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Product Reviews

Paula’s Choice Advanced Replenishing Toner Skin Remodeling Complex

RESIST Advanced Replenishing Toner Skin Remodeling Complex ($18.95 for 4 oz)

Positives: True to its name, its milky texture replenishes the skin by providing good amounts of different components of the epidermal barrier, specifically the extracellular matrix, and other ingredients that mimic those components, including: the linoleic, oleic, linolenic acids, phospholipids, sodium hyaluronate, as well as moderate amounts of sphingolipids, evening primrose oil, lecithin, and several others.

It also contains high amounts of the antioxidants ferulic acid, epigallocatechin gallate (the primarily polyphenolic antioxidant of green tea), as well as moderate amounts of vitamins C and E, quercetin, and pumpkin seed extract. Some well-known anti-irrtants are also present in moderate amounts, as licorice and beet root extracts.

Finally, there is also a moderate amount of acetyl glucosamine, a monosaccharide that has demonstrated the ability to facilitate wound healing and hydration, when taken orally. How much of that is relevant to skin care is unfortunately, unknown. It also has some compelling evidence suggesting that it can lighten the skin due to its ability to inhibit melanin production, especially in the presence of niacinamide. However, since this product does not have niacinamide, whether or not its inclusion has any significant benefit, is once again in question. Nevertheless, small clinical studies that experimented with just acetyl glucosamine, have demonstrated that it can reduce hyperpigmentation by inhibiting tyrosinase glycosylation, a necessary step in melanin synthesis (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19845667). Furthermore, it has been shown to competitively bind to molecule responsible for keratinocyte adhesion, meaning that it could act as a mild exfoliant (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19691938). But because more large-scale and comprehensive research are needed for this ingredient, it’s probably safest to say that like most proteins, it will act as an excellent water-binding agent.

Neutrals: This contains a (relatively) large amount of carnosine, a dipeptide of the amino acids histidine and beta-alanine. It is a naturally occurring protein that is highly concentrated in the muscle and brain cells of the human body. There is limited evidence suggesting that carnosine can reduce the rate of telomere shortening in human fibroblasts, the cells that manufacture collagen, which consequently, means that it can extend the Hayflick limit.

In short, the Hayflick limit results in the death of a cell because its telomeres have reached minimum lengths, which will not allow for continued translation or protein synthesis. This is important because once the skin runs out of fibroblasts to differentiate,  it can’t produce collagen anymore. However, the Hayflick limit was demonstrated in vitro, not in vivo or real life. In addition, many studies have demonstrated that certain cells other than germ and cancer ones can divide well beyond the Hayflick “limit.” For example, skin stem cells have been shown to divide >1000 times without any physiological sign of senescence. However, that doesn’t mean that we can stay young forever. It’s a convoluted and complicated issue that has no clear and quick answer. Carnosine definitely still needs a lot more double-blind, placebo-controlled, split-face, left-right randomized, peer-reviewed studies to substantiate its potential abilities, so right now it should be tentatively considered as a safe and promising ingredient that may help extend the Hayflick limit. This topic will be more throughly discussed in “How the Skin Ages.”

Negatives: None.

Packaging: This is packaged in a tube, with a tiny opening that helps preserve the efficacy of the air-sensitive ingredients. For a toner that’s as viscous as this one, that’s the best that we can hope for.

Overall: Well this is definitely the mother of all toners! I have yet to encounter a toner that comes close to matching this one in terms of the exemplary blend of fantastic ingredients included. However, with that in mind, I have to say that it’s not appropriate for all skin types, especially not those with problematic skin, such as those who are acne-prone. The fatty acid contents will only worsen those conditions, despite the presence of so many other beneficial ingredients.

Also, keep in mind that when I say “high” or “moderate” amounts of a certain ingredient, that’s only in relation to the ingredient list. With the presence of so many beneficial ingredients, it’s most likely that they are all present in very low amounts, when compared to those for example, in a targeted treatment.

But still, this is an undeniable commendable product that I’d recommend to those who don’t have problematic skin related to sebum overproduction.


PS = [[[PIS – 0] x WIC] + [TPS x WPC]] x 100%

PS = [[9.5/10 x 2/3] + [3/3 x 1/3]] x 100%

PS = [19/30 + 3/9] x 100%

PS = [57/90 + 30/90] x 100%

PS = 87/90 x 100%

PS = .967 x 100%

PS = 96.7%

AS = A

Check the Product Review Rubric for a full explanation on how I rate products.


