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.