Since your question is about product descriptions and you're concerned about duplicate content, I'm assuming that this is because all of your product descriptions for the category are basically the same. If that's not the case, please provide more context in your question.
If all of the products are a part of the same category; assuming that they only differ in terms of secondary attributes (such as color), and thus the product descriptions are otherwise all the same, I would provide the general description before the list of products.
<p>Description that applies to all here...</p>
<img src="example.com/yadayada.jpg" />
<p>Product Name - Blue</p>
<img src="example.com/dadadada.jpg" />
<p>Product Name - Green</p>
You could repeat this throughout the pagination if you like, or only show it on the first page. Here's a relevant quote from Google's John Mueller regarding sections of content that are repeated throughout a site:
“With that kind of duplicate content it’s not so much that there’s a negative score associated with it. It’s more that, if we find exactly the same information on multiple pages on the web, and someone searches specifically for that piece of information, then we’ll try to find the best matching page.
So if you have the same content on multiple pages then we won’t show all of these pages. We’ll try to pick one of them and show that. So it’s not that there’s any negative signal associated with that. In a lot of cases that’s kind of normal that you have some amount of shared content across some of the pages.”
The answer, in this case, is UX > nit-picky SEO stuff. Do what you think is right. Google will figure it out.
The type of duplicate content that will hurt you is also plagiarism. Repeating your own words on multiple pages of your website is harmless.