Paula's Choice Nightly Reconditioning Moisturizer review

Can a moisturiser fight pollution? If it contains enough of the right antioxidants, yes. They neutralise the harmful effects of pollution, keeping your skin supple and younger-looking for that little bit longer.

Paula’s Choice Nightly Reconditioning Moisturizer is loaded with antioxidants, but this time the brand took a different approach. Instead of the tried and tested Vitamin C & co we all know work wonders, Paula’s Choice has decided to include superfoods with antioxidant properties.

Can they do the antioxidant job and fight pollution – and the premature formation of wrinkles that eventually causes? Or is this just a marketing gimmick that sounds good on paper but doesn’t work on real skin? I’ve put this moisturiser to the test to find out:

About The Brand: Paula’s Choice

Paula’s Choice was created by Paula Begoun, a makeup artist fired from her cosmetic counter job for telling her customers the truth about what cosmetics can and can’t do. Paula carried that philosophy into her skincare products, creating formulations that were solidly based on science, not hype. She’s also one of the few people to add wrinkle-preventing antioxidants to all her products.

For years, Paula’s Choice has been my go-to skincare brands. I could rely whatever I picked from the shelf to work and do what it said on the tin. Since the brand has been sold and Paula has completely left the building, things are changing. The new formulations are more gimmicky, based more on the latest trends than solid science. Still, a lot of their products are still top notch. Is this moisturiser one of them?

What’s In Paula’s Choice Nightly Reconditioning Moisturizer?

SODIUM HYALURONATE TO HYDRATE SKIN

Sodium Hyaluronate is a form of Hyaluronic Acid. Hyaluronic Acid is a moisture magnet: it attracts moisture from the environment into the skin, helping to keep it hydrated for longer. It’s so powerful, it can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water!

All that moisture makes skin plumper, softer and brighter. (Moisture is the secret behind Korean skincare, remember?)

Related: The Complete Guide To Hyaluronic Acid In Skincare

ANTIOXIDANTS TO PREVENT PREMATURE AGING

Ever heard of free radicals? They’re little molecules generated by UV rays, pollution, and other skin enemies to cause wrinkles and dark spots.

The best way to counterattack? Antioxidants. They’re your skin police, patrolling your body for free radicals to destroy. The more antioxidants your skin has, the better.

Paula’s Choice Nightly Reconditioning Moisturizer contains its fair share of antioxidants to fight free radicals and slow down aging.

I was a bit surprised to discover the most tried and tested antioxidants, like Vitamin C and green tea, aren’t here. Instead, Paula’s Choice has replaced them with “superfoods”, like wild cherry and arugula.

Do they work? Just because something works when you eat it, it doesn’t mean it works when you apply it on your skin. I’m sure they do something, but there’s hardly any research on their use on skin.

For this reason, superfoods in skincare are still more hype than science. The brand has plenty of other moisturisers with more researched (and proven-to-work) antioxidants. I’ll stick to those for now.

Related: The Most Common Antioxidants In Skincare: Which Ones Are Best?


Struggling to put together a skincare routine that minimises wrinkles, prevents premature aging, and gives your complexion a youthful glow? Download your FREE “Best Anti-Aging Skincare Routine” to get started (it features product recommendations + right application order):


