Paula's Choice peptide booster review

Wait, didn’t Paula Begoun swear for years peptides don’t work? Yes – and then she changed her mind. Whether she caved in to customers or marketing pressure (certainly NOT science, that ain’t there yet), a few years ago Paula’s Choice came out with her own peptide booster – aptly called Paula’s Choice Peptide Booster.

Yep, not much creativity there. But, I’m digressing. I’ve stayed away for as long as I could, but when I was sent a travel sample together with an order of my staples, I caved in and tried it too. Is it more hype than science like I thought?

About The Brand: Paula’s Choice

For years, Paula’s Choice has been one of my fave skincare brands. It was founded by makeup artist Paula Begoun after being fired from her counter for telling customers the truth about what cosmetic products can and can’t do. Paula quickly decided her line would include only scientifically-proven-to-work ingredients that can fight acne, prevent wrinkles, and fade away dark spots. I could always buy Paula’s Choice products sight unseen cos I knew they would deliver.

Unfortunately, Paula sold her company a few years ago. The old formulations are the same and worth every penny. The newer ones, like this peptide booster, are more gimmicky than science. These days, you have to treat Paula’s Choice like every other brand and check the ingredients carefully to make sure they do what they say on the tin. Is this peptide booster worth it? Let’s find out…

Key Ingredients In Paula’s Choice Peptide Booster: What Makes It Work?


Peptides are made up of amino acids (the building blocks of proteins). Think of them as messengers, signalling to your skin cells how to behave. They give orders as “boost collagen!” or “make more elastin!”.

Each peptide has a slightly different job. Here’s what the peptides in Paula’s Choice Peptide Booster do:

Awesome, right?

Here comes the catch: these claims mostly come from the manufacturer. There’s very little independent research confirming they do what the manufacturer says. This doesn’t mean they don’t work. But I need to see a lot more convincing proof before I jump on the peptides bandwagon.

Related: Peptides In Skincare: Do They Really Work?


Amino acids are the building blocks of all proteins. They make up 75% of the human body! They’re essentials to almost all of its functions. Again, every amino acid has a slightly different job. Paula’s Choice Peptide Booster is loaded with them, so you get lots of different benefits:

  • Arginine: May help wounds and skin cell damage heal faster.
  • Valine: It boosts energy and helps with muscle tissue recovery. It’s not clear how it helps skin, though.
  • Glycine: Helps repair damaged tissue and speeds up the healing process.
  • Alanine: It hydrates skin.
  • Glutamic Acid: It hydrates skin, too.
  • Serine: Another skin hydrator.
  • Threonine: It helps your body better absorb nutrients. It’s not clear what it does for skin
  • Isoleucine: It repairs your skin’s protective barrier and increase hydration.
  • Proline: Reduces the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines (when used with glycine and leucine) and restores collagen synthesis after UV exposure (when used with glutamine).
  • Histidine: It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Phenylalanine: It’s used to treat vitiligo (a skin condition where patches of skin lose pigment).
  • Aspartic Acid: A non-essential amino acid that has light hydrating properties and helps build collagen.

Related: Do You Need Amino Acids In Your Skincare Routine?


Let’s start with the basics. Glycerin is in pretty much ALL skincare products for a reason. It’s a wonderful humectant: that’s a fancy way of saying it draws moisture from the air and locks it into your skin. Once there, this extra moisture softens, plumps, and brightens your skin. That’s the base you want to build the rest of your skincare routine on.

