For Canadian skin care fans, this moment has been years in the making: Paula’s Choice is finally available to shop at Sephora Canada.

“Canadian customers have always been able to have access to our products through our website, but we know the challenges that come with shipping across the border so we completely understand why people have been begging us to have an actual store presence in Canada,” says Desiree Stordahl, director of applied research and education for Paula’s Choice.

Starting today, you can shop the brand’s bestsellers on as well as in 100 Sephora stores throughout the country.

The Paula’s Choice story goes back to 1975 when Paula Begoun was fired from her job at a cosmetics counter for being upfront with customers about what products could and could not do for their skin. She would go on to share that straight-shooting approach to beauty in a self-published book titled Blue Eyeshadow Should Be Illegal. It became a bestseller and even landed her on The Oprah Winfrey Show. After a few more hit books, readers began asking her to launch her own range. “They were like, ‘If you know what the best ingredients are, can you just come out with your own line so we can cut through all this clutter and just have really great effective products?’” says Stordahl.

And that’s how Paula’s Choice, one of the world’s first online only beauty brands, was born. True to Begoun’s no BS ethos, the products never made promises they couldn’t keep. “We only claim what they can do so people know they can trust us to be very reliable,” says Stordahl. Every claim is backed up by independent scientific journal articles as well as clinical trials. The brand also shares full ingredient lists on its website, breaking down what each of them does with its handy ingredient dictionary. There’s even an ingredient checker tool where you can copy-paste the ingredient list of any product from any brand (or simply upload a photo of it), and it will tell you what each ingredient is and how effective it is so you can make sure you’re getting your money’s worth. Pretty cool, right?

“We want to give people this clear picture of, ‘Hey, we have these really great products, but no matter whose products you’re using, here’s what’s true about skin care, here’s what the research shows,’” says Stordahl.

It’s that transparency and staunch focus on performance that’s won over so many customers around the world. Cue the rave reviews and viral hits all over social media. Here, Stordahl gives us the lowdown on five of those star products making their debut at Sephora Canada today.

Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant, $47,

Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant, $47, SHOP HERE

“On TikTok, this product has millions and millions of videos,” says Stordahl. “People just really love showing off their before and afters with this product.” That’s because the results are seriously impressive. The leave-on exfoliant, powered by two per cent salicylic acid, unclogs pores, does away with dead cells, boosts radiance and visibly smooths skin — practically overnight. “Other brands have tried to replicate this product but what they’ve missed the boat on is the gentleness,” says Stordahl. Whereas some liquid exfoliants can irritate skin and compromise the moisture barrier, this one manages to be potent while also moisturizing and soothing thanks to green tea and methylpropanediol, an ingredient that not only hydrates but also allows the formula to better penetrate the pore lining and get rid of buildup and acne causing bacteria. Whether you’re dealing with breakouts, rough texture, visible pores or dullness, this is a product that can single-handedly transform your skin.

Paula's Choice C15 Vitamin C Super Booster, $75,

Paula’s Choice C15 Vitamin C Super Booster, $75, SHOP HERE

Dermatologists swear by vitamin C to maintain healthy, beautiful skin. That’s because it’s a powerful multitasker: It fends off free radical damage brought on by environmental stressors like pollution and UV rays, and even amps sun protection when layered under SPF. It’s also a proven brightener, helping to even out your skin’s tone (bye-bye, sun damage) and increase its glow, on top of stimulating collagen production and softening lines and wrinkles. It’s just a really phenomenal ingredient. The only problem is, it’s notoriously unstable and hard to formulate, which means that, unfortunately, a lot of vitamin C serums out there fail to actually provide all those amazing aforementioned benefits. “You’re not going to see results from vitamin C if the proper formulary considerations weren’t taken,” says Stordahl. And when they are formulated correctly, the price tag can be exorbitant. Not the case with Paula’s Choice’s C15 Vitamin C Super Booster. It’s made with 15 per cent l-ascorbic acid (considered the gold standard of vitamin C), teamed up with ferulic acid and vitamin E, two other antioxidants that help stabilize vitamin C while also enhancing its effects, and is formulated at an ideal pH to ensure efficacy. The bottle is also opaque to prevent degradation. A vitamin C serum is something absolutely everyone can benefit from and this one is a stellar choice.

Paula's Choice Clinical Niacinamide 20% Treatment, $72,

Paula’s Choice Clinical Niacinamide 20% Treatment, $72, SHOP HERE

A few years ago, the brand came out with a 10 per cent niacinamide serum and founder Paula Begoun loved it so much, she asked the lab team to make a special 20 per cent version just for her. “She saw such great results for her enlarged pores, skin tone and overall smoothness that she wanted to see what that 20 per cent could do,” says Stordahl. The results blew her away. “She came back and was like, ‘We have to launch this product.’” It was the first 20 per cent niacinamide product on the market. “Since then, other brands have tried to copy us, but similar to our BHA liquid exfoliant, they can never quite crack that magic code of getting the efficacy and the gentleness.” It works wonders returning stretched pores to their original size and shape so skin looks smoother and firmer. That in turn allows it to better reflect light, giving the complexion a more luminous appearance overall. And because niacinamide is another great multitasker, it also helps control excess oil and strengthen the moisture barrier by encouraging skin to produce more ceramides. We can all personally thank Paula for this one.

Paula's Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment, $85,

Paula’s Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment, $85, SHOP HERE

OK, so we’ve covered vitamin C and niacinamide. Now it’s time to talk about another much appreciated skin care ingredient: retinol. When it comes to reducing signs of aging, it’s the best of the best, tackling everything from fine lines and wrinkles to dark spots, discoloration and loss of firmness. “It’s the anti-aging hero,” says Stordahl. Unfortunately, a lot of people have a hard time tolerating it as it can be quite irritating to the skin. “So we take special proprietary measures to make sure that our encapsulation method is releasing that retinol slowly so you’re not getting that instant hit which is when people experience the redness or flaking.” The treatment is also laced with soothing willow bark and licorice root extract to keep skin calm while the retinol goes to work. “When customers come to us and say, ‘Your product changed my skin,’ this is often the product they’re talking about,” says Stordahl. “People really, really love it.”

Paula's Choice C5 Super Boost Vitamin C Eye Cream, $53,

Paula’s Choice C5 Super Boost Vitamin C Eye Cream, $53, SHOP HERE

Rounding out Sephora Canada’s Paula’s Choice offering is this recently launched eye cream. Eye creams have an interesting history at Paula’s Choice because back in the day, founder Paula Begoun always said people didn’t need an eye — they could just use their regular moisturizer. “That’s still true,” says Stordahl. “If somebody just wants to use their moisturizer around their eyes, that’s really great.” But over the years, the brand received constant requests from customers asking for a product dedicated to the famously delicate eye area. They finally expanded their range to include eye creams and this is the newest one, a treatment specifically formulated to address one of the most common eye concerns: dark circles. To do so, it banks on that proven brightener, vitamin C, at a five per cent concentration. That’s combined with an ingredient called zerumbone, which improves capillary blood flow under the surface of skin, as well as a lipid blend to hydrate, plump and soften fine lines, and peptides to further help with wrinkles. “This is one of those products that you do need to use for longer term to really see the results,” says Stordahl. “But you’re also going to get some instant benefits [i.e. a more refreshed looking gaze] along the way.”

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Katherine Lalancette is the beauty and lifestyle director of The Kit. She writes about beauty and trends. Reach her on email at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter: @kik_tweets


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