Clinique is a very well-known and widely loved brand of dermatologist-developed skincare and cosmetics.

Their products are available at department stores and beauty stores, and come at a matching mid-ranged price point.

Curious to learn more about Clinique? Continue our review on this popular skincare brand.

Clinique’s selection of products target varying skin types and conditions, while being formulated without parabens, phthalates or fragrance, and with sensitivity in mind.

While Clinique does offer targeted, active-ingredient led products for specific skin goals, their most popular products tend to be cleansers and moisturizers formulated for general care of different skin types.

The Story Behind Clinique

In 1968 the skincare industry was completely different. Glamorous products were sold at department stores with minimal scientific research into their effect on skin function.

Good skin was considered genetic, and not something that could be created. NYC based dermatologist Dr. Norman Orentreich, however, believed that the key to good skin was to be found in the science.

A Pioneer

Dr. Orentreich pioneered the skincare industry with his stance that fragrance and certain additives were not necessary, and perhaps even harmful to the skin.

He developed his own range of fragrance, allergen and irritant-free products that soon caught the eye of Leonard Lauder, Chief Executive Officer and Estée Lauder’s son.

The combination of dermatologist-led products with such a powerful cosmetics company led to Clinique launching in 1968 with a whopping 117 products.

Seven of those products are still available today, and Clinique has remained a trustworthy brand for simple and effective skincare.

Three Step Skincare System

They introduced the 3 Step Skin Care System, a revolutionary way to categorize skin types and create a personalized routine with daily cleansing, exfoliating and moisturizing.

According to the brand’s skin type classifications, Very Dry is Type 1, Dry/Combo is Type 2, Combination Oily is Type 3, and Oily is Type 4.

While Clinique still offers their 3 Step System, they have also developed an extensive range of products for other concerns including acne, wrinkles and uneven skin tone.

Here is a breakdown of some of Clinique's best selling products:

Best Clinique Products

1. Clinique Moisture Surge 100 Hour Auto-Replenishing Hydrator

This oil-free gel-cream is a newly updated formula of a favorite moisturizer from the Moisture Surge line. The fragrance-free formula has "Auto-Replenishing Technology" that uses activated aloe water and caffeine to trigger the skin's own rehydration system. It contains hyaluronic acid, glycerin and humectants to attract and hold moisture in the skin, with the brand claiming a 174% immediate moisture boost that keeps skin hydrated for 100 hours.

This moisturizer can be used morning or night, and is a great product for under makeup. The gel-cream texture is appropriate for all skin types, but may be enjoyed more by those who are put off by heavier creams or oils.

2. Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion+

As the third step of the 3 Step System, Clinique's Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion+ is targetted to skin types 1 (very dry) and 2 (dry/ combo). The silky lotion formula delivers 8-hour hydration and absorbs quickly to help strengthen the skin's moisture barrier and give a youthful glow. Like all Clinique products, it is fragrance, paraben and pthalate-free.

Sunflower Seedcake, Barley Extract and Cucumber Fruit Extract help strengthen skin's barrier, while hyaluronic acid acts as a humectant, drawing water to the skin's surface. Mineral Oil, glycerin and petrolatum sit at the top of the ingredient list, acting as emollients to prevent moisture loss from the skin and as a protective film against allergens, polution and bacteria.

Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion+ can be used daily, morning and night, and can be used under makeup. The rich lotion texture will be most enjoyed by dry skin that drinks up moisturizer.

3. Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm

While the cleansing balm is a relatively new product in the skincare world (at least by Clinique's timeline), it has become a staple first-step to remove makeup, pollution and sunscreen at the end of the day. The Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm transforms from a solid balm to a silky oil with the heat of your hands to dissolve whatever has accumulated on your face throughout the day.

Formulated with safflower seed oil, this cleansing balm works to thoroughly cleanse even waterproof mascara. Best used as a first step at the end of the day, it allows a follow-up cleanser to properly work on the skin. The fragrance-free formula is gentle yet effective, and a reliable, no-fuss staple product to help your skin fight the stress of pollution and stay looking young. It is suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin, and shouldn't irritate the eyes of contact lens wearers.

