The insanity never stops in the cosmetics industry and Clarins is no more an offender than hundreds of other companies, but this one takes the “Laughable Product of the Month” prize! The fashion magazine ads for this product are outrageous. How many women would ride a bike in shorts that barely cover their behind while wearing platform wedge shoes? Granted, the photograph spotlights the model’s perfect, dimple-free thighs, but that’s either photo retouching or genetic serendipity, not the result of using this product.
What is in this product? Mostly water, alcohol, slip agents, caffeine, fragrance, and irritating menthol. The only ingredient of note that’s related to cellulite reduction is caffeine, which is popular in cellulite-related products because caffeine contains theophylline (Source: Progress in Neurobiology, December 2002, pages 377–392), which is a modified form of aminophylline, a pharmaceutical that once was thought to reduce cellulite (Source: Yale New Haven Health Library, Alternative/Complementary Medicine, www.yalenewhavenhealth.org).
There isn't any substantiated research proving theophylline can affect cellulite, and researchers have disproved aminophylline’s claimed impact on cellulite. The second reason caffeine may show up in cellulite products stems from research showing it to have benefit for weight loss, but that’s only when you drink it, not when you rub it on your thighs. Regardless, if you want to believe caffeine is the answer, make a toner of your own with leftover coffee or consider products (equally silly, but cheaper) by Neutrogena and Aveeno.
High Definition Body Lift won’t get your thighs ready for close-up photos, although you may notice a temporary tightening sensation from the alcohol. Unfortunately, all the alcohol is doing is irritating your skin and causing free-radical damage. The menthol is just there so your skin will tingle and you’ll think the product is working. Clarins has reformulated and re-launched their Body Lift product numerous times, and none of them have worked even remotely like the claims suggest. If any of them did, you’d have to ask yourself why Clarins never keeps one of them around for long?
One more technical point: Research has shown that when caffeine and its derivatives are formulated in a gel vehicle (such as this product) the caffeine was not effective in reducing the size of fat cells in vitro (meaning not on people, but in a petri dish). Also, when sodium benzoate was added to the formula, the caffeine was rendered ineffective (Source: Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, March 2008, pages 23–29). Guess what? High Definition Body Lift contains sodium benzoate. That means even if caffeine could work, it wouldn’t in this product formulated by Clarins.
A patented, innovative and intensive cellulite control treatment that helps optimize the release of excess fat, even from the most stubborn places. Contains active microspheres that melt into skin to increase absorption of ingredients upon application. Minimizes the appearance of cellulite, helps redefine hips and thighs by providing skin with a gentle lifting effect. Visibly enhances skin with dual-toning and smoothing action. Restores balance by moisturizing and nourishing skin. Refreshing and cooling cream-gel texture helps tighten tissue for toned and firmed skin.
Water, Alcohol, Cyclomethicone, Glycerin, Caffeine, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Butylene Glycol, Phenyl Trimethicone, Fragrance, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Menthol, Mannitol, Escin, Microcrystalline Cellulose, Sodium Acrylates Copolymer, Sodium Hydroxide, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Atractyloides Lancea Root Extract, Glyceryl Acrylate/Acrylic Acid Copolymer, Pentylene Glycol, Phospholipids, Polyglyceryl-10 Stearate, Sunflower Seed Oil, Methylsilanol Mannuronate, Scabiose Arvensis Extract, Uncaria Tomentosa Extract, Baccharis Genistelloides Extract, Geranium Robertianum Extract, Ascorbic Acid, Sodium Benzoate, Xanthan Gum, Pinus Pinaster Bark/Bud Extract, Sorbic Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Potassium Sorbate, Iron Oxides, Red 4, Red 33
Clarins is a distinctively French line whose beginnings go back to 1954. It was then that founder Jacques Courtin-Clarins began formulating plant-based treatments for his clients. He parlayed this into a Beauty Institute, and from there, with an all-natural mantra that was slightly ahead of its time, the business grew. Never wavering from its original marketing angle, Clarins has steadfastly held on to the belief that whatever grows from the ground and smells nice must be the cure for every skin ailment, from breakouts to loss of firmness to the dreaded "sponginess" of cellulite. A visit to today's white- and red-trimmed Clarins counter confirms that the plant-based, natural-extract rhetoric is still intact, and the counter staff is eager to discuss it (yet ask them what some of the non-plant, unnatural ingredients are doing in their products and you may be met with a blank stare).
