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Paula's Choice 10% Azelaic Acid Booster Ingredients Explained

4.0   from 5 ratings
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Updated on July 18, 2023

Overview

What it is

Facial treatment with 21 ingredients that contains BHA

Cool Features

It is cruelty-free and reef safe

Suited For

It has ingredients that are good for fighting acne, anti aging, dry skin, brightening skin, sensitive skin, oily skin, reducing pores, scar healing and dark spots

Free From

It doesn't contain any harsh alcohols, common allergens, fragrances, oils, parabens or sulfates

Fun facts

Paula's Choice is from United States. This product is used in 423 routines created by our community.

We independently verify ingredients and our claims are backed by peer-reviewed research. Does this product need an update? Let us know.

You should know

Here's our breakdown of the notable ingredients, benefits, and concerns we determined from the ingredients in this product. Click any item to learn more.

Notable Ingredients

BHA

Benefits

Hydrating
Good For Oily Skin
Redness Reducing (2)
Reduces Irritation (3)
Reduces Large Pores (2)
Anti-Aging
Dark Spots (2)
Scar Healing (4)
Acne Fighting (2)
Brightening (2)

Concerns

Drying
May Worsen Oily Skin
Acne Trigger
Irritating
Rosacea
Eczema

Ingredient Info

Click any item below to learn more and view relevant ingredients.
alcohol-free
silicon-free
fragrance-free
sulfate-free
paraben-free
oil-free
fungal-acne safe
reef-safe
eu-allergen-free
vegan
cruelty-free

Ingredients Overview

Here's our quick-to-read summary of the ingredients in this product. Keep scrolling if you'd like to learn more about what each ingredient does!
Ingredient
Features
1
Skin Conditioning, Solvent
2
Buffering, Masking
Helps reduce Skin Redness IconGood for Minimizing Pores IconGood for Dark Spots IconGood for Scar Healing IconHelps fight Acne Icon
3
Antimicrobial, Emollient, Skin Conditioning
4
Masking, Skin Conditioning
5
Emollient, Emulsifying, Skin Conditioning
Not safe for Fungal Acne Icon
6
Humectant, Skin Conditioning, Skin Protecting, Solvent
0 / 0
Helps hydrate Dry Skin IconHelps brighten skin Icon
7
Emollient, Emulsifying, Emulsion Stabilising
2 / 1
Fatty Alcohol IconMay worsen Oily Skin IconBad for Acne Prone Skin IconNot safe for Fungal Acne Icon
8
Emollient, Emulsifying
1 / 0
Not safe for Fungal Acne Icon
9
Emollient, Skin Conditioning, Skin Protecting
1 / 0
Silicon Icon
10
Masking, Preservative, Skin Conditioning
BHA IconPreservative IconCan worsen Dry Skin IconGood for Oily Skin IconMay cause irritation IconGood for Minimizing Pores IconGood for Scar Healing IconHelps fight Acne IconMay worsen Eczema IconMay worsen Rosacea IconHelps brighten skin Icon
11
Skin Conditioning
Helps with Anti-Aging IconGood for Scar Healing Icon
12
Bleaching, Emollient, Skin Conditioning, Smoothing, Soothing
Good for Dark Spots Icon
13
Skin Protecting
Helps reduce irritation Icon
14
Skin Conditioning, Skin Protecting, Soothing
0 / 0
Helps reduce Skin Redness IconHelps reduce irritation IconGood for Scar Healing Icon
15
Masking, Skin Conditioning, Soothing
Helps reduce irritation Icon
16
Emollient, Skin Conditioning, Solvent
Silicon Icon
17
Emulsifying, Emulsion Stabilising, Gel Forming, Skin Conditioning
18
Emulsion Stabilising, Skin Conditioning
19
Solvent
20
Humectant, Masking, Skin Conditioning, Solvent
1 / 0
21
Preservative
Preservative Icon

Ingredients Explained

This product contains 21 ingredients. Click on any ingredient to learn more about it
1
What it does: Skin Conditioning, Solvent
Community Rating: Loved

Water. It's the most common cosmetic ingredient of all. You'll usually see it at the top of ingredient lists, meaning that it makes up the largest part of the product.

So why is it so popular? Water most often acts as a solvent - this means that it helps dissolve other ingredients into the formulation.

