26 years on from their launch, Paula’s Choice is still (in my opinion) one of the best skincare brands out.
The memory of first trying Paula’s Choice over 9 or so years back is crystal clear. I’d been suffering from really congested and irritated skin - I felt totally at a loss for what products to use. I was modelling at the time and I remember cringing while I waited to get my makeup done because my skin was looking to uneven and blemished - it’s not that my skin was covered in severe acne, but it was the fact that I felt completely out of control about how it behaved day to day.
I’d tried harsh alcohol-based toners, I’d been recommended flower-infused serums and clearly remember steaming my face with hot lavender oil water and lifting my head out of the bowl and being totally dismayed.
I don’t remember how exactly I found out about Paula’s Choice - at this time there was a dedicated and smaller Australian site that always had really fantastic sales and intro deals (they still do, but this was especially good value!). I purchased a cleanser, perhaps the Skin Balancing line? The packaging was definitely more basic and the branding limited, but after ONE night I already saw a visible difference. For once, my skin wasn’t being tormented with harsh essential oils, fragrance or alcohol - and from that moment, I was a convert.
I dove right in, purchased Paula Begoun’s books and soaked up every piece of information I could find - suddenly it all made sense why those other skincare products had been making my skin red, blemishes and unhappy. Naturally, I sampled a LOT of Paula’s Choice in the years to come, and fanatically referenced Beautypedia (an extension of PC that reviews other mainstream beauty products based on their claims, performance and ingredient profiles) before making ANY other beauty purchase.
The same makeup artist who saw me that day saw me again a month or two later in the street and exclaimed “Wow, your skin looks so good!" I know this sounds like a tall tale woven in purely for the sake of the post, but it's true! I’d just discovered the wonders of the Paula’s Choice BHA Liquid as part of the CLEAR line and was sloshing it on my face like it was going out of fashion - my pores were flawless, but I was going a little overboard with the chemical exfoliants admittedly.
I eventually moved on from just Paula’s Choice and was empowered to understand what my skin liked and didn’t like, I knew how to read INCI lists and to look out for red flags. Non-fatty alcohols in high amounts? No. Loads of fragrance? Nay! It's not that I was a zealot just for the sake of it - my skin responded best when I purchased mindfully. My appetite for skincare knowledge was ignited!
In fact, although the brand isn't in my daily rotation, I credit Paula's Choice for really being one of the few brands currently that makes education about skincare a cornerstone of their business model, and at the time, an absolute rebel in a sea of white lab coats at cosmetics counters, telling it like it is and making no apologies for letting you know that the $600 face cream is just water and thickeners.
Paula's Choice is primarily sold online (and don't worry, it's not an MLM), so it's not always in the forefront of our shopping experiences at Mecca or Sephora for example, but it's priced reasonably and it's the kind of brand where you can't go wrong. A routine from PC is sure to be a hit, and you know that you're never paying for outlandish claims - you're getting formulas that are backed by data to work and support your skin health.
There's too many product favourites I have to list them all, but I will always think fondly on their BHA liquid, and I'll never stop checking new reviews on Beautypedia.