Meeting Paula Begoun

Meeting Paula Begoun


Oh lovely people! So today I went along and met the brilliant Paula Begoun and her co-author Bryan Barron. We chatted for over two hours and I could've stayed all day. Next time she's over we may hit the department stores on Oxford Street together. ;)

If you are unaware of Paula Begoun she is the Cosmetics Cop and the woman behind both Beautypedia and Paula's Choice skincare. She is sassy, opinionated, intelligent and did I mention opinionated?

I see a lot of brands, meet a lot of people 'behind' brands where there is just nothing but dollar signs in their eyes. Not here. We spoke for so long that it would be nigh on impossible to cover everything but these are some gems that I took away from meeting Paula.

'More than half my life has been in this industry, it's been over 35 years. Product development is what I love now. Developing products that encapsulate everything we believe is a joy.'

Her beliefs/the brand ethos

'We're now in 50 countries. Thank God for the internet!'

'We were on the cusp of setting up in China and then we heard about the animal testing and we pulled out. We said 'No'. It's a billion people market. It's a big deal. But 'No'.'

'Skincare has to be based around a system. There is no such thing as a hero product. Skin is too complicated. It's the largest organ of the body, it has specific needs and concerns that take more than one ingredient, more than one product to address.'

'It is the rare person that has a 'normal skin'. Or one skin type. So it takes a system to address those variety of concerns.'

'Everybody's skin, no matter who you are, has the same needs from the same ingredients. Everybody needs antioxidants. Everybody needs anti-inflammatories because inflammation is a skin destroyer that comes from many sources and then they need cell-communicating ingredients. Ingredients that can tell cells to make better cells, especially later in life or if you have a tendency towards blemishes.'

'So what it comes down to is texture. If you have an oily/combination skin, you may prefer gels. Same ingredients, but in a gel formula. If you are drier you may prefer a creamier formulation.'

'You cannot use fragrance. It's damaging as soon as you put it on. Skin doesn't show damage in the short term, it takes a long time. We know this from UVA. You step outside, the damage is immediate, even though you don't feel it. Irritation, no matter what the source, is taking place, even if you cannot see it.'


CH: 'And you love/use mineral oil. I hate it.'

PB: 'Well the research says that it is a wound healing ingredient. There is no negative research about mineral oil.'

CH: 'Weellll, that depends what studies you read.' :)

PB: *sits forward* 'What studies?'

There follows a long off the record conversation about mineral oil and brands that use it.

CH: 'Certainly from a massage point-of-view, during facial massage, plant oils are superior. I would never massage with mineral oil, although I would do a paraffin mask during the treatment.'

PB: 'Mineral oil and plant oils have two different properties. Plant oils have fatty acid properties and are anti-inflammatory and antioxidants. They absorb in better and work at cellular repair. Mineral oil, on the other hand, is a surface ingredient. It's too large to penetrate. It's great for wound healing. It allows for air to flow through and keeps moisture to a minimum.'

That's where we left that conversation. ;)

Her products

'A great skincare product takes into consideration that there are things that need to stay on top, things that need to absorb, and then things that need to absorb deeply.'

'The other thing is the notion of 'gentle'. It is a huge issue because everything about ageing, everything about healing the skin, red marks, blemishes, is all about reducing inflammation. What we know about ageing and collagen destruction and sun damage is inflammation is a killer. Whatever that source is, whether it's the sun, hot water, irritating ingredients, fragrance, fragrant plant extracts, essential oils, it causes further irritation and damages skin. So everything we do is to encompass active ingredients in a formula loaded with soothing ingredients that contain no irritants. That's who we are.'

'All of the claims we make for the products are supported by published research, that we list on our website. We take all of that very seriously.'


'A major component of Paula's Choice is exfoliants. It's a fundamental concept for healthy skin, to help skin shed naturally what it can't normally do because of things like sun damage. Glycolic, lactic and salicylic acids are the ones we know the most about. However, not everyone can use all of them so we make different products so that everyone can use something.'

CH: 'I love acid toning.'

PB: 'You call it acid toning? I think that's brilliant!'

CH: 'Don't nick that Paula! It's mine.'

She's not a fan

'That everything needs to absorb, or everything needs to penetrate, or this needle-rolling to create channels to get things into skin is just bogus.'

Me: 'What do you think of dermarolling? I hate it.'

PB: 'It's damaging. Repeatedly wounding the skin does not generate collagen. It generates (we both say together) scar tissue. If you use it once a month, it may not give you an issue, but a lot of people are using it on a regular basis, using at-home kits. Over time, it ends up stiffening the skin. It does not give you supple, pliable, beautiful skin and it damages elastin. And elastin doesn't rebuild. It is very hard, if not impossible, to rebuild elastin. Dermal rollers are terrible. They are physiologically bad for skin.'

*high fives Paula*

And my favourite part of our conversation

I asked Paula what she thought of the frequent criticism of her Beautypedia website being conjoined with her Paula's Choice website.

CH: 'Do you find it's a fine line to cross between having a website that talks, frequently in a negative fashion, about all the other brands and then at the bottom up pops a box with a 'Try this!' and it's recommending something from your range?'

PB: 'No not at all.'

CH *smiling*: 'You don't care?'

PB: 'Well it's not that I don't care, I get that it's controversial. But I know that we are the only cosmetics company in the world that recommends products other than their own - that are willing to talk about other products.

So as long as we stay, in Paula's Choice, respectful of what we are trying to achieve and keep each other in check, and never cross any lines....

Listen. I know, for a fact, that we have some of the best products on the market, and as an entire line, some of the most cohesively consistent formulas and packaging. We're not going to make everybody happy. You never will. For years we were almost embarrassed that we had our own products. So no, I don't mind the criticism.'


The Lady has a point.


And yes. She has great skin.



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