Clarifying Spot Gel: Oil Control
Follain’s Clarifying Spot Gel: Oil Control is well intentioned, but housed inside its opaque squeeze tube is a formula that can’t make good on its skin-clearing, balancing claims.
About the packaging: the tube is topped with a flip cap whose orifice is a bit too big to cleanly dispense the thin gel-lotion texture. It’s very easy to squeeze out too much, and there’s no easy way to put the excess back.
On skin, we found this has a nice slip that quickly dries to a near-weightless finish with just a hint of tackiness, although this is a non-issue if you apply other products over this, which we found worked well– no balling or pilling.
The shine control claim really doesn’t happen, as this sets to a slight, non-oily sheen and lacks oil-absorbing ingredients such as clays or starches. Clary sage cannot balance skin as claimed, but does contain fragrant components that can irritate skin, a process that can also trigger more oil production!
Clarifying Spot Gel is also unable to exfoliate skin. Although it contains a high amount of willow bark, which is a source of beta hydroxy acid salicylic acid, this plant requires enzymes not present in skin to make the salicylic acid available. You need salicylic acid or a derivative such as betaine salicylate in a form that’s bio-available to skin.
Willow bark isn’t a bad ingredient, though, as it remains an excellent anti-inflammatory plant, and we’re happy to see Follain paired it with skin-calming green tea (Camellia sinensis), willow herb (Epilobium fleishcheri), and lotus flower (Nelumbo nucifera).
Sadly, these good-for-skin ingredients capable of reducing acne-related redness are present alongside irritant clary sage (Salvia sclarea), which lacks substantiated research proving it reduces blemishes. Still, this product contains more skin-calming plant extracts and most likely these reduce the irritant potential of the clary sage.
- Feels light and completely non-greasy.
- Contains some proven anti-inflammatory plant extracts.
- Willow bark isn’t the natural equivalent of salicylic acid.
- Cannot exfoliate skin.
- Satin finish doesn’t control shine.
- Clary sage cannot balance skin.
- Clary sage can trigger irritation.
Control shine and improve the appearance of blemish-prone skin with Follain Clarifying Spot Gel. Powered by 10% Willow Bark Extract, a natural, non-irritating source of BHA Salicylic Acid, this lightweight gel penetrates pores to exfoliate and refine skin. Ginger Water and Tasmanian Pepper Extract help calm blemishes, while Clary Sage balances the skin and delivers protective antioxidants. All this action takes place without a trace, as the gel dissolves seamlessly upon application—perfect for layering beneath products or reapplying throughout the day.
Follain began as a retail and e-commerce venture focused on curating what they deemed to be the best “clean” beauty products from various brands. As their popularity grew, they decided to create their own line of products with the philosophy that “non-toxic is non-negotiable” when it comes to skin.
What qualifies as “clean” vs. “dirty” or “toxic” varies depending on you ask (clean beauty is an unregulated term so any company can create their own definition of what that means). Follain’s approach is to formulate their products to be free from ingredients that fall on their restricted list, which in their own words, “plays it safe” when it comes to cosmetic ingredients that could potentially be a red flag.
While some of their ingredient callouts are warranted and backed by research attesting to the problems they can cause for your skin, others on their restricted list get misbranded as bad based on outdated research, fallible studies, or simply anecdotal advice that doesn’t match up to current scientific literature.
That said, there’s no harm in playing it safe if the formulas are still effective and non-irritating. How does Follain fare in that regard? It’s hit-or-miss. Their products feature beneficial ingredients, but some are potently fragranced with essential oils proven to sensitize skin. (Essential oils are a classic example of how natural “clean” ingredients aren’t necessarily better for your skin.)
In the end, Follain’s collection does have some decent products—it’s just a matter of finding the right ones (hint, hint, our reviews do the detective work for you). Learn more about Follain at follain.com/collections/brand-follain.
About the Experts
The Beautypedia team consists of skin care and makeup experts personally trained by the original Cosmetics Cop and best-selling beauty author, Paula Begoun. We’re fascinated by skin care and makeup products and thrilled when they meet or exceed our expectations, but we’re also disappointed when they fail to perform as claimed, are wildly overpriced, or contain ingredients scientific research has proven can hurt skin.
Our mission has always been to help you find the best products for your skin, no matter your budget or preferences. Beautypedia’s thorough and insightful reviews cut through the hype and provide reliable recommendations for all ages, skin types, and skin tones.