Paula Begoun: Cosmetics Cop

From page to product line, Ashleigh Sharman spoke with full-throttle beauty Paula Begoun.

It was a life-altering moment for Paula Begoun (aka The Cosmetics Cop), when, in the mid-seventies, the FDA announced it was now mandatory to include ingredient listings on product labels. With a university-level science background, Paula discovered she was equipped to understand what she was putting on her skin — and she was shocked. Well-known in this country for her book Don’t Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me, it was this moment that sparked a kind of skincare philosophy that would be based on research and evaluation.

Yet there is anger present — anger pointed directly at the cosmetics industry and its claims — but it has since been channelled into a passion. And this passion comes from a deeply personal and emotional space of experience of debilitating skin conditions.

Paula Begoun
Paula Begoun

“It’s hell; it’s dead centre, straight for the world to see. It’s what made me so angry and it’s what fuels the anger — the claims that would cure me, that would never happen. And as I watch the industry become crazier and more insane the anger hasn’t subsided,” she says.

Paula’s first book, Blue Eyeshadow Should Be Illegal, came along in 1984, and then, several books later, in 1994 Paula launched Paula’s Choice, an internet-only skincare line. Constant nagging from family and friends combined head-on with the chance of a new commercial venture that launched with 10 products to now exceed 80.

What Paula’s Choice and her review-based books consistently strive for is what published research says is and isn’t possible for skin. If there is a philosophy at work here, it is that established research about what works in skincare is paramount — and Paula says her products were developed out of this very idea, coupled with skin concern and skin type.

“We look at everybody else’s formulas, we sit down with the cosmetic chemists, the medical research and the physiology of skin, and we have an incredible overview, because of the books. There is a direct link between what is done for our content, in terms of research, and what happens within product development: the two feed each other,” says Paula of her sites Paula’s Choice and Beautypedia.

“If the research changes, we change. The evidence has to be there, or we don’t do it. Subsequently there are no trendy ingredients. Why waste your precious skin and your money on a guess? Follow the research.”

Paula Book STORYDon’t Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me By Paula Begoun
Paula has recently released the 9th edition of her international bestseller Don’t Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me. This beauty tome has sold over 2.7 million copies worldwide, making Paula a much-trusted voices for droves of women who value her consumer-friendly beauty advice.

“At the age of 11 I began a tormented struggle with acne and eczema. I tried numerous skincare products and medical treatments yet my skin didn’t get better. After suffering for all of those years, I wanted to do everything possible to prevent others from going through the same pain. So I started writing books and doing TV appearances to tell the world which skin-care products really work. Every one of the 20 books I’ve written on cosmetics including the current edition of my book Don’t Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me fulfils my commitment to help women understand when product claims are lying or telling the truth,” Paula says.

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