Beauty begins with truth. The philosophy of Paula’s Choice can be described as smart, safe beauty. The care products should be effective and do every skin good without exceptions.
IN CONVERSATION WITH VALERIE BLEEKER FROM PAULA’S CHOICE
The goal of Paula’s Choice was and is to offer effective, safe and scientifically proven formulations. When it comes to skin care, Paula’s Choice is always open and honest about the latest findings and facts, because the path to healthy skin should not be a secret. Within 60 days there is the possibility to return the products in case of dissatisfaction and the full purchase price will be refunded. Valerie Bleeker is Skincare Education Manager at Paula’s Choice. Due to her skin disease rosacea an avid beauty fan and an absolute beauty specialist. Valerie has years of experience in the skin industry and with different beauty brands that’s why we talked to her.
Valerie, you are skincare education manager at Paula’s choice – what does your day and work look like?
As a skincare education manager at Paula’s Choice, no two days are ever the same. Most likely, you’ll see me preparing social media content for our Instagram & Tik Tok accounts, researching ingredients, hosting product trainings, and answering press inquiries. It’s a very versatile position where I truly never get bored!
Why do you think taking care of our skin in general is so relevant and how do you even find out what skin-type you are?
Our society is obsessed with aesthetics, which includes the appearance of our skin. Despite the social pressure and stigma to always have perfect skin, there’s a simple biological need for it: we age and collect sun damage throughout our lives. When we are young, our skin can produce many substances it needs to stay healthy on its own but as we grow older, it loses these abilities increasingly. On top of that, accumulated sun damage accelerates this process. The consequence: brown spots, an uneven complexion, fine lines, loss of firmness and wrinkles. Therefore, a consistently applied skincare routine is essential to maintain, rejuvenate and protect our skin at all ages.
If you are unsure about your skin type, this simple test can help you:
- Wash your face with a gentle cleanser and wait at least 15-30 minutes.
- Don’t apply any products during this time.
- Have a look in the mirror and analyze your skin type based on your skin’s natural characteristics.
Normal skin: Your skin feels smooth, and you can’t see signs of flaking or oiliness.
Dry skin: Your skin feels tight, dehydrated, and may have flaky areas. You won’t notice shine or oiliness on your face.
Combination skin: Your skin tends to be oilier in the t-zone (forehead, nose & chin) and can be normal to dry everywhere else. You may detect enlarged pores, breakouts, and blackheads in the oily areas.
Oily skin: Your skin looks shiny overall and may feel slick when you touch it. Breakouts, enlarged pores and blackheads appear more frequently.
If you look from Paula’s choice as a brand now – what is special about your methodology and your handling of active ingredients in skincare?
At Paula’s Choice, you’ll find a variety of active ingredients in the product portfolio ranging from well-known retinol to salicylic acid and newer discoveries like tranexamic acid. What do they all have in common? They are verified and supported by independent research. We are also very transparent about the research that goes into our products; therefore, you’ll find the cited scientific papers and studies listed under each product and expert article on our website. When it comes to formulating with active ingredients, several technical aspects need to be considered to ensure the final product delivers the results it claims to offer. These include the correct packaging, pH-level, and concentration of the active ingredient. For instance, salicylic acid (also known as BHA) has exfoliating benefits within a pH-level range of 3-4 and a concentration of 1-2%. Any changes to these parameters affect its abilities, e.g. at a concentration of 0.5%, BHA has anti-inflammatory properties but it can’t exfoliate anymore. Also, packaging plays a big role for active ingredients since many of them, like Vitamin C or retinol, can become less effective when exposed to air and light. Therefore, you’ll never find transparent or jar packaging in the Paula’s Choice product portfolio.
What do you think are the most important points when making facial care products?
Human skin is a complex organ, so facial care products need to be:
- Multi-faceted: products should contain a mix of antioxidants, skin-replenishing, and skin-restoring ingredients to improve the overall health of one’s skin.
- Gentle: products need to be enriched with soothing ingredients and formulated at the correct pH-levels to protect the skin’s delicate microbiome
- Non-irritating: alcohol, fragrance, perfume, harsh scrubs, drying cleansers or essential oils, have no place in facial care
- Truthful: No skincare product can deliver miracles overnight, so the communication around it needs to be ethical as well.
- Targeted: everyone has different skin types and needs, so a “one-size-fits-all” does not work. Good facial care portfolios include solutions for dry to normal and oily to combination skin.
