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Paula's Choice Retinol Skin-Smoothing Body Treatment Ingredients Explained

5.0   from 1 ratings
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Published on February 21, 2021 Submitted by GJules

Overview

What it is

General moisturizer with 31 ingredients that contains retinoid, Vitamin C and Vitamin E

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, dark spots and better texture

Free From

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

Fun facts

Paula's Choice is from United States. This product is used in 8 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

Retinoid
Vitamin C
Vitamin E

Benefits

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

Concerns

Drying
May Worsen Oily Skin (3)
Acne Trigger
Irritating
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
Emollient, Emulsifying, Emulsion Stabilising
2 / 1
Fatty Alcohol IconMay worsen Oily Skin IconBad for Acne Prone Skin IconNot safe for Fungal Acne Icon
3
Emollient, Skin Conditioning
Not safe for Fungal Acne Icon
4
Emollient, Skin Conditioning, Solvent
Silicon Icon
5
Emollient, Skin Conditioning, Skin Protecting
1 / 0
Silicon Icon
6
Humectant, Skin Conditioning, Skin Protecting, Solvent
0 / 0
Helps hydrate Dry Skin IconHelps brighten skin Icon
7
Humectant, Masking, Skin Conditioning, Solvent
1 / 0
8
Emollient, Masking, Skin Conditioning
0 / 0
Not safe for Fungal Acne Icon
9
Skin Conditioning
Helps hydrate Dry Skin IconMay worsen Oily Skin IconNot safe for Fungal Acne Icon
10
Emollient, Emulsifying
1 / 0
Not safe for Fungal Acne Icon
11
0 / 0
Not safe for Fungal Acne Icon
12
Emollient
3 / 2
Oil IconHelps reduce irritation IconNot safe for Fungal Acne Icon
13
Emollient, Skin Conditioning
2-3 / 0
Oil IconNot safe for Fungal Acne Icon
14
Emollient, Emulsifying, Emulsion Stabilising, Masking
2 / 2
Fatty Alcohol Icon
15
Skin Conditioning
Retinoid IconCan worsen Dry Skin IconGood for Oily Skin IconMay cause irritation IconGood for Skin Texture IconGood for Minimizing Pores IconHelps with Anti-Aging IconGood for Dark Spots IconGood for Scar Healing IconHelps fight Acne IconMay worsen Eczema IconHelps brighten skin Icon
16
Antioxidant, Emollient, Skin Conditioning
Vitamin C IconAntioxidant IconHelps reduce Skin Redness IconGood for Skin Texture IconHelps with Anti-Aging IconGood for Dark Spots IconNot safe for Fungal Acne Icon
17
Antioxidant, Skin Conditioning
0 / 0
Vitamin E IconAntioxidant IconHelps brighten skin Icon
18
Masking, Skin Conditioning
19
Skin Conditioning
0 / 0
Helps reduce irritation Icon
20
Skin Conditioning
21
Emollient, Moisturising
22
Skin Conditioning
23
Emulsion Stabilising, Masking, Skin Conditioning
0-2 / 0
May worsen Oily Skin IconNot safe for Fungal Acne Icon
24
Absorbent
0 / 0
25
Buffering
26
Emulsifying, Emulsion Stabilising, Gel Forming, Skin Conditioning
27
Emollient, Skin Conditioning
28
Skin Conditioning
29
30
Antimicrobial, Preservative
Preservative Icon
31
Preservative
Preservative Icon

Ingredients Explained

This product contains 31 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: 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
3
What it does: Emollient, Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Very Disliked

Cetearyl Ethylhexanoate is derived from cetearyl alcohol and sorbic acid.

It is an emollient and helps hydrate the skin. Emollients form a barrier on the skin to prevent water from escaping.

4
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
5
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.

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: 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.

8
What it does: Emollient, Masking, Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Very Disliked

Cetyl Palmitate is a wax-like substance.

It comes from palmitic acid and palmityl alcohol. Cetyl Palmitate may not be safe for Malassezia folliculitis, or fungal-acne.

This ingredient is naturally found in the guava fruit and stony corals.

Learn more about Cetyl Palmitate
9
What it does: Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Very Disliked

Butyrospermum Parkii Butter is a plant lipid from the fruit of the Shea Tree. It is an effective skin hydrator and emollient.

Emollients help soothe and soften your skin. It does this by creating a protective film on your skin. This barrier helps trap moisture and keeps your skin hydrated. Emollients may be effective at treating dry or itchy skin.

Shea butter is rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants help fight free-radicals, or molecules that may harm the body. It is also full of fatty acids including stearic acid and linoleic acid. These acids help replenish the skin and keep skin moisturized.

While Shea Butter has an SPF rating of about 3-4, it is not a sunscreen replacement.

Shea butter may not be fungal acne safe. We recommend speaking with a professional if you have any concerns.

