If you’re into skincare, you’ve likely been tempted by the French skincare brand Biologique Recherche at some point. Even though their packaging is a bit old school (I’m typically only drawn to pretty packaging), their products truly deliver glowing results that many celebrities swear by.
Their most well-known product is undoubtedly Lotion P50—a balancing exfoliator infused with ingredients such as onion extract, vinegar and horseradish that helps minimize the appearance of dark spots and pores while balancing complexion.
When I started my beauty Instagram account last year, I honestly had never heard of Biologique Recherche before. It wasn’t until several friends kept telling me about Lotion P50 saying “it was the best product they’ve ever tried,” that I decided I needed to try it too—just to be sure.
I finally caved around Christmas, so I’ve been using it for 9+ months now, and I’m definitely grateful for those friends (even if my bank account isn’t!) Below, I’m giving you the full 4-1-1 on the product—from how to use P50 to how much it costs, and whether or not it’s truly all it’s cracked up to be.
Biologique Recherche P50 Review
Lotion P50 is easily one of my “can’t live without” products and it’s always included in my list of top skincare products that I recommend. I tend to break out easily, but when I use P50 consistently (AM and PM) my skin stays clear for the most part, my complexion looks brighter, my skin-tone is more even, I have fewer blackheads, and my dark spots are SIGNIFICANTLY less noticeable.
There are several different formulations of P50, each tailored for specific skin types (oily, sensitive, mature, etc.) and concerns (i.e., hyperpigmentation).
I’ve tried the original (1970), P50, and P50 PIGM400. Here’s how they’re different:
P50 1970: the original formulation is the strongest and shouldn’t be used on sensitive skin. It also contains phenol, an acid ingredient that’s been banned from use in cosmetics in many countries due to its potential as a lung and skin irritant. This version is also the only one deemed unsafe for use in pregnancy.
P50: This is basically the original formulation sans phenol, and it’s recommended for normal to oily skin.
P50 PIGM400: This is the version that I use on a daily basis, because it has been formulated specifically for hyperpigmentation. Compared to the other two versions that I’ve tried, this one seems to be the mildest. It doesn’t sting at all, and the scent is not overpowering. In general, the P50 scent isn’t pleasant—you can definitely smell the vinegar—but it doesn’t deter me from using the product. The 1970 and P50 smell the worst in my opinion.
(If you’re also struggling with hyperpigmentation, be sure check out our experience getting Fraxel laser treatment.)
Some of the other versions that I haven’t tested include P50V (vitamin-enriched for mature skin) and P50W (milder version for sensitive skin).
How to Use P50:
P50 is a liquid exfoliant, so I use it AM and PM after washing my face in place of a toner. I then layer my serum, moisturizer, sunscreen, and eye cream on top of it. (A hyaluronic acid serum is a great compliment to P50.)
In the AM, I’ll wait a few minutes until it dries before applying my everyday makeup.
Rather than how you would apply a toner (swiping/rubbing across your skin), you should apply a few splashes onto a gauze or cotton pad (these are my favorite) and then press and release the product into your skin moving up the side of your face. This application method helps to avoid redness and irritation.
In the PM, you could also use a facial roller after application to help the product penetrate.
Because it’s such a powerful exfoliant, it’s intended to be used prior to masks to help the mask sinks into your skin deeper. I HIGHLY recommend trying their Masque Vivant, which the brand claims “if you use at least twice a week, you’ll never age.”
Important note: if you’re obsessed with at-home dermaplaning like we are, you should avoid using P50 immediately after you dermaplane, as the fresh skin is particularly sensitive.
How much does P50 cost?
I’m not going to lie, Biologique products are pretty pricey but SO worth the splurge. The cost of P50 depends on the size bottle you buy.
I started out with a mini (~$30 for 1.7 oz) but as with all Biologique products that I’ve tried, I’ve learned that I should have just splurged in the first place because the medium size is a much better deal (~$70 for 5.1 oz). There’s also a large, 8.5 oz bottle available for ~$120.
If you’re tempted to try a little bit of everything, Biologique also makes this travel gift pack set for $287.
Where can you buy P50?
There are two online retailers that I use to purchase my Biologique products: Toska Spa and Rescue Spa. I have had great experiences with them and highly recommend them both! My Biologique obsession has basically been cultivated from both of these websites since they send free Biologique samples with any order (depending on supply).
I’ve now accumulated amass of about 50 Biologique samples and have repurchased several full sized products after loving the samples (including Crème Dermopurifiante, Masque Vivant, Vip Lait O2 and a few serums)…oops!
[Editor’s Note: it’s also available on Amazon!]
Biologique Recherche Serum Review:
Speaking of serums, Biologique has TONS of them and it can be a little overwhelming when trying to find the best one for your skin type. I did a lot of research before purchasing (they aren’t the most wallet-friendly at an average of $~70 for a tiny ampule and $~130 for a larger ampule) and I ended up with Serum Placenta and Serum Complexe Iribiol.
These are both great for oily and/or acne-prone skin and I have re-purchased both. FYI, Serum Placenta smells absolutely terrible but it’s very effective! They have a water-like consistency so I apply them after p50 and before my moisturizer.
Both online retailers that I mentioned above have online specialists to help you discover the best serum for your skin-type, or you can always head to a local Biologique spa where you can get a customized Biologique facial and have your esthetician recommend some (I’m DYING to have this done!).
Holly Sims is a beauty-product obsessed clinical pharmacist from Birmingham, Alabama. She shares all of her skincare and makeup expertise on her “Insta-Blog.” Follow her here: @thehollyhighlight
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Susan JamesOctober 15, 2019 at 2:23 am
Fun guest spot to mix it up! Glad I read as I was curious about the line. I hate to judge a book by its cover but is made assumptions based on the “old school packaging.” Glad to read my assumptions were wrong. I’ll give it a go.
Lindsay SilbermanOctober 15, 2019 at 4:37 am
Same! I’m 1000% buying it this month 😊
JenniOctober 22, 2019 at 2:23 pm
I bought the Lotion P50 PIGM400 off your review and I can’t thank you enough! Even in the two weeks I’ve been using it I’ve noticed a huge difference. Really appreciate your review!
Lindsay SilbermanOctober 23, 2019 at 12:37 am
Love to hear that!! Thanks for the feedback!
SUSAN HELLERMay 10, 2020 at 4:07 pm
I am using P50W at first 1x a day now 2x’s—my skin keeps breaking out.’
When will it stop. I went there for the 1st facial I ever had. and she said to use the P50 lotion.
I am 75 years old and that is for young tough skin. I have very sensitive skin that stays red for a long time after break-outs. I went back to my P50W lotion I’ve been on it for 3months—and still breaking out. I don’t know what to do and now they’re closed because of
the Pandemic so no one answers the phone. I am thinking I should stick with it but I need some advice.
TMMay 30, 2020 at 11:52 pm
Perhaps you should try and create a Rescue Spa account and fill out the skin consultation form. Let them know what you are using and what issues you are having. They respond really quickly and even respond to follow-up questions. (I know this because I just created an account a couple of days ago, so they are open, even if they may be working from home.) Maybe they can steer you in the right direction. And the reviews say that they have really fast shipping, as well. Good luck!
TinaOctober 10, 2020 at 7:02 pm
Try dampening the cotton wool or applicator pad with water – it is what BR recommends to start.
ElizabethSeptember 3, 2021 at 4:20 pm
I can’t say enough good things about P50 and all of the BR products. How long should you wait after dermaplaning to resume using the P50 lotion?