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Paula's Choice Review

Friday, December 9th

2022 Acne Product Reviews

Paula's Choice Review 4.5 Star Rating

Paula's Choice

4.5 Star Rating
  • Products are free from many common irritants and harmful ingredients
  • Free consultations via toll-free number or online chat with licensed estheticians and skin care experts
  • Return policy: within 60 days for a refund, or within 61-180 days for store credit
  • Free shipping on orders of $49+; otherwise $5.50 for US Standard shipping
  • In business for more than 25 years

The philosophy behind Paula's Choice products is "smart, safe beauty" . Everything they sell is good for your skin, effective, and backed by cited, scientific research. No matter what you buy here, it will always be fragrance- and cruelty-free. You may have seen Paula's Choice products in retail stores like Sephora and Nordstrom, but you'll get full access to everything the brand offers through the PC online store.

Long list of ingredients you won't find here

Before we tell you what you can expect in Paula's Choice acne products, we think it's pretty impressive to look at what ingredients they avoid. It's a long list: 1,4 dioxane, abrasive particles (like pumice, salt, or sugar), alcohol, aluminum powder, essential oils, formaldehyde, fragrant plant extracts, nanoparticles, phthalates, sodium lauryl sulfate, synthetic dyes and fragrance, talc, and toluene. If you have very sensitive skin, allergies, or tend to react to other acne treatments, Paula's Choice might be the perfect fit.

Start with the Clear Collection

There are quite a few products you can choose from in the Acne-Prone Skin section of the Paula's Choice store, from Pore Perfecting kits to Acne Body Spray. We recommend looking at the Clear Collection and then selecting from regular-strength or extra-strength kits. Each kit comes with three steps: AM/PM Cleanser, once-daily Exfoliant, and once-daily treatment (though each of those steps can be done twice a day if desired). Bear in mind that two of the three products in the Clear Collection have either salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, in case you're sensitive to those. At the time of this review, the Clear kits were just $52; since it's recommended that you incorporate one product at a time into your routine, over the course of several weeks, your first purchase could last you quite a while as you put it to the test.

Free video consultations - or take the Routine Finder quiz

We really appreciate that Paula's Choice offers numerous ways to get help with any questions you have about their products, your overall skincare routine, or solving a tricky skin condition. First, you can click the Private Consultation link at the bottom of the site. Look for the Appointment link and set up a free 20-minute visit: choose which staff member you'd like or leave it set to "anyone" . You'll also find a link to the Paula's Choice Routine Finder, if you'd rather get started right away. Answer a few questions about your skin type and overall goals, and you'll get to choose between products in a 3-step Essential routine or a 5-step Advanced series.

Get a discount - in exchange for your email and number

When we visited the Paula's Choice site, we got a pop-up offering a 15% discount and free shipping if we signed up for their communications - but unlike most of their rivals, Paula's Choice makes you give not just your email but also your phone number to get the savings (not our favorite). If you go that route, prepare yourself for an onslaught of emails and texts, based on comments we read from some Paula's Choice customers.

Best Acne Products

Very generous return policy of up to 180 days

Paula's Choice acne products still come with one of the best return policies we've seen. You can return your items within 60 days of purchase for a full refund, and you don't need any RMA or approval beforehand. Between 61-180 days, you can return your purchase for store credit. The only stipulation? You can't return your used bottles completely empty, so leave a bit in the bottom.

Surprisingly low grade from the BBB

We were disappointed to see that Paula's Choice had a "D-" grade from the Better Business Bureau, for failing to respond to eight of the nine complaints filed there. That's not a ton, but it never paints a pretty picture when a big company ignores any of its customers.

Thousands of five-star reviews from customers

In contrast, we found hundreds of compliments from Paula's Choice customers - not just about the products but also specifically about the support team. Some people were so impressed, they said that other companies could take lessons from this one about how to do it right. And that doesn't even scratch the surface of the customer ratings left on individual products here. For example, there were more than 4000 reviews on Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant - and over 2500 of those were a perfect five stars. Not every product has that many (some we saw had less than a dozen) but it's still a good sign that those eight unanswered complaints aren't an indicator of a problem - with the company or the products.