Learn more about Butyrospermum Parkii Butter
10
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
11
What it does:
Community Rating: Very Disliked

Peg-100 Stearate is an emollient and emulsifier. PEGS are a hydrophilic polyether compound . There are 100 ethylene oxide monomers in Peg-100 Stearate. Peg-100 Stearate is polyethylene glycol ester of stearic acid.

Peg-100 Stearate helps keep skin soft by trapping moisture in. It helps prevent oil and water from separating in a product. By binding oil and water, it helps remove dirt and oil to be rinsed away.

12
What it does: Emollient
Community Rating: Mixed

Oenothera Biennis Oil is the fixed oil derived from the seeds of the Evening Primrose.

Evening primrose oil is rich in fatty acids. These fatty acids include linoleic (60-85%), oleic (5-12%), palmitic (4-10%), and stearic (2-4%).

The fatty acid composition makes it a great ingredient for soothing and moisturizing skin. However, it may not be Malassezia folliculitis, or fungal acne safe.

Further research is needed on the role of evening primrose in treating eczema.

Evening primrose is native to North America.

Learn more about Oenothera Biennis Oil
13
What it does: Emollient, Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Mixed

Vitis Vinifera Seed Oil comes from the grape vine. Grape seeds are a byproduct of creating grape juice or wine.

The components of grape seeds have many skin benefits. Research has found it to be antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory. It also contains many potent antioxidants such as Vitamin E , Vitamin C, proanthocyanidins, polyphenols, flavonoids, and anthocyanins. Proanthocyanidin has been shown to help even out skin tone.

Antioxidants help fight free-radical molecules. Free-radical molecules are capable of damaging our cells and other genetic material. Antioxidants help stabilize free-radicals by donating extra electrons. Grape seed extract may help reduce the signs of aging.

The antimicrobial properties of grape seed may help treat acne. However, more research is needed to support this claim.

Grape seed has also been found to help absorb UV rays. Grape seed extract should not replace your sunscreen.

The fatty acids of grape seed oil give it emollient properties. Emollients help soothe and soften your skin by creating a film. This film traps moisture within, keeping your skin hydrated.

Learn more about Vitis Vinifera Seed Oil
14
What it does: Emollient, Emulsifying, Emulsion Stabilising, Masking
Community Rating: Very Disliked

Cetyl Alcohol is a fatty alcohol. Fatty Alcohols are most often used as an emollient or to thicken a product.

Cetyl Alcohol is not related to SD alcohol, denatured alcohol, or ethyl alcohol. The FDA allows products labeled "alcohol-free" to have fatty alcohols.

15
What it does: Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Loved

Retinol is a gold-standard ingredient for anti-aging. It is a form of Vitamin A and belongs to the class of retinoids that also includes tretinoin.

Why is retinol famous?

It has the most scientific studies backing up its skin benefits out of all the non-prescription ingredients.

Retinol is proven to:

This is why retinol is effective at removing wrinkles, fading dark spots, treating acne, and reducing the appearance of pores.

Studies show retinol is less effective when exposed to UV. Be sure to look for appropriate packaging to keep your retinol potent (similar to Vitamin C).

Using retinol or any retinoids will increase sun-sensitivity in the first few months. Though studies show retinoids increase your skin's natural SPF with continuous use, it is best to always wear sunscreen and sun-protection.

We recommend speaking with a medical professional about using this ingredient during pregnancy.

Retinol may cause irritation in some people, so be sure to patch test. Experts recommend 'ramping up' retinol use: start using this ingredient once a week and work up to using it daily.

Read about Tretinoin

Learn more about Retinol
16
What it does: Antioxidant, Emollient, Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Liked

Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate is a version of ascorbic acid, or pure Vitamin C.

Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate has many benefits including reducing wrinkles, skin soothing, dark spot fading, and fighting against free radicals.

Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate interferes with the process of skin darkening, helping to reduce hyperpigmentation. It also encourages the skin to produce more collagen.

As an antioxidant, it helps fight free-radicals. Free-radicals are molecules that may damage your skin cells.

One study found Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate to degrade in sunlight, but is stabilized when conbined with acetyl zingerone.

Learn more about Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate
17
What it does: Antioxidant, Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Liked

Tocopheryl Acetate is AKA Vitamin E. It is an antioxidant and protects your skin from free radicals. Free radicals damage the skin by breaking down collagen.

One study found using Tocopheryl Acetate with Vitamin C decreased the number of sunburned cells.

Tocopheryl Acetate is commonly found in both skincare and dietary supplements.

Learn more about Tocopheryl Acetate
18
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
19
What it does: Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Loved

Panthenol (also referred to as pro-vitamin B5) is a common ingredient that helps hydrate and soothe the skin.

lt is a humectant, meaning that it helps the skin attract and retain moisture.

