Finding a reliable skincare brand can be challenging. We’ve all bought a product that promises to address all our blemishes and lines with one easy solution, only to be disappointed when it doesn’t work.
Clinique is America’s top-selling prestige skincare brand, promising a simple routine that delivers remarkable results. Is this all just marketing hype, or is there something that makes Clinique unique?
We took a deep dive into Clinique’s range of fragrance-free cosmetics to find out.
What is Clinique?
Clinique gets its roots from a 1967 article by a dermatologist who said that anyone could achieve clear skin by following a skincare routine.
The article sparked the interest of Evelyn Lauder, who teamed up with Vogue and the dermatologist who wrote the piece to create a dedicated skincare brand.
Since then, Clinique has approached skincare with a scientific eye, using a tailored approach to address everyday woes. The brand avoids using known allergens and irritants, and all the products are fragrance-free.
The brand’s focus is to provide skincare products that allow for extensive customization while still being simple and easy to use.
How Do Clinique Products Work?
Clinique uses a simple 3-step system: cleansing, exfoliating, and moisturizing.
Each step prepares the skin for the next, making it more effective.
The Clinique 3-Step skincare system also organizes its offerings into different categories based on skin type.
Type 1 skin is very dry, type 2 is dry/combination, type 3 is combination/oily, and type 4 is oily.
This flexible system allows users to choose different products based on their needs. It’s effortless to design your best skincare routine around your skin type and to choose three main products.
The brand also sells several additional spot treatments and makeup line for a comprehensive range of options for various skin types and preferences.
If you aren’t sure what to try, you can use Clinique’s review page to see what other people think of a particular product.
Clinique uses scientifically-proven ingredients in their spot treatments as well as in the Clinique 3-Step skincare line. A few of the most common ingredients you can find in Clinique products include:
- Alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA): Exfoliating ingredients like glycolic acid or lactic acid. These compounds break down dead cells, allowing for a brighter skin tone.
- Antioxidants: Antioxidants convert free oxygen radicals into non-reactive forms. Free radicals can cause DNA damage, so removing them protects the skin and keeps it looking younger for longer. Common antioxidants include green tea extract, coenzyme Q10, vitamin E, and lycopene.
- Beta-hydroxy acid (BHA): BHA is an exfoliating ingredient that penetrates deeply into pores. The most common BHA is salicylic acid, which is common in treatments for blemishes and acne. The most effective acne treatments usually have this ingredient.
- Glycerin: This is a moisturizing ingredient that attracts water. It’s commonly found in products for dry skin and can produce an excellent stimulating effect for tired-looking skin.
- Hyaluronic acid: A natural ingredient found in skin cells, hyaluronic acid can attract up to 1000x its molecular weight in water. Since your skin already produces hyaluronic acid, it’s non-allergenic and features in products that restore and protect skin against environmental factors.
- Jojoba oil: A non-greasy oil commonly found in treatments for dry or dry/combination skin.
- Silicone: An ingredient that produces a silky smooth texture and enhances skin feel. It can smooth over large pores without clogging them, making it ideal for makeup and foundation.
- Titanium oxide: A non-allergenic earth mineral that blocks both UVA and UVB rays. It’s non-irritating and a common ingredient in broad-spectrum sunscreens for sensitive skin.
Benefits of Using Clinique
Clinique is a long-lived brand with an established reputation. When you buy a Clinique product, you know you’re getting an effective and scientifically formulated product.
As a brand, Clinique focuses on quality and making skincare as simple as possible.
Since they focus on fragrance-free products, you also get less irritation and negative skin reactions. Also, you don’t have to use a cookie-cutter routine. Their system allows you to tailor a routine designed for your skin type.
Potential Side Effects
All Clinique products are allergen and irritant-free. There are no parabens, phthalates, or fragrances that can irritate sensitive or allergy-prone skin, making the entire range suitable for sensitive skin.
However, some people may still experience allergic reactions when using Clinique products. Potential side effects can include redness, skin tightening, a bumpy rash, itching, and burning.
The side effects can vary in severity from relatively mild to severe.
