PCA Skin Review - The Dermatology Review

PCA Skin Review



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 are the Best Skin Care Products of 2021?

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

PCA Cleansers
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.

PCA Moisturizers
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.

PCA Retinols
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.

PCA Exfoliants
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.

There’s no need to compromise when it comes to finding skincare that is effective and safe. Carrot & Stick takes a tough love approach to skincare, perfectly balancing the power of plants with cutting edge science. Not only is Carrot & Stick good for your skin, it is also good for the environment as the formulas skip harmful chemicals as well as the preservatives, emulsifiers and thickeners commonly found in skincare products.



Carrot & Stick

Carrot & Stick takes a tough love approach to skincare. What does this mean? It perfectly balances the power of plants with innovative science, offering the best of both worlds.Read More


The philosophy of Formulyst is long-term and effective skincare, rather than covering up any imperfections. The comprehensive line of products tackles everything from wrinkles to dark spots and dry skin. While some brands rely on unnecessary fillers and scents, Formulyst focuses on ingredients that help create results, such as vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.Read More

Advanced Dermatology

The Advanced Dermatology skin care regimen addresses the most pressing aging concerns.Read More

PCA Clear Skin Review

The PCA Clear Skin was designed to serve as the perfect moisturizer for those with oily and easily irritated skin types. For those with oily or combo skin, finding a moisturizer that supports your skin without causing irritation or clogging your pores can be incredibly challenging. That’s why PCA Skin developed a formula that was lightweight and hydrating, while also including anti-acne ingredients. Some of the key ingredients behind this formula include niacinamide, borage seed oil, hyaluronic acid and calendula extract, each of which work in different ways to improve the skin. Starting off with niacinamide, this ingredient works to help retain your moisture levels while also minimizing sebum and oil production. Borage Seed oil on the other hand helps to reduce the redness and inflammation associated with breakouts in order to soothe the skin and create a more even skin surface.


PCA Creamy Cleanser Review

If you’re on the hunt for a non-irritating, creamy cleanser, you may want to check out the PCA Creamy Cleanser. More and more, we’re starting to see the damaging effects of cleanses that are either formulated at the wrong pH or those that include too many harsh surfactants. These types of cleansers can dry and strip the skin, leaving it feeling raw, irritated and parched. In order to respect the skin barrier and ensure the health and balance of your skin, utilizing a creamy cleanser is one of the easiest switches to make. Using a creamy cleanser like the PCA Creamy Cleanser helps to moisturize and nourish the skin while cleansing. These type of cleansers also work to prep the skin for the rest of your skincare routine so that the skin can absorb as much of the beneficial ingredients as possible. This particular cleanser contains a blend of sunflower and rose hip seed oils to nourish and protect the skin, while gentle surfactants lightly cleanse the skin and remove makeup. Like other gentle cleansers, this product does not create a very frothy or foamy lather, so you can enjoy the creamy texture of this product to the fullest.


PCA Hydraluxe Review

PCA Skin has been developing dermatologist and esthetician approved skincare products for decades. Their science-first philosophy has led them to create some truly unique skincare products, including the PCA Hydraluxe. As the name would suggest, this face moisturizer features a distinctly luxurious feel on the skin, paired with ingredients that are just as luxurious. The formula behind this product has been tailored to suit those with anti-aging concerns including those who struggle with dryness and dehydration. This formula also features four innovative ingredients and technologies that allow this product to perform at its best. Starting off with their IQ Adaptive Hydration Technology, this complex helps to protect and reinforce the skin’s natural moisture barrier, which is essential for maintaining healthy and well moisturized skin. Secondary, snow algae helps to protect the skin as well by preventing environmental aggressors from causing skin damage over time. Finally, peony and chicory root extracts help to plump, firm, and strengthen the skin at the surface, making the tale tell signs of aging less visible with consistent usage. This product is completely fragrance free and is best suited for those with mature, dry or dehydrated skin types, as the formula itself is quite rich and nourishing and may prove to be too much for oilier skin types.


PCA Skin Exlinea Peptide Smoothing Serum Review

The PCA Skin ExLinea Peptide Smoothing Serum was designed to smooth the skin overall while also minimizing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. The formula behind this product contains a blend of peptides, hydrating emollients, hyaluronic acid, rice bran wax and vitamin E. Each of these ingredients play important roles in benefiting your skin. Starting off with peptides, this category of ingredients are actually amino-acid precursors which have been designed in order to help boost the production of collagen and elastin within the skin. Emollients are another category of ingredients that mainly work to soften and smooth the skin, while humectants, like hyaluronic acid hydrate the skin and draw water within. Rice bran wax helps to condition and nourish the skin, while vitamin E rounds out this formula by moisturizing the skin and providing an array of potent antioxidants to protect the skin and reverse signs of environmental damage. With all of these ingredients in mind, this type of product would be best suited for those of you who are looking for an anti-aging protect that helps to smooth and minimize the major signs of premature aging, while also offering a beneficial dose of hydration and moisture at the same time.


