Pore Refining Solutions Correcting Serum
1 fl. oz. for $42.50
Last Updated:12.23.2014
Jar Packaging:No
Tested on animals:Yes
Review Overview

This silky, slightly tinted serum is supposed to clear your pores of the debris that causes them to become enlarged and makes magnifying mirrors your skin’s worst enemy.

Although the formula contains several helpful ingredients (including many antioxidants), the amount of alcohol is cause for concern. Alcohol causes dryness and irritation as well as free-radical damage that hurts your skin’s healing process and ability to become healthier. In testing this product we noted a distinct alcohol scent, which is not good news for those hoping this would make their pore problem vanish.

Another drawback is that the alcohol can stimulate oil production at the base of the pore, leading to more oil, which, you guessed it, prevents pores from becoming smaller.

The salicylic acid this contains is present in an amount too low for exfoliation to occur, plus the pH is too high for it to work as an exfoliant (salicylic acid needs a pH range of 3–4 to be effective).

In the end, despite Clinique’s guarantee of your pores looking 58% smaller, this isn’t a great bet for daily use over the long haul.

  • Silky texture and smooth, weightless finish.
  • Contains some good antioxidants.
  • Amount of alcohol is cause for concern and gives this serum a medicinal scent.
  • Acetyl glucosamine is not a great stand-in for AHAs or BHA.
  • Amount of salicylic acid (BHA, which really can improve pore size and function) in this serum is too low for it to work as an exfoliant.
  • Some of the antioxidant plant extracts are fragrant, and thus another source of irritation.

More Info:

This product contains acetyl glucosamine, an extract from shellfish or sugar that Clinique maintains can exfoliate. Although there isn’t substantiated research proving otherwise, the research on this ingredient’s ability to exfoliate comes from the Estee Lauder Companies, which own Clinique (Source: Journal of Cosmetic Science, July-August 2009, pages 423–428), so it’s not exactly an impartial source.

When large pores are a concern, AHAs are not as effective as BHA (salicylic acid). That’s because BHA can penetrate the oil buildup that leads to pores getting clogged, and enlarging. Without question, you can see tremendous benefit from daily use of a well-formulated BHA product. But the irritation this Pore Refining Solutions Correcting Serum can cause is not something any skin type should endure. Please see our list of Best BHA Exfoliants.


Pore Resurfacing Complex quickly, gently clears out debris and rough flakes. Pores ‘snap back’ into shape. In 2 weeks, pores look 58% smaller. Guaranteed. Over time, help skin create stronger supports and healthier cells to see more improvement.


Dimethicone, Water, Polysilicone-11, Alcohol Denat., Acetyl Glucosamine, PEG-10 Dimethicone, Butylene Glycol, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Serenoa Serrulata (Saw Palmetto) Fruit Extract, Sigesbeckia Orientalis (St. Paul's Wort) Extract, Salvia Sclarea (Clary) Extract, Sea Whip Extract, Laminaria Saccharina Extract, Caffeine, Pantethine, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, PEG-11 Methyl Ether Dimethicone, Algae Extract, Polysorbate 20, Salicylic Acid, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Tocopheryl Acetate , Caprylyl Glycol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Glycerin, Lecithin, Isohexadecane, Di-C12-18 Alkyl Dimonium Chloride, Polysorbate 80, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Polymethyl Methacrylate, Coconut Acid, Padina Pavonica Thallus Extract, Nordihydroguaiaretic Acid, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Acrylamide/Sodium Acryloyldimethyltaurate Copolymer, Silica, Citric Acid, Hexylene Glycol, Ascorbyl Tocopheryl Maleate, Sodium Hydroxide, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxides

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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bad serum for me

I have used this product for over 6 months together with clinique 3step skincare (type3) and my pores remain the same. Instead , my skin becomes dry and look dull and uneven. I am very disappointed with the result. I hv never viewed the ingredients contained. but after I see this rating through google and check the smell, i noticed strong alcohol smell.. I decided to buy skincare only after viewing ur rating.... thanks paula

Reviewed by
Definitely poor

I received a good sized sample of this and was able to use it for a couple of weeks. It broke me out, which is strange since it has salicylic acid in it. I stopped using it for a little while and then tried it again to see if it was the culprit behind my breakouts and it definitely was. It did nothing for my pores or skin texture other than cause breakouts. I would not recommend it to anyone.

Reviewed by
Meredith R.
Not for me

While this lotion has a lovely texture and feels nice on, it did NOT reduce the size of my pores (and that was after using it for over a year). I switched to one of Paula's recommended salicylic acid-based products and that did the trick.

Reviewed by
Tamie C.

It actually is working for me! I've only been using it a week and have noticed a tremendous differencen pore appearance and size. I was curious to see what ingredients it contained and I stumbled on this review via Googling. I think it should be rated higher than "poor!" I will watch for any negative developments. 10/30/2013

Reviewed by
Kathleen, R
Pore Refining Solutions Correcting Serum

This pore refining solution really works for me. My pores are smaller and my skin looks smoother. I think it deserves a much higher rating than 'poor'. I would rate it as 'best'.

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