Paula's Choice Earth Sourced Cleanser Review - The Acne Experiment

Paula's Choice Earth Sourced Cleanser Review - The Acne Experiment

The first official traditional cleanser trial of The Acne Experiment was a weeklong study of Paula's Choice Earth Sourced Cleanser. I discovered this stuff on Pinterest over a year ago, before I knew anything about Paula's Choice; the green bottle and 99% natural ingredients were too damned alluring. When I saw that it's also sulfate free, and possibly the gentlest of Paula's face wash offerings, I decided it would be the most logical choice for the inaugural cleanser test.

  • Paula's Choice Earth Sourced Perfectly Natural Cleansing Gel (Water, Decyl Glucoside, Glycerin, Sodium Cocoamphoacetate, Lauryl Glucoside, Coco-Glucoside, Glucose, Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Sodium Lauryl Glucose Carboxylate, Glyceryl Oleate, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Xanthan Gum, Carrageenan, Sodium Phytate, Citric Acid, Potassium Sorbate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol)
  • St. Ives Exfoliating Pads (water, lactic acid, glycerin, tocopheryl acetate, prunus armeniaca (apricot) fruit extract, vaccinium myrtillus fruit extract, saccharum officinarum (sugar cane) extract, citrus limon (lemon) fruit extract, citrus aurantium dulcis (orange) fruit extract, acer saccharum (sugar maple) extract, betaine, sodium hydroxide, polysorbate 80, polysorbate 20, DMDM hydantoin, fragrance)
  • Spot treatments as needed
  1. Obtain a few sample packets of Paula's Choice Earth Sourced Cleanser.
  2. Make sure your hands are clean, then wet your face with warm water.
  3. Cut the corner off one of the packets and put a half-dime-size amount of the gel in your hand.
  4. Lather it between your hands then gently rub all over your face.
  5. Rinse well with warm water.
  6. Pat your face dry with a clean towel.
  7. Use a small binder clip to keep the packet closed. You will be using this same packet for as long as possible, you cheap bastard.
  8. Apply additional products as appropriate.
  9. Make that one sample packet last for a full 5 days. Hot damn.
  10. Congratulate yourself for being such a economical/amazing human being.

Despite how boring it is to dedicate a single face wash to an entire blog post/review, this was actually a super important trial for me. I say this because it was during this trial that I confirmed that foaming face wash gives me cystic chin acne.

Foaming Cleanser + Hormonal/Cystic Acne

Allow me to explain.

I have been using foaming face wash for as long as I can remember. I have no clue what I used in high school because I guess I blocked out that period of my life. I didn't actually have any acne issues until I was in college, so this point is moot. In college, I used Dermalogica Special Cleansing Gel, then switched to Cetaphil post college when the real world sat on my ribcage. About a year ago, I started using sulfate free cleanser for the first time (Trader Joe's All-In-One Facial Cleanser) in an effort to curb my Perioral Dermatitis (PD). I continued using the TJoes because it was gentle, cheap, and I heard it's actually $50 cleanser in a $6 bottle; it didn't make much a difference with the PD though.

Throughout these years, a decade in total, I've had continuous painful acne on my chin. It got particularly bad during my mid 20s, but I chalked it up to hormones, face fingers, and stress. No dermatologist or doctor I saw for acne gave me any indication that it was caused by anything else.

So here's the interesting part: 

For the last 10 years, the period of time when I had the least chin acne was during my very first Acne Experiment trial, ie the no face wash month. I didn't want to believe it could be "gentle face wash" that was causing this, so I tested the Trader Joe's cleanser again just before the Jojoba trial. For my efforts, I got two cystic zits on my chin within a few days. I still wasn't convinced.

I figured if something "ideal for baby too" still gave me chin zits, then my face must hate cleanser in general. So here are the results of the Earth Sourced Cleanser trial:

Paula's Choice Earth Sourced Cleansing Gel Before & After :: The Acne Experiment
Before & After Paula's Choice Earth Sourced Cleansing Gel 

POOF. Three cystic chin zits, where there were no cystic chin zits before. I'm like some kind of acne magician.

Paula's Choice Earth Sourced Cleanser Before & After :: The Acne Experiment
Before/After Paula's Choice Earth Sourced Cleanser "Hormonal Acne"

It's a shame because I was actually really enjoying the cleanser. It is very mild and didn't dry me out at all, so if you can tolerate foaming cleansers, I do recommend this one. I was also really looking forward to air travel with sample packets like a rich people do, probably. C'est la vie.

In conclusion, I'm both relieved and horrified. The skin on my chin is uneven and lumpy because of 10 years of cystic acne, and I did it to myself with ignorance. Holy hell.

