If you have recently had a chemical peel at a dermatologist’s office or medical spa and asked what brand the facility uses, there is a good chance the peel solution was from PCA Skincare. This brand has been around for decades and is a pioneer in chemical peels. Since it launched, PCA Skincare has expanded into a whole range of products. Here’s a closer look at the brand, what it sells, and is PCA Skincare right for you?
What Is PCA Skincare?
PCA skincare debuted in 1990 as Physician’s Choice of Arizona, Inc. The company was created by an esthetician and a dermatologist, and later became Physicians Care Alliance, LLC. PCA began by focusing on chemical peels, which are basically a deep, controlled exfoliation performed by a dermatologist or an esthetician. The PCA Peel was launched in three formulations to tackle acne and hyperpigmentation– with Hydroquinone, with Hydroquinone & Resorcinol and Hydroquinone Free. The company also pioneered the Jessner’s peel, which combines lactic acid, salicylic acid, kojic acid, citric acid and resorcinol.
In 2000, PCA Skincare added serums and moisturizers to its product line to supplement its peels, and over the years the company continued to expand its in-office and at-home treatments for skin. In 2017 PCA Skincare was bought by Colgate-Palmolive Company.
What Is the Concept Behind PCA Skincare?
According to the company, PCA’s philosophy focuses on “product innovation, excellence in education and unparalleled customer support.” PCA Skincare takes a holistic approach to skincare, and their products and services are designed to tackle all skin types and conditions, from acne to hyperpigmentation and wrinkles.
What Does PCA Skincare Sell?
PCA Skincare sells a wide variety of skincare products that are sold individually as well as in sample-sized starter kits. Here’s a breakdown.
PCA Skincare Trial Sized Kits
HeyAprill’s Pigment Perfecters – This five piece set is designed for anyone looking to diminish dark spots. It includes the Facial Wash, Vitamin b3 Brightening Serum, C&E Advanced with Hexylresorcinol and Silymarin, the Intensive Brightening Treatment with 0.5% pure retinol night and Weightless Protection Broad Spectrum SPF 45.
Alexandra Potora’s Fresh-Face Essentials – Aimed at those who want to preserve their youthful glow and prevent wrinkles, this piece includes five products: the Hyaluronic Acid Boosting Serum, Rejuvenating Serum, C&E Strength, EyeXcellence and Weightless Protection Broad Spectrum SPF 45.
How To Be A Redhead’s Redness Reducers – This kit is meant to turn dry, red, acne prone skin into glowing skin. The kit contains Hyaluronic Acid Boosting Serum, Dual Action Redness Relief, Retinol Treatment for Sensitive Skin, ReBalance, Hydrator Plus Broad Spectrum SPF 45
PCA Skincare Individual Products
BPO 5% Cleanser – The powerhouse ingredient in this daily cleanser is 5% benzoyl peroxide to help deep clean pores and prevent future breakouts. It can be used twice a day.
Daily Cleansing Oil – This oil based cleanser helps dissolve dirt and makeup and is meant to be used as a pre-cleanse.
Après Peel Hydrating Balm – Designed to be used after a chemical peel, this balm contains skin soothers like soy and chasteberry extracts, along with apricot oil.
HydraLuxe- The key moisturizing ingredients in this face cream are IQ: Adaptive Hydration, which PCA says regulates moisture levels in the skin; snow algae; chicory leaf extract and peony extract.
Intensive Age Refining Treatment 0.5% pure retinol night – Spiked with 0.5% retinol, this night cream is designed to help soften the look of fine lines and wrinkles.
Retinol Renewal with RestorAtive Complex – This serum delivers a mix of retinol blended with botanicals to help minimize any irritation.
Pore Refining Treatment – The Pore Refining Treatment works in multiple ways. Rice powder and pumice are physical exfoliators while papaya fruit enzyme gently dissolves dead skin cells.
Daily Exfoliant – Green tea extract and aloe vera extract help soothe skin after dead skin cells are whisked away by this liquid scrub.
How Much Do PCA Skincare Products Cost?
PCA Skincare products are priced at a mid to high range. The five piece starter/travel kits range from $48-$54 dollars, and moisturizers like the Silkcoat Balm, Collagen Hydrator and Clearskin are all $45 each. The retinol collection products range from $100 to $110, and the serums are among the most expensive items. Both the Resveratrol Restorative Complex and the Hyaluronic Acid Boosting Serum are $115. All of the masks are $60 each.
Is PCA Skincare Cruelty Free?
PCA Skincare states on its website, “PCA SKIN does not perform or condone animal testing at any point during the formulary process. We use ingredients with decades of research proving their safety on human skin.”
What Ingredients Are in PCA Skincare Products?