4. Clinique Even Better Clinical Radical Dark Spot Corrector + Interrupter

Straying from the staple skincare products Clinique is perhaps more well known for is their Even Better Clinical Radical Dark Spot Corrector + Interrupter. This targeted brightening serum aims to correct discoloration and acne scars with their "CL302 Equalizer Technology", and even prevent dark spots from forming with their "Interrupter Complex". The brand claims you will see a -39% reduction in dark spots and acne scars in 12 weeks.

The brightening CL302 Complex aims to reduce existing dark spots and pigmentation, including old acne scars. It uses the UP302 brightening molecule that has antioxidant properties inspired by Dianella Ensifolia, a botanical used in Chinese Herbal Medicine. Combined with ascorbyl glucoside (a vitamin C deritivative), glucosamine and salicylic acid, the CL302 complex claims to break down clusters of pigment on the skin causing dark spots, age spots or scarring.

Once hyperpigmentation has been banished, Clinique's Interrupter Complex uses soothing ingredients to prevent irritation and the formation of future marks on the skin. Gyukoro, mulberry root and rice bran extract combine with a an olive squalene complex to provide anti-irritant and anti-oxidant qualities to the skin.

The ingredients combine to promote a more even complexion free from pigmentation caused by skin damage or irritation. Suitable for all skin types, the fragrance-free formula is gentle enough to use even twice a day. Of course, this serum should be used with sunscreen- there's no point in working on reducing dark spots if the sun is allowed to just cause more!

5. Clinique All About Eyes Rich Eye Cream

This rich, fragrance-free eye cream works to reduce the look of undereye circles, shadows and fine lines. It aims to de-puff skin and support the moisture barrier of the sensitive skin around the eye. Mulberry root extract acts as an antioxidant to strengthen the skin's defence against free-radicals, while caffeine works to gently constrict the blood vessles to reduce dark circles and puffiness.

The All About Eyes Rich Cream is suitable for all skin types, but as it is a richer version will perhaps be enjoyed more by those with drier skin or a particularly reactive eye area. It is opthamologically tested and suitable for sensitive skin. It can be used twice a day, and will help eye makeup adhere and last by plumping and de-puffing the eye area.

Does Clinique Work?

With decades of loyal customers and thousands of five star reviews, Clinique certainly has a solid place in the skincare market.

Their clinical approach to skincare and no-fuss formulations mean the brand is a generally reliable option, especially for those with sensitive skin.

While some of their products have lasted since the brand's inception, Clinique continues to introduce new, more targeted products to diversify their range and perhaps keep up with a more-informed modern consumer.

While not necessarily the most luxurious brand, Clinique's science-backed and fragrance-free formulations are accesible and a proven crowd favorite around the world.


Is Clinique cruelty free?

Clinique and their parent company Estée Lauder state that they do not test any of their products on animals. However, as their products are sold all over the world they cannot be considered completely cruelty free- they may in fact test on animals in markets where it is required by law.

Is Clinique vegan?

No, Clinique is not vegan. While many products are free from animal products, some contain ingredients such as lanolin and carmine that make the brand non-vegan.

How much does Clinique cost?

Clinque is considered a mid-range brand, with price points hovering between drugstore prices and luxury or department store prices. The products mentioned in this article range from $29.50 (Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion+) to $85 (Even Better Clinical Radical Dark Spot Corrector + Interrupter).

Where is Clinique sold?

Clinique is sold in over 135 countries worldwide, and is available at their own counter in department stores (such as Bloomingdales or Saks) and beauty stores (such as Sephora or Ulta).

The Bottom Line

Clinique is a reliable skincare brand with a wide range of products.

They are completely fragrance-free, and their dermatologist-developed formulations are generally a good option for basic skin maintenance and sensitive skin.

The brand takes a scientific approach to skin health, and is constantly innovating their products to keep up with a skincare consumer who is more informed than when the brand launched in 1968.

Effective and accesible, Clinique is a brand that has kept it's position as a crowd favorite over the years.