Even Better Essence Lotion Combination to Oily
3.4 fl. oz. for $32
Category:Skin Care > Toners
Last Updated:11.26.2014
Jar Packaging:No
Tested on animals:Yes
Review Overview

What Clinique is calling an "Essence" is really more of a "toner" than anything else—but a rose by any name is still a rose and in this case, that's actually a very good thing. Even Better Essence Lotion for Combination Oily to Oily is a great toner for its intended skin types (and the acne-prone). In comparison to Clinique's standard toner collection (their Clarifying Lotions), Even Better Essence so far surpasses those it's almost a bit shocking—it includes a nice array of beneficial ingredients in a lightweight formula that isn't alcohol based (like most of their Clarifying Lotions). As is the case with Clinique's products in general, it is fragrance free, so this is a rose that will not irritate your skin!

Even Better Essence Lotion for Combination Oily to Oily is primarily a mix of plant-based antioxidants such as watermelon (Citrullus vulgaris), apple (Pyrus malus), cucumber (Cucumis sativus) and green tea extract—just to name a few. Tamarind (Tamarindus indica seed extract) makes an appearance as well, which has research demonstrating its potential for antioxidant, wound healing and anti-inflammatory benefit (Pharmacognosy Review, 2011).

The amount of moisture provided is slight (and this has a water-like feel on skin, too), which you would expect given this formula is meant for oily to combination skin types. Clinique included a beneficial mix of reparatives—glycerin, wheat germ, lentil extract, and sodium hyaluronate are a few—and each play roles in helping skin replenish and retain the substances that keep it smooth and healthy.

Interesting to note, Clinique added the ingredient, "saccharomyces ferment filtrate", which if you're familiar with the beauty brand SK-II, this is the yeast extract of which they refer to as "pitera". Clinique isn't making any bold claims about this yeast, which is good because there is scant published, independent research demonstrating saccharomyces ferment filtrate has any benefit beyond being an antioxidant (and not all that great an antioxidant either).

Despite all of the pros for this toner, we have to comment on Clinique's statement on the box and enclosed directions that this is "Formulated for Asian skins". Of course, Clinique never actually explains what the "special" needs of Asian skin are or what ingredients in this product fit those requirements. But even more to the point there is no research anywhere in the world showing any skin care or makeup product can be formulated based on race.

The same way there aren't medicines based on your racial background (for example vaccines and antibiotics are universal) skin is the same. Skin is the largest organ of the body and what it needs to be healthy doesn't change based upon your race—just like your heart or kidneys don't need something different to be healthy.

Forgive us if we belabor this point a bit because we find it so infuriating and ludicrous. Skin-care products aren't interested in your ethnicity. All ethnicities need ingredients like antioxidants, cell-communicating agents, daily sun protection, and regular use of a well-formulated AHA or BHA exfoliant. This marketing becomes more silly than helpful when you consider that "Asian skins" doesn't really have any meaning given the United Arab Emirates, Iran, and Israel are West Asia; China is East Asia; India South Asia; and even part of Russia is Northern Asia. Encouraging this separate nation skin-care standard is probably more detrimental and misleading than helpful.

Despite the ethnic-centric marketing statement, what remains true is that this can be counted among the better skin-care products Clinique has released over the past few years, and a fine example of what a well-formulated toner should contain.

  • Contains a beneficial array of antioxidants and anti-irritants.
  • Sheer, lightweight moisturizing toner that's ideal for oily to combination skin types.
  • Fragrance-free, gentle formula.
  • This is not specially "Formulated for Asian skins" as there is no research showing that Asians need different skin care ingredients than any other ethnic background.

This astounding lotion provides both instant and long-term benefits. The rich formula plumps for softer and more comfortable skin, while moisturizing ingredients help bind water to the skin surface to improve its overall condition. Soothing botanical and cucumber extracts achieve the appearance of inner radiance.


Water\Aqua\Eau, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Citrullus Vulgaris (Watermelon) Fruit Extract, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract, Lens Esculenta (Lentil) Fruit Extract, Tamarindus Indicia Seed Extract, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Laminaria Saccharina Extract, Cladosiphon Okamuranus Extract, Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Artemia Extract, Algae Extract, Biotin, Sodium Hyaluronate, Sucrose, Ergothioneine, Caffeine, Sodium PCA, Saccharomyces Ferment Filtrate, Trehalose, Acetyl Glucosamine, Polysorbate 20, Caprylyl Glycol, Dextrin, Hexylene Glycol, Sodium Lactate, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol

Brand Overview

Clinique At-A-Glance

Strengths: A few excellent moisturizers and serums; excellent sunscreens; very good cleansers and eye makeup removers; unique mattifying products; impressive selection of foundations, good concealers; some remarkable mascaras; much-improved eyeshadows, lip colors and blush formulas.

Weaknesses: Bar soaps (which can clog pores and dull skin); alcohol-based toners; unfortunate choice of jar packaging for antioxidant-loaded moisturizers.

Estee Lauder-owned Clinique launched the concept of cosmetics being "allergy-tested," "hypoallergenic," "100% fragrance-free," and "dermatologist tested." Of those marketing claims, the only one with significance is "100% fragrance-free," which, for the most part, Clinique maintains (although it does add some fragrant extracts to a few products). Unfortunately, terms like “hypoallergenic” and “dermatologist tested” aren’t regulated by the FDA and can mean anything—thus, you still need to rely on the ingredient list to tell you whether their product contains any ingredients with the potential to irritate skin.

