This extensive review of Paula’s Choice products comes from our community member LD. She shares her first hand experience using the whole of Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing System, Resist BHA 9, Resist Weekly Resurfacing Treatment and Clear Benzoyl Peroxide Gel. Read on to see if Paula’s Choice could be the right choice for you. * applause *
This is Lalitha from Bangalore, an avid Acne Mantra reader & fan!!! I’ve become so addicted to it that it wouldn’t be surprising if I lose my job one day due to this. Then probably AM would have to take me on board & give me some work!!
Today I am going to talk about some products which have found appreciation all the over the world for their superior quality and efficacy. Yes, I am talking about Paula Begoun – renowned beauty reviewer & owner of the Paula’s Choice line of products catering to all kinds of skin like dry skin, sensitive skin and aha!! – the wonder word – “ACNE PRONE SKIN”.
To give a little background about myself, all through my life I’ve pretty much had normal skin ( combination oily skin on T-zone) with occasional breakouts once in a while during that time of the month or when I was stressed about something, weather change etc. But I’ve never really suffered from acne or pimples so much that it became a cause to worry ever!
My skin always was moderate, no blemishes or scars and whatever one or 2 breakouts I used to have would subside in a day or two & would just fade away with no scars.
Suddenly about 1.5 yrs back, the onslaught of acne started when I was 38 years old. Initially I just ignored it and then it became so much that I used to get one pimple /acne every 3rd day at different areas of the chin, near eyebrows or cheek. Whatever I used would break me out and anything I would do to my face would result in acne and scar thereafter. It freaked me out and I was now frantically trying for treatments and really messed up everything in the bargain.
We’ll talk about my travails with my skin in another post but coming to the point, I researched on Paula’s Line and read very good reviews and finally mustered up the courage to shell out the big bucks. These are the products I ordered through www.ibhejo.com . On this site you can request for products anywhere from the U.S. and they deliver it to you in max 7 days time.
I purchased Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing System which contained all the basic skin care routine products. This set includes: Skin Balancing Cleanser, Skin Balancing Toner, 2% BHA Liquid, Skin Balancing Antioxidant Serum, Skin Balancing Daily Defense SPF 30, Skin Balancing Moisture Gel, Skin Balancing Mask. Please note the below series is the way you are supposed to use the products.
Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Cleanser
An excellent cleanser, removes all make up including foundation, sunscreen, powder, eyeliner etc and leaves the skin really smooth, you neither feel dry or stretchy nor do you feel oily. It just does the basic cleaning and is very gentle on the skin. You do not need a make up remover separately if you use this cleanser. I really liked this and if it were available easily, I would use it regularly in my evening routine.
Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Pore-Reducing Toner
As the name suggests, it is supposed to soak up the excess oil & firm up the skin & reduce enlarged pores. I am not sure if this product contributed to anything for my skin. So I would neither rate it high nor low. In my opinion, for acne prone skin, the less no of products you use on your skin, the better it is for you. I have stopped using this product now.
Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid
This contains 2% salicylic acid & exfoliates the skin & reduces your white heads. This does work & you are supposed to use it after the toner step. You will see smooth skin after couple of uses but ensure you use it only once a day or maybe once in 2 days as it is pretty strong. I used it twice a day as per their directions but found that it was irritating my skin & had a burning sensation. Supposed to be effective for blackheads but I don’t have any & cannot comment on that but does provide an overall smoothness by removing those pesky bumps.
Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Ultra-Sheer Daily SPF 30
This would go after the exfoliant & is in a creamy consistency & has in built moisturizers so if you have oily skin you can directly use this & skip a separate moisturizer. This does the basic job of giving you UVA/UVB protection & is a good product. It doesn’t finish matte though & you may have to use a powder foundation or compact over it to make your face appear matte & non shiny.
Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Invisible Finish Moisture Gel
Now this is a great product and I used to apply in the night, it really soothes the skin beautifully and you feel great after putting it on. It has anti oxidants & Niacinamide as well which may help in skin lightening in the long run. I really loved this product and actually can be used as a primer underneath the foundation as it just smoothens the skin instantly on application making it easy for you to spread the foundation or concealer.
Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Oil-Absorbing Mask
Supposed to be used twice a week but being the hyper person that I am ( I hate masks & sitting around for 10 mins without doing anything) I’ve actually only used this about 2 or 3 times in 3 months. Well, it does what it says, absorbs oil, feels fresh etc but I guess this is only a temporary feeling. A Good mask overall.
Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum with Retinol
This is an anti ageing serum to be used in the night after cleansing & exfoliating. I have still not used this as I felt this was kind of breaking me out. I could be wrong but I am waiting for my skin to settle down completely before trying this out. Also this is basically an anti ageing product & I am not really concerned about wrinkles or age lines just at the moment. One thing at a time so first acne & scars & then we’ll worry about wrinkles. What say!!
Apart from the above set, I also purchased their Resist Line of products & Clear Strength 5% Benzyl Peroxide treatment which claim to be really outstanding products with some excellent reviews.
RESIST BHA 9 for Stubborn Imperfections
The most hyped product on her line & costs a bomb but unfortunately did not live up to it’s expectations at all. It’s basically a 9% salicylic acid gel to be applied as spot treatment for blemishes, upcoming pimples & supposed to suppress completely with also scar reduction & reduce redness, fade previous scars, clear stubborn blackheads, reduce fine lines & calms irritation. Instead of calming any irritation, I felt it actually sensitized my skin more & I was experiencing a stinging sensation on using this. At least If it would have reduced my acne or suppressed my blemishes, I would have been happy but overall it did not live up to it’s claim & I for one am utterly truly disappointed. I actually felt I got some breakouts due to the intense irritation it caused.
Clear Extra Strength Acne Treatment 5% benzyl Perozide gel
This is again a spot treatment to be applied on pus filled pimples, acne, any upcoming whiteheads etc. It is in a white lotion form & goes matte on skin so can be used in the morning & evening. I was quite impressed with this product, it quickly dries out the active acne or pus filled pimple & within 24 hours the painful pimple reduces to just dry acne & gradually just sloughs off!! It can give some dryness & irritation but key is to use it maybe once a day & increase the frequency. Nevertheless, it does it’s job & helped my skin in suppressing or making my pimples look smaller. I still have this & apply occasionally on any upcoming unwelcome guest on the face. 🙂
RESIST Weekly Resurfacing Treatment with 10% AHA
This comes in a blue bottle and basically has 10% glycolic acid in liquid form. You need to use this once a week as a maintenance regimen to achieve smooth skin with reduced age lines, wrinkles, etc etc. Basically an anti-ageing, exfoliating treatment. I purchased this mainly for exfoliation with glycolic acid as the higher 30% glycolic peels were not suiting me & made my skin extremely sensitive to sun. Hence I thought I could use this once a week to basically have some kind of exfoliating regimen as I do not visit parlours for facials.
You need to use it only at night & gently run it over on the skin with a cotton pad. One will experience a mild tingling (maybe severe for someone with sensitive skin) for about 10 minutes & will then subside on it’s own. On the first use, ,maybe it is better to leave this on for just one hour & then rinse it off & apply the moisturizer & then gradually keep it over night.
This product – Yes it does work, you will see smooth skin about 2 days after you use this product, you will notice a reduction in your pores, you skin will have a slight brightness to it. You have to be careful on using enough sunscreen on the days following the usage of this product. But over regular use of say 3 to 4 weeks, you will notice skin getting better. But if you are already using any products to treat your acne like BP gel, Salicylic acid treatments , retinoids etc, please be very careful or avoid using this during the treatment phase as it can cause more irritation & maybe even some burn kind of patches to the skin. So use very diligently & after putting a lot of thought into it. But if used correctly, this product does what it claims to do. i.e exfoliate the skin gently, brighten the skin, smoothen the skin etc. But do not expect results in a week, use it at least 6 to 8 times to see the difference.
Overall I would rate Paula’s Choice products between an average to good, the good ones being the cleanser, moisture gel, BP gel , AHA liquid etc. Average being the Sunscreen, BHA Liquid. But In general I have realized that it did not do anything exceptional than what any other good brand like Sebamed, Avene etc could do at a fraction of the cost (especially now with the rupee plunging & dollar skyrocketing).
For example, availability of Paula’s Choice is a big concern for us, secondly Sebamed Clear Face Gel and Cleansing Foam are equally good if not actually better than her products. But yes, the Resist AHA 10% liquid & the 5% BP Gel is something that one can try as I don’t find that in India. The invisible moisture gel is equivalent to the Clinique Moisture surge gel & hence price wise both are at the same levels.
In effect, if you are happy with what you are currently using ( Sebamed, Kaya, Avene) then I would suggest stick with it and don’t really experiment too much. If any of your friends or relatives are in the US or are travelling, then maybe you could ask them to get Paula’s Choice for your , otherwise simply put – IT’S NOT REALLY WORTH THE EFFORT & MONEY SPENT !!