I’ve Been Applying P50 All Wrong! Things Learned from a Biologique Recherche Facial

I’m a Spa slut everywhere else in the world, but here in NYC, a few really bad treatment experiences have left me wary and hesitant to explore. But, when Biologique Recherche comes calling, I’m all in.  I couldn’t have asked for a better experience and learned so many new tips that I’ve been anxious to share with you all. This post was inspired by your zealous response to my IG stories, my dear Skinthusiasts! 💕

Biologique Recherche is a long time favourite brand of mine and the Lotion P50 is my ride-or-die. With this toner, I no longer feel the need for professional facials. That’s not to say I would turn down one from BR though… Honestly, I could barely keep my composure when they reached out.

This treatment is available at the flagship Paul Labrecque Spa in NYC on 171 E 65th street. It’s a beautiful sanctuary where I often drop by for mani’s and to buy my BR products because this brand was notoriously difficult to access online. They have a personal approach to sales and prefer you get a consultation from a professional to determine the best products for your skin. This policy has since softened and you can buy their products online without a consultation.

Check out Julia, my esthetician. She’s a badass with the gentlest hands and is passionate, warm, tough and educational. I got some tough love for using tretinoin (her belief is that P50V > Retin-A) and for having so many blackheads on my nose.

Her assessment of my skin : In good condition but confused. In need of oxygen as well as hydration and it’s not as thin as I may believe. It’s also not so much sensitive as it is reactive. She was going to be gentle with the actives.

The Facial & What I learned About The “Biologique Recherche” Approach :

  • Heating the skin is avoided

“You put things in the fridge to retain freshness. Things that are left in the heat go rotten faster.” – Julia. Dramatic but point made. BR avoids heating the skin with steam or using hot towels in this treatment because they simply don’t believe in it. Just so happens I recently read an article on how over-heated skin over lengthy periods of time can cause hyperpigmentation, inflammation and other disorders, so I’m comfortable with this standpoint. Besides, I hate hot towels particularly when they’re being wiped across my face. It grosses me out. They even discourage using warm water to rinse your face. As a teenager with angry acne/rosacea, my dermatologist told me to only rinse or cleanse my face with cold water so this approach really resonates and makes me happy.

Julia did however reluctantly,  have to steam my face to perform extractions on my blackhead-infested nose. But only for a couple of minutes which is way less time than I’ve experienced in past facials where the steam would be on my face for up to 10 minutes.

  1. Cleansing with Lait Oxygenant VIP 02
  • I wasn’t wearing any makeup other than some concealer under my eyes and sunscreen. She used this cleanser on me because she said my skin didn’t just need hydration but oxygenation too. This lightweight milk has oxygenating properties as well as deeply cleanses.
  • This was applied with a lymphatic massage which actually subtly changed my face shape by the end of the treatment. There was far less puffiness, more definition and circulation. Everything looked brighter and lifted. Lymphatic massage FTW!
  • She then removed the cleanser gently with cold water-soaked cotton pads. Not a cloth or towel and nothing warm. We both share a loathing for washcloths which was a relief.
  1. Lotion P50V 1970
    • I usually use the P50W but Julia believes I should be using the V. But that’s not the real revelation of this session…
    • I’ve been applying P50 ALL. WRONG – I told her that sometimes P50 would cause redness which would last longer than I’d like. She demanded to know how I apply it, I told her I use it like a toner and swipe it across my face with a cotton pad. Starting with my cheeks then nose, forehead, sides of face and chin. There was a gasp and she proceeded to educate me.

In the video, you see her demonstrate a few times how she presses the formula into my skin. First scene, she’s applying the product. Second, she’s explaining that when we apply ourselves, start on one side first from the side of the neck moving up to face, then swipe over lips last. Third, she’s showing how to press the product into areas of concern, mainly side of mouth, nose, between the brows and forehead.

