If you’re at all interested in skincare then it’s highly likely you’ve heard of Paula’s Choice by now, and if you haven’t tried any of their products, you’ve at least seen the ad for their global bestseller Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant.
Founded in 1995 by, you guessed it, Paula — Paula Begoun, who is an American radio show host and author known as the ‘Cosmetics Cop’ for her strong beliefs in no-nonsense skincare, this brand is all about science-based products that don’t faff about with irritating fragrances, sulphates or alcohol and other unnecessary ingredients.
Now in their 27th year of business, this innovative brand is on what we’d call the more affordable end of luxury skincare. The efficacy of their products is absolutely worth the cost, but if you’re on a budget, the brand has plenty of travel sizes and starter sets to give you a taste.
So without further ado, here are the product lines from Paula’s Choice that you need to know about, with our top picks from each category.
Paula’s Choice is without a doubt best known for their exfoliants, as the first brand to come out with a leave-on exfoliant in 2000 (the holy grail 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant below). These leave-on blends of beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) and/or alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) give you all over better skin, from reducing pores and fine lines to brightening your skin by removing dead skin cells.
The brand recommends using them as step three in your skincare routine, after cleansing and toning, but before using serums and other treatments and then moisturising.
IMPORTANT: You should always use an SPF in the mornings, but it's especially important when using AHAs and BHAs to protect your skin as these ingredients can make your skin a little more prone to sunburn and sun sensitivity. Limit sun exposure if you can, and doing so will only help keep your skin looking nice and young anyways!
Shop the bestselling Paula’s Choice exfoliants:
The BHA salicylic acid stars in Paula's Choice bestselling 2% BHA exfoliator, encouraging cell renewal to minimise pores and produce collagen for smoother, younger looking skin. Blemishes, redness, dullness and fine lines become a thing of the past. Recommended for oily and combination skin, it's 100% fragrance-free and non-irritating so those that also have sensitive skin can enjoy its benefits!
For a Paula's Choice exfoliant that suits all skin types, you'll go crazy for this peel. The combo of AHAs (glycolic, lactic, mandelic, tartaric and malic acids) and the BHA salicylic acid leaves your skin incredibly luminous, with pores decongested, breakouts stamped out and redness soothed. To keep these acids from irritating your skin, a blend of plant extracts, including allantoin and bisabolol, balance them out and calm your skin. Say bye bye to wrinkles and sun damage!
If you have normal or dry skin, the exfoliant of choice is this Paula's Choice 5% AHA treatment. The lightweight lotion gently sloughs away oil and dead skin to give you younger looking, firmer and brighter skin, thanks to glycolic acid as well as salicylic acid and ceramides. You'll also benefit from anti-inflammatory and antioxidant ingredients to protect your skin from free radicals and environmental aggressors.
Interested in anti-pollution skincare? Here are our seven top tips to keep your skin protected from outdoor and indoor pollution.
Complement your Paula’s Choice leave-on exfoliator with one of their serums. The brand’s range of serums target everything from fine lines and sun damage to rosacea and more, ensuring there’s something for everyone and every skin condition.
Shop our favourite Paula’s Choice serums here:
Retinol is the gold standard of anti-ageing treatments, and Paula's Choice is a gold standard in skincare, so a Paula's Choice retinol is a no brainer! Use this potent lotion to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, discolouration and irritation, as well as refine pores. Whilst retinol can cause irritation if your skin isn't used to it, easing slowly into using this product, as well as the added nourishing oat extract, will ensure your skin stays soothed and sees all the formula's benefits!
Brighten your complexion by adding this booster into your routine. Azelaic acid, a yeast found naturally in our skin, does wonders for acne and inflammation, but there's also the antioxidant dica cialeza for brightening and salicylic acid for shedding dead skin and combatting breakouts.
Besides their exfoliants, a range everyone’s raving about is the Paula’s Choice Vitamin C line, complete with serums, moisturisers and eye creams. You’ll also find this powerful antioxidant in many of their other products that promise anti-ageing, brightening and recovery benefits.
Here are some Paula’s Choice vitamin C products you’ve got to try:
Perfect for spot treating uneven skin tone or textures and red marks, this booster contains a high 25% concentration of vitamin C, or ascorbic acid. You'll be left with brighter, softer skin with reduced wrinkles.
With a lower concentration of vitamin C than the previous booster at 15%, this formula also contains vitamin E and ferulic acid to boost the brightening and skin-restoring benefits. This serum also improves your collagen levels for better skin elasticity, making your complexion firmer and younger looking.
