(Photo by David Yi/Very Good Light)

“Am I the last beauty editor to try Biologique Recherche p50?”

That’s the question I asked a publicist via email when she sent me something about the mysterious French brand.

SEE ALSO: Exfoliating with sensitive skin? Yes, it’s possible.

Obviously, I’d heard about Biologique Recherche from absolutely every beauty fanatic I’ve talked to. And it’s also completely impossible not to come across a #topshelfie of the product in its pill-like packaging while scrolling on Instagram. The product, which is obsessed over by the likes of the Olsen twins, Nicole Kidman, Amy Adams, and all of Hollywood, has made it to cult status thanks to reviews and results that people claim are completely magical. But I hadn’t tried it because for one, it’s really complicated to buy online (scroll down for more of that), and it’s just a little pricey. At $98 for 8.4 oz. that’s about $11 per ounce. Meaning, this stuff better make me look like a baby angel straight from Jesus’s arms, or I’m suing.

The brand, which was created by a French family (Yvan, Josette and Phillipe Allouche), a biologist, physiotherapist and a doctor, respectively, brought their minds – and experience – together to understand skin in a holistic manner. The company is said to have functioned like a research and development lab but then turned into creating its own products. One of the first products? P50, duh. The first iteration was P50 1970, named for the year it was created, which contained the now-banned substance, phenol. After concluding that phenol had potential lung and skin irritants, the brand relaunched p50 (without the 1970), along with three others. These include: p50V, for mature skin with vitamins-enriched in it; p50W, for sensitive skin; and P50 PIGM 400, which targets hyperpigmentation.

Lotion P50, though called a lotion, is SO much more than that. It’s more of a toner, that balances the skin’s pH, protects and strengthens the epidermis, hydrates, while also exfoliating dead skin cells and impurities. With a mixture of AHA and BHA acids: lactic, citric, malic, phytic, salicylic acids, it’s a very strong product that together, works potent magic on those pores.

(Photo by David Yi/Very Good Light)

Though the potion is known for its effects on the skin, it’s probably best known for its legendary smell – or lack of a pleasant one. Users have all concluded that P50 smells pungent – Byrdie even went so far to say it smells like a “hot garbage.”

With so many opinions and reviews heralding this as the Holy Grail, I just had to get my hands on this stinker to see if it really was a miracle product. Here’s my 60 days using Lotion P50.


First things first: the bottle is CHIC AF and comes in a pill-like bottle. With a gold trip around the cap and majestic purple letters, this screams EXPENSIVE. But the thing is, I received this via the brand’s PR. To purchase this product, it’s actually kind of a headache. You can’t just go into an Ulta or your favorite mall beauty store and request it. It’s not sold there, as the brand wants to limit its offerings to only professional spas or aestheticians. Which means that you have to do your research to see which spa in your area actually carries it. If you want to purchase the brand online, you can only do so via Paul Labrecque or Rescue Spa, which isn’t the easiest of experiences. For one, to even see how much any of the products cost, you have to sign up and login. If you’re really into a mysterious brand, this is one that you’ll LOVE tracking down. For everyone else…I totally get your frustrations.

When I received this, it was smaller than I thought and at 150 ml I totally thought I’d use this up in a matter of weeks. But after 60 days, it’s still far from being half-empty.

(Photo by David Yi/Very Good Light)

It’s interesting that people hate the smell of this product. I actually love it. It’s sour, smells like a vinaigrette and reminds me of pickled onions you’d put on your lox bagel. I totally understand why people wouldn’t want this near their face, but to me, it was actually refreshing to use a product that wasn’t half made of fragrances that masked ingredients and their natural smells.

Many reviews say that this product is really potent and that you will turn red. That was exactly my experience. For the first three days after using this product (some days I used a cotton pad, others, I drenched my skin with my hands), my skin turned beet red. It felt tingly and as if I had just had a very thorough, albeit painful, facial. But then your face gets used to the product and is less stingy. I actually welcomed this experience as I felt the active ingredients were doing their job, strengthening my skin and exfoliating dead and unwanted skin cells.

(Does my skin look dewier than a glazed donut? Photo by David Yi/Very Good Light)

For most of the 60 days, I used the product day and night (though, somedays, I either forgot to or opted for something more gentle when I had open wounds). Immediately, I found that my skin felt really cleansed. I totally felt that my skin was free of any debris left behind by my cleanser and it showed on my cotton pad whenever I chose to use it. I also felt that my moisturizer began doing its job a little better and with more ease. Creams wouldn’t just sit at the top of my skin, rather, would skin to the bottom of each pore.

After 60 days, I feel my hyperpigmentation has lightened, my breakouts are less frequent and my blackheads come less frequently (though, as we know, nothing gets rid of blackheads altogether!). More so, I felt this glow start happening at the end of month one. If the first 4 weeks were getting used to the product, the next few weeks were really about showing off the power of the potent potion. I feel every time I use the product, my skin feels healed, cleansed, and healthier. With the exfoliator getting rid of every impurity, my pores and glisten and glow naturally and beautifully. All in all, as a first-time – and late – user of P50, I can’t imagine my skincare without this product. Am I sold? Can I believe? Is magic real? By the results of my dewy ass face, I feel this is a product that’s TOTALLY a Holy Grail, and WILL go through the 100000 steps to login, sign up and purchase this online. It’s worth it.