Paula's Choice


143 reviews

59% would repurchase

Package Quality: 3.1

Price: $$

Package Quality: 3.1

Price: $$

Not tested on animals



Age: 56 & Over

Skin: Dry, Fair, Cool

Hair: Brown, Straight, Medium

Eyes: Blue

I liked Paula's original books. I liked Beautypedia for a while and I religiously looked up new makeup to see what they thought of it. I haven't looked at it for a while, but I went and looked up some mascaras today and was shocked at what I saw. I'm used to reading unbiased reviews here on makeup alley by normal people reporting how a product worked for them. If you look up mascaras on Beautypedia, first off, they are not reviewed by Paula. They are reviewed by her "team of experts." And lo and behold many of the five star reviews for makeup get far lower ratings both here and in their "community reviews." What gives? The so-called experts give long, loving, detailed reviews of things that we have found are horrible, mediocre, or just plain don't work. This site, if it is supposed to be a guide for people who are concerned about toxins and irritants in makeup, should at least have a gluten-free makeup section, but they don't. The Beautypedia has tons of information but it just seems less useful than coming here and looking up what the average makeup user has written, and then deciding whether or not to buy. I don't believe their "experts" who adored the new Revlon All In One mascara, more than I believe the people here who hated it. I recall more than once in past years buying something Paula personally loved and then finding out it wasn't even any good. So: what's the site good for? A bunch of opinions. Not that much technical information. No easy to find lists of ingredients for everything. Mostly just best of and worst of lists for every month. How is that helpful? For me, the site is simply not even worth looking at anymore.

7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.


Age: 44-55

Skin: Combination, Fair-Medium, Warm

Hair: Brunette, Wavy, Medium

Eyes: Blue

There is a fundamental difference between Beautypedia and MakeupAlley. Paula's Choice provides some valuable information that is provided by her team of researchers while also trying to persuade you to see that apparently her own line of products are better than anything else out there in the market place. I do consult her site as one of my research sources but it is not the only source for me. Quite often I ignore the pitch for Paula's Choice products and carry on with what interests me. Conversely MakeupAlley (and I do love this site) is about our own opinions and evaluations of the products we've tried, sharing our experiences which I also use to make an informed decision before buying a product.

I have been pleasantly surprised to see some favourable and even recommended reviews by Paula and her team so I can't totally knock her site. I agree with many of the other comments already made about what Paula deems as valuable, e.g. sunscreen in foundation, fragrance, etc. may not be something that is important or looked for by the consumer. What I find most useful is the list of ingredients and possible areas of concern. It is really helpful to know when a product includes any of the "inflammatory 5" or has a tendency to oxidize on the skin.

10 out of 11 people found this review helpful.


Age: 19-24

Skin: Acne-prone, Fair, Neutral

Hair: Brunette, Curly, Fine

Eyes: Green

I do find her site useful when it comes to looking up ingredients. I have very sensitive skin so am always cautious before buying new makeup. However, I've noticed that some ingredients Paula says can cause irritation, she actually uses in her own products! For example - the old formulation of MAC Face&Body foundation. It contained a chemical sunscreen ingredient that she said can irritate skin. When I looked at the ingredients of several of her sunscreens, they contained the exact same ingredient. Also, majority of her sunscreens contain chemical sunscreens that are known to cause irritation in sensitive skintypes (they certainly do in mine, and I've seen reviews from people who say her products make their skin itch/burn) yet she praises them. However, on the whole, I do find her reviews insightful. I just think she is slightly biased towards her own products.

3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.