PCA Skin Collagen Hydrator Review

If you’ve ever looked at the ingredients list behind some of your favorite skincare products, you’ll probably see two main ingredients: hyaluronic acid and shea butter. These two ingredients have become extremely popular in skincare, and for good reason. Products like the PCA Skin Collagen Hydrator, use these two ingredients in tandem in order to rehydrate and restore proper moisture and hydration to dry or mature skin. Starting off with hyaluronic acid, this ingredient works mainly as a humectant, and possesses the unique ability to draw up to 1000 times its weight in water. Shea butter on the other hand is actually one of the few plant oils/butters that acts as both an emollient and an occlusive, meaning that it softens the skin while simultaneously sealing in moisture. These two ingredients, along with collagen, wheat proteins and sweet almond oil work to plump the skin and create a more youthful appearance overall. The result is a rich, creamy product that firms, conditions and balance the skin, reinforcing the skin barrier and creating healthier looking and feeling skin overall.


PCA ReBalance Review

For a balancing, deeply nourishing moisturizer that won’t irritate the skin, you may want to check out PCA Rebalance. Rebalance is a gentle, cream-based product that was originally designed to calm the skin after chemical peels, facial laser treatments or other in-office skincare procedures. But, for those with especially sensitive skin types, these type of post-procedure soothing creams can be incredibly beneficial. This particular formula includes primrose and borage seed oils as well as vitamin B5 and niacinamide. Starting off with these rich plant oils, primrose and borage oil help to repair the skin, soften skin texture, diminish signs of redness and soothe irritation. Vitamin B5 works to further hydrate and calm the skin while niacinamide helps to even out skin tone and brighten the complexion. As a whole, this formula works to reinforce the skin’s moisture barrier while simultaneously reducing the visibility of irritation, sensitivity, blotchiness and general redness within the skin.


PCA Skin Hyaluronic Acid Boosting Serum Review

Hyaluronic acid has received a tremendous amount of hype over the last few years, and today, you can find dozens of hyaluronic acid serums to choose from. So how do you spot the differences? As with most skincare products, it all comes down to the formulation. Some formulas simplify their serums to create a simple, minimalistic hyaluronic acid, while others incorporate other humectants, antioxidants or active ingredients to build on this ingredient’s benefits. The PCA Skin Hyaluronic Acid Boosting Serum, for example, is one of the hyaluronic acid serums that utilizes a whole host of other beneficial ingredients in order to build on the hydration that hyaluronic acid offers. This formula contains niacinamide, as well as ceramides to brighten and boost the skin’s moisture barrier, which is essential to maintaining optimally functioning, healthy skin. Niacinamide also helps to smooth texture and tone the skin, creating a more even and radiant complexion. It’s also worth noting that of the hyaluronic acid serums on the market, the PCA Skin Hyaluronic Acid Boosting Serum offers a much more rich and nourishing texture than the more minimalistic options that are on the market. This includes beeswax and jojoba esters to soften and nourish the skin surface.


PCA Skin Facial Wash Review

PCA Skin Facial Wash is a gentle cleanser for normal to sensitive skin that is said to remove makeup, oil, dirt, and environmental impurities. There are several coconut-derived surfactants in this cleanser, including sodium C14-16 olefin sulfonate, cocamidopropyl betaine, sodium cocoamphoacetate, and cocamidopropyl hydroxysultaine. A surfactant molecule contains one end that is hydrophilic (attracted to water) and one end that is lipophilic (attracted to oil). This allows surfactants to attract and suspends oils, dirt, and other impurities that have accumulated on the skin and wash them away. However, even though cocamidopropyl betaine is derived from a natural source, this ingredient has been associated with irritation and allergic contact dermatitis. These reactions could be due to the ingredient itself or to impurities present in it.

PCA Skin Facial Wash also contains lactic acid, a type of alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that is naturally found in milk and sugars. Lactic acid is particularly beneficial for those with sensitive skin because it provides gentler exfoliation than other AHAs, such as glycolic acid. It works by breaking down keratin, a protein that acts as a glue to keep dead skin cells together. By dissolving keratin, lactic acid helps to exfoliate the top layer of dead skin cells, leaving skin looking brighter with a more even tone. Allantoin is included in the PCA Skin Facial Wash because it is a keratolytic, which means it has the ability to smooth skin through exfoliation of the top layer of dead skin cells. PCA Skin also claims that Aloe vera leaf juice and willow bark extract are additional key ingredients in the Facial Wash. However, both of these ingredients are listed after the preservative phenoxyethanol in the ingredient list (which is in order of descending concentrations). Since the maximum percentage of phenoxyethanol that is allowed to be used in cosmetic products is 1%, there is a very low percentage of these “key” ingredients in the PCA Skin Facial Wash.