That inconvenient fact aside, Clinique is leading the way with cutting-edge, state-of-the-art moisturizers and serums, plus some formidable makeup and more than a few excellent sunscreens. While Clinique has some products that we see as missteps for reasons discussed in their reviews, more than ever, what they offer is quite good (just have realistic expectations, as some of their claims go beyond what their products are capable of).

Turning to makeup, Clinique continues to offer a vast palette of colors and textures, especially with their enormous selection of foundations—many of which feature effective sunscreens. Without a doubt, the numerous formulas offer something for every skin type and almost every skin color—though the blushes, eye makeup and lip colors are frequently not pigmented enough for deeper skin tones.

The bottom line is that, despite a few shortcomings, Clinique is one of the most comprehensive (and comparably affordable) department-store makeup lines, and it is completely understandable why they enjoy such broad appeal.

Note: Clinique is categorized as one that tests on animals because their products are sold in China. Although Clinique does not conduct animal testing for their products sold elsewhere, the Chinese government requires imported cosmetics be tested on animals, so foreign companies retailing there must comply. This requirement is why some brand’s state that they don’t test on animals “unless required by law”. Animal rights organizations consider cosmetic companies retailed in China to be brands that test on animals, and so does the Beautypedia Team.

For more information about Clinique, call (800) 419-4041 or visit www.clinique.com

About the Experts

The new Beautypedia Team proudly and unequivocally maintains the commitment to help you find the best products possible for your skin. We do this by relentlessly pursuing and relying on published scientific research so you will have unbiased information on what works and what doesn't-and the sneaky ways you could be making your skin worse, not better!

The Beautypedia Team reviews all products using the same research, criteria, and objectivity, whether the product being reviewed is from Paula's Choice or another brand.

Member Comments
Summary of Member Comments
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Equivalent other product?

I love this product and fear that Clinique will discontinue it (can't find at Ulta/Sephora/dept stores and there are no reviews on their site.) Is there any other product on the market like it, made by another company? Just need a plan B!

Reviewed by
Julie B
Question part 2

Like Joey B, I also use the Mild Clarifying Lotion with good results and was thinking of adding this Essence as extra moisture with the anti-oxidants I need. Question for the beautipedia team: since I sweep off the exfoliator with cotton balls, shouldn't I pat on the Essence after to make sure it stays on my skin? I'm new to this kind of skin care regimen so your advice would be greatly appreciated. All I did for the last 3 mommy years of my life was wash my face with soap in the shower :-)

Reviewed by
Beautypedia Team Response

Hi there!  Thanks for writing in -- Clinique recommends using this product after the clarifying lotion.  And yes, if you use cotton to sweep your clarifying lotion on, they recommend patting a few drops onto your face after (with fingers).  I hope this helped!


I have a question for the beautypedia team; I am currently using the mild clarifying lotion as a toner, and I enjoy it because i feel as though the small amount of salicylic acid helps keep pimples at bay while not being too harsh. This is important because I have somewhat acne-prone and sensitive skin. Is this product better for my skin type than the clarifying lotion, or if acne's a (sort of mild) concern should I just stick to what I'm using now?

Reviewed by
Joey, B
Beautypedia Team Response

Hi!  Think of Clinique’s Even Better Essence as a toner (step 2, after cleansing) and the Mild Clarifying Lotion as step 3, a BHA exfoliant. You can apply both, morning and evening, one after the other, or you can experiment and use the  Essence in the morning and the Clarifying Lotion as part of you nighttime routine. Although both products have a toner-like consistency, they have different functions and benefits on skin. 

-Beautypedia Team

—Beautypedia Team
For "Pale White Skin"??

On the advice of Beautypedia I decided to try this wonderful toner. I LOVE it. I purchased it in Las Vegas last summer, and I just ran out. I wanted to replenish,and my local Ulta doesn't carry it.I'll have to check Sephora. What's funny is a Clinique brand SA at Ulta said this is sold in markets with "different" skin than mine, (I'm Medium-Olive?)...she said it's for people with "Very pale white skin". I thoughtto myself that Beautypedia would get a kick out of that crazy idea!

Reviewed by
Scarlett A.
Finally a toner worth using!

I have combination/sensitive skin and live in Alaska where it can get pretty dry. I bought the Combo/Oily toner and it is superb. From the moment I put it on my skin, it felt smooth and hydrated. I had no allergic reaction at all, which has always been a problem for me. When checking at Nordstrom's to buy it, I was told they don't carry it (because it is for Asian skins!) but I could order it online or, better yet, Sephora carries it. This is an excellent product you should check out!

Reviewed by
Pamela in AK
Lovely toner for sensitive, combination skin

I am 63 yrs old, with sensitive, combination skin that has become even more reactive with this summer's heat and humidity. I normally use Paula's wonderful RESIST Toner; but developed a sensitivity to an ingredient(s) and started searching for an alternative fragrance-free toner that would soothe, clarify, hydrate and brighten without causing breakouts. This lovely Essence Lotion for Combination/Oily skin does all that and leaves my skin refreshed and less reactive. Truly a pleasure to use!

Reviewed by
Janet C
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