Our skin is often particularly stressed by external influences and the cold weather – how can you recognize sensitive skin and what is your quick SOS tip?
It’s true, winter is especially hard for our skin and many people start seeing signs of sensitivity. The most common symptoms include redness, tightness, itchiness, dryness, and a rough texture. In those situations, consumers are inclined to look for that one “quick-fix SOS product”, but unfortunately our skin is much more complex than that. On the other hand, switching to an entire skincare routine is also not needed. Instead, listen to your personal skin needs and only adapt where necessary. A few tips:
- Switch textures: opt for a creamier cleanser, a thicker day or nighttime moisturizer
- Adapt the routine: use an additional toner, serum, treatment, booster, or the occasional mask to nourish your skin
- Barrier-repairing ingredients: look for ingredients like omega fatty acids, ceramides, unscented plant oils, hyaluronic acid and panthenol to increase the resilience of your skin
What should you avoid at all costs in your own facial care?
Anything harsh or irritating puts your skin at a disadvantage. This includes perfume, fragrance, essential oils (e.g. lavender) and any astringent ingredients like denatured alcohol or witch hazel. Also, avoid ingredients that cause a tingling sensation, e.g., mint, or coarse scrub peelings, which can compromise the skin barrier.
Sidenote: research has shown that continued inflammation of the skin can accelerate its ageing process, so if you reduce the number of irritants, you’ll keep your skin looking younger much longer. This phenomenon is also known as “inflammaging”.
We see more and more often how people present their routines on the Internet, some of which consist of an incredible number of steps – how many steps does an optimal routine have and what are they?
A basic three-step routine is all it needs to keep your skin healthy and protected:
Step 1 Cleanser: Use a mild cleanser morning and night to remove make-up, impurities, and extra oil.
Step 2 Exfoliant: Regularly treat your skin to a gentle exfoliant, which removes excess skin cell buildup to reveal smooth, soft, and younger-looking skin. Use an AHA (Alpha-Hydroxy-Acid), when your skin type is normal to dry, and you suffer from sun damage, dull skin and dryness. If you have oily to combination skin, a BHA (Beta-Hydroxy-Acid), which unclogs pores, reduces blackheads, enlarged pores, breakouts, and redness, is more suitable.
Step 3 Moisturiser with SPF (AM) and moisturiser without SPF (night): Always finish your daytime routine with a broad-spectrum SPF 30. At night, look for a moisturiser enriched with antioxidants and repairing ingredients to support your skin’s regeneration process.
If you notice advanced skin issues, e.g. persistent redness, which can’t be addressed with your basic routine alone, you can extend your basic routine with targeted treatments, serums, toners, masks and boosters.
Step 1 Cleanser
Step 2 Toner (optional)
Step 3 Exfoliant
Step 4 Layer one or more boosters, treatments and/or serums from thinnest to thickest. (optional)
Step 5 Moisturiser with SPF (AM) or moisturiser without SPF (PM)
Feel free to alternate products throughout the week, modify the number of steps as needed or go back to the basic three. There’s no single recipe for the “optimal” routine, try to figure out what works best for you.
Paula’s Choice is currently hosting the House of Calm. What does calmness mean to you and how is it connected to one’s skincare-routine?
Having a gentle skincare routine and wearing SPF daily play a big part in keeping skin calm, healthy and protected but they are not the only ones. In fact, skincare is much more holistic and other factors such as mental health, living an stress-free life, having a balanced diet, and exercising regularly affect the state of the skin as well.
Therefore, visitors at our House of Calm can look forward to a variety of activities ranging from relaxing meditation classes, personal skincare advice to an immersive experience for all senses and expert talks on the topic.
What makes the Calm series by Paulas Choice?
We at Paula’s Choice believe consumers with sensitive skin have the right to attractive products, aesthetically pleasing textures, modern formulas, and anti-aging benefits. Therefore, the new CALM collection combines the latest scientific advancements with long-proven soothing ingredients, counters underlying factors of sensitivity while strengthening the barrier and addressing signs of aging such as wrinkles and rough texture. Key ingredients include Allantoin, Northern Truffle and Acetyl-Hexapeptide-8.
A growing trend is “inflammaging”, the accelerated skin ageing due to constant micro-inflammations of daily life. Consequently, we see a higher need for suitable products with antioxidants, soothing and calming ingredients that reduce these chronic micro-inflammations, therefore limiting skin ageing.