In Ask Sherry

Ask Sherry: Is Paula’s Choice, The Ordinary and other brands worth the price & hype?

You asked, and I am answering every Friday once I have enough questions!

You can ask any question using the form here.

Thoughts on The Ordinary, Paula Choice and then products from companies like O Cosmedics.

If you want to know if they are worth it…. and which ones are the best, all I can say is that I have tried all the other brands even the expensive ones like Peter Thomas Roth and Skinceuticals.

Per ounce, and for the actual product itself, I find that Paula’s Choice has been the best value for the money as a high-end skincare brand versus effectiveness.

That is of course not to say that Paula’s Choice has THE BEST options in all the skincare world, but her products are 90% of my skincare routine, and my skin, finally, after years of struggling, is fairly acne/pimple-free, and smooth with very little to NO wrinkles at all (I also take care not to wrinkle my forehead or do that squinting/frowny brow thing).

I think some of her products are really not good at all like her most recent invention called the Unscrub (it leaves this grainy texture on my skin after I rinse off, and the beads “dissolve” but not very well on my skin — I MUCH prefer the O.R.G. Mineral Skincare product to really remove dead skin as I see it my dead skin actually rub off my skin), and a few other products, but globally speaking, her stuff is really effective and cheap compared to what other brands like Skinceuticals or Peter Thomas Roth is charging.

For instance, her BHA liquid exfoliant at 2% has been really fantastic for keeping my skin clear:

..and while I cannot see the immediate effects of the other products I am using, I can guarantee that her Cream Cleanser is VERY cheap per ounce, without fragrance and irritants, and very nice to use on my face:

Now for the cheaper brands that claim to be just as amazing for 1/5 of the price — The Ordinary has a great claim that they are a high end skincare brand with a fantastic value for the money. $10 instead of $50 for the SAME THING!


Except, if you have been reading literature on the ingredients, some of them are not stable when put in glass bottles (like vitamin C), or have to be a certain concentration, or mixed with certain ingredients to actually be effective (with ferulic acid).

So yes, they technically have the same ingredient, but it may not be extracted correctly, stored properly, and be effective and most optimized for what it should do!

Therefore, it’s cheap, but it isn’t effective. The worst, is also that you don’t see the effects of great skincare until 5 or 10 years out and it is when you are older that you start to see that what you did 5 or 10 years ago was really the key to keeping your skin looking great.

(Note: I am aware that I am reading literature on skincare from (who else) Paula’s Choice as well so it may seem completely biased and not at all objective, but they cite medical journals and the research that is actually done to back up what they are writing. I actually do click on the links they provide, and a lot of what they say, is backed up in other sites and articles I read.)

I think skincare is also part placebo, meaning you put it on and you feel good about it even if it doesn’t do anything…. and yet, after religiously taking care of my skin, and using Paula’s Choice for most of my skincare needs, I can’t deny that the results are phenomenal.

I now have faded acne scars, and sunspots/acne blotches that I am working towards perfection with (I can go without makeup now and feel a LOT less self conscious than before).

As I said, I also have less acne. This is HUGE for me.

My skin will never actually be airbrushed in real life, but when I compare the health of my skin to other people my age (I am curious and like to look at skin on others), I can see the difference.

So, are the other brands worth it? For the more expensive ones, I think they are effective but are too pricey, and for the too cheap ones, I think they are too cheap to be true.

That said, if you don’t have the money to blow on Paula’s Choice, it can’t hurt.

The main things to do for your skin that are cheap, is to always remove makeup before you sleep and clean your face properly (exfoliate!), and to wear sunscreen RELIGIOUSLY. At least SPF 30.

Those are the two main things to keeping your skin looking young, and healthy. All the rest, is just vanity to keep wrinkles at bay and to have younger looking, even-toned skin for longer.

Still have a burning question?

You can ask any question using the form here and all of my previous Ask Sherry posts are here.

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Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

Am my own Sugar Daddy. Am a millionaire at 36 after getting out of $60K of student debt in 18 months, a little over a decade earlier, using I have worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K with an average lifetime savings rate of 50%. I have 11 side incomes that are on track in 2020 to make me $50K - $75K. I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I am all about balance - between time and money, and also enjoying my money. I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

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  1. Joanna

    The Ordinary’s formulas are actually pretty solid, especially their retinoids which are super stable and I find more effective and less irritating than Paula’s Choice’s retinol. I don’t personally like the Ordinary’s Vitamin C because of the texture, but it is packaged in squeeze tubes not glass. I’ve had great results with a mix of The Ordinary, Cerave, and Asian brands 🙂

    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      I’ve only tried their Vitamin C and I was turned off… i should give their retinoids a shot!


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