Editor Savannah Scott before and after p50 facial


Everything You Need to Know: My Biologique Recherche P50 Before and After

by @vanzillascott
Feb 06, 2020


On January 26th, 2020, I finally did it; I got the Signature Facial at Rescue Spa, the fancy shmancy spa in New York City known for being one of the few places where you can purchase products by Biologique Recherche. After reading a handful of Biologique Recherche P50 reviews, I decided to try their signature $150 facial. Naturally, it only uses the brand’s exclusive products, which means I can finally give you my own Biologique Recherche P50 before and after.

Ahead of the facial, I had started using their Lotion P50 at home. I had some pretty complicated results, so I was really looking forward to asking Biologique-certified esthetician Olga Smagina all about the strange, vinegary-smelling liquid I'd been patting on my face twice a day.

I took the time to create an in-depth description of my introduction to Biologique Recherche Lotion P50 along with Rescue Spa's Signature Facial and microdermabrasion treatment. Plus, I unpack the effects that both have had on my skin in the weeks that followed.

Disclaimer: This facial was not gifted and this is not a promo. I'm not wearing makeup in any of these photos (although I wish I was in some of the more unflattering ones). The things I do for an honest before and after - that’s Journalism for you!

About Biologique Recherche

Biologique Recherche is a French brand that was started by couple Yvan and Josette Allouche, a biologist and physiotherapist. Their son Dr. Philippe Allouche now runs the brand, which has been around for over 40 years. Lotion P50 is a chemical exfoliator with a cult-like status (it's been called "Jesus in a bottle") that is said to regulate your skin's sebum production, reduce dark spots, get rid of acne, and make your skin glow.

Know this; it smells SO bad. I have read some hilarious descriptions online and definitely wondered if it was a Biologique Recherche P50 dupe. The smell has been described as "rotten nail salon," horseradish, and vinegar. Glossier founder Emily Weiss, who swears by the product, once said that her boyfriend had started calling her "trash face" after she applied it. Needless to say, I had to give it a go! By the time I found myself in the waiting room at Rescue Spa, I had been a “trash face” for a little over 2 weeks.

Instagram @rescue_spa

Instagram @rescue_spa

About Lotion P50

The first time I applied P50 (with a reusable cotton pad after washing my face), it did exactly what it promised it would; it burned. It wasn't unbearable and only lasted a few seconds, comparable to the feeling of putting salicylic acid on a pimple, but on your entire face. My skin turned red, something that has never happened to me when applying skincare products. When I followed with moisturizer (Stratia Liquid Gold) the burn was instantly soothed and my face felt super clean.

The next morning I ran to the mirror to see my new glowing face, but all I found was a cluster of little red pimples around my nose (again, never happens) and random white heads scattered across my face. Was this a purge? Was this perioral dermatitis? Did I not know how to use Biologique Recherche P50?

I checked Google and was relieved to find that many people experienced the same thing. I decided to push on—After all, I had spent almost $100 on this freaking (full size) bottle of skin vinegar and I wasn't going to give up now. For the next few days my skin purged a little more until it suddenly stopped, and while I hadn't yet gone through 50 days of use (the amount of time they say it takes before you notice results, hence the name P50) my skin did feel really soft and clean. Was it glowing and breakout-free? Not yet.

Before the facial, two weeks into using Lotion P50

About Rescue Spa's Signature Facial

When I met esthetician Olga Smagina and told her about "the purge" and the slight burning I still felt when I applied P50, she reassured me right away. "Please continue," she said. She explained that in her 12 years of experience with P50, she'd never heard of skin that didn't benefit from it. She told me it sometimes takes a few weeks for our skin to get used to it, the purge was normal, but the payoff was real.

The signature facial starts with an in-depth skin analysis, during which Smagina told me my skin looked sallow (i.e. dull) and that I had impurities (i.e. blackheads). We decided to add on microdermabrasion for an extra $50 because I was there, it was already happening, and I didn't want to be dull anymore. The next steps of the signature facial at Rescue Spa are deep cleansing, toning, exfoliation, extraction, prescriptive face mask, intensive protective finishing creams and a bio-reflex face massage.

