I just discovered this book (took it out of the library, so can't comment on the price). I completely agree with the previous reviewer and found this book so valuable for skincare insight (what irritates, what is most soothing, moisturizers, rosacea help, serums, anti-aging). Also, I love that she busts La Mer and La Prairie!!! They are both a load of obscenely overpriced, over-hyped crap that actually contain damaging ingredients. My own esthetician loves this book and has also told me La Mer is basically overpriced vaseline.
All beauty junkies should check it out. She reviews literally thousands of products (the book is as thick as a dictionary!) and she gives really high ratings to so many products that are not in her own line I don't know how any one can say she is biased. Yes, she has her own line, she rates her own line highly but every recommendation in her "Picks" section contains a drugstore brand (with the exception of toners - no drugstore brand toner made the cut) and a department store brand in addition to her own. My approach to this book is I probably won't buy her line, as I like to see and handle a product before I purchase it, or, as others have said, I'd look for a review here first.
Although I don't rely on this book for makeup advice, I also found Paula's info on foundation helpful (what covers, what settles into lines, etc) and which mascaras are truly lenghthening, volumizing, etc. Regarding the "style" or color of eyeliners, lip glosses, etc, I already know what looks good on me so I don't rely on this book for makeup tips.
I do wish she included pictures of her "best picks", which is why I rated the packaging low.
This book was so useful to me! I highly recommend it and have bought it again for family and friends. I learned so much about the cosmetic industry and how to navigate through it's marketing ploys. I use it as a great starting point to make informed decisions on the beauty products that we all spend so much money on. This book is worth every cent!
I used to have the 1996 edition of this book, though the newer editions may just have some more products reviewed. The information and knowledge that I've gained is invaluable. She does have her own product line, but she touts other products from various skin care lines and cosmetics as well. A very important bit of information that I'd learned from her books is that even if a product contains an AHA (alpha hydroxy - includes glycolic acid and lactic acid - with glycolic supposedly being superior but perhaps more harsh than lactic acid) or BHA (beta hydroxy - salicylic acid), it doesn't necessarily mean that it's effective. The percentage of AHA or BHA need to be high enough with the pH (potential of hydrogen) level needing to be low enough to allow for exfoliation to occur. There are many skin care products on the market that have some key ingredients, but if they aren't formulated properly, it basically makes it all for not.
She's also pointed out in her book that willow bark extract is not necessarily the same as salicylic acid even though the latter is from the willow bark tree. The knowledge that I've gained which also includes how fragrant oils/extracts (lavender, rosemary, clove, thyme, sage - mint, camphor, menthol - citrus such as orange, lemon, citron, lime, pineapple, limonene, tangerine, bergamot) may cause skin irritation which may lead to collagen breakdown was so helpful, especially as I'm very allergic to a lot of different chemicals and substances. I don't agree with all of her reviews, including the cosmetics, but she has saved me so much money by not buying into the hype from the claims of some of those skin care products.
I totally disagree with the last review. Paula is totally biased
to her own products and always has been. I have used so
many product that she's given horrible reviews and have had
great success with them.
This is the sixth book of this title that I've owned, it's the 9th edition. I've been a fan of Paula's from her very first book!
She now includes membership in Beautypedia for free. You can find all the brands and the items she didn't have room for over on her beautypedia site which is spillover of all the stuff that didn't make it into her book. Useful.
The new edition has a much clearer better list of Paula's picks in the back, and as always she prefers people NOT just buy her picks but use them to start their own research on.
For example with rosacea, some of the Best products are too irritating, and some of the "Good" products are better.
I'll include some of my previous review from the 8th edition as I deal with a few common complaints and criticisms that come up all the time.
A bit of history -- she was the FIRST to challenge the cosmetic companies and their unholy alliance with magazines. Before her people actually believed the magazine's recommendations were unbiased and therefore fairly accurate. Nobody pointed out that they took money from the companies to feature a product in an article!
She challenged skin care based on science. No she is not a scientist or an MD, but she does read the journals, and she reports BASED ON PEER REVIEWED RESEARCH in dermatological journals! Most derms don't even keep up that well!
She forced the big companies to start using better packaging, and better products. For example that pressure to include sunscreen in foundations, means that now there ARE foundations in all price brackets with spf built in. Back in the olden days when I was in my early 20s only one or two were around and they weren't great.
Most skin stuff came in jars, and we didn't know that the packaging meant that the expensive ingredient we bought the jar for was gone in a few weeks. WHO KNEW????
As time went by I saw the cosmetics companies change packaging to please Paula while continuing to criticize her sharply in public, in an effort to get people to stop listening to her.
She angered a lot of powerful people. Cosmetic companies influence estheticians in a number of ways not the least of which is thru training courses on products. Magazines, dermatologists with their own products to flog, you name it the girl made enemies, powerful ones. To this day if I mention her name at a cosmetics counter or at a salon, I get a knee jerk response.
She turned a spotlight on the misleading informercial books by prominent dermatologists flogging their own skin care lines.
Yes she ended up coming out with a skin care line and cosmetic line of her own BUT you simply have to ignore her own glowing recommendations for her products, and if you must try one, then go here on MUA to find the reviews before you buy.
As for her not being an esthetician which is a criticism she got here for previous editions, she is the one who brought IN a lot of the standards in esthetician's courses!
Pressure from her previous books, educated consumers to ASK for better products and procedures and to drop some harmful stuff or techniques. Very few will steam your face now or use unsterile instruments as a result, nor will they use rubbing alcohol or camphorated oils.
And back in the day, before the internet, you hadn't a hope of finding a place other than consumer reports or consumer guide where there was any unbiased opinions on cosmetics and skin care.
Now why this book is so useful. First off, it is NOT a replacement for your own research here on MUA. Reviews are personal opinions, some are more thought out than others, but overall they reflect how a product works, and whether it is worth buying.
While this is her opinion on how a product feels or looks, the value of the book lies in her reporting on the current lines of research--the chemistry behind the skin care product and the efficacy of the ingredients. Some MUA reviewers DO have a background in chemistry or dermatology, but most don't.
This way I get the best of both.
She warns about potential irritants. Thank goodness she does. I don't always get that kind of information from MUA and I DO have some serious sensitivities to things like mica for example which is common in a lot of anti aging products now and causes a real itchy rash and dry broken skin.
Like many people with allergic sensitive skin (I struggle with auto immune problems too) I have to be VERY careful of plant based ingredients. Synthetic stuff is much gentler on my skin, and for others like me.
Unfortunately the "natural products are best" lobby downplays that reality. Many cosmetics and skin care products use a dusting of some VERY irritating and sensitizing ingredients and without Paula warning about it, I doubt I'd be able to avoid some of the reactions.
I ALWAYS double check her FIRST!
THEN I come here to MUA to read the many opinions on something I'm considering buying. Sometimes something she doesn't like has really high ratings here. I've bought things she isn't keen on, like the Olay BHA night cream that I love. It gets love here too on MUA, but I bought it long before I came here.
Just because she doesn't like something doesn't mean it's bad. She explains this in her ratings system. I avoid anything that has an unhappy face, as usually that means a product is unsafe, or potentially harmful to sensitive skin. But my night cream which had her neutral face (no smile or frown) is terrific. The one big criticism she had of it, that the pH was too acid, is one reason I really like it.
Her book doesn't replace MUA. Both are valuable. I wouldn't be without her book, and the extra bits that go with it from her site and membership here in MUA.
I recommend getting it on Kindle if you can, smart phones now have free kindle apps, so you can take it with you in your purse, and check her comments when choosing. Just like the MUA app. Saves a lot of trouble and $.