paula's choice resist intensive wrinkle-repair retinol serum review

It’s no secret that Paula’s Choice is one of my favourite skincare brands. I love it because I’m lazy. Paula only uses actives proven to work. Avoids irritants like the plague. Packages everything in tubes that’ll keep the goodies stable. Saves a girl hours deciphering ingredient labels trying to find the gem in a sea of duds. One of the products I swear by is Paula’s Choice Resist Intensive Wrinkle-Repair Retinol Serum.

It’s one of the first retinol serums I’ve tried and, even though my skin has outgrown it, it’s still the serum I recommend the most to beginners who are looking to up their anti-aging game for the first time without the irritation. Wanna know why? Read on:

Key Ingredients In Paula’s Choice Resist Intensive Wrinkle-Repair Retinol Serum: What Makes It Work?


Retinol is the real deal. One of the very few things that REALLY reduces wrinkles. You don’t even need a ton of it to do the job. A 2007 study found that a topical 0.4% retinol lotion applied up to 3 times a week for 24 weeks “improves fine wrinkles associated with natural aging“.

Retinol reduces the wrinkles you already have. Plus, it prevents new ones from forming. It does this in three different ways:

  • It has antioxidant properties that fight free radicals, the molecules that destroys elastin, collagen, cellular DNA, and all the good things that keep your skin looking younger for longer.
  • It boosts collagen, the protein that keeps skin firm. The more collagen your skin has, the less wrinkles you have (and the less deep they are).
  • It speed up cellular turnover (i.e. the skin’s exfoliating process), fading away both wrinkles, dark spots, and acne.

But, retinol isn’t without side effects. If you’re new to retinol or have sensitive skin, retinol can cause peeling, redness and irritations. That’s why you need to start small. Begin with a small concentration a couple of times a week and build up dose and frequency from there. FYI, Paula’s Choice Resist Intensive Wrinkle-Repair Retinol Serum is a great place to start. 😉

Oh, while we’re at it, retinol can make skin more sensitive to the sun (ironic since it helps treat sun damage, isn’t it?). Use it at night only.

Related: The Complete Guide To Retinol


No diva is a solo act. They all have a team of helpers, coaches and stylists that make them look and perform their best. Retinol is no exception. It works best when surrounded by other antioxidants. Paula’s Choice Resist Intensive Wrinkle-Repair Retinol Serum has its fair share. Retinol’s little helpers include:

  • Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate: A stable, oil-soluble form of Vitamin C that easily penetrates the skin and stimulates collagen production.
  • Tocotrienols + Tocopherol: Forms of Vitamin E that help protect skin from sun damage and prevent the premature signs of aging. A 2001 study has found that “vitamins A [retinol] and E appear complementary in preventing UV-induced deleterious cutaneous and systemic effects”.

Related: Is Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate The Best Form Of Vitamin C Used In Skincare?


Remember when I said retinol can be irritating when you first start to use it? To minimize the risk of irritation, Paula put plenty of anti-irritants in the serum. They include bisabolol (it’s what gives chamomile its soothing properties), oats and algae extracts. All together, they soothe irritations and reduce redness.

Related: 9 Soothing Ingredients That Can Fight Irritations


Paula’s Choice Resist Intensive Wrinkle-Repair Retinol Serum is silicones-based. There, I said it. Before you cross it off your list, hear me out. Silicones don’t suffocate skin. They have a particular molecular structure that’s made up of big molecules with big holes between one another. This means they can create a protective barrier on the skin AND still allow it to perspire. 

But do they cause pimples? Not on their own. Silicones AREN’T comedogenic. But if you’re using a product with comedogenic ingredients before this, they may get trapped underneath the protective barrier they create and cause problems.

But why use silicones in the first place? They can do some cool tricks:

  • They help the serum spread more easily
  • They temporarily fill in fine lines and wrinkles so they look smaller
  • They make skin silky soft to the touch

Related: Are Silicones Bad Or Good For Skin?