Water, Cyclopentasiloxane (silicone-based skin-conditioning agent), Glycerin (skin-identical ingredient), Glycerth-26 (emollient), Dimethiconol (silicone-based skin-conditioning agent), Linoleic Acid, Oleic Acid, Linolenic Acid (essential fatty acids/cell-communicating ingredients), Phospholipids (skin-identical ingredient), Carnosine (cell-communicating ingredient), Epigallocatechin Gallate, Genistein (antioxidants), Sodium Hyaluronate, Sphingolipids (skin-identical ingredients), Ferulic Acid (antioxidant), Laurdimonium Hydroxypropyl Hydrolyzed Soy Protein (skin-conditioning agent), Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract (anti-irritant), Acetyl Glucosamine (water-binding agent), Tocopherol (vitamin E/antioxidant), Ascorbyl Palmitate (stabilized vitamin C/antioxidant), Quercetin (antioxidant), Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Oil (non-fragrant plant oil), Beta Vulgaris (Beet) Root Extract, Curcubita Pepo (Pumpkin) Seed Extract (antioxidants), Lecithin (cell-communicating ingredient), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (emollient), Hydrolyzed Corn Starch (opacifying agent), Polysorbate 20 (stabilizer), Hydrogenated Lecithin (cell-communicating ingredient), Butylene Glycol (slip agent), Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer (film-forming agent), Xanthan Gum (thickener), Laureth-23 (cleansing agent), Laureth-4 (emulsifier), Aminomethyl Propanol (pH adjuster), Disodium EDTA (stabilizer), Sorbic Acid, Sodium Benzoate, Benzoic Acid, Ethylhexylglycerin, Chlorphenesin, Phenoxyethanol (preservatives).

About John

The Triple Helixian is an unbiased science and research-based site that attempts to clarify and elucidate questions about skin care, while aspiring to be the most thorough and complete source of information.


18 thoughts on “Paula’s Choice Advanced Replenishing Toner Skin Remodeling Complex

  1. Hi John,
    I must excuse for having been so impolite and want to wave back to you. I agree with you, that it always depends on the amount that an ingredient is used whether it is harmful to you or not. But regarding the many alternatives to halogenorganics I would not want to use them anhow. They are so many harmful Ingrediens in the air, in or food and in skincare that I cannot estimate their effects in sum. I love all the other ingredients in this products, I Love scinidentical ingredients + antioxidants but I would not buy it behause of the chlorphenesin.

    Posted by Catarina | September 6, 2012, 1:49 am
  2. Great review!
    I really like this toner. It’s light and feels great, plus it doesn’t sting/burn upon application; when my face got really irritated from the tretinoin overuse it was just soothing.

    I totally agree that one should use both. I’m still looking for products with high amounts of green tea or niacinamide that aren’t too expensive.

    Posted by Lucas | September 2, 2012, 11:01 am
  3. I would regard chlorphenesin as a BIG negativ here!

    Posted by Catarina | September 2, 2012, 4:08 am
    • Hey Catarina, I don’t think I’ve seen you comment before! *Waves frantically*

      Well, I wouldn’t consider chlorphenesin really relevant to the discussion of this product. Though it may be a skin irritant, the amount present is negligible. And the studies discussing this as a muscle relaxant weren’t applied topically. There’s an appropriate place and purpose for everything. If that “thing” is not used correctly, of course negative reactions may occur. I mean, oxygen sustains human life because we have to breath. But inject oxygen directly into the bloodstream, and we die. A similar analogy applies for the inclusion of chlorphenesin: it’s acting as a preservative along with phenoxyethanol.

      I hope to see more of your comments!

      Posted by John | September 2, 2012, 6:51 pm
  4. That about loong lists in most of Paula’s Choice products is confussing for me, whats best, a little bit of many good ingredients or a high concentration of a few?. Since most of us apply more of one product after cleansin, like a toner and moisturizer or serum, wouldnt be better to layer several products with few different and good ingredients?, or the best formula is the one with lots of ingredients that have a synergic effect?.
    Another issue, since theres so many ingredients its difficult to estimate concentrations……

    Thanks for the reviews, I like them a lot.

    Posted by Alejandra | August 29, 2012, 7:59 pm
    • I think it’s wise to use both: products with lots of good ingredients (in lower concentrations) and products with a few excellent ingredients (in higher concentrations).

      Paula always states that your skin needs lot of antioxidants, not just one “special” one. However, that doesn’t mean that all antioxidants/good ingredients are created equally. You should use products that feature high amounts of a few “well-documented” ingredients like vitamin C, E, green tea, niacinamide, etc… Then have another product that contains lots of good ingredients.

      As for layering products, I don’t think that layering too many is good, just because that means that subsequent products have to first penetrate the products underneath in order to reach the skin.

      As for a synergistic effect, only some antioxidants have been proven to work synergistically. Others may only work independently.

      Finally, it IS difficult and sometimes impossible to estimate concentrations. You just have to do what you think is best. And the most important thing is to avoid the sun. Sunscreen is good, but as you can see from my series on FutureDerm, it’s not perfect.