The Rest Of The Formula & Ingredients

  • Water⁠: The base of this (and most) skincare products.
  • Glycerin⁠: A powerful humectant that draws moisture from the air into the skin, helping to keep it hydrated and supple for longer.
  • Ethylhexyl Palmitate⁠: Used as an alternative to silicones, it makes skin softer and smoother and prevents water loss in the upper layers of your skin.
  • Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer⁠: It helps create a smooth, pleasant texture and keeps the formula stable.
  • Isoamyl Laurate⁠: It gives the formula a velvety-feel and makes it easier to spread onto your skin.
  • Prunus Serotina (Wild Cherry) Fruit Extract⁠: A source of polyphenols, powerful antioxidants that fight the free radicals that give you premature aging.
  • Almond/Borage/Linseed/Olive Acids Glycerides⁠: A mixture of the fatty acid and triglyceride components of almond, borage, linseed, and olive oils. They make skin softer and smoother.
  • Medicago Sativa⁠: An antioxidant that prevents premature wrinkles.
  • Sesamum Indicum⁠: A rich source of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that make skin softer and smoother. It also contains antioxidant vitamin E.
  • Hydrolyzed Eruca Sativa (Arugula) Leaf⁠: Another source of antioxidants that help fight premature aging.
  • Sclerocarya Birrea⁠: A source of moisturising fatty acids, it makes skin softer and smoother.
  • Hydrolyzed Algae Extract⁠: Derived from algae, it has powerful moisturising properties that help skin retain moisture and be softer and smoother.
  • Palmitoyl Hexapeptide-12⁠: A synthetic peptide that matches a sequence of amino acids found in skin. This means skin can recognise it and acts as if you gave it those amino acids, resulting in smoother skin. The catch? There’s not much independent proof that peptides in skincare work. Most of the studies come from the manufacturers, so take them with a pinch of salt.
  • Palmitoyl Dipeptide-10⁠: A synthetic peptide with a fat component that allows it to better penetrate skin. Once inside, it acts as an antioxidant to neutralize collagen-degrading enzymes. Again, most of the proof it works comes from the manufacturer.
  • Ceramide NG⁠: Ceramides are the building blocks of your skin. They strengthen your skin’s protective barrier, helping it to withstand attacks from pollutants and irritants, as well as to retain moisture from a smoother, younger-looking appearance.
  • Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil: A non-fragrant plant oil with moisturising and soothing properties. It makes your skin softer and smoother and reduces redness and irritations.
  • Cocoyl Proline⁠: A blend of coconut oil and amino acid proline, it makes skin softer.
  • Alpha-Tocopherol⁠: A form of Vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that fights the free radicals that give you premature aging. Plus, it makes skin softer.
  • Allantoin: A plant extract that can also be made synthetically in a lab, it has powerful anti-inflammatory properties that reduce redness and irritations. It’s one of the best soothers for sensitive skin.
  • Trehalose⁠: A type of sugar that boosts skin’s hydration, making it softer and suppler.
  • Eclipta Prostrata Extract⁠: A Korea-native plant, it has antioxidant and soothing properties that help your skin stay younger for longer.
  • Potassium Azeloyl Diglycinate⁠: A derivative of azelaic acid, this multitasker fades away dark spots, hydrates skin, soothes irritations, and even balances oil production. The jury is still out there on whether it’s as effective as azelaic acid. Plus, in the small concentration used here, it’s unlikely to do anything for dark spots.
  • Optunia Ficus-Indica Stem Extract⁠: An antioxidant with skin-soothing properties. It fights premature wrinkles and reduces redness and irritations.
  • Melia Azadirachta Leaf Extract⁠: Derived from the neem plant, it has powerful antioxidant properties that help you fight premature wrinkles.
  • Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate⁠: A preservative created by fermenting radish roots. It helps the moisturiser last longer.
  • Moringa Oleifera Seed Oil: A moisturising oil also rich in antioxidants that fights premature wrinkles.
  • Alaria Esculenta Extract⁠: A type of brown algae rich in moisturising fatty acids and antioxidants. It makes skin softer and smoother and helps keep premature wrinkles at bay.
  • Adenosine Phosphate⁠: Also known as AMP, it soothes irritations and redness.
  • PEG-10 Phytosterol⁠: It enhances the texture of the moisturiser, making it more pleasant to use.
  • Tribehenin⁠: It makes skin softer and smoother.
  • Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein⁠: It makes skin softer and smoother, too.
  • Sorbitan Olivate⁠: A mixture of fatty acids derived from olive oil and the sugar sorbitol, it keeps the oily and watery parts of a formula from separating.
  • Sodium Gluconate⁠: It binds to the metal ions in the water that could spoil the formula, neutralise this, so the product lasts longer.
  • Zinc Gluconate⁠: It’s a preservative that helps your product be safe and effective for longer.
  • Copper Gluconate⁠: It helps transport water and other substances within skin. Not much proof it works when applied topically.
  • Magnesium Aspartate⁠: It hydrates skin and makes it softer.
  • Cetearyl Olivate⁠: It enhances the texture of the moisturiser, so it’s pleasant to use.
  • Isoamyl Cocoate⁠: It’s an emollient that makes skin softer and smoother.
  • Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride⁠: A source of fatty acids that moisturise skin, strengthen the skin’s protective barrier and make skin softer and smoother.
  • Polyglyceryl-10 Caprylate/Caprate⁠: It keeps the watery and oily parts of a product from separating.
  • Microcrystalline Wax⁠: It’s a thickener that gives products a smooth texture.
  • C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate⁠: It has moisturising properties, but it’s used here mostly to enhance the texture of a product.
  • Xanthan Gum⁠: It makes the texture thicker and more pleasant to use.
  • Pentylene Glycol⁠: It hydrates skin and enhances the texture of the moisturiser.
  • Butylene Glycol⁠: It hydrates skin and creates a more pleasant texture.
  • Sodium Citrate⁠: It adjusts the pH and acts as a preservative to help the formula be safe for longer.
  • Phenoxyethanol⁠: A preservative that kills a wide range of bacteria, keeping your moisturiser safe to use for longer.
  • Potassium Sorbate⁠: A weak preservative. It must be used together with other preservatives to provide adequate protection from germs and bacteria.
  • Ethylhexylglycerin⁠: Another preservative that also has hydrating properties.

