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Post in Skincare Aware

Thoughts on Paula's Choice?

Do you agree with her views on skincare products? 

I'm on a hunt for my Summer night serum & moisturizer. I think I'm going to purchase the Perricone Blue Plasma even though it stinks so bad of fish & I hate fish. I've been researching products a lot and one of the sites I was on was Paula's Choice. She is not a fan of the serum... Actually the more I read through her "beautypedia" reviews, it seems like she's not a fan of a lot of products. I also got a feeling she was mainly trying to push her own products and Olay. 


- She's against treatment cleansers since it's just "washed down the drain". I have to disagree with this. When I use a treatment cleanser, although they can be drying, I do see improvement in my breakouts. 

- Witch Hazel is bad. I find witch hazel to be an important ingredient when choosing a toner. She think it's just as bad as alcohol if not worse. 


Products she gave a "poor" rating to: 

- Anthony Logistic's Glycolic cleanser got a poor rating because it doesn't contain any glycolic acid. 

- doctor dennis gross's A/B pads since we can just skip step 2 by simply splashing water on our face to deactivate step 1. 

- Dior Capture Totale One Essential Serum because it's not a "miracle serum" since it's primarily just "water, slip agents, and alcohol"

- ExfoliKate

- Just about every Ole Henriksen product I love Smiley Sad 

- Origins Checks & Balances, Charcoal Mask & every other decent product from them

- Most Murad products


I do agree with a few points she makes, like companies need to stop putting active ingredients in clear vials so the sun doesn't break down the properties of the treatment. Also jar packaging is a big no-no for her. I understand that some creams are too thick to be put in a pump, but what about those airless jars that Bosica & Dermadoctor are using? I hate sticking my fingers in jars & the air does break down the active ingredients over time... 

Overall though, I don't think I'll be going to her site when I'm researching a new product I want to try. 

Re: Thoughts on Paula's Choice?

Everyone that sells (any type) of products has an agenda. Money. Marketing. Some companies are just more subtle than others, yet the competition is obvious.


'...*Our product is better because it contains or doesn't contain XYZ*...'

Consumers can compare products & easily deduce what brands a company is talking about.


Seems people who start out as watchdogs with good intentions eventually do tend to attempt to create a better mousetrap. Then the $$$ agenda always is their motivation...the agenda.

Re: Thoughts on Paula's Choice?

I've never used Paula's Choice products (because the conflict-of-interest/marketing me strategy makes me feel meh), but I like their reviews for products from other brands. I'm glad they list potential irritants and that they view certain "gimmick" ingredients skeptically (especially to very expensive products). Seeing them cite scientific articles to back their claim is always a nice touch, too (even though they tend to only cite 1). A lot of the skepticism they bring are beliefs that I've already held (for example, citrus product phototoxicity) and it just irks me when people think putting acidic products on your face is actually balancing the pH of your skin. I was shopping for skincare products for my mom, and I kept seeing the Boots No 7 Protect and Perfect serum being highly recommended. So I looked at the ingredients list and observed nothing special - heck, I didn't even see an anti-aging active ingredient. I went to Paula's Choice to look at the review, and was happy to see that they observed this, too.


That said, I think they overemphasize the need for antioxidants in a product (especially when there are other effective ingredients). Another issue I have is that some products with effective ingredients and without irritants are still given "average" ratings for reasons I don't fully comprehend. For example, my mom regularly uses the Neutrogena Ageless Intensive Deep Wrinkle Moisturizer (night), which contains retinol (they also point out sodium hyaluronate on the packaging, which I don't believe has anti-aging properties but might be a good moisturizer), does not have fragrance or irritants (unless if you're sensitive to hyaluronate, in which case the sodium hyaluronate (SA) listed on the packaging should deter you), and is packaged in an aluminum tube. I don't understand why this product isn't rated at least "Good." It bothers me because this product is in the same price range as Paula's Choice products and a lot of people like Neutrogena (and Olay), and this particular product seems pretty popular so I wonder if it's a marketing scheme (they don't even mention that this has retinol in it in their review).


Regarding their own product line, I like that the prices are very reasonable, there are effective ingredients (scientifically proven ones and not stuff that people randomly think works), they avoid irritants, and the stuff probably does at least an okay job. Even giving their own products a rating is just meh... and I don't trust the scientific articles they cite on their product info pages (because I suspect they partially funded those papers).

Re: Thoughts on Paula's Choice?