Fantastic guarantee, effective acne products

Paula's Choice acne products work for many people when other treatments have failed. If that sounds like you, we highly recommend you start your experience here with a free 20-minute consultation with one of their skincare experts, and they'll check in with you down the road to see how your skin is progressing. You won't find a more generous satisfaction guarantee anywhere else - on acne products that are already reasonably priced. This is still one of our top picks among acne treatment options.

Who Makes the Best Acne Products?

Given that acne is the most common skin condition in the country, affecting as many as 50 million Americans at any given time, it's no wonder that there's such a market for effective treatments. Whether your skin troubles began in puberty or have struck for the first time in your 40s, you're probably searching for a solution that will get you looking and feeling better - as soon as possible.

There are many different approaches that acne products may take, and the right one for you often depends on the type of breakouts you're experiencing. Are you seeing occasional white- and blackheads, or large, painful blemishes that cover most of your face? Is your skin oily all the time, or does it fluctuate with hormonal changes and/or stress? Is acne affecting just your face or other areas of your body too, like your back and chest?

The Best Acne Products Compare Acne Products Compare Acne Product Reviews What are the best Acne Products Best Acne Product Reviews

Acne Product FAQ

Typically, acne kits include a facial cleanser, clearing tonic, acne serum, clear pore serum, moisture complex, or more. If you are not wanting a ton of products to solve your acne issues, then we suggest considering a 3-step plan that requires less product application.
When searching for your perfect acne product, most companies allow you to refine your search by acne product type. Product types can include, but are not limited to, cleansers, toners, exfoliants, serums, moisturizers, acne, anti-aging, and best sellers.
If you are unsure if you are allergic or have sensitive skin, you can just follow these two simple steps. One place the product in an area below your ear for a few minutes. Two if the area becomes red or irritated then you should use a different product. If no reaction occurs, you are good to begin using the product.
On every product there is a batch code that will provide you the expiration date. Some companies use codes that you will have to get the key from customer service. Shelf life for a product that is unopened and unused is typically 3 years.
Concerned with shell fish allergies? When choosing a product make sure the ingredient list does not contain Chitosan. This ingredient has been linked with shellfish and could cause a reaction. Some companies offer a list of products to avoid if you have a shellfish allergy in the customer service and FAQs section.
If you follow a skin application plan without interruptions, and avoid acne causing foods, you should see improvement in as little as 2 - 4 weeks. For those that have non-inflamed acne, improvement may take up to 7 months to become clear since this form of acne is deeper and more resistant.
Shipping normally takes 2 - 5 business days depending on the type of shipping selected. Most companies offer free shipping in general or require a minimum purchase cost to be met. Depending on the site, the minimum purchase cost can be $49+ or have a low shipping rate for the type of shipping you choose.
Of course, most companies offer a 100% money back guarantee within a 30 - 60-day trial return period. Some companies even offer a 1-year satisfaction guarantee for a kit purchase that includes a full refund (without shipping costs). If you are skeptical, be sure to choose a product with a generous return policy.
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Continued from above...

Another factor when choosing an acne product is your experience with treatments in the past. Benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid are two of the most common ingredients in over-the-counter remedies: they're very effective for some, while others experience dry skin or rashes when using products that contain them. Also consider if you have any known sensitivities to natural ingredients like tea tree oil, aloe vera, or other botanicals. Check the ingredients list of any acne product you're considering to make sure it doesn't contain anything that's a known irritant for you.

A word of warning: know how they say that sometimes things get worse before they get better? No matter which acne treatment you follow, you may find that your acne actually increases at first. It's a process known as "skin purge" , and according to Medical News Today, it can happen as people use new products with ingredients that accelerate exfoliation and bring new skin to the surface. You might just have dry, flaky skin - or even more blemishes than before.

Fortunately, many effective acne products give you 60 days (or longer) to let the skin purge run its course and reveal your new, healthy skin underneath. You just need the patience to ride it out. Of course, if you're showing signs of an allergic reaction (rash, hives, stinging or burning sensation, itchy or watery eyes, and so on), discontinue use and check in with your doctor before trying a new treatment.

