In the realm of straightforward, no-nonsense skin-care, Paula’s Choice reigns supreme. For 26 years, the brand has eschewed trends, turning instead to ingredients that are time-tested, research-backed, and dermatologist-approved. Five products that prove this point, below.
Shop the top picks from Paula's Choice
The ingredient derms love: salicylic acid, a beta-hydroxy acid
Why it gets the green light: BHA, also known as beta hydroxy acid, is a chemical exfoliant that’s lipid-soluble, meaning it can barrel through oily buildup. Additionally, BHAs “have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties,” Dr. Joyce Imahiyerobo-Ip previously told Well+Good, which is why they’re often found in acne products.
This liquid exfoliant is a number one best-seller for Paula’s Choice; in fact, it’s among the most popular BHA products on the market. Simply apply to a cotton ball, sweep over congested areas, and allow the oil-dissolving magic to ensue. Ideal for treating oily T-zones and sebaceous filaments.
The ingredient derms love: niacinamide
Why it gets the greenlight: A form of topical B3, niacinamide is perhaps the buzziest B vitamin in the skin-care universe—and for good reason. Many reasons, in fact. “It helps brighten the complexion and lighten dark spots,” Dr. Zeichner previously told Well+Good. (Psst, check out how this derm uses niacinamide in his hyperpigmentation “Big Three.”) Additionally, niacinamide “helps calm inflammation,” Dr. Zeichner adds, making it a go for sensitive skin types.
This serum-like “booster” allows for a customizable niacinamide experience: simply drop into an existing moisturizer or use alone as a skin-brightening base.
The ingredient(s) derms love: retinol and bakuchiol
Why they get the greenlight: Ask any derm to rank non-negotiable skin-care ingredients, and retinol would be right at the top (neck-in-neck with vitamin C and some form of sunscreen). Why? “Retinol is the best multitasker that exists,” Loretta Ciraldo, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Dr. Loretta Skincare, previously shared. “It’s excellent for acne, for anti-aging, and for pigmentation.”
This particular product contains strong retinol, making it ideal for treating fine lines once they’ve already appeared. (To tap into retinol’s preventative powers, consider using a lower-strength concentration to avoid potential side effects like redness and flaking.)
The ingredient(s) derms love: zinc oxide and resveratrol
Why they get the greenlight: Sunscreen plus antioxidants: a dream duo beloved by every derm in existence. (Slight exaggeration, but we’ve never met one who has said otherwise!). Simply put, these umbrella terms—found here in the form of zinc oxide and resveratrol, respectively—offer unparalleled protection against signs of premature aging. (ICYMI: UV rays and free radicals speed up sunspots, sagging, and other afflictions that make your skin appear older than it is.)
Because this formula’s SPF component is zinc-based, it may warrant extra brownie points from certain skin pros. As per previous insight, zinc oxide’s benefits extend beyond sun protection. Specifically, it can “help treat inflammation,” and calm reactive skin, making it ideal for those with inflammatory skin conditions like acne and rosacea. Worried about a tell-tale zinc oxide white cast? This particular product creates a lightweight physical barrier that, when sheered out, blends seamlessly.
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