Cruelty-Free Skincare Backed by Science and Thoughtfully Formulated ft. Paula’s Choice

DISCLAIMER: At the time this blog post was written, Paula’s Choice was owned by TA Associates, a private equity firm. Unilever, which is not cruelty-free, announced on June 14, 2021, that it would be acquiring Paula’s Choice. Since I do not support cruelty-free companies owned by parent companies that are not cruelty-free, I will no longer purchase or review Paula’s Choice products.  I am not removing this review since I know many of my readers will still want to support Paula’s Choice.

Microsoft, Canon, BMW, Disney, and Rolex all have something in common. They are all trusted companies that have a high level of brand-recognition around the world. When I think of skincare, the most trusted and well-known brand that comes to mind is Paula’s Choice. While Paula’s Choice is certainly not as commonly recognized as the other brands I mentioned, it has grown over the past 25 years to be very well-known and trusted and is now available in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and many European and Asian countries.

Paula’s Choice History

The story of Paula’s Choice began in 1975 when the founder, Paula Begoun, was fired from her job working at a cosmetic counter because she was telling clients the truth about what products could and could not do for skin. Paula suffered from acne and eczema and struggled to find products that delivered on their claims. That is what inspired her to pursue a career in the research and development of effective skincare.

Paula Begoun launched Paula’s Choice in 1995 as one of the first online direct-to-consumer brands in the world. Paula’s Choice released its innovative 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant in the year 2000. That product remains one of the company’s top-sellers today, 20 years later.

Paula is no longer involved in the daily operations of Paula’s Choice, but the company continues her legacy of creating effective, innovative, and safe products for consumers.

Paula’s Choice Philosophy

I have a high level of trust in Paula’s Choice that I do not have for many companies. The principles of Paula’s Choice are unwavering and transparent. 

The following are the principles of the Paula’s Choice Formulary Philosophy from

  • Science & Truth
    • Paula’s Choice doesn’t follow the trends; formulas are supported and verified by extensive research
  • Highly Effective
    • Products are formulated with active ingredients in proper concentrations, with stable pH levels, to deliver results
  • Formulary Excellence
    • To guarantee effectiveness, products are developed using hundreds of independent studies, safety data, and extensive consumer testing
  • Non-irritating & Fragrance-free
    • Formulas are created with only the ingredients needed to be effective; no Paula’s Choice products contain fragrance or other irritants
    • All products are tested on people by an independent laboratory for irritancy and safety
  • Multi-faceted Formulas
    • Every Paula’s Choice product is formulated with antioxidants, skin-replenishing ingredients, and skin-restoring ingredients
  • Cruelty-free Always
    • Paula’s Choice is Leaping Bunny certified and owned by a private equity firm
  • Packaged for Potency
    • Paula’s Choice doesn’t use jars or transparent packaging since vital ingredients become less effective when exposed to air and light
  • Environmentally Conscious
    • Paula’s Choice is committed to reducing its carbon footprint and actively seeks sustainable ingredients and recyclable packaging

There are a lot of fleeting trends and misinformation in the beauty industry. Paula’s Choice challenges ideas, beliefs, and myths to provide consumers with products that are both smart and safe for healthy skin.

Paula’s Choice Collections

Paula’s Choice has several skincarecollections with products to address every skin type, skin concern, age, and preference. The following are all of the Paula’s Choice collections:

  • Resist for anti-aging
  • Exfoliate for revealing fresh glowing skin with leave-on products
  • Clear for acne treatment
  • Boosters enhance results with concentrated ingredients
  • Clinical for advanced signs of aging
  • Defense preserves youthfulness through environmental protection
  • Omega+ Complex nourishes and strengthens all skin types
  • Skin Recovery locks in hydration for dry or very dry skin types
  • Skin Balancing reduces shine and enlarged pores for combination or oily skin types
  • Calm reduces redness
  • Earth Sourced protects and preserves skin with 95% natural ingredients
  • PC4Men features skincare products designed for men (note that all other Paula’s Choice products are gender-neutral)

In addition to skincare, Paula’s Choice also offers some body care and hair care products.

