Age Defense BB Cream SPF 30
1.7 fl. oz. for $37
Category:Makeup > Tinted Moisturizers/BB Creams > BB Cream
Last Updated:12.23.2014
Jar Packaging:No
Tested on animals:Yes
Review Overview

BB (Blemish Balm) creams are part of an Asian-inspired trend that has made its way to the United States; but, for the most part, this is one overseas trend you can ignore without feeling as though you’re missing out on something great.

The concept of blemish balm creams is that they serve as a treatment-based tinted moisturizer to even out skin tone (a blemish in Asia is about skin color, not about breakouts). Most offer sun protection, sheer to light coverage to even out the skin tone, and one or more ingredients to lighten brown discolorations or red marks from acne.

Clinique’s attempt to capitalize on the BB cream trend doesn’t break any new ground; in fact, there are more problems than benefits with this fragrance-free product, especially if you have breakout-prone skin.

The texture is thick, creamy, and somewhat opaque. Despite the creaminess, this feels a bit dry as it's applied and sets to a soft matte finish; it doesn't have the elegant slip of today's best foundations. This provides enough coverage to blur minor imperfections (you get more coverage than a standard tinted moisturizer), but only one of the three shades is worthwhile. Shade 01 is a ghostly pink that leaves a distinct white cast on skin; Shade 02 is a soft neutral that's workable for fair to light skin tones and shade 03 is a bit too peach (it's not terrible but could've been a lot better). There are no shades for tan to dark skin tones, but that's just as well because this isn't a product worth auditioning.

Sun protection is provided by a range of synthetic and mineral actives, so this provides sufficient protection against the sun’s aging UVA rays. Unfortunately, the formula lacks ingredients proven to help improve blemishes, whether they are from discolorations or from a breakout. Instead, your skin is treated to some heavy thickening agents and a product that feels slightly heavy and mask-like instead of fresh and “barely there.”

All skin types, blemished or not, would do better with any of the Clinique foundations or tinted moisturizers with sunscreen that we’ve rated highly. We’re betting this product won’t remain in the line for long because, other than the trend of BB creams, it adds nothing new to the mix.


Active: Octinoxate 7.5%; Octisalate 4%; Zinc Oxide 3.5%; Oxybenzone 2.5%; Titanium Dioxide 1.1%; Other: Water, Dimethicone, Butylene Glycol, Phenyl Trimethicone, Pentylene Glycol, Glyceryl Stearate, Behenyl Alcohol, Trioctyldodecyl Citrate, Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Octyldodecyl Stearoyl Stearate, PEG-40 Stearate, Polyglyceryl-10 Pentastearate, Octyldodecyl Neopentanoate, Hordeum Vulgare (Barley) Extract, Triticum Vulgare (Wheat Germ) Extract, Laminaria Saccharina Extract, Linoleic Acid, Oryzanol, Squalane, Cholesterol, Caffeine, Sucrose, Glycerin, Polyquaternium-51, Lecithin, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Polyglyceryl-6 Polyricinoleate, Sodium PCA, Isopropyl Titanium Triisostearate, Trehalose, Urea, Tocopheryl Acetate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Xanthan Gum, Glycyrrhetinic Acid, Stearic Acid, Aluminum Hydroxide, Silica, Pentaerythrityl Tetra-Di-T-Butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate, Disodium EDTA, Chlorphenesin, Sodium Dehydroacetate, Phenoxyethanol; May Contain: Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxides, Mica

Brand Overview

Clinique At-A-Glance

Strengths: One of the best selections of state-of-the-art moisturizers and serums loaded with ingredients that research has shown are of great benefit to skin; excellent sunscreens; several Redness Solutions products excel; an outstanding benzoyl peroxide product; good selection of self-tanning products; some very good cleansers and eye makeup removers; some unique mattifying products; a large and wholly impressive selection of foundations, many with reliable sun protection (and shades for darker skin tones); good concealers; some remarkable mascaras; much-improved eyeshadows; loose powder; blush products; some brilliant lipsticks and lip gloss; gel eyeliner; priced lower than most competing department-store lines.

Weaknesses: The three-step skincare routine, because of the bar soaps and irritant-laden clarifying lotions; jar packaging downgrades several otherwise top-notch moisturizers; incomplete routines for those prone to acne; skin-lightening products with either unproven or insufficient levels of lightening agents.

Estee Lauder-owned Clinique's tremendous success (the company's products are sold in over 13,000 department stores and in 110 countries) reshaped the way cosmetics lines identified themselves, sending the concept of line loyalty out to pasture. Today, cosmetics companies expand their market either by buying already established companies or by creating new ones, and Lauder has been adept at doing both. Of course, cosmetics companies keep this multiple-personality identity hidden from the consumer. If the general buying public realized that these apparently different companies were so intertwined with each other, how could they flaunt their independence and claim that their unparalleled formulations are secret or the best? It's hard to think Lauder (or any company) would, even if they could, keep secrets from one branch separate from the others. And as evidenced by the formulary similarities between brands, they don't!

