paula's choice omega+ complex serum review

The best skincare products are best kept’s secrets. Take Paula’s Choice Omega+ Complex Serum. While everyone’s raving about the brand Vitamin C and retinol boosters, this unassuming little serum creates a flawless, suppler canvas that gives you that radiant, younger-looking glow.

Think of it as the foundation on which to build the rest of your skincare routine. Here’s why this matters: hydration has all the foundation of skincare. When your skin doesn’t have enough, it looks dull, dry, and rough. Adding anti-aging actives at this point is counterproductive: retinol & co will only dry out skin further, making your wrinkles look worse, not better.

But when you nail the foundation and give your skin all the moisture it needs, it naturally looks younger. Now you can build on that foundation through anti-aging actives that help you go the extra mile. Here’s why this booster is my secret weapon to do just that and achieve a flawless complexion even in the coldest winter months:

About The Brand: Paula’s Choice

Paula’s Choice is my fave skincare brand – and it’s been for years. It was founded by Paula Begoun, a makeup artist who was fired from her counter job for telling her customers the truth about what cosmetic products can and can’t do. Now, that’s my kind of girl!

When she started her brand, Paula carried this philosophy with her: each product is packed with science-backed actives that can banish dryness, fight acne, prevent premature aging, and anything else they say on the tin. She always steered away from IT ingredients of the moment that were more hype than science.

Sadly, since she left the brand, that’s changed. The core offering designed by Paula is still top notch and I highly recommend it to anyone who will listen. The new releases are more marketing than science, so be careful and do your research, so you can invest your money in products that really get you the results you’re seeking.

Key Ingredients In Paula’s Choice Omega+ Complex Serum: What Makes It Work?


Omega fatty acids are the workhorses of the skincare world. They rarely get any recognition or praise, but without them, your skin would literally fall apart.

These fatty acids make up the blocks of your skin’s protective barrier. When that’s broken down, your skin gets all dry, flaky, and irritated. Fatty acids patch up any holes in it, nursing skin back to its usual, supple and soft self.

Plus, they deeply moisturise skin, soothe redness and irritations, and heal flaking. In other words, when your skin has all the omega fatty acids it needs, it looks healthier. Suppler. Younger.

Paula’s Choice Omega+ Complex Serum has plenty of fatty acids. The highlights are:

  • Linseed Oil: A rich source of omega-3, -6, and -9 fatty acids, it’s super moisturising and soothing. It helps repair your skin’s protective barrier, makes skin softer and smoother, and helps calm down irritations.
  • Linoleic Acid: An omega-6 fatty acid, it moisturises skin, regulates oil production, and even has anti-inflammatory properties that soothe redness and irritations.
  • Chia Seed Oil: A rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, it strengthens the skin’s protective barrier, relives itching, and even has its fair share of antioxidants to slow down premature aging.

Related: How To Strengthen Your Skin’s Protective Barrier (And Why It Matters)


Ceramides are oily waxes (“cera” means wax in Latin) that make up the glue that holds skin cells together (together with fatty acids, cholesterol etc).

Their job is to strengthen and waterproof the skin’s protective barrier, so that moisture stays in (where it needs to be to hydrate skin!) and germs, pollutants, and other germs stay out (no irritations!).

A stronger protective barrier also helps skin better withstand the attacks of harsh weather, pollutants, and anything else that’s trying to harm it.

Talking about harm… You know when your barrier has broken down. All of a sudden, your skin becomes dry. Red. Flaky, even. Adding ceramides to your skincare routine can prevent this from happening in the first place – or nurse skin back to health if it’s already happened.

Related: Are Ceramides The Key To Healthy Skin?


Hyaluronic Acid is a moisture magnet on steroids. It attracts and binds to the skin up to 1000 times its weight in water!

All that moisture makes your skin super happy: it plumps it up, so fine lines and wrinkles look smaller; it makes it softer to the touch; and it gives it a dewy glow.

P.S. Hyaluronic acid isn’t the only moisture magnet here. Glycerin does the same thing (on a smaller scale).

Related: Why You Need To Add Hyaluronic Acid To Your Skincare Routine

Struggling to put together a skincare routine that banishes dryness and makes your skin supple and dewy? Download your FREE “Best Skincare Routine For Dry Skin” to get started (it features product recommendations + right application order):

The Rest Of The Formula & Ingredients

NOTE: The colours indicate the effectiveness of an ingredient. It is ILLEGAL to put toxic and harmful ingredients in skincare products.

