Paula’s Choice Review

About Paula’s Choice

Paula's Choice Review

The skincare market is flooded with frilly, fussy brands, but every now and again, I come across one that cuts the fluff and gets right to results. That’s Paula’s Choice.

A skincare brand that is all about transparency, I learned that not only are its formulations safe, powerful, and based on research, but the brand believes that customers should know exactly what is in each product and why.

Its cruelty-free skincare has caught the attention of 532k followers on Instagram. Plus, its products have been featured by Glamour, Allure, New York Magazine, Vogue, and other notable media outlets.

Paula’s Choice’s USA-made skincare line has won numerous titles, such as a Teen Vogue Acne Award (2018), a Glamour Beauty Award (2021), a GQ Grooming Award (2019), and an Allure Best of Beauty Award (2018)—just to name a few.

Should this brand’s products be incorporated into your beauty regimen? Stay tuned as I take an in-depth look at the company in this Paula’s Choice review. Ahead, I’ll give you the details on its collection, customer ratings, promotions, and more, to help you make that crucial decision.

Overview of Paula’s Choice

Paula's Choice Review

Paula Begoun struggled with acne and eczema, but couldn’t find products that helped. This struggle inspired her to enter the beauty industry, where she sought research-backed effective ingredients and strong but safe formulations.

Making products with this balance is easier said that done, so right off the bat, I admire Paula for her no-nonsense approach to skincare.

She founded Paula’s Choice in 1995 with a noble philosophy: “Smart, safe beauty. The products you use should work and be good for your skin, no exceptions… We uncover the truth about skin care and share all of the facts with you along the way—because keeping your skin healthy shouldn’t be a mystery.

Indeed, this Seattle, Washington-based company cares about educating its customers. In 2002, it launched the Ingredient Dictionary, which is perhaps my favorite feature. This source lists all ingredients commonly found in beauty products, gives them a rating from “poor” to “best”, assigns a category (such as a preservative or an emollient), then provides an explanation. It ensures customers are fully informed about what they apply to their skin and educated them to make better future decisions.

I don’t know what half of the ingredients are in the formulas I use, and the ones I do I’ve had to laboriously type out, double-checking there were indeed 3 consonants in a row—I’m talking about you, pthalates.

Additionally, Paula’s Choice’s team writes articles on skincare topics, like pH levels and skin types, to further inform its shoppers. This work is all in addition to its fan-favorite products, of which 23 have won at least one award.

I found it useful that the product page for each formula lists all of the ingredients, along with a list of research papers that back up the company’s formulation decisions. From what I’ve seen so far from this brand, they’re incredibly thorough and transparent.

Now that you’re seeing the brand a little more clearly too, just below in this Paula’s Choice review, I’ll give you a look at its pros and cons.


  • Wide range of skincare products, including cleansers, toners, treatments, and more
  • Research-backed ingredients and formulations
  • Values transparency: all ingredients are listed, as well as why they are used
  • Offers a robust Paula’s Choice dictionary of ingredients commonly used in skincare products for educational purposes
  • Products are affordable
  • Made in the USA
  • Thousands of customers attest to the quality, efficacy, and value of the brand’s line
  • Easily accessible from multiple locations
  • Many discounts available
  • International shipping


  • Some customers report a poor customer service team
  • International shipping is expensive at $55
Paula's Choice Review

With over two decades of experience in the skincare industry, it’s safe to say that this brand’s team of experts knows a thing or two about what works and what doesn’t.

I appreciate knowing that its products are formulated by folks who know their stuff, but also that each of its products is formulated with effective ingredients that get the job done—and I don’t say that lightly. That fact is backed up by multiple research studies, which you can find listed on each products’ page.

Up next in this Paula’s Choice review, I’ll cover a selection of the company’s top-selling products. Keep in mind that if you prefer, you’ll have the option of signing up for regular deliveries every 1-6 months. By doing so, you’ll save 15% and get free delivery.

Paula’s Choice Skincare Review

Whether you’re struggling with acne, dryness, age spots, or a variety of other skin concerns, Paula’s Choice has a product that is designed to help. I loved the fact that if I wasn’t sure why a specific ingredient is included in a formula or how it can help me, I could simply check out the brand’s Ingredient Glossary for an explanation. That’s incredibly helpful to me.

