The Ultimate Guide To Paula’s Choice Vitamin C Products: Which One Is Right For You?

by Gio
guide to paula's choice vitamin c products

Isn’t it annoying when a brand makes more than one vitamin C serum? Like, how the heck are you gonna pick one?!

Paula’s Choice is one of the worst offenders. It has 3 main vitamin C serums for anyone who’s serious about antiaging. But, it also likes to sneak vitamin C derivatives pretty much everywhere else.

Are you getting a headache, too? Fret not, this quick guide to Paula’s Choice Vitamin C products will help you choose the right one for your skin type and needs:

Pure Vitamin C VS Derivatives: Which One Is Better For You?

Not all forms of Vitamin C are created equal.

Ascorbic Acid is the pure form. It’s the most powerful. It destroys free radicals, boosts collagen production and brightens the skin tone. The catch? It’s highly unstable (goes bad quickly) and irritating. If you’ve got sensitive skin, you may not be able to use it. At least, not in high doses.

Vitamin C derivatives are forms of vitamin C that need to be converted into Ascorbic Acid by the skin. They do everything that Ascorbic Acid do but on a smaller level. They’re less effective but way more stable (so last longer) and less irritating. If you have sensitive skin, a derivative is the best choice for you.

Paula’s Choice uses all kinds of Vitamin C forms in their products. If you can tolerate it, I recommend going for Ascorbic Acid. But if you have sensitive skin or would like a Vitamin C serum that doesn’t go bad within a few short months, a derivative is worth considering, too.

Related: Types Of Vitamin C In Skincare Products

Now that you know the difference, let’s figure out which Paula’s Choice Vitamin C product is right for you:

paula's choice vitamin c products guide

Paula’s Choice C15 Super Booster ($49.00)

What form of vitamin C does it use?: 15% Ascorbic Acid, the pure form of vitamin C.

What else is here?: Vitamin E + Ferulic acid, a combination proven to boost the effectiveness of vitamin C as well as the sun protection of your sunscreen

What’s the texture like?: Lightweight, can easily be used alone or mixed with moisturiser.

Are there any side effects?: Ascorbic Acid has a short shelf life, so use your bottle quickly. It may also irritate sensitive skin.

Who is it best for?: Anyone who’s serious about preventing premature ageing and dull skin.

Where to buy: Feel UniqueNordstrom and Paula’s Choice

Related: Why You Should Add Ferulic Acid To Your Skincare Routine

Paula’s Choice C25 Super Booster ($55.00)

What form of Vitamin C does it use?: 25% Ascorbic Acid, the pure form of Vitamin C.

What else is here?: Not much else. Vitamin C is in a silicone base that releases it slowly into the skin.

What’s the texture like?: Silky and rich, it glides smoothly on the skin.

Are there any side effects?: If you have sensitive skin, avoid this. This much Vitamin C can irritate your skin.

Who is it best for?: Fading away dark spots.

Where to buy: Dermstore and Paula’s Choice

Paula’s Choice Resist Super Antioxidant Serum ($39.00)

What form of Vitamin C does it use?: Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (TA) and Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, two derivatives of vitamin C. TA has the edge here: it’s oil-soluble, so it can penetrate skin better than any other form of vitamin C.

What else is here?: Any antioxidant you can think of (Vitamin E, green tea, superoxide dismutase etc).

What’s the texture like?: Heavy and rich, but not sticky. May feel a little uncomfortable on oily skin.

Are there any side effects?: Derivatives aren’t as effective as Ascorbic Acid. It’ll take longer to see results with this.

Who is it best for?: Sensitive skin who can’t tolerate Ascorbic Acid.

Where to buy: DermstoreFeel Uniqueand Paula’s Choice

Related: Are They Dupes?: Skinceuticals CE Ferulic VS Paula’s Choice Resist Super Antioxidant Serum

paula's choice 10% niacinamide booster 01

Other Paula’s Choice Serums With Vitamin C

The serums/boosters above are the workhorses of the Paula’s Choice’s Vitamin C offering. If you’re serious about antiaging, pick one of them.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t use vitamin C anywhere else in your skincare routine. Plenty of Paula’s Choice serums, masks and moisturisers use Vitamin C derivatives to give your skin that something extra to keep wrinkles and dark spots at bay. Here are the highlights:

