Skin Renew Dark Spot Corrector Clinical
1.7 fl. oz. for $16.99
Last Updated:12.23.2014
Jar Packaging:No
Tested on animals:Yes
Review Overview

This fluid skin-lightening gel contains pure vitamin C (ascorbic acid) to help lighten brown spots from sun damage. The amount of vitamin C is impressive, and there is research proving it is a viable option for lightening discolorations (Sources: Archives of Pharmacal Research, May 2011, pages 811–820; and American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, April 2011, pages 87–99).

However, there is a concern over the amount of potassium hydroxide (lye), which can cause dryness and irritation, as can the numerous fragrance ingredients in this gel. Irritation in turn can make stubborn discolorations (including red or brown marks from acne) worse because it hurts skin’s ability to heal and repair itself. Although this product has the potential to improve discolorations, it may also make them last longer.

Please see our list of Best Skin-Lightening Products for other options that work, but without causing excess irritation.

Note: The amount of salicylic acid in this product is too low for it to have an exfoliating benefit for skin.

  • Contains an effective amount of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) in packaging that protects it from degrading light and air exposure.
  • Lightweight gel texture.
  • Contains a potentially irritating, drying amount of potassium hydroxide (lye).
  • Numerous fragrance ingredients trigger irritation that hurts skin’s ability to repair sun damage.

More Info:

Daily use of products that contain a high amount of fragrance, whether the fragrant ingredients are synthetic or natural, causes chronic irritation that can damage healthy collagen production, lead to or worsen dryness, and impair your skin’s ability to heal. Fragrance-free is the best way to go for all skin types. If fragrance in your skin-care products is important to you, it should be a very low amount to minimize the risk to your skin (Sources: Inflammation Research, December 2008, pages 558–563; Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, June 2008, pages 124–135, and November-December 2000, pages 358–371; Journal of Investigative Dermatology, April 2008, pages 15–19; Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, March 2008, pages 78–82; Mechanisms of Ageing and Development, January 2007, pages 92–105; and British Journal of Dermatology, December 2005, pages S13–S22).


Skin Renew Clinical Dark Spot Corrector contains a high level of powerful, pure vitamin C for effective, yet gentle action on the pigmentation cycle: It helps break apart pigmentation clusters, lift away spots and push new, healthy cells to the surface for even tone with fewer discolorations.


Water, Glycerin, Ascorbic Acid, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Cyclohexasiloxane, Potassium Hydroxide, Dimethicone, Sodium Styrene/MA Copolymer, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Alcohol, Benzyl Salicylate, Biosaccharide Gum-1, Carbomer, Citral, Citrus Medica Limonum Extract/Lemon Fruit Extract, Disodium EDTA, Gentiana Lutea Extract/Gentiana Lutea Root Extract, Geraniol, Glyceryl Caprylate, Hydroxyethylpiperazine Ethane Sulfonic Acid, Limonene, Linalool, Nylon-12, PEG/PPG-18/18 Dimethicone, Phenoxyethanol, Salicylic Acid, Sodium Anisate, Sodium Hydroxide, Sodium Levulinate, Sodium Methylparaben, Tocopheryl Acetate, Xanthan Gum, Fragrance

Brand Overview

Garnier Nutritioniste At-A-Glance

Strengths: Interesting and potentially helpful cleansing oil and foundation primer.

Weaknesses: Insufficient UVA protection from some of the sunscreens; average to below average moisturizers and eye creams; mostly irritating cleansers; no effective products for blemish-prone skin; jar packaging.

Debuting with permanent hair dye and then making the segue to a full line of hair-care products emphasizing carefree, casual styles with can't-miss-it colorful packaging has been Garnier's formula for penetrating the U.S. market. Several well-known actresses have had dual roles as spokesperson for Garnier's hair dyes and skin-care products, with splashy ads appearing in magazines and on television commercials.

Unfortunately, this group of products hasn't got much going for it except the lure celebrity spokespeople provide. The amount of fragrance is perhaps forgivable for a French-owned product line, and in most of the Nutritioniste products it's not too intrusive. What is deplorable is the lack of sufficient UVA protection in the sunscreens. A skin-care line has no right to speak about the anti-aging benefits and "breakthrough approach" of its products when they cannot get this fundamental aspect consistently right.

It's also disappointing that some products contain irritating peppermint, which made us wonder whether the dermatologists who consulted for Garnier had any idea of what's good for skin and what isn't. It seems they didn't, because what they ended up with is a mix of pro and con products that make it impossible for consumers to assemble a sensible skin-care routine, not to mention products that make skin-lifting claims most dermatologists would dismiss as cosmetics puffery.

The hook for this line is the way it is said to bring nutrition and dermatology together. The products are "fortified" with antioxidants such as lycopene and nutritional ingredients such as fatty acids, vitamins (A and C, never present together in the same product!), and minerals. Garnier wants you to think this is a revolutionary idea, but it isn't—did they also overlook that everyone else, from L'Oreal (Garnier is owned by L'Oreal) to Estee Lauder and Clinique, has been using such ingredients in their products for years? And why consult a nutritionist (as Garnier did) when their training and professional expertise has little to do with application of anything to the skin? The whole scenario proves Garnier was more concerned with creating an attention-getting story for this line rather than formulating truly breakthrough products.

Despite our disdain for the way Garnier's marketing takes precedence over making the products as good as they could be formulary-wise, there are some bright spots. Because Garnier is owned by L'Oreal, it's no surprise to find that there are lots of similarities between the better and worse aspects of L'Oreal's skin care as well as with L'Oreal's department-store sister company Lancome. In some ways, Garnier's formulas best those of both companies by including a greater array of antioxidants and intriguing skin-identical ingredients. The occasional jar packaging choice reduces the effectiveness of some of these products, but other than that, Lancome users should take note of the happy face–rated products in this line. You'll be getting a better product for considerably less money here (though, at least for now, no free gift with purchase—but you can buy Lancome foundations or mascaras instead when gift time comes around).

For more information about Garnier Nutritioniste, call (800) 370-1925 or visit www.garnierusa.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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This does not moisturize at all. It leaves your skin sticky and all you'll want to do is wash it off! It does nothing for correcting dark spots. You'd have better success rubbing a tomato on your skin. I can't comment on the SPF because I cannot use this in the summertime when I'm out in the sun since it makes my face feel clogged.

Reviewed by
Heather A
The alcohol concerns me!

I bought a product from this brand several years ago it was that moisturizer and serum in one. It was so irritating. I had to complain to the company. I returned it. They gave me the same value in like coupons to use in that brand I bought stuff for my hair. I research their brand. It's so irritating. There are better brands out there. I have to agree with you, Paula.

Reviewed by
Annette D.

I have been using this product during the day and the Garnier Skin Renew dark spot overnight peel at night, hoping to reduce my sun spots on my face and neck. I have been using these together for a couple of months and have seen ZERO improvement in my dark spots. After reading the info on these products, I have thrown them both in the garbage and will be buying a more reputable brand. thank you.

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