Sculptwear™ Contouring Massage Cream Mask contains a very good mix of moisturizing ingredients for normal to dry skin, and it leaves skin looking radiant without feeling greasy. That's great, but, marketing aside, this fragrance-free formula cannot lift or re-sculpt skin—the cleverly crafted "renewed sense of lift" claim doesn't state your skin is actually being lifted.
We explain the primary issue about lifting products in the More Info section below, but the gist of it is that skin sags due to numerous factors, including elastin damage, gravity, muscle and fat pad movement, and gradual, age-related bone loss—all factors skincare cannot change (Skin Research and Technology, 2009, and DermatoEndicrinology, 2012) .
We wanted to rate this mask higher for its moisturizing ability and indulgent feel, but were stopped short due to the jar packaging. A classic jar like this means the formula's light- and air-sensitive ingredients are exposed to the very things that degrade them with each and every use. See More Info for the scoop on why this type of packaging isn't a wise buy—at least if you're banking on anti-aging benefits.
What about Clinique's Sonic System Massaging Applicator, a handheld attachment that's sold separately for $35 and is recommended (in the product insert and on Clinique's website) for use to apply this mask? It's an option but doesn't really add all that much other than a massage element—and you need to own Clinique's Sonic System Purifying Cleansing Brush to get the Massaging Applicator to work! If you don't already own the brush then the whole contraption gets quite pricey without adding any actual skincare benefit in exchange. Sadly, massaging skin that's begun to sag won't result in loose skin becoming tighter.
Sculptwear™ Contouring Massage Cream Mask cannot make good on its claim of lifting skin, though to Clinique's credit, they're not stating that directly (but lifting is certainly implied). This creamy mask feels wonderful and is chockful of moisturizing ingredients that leave skin smooth and radiant—if only the formula's best ingredients weren't likely to be compromised due to the jar packaging! See our list of Best Facial Masks for superior options.
Jar Packaging: The fact that this moisturizing mask is packaged in a jar means the beneficial ingredients it contains won't remain stable once it is opened. All plant extracts, almost all vitamins, antioxidants, and other state-of-the-art ingredients break down in the presence of air. Therefore, once a jar is opened and lets the air in, these important ingredients begin to deteriorate. Jars also are unsanitary because you're dipping your fingers into them with each use, adding bacteria that further deteriorate the beneficial ingredients.
The vast majority of ingredients that are most beneficial for your skin are not stable in the presence of light and air, which is exactly what happens when you take the lid off a jar (Pharmacology Review, 2013 & Journal of Biophotonics, 2010).
One of the critical factors in any anti-aging or skin-healing formula is the amount and variety of antioxidants, cell-communicating ingredients, and skin-repairing ingredients, and the more the better. These function in a variety of ways to reduce the effects of the constant environmental stresses your skin experiences (Dermatology Research and Practice, 2012 & The Journal of Pathology, 2007).
Once you open that jar you bought, you immediately compromise the stability of the anti-aging superstars it contains. (You can visualize their benefits disappearing like puffs of air each time you open up that lid!)
Lifting Products: Many skin-care products claim they can firm and lift skin, but none of them work, at least not to the extent claimed. A face-lift-in-a-bottle isn't possible, but with the right mix of products, you will see firmer skin that has a more lifted appearance—and that's exciting! To gain these youthful benefits, you must protect your skin from any and all sun damage every day, use an AHA (glycolic acid or lactic acid) or BHA (salicylic acid) exfoliant, and use products that have a wide range of antioxidants and skin-repairing ingredients.
Remember, no single product can do it all; it's the combination of products that has extensive research showing they can significantly improve many of the signs of aging, such as firming skin, reducing wrinkles and brown spots, and eliminating dullness.
Strengths: A few excellent moisturizers and serums; excellent sunscreens; very good cleansers and eye makeup removers; unique mattifying products; impressive selection of foundations, good concealers; some remarkable mascaras; much-improved eyeshadows, lip colors and blush formulas.
Weaknesses: Bar soaps (which can clog pores and dull skin); alcohol-based toners; unfortunate choice of jar packaging for antioxidant-loaded moisturizers.
Estee Lauder-owned Clinique launched the concept of cosmetics being "allergy-tested," "hypoallergenic," "100% fragrance-free," and "dermatologist tested." Of those marketing claims, the only one with significance is "100% fragrance-free," which, for the most part, Clinique maintains (although it does add some fragrant extracts to a few products). Unfortunately, terms like “hypoallergenic” and “dermatologist tested” aren’t regulated by the FDA and can mean anything—thus, you still need to rely on the ingredient list to tell you whether their product contains any ingredients with the potential to irritate skin.
That inconvenient fact aside, Clinique is leading the way with cutting-edge, state-of-the-art moisturizers and serums, plus some formidable makeup and more than a few excellent sunscreens. While Clinique has some products that we see as missteps for reasons discussed in their reviews, more than ever, what they offer is quite good (just have realistic expectations, as some of their claims go beyond what their products are capable of).
Turning to makeup, Clinique continues to offer a vast palette of colors and textures, especially with their enormous selection of foundations—many of which feature effective sunscreens. Without a doubt, the numerous formulas offer something for every skin type and almost every skin color—though the blushes, eye makeup and lip colors are frequently not pigmented enough for deeper skin tones.
The bottom line is that, despite a few shortcomings, Clinique is one of the most comprehensive (and comparably affordable) department-store makeup lines, and it is completely understandable why they enjoy such broad appeal.
Note: Clinique is categorized as one that tests on animals because their products are sold in China. Although Clinique does not conduct animal testing for their products sold elsewhere, the Chinese government requires imported cosmetics be tested on animals, so foreign companies retailing there must comply. This requirement is why some brand’s state that they don’t test on animals “unless required by law”. Animal rights organizations consider cosmetic companies retailed in China to be brands that test on animals, and so does the Beautypedia Team.
For more information about Clinique, call (800) 419-4041 or visit www.clinique.com.
The Beautypedia and Paula’s Choice Research teams have one mission: To help you find the best products for your skin, whether they’re from Paula’s Choice or another brand. By combining efforts, we’re able to share scientific research and remain committed to the highest standards based on our decades of experience objectively reviewing thousands upon thousands of skincare and makeup formularies in all price ranges.
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