guide to paula's choice skin-brightening products

What’s the best Paula’s Choice Skin-Brightening product?

The brand has a dozen serums, essences and boosters all promising to even out your skin tone, brighten your complexion and fade away dark spots once and for all.

But not all are created equal. Some can make your skin glow, but are powerless against dark spots. Some are more suitable for oily skin while others work better on dry skin. And some are so harsh, they may give you a serious case of irritation – at least, until your skin has gotten used to them.

How do you make sense of it all? Here’s the complete guide to Paula’s Choice skin-brightening products to help you choose the right treatment for your skin type and needs:

Paula’s Choice C15 Super Booster ($49.00)

What it is: A concentrated Vitamin C booster you can also alone or mix with your fave moisturiser.

Active Ingredients: 15% L-Ascorbic Acid (the pure form of Vitamin C), a powerful antioxidant that fights free radicals, boosts collagen and brightens the complexion. Vitamin E and ferulic acid help it last longer and enhance the sun protection of your sunscreen. Plus, the booster is loaded with soothing ingredients to reduce redness and irritation.

Best for: Anyone who’s serious about anti-aging or has dull skin. It also helps fade away dark spots, but may not be strong enough on its own to get rid of them completely.

When to use it: You can start using it in your early 20s to prevent premature aging and make your skin glow. Use it in the morning to boost the effectiveness of your sunscreen.

Side effects: High concentrations of Vitamin C can irritate sensitive skin. If that’s you, start with a lower dose a couple of times a week and upgrade slowly.

Available at: Nordstrom and Paula’s Choice

Related: Paula’s Choice C15 Super Booster VS Skinceuticals CE Ferulic: Which One Is Better?

Paula’s Choice C25 Super Booster ($55.00)

What it is: A highly concentrated Vitamin C booster you can use alone or mix with your fave moisturiser.

Active Ingredients: 25% L-Ascorbic Acid (the pure form of Vitamin C), a powerful antioxidant that fights free radicals, boosts collagen and brightens the complexion.

Best for: Stubborn dark spots.

When to use it: At night, as the last step of your skincare routine.

Side effects: 25% Vitamin C can be very irritating. Do NOT use this if you have sensitive skin.

Available at: Dermstore and Paula’s Choice

Related: The Complete Guide To Vitamin C In Skincare: What It Is, What It Does & How To Use It

Paula’s Choice Resist Pure Radiance Skin Brightening Treatment ($36.00)

What it is: A brightening treatment that hydrates skin, soothes irritations and makes skin glow.

Active Ingredients: A blend of niacinamide and Vitamin C to brighten skin and make it glow. Plus, plenty of hydrating and soothing ingredients to moisturise skin and calm down redness + irritations.

Best for: Dull skin. This’ll make it glow but it won’t fade dark spots.

When to use it: Morning and night.

Side effects: None, unless you’re allergic to one of the ingredients.

Available at: Dermstore, Look Fantastic and Paula’s Choice

Related: 9 Soothing Ingredients That Calm Down Irritated Skin

Paula’s Choice 10% Niacinamide Booster ($44.00)

What it is: A niacinamide booster for all skin types. You can use it alone or mix it with your fave moisturiser.

Active Ingredients: Niacinamide, a form of Vitamin B3, that can do everything. Studies show it hydrates skin, fights wrinkles, treats acne, soothes skin, shrinks pores and fades away dark spots. It also has Vitamin C and liquorice extract to help reduce dark spots and plenty of antioxidants to slow down premature aging.

Best for: Anyone can benefit from using it, but it’s especially good for:

  • Hyperpigmentation: It’s one of the gentlest treatments for dark spots and your first line of defence against them.
  • Mature skin: It helps keep premature wrinkles and dark spots away.
  • Oily skin: It makes your pores invisible!
  • Sensitive skin: It’s a great alternative to harsher anti-aging products (like retinol) your skin can tolerate.

When to use it: You can use either in the morning or night. If you’re trying to fade away dark spots, use it twice a day.

Side effects: None, unless you’re allergic to one of the ingredients.

Available at: DermstoreNordstromPaula’s Choice and Selfridges

Related: Paula’s Choice 10% Niacinamide Booster Full Review

Paula’s Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment ($58.00)

What it is: A powerful retinol treatment with a time-released delivery system (it releases retinol over a period of several hours) to make it gentler on the skin.

Active Ingredients: 1% retinol, a form of Vitamin A that boosts collagen, fights wrinkles and fades away dark spots. It’s also loaded with skin-soothing ingredients to minimise the risk of irritation.

Best for: Mature skin who’s used retinol for years and is ready to upgrade to 1%.

When to use it: At night, as close to freshly-cleansed skin as possible.

Side effects: Paula’s Choice has formulated this treatment to be as gentle as possible. But 1% is still a high dose of retinol that can cause redness, irritation and flaking. Start with lower concentrations and build up to 1% slowly. Retinol can also cause purging.

Available at: DermstorePaula’s Choice and Selfridges

Related: The Complete Guide To Retinol: What It Is, What It Does & How To Do It

Paula’s Choice 1% Retinol Booster ($52.00)

What it is: A 1% retinol booster with a time-released delivery system you can use alone or mix with your fave moisturizer.

Active Ingredients: 1% retinol, a form of Vitamin A that boosts collagen, fights wrinkles and fades away dark spots. Plus, it’s loaded with hydrating and soothing ingredients to moisturise skin and soothe irritations.

