It smells, it kind of burns on application and it’s not so easy to get, but the infamously fabulous cornerstone product of French brand Biologique Recherche is still the stuff of skin care legend.
You May Also Like: Nicole Richie Loves This Aesthetician-Favorite Skin Care Brand
It’s an almost impossible task to define the does-everything P50 1970 in a word, but Dr. Philippe Allouche, co-owner, head of creation for the company, says if forced to tag the multiuse product with only ONE—albeit two-word—descriptor, it would have to be “exfoliating toner.”
“Prep step” is another term the brand leans on when describing the vitamin-enriched potion, which makes sense since it’s the first step in all its the facial protocols. The official, very long list of what it does: purifies, hydrates, tones, controls sebum, minimizes the look of pores, balances skin and its pH, and visibly improves skin conditions like whiteheads, blackheads and rosacea.
Not only is the product super popular, but it also has a solid family history. A few years after Yvan and Josette Allouche created Biologique Recherche laboratory, their son, Dr. Philippe Allouche, joined them. While the husband-and-wife duo are a biologist and a physiotherapist, respectively, the family touts Philippe as the expert in ingredient research and formulation.
Before founding Biologique Recherche, the Allouche family had two separate companies, Bio50 and Ion50. Playing on that duo, they added a “P”—after their son Philippe’s first initial—and the name P50 was born.
The buzz surrounding P50 1970 may be big, but there’s the tiniest bit of debate attached to what’s inside. The original formula contains phenol, an ingredient that’s actually banned in Europe for use in personal care (when the 1970 is dropped on the label, that signifies it doesn’t have phenol). But New York dermatologist Dendy Engelman, MD says that shouldn’t throw anyone—except for sensitive skin types—into a scare. “In my opinion, it’s the phenol that allows for better absorption of serums and creams that are applied after it.”
Besides the phenol factor, there’s some really interesting ingredients that make up the product—horseradish, anyone?—with off-the-radar onion extract making up a large percentage of the mix. “Onion contains an abundance of vitamins and oligoelements, including vitamins A, B1, B2, PP, B5, C, E, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and zinc,” Dr. Allouche says. “It is also renowned for its regenerating and remineralizing properties.”
While the phenol typically takes the blame for the “less-than-appealing” scent, the company stands by the fact that any odor is because the entire line is formulated without harsh artificial ingredients or fragrances. “We take a clinical approach to beauty care and we use intentionally pure, concentrated, raw ingredients,” Dr. Allouche says. “There are no artificial fragrances to undermine the integrity of the formulas.”
One lesser-known application Dr. Allouche prescribes P50 for: Preventing and treating ingrown hairs.
Rebecca Johnston, one of the nation’s four BR ambassadors and spa director at Strata Integrated Wellness Spa in Colorado Springs considers “P50 a non-negotiable skin care product regardless of age, sex or skin challenges. If someone has an interest in better skin, they really can’t be serious without P50. A new client might be taken back by the ‘non-negotiable’ status but within a week they understand why.”
Kim Zimmerman of Rescue Spa says when it comes to P50, “the devotees always buy in multiples—an 8.5 ounce for home and a 1.7 ounce for their bag so they are never without it. We also have entire households that use P50 and each person has their own bottle. Mom, dad and even the kids—teens typically—each have a bottle of their own. Our high-profile clients who have homes throughout the country even ship a bottle to each place so that they have one waiting for them no matter where they are!”