the surface of your skin. All of them are great options, but Murad’s product was our favorite.

We recommend any of these BHA exfoliants to anyone who needs to treat acne and exfoliate for younger-looking skin. Let us know your favorites in the comments section.