I think her website is generally very helpful, but she's overzealous on a few points. For instance, she insists that alcohol is skincare causes free radical damage, but the studies she cites weren't done on any skin, let alone human skin. In fact, her own dermatologist, Dr. Brandith Irwin, disagrees with her on that. 


She's also too quick to rate products as "Poor" simply because they have some fragrance or potential irritants. Those are things that people with sensitive skin should avoid, but if you don't have sensitive skin, then it doesn't matter, according to dermatologist Dr. Leslie Baumann.


Finally, I don't like how she rates all her products as "Best".


Bottom line: Overall her site is very helpful, and she's done remarkable things as a consumer advocate in making skin care companies accountable for their claims. But READ HER FULL REVIEWS INSTEAD OF LOOKING AT THE RATING.

Re: Thoughts on Paula's Choice?

Know how she's always criticizing companies for not disclosing how much of an ingredient is in the product? I emailed her company asking for the percent of retinol in her retinol products (I need to know because high percentages are too much for my sensitive skin), and the amounts of some of the antioxidants in her antioxidant serums.


The company emailed back saying that it was "proprietary information" that they could not reveal. The hypocrisy!!


She's quite open about the percent of BHA and AHA in her products since they contain a notable amount, but the fact that she won't reveal the amount of retinol or antioxidants makes me really wonder.

Re: Thoughts on Paula's Choice?

have you tried chatting with one of them. maybe you can say that you need something below a certain % to find out

Re: Thoughts on Paula's Choice?



"...The company emailed back saying that it was "proprietary information" that they could not reveal. The hypocrisy!!..."


Actually, that's a standard reply/known common practice that'll you'll get from any cosmeceutical (as well as pharmaceutical) companies. Prescription or OTC classified as drugs/medications approved by the FDA that lists percentages of a drug must be listed. However, inactive ingredients even in a prescription drug may be & is usually also covered under "proprietary information."




Re: Thoughts on Paula's Choice?

"the amount of retinol is disappointingly low, while the price is exceedingly high."


"“regular” amounts of retinol present in skin-care products (typically 0.025% and up) just fine, even if they are using it for the first time. Using products with lower concentrations may eliminate the problems (redness, flaking) that may accompany one’s initial use of a retinol product, but you also will be sacrificing some of the benefit"


"many people will find 1% retinol quite irritating"


"Although this eye cream has retinol in the name, it's barely present in the formula"


Those comments of hers show that the amount of retinol in a product is pretty darn important when deciding on a cream. Yet, we should just ignore that logic when it comes to hers....?

Re: Thoughts on Paula's Choice?



"...Those comments of hers show that the amount of retinol in a product is pretty darn important when deciding on a cream. Yet, we should just ignore that logic when it comes to hers....?..."


Here's where I find her 'flaw' in the reviews. Whatever percentage of an ingredient in a product, especially a FDA non-regulated cosmeceutical product. The ratio between the percentage of an active ingredient mixed with a *blob of this, a pinch of that* can make that percentage null. I merely read the ingredients within a product, then do my own research. When one thinks of certain ingredients banned in other countries yet allowed in others, makes me wonder why something warranted an extreme action by an entire country to ban a chemical. 

Re: Thoughts on Paula's Choice?

As far as her reviews on skincare, I take them into consideration, but they aren't a make or break thing for me. I think that the review on the performance of makeup products are typically quite a bit off though. The king that I like the most about the site is that it enables me to find brands and products that I hadn't known about before and it always gives a complete ingredient list, so I can make my own call on a product.

Re: Thoughts on Paula's Choice?

I have used Paula's Choice before, but I generally only use it for a starting spot or a last resort.  In other words, if I'm interested in trying a clarifying mask but know nothing about that type of product, I may look at Paula's Choice to see which ones she's reviewed, why she loved or hated them, and then gone on to other sites to get more information about those products.  Similarly, if I've narrowed my options down to two or three seemingly great products, I may check Paula's Choice (after looking at Makeupalley, my favorite beauty blogs, here, and sometimes Ulta) to see if she made any persuasive points in her reviews.

Re: Thoughts on Paula's Choice?

It seems she only gives best reviews for products with ether green tea or chamomile (what she calls antioxidants and soothing agents) in them, both of which cause me to have eczema on my cheeks. Her products are also mostly full of these two ingredients; however, I have found her sight useful for checking product ingredients. That is about all I can say for it. Of course, she pushes her products first, which ,to me, means she isn't trustworthy for reviews on other companies products.