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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?!
  • Neopentyl Glycol Diheptanoate: An emollient that makes the texture of your skin softer and smoother.
  • Dicaprylyl Carbonate: An emollient that makes skin softer. It also helps enhance the penetration of active ingredients into your skin, so they work faster.
  • Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride: Derived from coconut oil, it gives you all its moisturising benefits without the comedogenic side effects.
  • Squalane: A natural, oil-like ingredient that strengthens the skin’s protective barrier and makes even dry skin softer and smoother. It’s non-comedogenic.
  • Lecithin: A natural component of your skin’s protective barrier, it protects skin from environmental aggressors and keeps it moisturised for hours.
  • Elaeis Guineensis (Palm) Oil: It deeply moisturises skin, making it softer and smoother.
  • Stearyl Glycyrrhetinate: An antioxidant with skin-soothing properties.
  • Hexylene Glycol: A solvent that makes textures easier to spread for a more pleasant application.
  • Ethylhexylglycerin: A preservative that keeps your skincare products last longer – and be safer for longer.
  • Phenoxyethanol: A preservative that inhibits bacteria contamination, helping your skincare products last longer.
  • Caprylyl Glycol: Another preservative that prevents bacteria contamination and keeps your skincare products safer for longer.


This serum has a gel-like texture with an oily feel. Like an oil, it’s a little greasy and leaves my skin looking shiny for a couple of minutes. After that, it completely sinks in.


Like all Paula’s Choice products, it’s fragrance-free. Paula was one of the first people to remove fragrance from skincare products. It smells good, but it’s one of the most irritating ingredients in skincare – and a definite no-no for sensitive skin. Especially in a product that contains powerful anti-aging actives like retinol.

How To Use It

Like all retinol products, start with a couple of nights a week, right after cleansing. Then, slowly increase frequency to every other night. On nights you don’t use retinol, exfoliate.


Paula’s Choice Resist Intensive Wrinkle-Repair Retinol Serum comes in a dark grey tube with a pump dispenser. It’s hygienic, practical, and keeps the antioxidants inside stable for longer.

paula's choice resist intensive wrinkle repair retinol serum 01

Performance & Personal Opinion

Let’s start with the “bad”: the oilier texture of Paula’s Choice Resist Intensive Wrinkle-Repair Retinol Serum will put off oily skin. It’s way too emollient for you. But I can put up with that because I saw the first results within a week. I kid you not.

Let’s be clear here. Topical retinol takes months to work its magic on wrinkles. The serum didn’t reduce them in a week (no topical product can do that). But I know it will in due time. The science here is solid.

But, it did improve the texture of my skin in only 7 days. My skin looked smoother, plumper, more even-toned and a tad firmer. Even the pores on my oily t-zone look just a tiny bit smaller. 

My skin is used to retinol by now so the serum didn’t irritate my skin. It didn’t make it breakout either. There’s a reason why it’s a staple in my skincare routine after all. 🙂

Related: Three Ways To Shrink Large Pores (That Really Work)

How Does Paula’s Choice Resist Intensive Wrinkle-Repair Retinol Serum Compare To The Other Retinol Products?

Paula’s Choice has A TON of retinol serums. If you don’t dig the oilier texture of Paula’s Choice Resist Intensive Wrinkle-Repair Retinol Serum, fret not. Just pick one of the other options below. They all work, for different skin types and needs. It’s all about knowing what’s the best option for YOU:

  • Paula’s Choice 1% Retinol Booster ($52.00): A fluid, fast-absorbing lotion you can use on its own for maximum strength or, if your skin isn’t ready for it yet, mix with your fave moisturiser or serum to make retinol gentler for you. It’s best for combination, normal and dry skin. Available at Cult BeautyNet-A-PorterPaula’s ChoiceSephora, and SpaceNK.
  • Paula’s Choice Clinical 0.3% Retinol + 2% Bakuchiol Treatment ($54.00): It’s not as hydrating as the other serums here and doesn’t contain any other antioxidants either. But it’s a good serum for people who have outgrown smaller concentrations, but aren’t ready for 0.5% and higher doses yet. Available at Cult BeautyPaula’s ChoiceSephora, and SpaceNK.
  • Paula’s Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment ($64.00): The strongest retinol serum from Paula’s Choice, it has 1% retinol to fight wrinkles, acne, and dark spots. It’s only suitable for retinol pros who have slowly built their way to this high concentration. Available at Cult BeautyNet-A-PorterPaula’s ChoiceSephora, and SpaceNK.
  • Paula’s Choice Clinical Ceramide-Enriched Firming Moisturiser ($63.00): A rich moisturiser for dry skin with 0.1% retinol to prevent wrinkles and restore suppleness and softness. Use it every other night only. Available at Cult BeautyNet-A-Porter, and Paula’s Choice.
  • Paula’s Choice Resist Barrier Repair Moisturiser With Retinol ($38.00): This creamy, lightweight lotion has 0.01% retinol and is ideal for beginners with dry skin. Use it only two or three nights a week. Available at Paula’s Choice.
  • Paula’s Choice Resist Intensive Repair Cream ($38.00): A rich cream that deeply moisturises skin while treating wrinkles thanks to its powerful mix of antioxidants, shea butter, and 0.01% retinol. Use it every other night only. Available at DermstorePaula’s Choice and Sephora.
  • Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Super Antioxidant Concentrate With Retinol ($34.00): It has 0.03% retinol, so it’s a little stronger than the other serums here, but it’s not as hydrating. This makes it suitable for oily and acne-prone skin. Available at Paula’s Choice.
  • Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum With Retinol ($34.00): Richer than most serums, it has a siliconey base that fills in wrinkles without clogging pores. It has 0.01% retinol and is suitable for dry skin. Available at Paula’s Choice.