      It’s all about balancing your skin care, with sun avoidance, diet, stress, exercise, etc.. We will all get old someday, so just find the routine that works best for you. 🙂

      I hope that made sense… I’m all discombobulated today. xD

      Posted by John | August 31, 2012, 2:16 pm
  5. What are your general thoughts about the stability of antioxidants in water-based versus silicone-based formulas? Even though it’s only one ounce, I figured the PC Resist serum is a better deal but I don’t have anything to base that on.

    Posted by amy | August 29, 2012, 4:24 pm
    • It depends on solubility of the antioxidant, but generally, silicone-based formulas are more stable than water ones.

      But I wouldn’t compare the RESIST serum and the RESIST toner. I’m pretty sure the amount of antioxidants are significantly higher in the serum, not to mention there are many more documented ones. I’d go for the serum if you had to pick one. But if your skin type is appropriate, using both would be even more beneficial.

      Posted by John | August 31, 2012, 2:09 pm
      • Thanks, John. It’ll be hard to trade in the Skin Balancing toner, but I might give the RESIST toner a try for winter.

        Posted by amy | September 1, 2012, 3:20 pm
        • You’re welcome! Please let me know if you have any other concerns.

          Posted by John | September 1, 2012, 3:23 pm
          • I’ve been pretty unlucky with toners. I used that awful Clinique Clairfying toner that all teenagers with acne seemed to use back in the day. And the less said about my days trying Sea Breeze, the better. I was thrilled to find the PC Skin Balancing toner. I tried the PC Moisture Boost toner, and it burned my skin a bit. I’ll order samples of the RESIST toner to test it out. Thanks for the review! As much as I really like and trust PC products, an independent review is always helpful!

            Posted by amy | September 2, 2012, 5:52 pm
            • You’re welcome! I also really like the PC Skin Balancing Toner. In fact, it’s the only one I use. And if you look at my update history for my skin care routine, you’ll see that I too have experienced stinging from the Moisture Boost toner. Also, I can’t use this (reviewed) PC toner, which I also talk about in the update history.

              I’m not sure if you’ve seen it yet, but check it out if you’re interested: https://thetriplehelixliaison.wordpress.com/2012/02/16/my-story-routine-in-detail-v-0-07/

              Posted by John | September 2, 2012, 7:09 pm
              • The Moisture Boost toner made your skin sting too. (I feel like less of a freak now) I’ll try samples of the RESIST toner first. Your point to be skeptical about using it on acne-prone skin makes me doubt I’ll be able to use it. I really hope Paula never changes the Skin Balancing toner formula. It might be the only one I can use.

                I read your routine about a month or so ago, and it was really helpful! I started using the PC 10% Resurfacing treatment after reading that you incorporate both a BHA and an AHA. They’re different exfoliants and they work differently. It makes sense to incorporate both, but for some reason I didn’t think of it. I tried to use the Shiseido sunscreen awhile ago, but I’m allergic to whatever fragrance is included. I’ve been using a combination of Neutrogena, Colorescience, and Sol Bar. They work but they’re not always great under make up. I’ll be looking forward to your review of the new Elta sunscreen. I might try out this one: http://www.skinstore.com/p-1924-topix-citrix-antioxidant-sunscreen-spf-30.aspx It’s more expensive than I would like, but I just read your article that included the importance of antioxidants with sunscreen. I really haven’t been doing that. As always, thanks for all the info!

                Posted by amy | September 3, 2012, 2:30 pm
                • You’re very welcome! I too, hope that the Skin Balancing formulation is never changed!

                  The sunscreen actually looks quite good! The price isn’t too bad either. I’m just nervous because the ingredient are listed alphabetically; and that the base ingredients look quite emollient (C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, C13-14 Isoparaffin), but who knows? I’ll be sure to let you guys know about the EltaMD; I’d also be grateful if you’d inform us on your experience with the Topix. 🙂 If you decide to get it of course.

                  Posted by John | September 3, 2012, 8:16 pm
                  • Hi, John. The RESIST toner clogged too many pores after a week. It’s my neck toner now. An extra step. But I’ve been ignoring my neck for way too long.

                    The Citrix sunscreen is a good–with a couple of qualifications. I can’t use it in the summer. I haven’t had a problem since I started at then end of August (low humidity finally). Also, I’m using Differin again. I use 2% BHA liquid daily and the 10% AHA (an idea from you!) weekly. The emollients/thickeners in the Citrix might be counterbalanced with the dryness from the Differin, and clogged pores are being mostly counterbalanced by the BHA and maybe some by the AHA.

                    It’s not perfect but it’ll work for now.

                    Posted by amy | October 11, 2012, 5:19 pm
                    • Yeah we all do what we can to manage. Like you, I used to try and balance excessive drying with excessive emollience. However, I’m trying to find that perfect “balanced” routine that’s appropriate for my skin type. But it’s certainly mp easy task. But I hope everything gets better for you!

                      Posted by John | October 12, 2012, 9:14 am

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