You'll also find that Clarins routinely offers facial appointments at their counters, yet more often than not these appointments, which are done behind a privacy screen, are about selling products, not about performing a legitimate facial. (For example, cleansing, toning, and facial massage are included, while extractions are not.) One other point of difference you may hear about is the Clarins Anti-Pollution Complex. First added to their products in 1991, this Complex consists of a group of plant extracts — though what they may be is a mystery, since all manner of plant extracts show up in these products, with few repeats. This "high-performing" protection is supposed to shield skin from pollutant gases, corrosive particles, and industrial emissions. Although that sounds good, it's not true and there isn't a shred of proof to the contrary (Clarins research is unpublished). Plant extracts, alone or in combination — regardless of the remote locations they may come from — cannot keep pollution off the skin. If anything, the amount of fragrance in these products can weaken the skin's defense mechanisms, resulting in more damage from the pollution our skin encounters daily.
This line is enormous, and is absolutely one of the most cumbersome around. Within it, the assortment of plant extracts ranges from the usual to the exotic and ultimately to the no-one-knows-what-in-the-heck-these-are! Clarins has something for every skin concern imaginable—from keeping pollution off the face (not possible) to lifting a sagging jaw line (not possible without surgery), and even protecting skin from electromagnetic waves (give me a break). It would seem there is nothing these supposedly miraculous products can't do! And you'll find a horde of plants here with the promise that this can really all come true.
However, once you're armed with even a modicum of ingredient knowledge and a fair helping of myth-busting, you'll realize how ridiculously out of whack all of this hype is. That's not to imply that all of these products are bad—there are good ones—or that all of the plant extracts aren't good—because many are very good anti-irritants, antioxidants, emollients, or antibacterial agents. However, many plant extracts are also potential allergens or skin irritants. Clarins also has its fair share of ordinary, standard, and completely unnecessary products whose claims are at best misleading and at worst downright false, and overall the products are incredibly overpriced for what you get. What is most startling is the redundancy among the Clarins products. There are few differences, for example, between the moisturizers and the mask cleansers, and the oil-control products are more reruns than they are new alternatives for skin care.
Note: All Clarins products contain fragrance.
For more information about Clarins, call (866) 252-7467 or visit www.clarins.com.
Clarins showcases its prodigious skin-care products so prominently that you may not have noticed that their excellent makeup collection has become even more impressive. Evaluating Clarins makeup is 180 degrees different from evaluating the lackluster and confusing assortment of skin-care products they sell. When it comes to foundations, powders, and lipsticks, texture is critically important. Luckily, this is where Clarins color line excels, despite premium prices and going a bit overboard with fragrance. Their foundations are marvelous, the lone concealer is much better than their former attempts in this area, and every powder-based product feels incomparably silky while looking stunningly smooth on skin. (Keep in mind, however, that even the best makeup looks only as good as the skin on which it is applied.) Giving Lancome and Dior a run for their money, Clarins' mascaras are surprisingly good, and at least their lipsticks feel as rich as you'll need to be to afford repeat purchases. You don't need to spend this much money to get beautiful results and stellar products, but if your budget allows you to fill your makeup bag with department-store products, Clarins' nicely organized makeup display should be one of your first stops.
Clarins likes to promote that many of their foundations contain a special anti-pollution complex to safeguard your skin. Don't believe it for a second, because there is no way to completely shield skin from the effects of pollution and antioxidants. Besides, the kinds of ingredients that can reduce, not block or eliminate, pollution-based free-radical formation are rarely included in Clarins makeup.