Age: 44-55

Skin: Normal, Fair, Cool

Hair: Blond, Straight, Fine

Eyes: Blue

Ok, I do go on beautypedia when I am considering buying a new product, but I admit I have thoroughly enjoyed several products that got poor ratings on beautypedia.As far as the paula' Choice products, some are good. , but some have been disappointing to me, so her products are far from being excellent or better than what is out there.
Her makeup line is nothing special in my opinion.
And of course as to be expected, she pushes her own line.So I take what the reviews say with a grain of salt, and do not really let myself be swayed by the commentaries.I decide and my skin decides what will work, or not work..I find her to be very harsh on French brands, which are excellent, rather cheap, I am French and I buy those regularly. I think she has the consumer ' s best interest at heart, or I want to believe it!!!!

4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.


Age: 25-29

Skin: Combination, Fair, Neutral

Hair: Brown, Straight, Fine

Eyes: Brown

Ok, I have a lot to say about so-called experts in the beauty industry ( or in any other area) and I am going to keep it pretty straightforward.

When I first discovered Beautypedia, I found it great. After taking a second look it was like ok maybe a little biased as a source. My final opinion is, well let me put it this way: Dear miss, you are not fooling anyone.

First let's start with the evil corporation myth. I am not naive, I am well aware of the fact that cosmetic companies make billions of dollars of our expectations, while twisting our perception of beauty or reality. But what makes her company different ? I am having a hard time believing that she is our guardian angel, protecting us from all the bad products evil companies are selling us.
One example that bothers me is her problem with the jar packaging. I have done my humble research about the subject, and read her explaination. There seems to be a lot of cherry picking from those articles she refers to.

According to the reviews on the site, companies keep using the jars simply because women love it having in their vanity cases. So the companies with all the means in the world have no trouble with letting the expensive ingredients in their products go to waste. And they simply can't foresee that if a product stops delivering results, the buyer will have second thoughts. But no. They will keep investing in jars just because they look good ( what's the problem with pumps anyway,they come with great desings as well) and they won't care about their well hidden formulations not working. That doesn't make sense for me. She is all about the air and bacteria damaging the ingredients but what about her products? Am I supposed to believe that a plastic pump packacing doesn't let the air in? Because it does, and not by tiny amounts. Some of the packaking I have tested simply sucks the air in.
The truth is there are many researches going on about the ingredients, packacing, shelf life, effects of the enviroment vice versa and we cannot know for certain that how and when every ingredient really stops working.

The Beautypedia has me scared of trying anything new. Obviously all the products on the market are useless if I am lucky, and If I am not, they will damage my skin in ways I don't even want to know.
So I was looking for a simple moisturizer for my face as the weather gets colder. Turns out anything I can get my hands on is rated as avarage at best. An affordable moisturizer isn't perfect because it won't be turning miraculously turn my skin into the best you have ever seen but will just deliver moisture. The expensive ones are also not worthy of my money either and the only products I can get are her own. So I have to go through the trouble of buying skincare overseas just because only her brand gets to be perfect.
It is funny that how she can come up with all those simple formulations that all the other brands keep missing.

Another thing: Every person's skin and expectations might be different. What is working wonders for me may be a waste of money for you. Here you can see that. Many products I have fallen in love with received low ratings from other members of the site. What we are really trying to do is to share and read the experiences so we can come up with a general opinion about the products we are intending to buy. Even with all the information and reviews in the world, buying cosmetics and skincare is still a trial and error process.
Beautypedia seemts to be exploiting this process pretty well. I have seen a foundation getting poor rating because it lacks SPF. So what if that's what you are looking for? Not every foundation has to protect us from the sun, as some of them specially formulated not to carry any sun protecting ingredient, the ones that photograph well for instance . this is just one example. All the reviews are based on sensitive skins but not everybody is freaking aboout about a small dose of fragnance in their daily routine.

This is probably a harsh review but I am speaking from the heart. As I have been using many cosmetics and skincare products for years, I don't think for one second that they are the most important thing that makes our face or body better. From my experience, most of them are nothing compared to nutririon, exercising and lifestyle. What I believe is that some people are exploiting people's concerns about their health and image and Beautypedia is one tool for that. The woman behind the idea is a small part of the giant industry and everybody has their selling methods. Obviously with the conscious sonsumer trend has been rising ,hers is to make people worry about all the products they are or might be using. If you are happy with her products, well that's great for you. If you feel confused, just remember that this is cosmetics after all, no need to obsess over it and if you need help just consult a professional, a doctor that is.

