≡ Menu

Are cosmetics from the cosmetics cop really a good choice?

Marchella’s mystery: I love love love this blog! I’ve got a quick question for you guys… I know you seem to respect The Cosmetics Cop’s reviews of products, but what do you actually think of her range? I’ve recently bought one of her toners and antioxidant serums, and I was wondering whether they’re really as full of beneficial ingredients, and as free of irritant ones as she claims. Looking forward to an impartial view!

The Right Brain’s arrested development:

We are big fans of the Cosmetic Cop and, in general, we believe that Paula’s Choice are well-formulated products. One of the brand’s key claims is that it contains fewer irritating ingredients. Is this true? Well, it’s tough to evaluate every ingredient in every product in Paula’s line. But as a faithful readers of The Cosmetics Cop, we know that Paula does a pretty good job of ferreting out the chemicals that are known irritants. For example, let’s take a look at one of her toners compared to Dr. Brandt, a well known prestige brand.

Paula’s Skin Balancing Toner for Normal to Oily Combination skin

Ingredients: Water, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol (water-binding agents), Niacinamide (vitamin B3/cell-communcating ingredient), Adenosine Triphosphate (cell-communicating ingredient/skin conditioning agent), Anthemis Nobilis (Chamomile) Flower Extract (anti-irritant), Arctium Lappa (Burdock) Root Extract (antioxidant), Hydrolyzed Jojoba Esters, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein (skin conditioning agents), Sodium PCA, Panthenol, Sodium Hyaluronate (water-binding agents), Sodium Chondroitin Sulfate (skin conditioning agent), Ceramide 3, Ceramide 6 II, Ceramide 1, Phytosphingosine, Cholesterol (lipid-based water-binding agents), Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (vitamin C/antioxidant), Oleth-10, DEA-Oleth-10 Phosphate, Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate (emulsifiers), Polysorbate-20 (skin conditioning agent), Caprylyl Glycol, Hexylene Glycol (preservatives), Sodium Citrate (pH adjuster), Xanthan Gum (thickener), Trisodium EDTA (chelating agent), Phenoxyethanol (preservative).

Dr. Brandt Poreless Toner for Normal to Oily skin

Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Alcohol, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Extract, Glycerin, Camellia Sinensis Leaf (Green Tea) Extract, Polysorbate 20, Propylene Glycol, Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Extract, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Citric Acid, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Oil, Salicylic Acid, Sodium PCA, Panthenol, Sodium Hydroxide, Sodium Hyaluronate, Diazolidinyl Urea, Tetra Sodium EDTA, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Propylene Glycol.

A pore choice?

Probably the most impactful difference is that Dr. Brandt Poreless Toner is based on alcohol which is drying to skin. (That’s because it rearranges the skin’s surface lipids.) Paula’s toner is based on water and glycol which are much less stripping.

In addition, the Dr. Brandt product extracts like rosemary, lavender, and tea tree oil which are potentially irritating for certain people. Paula’s products deliberately stay away from ingredients like this.

Finally, Dr. Brandt uses a pair of parabens to preserve his product. And while there’s nothing proven wrong with these preservatives some companies have decided to remove them from their formulas to appease consumers. So, Paula uses phenoxyethanol instead. While it’s not as effective at preservation, it does impart a nice rose scent to the product. (For more info see our post on the Perils of Parabens.)

The Beauty brains Bottom line

This was just a quick example of how Paula’s Choice product compare; of course to be a full scientific comparison we’d need to evaluate many more products. But we’re just trying to give you a sense of what to look for.

And remember, less irritating doesn’t necessarily mean her products work any better than other brands. But if you’re looking for a brand products that’s designed to limit irritation we would recommend taking a look at Paula’s Choice.


What do YOU think? Have you tried any of Paula’s Choice products? Did you like them? Did you notice a difference? Leave a comment and share your thoughts with the rest of the Beauty Brains community.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Suzie September 27, 2015, 9:28 pm

    I have recently purchased several of her products for oily skin. It’s been about a week now and I can honestly say I have really noticed a difference in my skin. Pores are less visible, skin is smoother, and less oily. I love it so far!

  • Woman-B.Com December 26, 2016, 4:59 am

    The retail portion of your appointment is a major way salons and spas make money. Most aestheticians and support staff are expected to make monthly sales goals, so you can expect a fair amount of pressure to buy products. Although you may be tempted, more often than not the products are absurdly expensive, with equally absurd claims. It is also shocking how many spa products are packaged in jars, when so much research is available proving that many of the key anti-aging ingredients will not remain stable in this kind of packaging.