Thursday, 13 September 2007

Clinique 3-Step Anti-Blemish Skincare System

RRP: £30.00 for 50ml cleanser, 100ml toner and 30ml moisturiser (trial sizes); or £13 for 125ml cleanser/£16 for 200ml toner/£15 for 50ml moisturiser (full sizes)

--What does the promo say?--
"What's so different about Anti-Blemish Solutions? Feel like you can't get blemishes under control? The spots just keep coming back...or never leave? Clinique gets it. That's why we've created a 3-Step System that's super-simple and ultra-effective. Specifically formulated to fight blemishes. Cleanse. Exfoliate. Moisturise. Just 3 steps, 3 minutes, twice-a-day. Because that's what blemish-prone skin needs to get clear. The 3-Step System gets results – fast. How? Highly effective anti-blemish ingredients delivered in gentle, comfortable formulas. Bonus: After breakouts are under control, the system keeps skin clear, with continued use, of course. Customise your routine by adding targeted Anti-Blemish Solutions Specialists. Zero in on zits with on-the-spot treatments and full body care. The dermatologist is in. Anti-Blemish Solutions formulas are based on the experience of Clinique's guiding dermatologists. Doctors who have treated thousands of patients and given Clinique their unique insight into the causes of blemishes – and the solutions that make a difference. At Clinique, it's not just how your skin looks and feels, but how you feel about your skin. Team approach. Anti-Blemish Solutions products are designed to work together, to attack blemishes from all angles. They deliver a powerful combo-punch that treats each spot at its source, while staying gentle on skin. Clinique has the power to stop blemishes. And now you do, too. Kill them with kindness. The mild cleanser helps clear and prevent blemishes. The toner's gentle, effective formula exfoliates to clear dead surface cells and reduce excess oil that can lead to breakouts. The moisturiser's lightweight formula helps clear and prevent blemishes. Calms, soothes, reduces the look of redness."

True to Clinique's usual form, the packaging is simple and straightforward, with the trademark Clinique C gracing the front of each bottle. All of the bottles in this range are a unisex, clinical pale green, reminiscent of surgeons' scrubs and of eucalyptus and tea tree oil. The cleanser is a pump action bottle that converts the liquid cleanser to a foam. The toner (or clarifying lotion as they like to call it) just comes in a regular plastic bottle with a screw top lid and regular opening (which is fine, but it would be nice if it had one of those discs with a hole in the top of the bottle to reduce the risk of spillage) and the moisturiser is a squeezy tube with a flip-top lid. The packaging seems fairly sturdy in all cases, none of them are confusing to operate, and they all match one another nicely.

This is simple. Pump down the cleanser to get the amount you want (1 pump is OK, 2 is pretty good...3 I would say is more than enough, possibly too much) and rub into wet skin before immediately washing off. Dry your face, put some toner onto a cotton wool ball, and rub all over your face and neck. Afterwards, squeeze out a tiny amount of moisturiser and rub all over your face. This is quick and easy.

The cleanser barely has any scent, whereas the toner and moisturiser have more noticeable scents. While the moisturiser's prominent scents are tea tree and eucalyptus, the overwhelming scent of the toner is that of alcohol. While it doesn't linger on the skin, it's not the most pleasant of smells, though it does smell rather clinical thanks to this, which at least makes you feel like it works.

All excellent. The cleanser is smooth and bubbly, the toner is cool, and the moisturiser, although slightly watery, is without lumps.

The toner in particular is very refreshing and none of the products in the 3-Step System sting. However, if you choose to branch out into other products in the anti-blemish range, the clear blemish gel can sting if applied to open spots (i.e. the ones you've just picked at!).

The cleanser is a white foam with small bubbles. The toner is a clear liquid, and the moisturiser is an off-white cream/gel. None of the products leave any residue on the skin; however, the moisturiser doesn't appear to absorb too well as it leaves my skin shiny and I often have to add some de-mattifier to my skin afterwards.

--How does your skin feel?--
The skin feels smooth rather than as if it has been harshly treated, and this feeling lasts throughout the day.

For this reason, I have a love-hate relationship with this skincare system. I chose to try it when I was out of the country for 8 weeks so that a) I would know exactly how long I had used it for and b) so that I could gauge my parents' reaction to my skin on my return (if they think it has improved, they will usually say so). During the 8 weeks, I myself noticed an improvement, and yet on my return to the UK, my parents said nothing about it. However, the condition of my skin seemed to fluctuate. As soon as I'd started to think I'd seen an improvement, more spots seemed to appear. While I have seen an improvement in the condition of my skin overall, I am still getting spots (mostly blackheads but also whiteheads), so their promise that the system would also serve as preventative care seems to have fallen flat.

--Value for money--
I won't lie - this is not the cheapest skincare system. However, I have seen more of an improvement than with other systems I've used, and overall I am pleased with the results. The bottles also seem to be lasting me a long time - having used the full-size bottles for 8 weeks straight, they're still half-full, and so I expect them to last me at least until November, and hopefully until Christmas. While I haven't tried all of the other anti-blemish products, I have tried the clear blemish gel, which is good value in terms of visible, speedy results, but bad value in terms of the amount you get in the (very tiny) bottle for your money.

--Other comments--
I have heard people say that despite the alliterative "kill them with kindness" claim made by Clinique, they found the twice-daily exfoliation too harsh for their skin (NB the exfoliant is a chemical exfoliant found in the toner, rather than being a manual exfoliant with bits of beach in it!). I did not find this to be the case - if you have bad acne, harsh is probably what your skin needs in order to blast those blemishes into non-existence. My favourite products are probably the toner and the clear blemish gel. Despite my love-hate relationship with this system, the results have pleased me and I would not rule out trying other products from the Clinique anti-blemish range.

perfect partners
Anti-Blemish Solutions Body Spray, £13 for 125ml
Anti-Blemish Solutions Clear Blemish Gel, £12 for 15ml
Anti-Blemish Solutions Anti-Bacterial Face and Body Soap, £10 for 150g
Anti-Blemish Solutions Post-Blemish Formula, £10.50 for 1.8g
Anti-Blemish Solutions Concealing Stick, £10 for 3g (2 shades available)

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