9 out of 10 people found this review helpful.


Age: 30-35

Skin: Normal, Fair-Medium, Warm

Hair: Brown, Wavy, Fine

Eyes: Brown

I have to say, I respect Beautypedia because the site really educates consumers about ingredients in cosmetics more than any other website, and they base their reviews on scientific research. I've been a Beautypedia member since it was a paid site, about 10 years now. I've read tons of reviews on there and they do give many products 5 star reviews, but the product has to earn it. I think the main criteria are good packaging to keep the formula stable, no ingredients that scientific research has shown to be irritating, and it must contain excellent skincare ingredients that research has proven to be effective. I've found numerous drugstore and high end products that I have loved using this as a resource.

A lot of people are up in arms that Paula created an eye cream because she's always preached that eye creams aren't necessary. This is true, but what she has always said is that most eye creams aren't necessary because they contain nothing special for the eye area, often contain irritating ingredients, and are usually just repackaged facial moisturizers. I used to read that and wonder why Paula didn't formulate an eye cream that DOES have ingredients especially for the eye area. Well, apparently Paula's Choice finally had the same thought. Paula also said in a You Tube video I saw that her customers were asking her to make an eye cream for years, and that she & her team learned from their customers that most women WANT a product labeled eye cream, which I fully believe. So she said she decided to formulate the best eye cream she could, if that was what women wanted. I for one, do want something that will pamper my eye area. Plus, my undereye skin is drier than the rest of my face, so using my facial moisturizer doesn't always cut it. However, I do not want something that's labeled an "eye cream", but has the same exact formulation & ingredients as facial moisturizers from the same brand, which basically makes it a tiny sized facial moisturizer for more money! I was definitely intrigued and bought the PC eye cream. The rich texture of it is completely different than any of their facial moisturizers. It absolutely contains ingredients especially for the eye area, like anti irritants and such, some of which don't appear in any other PC products. It's the first eye cream I've ever used (I've used hundreds) that has helped my puffy allergy affected under eye bags. But that's for another review lol. I'm just saying, it makes sense that she would finally make an eye cream.

If a skincare company never changed with the times, evolved as new research was published, or gave customers what they wanted, they simply would not be very successful. Paula's opinions are going to have to change as new research comes to light. I do not expect any cosmetics company's stances on everything to remain the exact same throughout the years, that would be crazy! People change their viewpoints as they grow or new information is revealed, and so do companies--they evolve as more research is peer reviewed & published. I, for one, WANT any cosmetics company that I use to change their views if new research has proven otherwise. For example, Paula used to say that we need to use an SPF 15 or greater daily, but since dermatologists worldwide are now recommending SPF 25 or greater due to new research that's been published, she now recommends SPF 25 or greater. Of course she's going to rate her own products highly, based on her own criteria, I mean, wouldn't you? Lol. However, on that note, I was VERY surprised to read the Beautypedia review on the new Paula's Choice product, Skin Firming Line Minimizer. The review was 4 stars instead of the best, (which is 5) and it actually mentioned how gimmicky the syringe like packaging is & the lack of research behind some of the ingredients. I thought that was pretty cool and very unbiased. At least they tried. See for yourself:

Anyway, of course the site can be biased, especially since she does have her own line, so my advice is just don't use it as your only resource! Lots of sites can be biased and there are even fake reviews all over the Internet, for that matter. Amazon recently sued several of their merchants for paying people to write positive reviews on their site. Actually, that goes for everything, never use just one resource! There are so many online resources for ingredients in cosmetics, & reviews, etc. I feel Beautypedia is the easiest to navigate and there's so much useful information to find there, all written in layman terms. Just the fact that they have all the ingredients listed for so many various brand's products is a Godsend. Many companies don't even list the full ingredients in their products on their own website; Bobbi Brown comes to mind, for one. I appreciate that all their references are cited on Beautypedia so you can click the link & check the facts for yourself and come to your own conclusions. The ingredients dictionary is a wonderful tool on there too.