Microdermabrasion is a minimally invasive procedure that reduces the appearance of hyperpigmentation, acne scarring, fine lines, and sun damage. It’s meant to renew the overall tone and texture of your skin (bye-bye dull face). The tool they use has a rough surface that essentially sands away the first few layers of your skin. It's not painful but it's not the most pleasant feeling. She finished the procedure by removing all the dead skin and applying a Biologique Recherche product that set my face on fire for 5 seconds and then made it go numb. I was rewarded with a gentle face massage.

After all was said and done and I looked at my reflection, I was reminded of a very ripe tomato. Yes, I was finally glowing, but I was very, very red.

Moments after the facial
Ten minutes later

After the Signature Facial

Before I left, Smagina told me it would be best for me to not wash my face or apply any products until the next morning. I decided that I wanted to see the results of this facial clearly, so I wouldn't be wearing any makeup for the next week. By the time I got home my face wasn't red anymore, and it was really shiny. I had a few scabs from extractions of closed comedones, but aside from that my skin was the softest it's been, possibly ever.

The next morning, my skin felt really smooth to the touch and was peeling off in some areas (which is normal). I noticed that I had a few pinpricks of blood on my jawline (also normal) and my skin seemed to be on it's way to recovery.

2 hours after the facial
The next morning

What to use after Biologique Recherche P50?

While I had Olga’s attention, I asked her what I should do after applying my morning “trash face.” First of all, she reiterated that I should never rub my face with the Lotion P50, only ever pat or dab the product onto your face and neck. She demonstrated a gentle, upward motion that’s easy to replicate. These days I find it quite therapeutic. She reminded me to wait until the product has completely dried before moving on to the next step in my routine.

Some people stop after the Lotion P50 step, but I’m a big fan of a spritz here and there. I started using the Biologique Recherche L'Eauxygenante Oxygenating Mist, and I love it. If your skin feels irritated, dry, or overly sensitive after Lotion P50, then this is a great way to refresh and hydrate. It’s so soothing!

I haven’t tried it yet, but Olga did mention using a serum to support my skin after the Lotion P50 application. She said any of the all-natural finishing serums would work, but highly recommended the Biologique Recherche Serum Placenta. It helps to even out your skin’s natural tone, minimizing dark circles. She also suggested a moisturizer to give my skin a little extra love. The Gel ADN Silkgen is a good option for all skin types.

My final thoughts + tips:

Was this facial worth it? Absolutely. If you're not sure, just look at this makeup-free before and after. The lighting on my face is slightly different (although both have natural light on overcast days) but I can see the difference every time I look in the mirror. Rescue spa is a beautiful space, the staff is friendly and professional, and I felt like I was in good hands. I've had cheaper facials at other chains in the city and I would say that this one is worth the price.

Is Lotion P50 worth it? For me, yes. I've been using it for around 4 weeks and I haven't had a breakout since the initial purge. I usually have at least 1 or 2 breakouts per week, but my skin has stayed clear. After I apply it my skin looks glowy, but I don't see a constant overall glow yet. A bottle costs about $90, which is a lot, but considering I only wash my face (with Stratia Velvet Cleansing Milk or HoliFrog Superior Omega Nutritive Gel Wash) and moisturize, I can afford to splurge on one of a few skincare steps. If you don't want to dish out that much cash, consider another acid exfoliator like Pixi Glow Tonic, Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid or REN Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic.

Two days later
Three days later
Before the P50 facial
4 days after the P50 facial

Keen to book your Biologique Recherche P50 Facial?

Here are my top three tips if you decide to get a facial at Rescue Spa:

  • Tell your esthetician about your skin concerns. I spent a good few minutes giving Olga an in-depth history of my skin journey. For example, I mentioned that I have a small spot of dermatitis under my bottom lip that gets easily irritated. During the treatment, she mostly avoided the area. Little details like this really help to personalize your treatment, ensuring you get the most out of it.

  • Check your schedule before committing to microdermabrasion. I wouldn’t recommend microdermabrasion if you plan on going to an important event in the coming week. Wait until you have some time off. I like to plan it around a weekend or some work-from-home days so I give my face ample time to recover.

  • Up your SPF game. After this kind of facial, and if you use Lotion P50, your skin is going to have increased sun sensitivity. You’re a lot more susceptible to sun damage and sunburn. Wear sunscreen with at least 30 SPF every single day (something you should already be doing anyway).

    Have you ever tried Lotion P50, or any other product by Biologique Recherche? There are so many out there! Remember to add your review below and help the next person who is considering trying it. I want to know if the “trash face” was worth it for you!

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