  • She uses 2 gauze pads rather than cotton because it soaks up more product and gives a more even release.
  • 2 splashes of product into the gauze
  • Start on one side from chest
  • Press and release the product into skin moving up the neck towards ear. No swiping or rubbing. Press. And. Release.
  • Move up the side of your face, focusing around areas where wrinkles can form namely sides of the mouth, between brows and forehead as demonstrated in the video. Then lastly, swipe gauze over lips.
  • She completely avoids direct application on the apples of my cheeks which is usually where I start swiping first and usually ends up very red. She’s focused on the areas where there are more pores and where wrinkles form.
  • There was no burn, no tingle, no redness but my skin was exfoliated, smooth and shiny. My lips were also smooth and soft.
  1. Mask Layering
  • First mask applied on my face was the Masque VIP 02 for oxygenation.
  • Hands were used to apply masks as opposed to the usual spatulas. She believes the mask applies closer to the skin this way and helps to activate the product.
  • She first applied the mask around and on my eyes. Literally on my eyes, over my lids even. It didn’t seep or irritate. I could easily watch an episode of ‘Curb’ with it on.
  • After the mask was applied to the rest of my face, a thin layer of mesh gauze was pressed over it.
  • The second mask to be layered on top was The Cold Mask which is an Algae Green Clay mask and it was cold, stayed cold and felt great on the skin.
  • When both masks were removed, my skin felt ridiculous. I could feel tingles of vitality.

  1. Customized Serum Cocktail

This part was the most interesting albeit unnerving for me. Like a few of you pointed out in the IG stories, the serum vials look like the kind used for IV administration. When I turned to see Julia using an injection needle to extract serum from a vial, I was pretty nervous. But she ejected the liquid into a little dish along with 3 other serums chosen for my skin.

Serum Colostrum Pure  Moisturizing milk proteins improves elasticity and revitalizes skin

Serum Splenodermine  Firming serum and promotes regeneration

Serum Amniotique E. (Placenta) Intensely hydrating and promotes skin regeneration.

Serum Collagene Natif  Intensely hydrating and helps bind water and restore barrier function to the epidermis.

The 4 different serums pictured above were the personalized cocktail that transformed my skin instantly. This stuff was active let me tell you. From the moment the brew was applied to my face, I could feel activity and tingling. Things were happening. Somehow the combination of these hydrated and tightened my face up, brightened it, evened out my skin tone despite having gotten my blackheads extracted, and imparted a healthy sheen. There was some left over and I wanted to bottle it and take it home with me.

  1. Moisturize

Creme Contour Des Yeux – Light but moisturizing eye cream

Emulsion Gel Biosensible – For face

This moisturizer was used to calm my skin after all the activity with the serums. This beautifully light weight emulsion immediately calmed my skin. However, it was a freezing, windy day and I definitely needed something heavier against the cold, drying wind. My eye is on the Masque Vernix which Julia recommended as a moisturizer.

  1. Finishing Serum with Serum Grand Millesime

This is a new concept. First time I tried a ‘Finishing’ product was Sulwhasoo’s Luminature Essential Finisher.  BR also believes in a finishing serum as a final layer over your moisturizer to seal everything in and protect your skin from the environment. This leaves the skin with a beautiful glow and is a perfect makeup gripper.


Biologique Recherche believes healthy skin is glossy but not greasy. That’s the kind of skin I left with. Infact, days later, I am still enjoying the smoothness, softness and tightness of my skin. The picture was taken right before leaving the spa. It’s not touched up or filtered, no makeup and my eye luggage somehow disappeared along with the darkness that stubbornly resides there. I’m mostly surprised at how even my skin tone is. I can barely see my hyper pigmentation splotches and the redness around my nose and cheeks are not obvious. My skin feels tighter, pores are clean and less obvious. I could gush for paragraphs.

For those of you asking for details about the Facial, you can find it here. The Facial I got was the Lotion P50 Deep Cleansing Hydrating Facial – 60 mins – $180

Wishing you great skin health,
gothamista renee chow youtube



This post is not sponsored but the facial was complimentary from the gracious Paul Labrecque Salon & Spa. Links are not affiliate.


  1. Sonia Price
    November 14, 2017 / 9:37 pm

    OK. I need P50. I always knew it. It’s just another proof. Going to treat myself this Christmas!