The first step in every skincare routine, cleansing is incredibly important for removing any dirt, oil, pollutants or makeup clinging to your skin and creating a blank canvas on which to apply the rest of your routine. Paula's Choice says that "the basis for healthy, glowing skin is an effective, gentle facial cleanser", and designs all their cleansers to give you a thorough cleanse that doesn't dry out your skin or cause any irritation. Choose the right cleanser for your skin type from our list below and start your journey to radiant skin!
Shop Paula's Choice cleansers:
Choose this one for a great all-rounder, as it's suitable for mature skin as well as combination to oily skin and acne-prone skin. It uses the phospholipid lecithin, hyaluronic acid and bisabolol to hydrate and restore your complexion for a more youthful look and also fights breakouts and blackheads. Gentle (like all Paula's Choice cleansers) and creamy, adding this cleanser to your routine is a no brainer.
For normal to dry skin, use this silky smooth, non-foaming cleanser to hydrate and protect your skin with the antioxidant green tea and capric triglyceride, an emollient derived from coconut oil. As chamomile soothes your complexion, you'll be left with plump, smooth skin that looks younger and more refreshed.
If you've got acne-prone skin, you'll love this purifying yet moisturising cleanser, which targets blackheads and breakouts with salicylic acid without irritating sensitive skin types. The gel texture is incredibly soothing as it breaks down impurities and unclogs your pores.
Another lovely cleanser for all skin types, this blend of five plant oils will melt away even the most stubborn makeup. It transforms into a milky emulsion when mixed with water, offering your skin a deep yet gentle cleanse that maintains your skin's lipid barrier.
As a skincare brand with an advisory board of skin experts behind them, of course Paula’s Choice knows all about the importance of sun protection. That’s why all of their day creams come with a minimum of SPF 30, saving you a step in your morning routine and keeping your skin nourished and shielded from harmful UV rays.
Our favourite Paula’s Choice moisturisers:
If you've got oily or combination skin but want this moisturiser's same benefits, then you may prefer the Paula's Choice Resist Super Light Daily Wrinkle Defence SPF 30.
Much loved by those with oily/combination skin, this is the lightest moisturiser Paula's Choice offers. Non-greasy and water-light, the formula reduces excess shine and the appearance of pores and soothes blemishes with plant-based antioxidants.
This night cream suits all skin types, but especially helps those with dull, tired and dehydrated skin. The electrolytes in this moisturiser balance your skin's surface-level and deeper moisture levels, whilst antioxidants strengthen your skin against environmental aggressors. It'll give your complexion total hydration but won't clog your pores, so those with oily and acne-prone skin will love it too!
Treat your undereye area to its own special moisturiser with this firming eye cream. It contains five types of ceramides, four types of vitamin C and retinol to sweep away fine lines, dark circles and more. The peptides in this cream also firm and tighten your eye contour, giving you an overall more youthful look.
If you’re new to Paula’s Choice (which we assume you are, if you’re reading this), then a starter kit is a great way to test out a few products in smaller sizes, all geared towards solving a particular skin concern.
After all, forking over a little extra for a great formula can be totally worth it, but only if you know for sure it works for you!
Shop Paula’s Choice skincare sets here on Cosmetify for a taste of all the wondrous things this brand has to offer:
If you want glowing skin (who doesn't?), this four-piece set will get you there. Complete with travel-size versions of a cleanser, exfoliant and day and night moisturisers (the DEFENSE Gel-To-Cream Cleanser, DEFENSE Essential Glow Moisturiser SPF 30, DEFENSE Nightly Reconditioning Moisturiser, and Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid), you've got everything you need to prevent dullness, discolouration and premature ageing, and protect you from pollution and blue light.
If breakouts and blackheads are more of a concern, you'll want this kit to unclog and refine your pores, calm redness and protect your skin from sun damage. The set includes travel-sized versions of a cleanser, exfoliant and two moisturisers (the Clear Pore Normalising Cleanser, the Clear Anti-Redness Exfoliating Solution, Ultra-Light Daily Hydrating Fluid and the Clear Oil-Free night moisturiser).
This set also comes in an extra-strength version for super stubborn skin.
While we’re sure you’re about to be busy adding tons of fantastic Paula’s Choice products to your basket and Christmas/Valentine's Day/birthday/anniversary wishlists, you might also like to read up on some other of our top brands and discover new favourites.
And if you’re makeup-obsessed, here’s our 20 favourite cruelty-free makeup brands.
Written by Gabriella Buckner
Gabriella is a junior content writer with a background in creative writing, content marketing and journalism. She’s passionate about all things makeup and skincare, but especially vegan and cruelty-free beauty that is effective and inexpensive.