  • Paula’s Choice’s 10% Niacinamide Booster ($42.00): Who said you can’t use niacinamide and vitamin C together? This serum pairs niacinamide with ascorbic glucoside (a derivative of vitamin C) to brighten the complexion, fight free radicals and shrink pores. Available at DermstoreNordstromPaula’s Choice and Selfridges.
  • Paula’s Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment ($56.00): A 1% retinol treatment that fights fine lines, wrinkles and dark spots. It also has Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, an oil-soluble vitamin C derivative that penetrates skin better than any other form of vitamin C, and every antioxidant you can think of. But the high concentration of retinol can be irritating for most people. Build your way up to it slowly. Available at DermstoreFeel UniquePaula’s Choice and Selfridges.
  • Paula’s Choice Radiance Renewal Mask ($36.00): An hydrating mask with a few antioxidants thrown in the mix. It uses Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, a derivative of Ascorbic Acid that fights free radicals and boosts collagen. Available at Dermstore and Paula’s Choice.
  • Paula’s Choice Resist Anti-Aging Clear Skin Hydrator ($33.00): A lightweight, anti-aging moisturiser for oily skin. It uses Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, a form of Vitamin C that helps treat acne. Available at Dermstore, Feel Unique and Paula’s Choice.
  • Paula’s Choice Resist Anti-Aging Eye Cream ($34.00): You don’t need an eye cream, but if you’d like to use one, this moisturises and prevents premature wrinkles at the same time. It’s loaded with antioxidants, including Ascorbyl Glucoside, a Vitamin C derivative that fights free radicals and fades away dark spots. Available at Nordstrom and Paula’s Choice.
  • Paula’s Choice Resist Brightening Essence ($42.00): A lightweight essence loaded with skin-brightening ingredients to fade dark spots and discolourations. The Vitamin C derivative here is Ascorbyl Glucoside: it fades away dark spots and brightens a dull complexion. Available at Dermstore andPaula’s Choice.
  • Paula’s Choice Resist Intensive Wrinkle-Repair Retinol Serum ($42.00): An emollient retinol serum with a few anti-inflammatory and antioxidant ingredients thrown in the mix. It uses Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, an oil-soluble form of Vitamin C that penetrates skin easily. Available at  DermstoreFeel UniqueNordstrom and Paula’s Choice.
  • Paula’s Choice Resist Weekly Resurfacing Treatment With 10% AHA ($36.00): A glycolic acid exfoliant with a few antioxidants thrown in for good measure. It uses Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, a derivative of Vitamin C that prevents wrinkles and fights acne. Best suitable for dry skin prone to acne. Available at Feel UniqueLook Fantastic and Paula’s Choice.
  • Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Serum ($34.00): A silicone-based serum loaded with every antioxidant under the sun, including retinol and Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, a fast-absorbing form of Vitamin C. Better suitable for oily skin. Available at DermstoreLook FantasticNordstrom and Paula’s Choice.
  • Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Replenishing Moisturizer ($29.00): An oil-based moisturizer for dry skin that’s loaded with antioxidants, including 3 forms of vitamin C (Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Ascorbyl Palmitate and Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate) to banish dryness and fight wrinkles. Available at Dermstore, Nordstrom and Paula’s Choice.
  • Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Serum ($34.00): A rich serum with retinol and any other antioxidants you can think of, including Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, the fastest-absorbing form of Vitamin C. Best suitable for dry skin. Available at DermstoreLook FantasticNordstrom and Paula’s Choice.

Do you use any Paula’s Choice Vitamin C products? Share your picks in the comments below.

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9 comments

Geo March 27, 2019 - 9:35 pm

I love Paula’s Choice products and have used them for years, including the RESIST C15 Super Booster + RESIST Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum. I just recently started using The Ordinary Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12%. I see more of a difference in clarity and brightness of my skin with the $12.90 product vs. the $49.00 one which is rated much more highly overall. It could be the combination of products I am applying- not sure. But Vitamin C as an antioxidant provides a visible improvement.

Gio March 29, 2019 - 2:21 pm

Geo, it may be your skin is reacting better to Ascorbyl Glucoside than other vitamin C forms. The important thing is that you’ve found something that works well for you.

Cindy March 28, 2019 - 1:50 pm

I’ve been using multiple PC products and recently tried the C15 to replace my Timeless that I had finished.
The product had already yellowed when I first opened it immediately after receiving. Very dissapointed as I’ve been very happy with all my other PC products.

Gio March 29, 2019 - 2:35 pm

Cindy, oh no! unfortunately that can happen with vitamin C serums if they’ve been sitting on the shelf too long. Have you contacted them? maybe they can exchange it?

Eddie August 30, 2019 - 12:16 am

Hi Gio- LOVE your blog. I used Paula’s C15 in the am and SkinCeuticals Retinol 0.5 in the pm for about a year with no problems. I upped my retinol to Paula’s Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment and had a horrible reaction about a month into the new routine. I took one month off from all products (besides Sunscreen!). I reintroduced the Paula’s Clinical 1% Retinol with no problems. But when I added C15 to my morning routine, I had the same horrible reaction. Paula was great and refunded my money on the C15, but now I’m scared to try Vitamin C. It’s been about 9 months since I last used Vit C. Any recommendations?

Gio September 14, 2019 - 5:34 pm

Eddie, I would try a derivative, like Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate. Try to get a sample first if you can, so you can see if your skin reacts to it, as well. If it does, don’t stress it. There are so many other antioxidants you can use instead.

Torrie July 13, 2020 - 7:30 pm

Hi, I discovered your site a couple months ago, as I’ve been adding Paula’s Choice products to my skincare line. {Thank you for all of the information and help!} I have been using Beautycounter, which is just too expensive (without excellent results) to maintain. I just received my 10% Niacinamide Booster, but I am also trying to use up an almost brand new bottle of Beautycounter’s No. 1 Brightening Facial Oil (with Vitamin C, in the form of Tertahexyldecyl Acscorbate (not sure of the percentage of Vitamin C… waiting for a response from the company). Since I plan to use my Niaciniamide Booster in the morning (daily), do you think this would be too much Vitamin C to use both this and the oil (as long as my skin is fine with it of course)?

Gio July 14, 2020 - 10:24 am

Torrie, Beautycounter oil barely contains any Vitamin C at all, so you should be fine using them together.

Torrie July 14, 2020 - 6:12 pm

Thank you! I searched “Beautycounter” on your site, but only found one post… I’m sure there’s a reason for that :).

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