P50, a “gentle” exfoliator/balancing toner—as Biologique-Recherche, the French skincare company that launched the lotion years ago calls it, seems to be having a resurgence. I had never heard of it but recently, it has been coming up in a lot of women’s skincare regimens, from Emily Weiss at Glossier to Stella Bugbee at The Cut. (It’s under-the-radar status was no doubt partly due to the fact that you couldn’t really buy it this side of the Atlantic. You can now, link here.) None of these women talked about P50 being gentle—in fact, quite the opposite. It stang, it stank and seemed to be the most hard-core balancing toner on the market, one many reserved for special occasion use because of its strength.
Four months in to my tiny bottle of P50 (a little goes a long way) and I’m never giving it up. Does it stink? Yup. Sting? Still. Though my skin no longer turns red when I use it. (I suggest following Biologique’s recommendation and adding P50 to a damp cotton pad the first week to dilute it for the first week.) What’s in it that makes it effective? AHAs (Alpha Hydroxy Acid) which exfoliate and improve skin’s moisture, and BHAs (Beta Hydroxy Acid) which combat acne and redness, then sorrell, myrtle, onion and myrhh extract (hence the smell).
I use P50 most mornings after my Elemis cleansing toner and before my Odacite oils/Oleosomes cream mix. There are several types of P50 in case your skin is more sensitive or you’re not into tough love. But if you can stand it, I suggest you go for it. Your skin will thank you.