With so many different acne products on the market, you might be feeling confused about where to start. Not to worry. Here are some criteria you can use to narrow down the options and zero in on the ones that will likely be your best bet:

  • Regimen. Be honest with yourself. Are you going to follow a skincare routine faithfully, morning and night, for up to 90 minutes a day? If the answer is "Yes!" , you should have no hesitations about a multi-step acne product. If it's "probably not" , choose a treatment that has just one or two steps to follow, once or twice a day. Your ideal acne routine is one that you'll actually stick to.
  • Ingredients. Are there any acne-fighting ingredients that you've had experience with, good or bad? Use that knowledge to choose (or avoid) products.
  • Cost. Some acne products are budget-friendly, while others are expensive enough that you might want to hold them in reserve as a last resort. Look not just at how much you'll pay to get started, but how long each product will last. In other words, paying $100 might sound like a lot, but when you realize it's for a two-month supply, it starts to look pretty appealing compared to the $60 treatment that might last you 30 days.
  • Expert Help. Some providers of acne products go the extra mile to help you get a customized routine. You might be able to schedule a 20-minute video consultation with an esthetician or send in photos of your skin, and then get recommendations unique to you.
  • Refund/Return Policy. There's not a single acne product that works for 100% of users. The best brands recognize that, and they offer generous return policies that let you get your money back if you give it your best shot and don't see the improvements you hoped for.
  • Reputation. What do users say about the products - and the company backing them? Can you count on the business to live up to its promises?

To help you get the clearest skin possible, TopConsumerReviews.com has evaluated and ranked today's most popular acne products. We're confident that this information will make it easy to find the right solution - and at the right price!

Compare Acne Products

Select any 2 Acne Products to compare them head to head

  • Zenmed
  • Curology
  • Paula's Choice
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  • Mighty Patch
  • Dermala
  • Proactiv
  • Truly Clear
  • Exposed Skincare
  • Clearpores
  • Acnease
  • CleaRx
  • Acnezine
Zenmed vs Curology Zenmed vs Paula's Choice Zenmed vs Murad Zenmed vs Mighty Patch Zenmed vs Dermala Zenmed vs Proactiv Zenmed vs Truly Clear Zenmed vs Exposed Skincare Zenmed vs Clearpores Zenmed vs Acnease Zenmed vs CleaRx Zenmed vs Acnezine Curology vs Paula's Choice Curology vs Murad Curology vs Mighty Patch Curology vs Dermala Curology vs Proactiv Curology vs Truly Clear Curology vs Exposed Skincare Curology vs Clearpores Curology vs Acnease Curology vs CleaRx Curology vs Acnezine Paula's Choice vs Murad Paula's Choice vs Mighty Patch Paula's Choice vs Dermala Paula's Choice vs Proactiv Paula's Choice vs Truly Clear Paula's Choice vs Exposed Skincare Paula's Choice vs Clearpores Paula's Choice vs Acnease Paula's Choice vs CleaRx Paula's Choice vs Acnezine Murad vs Mighty Patch Murad vs Dermala Murad vs Proactiv Murad vs Truly Clear Murad vs Exposed Skincare Murad vs Clearpores Murad vs Acnease Murad vs CleaRx Murad vs Acnezine Mighty Patch vs Dermala Mighty Patch vs Proactiv Mighty Patch vs Truly Clear Mighty Patch vs Exposed Skincare Mighty Patch vs Clearpores Mighty Patch vs Acnease Mighty Patch vs CleaRx Mighty Patch vs Acnezine Dermala vs Proactiv Dermala vs Truly Clear Dermala vs Exposed Skincare Dermala vs Clearpores Dermala vs Acnease Dermala vs CleaRx Dermala vs Acnezine Proactiv vs Truly Clear Proactiv vs Exposed Skincare Proactiv vs Clearpores Proactiv vs Acnease Proactiv vs CleaRx Proactiv vs Acnezine Truly Clear vs Exposed Skincare Truly Clear vs Clearpores Truly Clear vs Acnease Truly Clear vs CleaRx Truly Clear vs Acnezine Exposed Skincare vs Clearpores Exposed Skincare vs Acnease Exposed Skincare vs CleaRx Exposed Skincare vs Acnezine Clearpores vs Acnease Clearpores vs CleaRx Clearpores vs Acnezine Acnease vs CleaRx Acnease vs Acnezine CleaRx vs Acnezine
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