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Friday, December 9th
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.
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.
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?
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:
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!
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