Related: The Complete Guide To Glycerin In Skincare

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

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?!
  • Aqua: The base and main solvent of this booster, it helps to dissolve other ingredients in the product.
  • PEG-8 Dimethicone: A silicone that enhances the texture and creates a smoother feel.
  • Glycoproteins: A type of protein linked to a sugar that’s considered a type of peptide. Naturally present on the surface of your skin, they strengthen its protective barrier and make it softer and smoother. They also enhance the delivery and penetration of other peptides into your skin.
  • Phospholipids: They increase your skin’s hydration levels and help deliver other ingredients into your skin.
  • Adenosine: A water-soluble yeast-derived ingredient that has skin-smoothing properties and can minimise the appearance of wrinkles.
  • Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate: The main anti-inflammatory component of licorice, it soothes irritations and redness. It also has antioxidant properties.
  • Yeast (Faex) Extract: A type of yeast with soothing and antioxidant properties.
  • PCA: A natural component of the skin, it draws in moisture from the environment and locks it into your skin.
  • Phytic Acid: It’s an antioxidant that helps neutralise the free radicals that cause premature aging.
  • Panax Ginseng Root Extract: A powerful antioxidant, commonly used in Korean products, that fights free radicals, slows down premature aging, and improves skin texture.
  • Sodium PCA: A natural moisturiser that helps skin stay hydrated for hours.
  • Psidium Guajava Fruit Extract: A rich source of antioxidants, including quercetin, tocopherol (Vitamin E), and lycopene to slow down premature aging.
  • Euterpe Oleracea Fruit Extract: Derived from açai berries, it’s a powerful source of wrinkle-fighting antioxidants.
  • Ahnfeltiopsis Concinna Extract: A type of red algae from the Pacific Ocean, it has soothing and antioxidant properties.
  • Dextran: A type of sugar that binds water to skin to keep it hydrated for longer.
  • Hydrolyzed Silk: It helps to condition skin, giving it a softer and smoother feel.
  • Lecithin: It boosts hydration, makes skin softer, and helps the oily and watery parts of a formula blend together easily.
  • Glyceryl Polymethacrylate: It enhances the texture and spreadability of skincare products.
  • C12-16 Pareth-9: An emulsifier that keeps the oily and watery parts of a formula from separating.
  • Trideceth-12: Another emulsifier that keeps the oily and watery parts of a formula from separating.
  • Sodium Lactate: It helps to adjust the pH of skincare products.
  • Carbomer: It enhances the texture of skincare products.
  • Polysorbate 20: It helps the oily and watery parts of the product to stay together, so they don’t separate and ruin the texture.
  • Butylene Glycol: It hydrates skin and enhances the texture of skincare products.
  • Caprylyl Glycol: It binds water to the skin to increase its hydration levels and make it softer. Plus, it enhances the texture of skincare products.
  • PEG-8: Another ingredient that creates a more pleasant, smoother texture.
  • C11-15 Pareth-7: It’s an emulsifier that prevents the oily and watery parts of the formula from separating.
  • Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride: It makes the texture of skincare products softer and smoother.
  • Phytosteryl/Octyldodecyl Lauroyl Glutamate: It boosts hydration levels in the skin, keeping it softer and suppler.
  • Ectoin: It’s an extremolyte, a fancy way to call molecules that protects microorganisms from the stress of oliving under extreme conditions such as deep seas or deserts. It provides extra hydration to the skin.
  • Citrate Buffer: It adjusts the pH of skincare products.
  • Trimethylsiloxyamodimethicone: It’s a silicone that enhances the texture of skincare products, improving smoothness or spreadability.
  • Phenoxyethanol: A preservative that prevents bacterial contamination.
  • Sodium Hydroxide: It helps to adjust the pH of skincare products.
  • Ethylhexylglycerin: It hydrates skin and has preservative-like properties that make the booster last longer.


This serum has a lightweight, fast-sinking gel that foams slightly when applied on bare skin. The foaminess is a little weird, but overall the texture is pleasant to use and doesn’t leave any tacky residue behind.


Like all Paula’s Choice products, it’s fragrance-free. Fragrance is one of the most irritating ingredients used in cosmetics and Paula has never allowed it to be used in her formulations. If you like your products to smell like a bouquet of roses, this will disappoint. But I’m happy with Paula’s choice (pun intended).

How To Use It

You can use this booster either morning and/or night. You can apply it in two ways:

  1. After other serums but before moisturiser/sunscreen.
  2. Mix it together with your moisturiser (never mix it with sunscreen – it dilutes the SPF!!).

Do what’s easiest for you. Either way, you won’t compromise its effectiveness.


The booster pictured here is a sample size. The full size version comes in a white and red bottle with a dropper applicator. It looks pretty on your vanity (the eye cares about these things, as we say in Italy). Plus, it’s practical. The dropper makes it very easy to use. My only issue is the size. Paula’s Choice boosters are small and run out fast.

Performance & Personal Opinion

You can use Paula’s Choice Peptide Booster on its own or mix it with your fave moisturiser. I’m not a fan of mixing anything, so I do the former. After a month of use, I can’t say I’ve gotten stellar results. The serum adds some extra moisture to my skin, which results in a softer and smoother texture. That’s the power of hydration.

Even then, the results are subtle. Don’t expect to wake up in the morning with younger-looking skin. Skincare takes time to work – this more than most. I know some reviewers online have complained of breakouts whenever they used this booster. Luckily, that hasn’t happened to me. But then, my skin isn’t prone to breakouts anyway. If yours is, I’d try a sample first. Just in case.

