Paula’s Choice RESIST Intensive Wrinkle-Repair Retinol Serum: ($29.95 for 1 oz)
*This review was highly requested by several people including Christi, so here it is! Others have remarked that I do too many Paula’s Choice product reviews, but I do have several reviews for products from other brands on the site. And if you have requests, please let me know! I always love hearing what you guys want to see!
Positives: While primarily employing a non-aqueous silicone base, the inclusion of several emollients like capric triglyceride give this a thicker and creamier texture than expected from most serums. Now, there is a moderately-high amount of the anti-inflammatory bisabolol, which will help offset some of the irritation from the retinol. But the three most important ingredients are the vitamins C, A, and E, which are present in that order. I have personally confirmed with Paula that all of her products are listed from highest to lowest concentration, despite the fact that she isn’t obligated by law. The form of vitamin C present is an oil-soluble form so we don’t have to worry about it requiring a low pH to function properly. Fortunately, this silicone-based serum has no pH, with the absence of water so this won’t affect the skin’s natural ability to convert retinol to tretinoin.
Which brings me to the featured ingredient, retinol. The amount present is most likely around 0.25%-0.5% since the vitamin C (tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate) isn’t typically over 2% in OTC products. Furthermore, because the vitamin C isn’t the featured ingredient, I’m rationalizing that it’s around 1.0%. While several products on the market contain higher concentrations of retinol, the amount present in this product is most likely still largely above the bottom threshold of efficacy! That’s great news.
Finally, there are some low amounts of the hydrating lecithin, kelp, and oat extracts.
Neutrals: None of importance, as usual.
Negatives: Again none as always!
Packaging: This is packaged in an opaque, airless pump bottle. I wish all serums and moisturizers used packaging like this!
Overall: I’d recommend this for people with dry to combination oily skin, to be used during the nighttime. If you’re oily or very oily, this may be too emollient and can clog the pores, thanks to the presence of various fatty acid derivatives from the trigylceride and palm oil contents. But give it a try if you’re curious.
I did my own impromptu split-face left-right experiment with this and my favorite retinol product, the Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion PM (1.5% retinol), and the results where quite comparable. The side with this serum was a bit greasy feeling when I woke up, but I didn’t break out. Granted, the test was only a week long and I don’t have access to any sophisticated medical tools to actually examine any differences; it’s all personal observation. Furthermore, the effects seen could have been, and is most likely a combination of the “powers” of vitamins A and C, since the form of vitamin C present does have many documented studies validating its functions. But still, if you’re not willing to shell out the $65 for the PTR, this is a great (but more emollient and cheaper) substitute. Not to mention that this has better packaging, which will keep the retinol stabilized longer.
There is one caveat to this product, and that’s the smell. Just because Paula’s Choice products are fragrance-free, doesn’t mean that they don’t have a smell. The scent of this product is particularly strong. It’s a rather pungent plastic- or paint-like smell that lingers for a while after the initial application. While the ingredients are great, I personally couldn’t get over the smell. Let me put it this way, even if this listed 0.5% retinol on the packaging, I’d still buy a separate product just because this one is so unpleasant.
PS = [[[PIS – 0] x WIC] + [TPS x WPC]] x 100%
PS = [[9/10 x 2/3] + [3/3 x 1/3]] x 100%
PS = [18/30 + 3/9] x 100%
PS = [54/90 + 30/90] x 100%
PS = 84/90 x 100%
PS = .933 x 100%
PS = 93.3%
AS = A
Check the Product Review Rubric for a full explanation on how I rate products.
Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethiconol (silicone slip agents/suspending agents), Neopentyl Glycol Diheptanoate (skin-conditioning agent), Dicaprylyl Carbonate (emollient), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (skin-repairing ingredient), Phenyl Trimethicone (silicone slip agent), Squalane (emollient), Bisabolol (anti-irritant), Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (stabilized vitamin C/antioxidant), Retinol (cell-communicating ingredient/antioxidant), Tocotrienols (vitamin E-based antioxidant), Tocopherol (vitamin E/antioxidant), Lecithin (cell-communicating ingredient), Laminaria Ochroleuca (Kelp) Extract (anti-irritant), Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Oil (anti-irritant), Elaeis Guineensis (Palm) Oil (skin-repairing ingredient), Stearyl Glycyrrhetinate (licorice-derived anti-irritant), Hexylene Glycol (slip agent), Caprylyl Glycol (emollient), Ethylhexylglycerin (skin-conditioning agent), Phenoxyethanol (preservative)