Clinique Sculptwear Lift and Contour Serum for Face and Neck debuts in beautifully weighty packaging. Its formula is good, but also shares many of the same ingredients as other Clinique serums and moisturizers—even though some of those don't claim to lift skin. As it turns out, Sculptwear can't lift skin, either; at least not in the way you might be thinking! See More Info for full details on why a "face-lift-in-a-bottle" isn't possible—and what you can realistically expect from such products.
The misleading part is that this water-based serum for all skin types contains a film-forming agent (pullulan) that can make skin feel tighter as this serum dries—that's the "immediate tightening effect" Clinique mentions in the claims. But skin feeling tighter isn't the same as sagging skin actually being lifted, either along the jawline or elsewhere. The truth is not a single ingredient in this serum can accomplish that—though that doesn't mean it's is a waste of time and money.
Getting past the lifting claims, this serum feels sheer and light; ideal for oily or breakout-prone skin but also fine for those with normal to dry skin, assuming you apply a moisturizer over it (this serum is minimally hydrating). Clinique includes an interesting, varied roster of antioxidants from various plants plus some peptides and a small mix of skin-repairing ingredients, too, all in a fragrance-free formula. For the money, this formula isn't a bust!
The mix of anti-aging ingredients this serum contains can stimulate healthy collagen production, which Clinique is attributing to giving skin "a more toned, taut appearance". Healthy collagen can do that, but only if skin isn't sagging, too. Skin sags not just because of collagen loss and damage, but because of numerous other 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) .
What about Clinique's Sonic System Massaging Applicator, a handheld attachment that's sold separately for $35 and is suggested on Clinique's website for use to apply this serum? 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—yet isn't adding much in the way of skincare benefit in exchange.
Whether or not you should choose Sculptwear Lift and Contour Serum for Face and Neck depends on your willingness to let go of the notion that any serum can lift skin. This serum will make skin feel tighter, but that tactile sensation doesn't mean skin actually becomes tighter or contours will be refined. At best, you can expect skin to feel smoother and that the mix of anti-aging ingredients might bring about an increase in skin's firmness, but that's the extent of it. The sagging portion requires dermatologic or surgical intervention!
Note: Sculptwear Lift and Contour Serum is also available in a larger, 1.7-ounce size that retails for $82.
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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