Pore Refining Solutions Charcoal Mask

3.40 fl. oz. for $ 25.50
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Pore Refining Solutions Charcoal Mask fits the bill for combination to oily skin due to its clay base and fragrance/irritant-free formula. Such formulas are excellent for lending a temporary mattifying effect to skin after it has been rinsed away, and work well as enhancements to a well-formulated skincare routine (for reasons we'll explain in a moment). The overall gentleness of this formula makes it a find for oily yet sensitive skin, too!

Packaged in a squeeze tube, this dark gray mask dries quickly—in about ten minutes—and rinses easily from skin.

The primary ingredients that do the "work" in Pore Refining Solutions Charcoal Mask are kaolin and bentonite clays. These clays can't draw out "deep-seated debris," but they will help absorb excess oil from skin's surface and just inside the pore lining. That benefit may also result in the reduction of the appearance of blackheads—and can also help to reduce (temporarily) the appearance of enlarged pores.

Clinique added a few antioxidants, lecithin and caffeine among them, which are nice extras but not as beneficial in a rinse-off mask that will only be on skin for a short period. Still, the beneficial ingredients are more than what many clay masks contain, so even though you're rinsing this, you'll at least get their benefits for a few minutes! Despite our enthusiasm for this product, clay masks aren't miracle workers; rather, they serve to complement a skincare routine that includes well-formulated BHA exfoliants and non-irritating formulas.

What of the charcoal in Pore Refining Solutions Charcoal Mask? Various forms of charcoal are used as part of water filtration systems to absorb various substances (i.e. bacteria and such) and charcoal is administered in medical settings by mouth for treatment of poisoning, but there's no evidence it has any benefit for breakouts or clogged pores when applied topically (Journal of Environmental Sciences, 2010 and Western Journal of Medicine, 1986).

If you're in the mood for a little beauty treat, or just want to stack the deck in your battle against oily skin and blackheads, Clinique Pore Refining Solutions Charcoal Mask is an excellent and effective option that leaves out the irritants (menthol, mint, essential oils, etc.) so common among similar alternatives. Though this won't reduce your pore size to a dramatic extent, its absorbent clay blend can absolutely help to improve the appearance of your pores by temporarily reducing excess surface oils in skin.

Note: If you're curious about the detox claims made in the marketing messaging for this product, you can disregard them. The ability of charcoal to absorb poisons when taken internally has nothing to do with skin—simply put, skin doesn't need to be "detoxed" as it doesn't have the ability to store or release toxins of any kind. We could go on and on about that one, but instead, check out More Info for the details on why "detox" claims made about cosmetic products are nothing more than marketing fancy.

  • Contains absorbent clays that work to reduce excess oiliness.
  • Can be used as often as needed.
  • Dries quickly and rinses fairly easily from skin.
  • Fragrance free, gentle formula.
  • None.
More Info:

Why Beauty Products Can't Detoxify Your Skin: Despite the claims of many a cosmetics company, you cannot "detox" your skin. In fact, brands making this claim never specify which substances their product supposedly banishes—which makes sense, as your skin isn't capable of storing any sort of toxin. An actual toxin is a poison, and we're talking REAL poisons, such as those produced by plants, animals, insects, ¬or reptiles (think snake venom or bee stings) or other organisms.

So-called toxins cannot leave your body through the pores or through your skin, whether via sweat or other means—they're filtered, broken down, and removed by the kidneys and liver. Heavy metal toxicity, for example, can't be "sweated" or otherwise drawn out of skin; this requires medical treatment to remove them from the body.

Regardless of the skin concern you're battling, "toxins" aren't to blame—and if you're serious about wanting results, stick to what the research says really works (and ignore fantasy claims about "detoxifying" cosmetic products).

Jar Packaging: No
Tested on animals: Yes

Pore Refining Solutions Charcoal Mask absorbs oil, impurities, and environmental pollutants for a clear, refreshed complexion. Charcoal powder draws out deep-seated debris to purify pores, while mineral clays soak up excess oil. Recommended for dry combination to oily skin types, the oil-free formula leaves skin feeling renewed and smooth with noticeably refined pores.

Water/Aqua/Eau, Kaolin, Butylene Glycol, Bentonite, Montmorillonite, Polysorbate 20, PEG-100 Stearate, Glycerin, Charcoal Powder, Laminaria Saccharina Extract, Caffeine, Lecithin, Sucrose, Propylene Glycol Laurate, Ethylhexyl Glycerin, Caprylyl Glycol, Propylene Glycol Stearate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Dimethicone, Sorbitan Laurate, PEG-150 Distearate, Hexylene Glycol, Xanthan Gum, Galactoarabinan, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Iron Oxides (CI 77499) [ILN41326].

Clinique At-A-Glance

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 brands state that they dont 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.

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.

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