The variety of products on can be overwhelming, but it’s easy to find products that meet your needs. You can search by product type, skin concern, collection, or skin type. If you still feel confused after searching on your own, Paula’s Choice offers resources to educate and guide you to the best products for your unique skin. Look under the “Discover” tab on the main navigation bar of to find these tools.

Routine Finder

The first “Discover” resource is the Routine Finder which is designed to curate personalized routine for your skin. The results of the Routine Finder are based on your age group, skin type, and skin concerns (you can select one primary and one secondary skin concern).

You will be provided with two routine options. The first is called “Essential” and only includes three steps. The second is called “Advanced” and that routine includes five steps to provide optimal results. Once you’ve selected the routine you are most interested in, you can save it to your account, have the results emailed to you, or talk to a Paula’s Choice skincare expert if you have questions about your routine.

Decode My Skin

If you are unsure of your skin type, you can use the Decode My Skin tool. This is another quiz similar to the Routine Finder, but this one starts with a question to determine your skin type, then moves on to ask about your main skin concern that you’d like to address.

The results provide you with your skin type and the most suitable collection for you. You will have the option to choose a curated kit with specific products chosen to meet your needs, the option to shop from the entire collection suggested, or you can choose to select some of the products chosen from the curated kit.

Expert Advice – Skincare Advice

There are many educational articles in the Skincare Advice section if you are interested in learning more. These articles provide information on skincare basics, skin types, skin concerns, skincare myths, sun care, and more. While Paula’s Choice is a skincare company, there are also articles here for makeup tips! These articles are very interesting and informative. I highly encourage you to check them out if you are interested in learning more about skincare (or makeup!).

Expert Advice – Ingredient Dictionary

I love “geeking out” and researching the ingredients in my skincare products. The Paula’s Choice Ingredient Dictionary is one of the main resources I use to find out more about my skincare ingredients. You can search for an ingredient alphabetically or by category. Once you find the ingredient you’re looking for, you’ll be able to see the rating (poor, average, good, or best), categories, and description.

This tool is great to have handy while shopping for skincare products from Paula’s Choice or anywhere else. If you see an ingredient that looks suspicious, you can look it up to see its function and also find out if it’s a good ingredient or not. 

Availability and Special Offers

Paula’s Choice products are available on, as well as from several other online retailers including Amazon. The only in-store retailers that carry Paula’s Choice are Pharmaca and Nordstrom. 

I recommend only buying directly from because they almost always have some sort of sale going, or offer a free full-size gift with purchase. Keeping in mind that most of their products are $20+, it’s always a great deal getting a free item from Paula’s Choice! You can see information on all current sales and free gifts under Offers.

I think Paula’s Choice is such a special company because they do not compromise on quality, safety, or research. I appreciate that they continue to create products with only the best ingredients and don’t waste time following trends that aren’t based on science. 

When you buy a Paula’s Choice product, you can feel confident knowing that product contains some of the best skincare ingredients available. Paula’s Choice stands by all its products and offers a 100% Money Back Guarantee.

I have tried quite a few Paula’s Choice products now and have been pleased with all except for their Youth-Extending Daily Hydrating Fluid SPF 50. Even though that product didn’t work so well for me, I still think it is a good product for many people. 

I enjoy the Paula’s Choice products that I currently have in my collection and I look forward to trying more from them in the future. Have you tried any products from Paula’s Choice? Let me know what you think of them below!


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4 thoughts on “Cruelty-Free Skincare Backed by Science and Thoughtfully Formulated ft. Paula’s Choice

  1. Hi Lauren, I’m so glad you did this review on Paula’s Choice products as I’ve been considering giving them a try once I finish the skincare that I’m currently using, I recently watched a YouTube video from a Dr V, and she gave it a great review for all women, including women of colour which was a huge plus for the line of products they have, I’ve actually got a list of products myself that I’d be interested in trying.
    Great Review
    Cheers Janelle

  2. Hummm….you are giving me a lot to think about with this brand! I never knew there was so much science behind it! Thanks for a great review of a brand that definitely needs to get some love from me!

    • Hi Nancy, and thank you for reading! If you end up trying some Paula’s Choice products, let me know what you think of them! They have such a wide range of products and are always launching more that I want to try. 🙂


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