Review and Photos: Clinique Clarifying Lotion 1

Clinique Clarifying Lotion 1.

Have any of you tried Clinique's three-step skincare line? I'm drawn to it because of its simplicity, reputation, and—this is a big one—reasonable price point. I tend to be drawn toward higher-end cosmetics and skincare because I've found that, generally, you get what you pay for—but there are limits, right? You can get cleanser, clarifying lotion (a.k.a. toner), and moisturizer from Clinique for under $70—yes, please! Some brands charge double and triple that. Yee-ikes. I get spending moolah on things you'll leave on your face, like moisturizer, but on something you rinse down the sink, like cleanser? Why? But I digress.  

Clinique Clarifying Lotion 1 is step two in Clinique's customized three-step line. (You can go to a counter for a consultation, but I find most salespeople use the same test that you can take yourself at Lotion 1 intended for dry or very dry skin. My skin ranges from normal/dry (most of my face) to oily (on and around my nose). In spite of the oily skin on and around my nose, I went with Lotion 1 (dry skin) instead of Lotion 2 (for combination skin) because of the alcohol content in the product—I didn't want to dry out the drier parts of my face. (More on that later.)

Here's the ingredient list for Clinique Clarifying Lotion 1:  

Water, denatured alcohol, glycerin, butylene glycol, witch hazel, salicylic acid, acetyl glucosamine, sodium hyaluronate, sodium hydroxide, Tetrahydroxypropyl Ethylenediamine, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Benzophenone-4, Yellow 5, and Blue 1.

Note: I'm not a dermatologist or a scientist, so I'll refer you to the Cosmetics Cop, a.k.a.  Beautypedia, for comments on the ingredients

Back to my review! The basic premise of Clinique's skincare line is good: Cleanse, exfoliate, and moisturize. Whatever your skincare regimen consists of, make sure to do these three things. This "lotion" (really a liquid) is the exfoliation step. 

Here are the claims from  

Helps clear away pollution, dulling flakes for smooth, glowing skin. Helps pores look their smallest. Skin accepts moisture better. Grows more resistant to impurities. Stays healthier, younger. Dermatologist-reformulated to be comfortable, non-drying.

The good:  

  • It makes my face feel fresh after cleansing.
  • It does a good job of removing dirt and the last traces of makeup, which is important—cleansers don't always remove all the makeup and other gunk around your hairline and jawline.
  • The price point ($27 for a very generous 13.5 ounces) is good for a high-end brand.
  • It doesn't irritate my skin or sting at all.  
  • My skin looks decent—although not noticeably better than it does when I use other products. 

The bad: 

  • Although I assume it does an okay job of exfoliating, it doesn't seem to do any better than other, non-chemical methods of exfoliation, like a good scrub or a brush.
  • My pores are no smaller with this product than any other product (note that to a point, your pore size won't change with exfoliation—the size of your pores has a lot to do with genetics).
  • I find it slightly drying, which is troubling for a product intended for very dry skin.  
  • I don't understand the need to include alcohol in a product you're going to leave on your skin—it's irritating and unnecessary, and, according to Beautypedia, it can cause damage and increase oil production. As I said above, it doesn't irritate my skin, but I'm still uncomfortable with the idea of using such a harsh product on it. 
  • It does nothing to help with my oil production, in spite of the alcohol and salicylic acid. In fact, if anything, it may make me a little oilier. 


Clinique Clarifying Lotion 1, 13.5 oz/400 ml. 

Would I repurchase? I don't think so. While it works well enough, like I said, I see no need to use a product with alcohol. Clinique has recently released Mild Clarifying Lotion that seems to do the same thing. When I asked a salesperson what the difference was between it and the other lotions, I was told it was alcohol-free—intended for sensitive skin. My question is this: Why include a potential irritant in any product if it's not necessary? I'll be trying the Mild Clarifying Lotion next. I understand there's a slight difference in texture—it's  cloudier and possibly a bit thicker than the regular clarifying lotion. I can live with that. 

Rating: Because of the alcohol, three stars out of five.

Available: and anywhere Clinique products are sold. 

Have you tried any of Clinique's skincare products? Let me know what you think in the comments below! 

Disclosure: This product was purchased by Eyeshadow Addict. 

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