I personally use a mixture of different brands for my own skincare, & I would probably never use only one brand. I do use several Paula's Choice products and I love most of them for the simple reasons that they have excellent ingredients and I get great results from them. I also appreciate that it's the only skincare company that doesn't make up outlandish claims about supposed superstar ingredients, or claim that their products lift sagging skin, which isn't even remotely possible with skincare alone. Paula is also very open about having had cosmetic/dermatology procedures, like Fraxall, fillers & Botox, and she certainly doesn't attribute her youthful skin to excellent skincare alone. If it weren't for Beautypedia, many women and men would still be very, very clueless as to what they're spending their hard earned money on, and for that the site deserves 5 lippies.


Age: 44-55

Skin: Combination, Fair, Cool

Hair: Brown, Wavy, Medium

Eyes: Blue

I've read several years back in these beautypedia reviews, and it strikes me more like a discussion in a forum than reviews, so my review is kind of in that spirit too.

I followed Paula from the beginning with her books. Even when she started Paula's Choice (which when announced I thought was an awful name, ha ha), I didn't see it as a conflict and thought she could still do both roles. I don't think it's automatically a conflict to review other products while making her own, and I even see the logic of recommending her own products as best and giving them top ratings -- she formulates them to be exactly as she thinks they should be, she wouldn't put them on the market if she didn't think they were best. To me, the contradictions and hypocrisy and bias are in the details of what she does. Following are examples of what I mean in no particular order. Alot of them have been mentioned already.

When her product marketing changes, she changes her review criteria for all brands to fit. She used to say toners were unnecessary. Then she came out with toners, and now she's all about toners. Her reviews for lip exfoliating products used to say that maybe they did a good job, but so will a good brush or washcloth so it's an unnecessary expense to buy them. Then she came up with a lip exfoliator, and it was a "must have." And then there is her infamous much discussed flip on eye creams once she created her own. She used to never take seriously any non-hydoquinone skin lighteners, saying that hydoquinone was the gold standard and other ingredients' effects iffy. Then hydroquinone was banned, and she came up with her own alternative lighteners and she of course hyped their effects to the max plus started to favorably review other companies' non-hydroquinone products.

Paula's reviews of vitamin c products and other products that emphasize one ingredient would (if she liked it) say if someone is looking for a vitamin c (or whatever) product this would be a good choice but one ingredient products are overrated because a mix of ingredients is best without an emphasis on any one. Then recently, PC comes out with a vitamin c product. Then more such products with other ingredients, and lo and behold, these targeted products are not only good now but a necessity.

When Paula started marketing retinol products, her attitude toward prescription retinoids changed dramatically from the days of just her books. She still gives it lip service, but way underemphasizes them and their more dramatic effect, while overemphasizing the irritation factor. Because, like all other over the counter retinol products, she's trying to sell her non-prescription product which necessitates deflecting attention away from the prescription alternative.

One of her most shocking postures was when she came out with her Clear cleanser. After years of heavy-handed insistence that active ingredients in cleansers are pointless because they wash off, she put triclosan in her cleanser. When this contradiction was brought up, she said something like she knows she has always said that, but research showed it works so she included it. That's all. OK.

