Firstly, if you’ve never heard of Paula’s Choice, you need to read about the brand right now.
I first became aware of Paula Begoun in my teens. Paula was known as the Cosmetics Cop and had written a book called Don’t Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me which was mentioned in various fashion magazines I read.
I never actually bought the book but always admired Paula. And now here we are in 2015 with the magic of the interwebs which means all of her genius is available online.
I’ve been a keen user of Beautypedia – the skincare and makeup review part of Paula’s website – for the better part of a year now. Naturally, I graduated from being a regular reader to an account holder then a reviewer (anyone can leave a comment about a product on Beautypedia) and eventually a customer of Paula’s Choice (she has her own makeup and skincare line which gets rave reviews of its own).
I had no idea what to buy when I first decided I was going to try out her products so I opted for the Skin Recovery Advanced Kit which contains seven full-sized products and costs around $150. Although it sounds like a lot of money, I rationalised that it was actually a pretty good deal.
The ordering process was easy peasy. I was able to track my package through her website and it arrived in a reasonable amount of time.
I’ve been using the kit for about a month now which I thought was a sufficient amount of time to get a good feel for the products.
(1) Skin Recovery Softening Cream Cleanser
This is a creamy cleanser which you massage on to your dry face. I follow that with a wet wash cloth. It successfully removes makeup including mascara. It’s fragrance free (like all Paula’s Choice products).
My first reaction to the cleanser was that it made my hands feel squeaky clean afterwards. Not a feeling I really want in a cream cleanser. I’m sort of attempting to hydrate my skin by using a cream cleanser, not strip it of natural oils.
Ultimately I’ve decided this isn’t any better or worse than my Eucerin DermatoCLEAN Mild Cleansing Lotion which costs about a quarter of the price. I won’t be re-purchasing.
JULY UPDATE: I actually really like this now. I’ve just about used the whole bottle up and have already ordered another (larger) bottle.
(2) Skin Recovery Enriched Calming Toner
After cleansing I squirt this stuff on to a cotton pad and wipe it over my face and neck. It’s super nice and much softer than my very gentle Clinique Mild Clarifying Lotion.
When I hear the word ‘toner’ I think of nasty, striping concoctions that we used as teenagers to keep zits away. Well things have changed a lot since 1990 and toners – this one in particular – are super gentle.
According to Paula’s website this stuff has “… a richer consistency than any other toner you may have tried. Its milky texture is loaded with skin-protecting antioxidants, essential lipids, cell-communicating ingredients and restorative skin-identical ingredients to leave your skin feeling silky-smooth and better able to recover from damage.” And helps “… eliminate dry, flaky skin … When used after cleansing, it helps skin restore and repair itself so it can look and act younger. It also works to remove last traces of makeup.”
I’d buy this again.
(3) Skin Perfecting 8% AHA Gel Exfoliant
This is the 21st century way to exfoliate – using an AHA or BHA. It’s supposed to brighten skin and get rid of dead skin cells.
If you have dry skin like me, you use an AHA. If you have oily, spotty skin, you use a BHA.
I’d buy this again. It has kind of a sticky, oddly emollient formula and can sting a bit if you get it on an open zit but I like it.
I’ve realised I have combination skin (like most people). Overall it’s pretty dry but my forehead gets oily and my whole t-zone has blackheads and visible, large pores. For that reason I’ve just ordered trial sizes of several of Paula’s BHA products which unclog and shrink pores.
JULY UPDATE: I recently bought the full-sized 1% BHA lotion which I’m using every day. The trial-sized 2% BHA liquid was too drying for my skin.
(4) Skin Recovery Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum
It’s a serum. It smells nice (kind of natural and oily). It feels nice. I’ve no idea if it’s made any difference to my skin. If you’re considering buying this, I say go for it but it’s not something I’d buy again.
I remain a little skeptical about serums. I’ve tried a few and Andalou Naturals Fruit Stem Cell Revitalize Serum is my favourite so far. I think I can take them or leave them.
JUNE UPDATE: If I stop using this serum my skin doesn’t seem to look as good. I really enjoy the oily rich feel of this product. And the smell is SO natural. I’ve changed my mind. I’d buy this again.
JULY UPDATE: I’ve already bought another tube of this stuff.
(5) Skin Recovery Daily Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30
This moisturizer was a total fail for me.
It feels very nice but leaves a horrible white cast on my face due to the SPF content. I have Clinique Sun Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Sunscreen Face Cream which is far superior and doesn’t make my face white. It also feels a lot more moisturizing. This product wouldn’t be anywhere near hydrating enough for me to use in winter.
Definitely not buying again.
JUNE UPDATE: I returned this to PC and exchanged it for the Moisture Boost SPF 30 and it’s WAY better. No whiteness. It’s still not my favourite sunscreen though.
JULY UPDATE: After trying out the PC Extra Care Non-Greasy Sunscreen SPF 50 for face and body, I’ve ordered a full-sized tube.
(6) Skin Recovery Replenishing Moisturizer
This is billed as a night cream in the instructions that come with the kit. It’s just ‘okay.’
I love the smell (fragrance free but still has a nice natural smell) but it doesn’t feel moisturizing enough. I’m the kind of gal who likes to see a bit of grease on her face after applying a cream. This stuff sinks right in and I haven’t noticed any discernible improvement.
My holy grail night cream remains Clinique’s Super Rescue Antioxidant Night Moisturizer. I don’t think anything will ever beat it.
JUNE UPDATE: I’ve somehow learned to love this. It still isn’t as good as my Clinique night cream but I totally like it and would buy it again.
(7) Skin Recovery Hydrating Treatment Mask
I haven’t used this as an actual mask yet because the instructions said it could be used as an intensive night cream which is how I’ve used it so far.
It feels lovely. You can’t rub it in like a regular moisturizer though because it kind of balls up like a mask would so you absolutely need to rinse it off eventually.
Masks I can take or leave. While this feels super nice, I consider it a bit of a luxury and wouldn’t spend money on this or any other mask again.
Overall I like Paula’s Choice products. Like everything, some stuff will work well for me but not for others and vice versa.
Nothing has blown my mind yet but I will say I stopped using my Paula’s Choice stuff for a couple of days because my aunt gave me some Elemis stuff. My skin looked noticeably worse after using it so I switched right back to PC.
I have a special code which gives you $10 off your Paula’s Choice order. If you’re ready to buy a Paula’s Choice product, use this link.