Texture

This moisturiser has a lightweight texture that spreads easily and sinks in quickly without leaving a greasy residue behind. It feels lovely on the skin, although it may not be rich enough for dry skin.

Fragrance

Like all Paula’s Choice products, it’s fragrance-free. I know some of you like a moisturiser that smells like a bouquet of roses or salty ocean waves. But, fragrance is the most irritating ingredient you’ll find in skincare. So I don’t mind the trade-off. If I have to choose between a boring smell (cos you’ll still be smelling the ingredients, they have an odour!) or an irrigation, I’ll pick the former. Wouldn’t you?

How Do You Use Paula’s Choice Nightly Reconditioning Moisturizer?

This moisturiser is the last step of your evening skincare routine. You can also use it in the AM, in between serum and sunscreen – especially if your skin is on the dry side and needs all the moisture it can get.

Packaging

A sleek, coral, opaque tube that keeps the antioxidants inside safe from the light and air that would otherwise make them go bad faster. I love the colour of the tube, it’s quite unusual and a bright addiction to my vanity cabinet. Plus, it’s very practical to use.

P.S. I have the travel size version.

Performance & Personal Opinion

Paula’s Choice Defense Nightly Reconditioning Moisturizer is a pleasure to use: the lightweight texture sinks in so quickly without leaving a shiny or greasy finish behind.

It also works really well under makeup. There’s no pilling or other unpleasant surprises with it. And no breakouts, either. Phew!

It’s just not moisturising enough for most people. My oilier t-zone likes it just fine, especially in the hotter summer days. The drier part of my face need a bit more moisture than this can provide. Bummer!

But, how well does it fight pollution? Hard to tell. Antioxidants are preventative, so you won’t see results for years. But I’m relying more on my morning Vitamin C serum for that. Unlike superfoods, that’s proven to work.

Paula's Choice Defense Nightly Reconditioning Moisturizer

How Does Paula’s Choice Nightly Reconditioning Moisturizer Compare To The Other Paula’s Choice Moisturisers?

Paula’s Choice has something crazy like 20+ moisturisers. Confused much? I’ll just compare Paula’s Choice Nightly Reconditioning Moisturizer to the other moisturisers that, like this one, claim to be suitable for all skin types, so you can make the smartest skincare decision for YOUR skin:

  • Paula’s Choice C5 Super Boost Moisturiser ($45.50): It pains me to say this because I love this brand so much, but I DON’T recommend this. It’s one of those new additions to the brand that’s more marketing gimmick than solid science. This Vitamin C moisturiser only contain 5% Vitamin C- and that’s made up of two derivatives that don’t work as well as the pure form of Vitamin C (L-Ascorbic Acid). It has a lovely texture that makes skin softer and smoother, but you’re not getting much in the anti-aging department (and you should, at this price point).
  • Paula’s Choice Clear Oil-Free Moisturiser ($29.00): Formulated specifically for acne-prone skin, it uses ceramides, niacinamide, and Hyaluronic Acid to deeply hydrate skin without adding more oil to it. It also has a sprinkle of antioxidants to help you fight premature aging. Available at Cult Beauty, Nordstrom, Paula’s Choice and Sephora.
  • Paula’s Choice Clinical Ceramide-Enriched Firming Moisturizer ($63.00): A moisturiser with a medium 0.1% concentration of retinol to boost collagen and reduce wrinkles. Retinol can be irritating, so I recommend you use this only every other night. It’s also loaded with antioxidants to prevent wrinkles and ceramides to strengthen the skin’s protective barrier and keeps skin softer and smoother. I recommend this who want their retinol fix in a moisturiser, so they can simplify their skincare routine. Available at Cult Beauty, Dermstore, Net-A-Porter, and Paula’s Choice.
  • Paula’s Choice Clear Ultra-Light Daily Hydrating Fluid SPF 30+ ($37.00): An antioxidants-rich formula to prevent the premature signs of aging. It’s enriched with UV filters, but if you want effective sun protection from this, you need to apply it generously as if it were a sunscreen. The texture’s lightweight, so I’d recommend it to normal, oily and/or acne-prone skin only. Available at Cult Beauty, Paula’s Choice and Sephora.
  • Paula’s Choice Defense Essential Glow Moisturiser SPF 30 ($33.00): An illuminating moisturiser loaded with antioxidants to keep premature wrinkles at bay. It provides adequate sun protection, as long as you apply it as generously as you would a sunscreen. The tint is enough to counteract the white cast from UV filters, but not to even out the skin tone. It’s best suitable for combination and dry skin, although everyone can use it. Available at Cult Beauty, Dermstore, Nordstrom, and Paula’s Choice.
  • Paula’s Choice Earth Sourced Antioxidant Enriched Natural Moisturizer ($33.00): A 98% all-natural formula made up of natural oils to deeply moisturise skin and antioxidants to fight premature aging. Due to the higher oil content, I recommend it only to dry skin. For oily skin, it may be comedogenic. Available at Paula’s Choice.
  • Paula’s Choice Water-Infusing Electrolyte Moisturizer ($37.00): This moisturiser contains ceramides to strengthens the skin’s barrier against environmental aggressors, humectants like glycerin to draw water from the air into your skin and keep it hydrated, and antioxidants to fight premature aging. Its lightweight, weightless texture makes it more suitable for oily and acne-prone skin. Available at Cult Beauty, Dermstore and Paula’s Choice.

