all Paula's Choice AHAs exfoliants comparison

It’s time for a Paula’s Choice AHAs exfoliants comparison. Who’s with me?

Like, I’m glad I can have my pick but when I have to pick between 6 glycolic acid exfoliants… it’s too much. I mean, don’t they all do the same thing? What the heck sets each one apart? Or should I just try eenie meenie miney mo and hope for the best?

Fret not, I’m here to help. I’ve put together this quick guide to Paula’s Choice AHAs exfoliants to help you choose the right one for YOUR needs.

But first…

What Are AHAs Exfoliants And Why Should You Use Them?

Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs for short) are a family of exfoliants. Its most famous members are glycolic acid and lactic acid.

These acids work by dissolving the “glue” that holds skin cells together, so they can slough off and reveal the smoother and brighter skin underneath.

Exfoliation isn’t all they do. AHAs also double up as humectants, a fancy way to say they draw moisture from the air into the skin, helping to keep it hydrated.

That’s what makes AHAs the best exfoliants for dry and sun-damaged skin. If you’re oily, sensitive or acne-prone, look elsewhere.

Related: What’s The Best Way To Exfoliate Each Skin Type?

Ready for the Paula’s Choice AHAs exfoliants comparison? Here we go:


Struggling to put together a skincare routine that fights wrinkles and gives your skin a youthful glow? Download your FREE “Best Anti-Aging Skincare Routine” cheat sheet to get started (it features product recommendations + right application order):


Best For Oily And Mature Skin: Paula’s Choice Resist Advanced Smoothing Treatment 10% AHA ($36.00)

What AHAs are here?: Glycolic, lactic, malic and tartaric. Plus, BHA salicylic acid.

What is it good for?: It treats sun damage, brightens skin, and unclogs pores.

What else is in the formula?: Ceramides to strengthen your skin’s protective barrier and antioxidants, like green tea and grape seed extract, to prevent wrinkles.

What’s the texture like?: Lightweight, milky liquid that absorbs quickly into the skin.

Who should use it?: Oily and mature skin types that need to tackle both wrinkles, dark spots, and acne.

Where to buy it: Paula’s Choice

Related: Lactic Vs Glycolic Acid: Which One Should You Choose? 

Best For First Time Acid Users: Paula’s Choice Resist Daily Smoothing Treatment With 5% AHA ($33.00)

What AHAs are here?: Glycolic acid. Plus BHA salicylic acid.

What is it good for?: It treats sun damage, brightens the complexion, and lightly hydrates skin.

What else is in the formula?: Ceramides to strengthen the skin’s protective barrier and antioxidants, like green tea and vitamin E, to help prevent wrinkles.

What’s the texture like?: Lightweight lotion that sinks in quickly into the skin.

Who should use it?: Dry skin who needs the extra hydration and first time glycolic acid users with dry skin who aren’t ready for higher strengths.

Where to buy it: Paula’s Choice and Selfridges

Related: AHAs VS BHA: Which One Should You Use?

Best For Body Care: Paula’s Choice Resist Skin Revealing 10% AHA Body Lotion ($28.00)

What AHAs are here?: Glycolic acid.

What is it good for?: Evens out skin tone, smoothens out dry, rough patches and lightly moisturises skin.

What else is in the formula?: Shea butter to moisturise and antioxidants, like vitamins C and E, to prevent wrinkles.

What’s the texture like?: Light cream.

Who should use it?: Everyone who takes her body care seriously and wants to keep the body smooth and young too.

Where to buy it: Dermstore and Paula’s Choice

Related: Why Shea Butter Is A Godsend For Dry Skin

Best For Combination Skin: Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 8% AHA Gel Exfoliant ($29.00)

What AHAs are here?: Glycolic acid.

What is it good for?: It evens out the skintone and brightens the complexion.

What else is in the formula?: Chamomile and aloe vera to soothe, green tea to prevent wrinkles, and hyaluronic acid to hydrate.

What’s the texture like?: Lightweight gel that sinks in quickly.

Who should use it?: Paula made this for combo and oily skin type. But imo, one of her BHA exfoliants is a much better option for you.

Where to buy it: Dermstore and Paula’s Choice

Related: Why Salicylic Acid Is Key To Spot-Free Skin

Best For Dry Skin: Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 8% AHA Lotion ($29.00)

What AHAs are here?: Glycolic acid.

What is it good for?: It smoothens out your skin’s texture, brightens the complexion, and lightly hydrates skin.

What else is in the formula?: Glycerin to hydrate skin and anti-inflammatory ingredients, like allantoin and bisabobol, to minimise irritation.

What’s the texture like?: Lightly emollient lotion.

Who should use it?: Young, dry skin.

Where to buy it: DermstoreLook Fantastic and Paula’s Choice

Related: How To Care For Dry Skin (+ Skincare Routine Cheatsheet!)

Best For Advanced Acid Users: Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 25% AHA + 2% BHA Exfoliant Peel ($39.00)

What AHAs are here?: Glycolic, lactic, mandelic, tartaric, and malic. Oh, and salicylic acid, too.

What is it good for?: Boosting collagen, fading away dark spots, and refining pores.

What else is in the formula?: Hyaluronic Acid to hydrate skin and skin-soothers to calm down irritations and redness (this exfoliant is pretty harsh).

What’s the texture like?: A liquidy gel.

Who should use it?: Only women who have build tolerance to acids over the years. This stuff is very harsh and it will irritate your skin if it isn’t used to acids.

Where to buy it: Paula’s Choice

Related: Why You Need Hyaluronic Acid, No Matter Your Skin Type

Paula’s Choice AHAs Exfoliants Comparison: A Recap

The Resist line is for dry and mature skin that’s suffered some sun damage. As always, start from the lowest concentration and build your way up. The Skin Perfecting Line is better suited to young women who need to combat dryness and prevent, rather than treat, sun damage. Take your pick! Just avoid the peel, unless you’ve build tolerance to acids over the years.