Cosmetic cop Paula Begoun on the biggest beauty myths Advertisement

Cosmetic cop Paula Begoun on the biggest beauty myths

Her skincare line launches in India today

By Drishti Kapadia  November 13th, 2019

A career in investigative cosmetic journalism served as the perfect foundation for Paula Begoun to launch her cruelty-free skincare line in 1995. Since then, the serial multitasker has penned 21 books, while simultaneously busting every false claim in the beauty industry on her cult website,

Begoun was inspired to create a comprehensive resource for honest product reviews, in 2008, after the success of her bestselling book Don’t Go To the Cosmetics Counter Without Me. Over the years, she built a reputation for calling out brands for below average formulations. She says, “When I met Oprah, 35 years ago, she told me, ‘As long as you are speaking the truth, never be afraid to challenge the hype and misleading information the cosmetics industry imposes on women.” She stuck with this advice and it helped her win readers’ trust and respect for her in-depth analysis of every beauty product out there.

While her company has grown, her role remains unchanged. Begoun splits her time between researching new ingredients for her own skincare line, testing new products in the market and speaking to people around the world about their skincare needs.

ELLE: What does beauty mean to you?

Paula Begoun: Beauty begins with self-discovery and self-acceptance. It’s an evolving view of yourself in the world, and the feeling of pride and confidence you have in who you are and who you want to be. For me, it’s not only how I look but also about what I do to help others.

ELLE: What inspired you to launch your website Beautypedia?

PB: I simply didn’t want other people to experience the disappointment I went through when products didn’t work as claimed or made my skin worse. My search for formulas that would work for my acne and eczema-prone skin resulted in decades of research, my books on beauty and the skincare line.

ELLE: How do you find the strength to bust myths and dispel rumours in the beauty industry?

PB: For me it’s more about perseverance, curiosity, and passion. I am endlessly fascinated by the ever-changing research about skin and skincare. Every day I search for studies to learn about the physiology of skin, new ingredients that can do astounding things, and the ones that should be avoided. This search for knowledge has made my career more thrilling and compelling than I could ever have hoped for. When I share this knowledge with people and it helps them have the skin they’ve always wanted, it makes the work I do completely worthwhile.

The acne fighters

“10% Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B that improves pore function and overall texture.”

Paula’s Choice 10% Azelaic Acid Booster, INR 3,240
“Make sure you gently, but thoroughly cleanse your skin; any irritation will make acne worse.”
Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Oil Reducing Cleanser, INR 1,560
“The gold standard for treating acne, salicylic acid when used in leave-on products exfoliates, kills bacteria, unclogs pores, and reduces inflammation.”
Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant, INR 2,700
Essential reads

The Best Skin of Your Life Starts Here
Don’t Go To the Cosmetics Counter Without Me


ELLE: Your advice to a skincare novice.

PB: Be sun smart and use a broad spectrum sunscreen (read: protection from UVA and UVB rays) every day. Avoid anything that irritates your skin (hot water, essential oils or synthetic fragrances) and make sure you use formulas that suit it. Also, avoid DIY skincare. The effective ingredients, their formulation and stabilisation are not something that can be achieved in your kitchen.

ELLE: Tell us something about your upcoming projects.

PB: Right now, my focus is on launching Paula’s Choice Skincare in India, which is my second home and has been a major part of my life, for the last 12 years.

Myth or mantra

1. Eye creams are essential

Paula’s verdict: Myth! If the skin around your eyes needs more care then use a cream or gel, otherwise a good face cream works just as well.

2. Essential oils are great for skin

Paula’s verdict: Myth! They’re volatile and may cause inflammation.

3. Everyone doesn’t need a 10-step routine

Paula’s verdict: Mantra: If your skin concerns are complicated only then will you need more products to control them