ClearCalm 3 Clarifying Clay Cleanser
5 fl. oz. for $32
Category:Skin Care > Cleansers (including Cleansing Cloths) > Cleansers/Soaps
Last Updated:10.27.2010
Jar Packaging:False
Tested on animals:No

This cleanser is a terrible option for anyone struggling with blemishes or sensitive skin! The formula doesn’t cleanse very well (clay doesn’t have cleansing ability) and is bound to confuse your skin thanks to its mix of absorbent and oily ingredients. What was Ren thinking? That question becomes even more pointed due to the irritant blend of fragrant oils added to this cleanser. The soothing plants will be devoting their energy protecting your skin from the problematic ingredients rather than trying to calm redness from acne. Lastly, the price for this cleanser is way out of line. For less than $8, Neutrogena, Olay, and Clean & Clear offer gentle, water soluble options that won’t make acne worse and won’t cause undue irritation.


A purifying, antibacterial cleanser formulated to combat and help prevent breakouts and blemishes.


Anthemis Nobilis (Chamomile) Flower Water, Kaolin, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Cetearyl Alcohol, Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Oil, Cetearyl Glucoside, Glycerin, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Salix Nigra (Willow) Bark Extract, Benzyl Alcohol, Oryzanol, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Oil, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Leptospermum Scoparium Oil, Anthemis Nobilis (Chamomile) Flower Oil, Linalool, Limonene, Zinc Gluconate, Bisabolol, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Dehydroacetic Acid, Crataegus Oxyacantha Stem Extract, Glucose, Xanthan Gum, Lactic Acid, Tocopherol

Brand Overview

Ren At-A-Glance

Strengths: Good toner; some worthwhile moisturizers and masks (but not the anti-acne formula); a bounty of products for dry to very dry skin; some products contain especially high amounts of known antioxidants.

Weaknesses: Expensive; repetitive formulas that aren't nearly as natural as they're made out to be; several products contain irritants with no established benefit for skin; very irritating products for those with acne; no skin-lightening options; unappealing products for oily skin.

Hailing from the United Kingdom, the Ren line was developed by two businessmen who are, according to company information, "evangelical" about skin care. The story goes that Robert Calcraft and Anthony Buck were former consultants who began researching the skin-care market after Buck's wife began having adverse reactions to every skin-care product she used while pregnant. Apparently neither man believed that there was a line out there that offered consumers high-tech products that were "totally clean" and "completely effective," and so, voilá, a new skin-care line was born.

We wish we could write that these men were really onto something for all women, not just Buck's wife, but that's simply not the case. First of all, their assessment of the cosmetics industry is bizarre, because in truth there are indeed many cosmetic lines offering "clean" and "effective" products ("clean," by Ren's definition, are products that don't contain problematic ingredients). Second, which lines did Ren's founders check out to determine that there was a missing link? An even better question is: What criteria were they using, because almost all of their products are either poorly formulated or contain irritating ingredients?

Calcraft and Buck apparently worked with a cosmetic pharmacologist; although that sounds impressive, a cosmetic pharmacologist works with drugs designed to improve mental ability in healthy individuals, not with skin-care formulations. All of this back story is nothing more than proof that the people behind this line really didn't do their homework, and the consumer who buys these products will be the poorer (both skin health- and money-wise) because of it.

It still shocks us when we review a line that's laden with products claiming to improve wrinkles and other signs of aging skin, and yet there's limited options for sun protection. Few researchers question how critical daily sun protection is to preserving the health and appearance of skin. Many of Ren's products contain antioxidants, and several have high amounts of green tea oil. But all the green tea in Japan isn't capable of protecting skin from environmental damage, which of course includes sunlight.

More so than many other lines that eschew certain ingredients for their alleged (and, sometimes, proven) negative effects when present in skin-care products, Ren loves to point out everything they don't use. This is a line for those who love to see the word "No" followed by a long list of chemical-sounding names that can seem scary to the uninformed. A consumer may have no idea what a polyquaternium is, but because of lines like Ren, the message is clear that it's not desirable. Ren doesn't provide any documentation supporting their ban on certain ingredients, which is typical of lines whose marketing angle relies on perpetuating the myth that synthetic ingredients are evil and that natural is the only truly safe way to go.

It would be great if Ren's "do not use" list benefited consumers, but it doesn't. Frustratingly, many of the ingredients Ren opts to use instead of synthetics are proven irritants for skin. Bergamot, peppermint, tangerine, and arnica are indeed natural ingredients, but each has its share of problems for skin. We could go on, but you get our point: Ren is really nothing more than an overly fragranced, fear-mongering, natural "me too" line using the same tired plant-based ingredient angle as countless other brands. The difference is that many of those other brands have a product assortment that, either from a price or formulary perspective, is much better than this one.

For more information about Ren, call (732) 553-1185 or visit www.renskincare.com.

About the Experts

The Beautypedia Research Team is dedicated to helping you find the absolute best products for your skin, using research-based criteria to review beauty products from an honest, balanced perspective. Each member of the team was personally trained by Paula Begoun herself.

Member Comments
Summary of Member Comments
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Tuesday, February 17, 2015
My favourite cleanser

Sorry Paula, I agree with the other comments, this really is the "best cleanser " I have ever used, It really does clean my skin beautifully, removes every trace of make up, and even better on clean skin. Followed by the "toner" a wonderful skin routine. I use a lot of REN Products on my "oily, acne, blemish prone skin" and all the products are fab-u-lous.

Reviewed by
Paula's Choice Research Team Response
Replied on: Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Thanks for your review! Sadly, even if you cannot see or feel the damage taking place, the fragrant irritants in this cleanser have the potential to stimulate enzymes in skin that then go about breaking down collagen and elastin fibers--and you won't see the damage until years later. There's simply no reason to settle for a cleanser like this when there are so many good cleansers that are without this risk, to say nothing of what the irritation can do to skin's oil production. All of our comments are based on scientific research.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Sorry Paula...

I LOVE this cleanser; I have oily combination skin prone to blemishes and it's my go to cleanser most mornings, whatever the weather. I love it so much that I have to have a spare just in case I forget to pick up a new one before it runs out. Sorry Paula but this is one great cleanser and I'd recommend it to anyone who hasn't tried it.

Reviewed by
Thursday, June 26, 2014
My favorite

I completely disagree with the rating of this cleanser being poor. Not only does it clean my face, but it helped my acne as well. It is hard to find a product for sensitive, dry combination which helps acne without drying out the skin. This is the only product that I have found that has worked for me.

Reviewed by
Thursday, January 16, 2014
It's my favorite cleanser

I dont know what i would do without this! Literally cleared up my face..! I had used everything from the drustore, clean and clear, clearasil, from clinique, (anti blemish solutions), bioderma sebium, etc etc and nothing worked to clear up my acne. I Love this stuff! Leaves my skin calm, spot free and matte! Absolutely Love it

Reviewed by
Ana M
Sunday, December 29, 2013
Skin oily shortly after use

Have only used this product 3 times and will not be using it again, waste of money!! The review given by cosmetics cop is fairly accurate. Within half an hour of using this cleanser, my skin was oily again, maybe the ingredients actually are confusing the skin. Not a nice product.

Reviewed by
B McCarthy
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