PCA Rejuvenating Serum Review

PCA Skin Care is known for their expertly created formulations. Founded nearly 30 years ago by a dermatologist, this brand has continued to be a force in the industry. Looking specifically at one of their fan favorite products is the PCA Rejuvenating Serum, this product was designed to act as a preventative aspect in your skincare routine to keep the most noticeable signs of premature aging at bay. This product is formulated with grape fruit stem cell extract as well as epidermal growth factor which help to reduce the early signs of visible aging such as fine lines and wrinkles, age spots, uneven skin tone, and dullness. Additionally, the antioxidants within this formula helps to protect the skin from environmental damage that can accelerate the aging process even further. With all of that included, this product works to both minimize the signs of aging that have already started to develop on your skin while simultaneously preventing further signs of aging from becoming more prevalent in the further. Because of this, we’d recommend this product to those of your who are just starting to get into anti-aging or protective skincare and are looking for a product that you can seamlessly incorporate into your routine.


PCA Skin Pigment Gel Review

You’ve spotted a breakout, and against your better judgement, you’ve popped it. Possibly more than once. You know it’s going to scar. But what can you do about it? Turns out, there are products for just that. We’re starting to see spot treatments that treat more than just acne, but the stubborn spot that these acne marks can leave behind. The PCA Skin Pigment Gel is one of the most well known options in this emerging category. This product contains 2% hydroquinone, which is a very potent skin lightening agent. While it is not recommended that you use this product on your entire face for longer than 2 months intervals, using it as a spot treatment is an excellent way to see all the benefits of this ingredient, without worrying about the risks associated with a full face application. In addition to the 2% hydroquinone, this product also contains azelaic acid, kojic acid, and resorcinol to boost the efficacy of hydroquinone as well as treat the underlying cause of scarring, reducing the amount of breakouts you experience in that area as well. Azelaic acid in particular is known for helping to calm the inflammation and redness that’s associated with acne to create a calmer, more even skin tone. All together, this formula is a powerhouse blend that targets and resolves stubborn hyperpigmentation caused by acne scarring.


PCA Skin Hydrating Serum Review

The PCA Skin Hydrating Serum was designed to serve as a lightweight, yet impressively hydrating and moisturizing serum. This product contains some of the best humectant ingredients on the market including glycerin and hyaluronic acid, as well as Sodium PCA, which is the key ingredient that PCA Skin Care is most well known for. But this product doesn’t just contain hydrating ingredients, but antioxidants as well. Antioxidants are becoming more and more popular as research has come out to back up it’s usage in order to prevent skin damage. Antioxidants help to protect against free radical and sun damage, as well as damage that can be caused by pollution or environmental stressors. All of these are central contributors to skin concerns sun as hyperpigmentation and dark spots, dryness and dehydration, and premature aging. With this combination of ingredients, this product would be an excellent option for those of you who are looking for a workhorse serum that protects and hydrates, without interfering with any more potent active ingredients such as vitamin C and retinol.


PCA Skin C&E Advanced with Hexylresorcinol and Silymarin Review

The PCA Skin C&E Advanced with Hexylresorcinol and Silymarin targets multiple signs of premature aging, including fine lines and wrinkles, sun damage, hyperpigmentation, free radical damage, dryness and dehydration. With a full range of potent active ingredients, this product acts as a highly effective and potent treatment product. With 20% ascorbic acid and 5% vitamin E, this offers some of the best ingredients available for a traditional vitamin C serum. But with Hexylresorcinol and Silymarin, this product is also able to tackle other skin conditions. Hexylresorcinol is an age-fighting agents that works alongside the other actives in this formula to brighten and even out skin tone, while silymarin acts primary as an antioxidant that offers anti-inflammatory benefits while simultaneously fighting free radical damage.

  • Susan Maclane Original review: Oct 31, 2015. Reply

    A friend of mine who is an aesthetician introduced me to PCA Skin. I am extremely picky on what I put on my face and have used only high end skincare lines my entire life, I’m now 56. I’ve even used retinal from the dermatologist. PCA skin care is amazing! One might think it’s a little expensive but it’s not compared to other high end skincare lines. For those who say they didn’t like it, I’d strongly suggest, if you haven’t already, go to an aesthetician at least once to be sure you are using the correct products for your skin type.

  • Gabby Original review: Dec 04, 2013. Reply

    I just bought the Pca Skin The Age Control Dry Solution Kit. 8 Products for $70. It only lasts for 30 days but at least I can see if it works for me. If it is a good range I will buy the full size products I like. I am waiting for delivery and hopefully it will come in the next few days.

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