Next Up: Neutrogena Extra Gentle Cream Cleanser (psych!) Rosehip Seed Oil


All Acne Experiment Posts + FAQs are in The Acne Experiment MOTHER HUB

This Cleanser Made Me Rethink My Hormonal Acne - The Acne Experiment
This Cleanser Made Me Rethink My Hormonal Acne - The Acne Experiment



  1. Hey I randomly came onto your blog, read in horror as you put your face through these crazy experiments. I had acme in the past, and did similar things, which made it worse. I have since totally cured my acme, its been many years. The first and most important thing is moisture. For example, Im totally convinced that if I stared using Dr.Bronners soap everyday on my face, I would break out for the first time in years. Soap strips your face of moisture, damaging the protective upper layer of skin, opening it up to infection. After every shower, apply Shea butter to the face, its a solid cream that's easy to measure and spread, use a small amount. This keeps moisture levels stable You can still use Dr. Bronners, but make sure to moisturize with Shea butter right after. I barely ever cleanse my face, its naturally become clear and balanced. Next, if you do have any pimples or infections, use a q-tip and apply tiny amounts of tea tree oil to those spots, twice a week at first, You can also q-tip alcohol onto actively infected areas, be sure to moisture after. That will kill the infection, and prevent the skin from over-drying. Ive made my own cream by melting Shea butter and putting drops of essential oils, like tea-tree, to enhance the anti-bacterial properties of the cram. That's all my advice, you can trust me, I'm a random person on the internet. Good luck with your skin!!

    1. Thanks for your comment, random person on the Internet! I agree with a lot of what you're recommending - My skin tends to do better with milder, more moisturizing treatments, many of which are used as anti-agers (which is fine by me since I love me some anti-aging skincare). I have learned that my face doesn't like foaming stuff, so I won't be using that anymore. I responded well to both tea tree oil and cleanser-less face washings, so that's something I will continue to do use. I also spot treat with a salicylic acid toner that contains alcohol, and I have had very good luck with it.

      As for the shea butter, I just might have to add it to my wishlist. First of all, from what I can tell, shea butter is not comedogenic. More importantly, it shares my name and speaks to my vanity.

  2. Hey. I absolutely lovvve your blog. Its helpful and gives me a laugh now and then. I stumbled across it seraching for organic skin care and "water washjng only " etc after struggling with facial eczema, dryness and random acne (mostly due to failed experiments with stupid cosmetics and shit sold by the beauty industry) . BTW been coincidentally teying out bentonite clay and its worked with my sensitive skin once a week only mixed with water. I just got mine from the only source i could find in my country :no Aztec available. Also, have you tried diluted acv as a cleanser only because im experimenting with that and it seems to be helping so far.
    Ive also seen great reviews on Acne.org for AcV as a n oral drink and topical. .. im scared to drink it wven diluted to be honest.. scared of the purging toxins and what it might do to my body and skin .do let us kno2 if youve given it a shot. Keep writing!

    1. Thank you Thank you! It makes me so happy to know people are reading and enjoying this stuff! As for your experience: I tested acv mixed with a little bentonite as a kind of "cleanser" but I didn't notice a big enough difference between that and just cleansing with a washcloth and water - my face seems to do better with the normal mask.

      As for drinking ACV: I know little to nothing about anything dietary in relation to acne. I am willfully ignorant in that respect, and I probably will not be changing my entire diet any time soon, but I might be open to supplements. I've read up on a few that are supposed to be helpful, so perhaps I'll work that in at a later date. I have heard of drinking ACV though, but I know nothing about toxin purging in relation to this. If it was me, I'd treat it the same way I treat any new product: start slow, and if you start breaking out excessively or in weird places, pull the brake.

  3. Btw im all the way in Pakistan (no we are not terrorsits and we can speak english amd use the internet amd androids and shizz) Im a 27 year old mommy with baby who is a handful. Speaking of which my skin went bonkers starting pregnancy and thats when my eczema started with mild acne so im thinking a LOT if it has got to do with hormones .

    1. It's ridiculous how kids in American schools aren't taught a second language the way they do in so many other countries. It's shameful, really. (Also my dad is Iranian, so we're practically cousins!)

  4. Oh haha i did not realise you were part Iranian. Thats cool to know. Oh and and yep im good with 2 lamguages :)

  5. "When the real world sat on my rib cage"
    lmfao- reading your blog is seriously making my day. I just graduated last year and life has been a total jerk face- it's nearly unbelievable.

    I'm so glad you've written all these posts- they're hilarious and informative. :)


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