What I Like About Paula’s Choice Nightly Reconditioning Moisturizer

  • Lightweight, fast-absorbing texture
  • Fragrance-free.
  • It works well under makeup.
  • No pilling.
  • Moisturising enough for oily and normal skin.
  • Beautiful and practical packaging.

What I DON’T Like About Paula’s Choice Nightly Reconditioning Moisturizer

  • Not moisturising enough for most skin types.
  • The superfood antioxidants it uses haven’t been studied for skin extensively yet, so I have some reservation about their effectiveness.

Who Should Use This?

Paula’s Choice says everyone can use this moisturiser and, technically, you can. That doesn’t mean you should. You should only use what gives you best results. This moisturiser is more suitable for normal to oily skin. Dry skin won’t find it moisturising enough.

Does Paula’s Choice Nightly Reconditioning Moisturizer Live Up To Its Claims?

CLAIMTRUE?
Protect skin against environmental aggressors.True.
Flaxseed, wild cherry and other superfoods that nourish skin.In theory yes. In practice, we don’t have much research on how they help skin. This is why the brand uses the word “nourish,” a catch-all term that means nothing.
Sheer, super-light texture.True.
Eight superfoods plus antioxidants strengthen your skin’s environmental defenses while hydrating, softening and clarifying overnight.Mostly true. This cream can strengthen your skin’s protective barrier and help protect your skin from pollution. Clarifying is a term that means nothing in skincare.

Is Paula’s Choice Nightly Reconditioning Moisturizer Cruelty-Free?

Yes, this moisturiser is cruelty-free. Paula’s Choice doesn’t test on animals and doesn’t outsource the process to third parties either.

Price & Availability

$29.00/£28.00 at Dermstore, Nordstrom, and Paula’s Choice

The Verdict: Should You Buy It?

It’s not a must-have. It’s a nice moisturiser, but there’s nothing special about it and I’m not convinced superfoods are better than Vitamin C & Co. But if you have combination or normal skin, you’ll like it.

Dupes & Alternatives

  • Youth To The People Superfood Air-Whip Moisture Cream ($48.00): It uses a mix of superfoods and traditional antioxidants like Vitamin C to prevent premature wrinkles. The addition of sunflower oil makes skin soft and protects it from environmental damage. Unfortunately, the jar packaging can spoil the antioxidants – they lose a bit of their effectiveness when exposed to light and air. Just be quick when you use it! Available at Cult Beauty and Sephora.

Ingredients

Water⁠, Glycerin⁠, Ethylhexyl Palmitate⁠, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer⁠, Isoamyl Laurate⁠, Prunus Serotina (Wild Cherry) Fruit Extract⁠, Almond/Borage/Linseed/Olive Acids Glycerides⁠, Medicago Sativa⁠, Sesamum Indicum⁠, Hydrolyzed Eruca Sativa (Arugula) Leaf⁠, Sclerocarya Birrea⁠, Hydrolyzed Algae Extract⁠, Palmitoyl Hexapeptide-12⁠, Palmitoyl Dipeptide-10⁠, Sodium Hyaluronate⁠, Ceramide NG⁠, Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil⁠, Cocoyl Proline⁠, Alpha-Tocopherol⁠, Allantoin⁠, Trehalose⁠, Eclipta Prostrata Extract⁠, Potassium Azeloyl Diglycinate⁠, Optunia Ficus-Indica Stem Extract⁠, Melia Azadirachta Leaf Extract⁠, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate⁠, Moringa Oleifera Seed Oil⁠, Alaria Esculenta Extract⁠, Adenosine Phosphate⁠, PEG-10 Phytosterol⁠, Tribehenin⁠, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein⁠, Sorbitan Olivate⁠, Sodium Gluconate⁠, Zinc Gluconate⁠, Copper Gluconate⁠, Magnesium Aspartate⁠, Cetearyl Olivate⁠, Isoamyl Cocoate⁠, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride⁠, Polyglyceryl-10 Caprylate/Caprate⁠, Microcrystalline Wax⁠, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate⁠, Xanthan Gum⁠, Pentylene Glycol⁠, Butylene Glycol⁠, Sodium Citrate⁠, Phenoxyethanol⁠, Potassium Sorbate⁠, Ethylhexylglycerin⁠