What I Like About Paula’s Choice Resist Intensive Wrinkle-Repair Retinol Serum

  • Fragrance-free.
  • Makes wrinkles smaller.
  • Makes pores smaller.
  • Hydrated, makes skin softer and plumper.
  • Practical packaging.
  • Great choice for first-time retinol users.

What I DON’T Like About Paula’s Choice Resist Intensive Wrinkle-Repair Retinol Serum

  • Oily texture, takes a couple of minutes to absorb.
  • If you’re used to higher concentrations of retinol, this is a step back for you.

Who Should Use This?

This serum is most suitable for retinol newbies with dry, normal, and combination skin. It’s too oily for oilier skin tones and not strong enough for pro retinol users.

paula's choice resist intensive wrinkle repair retinol serum 02

Does Paula’s Choice Resist Intensive Wrinkle-Repair Retinol Serum Live Up To Its Claims?

This advanced anti-aging serum blends pure retinol and potent antioxidants to minimise the appearance of wrinkles, improve firmness and brighten skin. True.
The silky, rich formula leaves skin smooth, hydrated and radiant-looking. It’s not the most hydrating, but it leaves skin brighter and smoother.
Repairs sun damage. Yes. Retinol is proven to help reduce wrinkles and dark spots, but it takes months to see significant results.
Visibly reduces fine lines. Yes. But anything with silicones can do this.
Suitable for rosacea-prone skin. Yes, as long as your skin can tolerate retinol.

Price & Availability

$46.00/£39.00 at Paula’s Choice

The Verdict: Should You Buy It?

Yes. If you’re in the market for a gentle retinol serum for beginners, Paula’s Choice Resist Intensive Wrinkle-Repair Retinol Serum is one of the best options to consider.

Dupes & Alternatives

  • Cocokind Beginner Retinol Gel ($26.99): This gel serum has 0.1% retinol, granactive retinoid, and retinal – three forms of retinoids that fight both wrinkles and acne. It’s moisturising and enriched with skin-soothers to counteract the potential drying effects of retinol. Available at Ulta.
  • Cosrx The Retinol 0.1 Cream ($27.00): A rich, moisturising cream enriched with retinol and antioxidants to make skin softer and smoother, prevent new wrinkles, and reduce those you already have. Use it every other night only. Available at Beauty Bay, Soko Glam, and Yes Style.


Cyclopentasiloxane (hydration), Dimethiconol (hydration/texture-enhancing), Neopentyl Glycol Diheptanoate (emollient), Dicaprylyl Carbonate (emollient), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (hydration/skin replenishing), Phenyl Trimethicone (hydration), Squalane (emollient), Bisabolol (skin-soothing), Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (vitamin C/antioxidant), Retinol (skin-restoring/antioxidant), Tocotrienols (vitamin E-based antioxidant), Tocopherol (vitamin E/antioxidant), Lecithin (skin-restoring), Laminaria Ochroleuca (Kelp) Extract (skin-soothing), Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Oil (skin-soothing), Elaeis Guineensis (Palm) Oil (skin replenishing), Stearyl Glycyrrhetinate (skin-soothing), Hexylene Glycol (hydration), Ethylhexylglycerin (preservative), Phenoxyethanol (preservative), Caprylyl Glycol (preservative).