Another benefit is the anti-inflammatory abilities. This means that it's great for sensitive, irritation-prone skin.

Once oxidized, panthenol converts to pantothenic acid. Panthothenic acid is found in all living cells.

Learn more about Panthenol
20
What it does: Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Loved

We don't have a description for Carnosine.

21
What it does: Emollient, Moisturising
Community Rating: Disliked

Dimethiconol is a silicone that resembles the popular dimethicone. Like other silicones, it is an emollient. Emollients create a thin film on skin to prevent moisture from escaping.

This ingredient helps to create a silky texture and improve spreadability. Due to its high molecular weight and thickness, it is often combined with cyclopentasiloxane.

22
What it does: Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Very Disliked

Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer is a silicone used to improve the texture of products and absorb oil. It does not get absorbed into the skin.

Like other silicones, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer helps condition the skin by creating a barrier. In this sense, it can act as an emollient and trap moisture in.

23
What it does: Emulsion Stabilising, Masking, Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Very Disliked

Beeswax is natural wax produced by honey bees and can be synthetically created. It consists mainly of fatty acid esters and long-chain alcohols.

In cosmetics, beeswax is a emollient. Due to its waxy structure, it creates a protective barrier. This barrier prevents water from evaporating off the skin.

This may not be a good ingredient for oily skin. We recommend speaking with a professional if you have concerns.

Beeswax cannot be removed with water, but can be taken off with an oil cleanser.

Beeswax is also antiseptic and contains vitamin A.

Learn more about Beeswax
24
What it does: Absorbent
Community Rating: Disliked

Magnesium Aluminum Silicate is a type of silica. It comes from naturally occuring minerals such as silicate ores and clay.

Magnesium aluminum silicate is used for enhancing texture and as an absorbent. Due to its large molecular size, it is unable to be absorbed into the skin.

Like other types of silica, this ingredient can be used to thicken a product. As an absorbent, it may be used to absorb extra water or help prevent clumping.

Learn more about Magnesium Aluminum Silicate
25
What it does: Buffering
Community Rating: Mixed

Sodium Hydroxide is also known as lye or caustic soda. It is used to adjust the pH of products; many ingredients require a specific pH to be effective.

In small amounts, sodium hydroxide is considered safe to use. However, large amounts may cause chemical burns due to its high alkaline.

Your skin has a natural pH and acid mantle. This acid mantle helps prevent harmful bacteria from breaking through. The acid mantle also helps keep your skin hydrated.

"Alkaline" refers to a high pH level. A low pH level would be considered acidic.

Learn more about Sodium Hydroxide
26
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
27
What it does: Emollient, Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Liked

Dicaprylyl Carbonate comes from carbonic acid and caprylyl alcohol, a fatty alcohol. It is an emollient and gives skin a velvet feel. The sources of Dicaprylyl Carbonate may be synthetic or from animals.

As an emollient, Dicaprylyl Carbonate creates a film on the skin. This film traps moisture in, keeping your skin soft and hydrated.

28
What it does: Skin Conditioning

We don't have a description for Decylene Glycol.

29
What it does:
Community Rating: Disliked

Disodium EDTA plays a role in making products more stable by aiding other preservatives.

It is a chelating agent, meaning it neutralizes metal ions that may be found in a product.

Disodium EDTA is a salt of edetic acid and is found to be safe in cosmetic ingredients.

Learn more about Disodium EDTA
30
What it does: Antimicrobial, Preservative
Community Rating: Disliked

Chlorphenesin is a synthetic preservative. It helps protect a product against bacteria in order to extend shelf life. In most cases, Chlorphenesin is paired with other preservatives such as phenoxyethanol and caprylyl glycol.

Chlorphenesin is a biocide. This means it is able to help fight the microorganisms on our skin. It is also able to fight odor-releasing bacteria.

Chlorphenesin is soluble in both water and glycerin.

Studies show Chlorphenesin is easily absorbed by our skin. You should speak with a skincare professional if you have concerns about using Chlorphenesin.

Learn more about Chlorphenesin
31
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 31 ingredients in this product ✨

26% are loved or liked
16% have mixed ratings
55% are disliked or very disliked
3% have no rating yet

When to use

Here's some more info on how this product is used by our community.

Directions

Apply a small amount to clean skin. May be used daily for all-over smoothing, or applied as a spot treatment where needed. For daytime, follow with a broad-spectrum sunscreen rated SPF 30 or greater. If irritation occurs, reduce frequency or mix into your favorite moisturizer...

Apply a small amount to clean skin. May be used daily for all-over smoothing, or applied as a spot treatment where needed. For daytime, follow with a broad-spectrum sunscreen rated SPF 30 or greater. If irritation occurs, reduce frequency or mix into your favorite moisturizer (without retinol). If irritation persists, discontinue use.

When to use

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