You'll also recognize water as that liquid we all need to stay alive. Talk about multi-purpose! If you see this, drink a glass of water. Stay hydrated!

Learn more about Water
2
What it does: Buffering, Masking
Community Rating: Loved

Azelaic acid is a naturally occurring acid that is derived from grains. However, the lab-created form is typically used within cosmetic products as it has better shelf-stability.

It has been shown to be effective in the treatment of acne, rosacea, and other skin conditions. Azelaic acid helps reduce the growth of bacteria that cause acne and helps to reduce inflammation.

It also helps to improve the appearance of skin by reducing the production of sebum and unclogging pores.

Azelaic Acid also has antioxidant properties. Antioxidants help fight free-radicals. Free-radicals are molecules that may damage your skin cells, such as pollution.

One of the main benefits of azelaic acid is that it is gentle and well-tolerated by most people. It is also non-comedogenic, meaning that it will not clog pores.

Learn more about Azelaic Acid
3
What it does: Antimicrobial, Emollient, Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Disliked

C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate is made up of Benzoic Acid and long chain alcohols. It has a low molecular weight.

C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate is an emollient and texture enhancer. Due to its solubility, it is often used in sunscreens to help evenly distribute active ingredients.

As an emollient, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate helps soften and hydrate your skin. Emollients create a film on your skin that traps moisture within.

This ingredient has been reported to cause eye irritation.

Learn more about C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate
4
What it does: Masking, Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Mixed

Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride is an emollient, solvent, and texture enhancer. It is considered a skin-softener by helping the skin prevent moisture loss.

Within a product, Caprylic Triglyceride can thicken the product and make spreadability easier by dissolving clumping compounds. An added benefit of Caprylic Triglyceride is its antioxidant properties.

Caprylic Triglyceride is made by combining glycerin with coconut oil, forming a clear liquid. Caprylic Triglyceride has not been found to be toxic for human use in concentrations under 50%.

While there is an assumption Caprylic Triglyceride can clog pores due to it being derived from coconut oil, there is no research supporting this.

Learn more about Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride
5
What it does: Emollient, Emulsifying, Skin Conditioning

Methyl Glucose Sesquistearate isn't fungal acne safe.

6
What it does: Humectant, Skin Conditioning, Skin Protecting, Solvent
Community Rating: Loved

Glycerin is already naturally found in your skin. It helps moisturize and protect your skin.

A study from 2016 found glycerin to be more effective as a humectant than AHAs and hyaluronic acid.

As a humectant, it helps the skin stay hydrated by pulling moisture to your skin. The low molecular weight of glycerin allows it to pull moisture into the deeper layers of your skin.

Hydrated skin improves your skin barrier; Your skin barrier helps protect against irritants and bacteria.

Glycerin has also been found to have antimicrobial and antiviral properties. Due to these properties, glycerin is often used in wound and burn treatments.

In cosmetics, glycerin is usually derived from plants such as soybean or palm. However, it can also be sourced from animals, such as tallow or animal fat.

This ingredient is organic, colorless, odorless, and non-toxic.

Glycerin is the name for this ingredient in American English. British English uses Glycerol/Glycerine.

Learn more about Glycerin
7
What it does: Emollient, Emulsifying, Emulsion Stabilising
Community Rating: Very Disliked

Cetearyl alcohol is a mixture of two fatty alcohols: cetyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol. It is mainly used as an emulsifier. Emulsifiers help prevent the separation of oils and products. Due to its composition, it can also be used to thicken a product or help create foam.

Cetearyl alcohol is an emollient. Emollients help soothe and hydrate the skin by trapping moisture.

Studies show Cetearyl alcohol is non-toxic and non-irritating. The FDA allows products labeled "alcohol-free" to have fatty alcohols.

This ingredient is usually derived from plant oils such as palm, vegetable, or coconut oils. There is debate on whether this ingredient will cause acne.

Due to the fatty acid base, this ingredient may not be Malassezia folliculitis safe.

Learn more about Cetearyl Alcohol
8
What it does: Emollient, Emulsifying
Community Rating: Disliked

Glyceryl Stearate is a mix of glycerin and stearic acid.

Glyceryl Stearate is used to stabilize the mixing of water and oil ingredients. By preventing these ingredients from separating, it can help elongate shelf life. It can also help thicken the product's texture.

As an emollient, it helps soften skin and supports barrier-replenishing ingredients.