The brand has hundreds of products to choose from, including creamy cleansers, replenishing toners, gentle exfoliators, powerful treatments, and more. If you aren’t sure where to start, I’ve got you covered in this Paula’s Choice review has you covered. I’ll take a look at some of the company’s most iconic products so you can see what it has to offer.

Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant Review

When you hear the name Paula’s Choice, the first product you think of is probably the 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant. And there’s a reason for that: this award-winning leave-on exfoliator was one of the firsts of its kind, ever.

Like you do, I know how important a step exfoliating is in our beauty routines. Other products can’t do much if we’ve got a layer of dead and dry skin covering up our radiant complexion. The Paula’s Choice 2 BHA product offers a gentle method of exfoliating that can be used up to twice daily.

This exfoliator’s key ingredient, beta hydroxy acid (BHA), works to minimize and unclog pores, shed old skin, and even out texture. To use, simply apply to cleansed skin with your fingers or a cotton pad. It’ll absorb quickly. Then, follow up with your favorite moisturizer and a Paula’s Choice sunscreen.

In an independent study, 91% of users reported healthier-looking skin after using the 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant. Add this top product to your beauty regimen for $10-$30 (1-4 oz).

Paula’s Choice 8% AHA Exfoliant Review

I have sensitive skin. If you do too, then you know that while abrasive exfoliators get the job done, they often leave behind red, irritated, and damaged skin. Paula’s Choice offers a more gentle alternative with the 8% AHA Exfoliant.

This award-winning alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) formulation combines glycolic acid, antioxidants, and plant extracts to enhance radiance, blur wrinkles, and smoothen uneven tones. It is gentle enough to use twice daily, but always make sure to follow up with SPF 30+ if you’re heading outside after using it.

Simply apply this exfoliator all over cleansed skin and let it sink in and work its magic. With continued use, you’ll likely notice firmer and more radiant skin. The 8% AHA Exfoliant (3.3 oz) is currently on sale for $24 (from $30). Or, you can grab a travel-friendly size for $10 (1 oz).

Paula’s Choice 1% Retinol Treatment Review

Do wrinkles, crow’s feet, or age spots seem to pop up on your skin out of nowhere? This is the perfect point in my Paula’s Choice review to remind you about retinol—a superhero ingredient that combats and prevents common signs of aging.

The high-strength 1% Retinol Treatment features a lightweight formula that sinks into the skin quickly. It’ll lessen and prevent aging concerns, as well as provide a much-needed dose of hydration. If those features weren’t enough, it’ll also help tighten your skin while reducing the appearance of large pores. Where do I sign up?

Retinol is a powerful ingredient, so this product is also infused with oat extract and licorice to soothe the skin. The brand recommends starting slow by only using it three times a week until your skin builds up more of a tolerance.

In an independent test, 85% of participants reported that their wrinkles were improved after using this formula. Add this award-winning Paula’s Choice retinol product to your arsenal of anti-aging superheroes for $11-$58 (0.17-1 oz).

Paula’s Choice BHA 9 Treatment Review

Do you feel like you’ve tried every product under the sun with no success? Same.The BHA 9 Treatment is for people with stubborn skin problems that don’t want to go away, such as milia or large pores.

Formulated with salicylic acid, glycerin, arginine, and oat whip extract, this treatment targets multiple skin concerns. It’ll help restore your skin’s moisture barrier, lessen sensitivity, smoothen the appearance of bumps and uneven textures, and diminish redness—all while you sleep.

I’ve read that this product is best used at night, and because of its powerful ingredients, you should only use it where you need it. Add the BHA 9 Treatment to your routine for $43 (0.3 oz). If you’ve got stubborn spots on your face that need some extra TLC, try a Paula’s Choice azelaic acid treatment, too.

Paula’s Choice C15 Super Booster Review

Vitamin C from foods such as oranges and peppers is good for our bodies, but did you know that it’s incredibly beneficial when applied topically to your skin, too? You did? Ok, well let me tell you about the C15 Super Booster.

15% of the C15 Super Booster’s formulation is pure vitamin C, which helps to brighten uneven skin tones.

As someone with a quick morning routine, I like that this Paula’s Choice vitamin C product comes in a lightweight liquid formula that absorbs quickly into the skin. So how does it work?

Vitamin C works alongside ferulic acid, vitamin E, and hyaluronic acid to fight aging concerns, hydrate, even out skin tones, and firm the skin. The result? A glowing and more youthful complexion.

