Beauty and Grooming

An Interview with Paula Begoun, Founder of Paula’s Choice

In the lively International District of Seattle, USA, skincare expert Paula Begoun forged a promise to bring skincare education to the masses. Now a world renowned skincare brand, Paula’s Choice continues to develop ranges of skincare to empower men and women to feel more confident and beautiful every day. The ethos is simple; to offer non-irritating skincare, never tested on animals,  formulated from active ingredients.

Based on her own struggles with acne and problem skin, Paula Begoun has penned twenty best-selling books on beauty and skincare, allowing her to rightfully defend her crown as a world leader in skincare expertise. The Hut sat down with Paula to get her expert opinion on treatment for acne prone skin and the perfect Paula’s Choice skincare routine.


Tell us about your own skincare journey – we know you suffered from both acne and eczema yourself

Acne and eczema were a struggle for me from very young and I remember the emotional and physical pain all too well. I tried everything imaginable, medications, skincare products and nothing changed. If anything, my skin only got worse. I never wanted anyone to go through what I had gone through. That’s what started my journey into the world of skincare.

Can acne be prevented by lifestyle choices and a superior skincare routine or will some people always be susceptible to the condition?

For most people acne is a genetic hormonal problem but it can be exacerbated by diet (depending on the foods you may be allergic/sensitive to) and certainly by using the wrong skincare products.

Talk us through a skincare routine to implement to treat acne prone skin.

Research is abundantly clear that anything you use that irritates or inflames skin is going to make acne worse. That means no scrubs, harsh cleansers, irritating skincare ingredients like alcohol, mint, menthol, or fragrance (natural or synthetic fragrance is bad for skin). Treating your skin gently is more important than I can say. In terms of what to apply, the first line of defence is using a beautifully formulated leave on exfoliant with at least 2% BHA (salicylic acid). For many people with mild to moderate acne that can be enough. For others they would also want to add a gentle leave on product that can kill acne causing bacteria containing 2.5% or 5% benzoyl peroxide. Those are the two basics and they can be successful for many people.

What is the best product to reduce red marks or scars left behind my acne?

There are many types of products to consider but for certain a 2% BHA product is the most important as it is preventive and healing. After that using a thin lightweight serum loaded with antioxidants would be incredibly beneficial to support and enhance the skin’s healing process.

As well as a good skincare routine, what preventative steps can be taken in terms of diet and lifestyle?

There isn’t much in the way of lifestyle other than avoiding sun damage as there is no specific correlation shown between activities and acne (e.g. people who do yoga to destress their life can still have acne). However, for some people dairy, gluten, shell fish, nuts, and other food choices can trigger acne. But that is about specific allergies it isn’t true for everyone.

I have an important event coming up ‐ do you have any quick fixes for acne or breakouts?

Yes! Soaking blemishes with 2% BHA always helps – the difference will astound you. Generally speaking, blackheads are caused by excess dead skin and sebum getting clogged in open pores. Our top tips to reduce these is firstly exfoliate the skin with a mild cleanser, and ensure you avoid thick creams or lotions as these can contribute to the blocking of pores.

Is acne only a problem during puberty?

It is a complete myth that acne is only a problem for teenagers. Acne can last well into someone’s 60s and for others who never broke out when they were teenagers can start breaking out in their 20s, 30s, or 40s.

Can I use Paula’s Choice even if I’ve never suffered from problem skin?

I’ve been formulating skincare products for 25 years and I have formulas shown to be beneficial for a wide range of skin types. I pride myself on only having products with formulas backed by research showing how the ingredients can benefit skin whether it be dry skin, oily skin, wrinkles, loss of firmness, uneven skin tone, brown discolorations, sun damage, redness prone skin, and on and on.

What ingredients are used in Paula’s Choice skincare products? And what are the benefits?

We use dozens of different types of ingredients, all supported by research as to what they can and we include that research on every product page on our site. We also avoid using ingredients that can inflame skin. Gentle skincare with proven ingredients is our only focus.

Sarah Atkinson

Sarah Atkinson

Writer and expert