French skin-care brand Biologique Recherche has been making its line of the ever-elusive (yet highly praised) Lotion P50 for more than 40 years now. This line of “balancing exfoliators” is just as well known for its skin-transforming benefits and unrivaled cult following as it is for its pungent stench. However, countless beauty editors and skin-care aficionados are more than willing to dismiss the potions’ signature scent—the result of a proprietary blend of vinegar and horseradish with a dash of onion—because fans swear it actually works.
Biologique Recherche says these toners enhance the skin because they “speed up the epidermis’s natural exfoliating process and the reconstruction of the epidermal shield.” In other words, it sloughs off dead skin from the surface much like chemical exfoliants and retinoid products, thanks to its blend of trusted anti-aging ingredients including sulfur and lactic acid. But the Lotion P50 solution is different than its fellow exfoliators because it’s chock-full of unusual ingredients that you’re used to seeing in your kitchen cabinet, not your skin care: onion extract, horseradish, thyme. Despite the formula’s strong acid blend, the additional ingredients are said to help restore your skin’s PH levels and limit the amount of irritation associated with stronger exfoliating products.
There are currently seven versions of the lotion, with a range of strengths available depending on your exfoliation tolerance and personal skin concerns. The original—and undeniably most coveted—is the original Lotion 50 1970 solution. It contains a controversial ingredient called phenol, an antiseptic acid compound often used as a paint thinner but also found in some oral sore throat medicines (hence the numbing sensation upon application that many users have reported).
Fans of the lotion P50 (aptly nicknamed “facial in a bottle”) praise the cultish elixir for its fast delivery of visible anti-aging benefits. Some even likened the results to Botox treatments. While it’s doubtful that Lotion P50 is a Botox alternative, it’s fairly evident that most people who have tried this stinky toner are pretty loyal to it, if not utterly obsessed. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to find if you’re not a beauty editor, nor is it easy on the wallet. Because it’s technically only sold by licensed estheticians and at professional spas (no, you can’t order it on Amazon, beware of counterfeits!) it’s pretty tough to get your hands on this stuff.
Building better skin day by day is the philosophy at the Paul Labrecque Skincare Spa. Paul Labrecque is the original Biologique Recherche Skincare Spa in New York with our first facial in 1998. More than 20 years of trusted Biologique Recherche product knowledge and facial experience. Call 212-988-7816 for your free one-on-one customized skincare consult and analysis. Shop the full Biologique Recherche skin, hair and body collections at www.paullabrecque.com.