    Looking stunning as always Renée x

    • November 15, 2017 / 2:24 am

      Thank you, Sonia! You’re so sweet and your face is worth the treat! Looking forward to your first P50 experience!

  2. Phoebe
    November 14, 2017 / 10:37 pm

    So interesting! I’ve been using P50 for over a year, and feel like I should switch to P50V as well…I took a break because I think I over-exfoliated at one point…and am trying Differin now…but I’m so torn over retinoid vs P50!!!

    • November 15, 2017 / 2:27 am

      OMG I know! I’ve done P50 in lieu of retinol and honestly, I was happy with that. I just feel like I need to try RetinA again just so I can know for sure! I also over-exfoliated at some point which caused me to take a break but whenever I come back to P50, I always realize how much I’ve missed it and how amazing it is. I’m going to switch to the V when I’m done with the W!

      • Yada
        November 15, 2017 / 5:07 pm

        Hey Renee

        whats the difference btw the V and W?

  3. Debbie
    November 14, 2017 / 10:42 pm

    Such a nice treat. I wish the locations were closer but I’d still seek their spa’s out. Looking so refreshed Renee!

    • November 15, 2017 / 2:27 am

      Thank you, Debbie!

  4. Sara LeBlanc
    November 14, 2017 / 11:05 pm

    So interesting! Is the best way to apply all toners to press them into the skin rather than swiping? I credit you for helping me realize my skin is reactive as well as dehydrated when before (even getting facials occasionally) I treated it as sensitive, aging and dry. The improvements I’ve seen have been immense so I’m curious about application to prevent further hyper pigmentation as well.

    • November 15, 2017 / 2:29 am

      Hi Sarah! That was such an important distinction with my own skin and made all the difference in the world! I treat it so differently now and everything’s normalized! I pat hydrating toners in but the P50 is very powerful so the press and release makes a big difference to the redness.

  5. November 15, 2017 / 1:02 am

    The serums are so interesting…I have the same problem with prolonged redness in my cheeks, I’m using P50W. I was already patting it into my skin though, I also dampen the cotton pad with water first to dilute the intensity just a bit. Maybe I should just avoid my cheeks and focus on the problem areas you mentioned. Thanks for sharing Renee!

    • November 15, 2017 / 3:31 pm

      She only seems to pat in the inner nose area but avoids the apples. That has actually helped a lot!

  6. Leticia
    November 15, 2017 / 1:22 am

    Hello Renee!
    I was wondering where you fit P50 into your routine?
    (If you use it in the evening, would you only use it on days that you aren’t using retinol?)

    • November 15, 2017 / 2:30 am

      I use an acid toner only once a week now and yes always on days I’m not using retinol! This really helps smooth out the flaking skin!

  7. Mengjie Li
    November 15, 2017 / 2:20 am

    Loved this post. BR always has secrets they tell you only in consultations or spa treatments.

    Did they apply the cleanser onto dry skin?

    I have been applying P-50 directly a couple drops in my hands and then i lightly run my hands all over my face… not sure how this would go down…

    and I always applied the serum Amniotique AFTER moisturise ( VIP o2) . will switch it up now.

    • November 15, 2017 / 2:32 am

      Yes, it’s worth it just for all the little secrets! They did apply the cleanser onto dry skin. I definitely prefer using pads to apply acids so there is a more even coverage, but whatever works for you is what you should do!

      I am seriously thinking of getting the serum amniotique after that treatment! But yeah i think you may get better results using it before moisturizer! Let me know how it goes

  8. November 15, 2017 / 7:28 am

    Hi Renée and thank you so much for this very informative post. I use the Lotion P50 W and I usually press it into the skin but I didn’t know exactly where to insist so your description is super helpful!
    You talked about a video in your post but I can’t see it (I even tried to change my navigator and still nothing). Am I the only one? It’s very weird 🤔