The C15 Super Booster is powerful but gentle enough to use both morning and night, simply follow up with a Paula’s Choice moisturizer and some SPF. It is available for $49 (0.67 oz).

Paula’s Choice 10% Niacinamide Booster Review

Large pores, uneven textures, and fine lines have met their match with the 10% Niacinamide Booster. This lightweight treatment works quickly to calm, soothe, and blur common skin concerns—like the tiny forehead wrinkles I have from overthinking.

Featuring niacinamide (vitamin B3), antioxidants, vitamin C, and licorice extract, this award-winning product will promote a younger-looking appearance by improving the radiance and texture of your skin. I read that it’s safe to use twice daily, just make sure to follow up with an SPF if applying it in the morning.

Best used on cleansed skin prior to moisturizing, add the 10% Niacinamide Booster to your skincare regimen for $44 (0.67 oz).

Paula’s Choice Pore-Reducing Toner Review

Pores are a necessary evil. They release our body’s natural oils to keep our skin hydrated, but too much oil can cause a number of problems, like acne. Plus, large pores are not exactly something we want to show off.

I’ve used charcoal strips before, and while they somewhat help, they have limits. That’s where toner kicks in.

The Pore-Reducing Toner helps prevent and treat these problems. Gentle enough for twice-daily use, it’ll help minimize and blur the appearance of pores, thanks to niacinamide, this toner’s key ingredient. Plus, it’ll refresh, nourish, and hydrate the skin.

The brand recommends using this product immediately after cleansing for best results. If you’re interested in this toner, you’re in luck. It is currently on sale for $16, from $21 (6.4 oz).

Paula’s Choice Acne Body Spray Review

Hot Girl Summer is on its way. Unfortunately, acne can pop up in spots that a bikini can’t exactly cover. Whether it’s on your back, bum, or chest, the Acne Body Spray is formulated to help.

This product’s key ingredient is pimple-fighting superhero salicylic acid, which works to heal current breakouts quickly and prevent new ones from forming. To use, simply spray onto the areas of your body that need some TLC. I love that its spray nozzle is effective at any angle—even upside down. I’ve definitely struggled with spray bottles before so this is a handy feature.

In an independent test, 88% of users who tried the Acne Body Spray and other products from Paula’s Choice’s CLEAR line for four weeks reported an improvement in their skin. Add it to your bikini body routine for $25 (4 oz).

Paula’s Choice Reviews: What Do Customers Think?

Paula's Choice Review

The brand’s products look promising, but I wanted to see what customers really think about them. So, for this part of my Paula’s Choice review, I sourced testimonials from the company’s website, Influenster,  Trustpilot, and the BBB.

Overall, most users are happy with the brand’s treatments, creams, and cleansers, and report that they are effective. Let’s take a look.

On Paula’s Choice’s website, its top-selling products garner hundreds to thousands of reviews. Pretty impressive. Collectively, they average around 4.1/5 stars, with most customers reporting an improvement in their skin condition after using. Here’s an overview:

  • 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant: an average of 4.16/5 stars from 5.2k ratings
  • 8% AHA Exfoliant: an average of 4.2/5 stars from 370 ratings
  • 1% Retinol Treatment: an average of 4.2/5 stars from 613 ratings
  • BHA 9 Treatment: an average of 3.93/5 stars from 1k ratings
  • C15 Super Booster: an average of 3.83/5 stars from 939 ratings
  • Pore-Reducing Toner: an average of 4.06/5 stars from 508 ratings 
  • Acne Body Spray: an average of 4.26/5 stars from 202 ratings

I chose to take an in-depth look at the 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant because it’s the brand’s most-reviewed product. Users report fast results and an improvement in acne, texture, and skin tone. Take this example:

I literally used this product twice in the last week and already my acne and red patches have faded dramatically.”

Meanwhile, another customer reports that this product is now a staple in their regimen: “After one use… I am blown away. My skin is really sensitive and usually when I introduce new products, no matter how mild, my skin reacts. This was surprisingly gentle on my skin but immediately effective… This will 100% become a staple.

On Influenster, the company’s products have been reviewed 6.7k times. Here, customers flock to discuss the Skin Balancing Pore-Reducing Toner and the RESIST C15 Super Booster. The toner earned 4.5/5 stars from 181 ratings and the booster earned 4.4/5 stars from 154 ratings. I saw products described as being super beneficial to users’ beauty routines.