As for her best products lists, I have over the many years noticed a subtle evolution in how she does them. It seems to me her lists are done in a specific way now. She'll have her own product or products as some of the best, which is expected, and fine. She'll have a couple very expensive choices. She'll have some middle of the road to expensive choices that are kind of obscure brands of the type that you don't easily find in stores and that are not on the major websites (Sephora/Ulta). Then she'll have two, or maybe just one, or sometimes zero, basic drugstore brand. It just strikes me as very calculated. They figure people who want the extremely expensive one will buy that instead of PC anyway. People who can only afford drugstore will buy that. People in the middle will think it through and say I don't want to bother with product lines I'm not familiar with and ordering from websites I don't normally use, and then they'll consider the cheap choice but maybe the review will say it has the active ingredient but "no bells and whistles" or something, so they might as well opt for PC. At least this is what my cynical side can't help thinking when I read her lists.

And what's really irritating me more and more is how at the same time she dismisses inflated claims, her claims for dramatic effects from her own products are getting annoyingly over the top.

Despite all this I do use her reviews and value her information. As another review pointed out, her reviews are a different thing from makeupalley and Sephora, because they are about the formulas of products and how they affect you in ways beyond how it seems to look and work.

A few reviewers have noted that in recent years, it's not Paula even anymore, it's her people. I used to email and get Paula answers, clearly in her style. Then a year or so ago, I emailed a question I knew would intrigue Paula and looked forward to her answer. No response at all. Not even a "we can't answer all emails anymore," just nothing. I was disappointed, but I think things had changed so much that it wasn't even Paula reading emails anymore.

9 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

Age: 44-55

Skin: Very Oily, Deep Dark, Warm

Hair: Black, Kinky, Coarse

Eyes: Brown

I have been a fan of Paula's even before she had a website and all of her reviews were in a giant book that was sold at bookstores. I think it was called "Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me." I still rely on her reviews but their value have diminished since she started her own skin care and make up products. If you look up the products with the highest ratings on her site, the vast majority are her own products or brands that hard to access. Personally, I'm not a fan of mail order skincare and makeup so I've never tried many of her products. The few I have tried were just blah despite her grand claims at what it could do and the not so cheap prices. Some of her ratings are also inconsistent. I've noticed some foundations with sunscreen will get a subpar rating for not having enough or the right kind sunscreen while foundations that have none, get a higher rating. It's like being punished for trying. And, in my opinion, if you read too many of her reviews, they will leave you hesistant to try products that more than likely are really harmless. It's a good resource but I use it with caution. As a woman of color, I do appreciate and commend Paula's efforts to almost always address if certain makeup will be flattering on dark skin. She clearly understands the struggle for darker skinned women to find compatible makeup so kudos to her for that.

5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.


Age: 36-43

Skin: Acne-prone, Tan, Warm

Hair: Brunette, Curly, Fine

Eyes: Brown

Like a lot of people here, I have mixed feelings about Beautypedia. On one hand, it is helpful in determining ingredients, what they do and what issues they may cause your skin. On the other hand, I can't quite get over Paula Begoun's tendency to rate products that aren't from her line rather harshly. There's nothing wrong with attempting to advertise your own products, but there's something rather distasteful at doing so at the expense of other brands.

Like another reviewer stated, she seemingly bases all her reviews on her own skin which is apparently sensitive. I have acne prone combination skin that tolerates most products well. As a result, the majority of her gripes don't apply to me making a lot of the reviews rather useless. I do like that she states if a product is wildly overpriced and points out if the price tag is justified. Sometimes reading that bit of wisdom reminds me that buying into the hype and glowing reviews can be foolish. At the same time, I am an adult who is aware that a moisturizer with a $100 price tag might not be justified, but I might very well like it anyway. Expensive isn't always better but sometimes I like luxurious, frivolous beauty products!

