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Paula’s Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment | REVIEW

Hello hello! It’s Leslie here, back with another skincare review. I LOVE Paula’s Choice – her Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid single-handedly got me into “high end” skin care and started this entire love affair. I know I can always trust their products to be high quality, effective, and nonirritating. Their products are also always fragrance-free and never tested on animals.

I have been using the Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment for a few months now, and I am here to give you some thoughts and feelings about it! Before we get into it – sign up for emails here, so you never miss a new post! And you could also head over to my YouTube channel – it’d be real nice!



I have dabbled here and there into Retinols, some of which happen to be holy grail favorites. Although…with all the haps going on over at Deciem, it may soon be difficult to get my hands on my bae Granactive Retinoid 5% in Squalane. Everything still appears to be listed on Beautylish, so there may be hope!

Anywho – this post is not about The Ordinary. This post is about Paula! I decided to grab Paula’s Choice 1% Retinol during some big July sale, and while they do have other Retinol offerings, this particular one happened to be 20% off, and here we are. I mean, it does have the best reviews!

Retinol is basically Vitamin A. And it is one of the only ingredients in skincare that has been proven effective in boosting collagen production (which reduces lines and wrinkles), increase cell turnover (targets discoloration), and unclogs pores (g’bye acne!). Retinol is the strongest retinoid you can get over the counter without a prescription. The BFD being Tretinoin, or Retin A, in this category. Starting slowly with over the counter retinoids is the way to go when introducing this ingredient to your face. Retinoids and Tretinoin can be pretty intense if you don’t use proper precautions (SUNSCREEN). They will typically be more gentle while doing the same thing – and it will take a little longer to come full circle on the results.

Another thing you need to know when cycling a retinoid (yes – CYCLING) into your routine is that your face is likely going to peel. It doesn’t mean that the product is ineffective if you do NOT peel – but there is a high chance that you will have some irritated, red, patchy, flaky skin for a while. If you aren’t prepared to endure this process, or if you haven’t properly built up and cycled in the retinoid, you may give up before you notice any results.

Lastly – it is absolutely essential to wear sunscreen. All the time really, but especially if you are using an ingredient that basically sheds your layers of skin. PROTEK. (Here is my FAVORITE daily sunscreen, also from Paula’s Choice.)

PAULA’S CHOICE Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment

This retinol treatment is $56 for one ounce. There are often sales on paulaschoice.com, so sign up for emails and keep an eye out! I was able to snag this for 20% last time I purchased. Formulated with 1% Retinol, this also contains peptides and vitamin C – making it an all-around fantastic anti-aging formula. They also threw some skin soothing and redness calming ingredients in there like licorice and oat extract.

This formula comes out as a lotion-y texture that does end up feeling a tad greasy after rubbing in.

It is all housed in a super air right pump, with no UV exposure to the product. Air and UV rays will both work to break down formulas, causing them their active ingredients to be less effective, or the entire formula to just ‘go bad’ in general.


This lotion-like treatment is very gentle going on. It never irritated (right away). While there are no added fragrances, anyone who has used retinols knows it has its own scent about it. Which this has. But I don’t mind it.

I started using three times a week – cycling it in on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. And let me tell ya. There was definitely some peeling, even after the first use. I would highly recommend multiple days in between when starting out, as well as a super thick and a healing night cream like the First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream to help with any peeling or irritation.

And just work through the peeling. Trust me! Once the peeling is under control, which honestly I was able to manage within a week of troubleshooting, I was already seeing results. My skin was more radiant and glowing; my pores appeared smaller. And I could tell a huge difference in the fine lines on my forehead.

My skin was just overall looks better, brighter, firmer, and younger.

I will also point out that the peeling will come back if you dial down the treatment and then bring it back. I kind of slacked off there for a few weeks and wasn’t so regular with my applications. Not only did I start to notice my wrinkles more on my forehead (i.e. seeming to come back without regular retinol use) but the peeling process started all over again.

Moral of the story – can’t stop won’t stop once you start cycling in retinol.


Here’s where I remind you that I’m a terrible beauty blogger and forgot to take any note-worthy “before and after” photos of my progress using this product. So you’ll just have to take my word for it when I tell you that this stuff is totally worth checking out.

If you are starting to notice any form of aging – whether it be fine lines, dark spots, texture – this will absolutely change your skin. Even though this treatment is a little more intense, even my sensitive face can handle it. And knowing what precautions to take going in will definitely set you up for success.

So the verdict? If you are in the market for a do-it-all retinol treatment, look no further. This will be a staple in my routine for sure!