  • Green: It’s effective, proven to work, and helps the product do the best possible job for your skin.
  • Yellow: There’s not much proof it works (at least, yet).
  • Red: What is this doing here?!
  • Water: The base and main solvent in the product.
  • Diheptyl Succinate: A natural alternative to silicones that’s 100% biodegradable. It makes skin softer and smoother.
  • Candelilla/Jojoba/Rice Bran Polyglyceryl-3 Esters: A natural blend of polyglycerin-3, candelilla wax, jojoba seed wax, and rice bran wax, it helps to stabilise the formula, prevent the oily and watery parts from separating, and enhance texture.
  • Linolenic Acid: Omega-3 fatty acid found in flaxseed, canola, and soy oils and walnuts. It strengthens your skin’s protective barrier against the elements and keeps your skin softer and smoother.
  • Passiflora Edulis Seed Oil: Also known as maracuja oil, it’s a rich source of antioxidants like lycopene and Vitamin C that help fight premature aging. It’s also moisturising.
  • Caprooyl Sphingosine: A component of naturally occurring ceramides in skin, it creates a protective barrier that keeps moisture in, giving skin a softer and smoother appearance.
  • Olea Europaea (Olive) Oil Unsaponifiables: An unsaponifiable oil is the portion of a plant oil that is not broken down when the oil’s fatty acids are refined for use in skincare products. It’s an emollient that makes skin softer and smoother.
  • Caprooyl Phytosphingosine: A component of naturally occurring ceramides in skin, it creates a barrier on the skin that prevents moisture loss, helping to keep skin hydrated for longer.
  • Cholesterol: A natural component of your skin’s barrier, it makes up 15% of its fatty acids content. When added it back into your skin, it strengthens this natural barrier, protecting it from environmental aggressors and keeping moisture into your skin for more hydration.
  • Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter: Super moisturising, it’s also rich in antioxidants that prevent premature aging.
  • Tocopherol: A form of Vitamin E, this powerful antioxidant fights the free radicals that cause premature aging. It has moisturising properties to boot.
  • Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer: A multi-tasking synthetic polymer functions as a stabiliser, texture enhancer, dispersing agent, and opacifier.
  • Prunus Domestica Seed Oil: A moisturising plant oil packed with antioxidants to fight the free radicals that give you premature aging.
  • Lauryl Laurate: A wax-like emollient that makes skin softer and smoother. It also adds opacity to a formula.
  • Glyceryl Behenate: It makes skin softer and smoother and keeps the oily and watery parts of a formula blended together nicely.
  • Hydrogenated Lecithin: A phospholipid produced by controlled hydrogenation of lecithin. It’s an emollient that makes skin softer and smoother, helps the oily and watery parts of a formula blend together nicely, and enhances the penetration of active ingredients in the skin.
  • Sodium Phytate: It keeps the metals in the water from binding to the actives ingredients and spoiling them.
  • Trehalose: A moisturising sugar that adds hydration to your skin.
  • Isohexadecane: It enhances the texture and helps dissolve other ingredients in the formula.
  • Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate: It keeps the watery and oily parts of a formula from separating.
  • Capryloyl Glycerin/Sebacic Acid Copolymer: An alternative to silicones, it functions as a film-forming agent and texture enhancer.
  • Xanthan Gum: It thickens the texture of skincare product.
  • Cetyl Alcohol: A good type of alcohol that hydrates skin – yes, really.
  • Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate: A derivative of Vitamin C that’s able to deeply penetrate skin and fight free radicals.
  • Agar: An emollient that makes skin softer and smoother. It also thickens the texture of products.
  • Glyceryl Stearate: It helps the watery and oily parts of a formula to blend together effortlessly.
  • Ceteareth-25: It keeps ingredients soluble within the formula.
  • Cetearyl Alcohol: A hydrating alcohol that makes skin softer and smoother.
  • Behenic Acid: It adds opacity to a formula.
  • Glyceryl Rosinate: An emollient that makes skin softer and smoother.
  • Citric Acid: It adjusts the texture of skincare products.
  • Benzyl Alcohol: It’s a preservative that kills bacteria and germs to keep your product safe.
  • Ethylhexylglycerin: Another preservative that kills bacteria to safeguard your product and keep it safe and effective for longer.


Even though this is called a serum, it doesn’t have the classic texture of a serum. It’s a silky, lightweight lotion. It sinks in quickly into the skin without leaving any tacky residue behind. It’s pleasant to use – I actually love feeling it in between my fingers.


It’s fragrance-free. I like that. I know a lot of you prefer fragranced products (they smell nice, don’t they?), but fragrance is the most irritating ingredient in cosmetics. This is a product designed to repair and strengthen your skin’s protective barrier. When this barrier is compromised, anything you put on your skin can cause a negative reaction. Paula did the right call leaving it out.

How To Use It

In the AM, after your Vitamin C serum and before sunscreen. Unless your skin is very dry, this acts like a light moisturiser, so you can skip a separate face cream. The combination of sunscreen and serum will be enough for most people.

In the PM, apply it right before moisturiser. Unlike anti-aging products, a hydrating serum like this can be used both day and night without hurting your skin.


The serum comes in a light blue tube with a pump applicator that dispenses just the right amount of product you need. It looks pretty and is practical to use. I like that, don’t you?

Performance & Personal Opinion

Paula’s Choice Omega+ Complex Serum is a godsend for dry skin. Dehydrated skin. Sensitive skin. Any time your skin needs some TLC, basically.

I use it every night right before moisturiser and, when I wake up in the morning, my skin just looks better. The first thing I noticed was the smoothness. OMG, it makes my skin so baby soft, I can hardly stop touching my face.