The best way to make sure a product doesn’t produce side effects is to test it on your skin. Buy a small sampler and apply it to the inside of your arm.
If you don’t notice a reaction within several days, chances are you won’t see side effects when applying it to your face.
You can also check out Clinique reviews and see what other people say. Most reviewers are happy to answer questions about their experiences with a specific product, and it’s a great way to get a relatively unbiased review.
Try to find a review of someone who has notoriously sensitive skin and see what they think about the product in question.
Who Should Use Clinique?
Clinique products are suitable for all skin types and people of all ages. The advantage of having such a wide range is that there’s something for everyone.
Whether you have oily skin and are prone to breakouts or have very dry skin that needs extra TLC, you’re sure to find a product that works for you.
How To Use Clinique Products
Clinique’s three-step process takes most of the guesswork out of your routine, but there are still some tricks that can help you get the most out of every product.
The first step is to clean your face with the double-cleansing method. Before using your face wash, be sure to remove your makeup and mascara with a dedicated makeup remover.
Your cleanser may not have the right ingredients to completely remove your makeup, which may interfere with the cleansing process.
Also, be sure to rinse off every trace of cleanser or cleansing balm thoroughly before continuing to the next step.
Skin renews itself every 30 days, and your face needs to shed this layer of dead skin. Gentle exfoliation with a toner or exfoliator helps reveal the radiant, youthful-looking skin underneath.
Clinique’s Clarifying Lotion is a toner that provides just enough exfoliation to gently sweep away any dead cells without damaging the skin beneath.
The type of moisturizer you use will have a massive impact on your skin. Dry skin needs a heavier moisturizer that provides extra relief without oiliness.
Oily skin needs a light gel-cream to provide adequate moisture without heavy greasiness. Therefore, we recommend using one of the best anti aging moisturizers available in today’s market, to combat the oiliness.
Clinique serums work within the three-step program to address any issues you may have. These can give your skin an extra repair boost, additional protection, or help remove or correct blemishes.
Apply the eye cream last. This step can help reduce the appearance of dark circles, puffiness, and fine lines while also preparing your face for makeup.
Most Popular Clinique Products
While Clinique has a wide range of high-quality products, some stand out as the best skincare products in their class.
These products consistently top the review charts and are worth the look, even if you’re not interested in a full-blown Clinique skincare routine.
Moisture Surge 72-Hour Auto-Replenishing Hydrator
The Clinique Moisture Surge 72-hour replenishing cream contains a massive dose of hyaluronic acid that drives moisture to your skin where you need it the most.
The result is a light-feeling gel-cream that instantly relieves dry and irritated skin while providing a consistent moisture surge for more than a day, even after washing your face.
You can use the Moisture Surge 72-hour auto-replenishing cream as part of your daily routine if you have dry skin. It’s also great for other skin types since it doesn’t make it feel extra oily.
Mild Liquid Facial Soap
Finding a great cleanser or soap can be incredibly tricky, especially for combination skin, with most soaps having a list of stuff no-one can pronounce.
Clinique keeps it simple with this liquid facial soap that doubles as a face wash and a prep step for exfoliation.
The mild formula doesn’t strip your skin of its existing moisture barrier, which means you won’t experience any tightness after using it. It will get rid of any impurities while still protecting your skin.
If you’ve never tried a facial soap before, you’ll be amazed by the result and probably want to leave a glowing review.
Clarifying Lotion 2
Clinique’s Clarifying Lotion is the company’s bestselling product and with good reason. It has an average rating of 4.7/5 on several review sites, making it a toner that’s worth your time.
It’s a non-abrasive exfoliator that gently releases dead cells, giving you a brighter skin tone instantly. It also acts as a toner, preparing your epidermis for the next step.
The Clarifying Lotion 2 contains some denatured alcohol content to cut through grease and grime, which may cause a slight drying effect. This is a typical complaint in reviews.
If you already have dry skin, consider using Clarifying Lotion 1, which doesn’t contain any alcohol.
Super City Block
Having sunblock for your face is essential, as the sun’s rays can damage your skin, leading to premature aging, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation.
Clinique Super City Block is an SFP40 moisturizer that goes on with ease and doesn’t clog your pores.