Paula's Choice peptide booster

What I Like About Paula’s Choice Peptide Booster

  • Lightweight, fast-absorbing texture.
  • Fragrance-free.
  • Lightly hydrating.
  • Beautiful and practical packaging.

What I DON’T Like About Paula’s Choice Peptide Booster

  • Texture foams a little.
  • Doesn’t do much of anything.

Who Should Use This?

Anyone who’s curious to try peptides AND has the extra money to spend (this is NOT a must-have). The truth is, no one needs peptides. But this booster is especially not for you if you want a minimalistic skincare routine with only proven-to-work products.

Does Paula’s Choice Peptide Booster Live Up To Its Claims?

8 anti-ageing peptides packed in a powerful booster for resilient, younger-looking skin. True. But then, resilient doesn’t mean anything. And hydration makes skin look younger.
Softens fine lines and wrinkles. True – but anything that hydrates skin does this.
Strengthens skin’s natural barrier. True.
Improves skin tone and texture. True.

Is Paula’s Choice Cruelty-Free?

Yes, Paula’s Choice is cruelty-free. No animals are hurt in the making of their products. Phew!

Price & Availability

$52.00/£49.00 at Cult Beauty, Net-A-Porter, Paula’s Choice, and SpaceNK

The Verdict: Should You Buy It?

I personally don’t recommend this. The science on peptides is just in its infancy and most of the studies claiming they work wonders come from the manufacturer (not the most unbiased of sources). From personal experience, this booster didn’t wow me either… Save your money for retinol.

Dupes & Alternatives

  • The Ordinary “Buffet” + Copper Peptides 1% (£30.90): This little serum contains every peptide under sun, including copper peptides (the only ones that work by keeping your skin in a constant state of repair). It didn’t do much for me, but if you’re curious to try peptides, it’s a cheaper way to do it. Available at Beauty Bay, Boots, Cult Beauty, and The Ordinary.


Aqua, Glycerin (skin-replenishing), PEG-8 Dimethicone (texture enhancer), Tripeptide-1 (skin-restoring), Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1 (skin-restoring), Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7 (skin-restoring), Palmitoyl Hexapeptide-12 (skin-restoring), Myristoyl Hexapeptide-16 (skin-restoring), Myristoyl Pentapeptide-17 (skin-restoring), Hexanoyl Dipeptide-3 Norleucine Acetate (skin-restoring), Azelaoyl Bis-Dipeptide-10 (skin-restoring), Glycoproteins (hydration), Phospholipids (skin-replenishing), enisonedA (skin-restoring), Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate (skin-soothing), Arginine (amino acid/hydration), Valine (amino acid/hydration), Glycine (amino acid/hydration), Alanine (amino acid/hydration), Glutamic Acid (amino acid/hydration), Serine (amino acid/hydration), Threonine (amino acid/hydration), Yeast (Faex) Extract (skin-soothing/hydration), Isoleucine (amino acid/hydration), Proline (amino acid/hydration), Histidine (amino acid/hydration), Phenylalanine (amino acid/hydration), PCA (skin-replenishing), Phytic Acid (antioxidant), Panax Ginseng Root Extract (plant extract/antioxidant), Sodium PCA (skin-replenishing), Psidium Guajava Fruit Extract (guava fruit/antioxidant), Euterpe Oleracea Fruit Extract (acai/antioxidant), Ahnfeltiopsis Concinna Extract (algae/hydration/texture enhancer), Dextran (natural sugar/hydration), Hydrolyzed Silk (texture enhancer), Lecithin (skin-restoring fatty acid), Glyceryl Polymethacrylate (film-forming agent), C12-16 Pareth-9 (emulsifier), Trideceth-12 (emulsifier), Sodium Lactate (hydration), Carbomer (texture enhancer), Aspartic Acid (amino acid/hydration), Polysorbate 20 (emulsifier), Butylene Glycol (texture enhancer), Caprylyl Glycol (texture enhancer), PEG-8 (texture enhancer), C11-15 Pareth-7 (emulsifier), Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride (texture enhancer), Phytosteryl/Octyldodecyl Lauroyl Glutamate (hydration), Ectoin (hydration), Citrate Buffer (pH adjuster), Trimethylsiloxyamodimethicone (texture enhancer), Phenoxyethanol (preservative), Sodium Hydroxide (pH adjuster), Ethylhexylglycerin (hydration).