Paula’s Picks for Acne Products

If you read all the articles on this site, you’ll notice we have a lot of nice things to say about the eminent American cosmetics expert Paula Begoun. As a child in suburban Chicago, Ms. Begoun suffered from both acne and eczema. Her parents took her to dermatologists, but nothing worked for very long. After studying biology at Northern Illinois University and daring to take a job as a professional makeup artist, however, Paula Begoun found the answers to her own skin care problems and began to help others with theirs. After the success of her first book, Blue Eyeliner Should Be Illegal, Begoun developed a national and international reputation as the Cosmetics Cop, an expert in all things related to cosmetic skin care.

Paula Begoun makes a line of cosmetics and skin care products marketed under the tradename Paula’s Choice. Every product in the line is free of allergens, irritants, fragrances, and artificial colors. Paula’s choice is sold online and in stores in nearly 50 countries, earning a worldwide reputation for making safe products that work.

Does it sound like we like Paula? We do. And we recommend any of her products for acne. Here are a few of the Paula’s Choice CLEAR products for acne we especially like.

CLEAR Acne Fighting Treatment with 2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide is an especially gentle formula of benzoyl peroxide that is safe and effective for all but the very most sensitive skin. A 10% benzoyl peroxide product will knock out acne infections literally overnight, but it’s almost guaranteed that 10% benzoyl peroxide will cause redness, drying, peeling, burning, itching, and irritation. Most people can only use 10% benzoyl peroxide directly on pimples.

Doctors often prescribe 5 to 6% benzoyl peroxide lotions for mild to moderate acne, but they tend also to be excessively irritating. About 3/4 of people who are prescribed any 5% benzoyl peroxide product have to stop using it because the side effects are just too uncomfortable.

A 2.5% benzoyl peroxide formula kills acne bacteria in 48 hours instead of 24 hours but usually does not cause any irritation. And this CLEAR product is an especially smart formulation that includes ingredients such as ethoxydiglycol to help the lotion stick to your face and butylene glycol to help it cover every pore.

For just $1 more you can buy CLEAR Extra Strength Acne Fighting Treatment with 5% Benzoyl Peroxide. Frankly, we didn’t really think that it would be possible to make a 5% benzoyl peroxide lotion that not only didn’t cause irritation but actually relieved it. Feeling, however, is believing. This is the only 5% benzoyl peroxide formula we know about that contains soothing allantoin to stop redness and peeling and hydroxycellulose to give the lotion a creamy feel. Paula’s Choice is also one of the very few brands that considers pH in making benzoyl peroxide. This product contains ingredients that keep it at the right pH to slow down the growth of acne bacteria while benzoyl peroxide begins to do its work.

CLEAR Extra Strength Targeted Acne Relief Exfoliating Toner with 2% Salicylic Acid contains the optimum amount of salicylic acid to break up stubborn blackheads and whiteheads. Unlike so many other salicylic acid products, Extra Strength Targeted Acne Relief Exfoliating Toner with 2% Salicylic Acid has the right amount of salicylic acid at the right pH. If salicylic acid does not have an acid pH, ti can’t lift and separate dead skin cells to accomplish exfoliation. But if salicylic acid is at a pH that is too low, there can be tingling and burning and worse reactions on the skin. This Paula’s Choice product has the optimum pH of 3.2 to 3.6 that helps work with maximum effectiveness and minimal discomfort.

We’re also impressed with CLEAR Normalizing Cleanser Pore Clarifying Gel. This product is an excellent cleanser for acne-affected skin. It contains triclosan to fight all kinds of skin-infecting bacteria, and vitamin B5 to rejuvenate the skin. The combination of disodium EDTA and glycerin helps the cleanser cover the skin with the ability to dissolve hardened skin oils and “glue” between dead skin cells. It’s light but it’s effective and there is nothing in the formula to irritate the skin.

Even if you don’t have acne, we also recommend one more Paula’s Choice product, RESIST Anti-Aging Clear Skin Hydrator. It’s the perfect moisturizer for people who have combination skin, normal or even oily in the T-zone across the forehead and over the nose, but dry on the sides of the face and along the jawline. It’s light enough to use underneath makeup and safe for people who sometimes find that moisturizer makes their makeup clump.

Paula’s Choice isn’t available from the bargain basement, but the products are not pricey, either. The benzoyl peroxide products retail for $16.95 to $17.95 and the salicylic acid product is $18.95. The cleanser is just $10.95 and RESIST Anti-Aging Clear Skin Hydrator sells for $22.95.

Since we like Paula’s Choice so much—and we really do—what about the Exposed Skin Care acne care systems we talk about so much? Product lines like Paula’s Choice are great if you have acne that is nearly under control. Maybe you just need to make sure that acne infections don’t come back. You can use benzoyl peroxide. Or maybe you just need a good cleanser. Paula’s Choice is a great choice for a clarifying gel. Or maybe you just need a moisturizer for winter or summer dryness. For single-purpose products, Paula’s products are among the very best.

If you are just beginning to get acne under control, however, we recommend Exposed Skin Care. The advantage of Exposed Skin Care is that it is a complete acne treatment system at a very reasonable price. You don’t just cleanse your skin or get acne infections under control or treat pigmentation and discoloration and scars. Exposed Skin Care gives you a complete kit of up to 10 products that can fight acne in 10 different ways.

No single product gets rid of more than about 70% of blemishes and no combination of just two products gets rid of more than about 80% of blemishes in a single month. But nearly 98% of Exposed Skin Care users get rid of 96% or more of the acne blemishes in just 30 days. And because Exposed Skin Care also offers a one-year money-back no questions asked guarantee, you have nothing to lose but your acne.

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