In cosmetics, Glyceryl Stearate is often made from vegetable oils or synthetically produced. The human body also creates Glyceryl Stearate naturally.

Learn more about Glyceryl Stearate
9
What it does: Emollient, Skin Conditioning, Skin Protecting
Community Rating: Very Disliked

Dimethicone is a silicone used for making products smooth and silky. It also has the added benefit of sealing in hydration. The amount of dimethicone found in beauty products is considered safe and non-comedogenic, meaning it won't clog pores.

Dimethicone has been found increase absorption in skin, boosting the benefits of other ingredients. While there is concern for the safety of dimethicone, the levels used in skincare are safe for use.

10
What it does: Masking, Preservative, Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Liked

Salicylic Acid (also known as beta hydroxy acid or BHA) is one of the most well-known ingredients for treating skin that struggles with blackheads and acne. It helps to exfoliate both the skin's surface and pores, and also acts as an anti-inflammatory agent.

This multitasking property makes it a great ingredient for cleaning out pores, controlling oil production, and reducing inflammation.

Unlike AHAs which are water soluble, Salicylic Acid is oil soluble. This means that it's able to exfoliate the inside of pores and reduce blackheads.

Concentrations of 0.5-2% are recognized by the U.S. FDA as an over-the-counter topical acne product.

It can cause irritation and/or dryness if one's skin already has a compromised moisture barrier, so it's best to focus on repairing that before introducing a Salicylic Acid into your routine.

In general, Salicylic Acid is a great ingredient for oily acne-prone skin.

While salicylic acid does not increase sun-sensitivity, we still recommend wearing SPF.

If you are looking for the ingredient called BHA or Butylated Hydroxyanisole, click here.

Learn more about Salicylic Acid
11
What it does: Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Loved

Adenosine is in every living organism. It is one of four components in nucleic acids that helps store our DNA.

Adenosine has many benefits when used. These benefits include hydrating the skin, smoothing skin, and reducing wrinkles. Once applied, adenosine increases collagen production. It also helps with improving firmness and tissue repair.

Studies have found adenosine may also help with wound healing.

In skincare products, Adenosine is usually derived from yeast.

Learn more about Adenosine
12
What it does: Bleaching, Emollient, Skin Conditioning, Smoothing, Soothing
Community Rating: Liked

Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract is an extract of the roots of Licorice. It has been found to have several benefits such as skin hydrating, conditioning, and soothing.

One component, glabridin, has extra potent antioxidant and soothing properties. It has also been found to block pigmentation from UVB rays in guinea pigs.

Licorice Root also contains a flavonoid. Flavonoids are a natural substance from in plants. Flavonoids also have antioxidant properties.

Another component, glycyrrhizin, has been found to have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial benefits. This may make licorice root extract effective at treating acne. However, more research is needed to support this.

Liquiritin is one of the flavone compounds found in licorice. It has been found to help lighten skin by preventing tyrosinase from reacting with tyrosine. When the two react, protein is converted to melanin. Melanin is the substance in your body that gives your features pigmentation.

Learn more about Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract
13
What it does: Skin Protecting

Boerhavia Diffusa Root Extract comes from the Boerhavia Diffusa tree, or more commonly known as punarnava, red spiderling, spreading hogweed, or tarvine.

This tree is native to India and commonly used in ayurvedic medicine.

Studies show this extract helps soothe and hydrate skin. This root contains many amino acids that help moisturize skin, such as arginine and glycine.

Boerhavia Diffusa Root Extract also contains antioxidants, antioxidants help fight free-radicals. Free-radicals are molecules that may damage your skin cells.

Learn more about Boerhavia Diffusa Root Extract
14
What it does: Skin Conditioning, Skin Protecting, Soothing
Community Rating: Loved

Allantoin plays a role in soothing and moisturizing the skin. Because of this, it is often added to products with strong active ingredients.

Some studies have shown this ingredient can promote wound healing with higher concentrations.

Allantoin is derived from the comfrey plant but produced synthetically for cosmetic products to ensure purity.

Learn more about Allantoin
15
What it does: Masking, Skin Conditioning, Soothing
Community Rating: Loved

Bisabolol is pimarily used to add fragrance to a product. However, it is also famous for helping soothe skin.

Bisabolol comes from German chamomile essential oil. Synthetic Bisabolol has been shown to be less effective.

