I didn’t realize that I enjoyed the Paula’s Choice RESIST Advanced Smoothing Treatment 10% AHA ($36 US/ 30 mLs) quite so much until I found myself repurchasing it at the Black Friday Sale. Unlike the discontinued Paula’s Choice RESIST Weekly Resurfacing Treatment 10% AHA, I don’t use it one night and instantly notice that my skin is so much smoother and brighter, and that my textural irregularities have been toned down notably. However, I do notice that this formula likely gets me to the same place whilst being even more gentle and having even a soothing action on my easily-angered skin with continued use. What I enjoy the most about the newer addition to Paula’s line is that it combines a gentle alpha hydroxy acid with enough salicylic acid (0.5%) to combat the clogged pores that I’m prone to around my chin and lower cheeks, whilst also being a skin-restoring serum. The most impressive part is that it does this without irritating my sensitive skin that I keep in check with prescription Differin and azelaic acid.
This formula is different than most exfoliants on the market for two main reasons reasons: (1) It’s formulated without drying alcohol and irritants and is at the correct concentration and pH to be effective (2) It’s an effective mixture of the bog-standard glycolic acid and the larger molecule alpha hydroxy acids lactic acid, magic acid and tartaric acid. In more recent years, I’m happy to report that other effective gentle acids have come onto the market but few contain the restoring soothing ingredients that Paula’s do at her more reasonable price tag. I believe that this acid product’s brilliance is that it provides the potent 10% AHA concentration (that I can tell you is effective firsthand) but is gentler because it combines the slightly more gentler AHA’s along with the glycolic acid that features in most AHA exfoliants, along with skin repairing ingredients, antioxidants and anti-irritants. Now let’s segway into the ingredients in more depth:
Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Butylene Glycol (hydration), Glycolic Acid (alpha hydroxy acid/exfoliant), Glycerin (hydration/skin replenishing), Lactic Acid (alpha hydroxy acid/exfoliant), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (texture enhancer), Malic Acid (alpha hydroxy acid/exfoliant), Tartaric Acid (alpha hydroxy acid/exfoliant), Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1 (skin-restoring), Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7 (skin-restoring), Ceramide NG (skin-replenishing), Salicylic Acid (beta hydroxy acid/exfoliant), Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract (skin-soothing), Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract (antioxidant), Avena Sativa (Oat) Bran Extract (skin-soothing), Punica Granatum Fruit Extract (antioxidant), Lycium Barbarum Fruit Extract (antioxidant), Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Extract (antioxidant), Sambucus Nigra Fruit Extract (antioxidant), Camellia Oleifera (Green Tea) Leaf Extract (antioxidant), Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract (antioxidant/skin-soothing), Peucedanum Graveolens (Dill) Extract (antioxidant), Allantoin (skin-soothing), Adenosine (skin-restoring), Hydrogenated Lecithin (skin-restoring), Bisabolol (skin-soothing), Polyquaternium-10 (texture enhancer), Xanthan Gum (thickener/emulsifier), Carbomer (texture enhancer), Polysorbate 20 (cleansing agent), Sodium Bicarbonate (pH adjuster), Sodium Hydroxide (pH adjuster), Aminomethyl Propanol (pH adjuster), Phenoxyethanol (preservative), Benzyl Alcohol (preservative).
As previously mentioned, the formula’s basis is the 10% concentration of water binding alpha-hydroxy acids along with 0.5% salicylic acid to help penetrate the pores and aid with treating congestion. As with all Paula’s Choice products, it does this without fragrance, drying alcohols and plant extracts that are known to cause irritant reactions. The alpha hydroxy acids work to bind water to the skin and smooth its texture and diminish the look of imperfections and any sort of discolouration. Glycerin helps to bind water to the skin and the peptides theoretically help to normalize skin cell activity and reinforce the skin’s barrier. The ceramides that the formula contains play a significant role in repairing the skin’s barrier, which is important for everyone’s skin health but is especially important when you have a tendency towards eczema and naturally have an impaired barrier. The formula also contains a bunch of antioxidants and anti-irritants but I’ll talk most about the ones that appear in higher concentrations and are the most notable. Licorice root extract is anti-inflammatory ingredient that also plays a role in treating hyperpigmentation. Sidenote: this extract also appears to act against acne causing bacteria. Chamomile is antioxidant that also has evidence of extra anti-inflammatory ability.
The texture of the product is a lightweight but not watery gel thats effectively dispensed in a dropper. The product is fluid enough that I believe that the packaging is probably the most effective style that it could be and is definitely practical and a bit more sophisticated than Paula’s Choice packaging of the past. The packaging improvement and inclusion of so many beneficial ingredients makes the middle of the road price tag worthwhile for me. I do note that Paula’s Choice products have increased in price in the last several years but I do believe that their formulas have become more sophisticated, as has their packaging as a result. Even though you get very little product, I don’t find you need much and I appreciate that it functions as a nice serum as well as an exfoliant. For those wondering, this product is not clearly stated as vegan – see the Paula’s Choice animal testing page for the full details – but it’s certainly cruelty free.