With the power of social media, it is very rare in the world of beauty that any brand can be regarded as “under the radar.” You see, every time a person of note likes something and posts about it on their Instagram, they set the whole beauty world on fire. While this is most certainly the case for the majority of brands and products, even in 2021, not everything great breaks the internet.
I know we’ve discussed this before, but the reality is even when a product is really, really great, if it doesn’t look the part, the chances of it making it onto the Discover page are low. How do I know this, you ask? Well, because I’m very much in the midst of it. When you spend a lot of time around friends and colleagues who are also beauty editors, experts and specialists, you soon realise that there are two types of favourites: the buzzy ones that everyone posts about and the ones that everyone kind of wants to keep for themselves. One of the latter brands is Paula’s Choice.
Founded 25 years ago by Paula Begoun, Paula’s Choice is one of the most highly regarded skincare brands around. Begoun, who has basically dedicated her life to clearing up and simplifying the skincare bubble and has written a number of brilliant books that have pride of place on my bookshelf, champions the idea that skincare should always be backed by scientific evidence and extensive product research. Essentially, Paula’s Choice offers up no-frills products that simply aim to deliver results.
I know this sounds like a lot of other brands around at the moment (and some, like The Ordinary, that have lower price tags), but there’s something different about Paula’s Choice. You see, everything is really quite comprehendible. Shopping for a Paula’s Choice product doesn’t require a dictionary or hours of research; everything is remarkably easy to navigate. For example, I know that if my skin is plagued with blackheads, the cult BHA Liquid Exfoliant (£29) will do the job, and if my skin is feeling drier than normal, the Hyaluronic Acid Booster (£34) can be slotted into my regimen with ease. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that Paula’s Choice products are some of the most efficacious around.
But it is because of this excellence that I am confused. Why is it that virtually every single beauty editor I know has at least one Paula’s Choice product in their daily routine, but when I mention the brand to my friends outside of the industry, hardly anyone has heard of it? I suppose I should revert to the idea I considered earlier. Perhaps it is because every single ounce of extra energy is put into the formula of the products—and not so much the packaging, branding and everything else that creates buzz—that Paula’s Choice remains one of beauty’s best-kept secrets.
However, when it comes to skincare, I don’t believe there should be secrets. Whether you’re suffering from pigmentation, acne or fine lines, I think everyone should know all of the options available to us. And if you ask me, Paula’s Choice is a really wonderful place to start.
The latest addition to the PC lineup is this seriously hardworking serum treatment. Containing retinol to diminish the appearance of wrinkles, bakuchiol to restore and peptides to smooth, it's an anti-ageing serum worth knowing about.
Without a doubt, the brand's most well-known and well-loved product, this liquid exfoliant contains salicylic acid to help unclog pores, reduce breakouts and bring down inflammation. It's a permanent feature in my line up.
Another winner for those with oily skin that still want daily moisture and protection, this tinted moisturiser is beautifully lightweight. It also contains SPF 30 and powerhouse antioxidant resveratrol to protect from external aggressors and minimise their impact on skin ageing.
There's no doubt that niacinamide is my absolute favourite skincare ingredient ever, and this product is one of the best. I know a whole bunch of people who love this as much as I do, as it helps to reduce the appearance of large pores, improve texture and calm the skin.
While we know that the size of pores can't actually be changed, we also know that we can visibly reduce their appearance. This niacinamide toner is non-drying thanks to soothing plant extracts but also helps to control oil production and pore size.
If, like me, you struggle with skin bumps on your arms and/or legs, I highly recommend this body treatment. It contains salicylic acid (an ingredient most commonly found in facial skincare products) to help slough away dead skin cells and unclog pores. Just slather on like a normal body cream after a shower, and over time, things should start getting smoother.
Another booster. The idea of these products is that you can tailor your existing moisturiser or serum by adding in as many drops as you like. However, although I think the concept is great, I like using them on their own. For a serious hit of hydration, this hyaluronic acid and ceramide booster is great.
This whipped moisturiser has quickly become my summer go-to. It's instantly cooling, super plumping and gives skin an unbeatable radiance without suffocating it. If your skin is looking lacklustre and as though it needs some help, I don't think you can go wrong with this simple formula.
Wonderful for those with post-breakout pigmentation and blemishes, this azelaic acid booster with salicylic acid doesn't just help brighten and diminish dark spots, but it also helps to prevent further breakouts.
If you find that most eye creams irritate the delicate skin around your eyes, may I draw your attention to this little bottle? Ideal for those with very dry, sensitive skin around the eyes that is prone to creasing and fine lines, this cream is sheer and lightweight but deeply nourishing and plumping at the same time.