First things first: this cream cannot lift or tighten loose sagging skin. If you're looking for a skin-care product that does that, please check out More Info to find out what you can realistically expect.
One strong point for this daytime moisturizer is its ability to provide broad-spectrum sun protection. The active ingredients include titanium dioxide for reliable UVA protection, though really, launching a moisturizer whose SPF rating is 15 is a bit behind the times—most dermatologists are advising SPF 30 as the new normal because most of us aren't applying sunscreen liberally enough. Given what this product costs, the likelihood of liberal application decreases; after all, if you apply this daily to your face and neck you'd be replacing it every six weeks or so, and that adds up!
This has a rich, emollient texture those with dry skin will love, and the formula contains a broad range of anti-aging ingredients, from antioxidants to repairing agents. The problem is that many of those important ingredients won't remain stable once you open this jar-packaged product. Clinique can't seem to let go of using jars even though research has made it clear they're a problem for light- and air-sensitive ingredients (see More Info for details). In better packaging, this moisturizer would earn our top rating, though even then it's lifting and tightening claims are not grounded in reality.
- Provides broad-spectrum sun protection.
- Lush, creamy texture feels great on dry skin.
- Expensive, which may discourage liberal application.
- Jar packaging won't keep key ingredients stable once this is opened.
Lifting Sagging Skin: Many skin-care products claim they can firm and lift skin, but none of them work, at least not to the extent claimed. A face-lift-in-a-bottle isn't possible, but with the right mix of products, you will see firmer skin that has a more lifted appearance—and that's exciting! In order to gain these youthful benefits, you must protect skin from any and all sun damage every day, use an AHA (glycolic acid or lactic acid) or BHA (salicylic acid) exfoliant, and use products that have a wide range of antioxidants and skin-repairing ingredients. This combination of products (remember, one product doesn't do it all) has extensive research showing how they can significantly improve many of the signs of aging such as firming skin, reducing wrinkles and brown spots, and eliminating dullness. You'll find them on our list of Best Anti-Aging/Anti-Wrinkle Products.
Why Jar Packaging is a Problem: The fact that it's packaged in a jar means the beneficial ingredients won't remain stable once it is opened. All plant extracts, vitamins, antioxidants, and other state-of-the-art ingredients break down in the presence of air, so once a jar is opened and lets the air in these important ingredients begin to deteriorate. Jars also are unsanitary because you're dipping your fingers into them with each use, adding bacteria which further deteriorate the beneficial ingredients (Sources: Free Radical Biology and Medicine, September 2007, pages 818-829; Ageing Research Reviews, December 2007, pages 271-288; Dermatologic Therapy, September-October 2007, pages 314-321; International Journal of Pharmaceutics, June 12, 2005, pages 197-203; Pharmaceutical Development and Technology, January 2002, pages 1-32; International Society for Horticultural Science, www.actahort.org/members/showpdf?booknrarnr=778_5; Beautypackaging.com, and www.beautypackaging.com/articles/2007/03/airless-packaging.php).
A light, richly moisturizing cream that visibly tightens, lifts and firms the face and neck to rebuild skin's youthful appearance with the added important SPF15 protection benefit. The unique formula helps empower skin to "defy" gravity by helping rebuild firming natural collagen. Skin appears smoother, more lifted.
Active: Octinoxate 7.5%, Octisalate 3.5%, Titanium Dioxide 1.7%, Other: Jojoba Butter, Glycerin, Petrolatum, Octyldodecyl Neopentanoate, Di-C12-15 Alkyl Fumarate, Dimethicone, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Butylene Glycol, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Hexyldecyl Stearate, Sigesbeckia Orientalis (St. Paul’s Wort) Extract Whey Protein, Salvia Sclarea (Clary) Extract, Chlorella Vulgaris Extract, Commiphora Mukul Resin Extract, Litchi Chinensis Seed Extract, Laminaria Digitata Extract, Cladosiphon Okamuranus Extract, Plankton Extract, Astrocaryum Murumuru Seed Butter, Acetyl Hexapeptide-8, Lecithin, Polyethylene, Pentylene Glycol, Potato Starch Modified, Ergothioneine, Glyceryl Stearate, Caffeine, Sorbitol, Behenyl Alcohol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Methicone, Tocopheryl Acetate, PEG-100 Stearate, Pentaerythirtyl Tetraethylhexanoate, Caprylyl Glycol, C12-16 Alcohols, Cholesterol, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Polysilicone-11, Dextrin, Palmitic Acid, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Hexylene Glycol, Citric Acid, Xanthan Gum, Alumina, Ammonium Acryloydimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Sodium Hydroxide, Disodium EDTA, Potassium Sorbate, Phenoxyethanol, Red 4, Yellow 5, Titanium Dioxide, Mica
Clinique was Estee Lauder's first attempt to expand its market with a completely separate line and image. Shortly after its 1968 debut at U.S. cosmetics counters, Clinique became known as the indispensable line for the woman under 30 concerned with breakouts, oily skin, and fragrance-free products (meaning less likely to cause allergic or sensitizing skin reactions). That's likely just what Lauder execs had in mind, because their namesake line's image and positioning was geared more toward the mature woman.
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 evidneced 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 have some fragrant extracts in 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? The answer as to which option is easier is clear. 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 in my book or for this site, which included refusing to send us copies of the allergy studies they maintain have been performed for every product they sell. I find their unwillingness to help odd because, for the most part, I 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. They 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.
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. I 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.
In late 2008 Clinique joined forces with pharmaceutical company Allergan to launch a subset of products labeled as Clinique Medical. These products are sold only at doctor's offices, and are positioned as being scientically-designed to complement those looking for the best skin care after undergoing cosmetic corrective procedures. As expected, despite the link with Allergan and the exclusive-to-doctors retail channel, there isn't anything vastly different about Clinique Medical compared to the regular Clinique line. And the whole marketing angle is just bizarre when you consider that since Clinique's inception they've tied their claims and formulas to the expertise of their "guiding dermatologists". They're selling Clinique Medical as "best in class" skin care diminshes the regard which the company should be holding for several of their other state-of-the-art products (those rated Paula's Pick qualify as such). Needless to say, most of the Clinique Medical products are recommended, but don't think for a second that they're superior to or more professional than the best of Clinique's main line. All Clinique products are fragrance-free unless noted otherwise.
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 Paula’s Choice Research Team.
For more information about Clinique, owned by Estee Lauder, call (800) 419-4041 or visit www.clinique.com.
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. That single 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 I encountered went above and beyond to provide assistance and to answer any questions I had. Those white lab coats don't mean medical expertise, but I'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.