Best for: Mature, dry or dehydrated, skin who’s used retinol for years and is ready to upgrade to 1%.

When to use it: At night.

Side effects: 1% retinol can cause redness, irritation and flaking. Start with lower concentrations and build up to 1% slowly. Retinol can also cause purging.

Available at: Dermstore and Paula’s Choice

Related: The Complete Guide To Skincare Boosters: What They Are, What They Do & How To Use Them

Paula’s Choice Clinical Ceramide-Enriched Firming Eye Cream ($48.00)

What it is: An eye cream enriched with Vitamin C and retinol to brighten the eye area.

Active Ingredients: It has 4 forms of Vitamin C + retinol to firm skin, fight wrinkles and fade away dark spots. Plus, lots of ceramides and fatty acids to keep your skin soft and supple even in the harshest of weather.

Best for: No one needs an eye cream. I recommend this only if your skin is drier than the rest of your face. It helps reduce dark circles, but ONLY IF they’re caused by hyperpigmentation.

When to use it: Best used at night.

Side effects: Retinol can cause irritations and dryness when you first start using it. At the beginning, use it once or twice a week and build frequency from there.

Available at: Dermstore, Feel Unique, Net-A-Porter, Nordstrom and Paula’s Choice

Related: Do You Really Need An Eye Cream?

Paula’s Choice Radiance Renewal Mask ($36.00)

What it is: An overnight brightening mask that makes skin glow.

Active Ingredients: Vitamin C, Niacinamide, Arbutin and Bearberry extracts all have skin-brightening properties that can fade away dark spots and give skin a radiant glow.

Best for: Anyone who wants an overnight radiant glow.

When to use it: At night, as the last step of your skincare routine. Do NOT rinse off.

Side effects: None, unless you’re allergic to one of the ingredients.

Available: Dermstore and Paula’s Choice

Related: The Battle Of The Skin-Lighteners: Which One Works Better?

Paula’s Choice 10% Azelaic Acid Booster ($36.00)

What it is: A 10% azelaic acid booster you can use alone or mix with your fave moisturizer.

Active Ingredients: 10% azelaic acid, a skin-brightener that fades away hyperpigmentation, treats acne and soothe irritations. It also has salicylic acid, an exfoliant that unclogs pores and helps treat + prevent breakouts.

Best for: Sensitive, rosacea-prone and acne-prone skin types that need an effective but gentle treatment for dark spots.

When to use it: Either morning or night. If you want to make your dark spots fade away faster, use it twice a day.

Side effects: May cause purging.

Available at: DermstoreNet-A-Porter and Paula’s Choice

Related: Is The Ordinary Azelaic Acid 10% Suspension A Cheaper Dupe For Paula’s Choice 10% Azelaic Acid Booster?

Paula’s Choice Resist Brightening Essence ($42.00)

What it is: A lightweight essence with arbutin that’s suitable for every skin type.

Active Ingredients: Arbutin, an extract derived from bearberry leaves that fades away dark spots and hyperpigmentation. It’s nicknamed “natural hydroquinone” because it has a very similar chemical structure (it turns into hydroquinone in the body). Plus, the essence has Vitamin C, licorice extract, bearberry extract, mulberry extract and Niacinamide, all ingredients that can brighten skin and even out its tone.

Best for: Anyone with dark spots who’s looking for a gentler alternative to hydroquinone.

When to use it: Both morning and night.

Side effects: None, unless you’re allergic to one of the ingredients.

Available at: Dermstore, Feel Unique and Paula’s Choice

Related: 7 Ways To Reduce Hyperpigmentation (That Really Work)

Paula’s Choice Clinical Triple-Action Dark Spot Eraser 2% BHA Gel ($29.00)

What it is: A powerful treatment with hydroquinone and salicylic acid that targets all signs of aging.

Active Ingredients: Hydroquinone is the most effective treatment for fading away all kinds of hyperpigmentation. When all else has failed, this can help. Plus, the treatment has salicylic acid to unclog + shrinks pores and antioxidants to prevent wrinkles.

Best for: Oily skin with hyperpigemtation who’s tried plenty of skin-brightening treatments without seeing results.

When to use it: Morning and night, on dark spots only.

Side effects: Hydroquinone is so harsh on the skin, in some countries it’s available by prescription only. It’s rare, but hydroquinone can cause Ochronosis (a bluish black discoloration of the skin) in darker skin tones.

Available at: Dermstore and Paula’s Choice

Related: Is Hydroquinone Dangerous?

Paula’s Choice Resist Triple-Action Dark Spot Eraser 7% AHA Lotion ($29.00)

What it is: A powerful treatment with hydroquinone and glycolic acid that targets all signs of aging.

Active Ingredients: Hydroquinone is the most effective treatment for fading away all kinds of hyperpigmentation. When all else has failed, this can help. Plus, the lotion uses glycolic acid to exfoliate skin and help fade away dark spots faster. It also has antioxidants to prevent wrinkles.

Best for: Dry skin with hyperpigemtation who’s tried plenty of skin-brightening treatments without seeing results.

When to use it: Morning and night, before moisturiser, on dark spots only.

Side effects: Hydroquinone is so harsh on the skin, in some countries it’s available by prescription only. It’s rare, but hydroquinone can cause Ochronosis (a bluish black discoloration of the skin) in darker skin tones.

Available at: Dermstore and Paula’s Choice

Related: Glycolic Acid VS Salicylic Acid: Which One Should You Use?

What do you think is the best skin-brightening product from Paula’s Choice? Share your fave pick in the comments below.