    • November 15, 2017 / 3:32 pm

      So sorry for the confusion! It’s up now and hope it stays up this time…

  9. November 15, 2017 / 7:50 am

    Hey, it’s me again! 😉
    I have a few more questions:
    – does the beautician recommends to leave the product on the skin or is it better to “rinse” it, for example with a spritz or a thermal water spray?
    – also, is it better to leave it on the skin for a few minutes or can you keep on with the rest of your skincare routine right away?
    Thank you so much in advance, Renée! 🙂

    • November 15, 2017 / 3:39 pm

      I asked the same question and she said you don’t need to rinse. Especially if you’re applying it properly. If anything, she would prefer the p50 be applied with a damp cotton pad then leave it on if it’s too strong. The wait time is up to you, personally I don’t believe it makes a difference. I usually wait till the tingling and cooling stops then I get on with layering!

      • November 16, 2017 / 1:48 am

        Thank you very much for your answer, it’s super helpful 👍

  10. Nazma Khanom
    November 15, 2017 / 9:40 am

    Thanks for the post. Yes i press my p50 in and get no reaction from my skin. The p50 and lait u cleanser are the only vegan items in their line, love both items.

    Nazma xx

  11. Paola
    November 15, 2017 / 1:04 pm

    I couldn´t find the video where she is applying the P50 lotion. How can I see it?

    • November 15, 2017 / 3:39 pm

      Yes, sorry, the video mysteriously disappeared overnight! It’s back up!

  12. Caren Gast
    November 15, 2017 / 2:51 pm

    Oh Renee, you look amazing! Thank you for sharing another super story. Can I ask, since you say you’re a ‘spa slut’ (love!), do you have any recommendation for the San Diego/La Jolla area? We’ll be visiting next month and I’d really like the sort of educational experience you describe here. I’m at a loss as to how to find a good esthetician. Regardless, thanks for all you do! You’re a real treasure.

    • November 15, 2017 / 3:44 pm

      Hi Caren! Great to see you on here! I’ve not actually gone to a spa in SD/LJ although I know there are a few! I would actually go on the biolgique recherché site or contact them and ask them which spas have their facials in that area and see what comes up! I haven’t had great, educational facial experiences in the U.S compared to Asia or Europe but this one was different because the brand takes their training so seriously.

  13. Son
    November 15, 2017 / 5:49 pm

    So, if you use P50V, you don’t need to use retinol products?? I’m so new to this skincare game and am totally lost! I found your youtube channel and I jumped in feet first 🙂 Thanks to your recent videos on the Ordinary, it’s been pretty pain free $$ wise. However, I do have a few pricey items, SK-II essence, Skinceuticals Vit C with Ferulic something, and Skinceuticals Retinol 1%. TBH, I’m not even sure what the SK-II is for, it just came highly recommended so I use that AM and PM before I use anything else. I’d like to try this P50V….but should I wait until I’ve finished with all my retinol products? And do I still need the SK-II even if I start using the P50V? Ugh, too many questions!!

    • November 15, 2017 / 10:09 pm

      yes, it’s confusing and still is to me! I think you spent your money wisely! You can use P50 together with retinol but I only do so on the days I am not applying retinol. This will help exfoliate some of the skin that’s flaking and turning over. I only use this once a week now that I started tretinoin. You can apply SKII after you tone with P50. Hope this helps!

  14. November 15, 2017 / 9:04 pm

    Biologique Recherche facials are worthy of splurging! They’re a unique experience of their own. I’ve been itching to book another one for myself!

    • November 15, 2017 / 10:12 pm

      Hi Sarah!! Yes, she told me that this facial should be done once a month…itching!

  15. Diana
    November 16, 2017 / 1:33 am

    I picked up the Creme Contour des Yeux in Paris. I’ve been using it twice a day since May and over Verso eye serum. Should I ditch the eye serum? I am new to under eye maintenance. I am puffy but no real undereye darkness.

    I would love to learn how to do lymphatic massage on my face. I use a jade roller spordically.

  16. Isabel
    November 16, 2017 / 12:19 pm

    Looking good Renee! I was curious what you thought of the cleanser and its oxygenating properties. Do you think that sort of oxygenating property is something to pay attention to when choosing a cleanser? Is it perhaps a way to treat the skin against pollution or what does it mean to add oxygen to the skin?