PCA Skincare products are formulated with peptides, antioxidants and commonly used skincare ingredients including retinol, a vitamin A derivative; the acne fighter benzoyl peroxide; exfoliating salicylic acid and moisturizing shea butter. Hydroquinone, an effective skin lightener, is the key ingredient in the Pigment Gel but it’s not without its controversies and has been banned in some countries due to health concerns. More exotic ingredients include extracts of lilac leaf cell culture, yucca extract and chasteberry fruit.
Where Can I Buy PCA Skincare Products?
PCA Skincare products are available from its own website, its network of affiliated doctors and spas as well as online retailers including Amazon, SkinStore, Dermstore and LovelySkin.
Do PCA Skincare Products Work?
Finding the right products for your skin always takes some experimentation and trial and error. One person’s hero product may do nothing for you, which is why it’s always helpful to look at customer reviews and editorial write ups as a starting point.
PCA Skincare has been around for a long time, and its products have received write ups in O, Oprah’s magazine, Vogue, Allure and New Beauty. In a 2017 O magazine article looking at best beauty products, the PCA Skin Retinol Treatment for Sensitive Skin was named the best night cream for sensitive skin. In 2014 the same magazine highlighted the PCA Skin Total Strength Serum as one of “5 Essential Skincare Products for Women in Their 40s.”
In 2019 an Allure magazine writer tried the PCA Skin C&E Advanced with Hexylresorcinol and Silymarin in an article called “This Powerful Vitamin C Treatment Helped Me Get the Glass Skin of My Dreams.” The writer noted that the product isn’t a serum but a waterless paste. Dermatologist Joshua Zeichner told Allure, “This creates a more stable environment for vitamin C to prevent it from degrading, keeping it more potent, and allowing it to last longer in the tube, all of which ultimately contribute to better effectiveness.” A 2019 British Vogue article looked at “The Skincare Routines That The Pros Really Follow.” Dr Ewoma Ukeleghe, founder of SKNDOCTOR, noted that she uses PCA Skin Blemish Bar and the brand’s sunscreen.
But what do real people think? Some of the most reviewed PCA Skincare products on LovelySkin are the Facial Wash and the Collagen Hydrator. The PCA SKIN Facial Wash gets a 4.6 out of 5 star rating from 68 customer reviews. Fans call it the “Perfect All Around Cleanser” and “Best facial wash I’ve EVER used.” Customers who gave it low stars found it to be too drying. “This face wash is so stripping to my skin and makes it very taught post-cleanse. It also doesn’t feel as though it removes the oil from my face after a long day but instead leaves a sticky residue behind after rinsing.” The Collagen Hydrator also gets a 4.6 star based on 59 reviews. Fans called it their “go to” cream. “Great moisturizer. Absorbs quick. Makes the skin feel very soft.” Customers who tried it and didn’t love it wrote that it pilled on their face, or thought that it wasn’t special. “Equivalent to a purchase in a drug store. I would not purchase again as I have seen no improvement in my skin in six weeks.”
On Amazon, the PCA SKIN Clearskin, Calming & Balancing Facial Moisturizer gets a 4.2 out of 5 star rating, based on 157 reviews. Satisfied customers like Sleepy Pa wrote, “Only moisturizer that’s prevented breakouts! Love it” and Kelvin noted, “This stuff is amazing! I have always gotten compliments on my skin, but now, I get triple comments!” Unsatisfied customers complained that it smelled, made them breakout or did nothing for them like Jessica, who wrote “Product made me breakout over my entire face.” The PCA Skin Pigment Gel is one of the most reviewed PCA products on Amazon, with 338 reviews garnering it 4 stars.
What Are Some Alternatives to PCA Skincare?
PCA Skincare may not be for everyone, either because you don’t want to see a dermatologist to buy your products or the price is too high. Here are two brands to consider.
If you like the simplicity of a skincare kit, consider Advanced Dermatology. This no nonsense brand offers a pared down approach to skincare.
The packaging is simple and streamlined, and the products bring skincare back to the basics. The kit contains just six essential items including a daily cleanser; serum; anti-wrinkle firming treatment; night cream; day cream and an eye cream. In other words, everything you need to achieve your best possible looking skin.
Formulyst’s philosophy is long-term and effective skincare. The brand wants to help its customers achieve their best looking skin. Skip the harsh exfoliators which can do more harm than good. Formulyst Retexturing and Perfecting Serum is powered by gentle but effective alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) which works to dissolve dead skin cells. Packed with plant based acids, this serum whisks away old skin cells, leaving behind fresher, smoother looking skin.
Although hydroquinone is effective in lightening dark spots, it’s not the only option for fading dark spots though. Formulyst’s Dark Spot Solutions is powered by HyWhite, which is derived from alpha linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid found in plants. It works to minimize the appearance of dark spots while also hydrating the skin thanks to hyaluronic acid.