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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?

I take her reviews with a grain of salt because right after her reviews I would see "recommended" or whatever products, and they would all be from her line.  That makes it pretty obvious there might be a bias.  She does give a lot of information on ingredients though, but I wouldn't use her as my only source of information.

Re: Thoughts on Paula's Choice?

I've been using PC Pore Reducing toner and 2% BHA liquid twice daily for about six months. What prompted me to try these products was the fact that I had pretty good skin except for my ever-enlarging pores. I tried many, many things before turning to Paula's Choice but saw no improvements until I began using these things. I am very happy with this combo and will repurchase once I run out. I probably will try one of her retinol and/or antioxidant serum products in the near future once I use up what I already have. My success with these two products has intrigued me to try more.


As for her beautipedia, I do use that as a "guide" in making decisions about skincare. But I utilize other sources as well and formulate my own decisions. For example, she does not give a good rating to Dr. Gross' Original 2-step peel but it continues to help improve my skin, esp. during the hormonal times. When I read skincare reviews from customers, I have to take them all with a grain of salt simply because our bodies react so differently to skincare products (amongst other things). Then you have to factor in type of skin, age, medical conditions, etc., etc. But when you hear overwhelmingly good things about a certain product then I think it may be worth a try. So I'd recommend one of PC's BHA exfoliants as long as you do not have any contraindications/sensitivities to salicylic acid and aspirin.


Oh, one more thing, her AHA and BHA exfoliants are 20% off until Sept. 9. If anyone's interested in trying her products for the first time, I can PM you a referral code for $10 off a min. $15 purchase. You must be a new customer. Just PM me and I'll get it to you.

Re: Thoughts on Paula's Choice?

I've battled acne for most of my 20's and tried everything (Ole Henriksen, Murad,, even the oil cleansing method). I kept seeing people mention Paula's Choice on discussion boards and finally gave it a go and her 2% BHA liquid and antioxidant serums completely cleared up my skin, acne, redness, dryness, sensitivity. The products I use that are from OTHER brands were recommended by Paula through her beautypedia reviews and have also helped me a lot.

There have been a few Paula's Choice products that didn't work for me, but everyone's skin is different and you get the option of ordering a sample of each product. I discovered her through her brand, so I can't really complain about how she's become a "salesperson" but she does a really good job of being honest about other brands and giving good recommendations for products that are easily accessible, something she doesn't profit from. 

Also, Paula's Choice is a company now, obviously, so yeah as far as testing and all that jazz Paula Begoun is not going to do it all herself.  

Bottom line, PC doesn't bash other brands or products without giving a full explanation and usually backing it up with research. As far as Paula being a salesperson and marketing her own products, how is that different from any other brand? I'll admit I'm a bit of a product junkie and I'm always looking for an excuse to buy new stuff. I have a ton of stuff that I used for a week or two and threw in the castoff pile because it either didn't work or made my skin worse (most of those products had a poor rating on beautypedia). If there's a new product I'd like to try because someone on youtube liked it or whatever, I'm always a bit annoyed when I go on PC and see that she gave it a poor rating, but then I realize that I'm only upset because it makes me think twice about buying something on impulse that I'd probably end up hating. 

Re: Thoughts on Paula's Choice?

Keep in mind that she is flogging her own Paula's Choice skincare line, so whether she's doing it intentionally or not, she's likely not going to give high marks to the competition.  

Re: Thoughts on Paula's Choice?

What I've learned is, you can't always judge a book by its cover, from what I understand she doesn't actually use the products she tests. She downrated Amlactin and that product has done wonders for me & other people, but according to her the PH is too high for exfoliation? Well that is strange because a lot of people have had their chicken skin cleared up w/that lotion when nothing else would work. Also about her list of irritating ingredients, from what I understand she suffered from eczema so what may be terrible for her, might work for you or I without consequence, but she puts it in a bad category anyway. Sighs not a fan anymore. I would like to try her products though since she set the bar so high.

Re: Thoughts on Paula's Choice?


I use her toner and love it. I mostly use her website to find out what ingredients are in something and why it may be meh. I don't think i have sensitive skin so i can't say for sure, but i like to find products soap and fragrance free. 

Re: Thoughts on Paula's Choice?

I don't think she's all bad, and I don't think she's all good. Before she launched her line, I loved practically everything she said. Then she became more of a brand, more of a salesperson, and she launched her line of products. Since then, I find her more often than not to be biased, myopic, and pedantic. 

I agree with beauty4ashes below.  I like that she explains each ingredient in a product. in a sense, she "shows her math" in reaching her conclusions, something that my junior high math teachers would've given me partial credit for even if I didn't end up with the right answer. I also agree with many of the posters below, like frickfrost, that her stance on removing added fragrance from products is something many companies should mimic. For reasons like these, I feel like I need to give PC "partial credit". Though I no longer believe all she says or writes, the basis of her reasoning is often sound, if self-aggrandizing. 

also --  some of her acne products are quite good.


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?

"...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..."


There's nothing truly natural in a product once it's been processed. Natural to me by definition is slicing a raw organically grown cucumber and slapping it over your eye lids.


Certain ingredients whether to be known for decades as harmful are generally used because of its low cost. Everyone is out to make money. That's business. 


As for fragrance, I know from personal experience that if fragrance was not added to a product, no one would buy it much less put it on their faces by their noses even if it was free...the stench is overwhelming. Highly fragrant products usually have an ingredient that they're trying to cover up an odor. 


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?

I remember that! LOL xD They needed to take a chill pill for sure.

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!

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 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 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?

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

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 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.

3 Replies