Skincare Review: Paula's Choice CLEAR Acne System

I've struggled with acne since I was about 21 (now 33) and have used practically everything out there. I was recently  prescribed spironolactone for hormonal acne, and had good results, but I don't like taking prescription meds and they made me feel lethargic, so I am back to using topical products to control my breakouts. I recently purchased this CLEAR Regular Strength acne system from Paula Begoun's skincare line titled, Paula's Choice. I use several of her other products and I love them (from the Resist Anti-Aging line) so I decided it wouldn't hurt to try this. So far I have had great results and my monthly pimples are clearing up. The best part is that my skin is not overdry, which is what happens when I use ProActive (even with moisturizer) and almost every other acne regimen I have tried. I have been using some moisturizer samples that I recieved with my purchase and will probably be purchasing a moisturizer from Paula in the near future. I have acne prone sensitive dry skin. My skin type is so hard to deal with because I am dry, yet moisturizers tend to break me out. I also have to deal with some melasma and I am in my early 30's so i am concerned with aging as well. i feel like i combine every product out there!
We'll see how it goes!
I think this system is probably the best that I have used so far. I am comparing this to some other regimens I have tried that include:
MD Forte now known as Vivite - too expensive, confusing if you pick the products yourself- u need a doc or esthetician
Exposed Skincare Acne Kit - pretty good actually.. but expensive, and too many steps
ProActive -too drying
Differin - hated
Tazorac HATED
Retin-A Micro good results but instead of acne i had peely/crusty face all the time
Atralin (tretinoin) -HATED!
Accutane cleared up ONLY cystic acne. I did 2 rounds of this drug hoping it would completely clear my skin and I would never get another breakout again... nope!
Ortho-Tricyclen- HATED made me fat and broke me out more!
Yasmin- this BC pill worked for my acne but it gave me MELASMA! Will it ever end??!??
Spironolactone - worked great but made me feel very lethargic. It is supposed to lower your blood pressure, but mine is already low. Not worth it.
I've also used countless other products I am too lazy to write about!
For now I have my acne under control with Paula's CLEAR, plus Tri-Luma cream 2-3x/week for my melasma. Plus lots of Ceravé moisturizer and sunscreen (of course)!

*Decent price $46.85 for all 3 products. the cleanser is bigger than ProActive, the toner is the same size. You get much more Benzoyl Peroxide lotion than with Proactive. This kit will pbly last 2-3 months.
* No yucky smell whatsoever!
* None so far!


  1. I have the same exact skin type as you. Dry skin with acne. I to enjoy Paula's choice products. Can you tell me which other products (paula's choice or not) that have worked for you, including foundation. Thank you so much!!

  2. tara, is your skin the bane of your existence too?!? :) i would be happy to let u know what i've found that works for me. (sorry so late)! i have been using kiehl's ultra facial cleanser $18 expensive but worth it-the teeniest bit will clean your whole face, including eye makeup, without drying. then i use the use the kiehls' ultra facial moisturizer $24. it is a very basic moisturizer that doesn't break me out and doesn't have any fragrance but still moisturizes well. a little of this goes a long way too. this is how i justify the price. at night i use retin a micro .04%. retin a helps normalize the shedding of the skin as well as skin cell production which will decrease acne and oilyness/dryness. it helps skin to act more normal. it does cause peeling (like a sunburn) but it is worth it. i visited a dermatologist who prescribed this for me but went to a reputable canadian site to purchase the retin a for 1/4 of the price my pharmacy was asking even with prescription coverage AND a promo coupon (ugh!) i also recommend cerave moisturizing lotion and cleanser although the cleanser doesn't get my skin as clean as kiehls and the moisturizer is not as moisturizing. cerave is easier to obtain and less expensive than kiehl's.
    i also add the proactive cleanser in the morning if my skin is breaking out. depending on the severity of the breakout i will use the rest of the 3 step system but sparingly since it is very drying. typically, i use the proactive cleanser in the AM to kill any acne bacteria. i add neutrogena sensitive skin sunscreen spf 30 everyday too after i moisturize! my fave foundations so far have been diorskin nude liquid foundation, dior airflash foundation, maybelline stay true powder foundation, armani luminous silk foundation, nyx hd foundation and nyx hd powder foundation. none of these have ever broken me out as far as i know.

    what have you found that you like??

  3. Thank you for your response. I have not tried Kiels (may have to try that). I have used neutrogena gentle face cleasner. Good am cleasner but doesn't remove makeup well at night. I really like cerave hydrating cleanser in the am and the foaming cleanser in pm (removes makeup better)I also like the cerave lotion. It seems to help with the flakiness. I have tried many (well ok..all) of paula's products and can't seem to find the right regimen. I have acne mostly on my chin and jawline, alittle on my forehead and i can't seem to fight it. My derm gave me the typical antibiotics, retin A, spironolactone (holly cow I felt the same as you when i was using that stuff...yuck)Since i have many acne red marks I have to use a full coverage foundation. Revlon colorstay (normal to dry) seems to be the best for me. It covers well.
    Thanks for the suggestions.

  4. Tara, I am glad to hear about neutrogena face cleanser. I wanted to try it but now I won't. I couldn't really find a paula regimen either. I remember learning that jaw/chin acne is typically a hormonal issue and not a bacterial one. I tend to get only jaw/chin/cheek acne. I def see a difference in my acne when I keep my diet low carb and low dairy. I think you may want to try focusing on healing your acne internally (but still use your topicals) with diet and excercise. retin a has really refined my skin and scars. It has taken literally 3 months of peeling and grossness but i am finally being able to tolerate it better. try to tough it out with the retin a! best wishes & good luck!


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