According to reviews, you can use the Super City Block as a primer under your foundation or by itself. While it isn’t tinted, it will still even out your skin tone and provide exceptional protection against the sun.
Dramatically Different Hydrating Jelly
The Clinique Dramatically Different Hydrating Jelly is the perfect moisturizer for all skins. It’s incredibly lightweight and absorbs quickly without leaving any residue behind.
It contains Clean Shield Technology, strengthening the skin barrier, retaining moisture, and protecting it from environmental pollutants.
What makes this jelly so dramatically different is that it’s suitable for all skin types, from very dry to very oily skin. Most reviews on Clinique’s site rave about the smooth and non-greasy formulation, and it has a 4.3 rating.
Even better, it’s suitable for individuals with conditions like eczema since it’s allergy-tested and doesn’t contain any fragrances or irritants.
Pep-Start Eye Cream
If you need a quick dash of moisture, Clinique Pep-Start eye cream is the right product for you.
It’s suitable for sensitive eyes and contact lens wearers, and prolonged use can help your under-eye skin become more resilient and smooth over time.
Most people who review it love the fact that it goes on smoothly and absorbs quickly, providing instant skin brightening. It has an average rating of 4.4 on the Clinique site.
How Much Do Clinique Products Cost?
Clinique is a premium brand, and the prices reflect that. A serum can set you back up to $80, while moisturizes cost around $78. The cleansers are more affordable at around $30.
The best way to get started on your Clinique journey is with a starter kit that contains everything you need to set up your beauty routine.
Even better, Clinique frequently adds gifts to larger purchases so that you can get more bang for your buck.
Where Can You Buy Clinique?
You can buy Clinique at most major department stores, as well as at their own shop or online.
Do I need to use SPF?
Yes! One of the biggest causes of premature aging is sun damage. UVC rays penetrate deeply into the epidermis and can cause permanent damage while also affecting your skin’s ability to heal.
Also, UVC rays don’t burn the epidermis as UVB rays do, so you may not even know when the damage occurs.
At the very least, you should wear a daily SPF15 cream if you’re only outdoors for a short time. If you stay out longer, consider SPF30+ and reapply regularly.
If you’re concerned about your SPF cream blocking your pores, most modern skincare products have lighter formulations that are suitable for all skin types, even oily skin.
You can always check a review or two to determine if it’s the right SPF product for you before buying.
How do I choose the right Clinique products for me?
Clinique products are tailored to four skin types, which means that your first step should be to determine your type.
The simplest way to discover your type is to take a sheet of blotting paper and apply it to your forehead, nose, cheeks, and chin.
You can see the amount of oil by holding the paper up to the light.
Dry skin will result in little oil on the blotting paper, while oily skin will produce a lot of oil. Combination skin usually manifests as an oily T-zone (forehead and nose) and dry cheeks.
You can choose between Type 2 and Type 3 depending on how much oil your T-zone produces. A little bit of oil means you’re Type 2, while a lot is Type 3.
Once you know your skin type, you can decide which of the four Clinique lines is right for your skin.
If you have any specific niggles, like acne, blemishes, fine lines, or dark circles under your eyes, you can find a serum that addresses these issues. You can apply the serum after your regular 3-Step skincare routine.
Are Clinique Products Cruelty-Free?
Unfortunately not. While the brand says it disapproves of animal testing, it still sells its wares in China, where animal testing is mandated by law.
The parent company, Estee Lauder, also tests on animals in countries where it’s required by law.
Is Clinique Worth the Investment?
With a strong reputation and a wide range of toiletries and makeup to choose from, Clinique is well worth a look.
If you tend to the more sensitive side of the spectrum, you’ll love the fragrance-free, allergen-free formulations that won’t irritate your skin.
We always advocate for more allergy testing, so consider buying a sampler instead of a full product and testing it before buying.
Even hypoallergenic products may cause a reaction in some individuals, as many a review will show.
If you’re interested in trying an easily-accessible premium product and don’t mind Clinique’s non-cruelty-free policy, this may be the ideal skincare system for you.
Our #1 Recommendation