Which P50 Lotion Version Is Right for You? - Ciel Spa Beverly Hills

Which P50 Lotion Version Is Right for You?

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So you’ve heard of Lotion P50, maybe from a friend’s recommendation or from repeatedly seeing it referenced on blogs and social media that tout makeup and skincare products that work well. And now you want to try it for yourself. But if you’re looking into buying P50, you’ve probably discovered that there’s more than one version of it, and maybe you don’t yet know which one is right for you. So take a look at the different varieties of P50 and find out what you need to know to choose the correct one for your skincare routine.

Everything You Need to Know About P50

If you’re just now hearing about P50, you might be wondering what all of the fuss is about. P50 Lotions have been around for a while – it was invented in the 1950s by Yvan Allouche, a scientist and founder of Biologique Recherche. The “P” stands for “peeling,” and “50” represents the number of days it takes to get to the first level of epidermal reconditioning.

This is the level that is required to purify and rebalance the skin. So essentially, P50 is an exfoliating toner intended for daily use. And over the decades since the original invention, not only has the recipe been refined, it’s been split into different formulations that different people can use for their personal skin types.


P50 is the original version, and it’s directed broadly at several different skin types. As a result, you may see redness and feel some stinging when using this version. You may even feel some numbness. However, the original is still the strongest exfoliant in the P50 lineup. It’s got lactic acid, salicylic acid, sulfur, niacinamide, and vinegar.

It also may or may not contain phenol – the original formula did, then phenol ended up being banned in Europe. It’s still legal in the US, and there are two versions of this line. P50 does not contain phenol. But if you buy P50 1970, then your version will contain phenol. Phenol can be controversial.

It isn’t a carcinogen, but it can cause chemical burns in large quantities – though not the quantities found in a bottle of P50. Some people choose not to take the risk, while others do. You’ll have to make that decision for yourself. The scent of P50 is distinctive. It contains the scents of Sorrell, myrrh extract, myrtle, and onion. You’ll know it when you’re using it, and so will others in your vicinity.


Suppose you have normal to dry skin that isn’t super sensitive but isn’t so strong that you want to subject it to the original P50. P50V contains many of the same ingredients as the original P50, but it doesn’t contain sulfur. In addition to the absence of sulfur, P50V does contain plankton and Brewer’s Yeast, giving it more of a conditioning effect for the skin than the original P50 had and also giving it a few more vitamins.

P50V may smell somewhat different from P50, but it will still have a strong scent that’s different from the flowery, perfumy scent that other skincare products use. At Biologique Recherche, they prefer not to dress up the scent of their products in non-essential ingredients that your skin doesn’t need, so don’t expect a lot of masking scent in any product.

As with the original P50, P50V comes in a 1970 version containing phenol and the non-phenol type. So once again, you’ll need to make the decision for yourself about whether you’re concerned about applying phenol to your skin.


If your skin is too sensitive for P50 or P50V, P50W was created to be an even gentler product. It contains lactic and citric acid, niacinamide, gluconolactone, sulfur, allantoin, serine, urea, vinegar, and plant extracts that are meant to soothe the skin. This version contains no phenol, and the combination of ingredients is meant to make it effective and gentle at the same time, so if you can’t handle too much harshness on your skin, this might be the right choice for you.


If you live in the United States, P50T may not be readily available to you. However, if you’re looking for skincare in Canada or certain Asian countries, it may be an option. While P50W was meant to be the gentlest formula available, P50T is marketed to consumers in countries with stringent regulations on the pH balances of skincare. Therefore, it does not contain phenol, but it also doesn’t contain sulfur or any lactic acid, citric acid, or salicylic acid.

Instead of salicylic acid, P50 contains sodium salicylate, and instead of gluconolactone, it contains sodium gluconate. Essentially, to comply with the countries that it is marketed in, it uses related salts instead of these acids. This does make the formula gentler – even more so than P50W – but it’s unclear whether the salts are as effective exfoliating ingredients as the acid ingredients.

P50 PIGM 400

Unlike the other products formulated for almost anyone based on their preference and level of skin sensitivity (and local laws), P50 PIGM 400 is targeted to a specific type of customer – namely one who is dealing with hyperpigmentation. This version contains:

  • Niacinamide
  • Lactic
  • Mandelic
  • Phytic
  • Citric Acids
  • Gluconolactone
  • Salicylic Acid
  • Ferments
  • Plant Extracts
  • Vinegar
  • Vitamin C

The plant extracts in his version include wasabi extract, palmaria palmata extract, and fruits titrated in flavonoids. It has no phenol or sulfur. In addition to exfoliating, P50 PIGM 400 helps control the pigmentation process and assists with brightening dull skin.

Final Takeaway

Opinions on the P50 line are divided, with some swearing by it, and others turned off by the smell or the relative harshness of the product. It’s one of those products that must be tried by the individual to be judged, but there’s no denying that a product that’s been around this long and as so many loyal users must be doing something right. To find out more about the P50 line or the Biologique Recherche brand, ask the experts at Ciel Spa.

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