The niche Clinique built 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). Regarding allergy testing, unless you can see the results, what difference does it make if a product makes that claim? What if the test showed 20% of the women who used it had a sensitizing reaction, dryness, or irritation? Would Clinique highlight this, or is it just easier to default to the generic allergy-tested claim and leave such details out, figuring consumers won't ask for more? 

Moreover, "hypoallergenic" is a term not regulated by the FDA, so any product can use the word without having to substantiate the claim. "Dermatologist tested" is also bogus, because without published test results the term can easily mean nothing more than that a dermatologist picked up the product, looked at the container, and said "This looks good." And what about the dermatologists on Clinique's payroll? How do we know they're not the ones involved in testing, rather than sending the products out for independent, impartial evaluation (though how impartial can any study be that's paid for by the company making the product)?

Clinique declined any participation for this site, which included refusing to send us copies of the allergy studies they maintain have been performed for every product they sell. We find their unwillingness to help odd because, for the most part, we genuinely like most of their products. In fact, more than any other department-store line except Estee Lauder, Clinique is leading the way with cutting-edge, state-of-the-art moisturizers and serums, plus some formidable makeup. They also have their act together for sunscreens and have expanded their decades-old three-step skin-care routine to include water-soluble cleansers instead of bar soap. They also now have a second "Dramatically Different" moisturizer that's well-suited for those with normal to oily skin and FINALLY reformulated their longstanding water-and-wax yellow lotion.

The Clinique consultants, dressed in medical-looking white lab coats (Clinique's image in that sense was ahead of the times given today's plethora of doctor-designed skin-care lines), do their best to speak intelligently about skin-care routines, but for the most part they're trained to sell the products rather than to provide information about what substantiated research has shown about the skin's needs to look and feel its best.

The good news for you is that the chemists behind Clinique's arsenal of products have been keeping up on this exciting information, and formulating superior products in response. We wouldn't blindly and solely bank on Clinique as your skin-care solution, but more than ever what they offer is, despite some far-out claims and problematic products, what epitomizes advanced skin care for all ages. Shop carefully and you'll leave confident that you are purchasing products with solid science, not just marketing hype, behind them.

Turning to makeup, Clinique continues to offer a vast palette of colors and textures, especially in their huge and imposing selection of foundations, many of which feature effective sunscreens. In fact, this category has become the most compelling reason to shop Clinique's makeup collection. Without a doubt the numerous formulas offer something for every skin type and almost every skin color. The shade selection has improved considerably, with more neutrals and a broader range than ever before. You still need to use caution and watch out for peach-toned duds, but for the most part finding a natural-looking match shouldn't be a frustrating experience, and the counter personnel are happy to provide samples.

Although the foundation and powder shades take darker skin tones into account, the blush, eye pencil, and most of the lipstick shades do not. Perhaps that will change in the future, as Clinique beautifully updated their eyeshadow collection with ultra-smooth textures and deeper colors that show up on darker skin.

Compliments are also due for Clinique's updated makeup tester units. They are well-organized, labeled with product name and price, and easily accessible without a salesperson's help. And speaking of salespeople, most of the Clinique consultants we encounter go above and beyond to provide assistance and to answer any questions we had (even if we didn't always agree with their responses). Those white lab coats don't mean medical expertise, but we'll take outstanding customer service over pseudoscience any day!

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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Made my skin flaky. So hard to blend in. :(

Reviewed by
OK, but not for me.

Got this as part of a gift bag from the American Cancer Society, wouldn't have spent the money otherwise. It does cover some of my light brown spots, but it is a little heavy for me.

Reviewed by
Marieli P.
Shade no 2 is great

Love your reviews, but some hyped products seem more dissed than other similar products. Understand BBs are hyped, but why is Revlon's better rated?. Color 1 is ashy and useless. Color 2 is the best for pale types Clinique has done, as not pink or too tan. Goes on thick, but sets lighter and powdery. Not drying or hydrating. Doesn't break me out. But I am dry combo, not oily. Has good SPF. Medium coverage. Still love Beautypedia reviews.

Reviewed by
This is awful!

This is heavy and chalky looking. I've used Clinique for years and have never had problems, but this cream made my skin break out. I returned it for a refund and the sales clerk told me that she didn't like it either and that it hadn't been selling very well. Hey Clinique, there's a reason for that!

Reviewed by
Mary Ann D
Clinique's BB Cream did not meet expectations

I had high expectations for this product the way the sales ladies at the Clinique counter touted its benefits. I have just finished my first tube and could not make it meet expectations no matter how I tried applying it. I thought that it would provide good sun protection, along with providing my skin with a flawless glow. I was sadly disappointed. All I achieved was a dry, chalk like appearance that was more reminiscent of a Geisha. I will cross this off my cosmetics list.

Reviewed by
Debra L.

This cream is heavy. No matter how I applied it, following directions and suggestions from my Clinique sales person, it looked awful. It had a chalky look that seemed to settle in my pores, despite using all of the suggested Clinique primers. I returned it and was told by the sales person taking the return that she had tried it and didn't like it either. Clinique and do a much better job!

Reviewed by
Mary Ann
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