A little over two years ago, Anna Beth told me about a miracle skin care product she’d been using, Lotion P50. Because Anna Beth is one of those people who appears to be aging in reverse, I assumed it was made from unicorn placenta and crushed diamonds, and immediately set out on a quest to learn more about the magical elixir she promised would give me the skin of a fetus while causing only mild, temporary facial paralysis.
I read a whole bunch of articles about the stuff that night, most of them promising an intense tingle that would follow applying Lotion P50, with the added warning that one could also feel as though their skin were burning off of their face. Temporarily. As a member of Generation Sea Breeze, I’m inherently convinced that if I can’t feel a skin product working, it’s not actually doing anything. Gimme that tingle. Gimme that burn.
There are a number of Lotion P50 formulas available, which is really confusing. This extensive article at Skin & Tonics is super helpful—it decodes the various formula names, and explains what the various ingredients in each are and what they do (and how they smell). More recently, Into The Gloss did a simplified write-up that’s a good place to start if you’re unsure of which formula you want.
I admit the whole process of getting to the point of actually making face-to-liquid contact felt a little scary. Aside from all of the warnings about possible allergic reactions and restrictions on certain ingredients in various countries (fortunately, Americans are free to coat both their faces and throats with carbolic acic—they don’t call this land of the free and the home of the brave for nothing, after all), the website I ordered from, Rescue Spa, doesn’t display prices for their products with out creating an account and logging in. I’m sure there’s a reason for that, but it all seemed shady as hell and I felt like maybe I was actually selling my soul or joining a cult? Both of which would be totally OK with me if it meant my skin would look good, but I hadn’t even used the stuff yet, you know?
But it all went fine. Rescue Spa’s service is great, in fact—fast shipping, nice packaging, and a bunch of free samples in the box. Prices for Lotion P50 1970 range from $27–$98, depending on bottle size. If you’re not sure which formula you should order, you can contact Rescue Spa and they’ll help you figure it out.
But does it work? And do you still have skin?
LOTION P50 IS THE BEST THING IN THE WORLD. Or at least it’s the best thing I’ve ever put on my face. And yes, I still have skin. It does burn, and the first few times I used it, I really did feel like my face was on fire. Now, though, I look forward to the sensation! I’m sure part of it is that my skin has become accustomed to it, but it really just feels good now. I like the brief numbness that follows, too.
Results were immediate. My skin felt softer and smoother right away, and the next morning, my face was glowing and hydrated. The longer I’ve been using it, the more I love it. My skin is far less prone to dullness now, and I don’t get dry patches anymore. My skin feels balanced, and it looks clean and fresh. I had already gotten breakouts mostly under control with Retin-A and Aczone, but Lotion P50 has taken that to another level. There’s a smoothness and clarity to my skin now that I’ve never had before. Makeup applies soooooo nicely now, and lasts longer, too. I’ve run out a couple of times, and it’s not pretty—my skin almost immediately goes back to looking dull and drab.
I apply Lotion P50 after washing my face, morning and night, using a cotton pad. I like Muji Cut Cotton—I separate it into layers, and because it’s so thin, it doesn’t soak up too much of your product. I use exactly six drops of Lotion P50 every morning and every night. That’s the minimum amount I find I need to cover my whole face and neck. Some people like to dampen their cotton pad with water first to dilute the Lotion P50 a bit, but I don’t feel that’s necessary for my skin. I did start out using only once a day because I was nervous about irritating my skin, but by week two, I was using it twice a day. My face does look a bit red right after applying Lotion P50, but it normalizes by the time I’m done flossing/brushing/lotion-ing.
Product absorption after applying Lotion P50 is maximized, which may or may not be a positive thing depending on what other things you like to put on your face. If you use any AHAs, for example, you might want to let your skin chill for 20-30 minutes before application. There’s a warning on the bottle to not use Lotion P50 in conjunction with products containing AHAs or retinoids, and I imagine that’s due to possible increased irritation. Personally, I still use Retin-A Micro 0.08% every night (after applying a barrier oil—more on that in a minute), and if anything, it just seems to make the Retin-A more effective. I haven’t experience any increase in irritation, and I have pretty sensitive skin. Maybe the pH-balancing effect of Lotion P50 is enough to offset any irritation? I don’t know, I’m not a scientist, I just have a face with skin on it.
On that note, I included a my other most favorite skin care product, Herbivore Botanicals Orchid Oil, in my photo for a reason—the two pair together beautifully. I apply three drops of Orchid Oil to my face every night immediately after using Lotion P50, and the combination is incredible. My skin immediately feels calm, refreshed, and hydrated—three things I need more than ever after moving to a dry climate! I wrote a lengthy post about my love for Herbivore Botanicals Orchid Oil a couple of years ago—definitely check it out if you’re looking for good nighttime hydration. As an aside, the price is now significantly lower now than it was when it was introduced, and it really does last a very long time—I just started my third bottle a few weeks ago, and I’ve been using it nightly since November 2014.
Lotion P50 does smell kind of weird, I guess? Some people think it smells like onions or garbage, but I don’t get that—to me, it really just smells medicinal, much like throat spray with faint undertone of vinegar. The smell dissipates from your skin pretty quickly, too.
Other worthwhile reviews of Lotion P50:
“Every day I look forward to burning my face off with acid and then feeling it go all numb.”
Yessssss. Join us.