    Thank you for a great post! I’ve tried several of the products you’ve recommend on your channel and blog, and they work so well 🙂

    • November 19, 2017 / 4:17 am

      Hi Isabel! So this is the first time I tried their oxygenated cleanser, I thought she would use the Lait U on me! I can’t really give an opinion on how it works but I will say that I am interested in making a switch and using that instead of the typical Lait U. The oxygenation facials are supposed to help with circulation and radiance and brightening up skin so it’s not so dull!

  17. veronica
    November 16, 2017 / 10:58 pm

    hi Renee! I m so curious about the vip 02 mask! do u recommend it for all skin types?

    • November 19, 2017 / 4:18 am

      Yes! I loved this mask and want to get it! I love that you can put it on your eyes too!

  18. Melody Rose
    November 17, 2017 / 4:27 pm

    What is it about the P50 series that makes it better than retinols?

    • November 19, 2017 / 4:19 am

      It’s a school of thought. There are those who believe that acids are as effective as retinol, whereas others believe that peptide serums are better too.

  19. Maren
    November 19, 2017 / 4:10 am

    Thank you for the lovely review! I just purchased my first BR product, p50 PIGM 400, and I am really enjoying it! I’ll be trying out Julia’s application method of starting out at the neck! I’m keeping this review bookmarked, because I think you provide an excellent explanation of other BR products should I want to purchase more in the future!

    • November 19, 2017 / 4:19 am

      Thank you so much, Maren!

  20. Megan ryan
    November 19, 2017 / 5:07 pm

    Hi Renee. Ok this BR segment blew me away. Please indulge me, I have a few questions. You say you only use the P50V 1x/wk but the they say am/pm daily. Is it a build up to it situation like w Retina A? Also after application do u follow w your other hydrating toners/essences and serums followed by moisturizers as per normal? Also on a given morning can I use the BR and use my DE vit c serum without any problem? Thanks so much. I think I’m going to book a facial and take a train ride into the city for a treat for my skin!

    • November 24, 2017 / 3:23 am

      Hi Megan! Even though they say to use this 1 – 2 x / day, I couldn’t possibly do that without wrecking havoc on my skin. For me, 1-2 x / week is sufficient for exfoliation. You are also correct about it being a build up situation. Your skin will react less the longer you use acids. I follow with the rest of my routine as per normal as soon as the acid stops tingling and my skin surface is dry, I start applying the rest of my skincare. I actually never use acids in the am. My skin is sensitive to the sun already so I don’t need to make it moreso with acids! Also, I tend not to use aha with vit c because the combination is too strong for my skin and will make it super sensitive. That’s me though! Hope this clears up some of your questions and the facial is definitely worth a train ride!

  21. Lise Aasland Aasland Ursin
    November 19, 2017 / 8:06 pm

    This post is soo needed, thanks!! I use the P50W myself, twice a week. But I’m really confused about two things – a lot of people say that we should wait for 30 minutes after applying an acid product, to let the low pH work in peace (if you apply serums and creams with a higher pH right after, you interrupt the low ph, which is the whole point of the acid). Did you ask about this? And another thing – I have the Ordinary Salicylic acid 2%. I have read that a BHA, which goes deeper into the pores, is supposed to go on before AHAs, but the P50W is a toner and maybe should be used first? Which order would you use them in? And should I wait 30 min after the first acid, to let it work in its correct pH level, and then apply the other acid, wait 30 min, and then the rest of the routine? I know a lot of people do it this way, but if its not really necessary it would save a lot of time not having to do it 😉 Thanks for your great and inspirational work!! I buy (too) many of your recommendations, haha <3

    • November 24, 2017 / 3:30 am

      Hi Lise! This whole idea that we need to have a wait time for acids to work is completely unfounded. If from personal experience, you think your skincare works better after a long wait time then fine, it’s a preference thing. But the only thing that will affect the acid itself is the pH of the formula and not our skin. If the formula has a pH that’s too low then it could end up being too irritating for the skin but the range of pH for an acid to actually work effectively is wide. If I had to wait that long between steps, I would find another form of exfoliation. You KNOW when an acid is working or not so the best thing to do is go by your own experience. I don’t allow for wait time and my p50 works powerfully. P50 also has a combination of Aha and bha so that could eliminate the need for a separate product otherwise I would agree that you would use a pure bha product before an aha. Hope this helps

  22. Veronica
    November 22, 2017 / 12:34 pm

    Renee can we buy the 30ml bottle serums as well? or are they for proffesional use only?

