If you haven’t heard of Paula’s Choice, you should probably tell a lie and pretend you have. It’s the sort of skincare brand your mother, your best friends and your work colleagues have used at some point in their existence.
The Seattle-based company has been around for 35 years, founded by Paula Begoun, who was a long-time sufferer of acne and eczema growing up.
After studying science, she worked as a makeup artist and esthetician, eventually opening up her own cosmetics store. Paula soon became known as a bit of an expert in her field, an early beauty influencer (before the days of social media) who wrote about beauty industry and appeared as guest speaker on shows like Oprah. It wasn’t until 1995 that she was spurred on to create her own brand of terribly hard-working products, thus, Paula’s Choice was born.
The products were results-driven, tried-and-tested formulas created by Paula’s team of cosmetic chemists. The transparency of ingredients was a massive hit with consumers – simple, cruelty and fragrance-free with anti-irritating properties, even for the most sensitive of skins.
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In a recent interview with Allure, she said:
“We never take up space in our products with things that don’t contribute to skin health. A pink product does not contribute to skin health. And fragrance, well, eau de cologne is not skincare. It’s sensitising. Have you ever shaved your legs and then applied a scented body lotion and then you never did it again because it burnt? Right, well, there you go.”
She’s hailed all over Reddit as a beauty miracle-maker, regularly sweeping up awards for products such as the Paula’s Choice 2% BHA liquid that’s made with exfoliating salicylic acid that drastically diminishes the appearance of pores and smooth skin over time.
Or there’s the wildly popular Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting Liquid Exfoliant that has over 100 reviews on her site claiming it’s miraculous results: “never discontinue this” and “cannot rave enough about this product” – some saying they’d seen results in less than 30 minutes. The bottle uses salicylic acid to exfoliate, shrink pores and speed up cell regeneration but also contains green tea to keep skin feeling hydrated.
Paula doesn’t do fads or create products in the hope they’ll be the new must-have item on Instagram, she told Allure she hated the millennial favourite sheet masks: “They’re a waste of time. Even a well formulated one is a waste of time. Ingredients are going to penetrate based on their molecular size. Nothing else. Having that sheet on your face does not form enough of a barrier. It’s bullshit that the sheet helps ingredients absorb.“
It’s her direct approach to beauty that most likely explains the success. There’s no fluff – her products are like her: straight to the point. At a time when the industry is rife with misinformation and fearmongering, Paula’s Choice has remained perfectly unchanged.
That, we love.
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