Paula’s Choice 1% Retinol Booster Review

Paula’s Choice 1% Retinol Booster is absolutely one of the hidden gems in their line. Often overshadowed by the potent Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment product (I refer to it as ‘the purple bottle one’) today I’m sharing why I can’t be without it, and why I think it is a phenomenal option for those with sensitive skin or are starting out on their Retinol journey.



Vitamin A, be it in the form of Retinol or Retinoids, is probably one of the most sought after ingredients in any serious routine with concerns of anti-aging. By promoting cell turnover and regulation cell function, Vitamin A can improve multiple concerns, such as wrinkles, skin tone and texture, all at once. However, it’s also one of the ingredient’s people are most cautious about, because of the adjustment phase and the potential to irritate. Regardless, It is a pretty magical ingredient, and second to SPF, I believe should be an investment in every person’s routine (providing your skin can tolerate it). Let’s take a look at company claims.

Product Claims

‘A fluid, water-light formula that can improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, uneven skin tone, bumps, pore size, and other visible signs of aging. The Resist 1% Retinol Booster can help to quickly bring about a more clarified, vibrant, younger-looking appearance, complete with visible refinement of the look of pores, uneven skin tone, and deep wrinkles.’

No exaggerated claims there! Paula’s Choice are considerable to the fact that one product, or one ingredient will not work ‘miracles’, rather a multitude of proven ingredients work harmoniously together to provide the results that you want. They never make exaggerated claims about what their products can do, and I respect that so much. That said, Retinol products will provide exceptional results! More than what they let on – which is unusual given the industry is brimmed with unrealistic promises.

If you follow my Instagram, you will know that from January 2017 – March 2017, I used prescription Differin at 0.1% in gel form. Although I had great success in terms of my acne, I could only use Differin around three to four times a week. Even so, my skin, particularly around my nose and mouth would often be red upon waking up. Despite being oily and acne-prone, I have fair and sensitive skin; ultimately, my skin looks its best when redness is dramatically reduced, and Differin was preventing me from reducing redness as much as possible. For that reason, I made the decision to switch back to an OTC Retinol formula. I wanted it to have an array of anti-irritants, a 1% concentration, free of silicone and oils, and something that I could use daily. This booster ticks all the boxes!


Paula’s Choice 1% Retinol Booster Full Ingredient List:

Water (Aqua), Glycereth-7 Triacetate (emollient/texture-enhancing), Glycerin (hydration/skin replenishing), Carthamus Tinctorius Oleosomes (emollient/skin-soothing), Isopentyldiol (hydration), Polyglyceryl-10 Behenate/Eicosadioate (texture-enhancing), Butylene Glycol (hydration), Pyrus Malus Fruit Extract (apple extract/antioxidant), Polysorbate 20 (texture-enhancing), Retinol (skin-restoring), Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract (licorice extract/skin-soothing), Ceramide 3 (hydration/skin replenishing), Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1 (skin-restoring), Avena Sativa Kernel Extract (oat extract/skin-soothing), Epilobium Angustifolium Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract (fireweed extract/skin-soothing), Arctium Lappa Root Extract (burdock root extract/skin-soothing), Salix Alba Bark Extract (willow bark extract/skin-soothing), Allantoin (skin-soothing), Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate (skin-soothing), Caprylyl Glycol (emollient), Polyglyceryl-10 Laurate (texture-enhancing), Dipentaerythrityl Tri-Polyhydroxystearate (texture-enhancing/emollient), Ethylhexyl Methoxycrylene (texture-enhancing), Hydrogenated Lecithin (skin-restoring), Bis-Glyceryl Ascorbate (antioxidant), Disodium EDTA (stabilizer), Sorbic Acid (preservative), Xanthan Gum (texture-enhancing), Phenoxyethanol (preservative).

How to use

There are two different ways of using the Booster that I’ve found you can use dependant upon on your needs.

  1. Use as a ‘booster’ as recommended, in which you would add 2-3 (or as many as you would like) to another product such as a serum or moisturiser. This means the product will be buffered, and the negative effects of Retinol (flaking, sensitivity etc) will be drastically reduced or completely negated.
  2. Use as a serum itself and instead use a full pump (which equates to around 6 drops). Much more potent than the above, but a better option for those who are wanting to alternate Retinol with other treatments such as chemical exfoliants.

I personally alternate between these two ways of using the product. If I was to use the product daily, I would use 2-3 drops as recommended. If I was to use it 3/4 times a week, I would use a full pump, on its own straight after cleansing as opposed to being buffered into a serum. On days where I need a little less, I’ll go with number one. This is why I enjoy the product so much, you can customise it to your needs and what your skin needs that day. I believe that the best products are ones that you are able to use daily, this is the first Retinol/Retinoid that I am able to do that with.

Texture and Packaging


As you can see, the booster is a ultra-lightweight fluid texture. With the exclusion of oils and silicones, this makes the product perfect for mixing with everything without having to worry about it balling up. I love the texture of this product. Despite feeling very light, for some reason it visibly plumps the skin immediately (perhaps because of the peptides and emollients). With this product, I can get away with less layers on top because it personally provides adequate moisture for my oily skin, (I still wouldn’t though. I love my layers).

Packaging wise, in usual Paula’s Choice fashion, the 1% Retinol Booster is housed in an airtight pump, blocking out both air and light, which is crucial for retinol products, given that it breaks down in sunlight. My only complaint is that it can be difficult to dispense drops, as a full pump is usually around 6 drops. What I do, is press down very lightly on the pump, as to perform micro pumps, and this dispenses a drop at a time. This tiny flaw really does not take away from the product at all.


I was very wary that switching back to an OTC Retinol and shelving Differin would cause my acne to come back. It hasn’t. Instead, my skin has remained just as clear, but the added benefit of looking much better. Differin did not do much for my skin texture or tone, it merely reduced my acne. With this 1% Booster however, my pores are smaller, my pigmentation is fading, my skin is becoming much more even and it feels healthy and more much resilient.

The best part? I have not peeled once with this product. Not once. I have not seen an increase in redness, no peeling or dryness, just the good results. This is almost unfathomable to me. There was absolutely no ‘adjustment’ phase. Now, you could say that, seeing as I had switched from a stronger, synthetic retinoid, that my skin did not need to adjust. However, when I first used this product in summer last year, I had not used Retinol before. Even then, I still did not experience any of the retinol ‘uglies’, as they are often referred to.

For this reason, I truly believe this is a great product for those with sensitive skin who are still wanting to yield the benefits of retinol. Similarly, if you already have a comprehensive routine and want to integrate retinol a few times a week, a booster is a perfect way to inoffensively slot into your routine.


The price per ml is very expensive, given that the Paula’s Choice 1% Clinical Treatment is $56 for 30ml, the 1% Retinol Booster is almost double the price at the same amount. However, I have been on the same bottle for almost five months and it does not seem to be giving up on me yet.

Final Thoughts

This is a holy grail product for me and therefore I don’t mind the price. It is extremely difficult to find a retinol formula that is both free of oil and silicone, given that many on the market are currently oil-based, or housed in cream textures. This is thus quite unique, and I cannot be without it. If I had to minimise my routine to just four products: this would be second in line, behind SPF. The research on Vitamin A does not lie!

What are your favourite Retinol products?


If you are a first-time Paula’s Choice customer, you can receive a $10 discount from your first order. This is a referral program, in which I will receive credit for your purchase. If you are uncomfortable with this, Paula’s Choice often have discount codes that you can use to get a little off the product! Here is my referral link.

You can purchase the Paula’s Choice 1% Retinol Booster directly from the Paula’s Choice website for £47/$52.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s