While I still use Beautypedia from time to time, I generally take the reviews with a grain of salt (as I do with any reviews that devolve into preachy sermons with scare tactics). I know a lot of what is written is skewed as I bought two of Begoun's products a few years back and submitted an honest review that was never posted on the site. I wasn't unduly harsh, but I did feel that one of the products was useless and caused me to break out. A day after I submitted the review, a customer service rep contacted me via email stating that the product I reviewed couldn't possibly have caused me to break out because it contained no irritants. After some back and forth, I was given a full refund despite not asking for one. Apparently this is Begoun's standard business practice so her site will only include glowing reviews. While I was happy and surprised to get a refund on a product that didn't work for me, I think this practice is a bit odd (whether this is still the norm, I have no idea). Even the review I posted about the product here was quickly down voted which again seems quite odd. I won't be at all surprised if this review also gets down voted.

My advice is to take Beautypedia's advice lightly and not rely on it solely. Find a few trusted sites where real people with no agenda post honest reviews and take it from there. At the end of the day, only you know what you like, what works for you and just how much money you're comfortable spending.

13 out of 16 people found this review helpful.


Age: 36-43

Skin: Acne-prone, Medium Brown, Warm

Hair: Black, Other, Coarse

Eyes: Hazel

I really teetered between giving a 3 star review & a 4 star review. If I could give it a 3.5 rating, I would probably go with that. On one hand, beautypedia has been life-changing for me from an informational standpoint; but on the other, some of her advice and recommendations are contradictory and questionable at best- which is frustrating. Yet and still, I would recommend anyone interested in skincare or make-up definitely check out her website.

Pros: Beautypedia has educated me on the importance of knowing what ingredients are in your skincare/make-up products. For example, I now understand that my skin doesn't "like" irritants (i.e. fragrance, non-fatty alcohols, menthol, eucalyptus and some other plant extracts). They cause the top layer of my skin to burn/darken or get scaly. For years I thought I had a sensitivity to salicylic acid- but in hindsight, all the products I used with salicylic acid had irritants in them. So the burns/darkened/scaly skin I thought was caused by salicylic acid, was actually caused by the irritants. When I started using a salicylic acid product without irritants, I finally saw the benefits, with no negative side effects.

Her breakout of ingredients, with classifications, ratings, and explanations is excellent. Very informative.

Her reviews are hit or miss- but I guess that's to be expected since everyone's skin is different. She's one tough cookie as far as reviewing brands other than her own.

I think her website is reasonably well designed and user-friendly.

Cons: She shamelessly plugs her own products- which I'm actually okay with since it's her website! I don't have a problem with that- she can plug away- but to review, and give ALL your products perfect ratings? Biased and unreasonable! The irony is, Paula's always calling out other brands on their ethics; yet on a website that's supposed to provide unbiased reviews, you're reviewing your own products- and giving them perfect ratings. And to be frank, the reviews of her products I've seen on sites such as Makeupalley, and e-commerce sites HARDLY live up to her own reviews.

Honestly, every product I've ever purchased based on a high beautypedia rating (including her own products) has NOT worked out out for me. BUT, applying the knowledge & insight I learned on beautypedia, I've purchased a number of products that aren't reviewed- or were purchased before I read her review- that DID work out fabulously.

I strongly question her expert advice, mainly because it can be very contradictory. She advocates layering multiple products because if they're "well formulated" it shouldn't be an issue (something I'd be reluctant to do). Yet she also says using too many products at once can cause irritation (which I think is more accurate).

She tells people with oily skin- even those using acne treatments- not to wear lotion (only sunscreen), yet every dermatologist in the world advocates the use of moisturizers when using acne treatments (particularly the prescription kind).

She advises acne-prone people to avoid emollients altogether...which disqualifies the use of 99.999% of moisturizers- including her own. Yet she gives many acne treatments WITH emollients her highest ratings, and notes she's giving them such a high rating BECAUSE they have emollients (among other things). These are the type of contradictions that are mind-boggling!

At the end of the day, everyone's skin is different and no one- including Paula Begoun- can tell YOU with certainty what will/won't work for YOU. It is concerning that she makes assertions- that are really just her opinions- with so much certainty. But her website it still the most comprehensive, thorough resource for finding information on specific beauty products, brands, and ingredients.

13 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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