Clinique Clarifying Lotion



Clinique Clarifying Lotion is Step 2 in Clinique’s customized 3-Step Skin Care System. It is a dermatologist-developed liquid exfoliating lotion that is said to remove pollution, grime, and dulling flakes to reveal smoother, clearer skin. Clinique Clarifying Lotion is also meant to prep the skin for your moisturizer because exfoliated skin is more receptive to hydration and treatment products. There are actually five different formulations of this product: Clinique Clarifying Lotion 1.0, 1, 2, 3, and 4. We’ll explain the difference between the Clinique Clarifying Lotions in the next section.


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-Clinique Clarifying Lotion

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Is Clinique Skincare Worth The Money?

A common question about this brand is if the products are worth the cost.

In our opinion, Clinique products deliver value for money, but take a look at other brands that don’t require you to sacrifice your precious money.

We recommend brands that are committed to developing clean yet effective products.

One brand is Carrot & Stick, a clean skincare brand that perfectly balances the gentle nurturing of plants with the powerful results of innovative science.

What is the difference between the Clinique Clarifying Lotions?

The difference between the Clinique Clarifying Lotions lies in the formulations, with each product containing various concentrations of key ingredients. Ultimately, this allows you to choose a product based on your skin type. Clinique makes the following skin type recommendations:

  • Dry, Sensitive Skin: Clarifying Lotion 1.0
  • Very Dry Skin: Clarifying Lotion 1
  • Dry Combination: Clarifying Lotion 2
  • Combination Oily: Clarifying Lotion 3
  • Very Oily: Clarifying Lotion 4

What are the key ingredients in Clinique Clarifying Lotion?

We’re pretty disappointed in the formulation of all Clinique Clarifying Lotion formulas, primarily because denatured alcohol is used in very high concentrations in four of the five products: it is the second highest concentration ingredient after water in Clinique Clarifying Lotion 1, 2, 3, and 4. The problem with this type of alcohol is that, at first, it seems like it’s benefitting the skin. It gives products a quick-drying finish, immediately degreases the skin, and imparts a weightless feel.

The major problem with using high concentrations of denatured alcohol is that this ingredient is well known to cause skin dryness, irritation, and even disruption of the skin barrier over time. In fact, alcohol can dry out the skin so much that the skin will produce more oil over time to compensate for the dryness. This can lead to clogged pores and breakouts. We will still discuss the key ingredients in these products below, but keep in mind you’re getting more alcohol than key ingredients in the Clinique Clarifying Lotion products!

Clinique uses another potentially problematic ingredient in high concentrations in these formulas: witch hazel water. It is one of the top five ingredients in all formulations.  Witch hazel water is a source of several types of antioxidants, including tannins. Tannins are phenolic compounds rich in hydroxy residues that impart astringent properties, resulting in a constricting and drying effect when applied to the skin. They work by cross-linking with keratin proteins, creating an invisible film that can temporarily degrease skin, tighten and tone skin, and minimize the appearance of enlarged pores. However, it should be noted that tannins can cause irritation and sensitization reactions with some people. 

All Clinique Clarifying Lotion formulas (except Clarifying Lotion 2) contain salicylic acid, a type of beta hydroxy acid (BHA). Salicylic acid is oil-soluble and therefore can easily enter the pores of the skin. It works by exfoliating the pore lining, which loosens clogged dirt and oil. Salicylic acid also has the ability to dissolve keratin, the protein that acts as a “glue” to keep dead skin cells together in the stratum corneum. This is effective because dead skin cells can build up on the surface of your skin, leaving it looking dull and also possibly clogging pores. 

The main hydrating ingredient that is used in all Clinique Clarifying Lotion formulas is sodium hyaluronate, the salt form of hyaluronic acid. You may have heard that hyaluronic acid is an excellent ingredient for improving skin hydration, and it is! Hyaluronic acid can actually hold more water than any other natural substance—up to 1,000 times its weight in water. This is possible because sodium hyaluronate is a glycosaminoglycan (GAG), a long polysaccharide (sugar molecule) composed of disaccharides called amino sugars and uronic acid. GAGs are negatively charged and thus tend to attract positively charged sodium and potassium ions. In turn, this causes the GAGs to absorb and hold a large amount of water. Thus, the inclusion of sodium hyaluronate in the Clinique Clarifying Lotion formulas should help to increase skin hydration (although we don’t think it will make up for the drying effect of denatured alcohol).

How to use Clinique Clarifying Lotion

Clinique Clarifying Lotion is recommended to be used twice a day, morning and night. You can apply this product to your face and neck with a cotton ball, but it should not be used near the eye area. Clinique recommends following with Step 3 of their 3-Step Skin Care System (Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion+, Gel or Jelly).

Where is Clinique Clarifying Lotion sold?

Clinique Clarifying Lotion and other Clinique skin care products are sold on the brand’s website, as well as third party online retailers such as Amazon, Ebay, Sephora, Ulta, and more. Clinique Clarifying Lotion is also sold at physical retail locations, such as the Clinique counter at department stores like Macy’s and Nordstrom. 

What is the Clinique return policy?

The Clinique return policy states, “If for any reason you are not satisfied with your purchase from Clinique Online you may return the unused portion for refund or exchange. We accept returns for products purchased from only.”

Is Clinique cruelty free?

Clinique is not cruelty free. Clinique is owned by Estée Lauder, a company that tests on animals. While Estée Lauder does not conduct animal testing on their products or ingredients, they do test on animals when required to do so by law (such as in China). 

Clinique Clarifying Lotion reviews

Clinique Clarifying Lotion reviews on the brand’s website are mostly positive, with these products together receiving an average of 4.7 out of 5 stars after nearly 2,000 customer reviews. There are many positive reviews for the Clarifying Lotion from customers with oily and acne-prone skin who really enjoy how well this product degreases the skin. For example, one very positive review says, “I have combination skin but a super oily t-zone. This really cuts grease! Works amazingly with or without make up. It is a must have!” 

There are quite a few negative Clinique Clarifying Lotion reviews that point out how this product can cause skin dryness, irritation, and even acne breakouts (likely due to the denatured alcohol). For example, one reviewer shares, “Tried this exfoliator for a couple of weeks and had to discontinue usage because it was rendering my skin extremely dry, in turn causing skin discomfort and breakouts (ironically).”

What are some alternatives to Clinique Clarifying Lotion? 

If you’re looking for skincare products for breakout-prone skin, we recommend Carrot & Stick. Carrot & Stick maximizes the use of powerful ingredients and minimizes the use of superficial ones, resulting in advanced skincare solutions that help promote healthy, more youthful-looking skin. We recommend this acne serum.



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Clinique Clarifying Lotion

Clinique Clarifying Lotion is Step 2 in Clinique’s customized 3-Step Skin Care System. It is a dermatologist-developed liquid exfoliating lotion that is said to remove pollution, grime, and dulling flakes to reveal smoother, clearer skin. Clinique Clarifying Lotion is also meant to prep the skin for your moisturizer because exfoliated...

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