REVIEW: Paula’s Choice Moisturizers for Dry Skin

We all know Paula Begoun, right? Cosmetic Cop? Beautypedia? The ultimate brand review website, along with an ingredient dictionary with cited studies with each ingredient? Yes, that Paula Begoun.

I was in search of a skincare line that had effective products without potential sensitizing ingredients, and Paula’s Choice fit the bill. I really admire the transparency they have with the ingredients in their products (and listing their primary functions), and cater to all skin types.

I purchased Paula’s Choice Clinical Ultra-Rich Moisturizer and Skin Recovery Daily Lotion SPF 30 in hopes that my dry skin days will come to an end. These moisturizers have been put to use for the past month and I am ready to share with you all!

Paula’s Choice Clinical Ultra-Rich Moisturizer


This luxuriant cream moisturizer relieves dryness with soothing antioxidants and nourishing plant oils to keep skin thoroughly hydrated, soft, and comforted.

  • Plumps the look of dehydrated skin
  • Smooths the appearance of wrinkles
  • Leaves skin feeling remarkably soft and supple
  • Rich, velvety cream texture
  • Use as the last step in your PM skincare routine

Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Butyrospermum Parkii Butter (shea butter/emollient/antioxidant), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (emollient, skin replenishing), Glyceryl Stearate SE (texture-enhancing), Olea Europaea Fruit Oil (olive oil/non-fragrant emollient plant oil/antioxidant), Dimethicone (emollient/hydration), Stearic Acid (texture-enhancing/stabilizer), Glyceryl Stearate (texture-enhancing/stabilizer), Mangifera Indica Seed Butter (mango butter/non-fragrant emollient plant oils/antioxidant), Cetyl Alcohol (stabilizer), Cocos Nucifera Oil (coconut oil/non-fragrant emollient plant oil/antioxidants), Ceramide NP (skin replenishing), Ceramide AP (skin replenishing), Ceramide EOP (skin replenishing), Sphingolipids (skin replenishing), Phospholipids (skin replenishing), Phytosphingosine (skin-soothing/skin-restoring ingredient), Squalene (emollient), Cholesterol (skin replenishing), Tocopherol (vitamin E/antioxidant), Simmondsia Chinensis Butter (jojoba butter/plant-based emollient), Persea Gratissima Oil (avocado oil/non-fragrant emollient plant oils/antioxidants), Glycine Soja Oil (soybean oil/non-fragrant emollient plant oils/antioxidant), Oryza Sativa Bran Oil (rice oil/non-fragrant emollient plant oil/antioxidant), Avena Sativa Kernel Extract (oat extract/skin-soothing), Glycerin (skin replenishing), Panthenol (vitamin B5/skin-soothing), Ascorbyl Palmitate (vitamin C/antioxidant), Beta-Sitosterol (skin replenishing/skin-soothing), Hydrogenated Vegetable Glycerides Citrate (stabilizer), Propylene Glycol (hydration), Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate (stabilizer), Butylene Glycol (hydration), Xanthan Gum (texture-enhancing), Carbomer (texture-enhancing), Disodium EDTA (stabilizer), Ethylhexylglycerin (hydration), Phenoxyethanol (preservative).

Now honestly, what other company lists their ingredients like this! Awesomeness.


I don’t like having expectations for products, but I had a big one for this mositurizer. In a base of shea butter (I’m assuming it’s the base since it’s the 2nd ingredient), filled with emollients and skin-replenishing ingredients such as ceramides, squalene, cholesterol, mango and jojoba butter, coconut oil, olive oil, soybean oil, avocado oil (I think you get the picture)… And to top it off, I saw some Canadians in colder provinces review this moisturizer and claimed it to be their go-to moisturizer for the cold winters, like -20 and below type of winter. I actually thought a miracle would occur upon first application. I was really hoping this would turn into a Holy Grail and the first of many PC products I’d love. Well, let’s just say I fell from that cloud.

The Paula’s Choice Clinical Ultra-Rich Moisturizer is by no means a bad moisturizer. For my skin however, I had to use a LOT to even feel moisturized and have some type of softness on my skin. I’m so surprised, because I thought this would be a “little goes a long way” type of product, and I was actually in fear of congested pores because of how rich this seemed! After waiting a bit I did have quite a moisturized finish on my skin, but there’s something about it where it doesn’t do enough. Also, after using this, I noticed my T-zone darkens and and my complexion becomes quite uneven. This has not happened to my skin in a long time and I noticed it on first use with this product.

My boyfriend mostly uses this one (he has to use a lot as well), and if I do use it, I mix it in with the Ordinary’s Marula Oil, or Cerave’s PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion to feel comfortably moisturized. Nick has more normal skin but prefers richer moisturizers, so he’s been okay with the Clincial Ultra-Rich moisturizer. However, what we both don’t like is how much of the product we have to use to feel adequately moisturized. At the month point, we are almost done the moisturizer. Yes, both of us are using it, but with other moisturizers usually we last a good 2 months and never need to overuse a moisturizer, and I’m using the other one I’m about to mention as well! I was really hoping this would be my go-to moisturizer for the winter, but it seems to work a tad better now that the weather has warmed up. For $31 USD however, I don’t think it’s worth the monthly purchase.