Re: Thoughts on Paula's Choice?

I like how she explains why she gives ratings based on ingredients in the products.

Re: Thoughts on Paula's Choice?

I don't like her. She is incredibly biased and "reviews" products based on their ingredients and not actually how they function. She easily dismisses away products that she doesn't like for one motive or another. I feel like she does all this to make her products seem that much more superior than other brands. She considers herself the end all know all about everything skincare wise. I refuse to support such a person.

Re: Thoughts on Paula's Choice?

I think it's good to keep in mind that the product review and the books came before her products themselves. The products were a natural extension of her work from reviewing other skincare products. In terms of there being any bias in their reviews if they were  truly biased and were only doing them to push Paula's Choice products then they wouldn't rate so many other products highly (or a BEST rating in terms of the sites review system). And they wouldn't really need to look at published research to determine what they were going to say about a particular product. They would simply say why all the other products are bad for any reason. When one looks at published research it easy to exclude bias. That's not to say studies can't be biased based on how they are set up. But when a study is done double blind, placebo controlled, etc, its easy to weed out certain studies that are seemingly biased. Lastly, Paula's Choice is the only skincare company in the world that routinely recommends other skin care products other than their own. And they do that openly and freely on their website. 

Re: Thoughts on Paula's Choice?

I work in the pharmaceutical field and would consider myself very aware of the effects of ingredients as well as their chemical structure and side effects. Yes, there are quite a few things that aren't the best for your skin where the side effects outweigh the benefits. But on the other hand, I see that she has reviewed things poorly, despite the fact that she probably has never even used it, based on what she believes to be true about the ingredients. Yes, there are side effects, but when presented the case where the benefits definitely outweigh the negatives, you cannot simply disregard the product based on ingredients alone. I've met so many people who have tried everything under the sun and have turned to prescription topicals to help them. And they work wonders. Reviewing products based on ingredients alone is not good enough, you have to review the performance too in order to be able to write a cohesive piece that takes both aspects into consideration. At least, it has to for me in order to trust whatever a final review states.


I've learned that even the best of ingredients have side effects. In my secondary job where I make natural perfumes, the essential oils, absolutes, CO2s, etc that I work with can't be used without prior research on their benefits and exclusions. Although many of these natural compounds are very beneficial for the body, some do carry cautions and cannot be used under certain circumstances (such as pregnancy). So even products that overall are wonderful for the skin, can carry negative aspects. 


I just think that's very hard to definitively categorize ingredients as bad or good, as many contain aspects of both.

Re: Thoughts on Paula's Choice?

I agree on both of your posts, nightknight. I'm not a fan and definitely consider her to be biased. And just because an ingredient can have side effects, doesn't mean it will in the amount used in the product. For example, some people will point to certain ingredients in soda as being cancer causing or harmful, but in order to have any of those side effects, you'd have to drink 1,000 cans of soda a day, every day. 

Re: Thoughts on Paula's Choice?

On foundations that have good SPF, she says "This foundation’s rating is due to its overall performance rather than its SPF rating." But any foundation that DOESN'T have good SPF, she does NOT out that note at the end and gives that foundation a low rating. I don't understand why she does this. 


I only like her reviews because they're short and she's only site that actually looks at the ingredients. A lot of bloggers/vloggers don't even care about the ingredients and believe every claim that the product makes. 

Re: Thoughts on Paula's Choice?

i think she does that because for something that has low spf, there's really no point in putting it in the product. if it has a high spf than obviously its a bonus

Re: Thoughts on Paula's Choice?

I think a lot of skincare companies out there could take some very important lessons from her. Like ridding all fragrance from skin care products. Especially facial products. I mean fragrance whether its synthetic of "natural" which is a misnomer, as there is really no such thing in the cosmetics industry. Less irritating ingredients like witch hazel and especially Alcohol or denatured alcohol. It frustrates me that companies are still putting alcohol denat in skin care products targeted for acne prone or aging skin. And everyone's skin is aging. I don't think she's the end all be all but compared to a lot of other junk out there I think she's on the ball. 

Re: Thoughts on Paula's Choice?

Thank goodness I'm not the only one that hates alcohol. I mentioned a few times that I don't like alcohol, SD alcohol, or denatured alcohol in my products and then someone yelled at me. LOL. 

Re: Thoughts on Paula's Choice?

Haha, shame on who ever yelled at you. If they want to ruin their skin with alcohol then so be it!