One Paula’s Choice reviewer reports that the Skin Balancing Pore-Reducing Toner is great for oily skin types: “works great! especially with oily skin. it makes my pores look a little smaller which is great, definitely recommend if you have large pores and want them to be less noticeable, and i’d definitely get it again.

So far, I’ve been amazed at the brand’s feedback, but I needed to check out the Better Business Bureau and Truspilot to flush out any red flags. The company’s overall rating takes a dip on both platforms. On the BBB, the brand earned a 2/5 star score, but only from 6 customers. It also has a D+ rating, though the company is not accredited.

Paula’s Choice has had seven complaints in the last three years, and the brand has not responded to any of them. Most complaints are in regards to the brand’s customer service. But since there are so few here, I can’t take any of them as a red flag.

Similarly, Trustpilot gives the brand 3.6/5 stars from 207 reviews. Though not all reviews were negative, the ones that were mentioned a poor customer service team and slow responses.

But, I’m happy to report at this point in my Paula’s Choice review that the positive reviews far outweigh the negative ones. Overall, most customers agree that the brand’s products are effective, work quickly, and are a good value for the price. I do hope that the company works on improving its customer service responses so that all shoppers have a positive experience.

Is Paula’s Choice Worth It?

Paula's Choice Review

By now you might be wondering, is Paula’s Choice any good? Well, I definitely think so! I saw thousands of positive testimonials that attest to the quality, efficacy, and value of the brand’s cleansers, toners, treatments, and other skincare products.

Though there were some unsavory comments about the brand’s customer service team, such reviews were quite rare. And, with more than two decades of experience in the industry, it’s easy to see why shoppers gravitate towards the company’s formulations.

What I appreciate most about the brand is how transparent it is. The company provides detailed information about the ingredients in each product. Plus, it offers a robust ingredient dictionary for customers to learn more about skincare and a blog that covers important skin conditions, such as in the Paula’s Choice orange peel skin article.

Finally, the company’s prices are reasonable when compared to other similar skincare brands. For all of these reasons, my conclusion in Paula’s Choice review is that the brand’s products are worth the buy.

Paula’s Choice Promotions & Discounts 

Paula's Choice Review

Just like I appreciate effective skincare, I value brands that offer deals. While checking out the company’s website, I uncovered several ways to save:

  • 15% off for signing up for the brand’s e-newsletter
  • 25% off cleansers, toners, and anniversary kits to celebrate the brand’s birthday
  • Subscribe to recurring deliveries for 15% off and free shipping
  • 10% off for students
  • Paula’s Choice Perks loyalty program: earn 1 point for every $1 spent

Where to Buy Paula’s Choice Skincare

Paula's Choice Review

For the best selection of products, I recommend shopping directly at The Paula’s Choice Sephora, Nordstrom, Amazon, Coolibar, DermStore, Skincarerx, and Skinstore collections are also among your options.


Paula's Choice Review

Where is Paula’s Choice made?

I’m happy to report here in my Paula’s Choice review that their products are made in the USA.

How long is Paula’s Choice’s shipping?

The brand ships both domestically and internationally. Deliveries to the US and Canada will be sent out within 1-3 business days. Shipping is sent through UPS, FedEx, or the U.S. Postal Service and is free over $49. Your other shipping options include:

  • US Standard (5-7 business days): $6
  • US 2- Business day Express: $15
  • US 1- Business day Express: $25
  • Canada Standard (14 business days): $8
  • US Territories Standard: $10
  • International Economy: $55

Can you return Paula’s Choice?

While writing this Paula’s Choice review, I discovered that the brand offers refunds and exchanges within 60 days of your purchase if you are unsatisfied for any reason. If this time period has passed but you are still within 180 days, then you will receive store credit instead. Not a bad compromise, just keep in mind that you’ree responsible for the cost of return shipping.

To make a return:

  1. Fill out the Return/Exchange Form on the back of your packing slip
  2. Pack the items in any box and include the form
  3. Mail your items to: Paula’s Choice Returns, 23215 66th Avenue South, Bldg 1, Kent, WA 98032

How to Contact Paula’s Choice

If you have any questions after reading this Paula’s Choice review, you can contact the brand via:

  • Email or chat: form on the company’s site
  • Phone: 1.800.831.4088

The company’s customer service hours are Monday through Thursday, 9:00 am to 2:00 pm, and Friday 9:00 am to 12:00 pm PDT.

Explore your options for skincare with these other popular brands:

Herbivore Botanicals

Farmacy Beauty




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