Link: Paula’s Choice Ultra-Rich Moisturizer, $31 USD / 2oz

Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Daily Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30


A mineral-based moisturizer with SPF that protects, softens and reconditions skin by helping maintain skin’s optimal hydration levels and decreasing the risk of early skin aging.

  • Contains a unique complex of anti-aging peptides
  • Skin-recovering ingredients transform dry skin
  • Rich cream formula
  • Use as the last step in your AM skincare routine

Active Ingredients: Titanium Dioxide 3.85%, Zinc Oxide 3.12% (mineral sunscreens).
Other Ingredients: Water (Aqua), C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate (emollient/texture-enhancing), Isononyl Isononanoate (texture-enhancing), Prunus Armeniaca Kernel Oil (apricot oil/non-fragrant oil/emollient), Cyclopentasiloxane (hydration/texture-enhancing), Glyceryl Stearate (emollient/texture-enhancing), PEG-100 Stearate (emollient/texture-enhancing), Butylene Glycol (hydration), Pentylene Glycol (hydration), Cetearyl Alcohol (emollient/texture-enhancing), Dimethicone (hydration), Glycine Soja Sterols (emollient), VP/Eicosene Copolymer (texture-enhancing), Avena Sativa Kernel Extract (oat extract/skin-soothing), Glycerin (hydration/skin replenishing), Sodium Hyaluronate (hydration/skin replenishing), Allantoin (skin-soothing) , Tocopheryl Acetate (antioxidant), Hydrogenated Lecithin (skin-restoring), Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (vitamin C/antioxidant), Superoxide Dismutase (antioxidant), Ubiquinone (antioxidant), Ceramide NG (hydration/skin replenishing), Methicone (hydration), Palmitoyl Hexapeptide-12 (skin-restoring), PEG-10 Dimethicone (texture-enhancing), Cucumis Sativus Fruit Extract (cucumber extract/skin-soothing), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (emollient/texture-enhancing), Tribehenin (skin-restoring), PEG-10 Phytosterol (texture-enhancing), Sorbitan Stearate (texture-enhancing), Polyhydroxystearic Acid (texture-enhancing), Alumina (texture-enhancing), Polysorbate 20 (texture-enhancing), Aluminum Stearate (texture-enhancing), Xanthan Gum (texture-enhancing), Caprylyl Glycol (preservative), Disodium EDTA (stabilizer), Ethylhexylglycerin (preservative), Phenoxyethanol (preservative), Chlorphenesin (preservative).


So in the process of desensitizing my skin, I decided to use more mineral SPFs since chemical sunscreens could possibly sensitize skin. My skin does not have any type of reaction to American or Asian chemical sunscreens, I just thought I’d try to cut them out until I can deduce that they haven’t contributed to my skin being further sensitized (update since I wrote this: they don’t sensitize my skin).

I’m surprised that I find the Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Daily Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30 moisturizes better than the Clinical Ultra-Rich moisturizer, for it doesn’t have as many plant oils and ceramides in the ingredients list, and zinc oxide could be a tad drying. What’s also suprising is that for such a low percentage of SPF ingredients, there is definitely a whitecast in this product, and it has an awkward smell of cucumber; I say awkward because it’s not entirely unpleasant, but it sure doesn’t make it a pleasant application experience.

Right now I have fairly neutral, yellow-olive toned skin (mixed genes make Michelle not sure of skin tone and undertone sometimes), and this makes me look ashy unless I use a tiny amount and really take my time blending it in. Also, unless I wear a high coverage foundation, I’ve noticed it my lighter bases seem more ashy. It seems no product with physical SPFs can overcome this (or the ones that I’ve tried so far). Overall this moisturizer seems to protect my skin well, keeps it even tone, moisturized, and very smooth. I mainly use this around my eyes now for SPF protection and in the center of my face, but I follow up with one of my Asian sunscreens to make sure there’s no cast.

Link: Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Daily Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30

Final Thoughts


Meh. These moisturizers were OK, but unfortunately it crushed my excitement trying Paula’s Choice products. I’ll be finishing up the moisturizers since we’re almost done the Clinical Ultra-Rich Moisturizer, and the Skin Recovery Daily Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30 is overall performing well. As for a repurchase, no. I got them with a discount which lowered the price (and as a first purchase, I got free shipping). However, I would not purchase these full price. In my opinion, there are other moisturizers that are more affordable and perform better on my skin (I have been using  a couple of Cerave moisturizers, and they’re SO GOOD!)

As for recommending it to you, the reader… erhm… Read the reviews. Lot’s of conflicting opinions with PC products so I’d say look at ALL the moisturizers, their ingredients, and use your best judgement.

I still am open to trying out more Paula’s Choice products in the future, so I’d love to hear your thoughts on your favourite PC products that have way better performance and value!

xo, M

One thought on “REVIEW: Paula’s Choice Moisturizers for Dry Skin

  1. […] Paula’s Choice Clinical Ultra-Rich Moisturizer – This was okay. When I first started using this, I felt like it was actually DRYING out my skin, and made the center of my face very discoloured. Now that the weather is a bit better and I have a different approach to my skincare routine, it’s doesn’t seem to do that anymore. I’m not saying this moisturizer is bad, I just think I’ve tried better moisturizers. REVIEW: Paula’s Choice Moisturizers for Dry Skin […]

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