It’s plumper, as well. The fine lines around my eyes look considerably smaller to the naked eye. And the radiance. It gives me a subtle glow that screams healthy.

This is the power of moisture for you. When your skin has all the moisture it needs – and its protective barrier is intact – your skin looks its natural best. It performs at its best, too.

There’s more. If you’re dealing with any kind of sensitivity – be it rosacea, eczema, over-exfoliation, or just too much retinol -, this can help you soothe it. It reduces redness, relives itching, and calms down inflammation (the root cause of every skin woe).

I’m all for anti-aging serums, but without a properly hydrated base, those products are useless. Your skin is never gonna look its best. So get the foundation right first and – once your skin has healed – build on it.

And if you’re wondering, where’s the catch here? This serum isn’t suitable for oily, acne-prone skin. The oils in it are a godsend for dry and sensitive skin type, but can cause breakouts in oilier skin.

Related: Do You Still Need Anti-Aging Products If Your Skin Is Properly Hydrated?

Paula's Choice Omega+ Complex Serum

What I Like About Paula’s Choice Omega+ Complex Serum

  • Silky and lightweight lotion-like texture doesn’t leave a greasy residue behind.
  • Doubles up as a moisturiser in the morning.
  • Fragrance-free.
  • Strengthens your skin’s protective barrier.
  • Prevents water loss, making skin softer and smoother.
  • Helps soothe irritation and heal skin faster.
  • It plumps up fine lines and wrinkles so they look smaller.
  • Pretty and practical packaging.

What I DON’T About Paula’s Choice Omega+ Complex Serum

  • May cause breakouts in oily, acne-prone skin.

Who Should Use This?

Paula’s Choice says it’s for all skin types, but it’s most suitable for dry and/or sensitive skin. If you have oily or acne-prone skin, the oils in here could cause breakouts.

Does Paula’s Choice Omega+ Complex Serum Live Up To Its Claims?

Omega fatty acids in this serum strengthen skin’s surface with the essential nutrients needed for healthy, hydrated, visibly stronger skin.True.
Fortifies skin against environmental damage.True.
Lightweight formula nourishes skin’s moisture barrier.True.

Is Paula’s Choice Cruelty-Free?

Yes, Paula’s Choice doesn’t test on animals and doesn’t outsource it to other people here, so it’s 100% cruelty-free.

Price & Availability

$37.00/£34.00 at Sephora, Nordstrom, and Paula’s Choice

The Verdict: Should You Buy It?

If you have dry and/or sensitive skin, this is a must-have (and I don’t use the word “must-have” lightly). It’s a godsend during the cold winter months and helps sensitive skin heal faster.

Dupes & Alternatives

I don’t know of any exact (or very similar) dupes for this serum.


Water (Aqua), Glycerin (skin-replenishing ingredient), Diheptyl Succinate (emollient), Candelilla/Jojoba/Rice Bran Polyglyceryl-3 Esters (texture enhancer), Linum Usitatissimum (Linseed) Seed Oil (flax seed; non-fragrant omega -3, -6, and -9 plant oil), Linoleic Acid (skin-restoring omega-6 fatty acid), Linolenic Acid (skin-restoring omega-3 fatty acid), Passiflora Edulis Seed Oil (non-fragrant omega-6 plant oil, Salvia Hispanica (Chia) Seed Oil (non-fragrant omega-3 plant oil), Ceramide EOP (skin-restoring/replenishing), Ceramide EOS (skin-restoring/replenishing), Ceramide NP (skin-restoring/replenishing), Ceramide NS (skin-restoring/replenishing), Caprooyl Sphingosine (skin-restoring/replenishing), Olea Europaea (Olive) Oil Unsaponifiables (skin-smoothing antioxidant fatty acid), Caprooyl Phytosphingosine (skin-restoring), Sodium Hyaluronate (skin-replenishing/hydration), Cholesterol (skin-replenishing), Ceramide AP (skin-restoring/replenishing), Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter (antioxidant emollient), Tocopherol (vitamin E/antioxidant), Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer (texture enhancer/stabilizer), Prunus Domestica Seed Oil (non-fragrant antioxidant plant oil/omega-9 fatty acid), Lauryl Laurate (skin-softening opacifying agent), Glyceryl Behenate (emollient/emulsifier), Hydrogenated Lecithin (skin-restoring ingredient), Sodium Phytate (chelating agent), Trehalose (hydration), Isohexadecane (texture enhancer/solvent), Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate (emulsifier), Capryloyl Glycerin/Sebacic Acid Copolymer (film-forming agent), Xanthan Gum (texture enhancer), Cetyl Alcohol (hydration), Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (vitamin C/antioxidant), Agar (binding agent), Glyceryl Stearate (emulsifier), Ceteareth-25 (solubilizer), Cetearyl Alcohol (hydration), Behenic Acid (opacifying agent), Glyceryl Rosinate (emollient), Citric Acid (pH adjuster), Benzyl Alcohol (preservative), Ethylhexylglycerin (preservative).