Paula’s Choice RESIST Weekly Resurfacing Treatment Review
I’m a huge believer in chemical exfoliation, but my skin is so weird about Alpha Hydroxy Acids sometimes. Lactic acids are generally pretty safe for me, but glycolic acid can go either way. Sometimes they work like a dream, and sometimes I wind up with chemical burn, or never-ending skin flakes for what seems like no good reason at all. The thing is, I love what AHA does for my skin when it works, so I remain persistent. After my success with Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid, I figured if any AHA was going to work for me, it would be a Paula’s Choice formula. I tried the 8% AHA first, and it was a flake festival no matter how I used it – I tried it with and without BHA, I tried it every other day and even every 2 days, but no matter what I did, the days that followed always ended with a full beard made out of dead skin by the time 5PM rolled around. I was almost ready to give up on glycolic acid altogether, but thankfully I didn’t, because then I never would have discovered Paula’s Choice RESIST Weekly Resurfacing Treatment.
Here’s a little summary about AHAs for the uninitiated:
Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) are plant-derived acids that, when formulated with the correct pH and concentration, exfoliate the surface layer of skin and promote healthy cell growth to replace dead skin cells. AHAs are great for refining skin texture, lightening dark spots, and they’re one of the few skincare actives that have substantial scientific proof demonstrating their efficacy against fine lines and wrinkles.
They do have a dark side though – an AHA that’s too strong can damage skin. If it’s not formulated with the right pH (3.4-3.8), it won’t do much of anything at all. Some AHAs don’t play nicely with sensitive skin types – I remember trying to use an AHA back when I first started using a prescription Tretinoin cream – big mistake. Huge.
My skin is less sensitive than it used to be though, so my love affair with AHA is back on. I’m in a pretty serious relationship right now with a high-end lactic acid toner I started using a few months ago (review forthcoming), but I need more. That’s where the Paula’s Choice RESIST Weekly Resurfacing Treatment comes in.
What is it?
Paula’s Choice RESIST Weekly Resurfacing Treatment ($30) is a 10% AHA (in the form of glycolic acid) treatment that promises to even skin tone, brighten skin tone, stimulate collagen production, and reduce wrinkles.
Water, Methylpropanediol, Glycolic Acid, Butylene Glycol, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Sodium Hydroxide, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (vitamin C), Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Extract, Arctium Lappa (Burdock) Root Extract, Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Extract, Borago Officinalis (Borage) Extract, Boerhavia Diffusa Root Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Lamium Album (White Nettle) Flower Extract, Salix Nigra (Willow) Bark Extract, Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Extract, Ulmus Fulva Bark Extract, Glycerin, Allantoin, Propylene Glycol, Tetrasodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol.
One of the things I like so much about Paula’s hydroxy acid formulas is the absence of alcohol. The combination of alcohol and acids really doesn’t agree with my skin, which is unfortunate since most acid products seem to favor the combination. In addition to the 10% AHA content, I also like the number of antioxidant and anti-irritant ingredients included in the formula. Here are some of the ingredient highlights:
Glycolic acid is a sugar cane derived Alpha Hydroxy Acid that acts as a chemical exfoliator. It works by removing dead skin cells to reveal and promote the growth of newer, healthier cells. It’s used to treat fine lines, hyperpigmentation, melasma, and dullness.
For more on glycolic acid, check out:
Glycolic acid peel therapy – a current review, 2013
Clinical, Cosmetic, and Investigational Dermatology
Applications of hydroxy acids: classification, mechanisms, and photoactivity, 2010
Clinical, Cosmetic, and Investigational Dermatology
Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice
Aloe is a classic skincare ingredient for very good reason. It contains antioxidant properties with Vitamins A, C, and E, fatty acids, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, as well as naturally occurring salicylic acid. It’s fantastic at treating acne, redness, and dryness, among other things.
If you’d like to learn more about aloe, check out this wonderfully detailed summary from the Indian Journal of Dermatology.
Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract
Green tea has a multitude of studies showing its skincare benefits. Its active, skin-friendly component is polyphenols, which possess powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
This study from June of 2013 showed green tea extract to have a prolonged moisturizing effect, reduce skin roughness, and improve skin microrelief (wrinkles):
Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract
Licorice Root is one of my all time favorite skincare ingredients. It’s often used in skincare formulas for it’s brightening properties and its ability to lighten hyperpigmentation, but it’s also anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antimicrobial.
According to CosDNA, the only real red flag in this ingredient lineup is Sodium Hydroxide, which ranks a 5 out of 5 as a potential irritant. It’s worth noting, however, that this score reflects the properties of unreacted Sodium Hydroxide. In this product, it’s used as a pH adjuster. Because it’s been reacted, it is 100% benign in this formula.
Paula’s Choice RESIST Weekly Resurfacing Treatment comes packaged in an unceremonious, yet adequately functional blue, plastic bottle. The dispenser is just a standard shaker opening.
The product itself is a clear liquid that’s a bit thicker than water.
The ideal pH for a glycolic action to work effectively without causing irritation is between 3 and 4. Some clinical peels are administered with an even lower pH, but once it dips below 3, chances of irritation or skin damage increases. Paula’s Choice RESIST Weekly Resurfacing Treatment has a pH of right around 3.5.
There will never be an eau de parfum paying homage to the smell of this treatment. This product smells like nail polish remover. It is not overpowering though, and it does not linger.
When I use Paula’s Choice RESIST Weekly Resurfacing Treatment, I pat my face dry after cleansing in the evening, and pour out an amount approximately the diameter of a cherry into my hands. I spread the liquid over my face with my fingers, and then quickly rinse my hands (I don’t want peely fingertips). Then I wait for about 20-30 minutes while the acid does its work. This product definitely has the characteristic acid “tingle.” It feels a bit like my face on a super low-powered electric fence. I’ve grown to enjoy it, but those new to acids might find it too uncomfortable. If you do, it’s okay to wash it off. You might learn to love it later – it’s an acquired taste.
After I’ve waited, I apply the rest of my skincare routine, but omit my Tretinoin and BHA. The instructions indicate that you can wash it off it you’d like, but I don’t see the point. By the time 30 minutes has gone by and I’ve applied other products to my face, the pH has been neutralized. Besides, washing it off would deprive me of all those exciting anti-inflammatory ingredients I’m always blathering on about!
I used Paula’s Choice RESIST Weekly Resurfacing Treatment once a week for 4 consecutive weeks. I did not experience any breakouts or irritation as a result of using this product. For the first two weeks, I was also using the Hanyul White Chrysanthemum Powder Serum, so keep that in mind when viewing the before & afters.
I found the effects of this treatment to be both instantaneous and long term. In the short term, my skin had a little extra glow the day after using this treatment. The texture was smoother, and pores were less visible. Over the course of 4 weeks, my PIH lightened significantly. Best of all, flaking was minimal – I flaked a little a day or two after the treatment, but nothing on the magnitude of dead skin I often experience with other glycolic acid treatments.
I’m incredibly impressed with this product – I love that I get all the benefits of AHA without any of the drawbacks. My skin type is dry, but I think it would work well on normal and oily skin as well. I consider my skin to be sensitive, though not as sensitive as it used to be. I think this is an excellent treatment for those new to acids, or for people who have had issues with AHAs in the past. I will definitely buy this product again.
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Where to Buy
|Paula's Choice Online store (currently serving US, Australia, and Asia)
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|Paula's Choice (Europe) Online store (currently serving the European Union)
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