Drunk Elephant vs Paula’s Choice vs Klairs


If you’re looking for a comparison between different chemical exfoliation products, then look no further! Today I’ll be sharing my experience using Drunk Elephant (AHA), Paula’s Choice (BHA), and Klairs (Vitamin C). For clarification: AHA= Alpha Hydroxy Acid/ BHA= Beta Hydroxy Acid (also known as Salicylic Acid) /Vitamin C= Ascorbic Acid. These are just a few of many types of liquid exfoliation products you can use on your skin. These babies address skin issues ranging from hyperpigmentation to fine lines and collagen production. I have combination + sensitive skin with large pores, fine lines, and occasional pigmentation so I will be writing my reviews based on those presets.

Paula’s Choice SKIN PERFECTING 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant

Drunk Elephant Vs Paulas Choice Vs Klairs

Taken directly from Paula’s Choice website- “This gentle, non-abrasive, leave-on exfoliant rapidly unclogs pores, diminishes the appearance of wrinkles, and improves skin tone for unbelievably smooth, radiant, firmer-looking skin.” This BHA claims the following:

  • Anti-Aging, Blackheads, Enlarged Pores, Redness, Wrinkles

  • For All Skin Types

  • 2% BHA unclogs & diminishes enlarged pores

  • Dramatically improves skin’s texture for radiant, even-toned skin

  • Clinically proven to hydrate, brighten, & smooth fine lines

I entered the realm of chemical exfoliants through Paula’s Choice. Their liquid BHA formula was the first product I tried and I thought it was amazing! It cleared out my pores as if some invisible vacuum cleaner went over my face. I woke up to clear, even, smooth skin. My blackheads were gone. My pores were significantly less visible. My skin definitely felt more plumped up because of the extra hydration. I was sold and used it religiously every day, which is where it started to go wrong. My skin ended up becoming raw, sensitive, and bumpy. This is where I learned that if a product says “gentle enough for daily use,” it means I should only use it a few days out of the week or as needed. Don’t get me wrong- this is an excellent product and I continue to use it, but sparingly. I like to pour a tiny bit in my palm and apply it with my fingers after I moisturize. I find this method is more comfortable for my skin and has a decreased chance in sensitivity because of the moisture barrier. When I applied moisturizer last, I realized that I was actually spreading the BHA everywhere and the extremely sensitive parts of my face (around my nose and sides of my chin) could not tolerate it. If your skin is tolerable of BHA then go ahead and apply it first with a cotton ball/pad before moisturizing. My recommendation is to use this as a targeted treatment and continue use based on what your skin tells you. P/S: There is a gel version of this, which works the same, but I prefer the liquid.

Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin C Serum

Drunk Elephant Vs Paulas Choice Vs Klairs

The Klairs Freshly Juiced Drop claims to:

  • Fade brown spots

  • Protect the skin from pigmentation from occurring

  • Keep the skin firm and reduce visible fine lines

  • Brighten and even out the skin tone

My interest in K-Beauty led me to try out Klairs Vitamin C serum. I saw this was a recommended product on the Sokoglam website so I was convinced to try it. When I first started using this serum, I still had acne-prone skin and I did not notice too much of a difference. Perhaps I had less pigmentation issues when my zits healed, but I didn’t think too highly of it. Fast forward to the current time- I no longer battle with acne (maybe the occasional hormonal pimple), but I do get congested skin from time to time. Some fine lines and sunspots are also creeping up onto my skin. :( This is where I think Klairs Vitamin C Serum shines and performs extremely well. I apply a few drops of this serum (feels kind of like an oil) all over my face, post toner and essence, and seal it in with my moisturizer. When I wake up, my face is literally glowing. No lines, no redness, just a nice smooth, even canvas. It even makes applying makeup easier and quicker! I was able to get away with very light foundation and powder today because I barely had anything to cover up. I currently have two sunspots on my face that I will be treating with this serum to see if they will either reduce in size or disappear completely. Compared to Paula's Choice BHA, I can actually use this on a daily basis with no adverse effects! This Klairs serum is definitely a must try if you’re fighting pigmentation issues, and it is a must have if you’re in your late 20’s+ because it will help with the anti-aging battle!

Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos™ Glycolic Night Serum

Drunk Elephant Vs Paulas Choice Vs Klairs

Taken directly from Drunk Elephant’s website- “This is a 12% AHA/BHA serum for night that helps refine and resurface skin to reveal a smoother and more radiant looking complexion. T.L.C. Framboos™ enhances the performance of other products by clearing the way for maximum absorption. This high-tech gel resurfaces dull, congested skin, gently lifting dead skin cells away by dissolving the glue that holds them to the surface. The results are greater clarity and a smoother, more even-toned complexion. Formulated with a dream team AHA/BHA blend including glycolic, lactic, tartaric, citric and salicylic acids and blended with raspberry extract, T.L.C. Framboos™ sinks in easily and delivers effective and precise chemical exfoliation without the harsh side effects like dryness or sensitization. Fine lines, wrinkles, discoloration and other signs of aging will appear diminished, along with excess oiliness and the appearance of pores.”

Onto the most interesting one to talk about- at $90/ bottle for D.E’s night serum, I had some high expectations. I’ve never tried AHA so when I saw that this was a combination of AHA and BHA I was intrigued. My skin has become drier either due to weather or age, and what I learned during my research was AHA was better for dry skin types. So this serum claims to marry the benefits of both AHA and BHA resulting in clear and smooth skin without any sensitivity. That was the one claim I was most speculative about. I applied this serum post toner and essence, and found that it was quite moisturizing. The initial feeling is a bit sticky until it settles and absorbs into your skin. Similar to what many have reported, my skin felt tingly when I applied it, but it went away soon after. Many also reported the tingling sensation disappearing as your skin adjusts to using the serum, but I still get it every time. I used this serum three days in a row and found that on the third day, I could feel my skin on the verge of retaliation. I didn’t get any bumps or itchiness, but it was definitely more sensitive than before. Again, this is another product that should be used with some caution. It’s not as harsh as Paula’s Choice, but for sure still brings about sensitivities. Overall, the Framboos night serum is just OK. I don’t think I would purchase it again because the price is too steep and I achieved more impressive results with Paula’s Choice, which is a fraction of the cost.

So if you’re looking to try out a liquid exfoliant I highly recommend Paula’s Choice or Klairs. These two brands are reasonably priced and do an excellent job on the skin. I almost forgot to mention, wear sunscreen! Regardless of the weather or if you use any sort of exfoliant, sunscreen will protect you from skin damage (lines/wrinkles/sunspots/etc.) I wish you all brighter, clearer days ahead!