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Rating Ingredient
Good

betaine salicylate

Plant extract, similar to cholesterol, that can have antioxidant properties...

Categories: Exfoliant
Best

BHA (beta hydroxy acid)

BHA, or beta hydroxy acid, is more commonly known as salicylic acid.

Good

bromelain

Bromelain is an extract from the pineapple that contains, among other components, various...

Categories: Plant Extracts, Exfoliant
Best

AHA

AHA is the acronym for alpha hydroxy acid, which is derived from various plant sources or from milk.

Categories: Exfoliant
Best

alpha hydroxy acid

Categories: Exfoliant
Best

ammonium glycolate

Synthetic form of glycolic acid used as a pH adjuster and exfoliant. It is sometimes paired with...

Categories: Exfoliant
Good

amygdalic acid

Categories: Exfoliant, Antioxidants
Good

Ananas sativus fruit extract

Categories: Plant Extracts, Exfoliant
Best

beta hydroxy acid

Good

enzymes

Vast group of protein , produced by all living things, that act as catalysts in chemical...

Categories: Exfoliant, Skin-Restoring
Best

gluconolactone

Categories: Exfoliant
Best

lactic acid

Alpha hydroxy acid extracted from milk, although most forms used in cosmetics are synthetic. It...

Categories: Exfoliant
Best

lactobionic acid

Categories: Exfoliant
Best

glycolic acid

Categories: Exfoliant
Average

pawpaw extract

Categories: Plant Extracts, Exfoliant
Best

PHA

Categories: Exfoliant
Good

pineapple extract

Contains the enzyme bromelain, which can break down the connecting layers between dead skin to...

Categories: Plant Extracts, Exfoliant
Good

malic acid

An AHA ingredient derived from unripe fruit that also occurs naturally in the human body…

Categories: Exfoliant
Average

mandelic acid

Alpha hydroxy acid, also known as amygdalic acid. There is scant research showing this to be an...

Categories: Exfoliant
Poor

papain

Enzyme extracted from papaya. Applied topically, papain can aggravate skin...

Categories: Plant Extracts, Exfoliant
Average

papaya extract

Extract that is the source of papain, which theoretically can have exfoliating properties on skin,...

Categories: Plant Extracts, Exfoliant
Best

polyhydroxy acid

Ingredients such as gluconolactone and lactobionic acid are types of polyhydroxy acid (PHA). They...

Categories: Exfoliant
Best

salicylic acid

Also called beta hydroxy acid (BHA), this multifunctional ingredient addresses many of the systemic causes of acne.

Good

tartaric acid

A naturally-occurring crystalline organic acid found in many plants, including grapes and tamarinds. It is one...

Categories: Exfoliant
Good

urea

Component of urine, although synthetic versions are used in cosmetics. In small amounts urea has...

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About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books about skincare and makeup. She is known worldwide as The Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula’s Choice Skincare. Paula’s expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international radio, print, and television including:

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The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to busting beauty myths and providing expert advice that solves your skincare frustrations so you can have the best skin of your life!