Bisabolol helps soothe skin. It does this by blocking the inflammatory signals, helping to reduce your body's reaction to irritation.

Bisabolol also interferes with the process of hyperpigmentation. This can help with reducing dark spots and uneven tone.

Bisabolol is an antioxidant. Antioxidants help fight free-radicals. Free-radicals are molecules that may damage your skin cells. By fighting these free-radicals, Bisabolol may slow down signs of aging.

Studies have shown Bisabolol to have antimicrobial properties and may be a fungicide. These properties help preserve a product's shelf life.

Bisabolol also helps the absorption of other ingredients.

Learn more about Bisabolol
16
What it does: Emollient, Skin Conditioning, Solvent
Community Rating: Disliked

Cyclopentasiloxane is a silicone used to improve texture and trap moisture. An easier name for this is D5.

D5 is considered lightweight and volatile. Volatile means it evaporates quickly after application. Once evaporated, D5 leaves a thin barrier that helps keep skin hydrated.

D5 is an emollient. Emollients help soften the skin and prevent water loss. Silicones create a silky texture in products. D5 helps other ingredients become more spreadable.

Studies show D5 is safe to use in skincare products. We recommend speaking with a skincare professional if you have concerns.

Learn more about Cyclopentasiloxane
17
What it does: Emulsifying, Emulsion Stabilising, Gel Forming, Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Disliked

Xanthan gum is used as a stabilizer and thickener within cosmetic products. It helps give products a sticky, thick feeling - preventing them from being too runny.

On the technical side of things, xanthan gum is a polysaccharide - a combination consisting of multiple sugar molecules bonded together.

Xanthan gum is a pretty common and great ingredient. It is a natural, non-toxic, non-irritating ingredient that is also commonly used in food products.

Learn more about Xanthan Gum
18
What it does: Emulsion Stabilising, Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Disliked

Sclerotium Gum is a polysaccharide gum made by the fungus, Sclerotium rolfssii. It is similar to xanthan gum.

In cosmetics, Sclerotium Gum is used to thicken the texture and to help stabilize other ingredients.

As an emulsifier, Sclerotium Gum helps prevent ingredients from separating, such as water and oil.

Learn more about Sclerotium Gum
19
What it does: Solvent
Community Rating: Liked

Propanediol helps absorb ingredients into your skin, boosting their benefits. It can act as an emollient, making your skin softer. Propanediol can help products last longer by boosting the properties of preservatives within the formulation.

Propanediol is not likely to cause sensitivity and considered safe to use.

It is derived from corn or petroleum with a clear color and no scent.

Learn more about Propanediol
20
What it does: Humectant, Masking, Skin Conditioning, Solvent
Community Rating: Mixed

Butylene Glycol (or BG) is used within cosmetic products for a few different reasons:

  • It is a solvent, meaning that it helps to dissolve other ingredients. This also enhances the absorption of the product into one's skin.
  • It is a humectant, which means that it helps attract moisture into the skin.
  • It helps improve product application.

Overall, Butylene Glycol is a safe and well-rounded ingredient. It is unlikely to irritate skin, and works well with pretty much all other ingredients.

21
What it does: Preservative
Community Rating: Very Disliked

Phenoxyethanol is a preservative that has germicide, antimicrobial, and aromatic properties. Studies show that phenoxyethanol can prevent germ and microbial growth. By itself, it has a scent that is similar to that of a rose.

It's often used in formulations along with Caprylyl Glycol to preserve the shelf life of products.

Embed Ingredients

Here's what our community thinks of the 21 ingredients in this product ✨

43% are loved or liked
10% have mixed ratings
38% are disliked or very disliked
10% have no rating yet

When to use

We've created a guide with info on when you should use Paula's Choice 10% Azelaic Acid Booster. We've also included some recommended products to use it with, as well as some routine inspiration!

Read our guide on when to use 10% Azelaic Acid Booster ->
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The data we've presented on this page has been verified by a member of the SkinSort Team.

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Top Reviews

View all 5
jcnfia's Avatar'
Mar 13, 2024

Paula's Choice at it again with cetearyl alcohol high up on the ingredient list. I'm disappointed by their ingredients fairly consistently now.

Paula's Choice at it again with cetearyl alcohol high up on the ingredient list. I'm disappointed by their ingredients fairly consistently now.

Broke Me Out
Irritating
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