History of the Hero: Biologique Recherche P50

It might not quite roll off the tongue, but Biologique Recherche is one of those beauty brands that elicits wide-eyed approval in the most skincare-obsessed rooms. From beauty editors to make-up artists, aestheticians and the A-list, so sánh many of those in the know are fanatical about this history-steeped French skincare brand.

Following a strategy typically reserved for fashion, Biologique Recherche was, for many years, famously hard to get hold of – which, of course, only boosted its appeal tenfold. A bottle of the brand’s star product, the P50 lotion, was a beauty score to boast about: after all, owning one would put you in the same camp as reported loyal users Nicole Kidman, Sofia Coppola and the Olsen sisters. (See Elizabeth Olsen rave about it in ‘Inside my beauty bag’ video with Bazaar below.)

Now, the Biologique Recherche fan club is widening, thanks to long-overdue trực tuyến availability at the likes of Liberty and Harrods. While any curious customers once had to navigate the brand’s rather user-unfriendly trang web, taking part in a (paid-for) consultation before being prescribed the best regime from the brand, those cult heroes are now a quick nhấp chuột away.

What’s the story?

Biologique Recherche was founded in France by husband and wife team Yvan and Josette Allouche over 40 years ago. The couple, a renowned biochemist and licensed physiotherapist respectively, sought to combine their areas of expertise to create a brand which to this day remains relatively unique. In an industry of pretty packaging, snappy names and pleasant (fragrance-enhanced) smells, Biologique Recherche products look technical and somewhat intimidating, while the unfragranced products have been compared to everything from vinegar to Marmite.

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That said, the brand’s main selling point – one which can often be lost within the marketing hype of many beauty brands – is that it really, really works. In their own words, they use “intentionally pure, raw active ingredients”. The range is huge, with well over 100 products available for very specific different skin concerns, but there’s only really one that people obsess over…

Where to start

The obvious answer here is the brand’s most famous product, P50. The original ‘acid toner,’ this liquid exfoliant (no, it’s not a lotion at all) has been the brand’s star formula for over five decades. The name is shorthand for ‘peeling’ and ‘50’ – which denotes the number of days (equal to two epidermal renewal cycles) that it should take for you to see maximum results. In short, the aim of this potent liquid is to speed up the skin’s rate of regeneration, leading to a brighter, more even complexion in accelerated time.

Today, there are four iterations of P50 available in the UK, each tailored for a different skin type. The original P50 is the strongest, most suitable to mature and drier skin types. The key is the poly-hydroxy-acid gluconolactone which, along with a dose of lactic and salicylic acids, works to hydrate as it exfoliates: something that many lesser acid toners neglect.

The skin concerns this powerful acid formula can tackle are truly multifaceted: from clearing active breakouts to brightening pigmentation, renewing dull skin and shifting those lingering post-acne marks.

It’s alcohol-free, which will please anyone with a propensity for sensitivities, but the downside is the alternative preservative comes with a pungent vinegar-like smell.

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Sensitive skins should absolutely skip the original P50 – it’s far too strong – and head instead for the P50W, which is the gentlest in the line-up. The clear fluid gently exfoliates while rebalancing the pH of the skin and targeting any lingering blemishes. Many users report seeing a difference after just one use.

A more recent addition to the range, Lotion P50 Pigm 400 is the one most firmly targeted towards treating pigmentation, as the name (almost) suggests. And for older skin, P50V is another wise investment: this twist on the original formula boasts antioxidant walnut extract and a host of vitamins in lieu of the sulfur, which means it’s a more heavily hydrating option.

Who should try it?

There’s a P50 to suit almost anyone – but that doesn’t mean we should all be diving in with abandon. Acid skincare is remarkably effective and, when used properly, can truly transform skin – however, it can also lead to irritation and redness when used overzealously.

The best way to approach P50 is with caution and consistency: apply your toner via a dampened cotton pad (the water will gently dilute the formula) for the first two weeks of use. The brand advises building up to twice-daily use, following a slow and steady introduction: try pressing yours into clean skin two evenings per week at first, and monitor how your skin reacts. If you’re satisfied with the results, you may not need to increase your usage at all.

When using a P50 lotion, it’s important to consider the other actives currently in your regime: these potent acid blends shouldn’t be combined with a retinol or any other exfoliating products (scan the back of your serums for glycolic, salicylic, mandelic or lactic). Don’t apply it over the delicate eye area, and always always use a good facial SPF in the daytime. Play by the rules (and put up with the smell) and you’ll likely be on route to your smoothest, glowiest skin ever.

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