Tested on animals:Yes
Estee Lauder's Clear Difference Oil Control/Mattifying Hydrating Gel is a moisturizer that presents a fairly even mix of pros and cons. Despite this product's super-light and wonderfully silky texture, it lacks a robust mix of absorbent ingredients that can truly control oil—a major claim being made! This does set to a soft matte finish, but if your skin is more than mildly oily, you'll see shine relatively quickly—especially if you're layering this over other hydrating products.
On the plus side, the silky gel texture is infused with an impressive mix of water binding, repairing, soothing, and antioxidant ingredients. It has the ability to hydrate without heaviness AND provide an anti-aging kick, but the choice of jar packaging is a misstep.
We explain the issues jar packaging presents in the More Info section, but the condensed version is that it simply cannot keep some of its most helpful ingredients stable once opened.
What of the claim that Clear Difference Oil Control/Mattifying Hydrating Gel also refines and reduces the look of pores? It can do that, to a certain extent, by virtue of its soft matte finish and, potentially from the amount of acetyl glucosamine it contains. Research has shown that acetyl glucosamine can influence how skin exfoliates (Journal of Cosmetic Science, 2009).
Although there's considerably more research on this ingredient's ability to lighten dark spots, it appears to be somewhat of a "supporting player" for helping skin to exfoliate. Exfoliation can improve the appearance of enlarged pores and can refine skin texture, though most (especially the breakout-prone) will find regular use of a BHA (salicylic acid) exfoliant works even better. See the Best BHA Exfoliants section for our top recommendations.
In the end, this Clear Difference moisturizer hydrates normal to oily, combination, or breakout-prone skin and leaves a smooth finish that works well under makeup, and should have some impact on downplaying the appearance of enlarged pores. But those benefits are sullied by the poor choice of jar packaging and the absence of truly absorbent and lasting oil-control ingredients, making this a moisturizer to consider carefully. See our list of Best Moisturizers for superior choices, or check out our list of top oil-absorbing products.
Note: This contains a small amount of fragrance, likely too low to pose a risk of irritation. Still, consider this even more carefully if you have extra-sensitive skin.
- Very silky texture hydrates without a slick or greasy feel.
- Contains an impressive mix of antioxidants and barrier repair ingredients.
- May improve the look of enlarged pores and refine skin texture.
- Jar packaging won't keep the light- and air-sensitive ingredients stable once opened.
- Lacks today's best oil-controlling ingredients, which is a surprise given its claims otherwise.
The fact that it's packaged in a jar means the beneficial ingredients won't remain stable once it is opened. All plant extracts, almost all vitamins, antioxidants, and other state-of-the-art ingredients break down in the presence of air. Therefore, 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 that further deteriorate the beneficial ingredients.
The vast majority of ingredients that are most beneficial for your skin are not stable in the presence of light and air, which is exactly what happens when you take the lid off a jar (Pharmacology Review, 2013 & Journal of Biophotonics, 2010).
One of the critical factors in any anti-aging or skin-healing formula is the amount and variety of antioxidants, cell-communicating ingredients, and skin-repairing ingredients, and the more the better. These function in a variety of ways to reduce the effects of the constant environmental stresses your skin experiences (Dermatology Research and Practice, 2012 & The Journal of Pathology, 2007).
Once you open that jar you bought, you immediately compromise the stability of the anti-aging superstars it contains. (You can visualize their benefits disappearing like puffs of air each time you open up that lid!)