    • November 24, 2017 / 3:16 am

      Hey Veronica! I’ll be honest, I’ve never seen them available in such a large size. I think it’s only for spa use

  23. Wendy (wenco13)
    November 25, 2017 / 9:19 pm

    OK, I’ve been thinking about getting P50, but I’m concerned because I just started using Differin, and my face is mad at me. Any thoughts on if I should use this in conjunction with Differin (P50 in morning, Diff at night) or just bite the bullet and order this? Plus, you can’t find the price of the stuff on the website!! Please help!

    • November 26, 2017 / 1:46 pm

      You have to sign into the website to get the price. It’s common with where P50 is sold. I think it’s only for those who are serious about it. I personally don’t use acids at night because my skin is very photosensitive. If you just started differin, I would also perhaps hold off or use it only once a week like I do (with tret) just for the exfoliation – on the nights you’re NOT using differin as well.

  24. Lana
    December 11, 2017 / 1:37 pm

    Hi Renne,
    I’ve been wanting to try BR for some time, but very apprehensive. I have very dry, very reactive, very sensitive skin, and mild rosacea. Currently using Dr. Jart ceramids cream. That’s it.
    What’s your opinion on BR for my type of skin?
    Thank you.

  25. Katie
    December 14, 2017 / 1:46 pm

    wow! I was using P50 wrong too! I also wipe across the face! ah! I must try the oxygen cleanser and some of their masks! Thanks for the great detail capture of your experience!

  26. Jackie Leib
    December 17, 2017 / 2:18 pm

    Hi Renee,

    I am so new to quality skin care. I am 56 and in need of a ton of help. Thank you for all your videos and blog posts.

    I live near Chicago and was wondering if you knew of a quality spa here like the one you visited in NYC?

    Thank you again for your guidance.

  27. February 15, 2018 / 2:00 pm

    Hi Rene,

    I love and appreciate your youtube channel, and I finally made it over to your site. It is equally wonderful.

    I want to thank you for being so specific and thorough with your descriptions of products. It has really inspired me to up the anti with my skin care.

    It is overwhelming to look at all the options out there, and since the beauty industry has hooded most of us in, it is important to be educated and to pay attention to the needs of your own skin, and to understand what products really do help and provide solution. Insecurity makes people believe hype and I can certainly attest to the fact, that I have bought into claims that cost me a lot of money, and provided very little return.

    This brings me to another thank you about your breakdown of the price friendly favorites , and why they are so good.

    I know the focus of this article was about P50, and I wonder if you you offer any alternatives to this toner that may offer similar results at a friendlier price. I would love it if you could examine the BR serums, and explain why they are so spendy? I realize they use quality and all natural products, but other companies also offer natural cool extracted quality ingredients at lower costs. I love learning and I know a good teacher when I see one.

    I have some suggestions for you to explore if you are interested. One is the company Garden of Wisdom. They are all natural, and have a great website, which offerings of active ingredients and finished products. They appear to be transparent, and offer suggestions for skincare regimens for all skin types. They have a ton and I mean ton of serums, and it would be bad ass if you reviewed them. They offer sample sizes, that you can get a fair trial of, to see whether they work.

    Another site is Skin Biology. They are super into peptides, and offer a lot of information on their site as well. I will be honest though, I did not know what I was doing with the peptides, and stopped using them. I do love a couple of products they offer though , which is a exfoliating serum, called LacSal, and they have a retinol in squalene that is wonderful.

    Anyway, I have more to ask, but I have to go. Thank you again.

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