Review: Biologique Recherche P50

Back when I first started this blog I did a post about my skincare routine. Soon after, however, I accidentally deleted the post during a site revamp but figured it wasn't a big deal. I had no idea how I wrong I was! I immediately received many messages asking where it had gone and to this day receive requests about my skincare regimen. 

As is probably the case with most of you, my routine is constantly evolving; I'm a beauty and skincare junkie with VIB Rouge status at Sephora (which apparently means I spend over $1000/year at Sephora alone; not sure if this is something of which to be proud). However, being incredibly unloyal when it comes to products does mean that when I repurchase, or—amazingly—permanently bump a current staple for a new product, it has to be downright phenomenal. 

This is my personal review of Biologique Recherche's Lotion P50. Seeing as how there are plenty of articles out there about why and how it works, I will limit this review to what it did for me and link out that other information as I go.



I'm not a dermatologist and what works for my skin may not work for yours. Use common sense. :)


The Basics

I first discovered Biologique Recherche's P50 Lotion reading this Into The Gloss article with Emily Weiss, founder of Glossier. After doing a little (and by a little I mean a near-embarrassing amount of) sleuthing on the French brand, I discovered the P50 Lotion has a cult-like following amongst beauty editors and celebs alike. It's been hailed a Holy Grail product, "Miracle In A Bottle", "Facial In A Bottle", and my favorite, "Jesus In A Bottle". With those sorts of claims and my constant grass-is-greener mentality when it comes to skincare products, I couldn't sign on the dotted line fast enough.

Not so fast. P50 is notoriously hard to find and priced the way you would expect a chi-chi French brand to be. I hunted it down at Vicki Morav here in New York and went in person to get their input on the best fit for me, formula-wise. There are apparently 6 different versions available, ranging from P50V (mature skin) to P50W (sensitive skin). The specialist there was super helpful and after establishing my age, my skin type (not sensitive), and the fact that I use tretinoin, we decided on the regular P50. (Note that although the bottle itself says to not use the P50 during a "retinoic treatment", specialists at both Vicki Morav and the flagship spa in Paris told me the tretinoin isn't a problem.) Though I could have spent $35 for the smallest size, the side of me that prefers a good value opted for the large, or 8.5oz size, at $95. (Stiff, I know.)

For a good breakdown of the ingredients and what they do, head over to Allure's Review.


My Skin: Before

Although my skin had generally been clear, I would get a pesky zit or two at that time of the month, usually on a cheek or on my chin. My T-zone seemed perpetually oilier than I'd like, regardless of what powder I used. (And I'm not confusing oily with dewy... Dewy, good. Oily, bad.) This was tricky, though, because since I was using (and still do use) prescription tretinoin (I promise I'll do a blog post on this... many of you have been asking) I had mild but stubborn dryness and flaking in some spots. The combination of dry and oily was pretty darn annoying. My pores were normal, not invisible, not large and they weren't a concern for me. I was and am always thinking about age prevention, so wrinkles were a peripheral concern. 


My Skin: After

I don't say this lightly, but this product was a game changer for me. I'm very much an impatient person when it comes to products and I'm not looking at my pores with a magnifying glass every morning to spy results. However, within days (days!) I noticed a distinct difference in my biggest concern, the oily T-zone. Come afternoon, I wasn't as desperate as usual to blot or reapply powder, and my overall complexion looked way more even and just brighter. After a few more weeks I noticed my pores becoming less prominent (which is really saying something because this is not the sort of thing I normally notice, particularly since they weren't a major concern to begin with). I realized after a few months that my time-of-the-month zit (or two) had become almost nonexistent; if I did get a zit, there'd only be a lone, less deep-rooted, less enthusiastic one. While it didn't cure dryness, the fact that it got the oil under control has allowed me to address that separately; I've been able to incorporate more hyper-moisturizing serums and face oils without fear of them turning my whole face shiny. On the whole I found that, for the first time in my life, my skin had a "glow" to it.

I don't have a "before" photo, but below is the "after". I took this first thing in the morning, sans makeup, retouching, or filters, after using P50 at night (and twice a day for about a year). My skin isn't "flawless" by any means, but it's pretty clear and take my word for it, much more even and less dull and ruddy than it used to be...



  • Expensive

  • Hard to find

  • Tingling (I personally like this but it's not for everyone)

  • Stinks, a bit like vinegar (I've gotten completely used to it but it's not Andy's favorite of my products' scents.)


How I Use It

Although Biologique Recherche doesn't openly call this a toner, it's what I (and most of its devotees) use it as. I simply moisten a cotton round and sweep it all over my face, morning and night, after cleansing and before serum and moisturizer (+ sunscreen by day). When starting out, they recommend you either use it only every other day or moisten a cotton pad slightly with water before adding the product. The specialist at Biologique Recherche specified that one should "dab" the product on (I think to avoid irritation since the product itself is strong) but honestly, I'm a too lazy for that and have never had any problems with the wiping motion. After quickly realizing that I had a tendency to squirt too much product on my cotton rounds, I bought a small, carry-on size spray bottle which I use at all times, even when I'm not traveling. 4-5 sprays is enough and I like keeping a close eye on how much product I use, considering it's basically liquid gold. It's imperative that you use sunscreen when using this product during the daytime (though really you should be using sunscreen no matter what); my favorite is Shiseido Urban Environment Oil-Free UV Protector, which has no white cast and melts into my skin.


Cost + Where To Buy

In my initial research, I was flabbergasted at how hard it was to find prices for the P50 online. Everything was shrouded in mystery, with the main online retailer, Rescue Spa, forcing you to open an account to view prices (I HATE that). So I thought I'd round up a complete price list here.

  • France //

    • Paris: If you happen to visit Paris, go to the famed Biologique Recherche spa and stock up. Strangely, the medium size is the best value here...

      • Small (1.7oz) €19

      • Medium (5.1oz) €38

      • Large (8.5oz) €76

If your city doesn't have a retailer (which is likely), I recommend calling one of the above (Vicki Morav, Aida Bicaj, Rescue Spa, One-2-One if you're in Canada) and consulting over which version would be best for you. They sell over the phone and it's pretty seamless. (And, psst, Vicki Morav includes a generous handful of samples, which I can't say for even the Biologique Recherche spa in Paris.) 


Lust vs Must

If the price is simply too daunting (which I totally get), there are some alternatives out there. Pixi Glow Tonic ($15/100ml, $30/250ml) has been hailed a (MUCH) more price-conscious dupe for the P50, however it's considered more the "training wheels" for if you're new to AHA exfoliators. Glamorable has a good, honest review of Pixi Glow Tonic.


Have you tried the P50 or any other Biologique Recherche products? Let me know in the comments below! 


Thanks for stopping by!