Super Restorative Foundation SPF 15
Clarins has really improved their foundations lately, and this entry continues in that welcome direction. Taken on its own merits as a foundation with an in-part titanium dioxide sunscreen, this is a beautifully done option for normal to dry skin. The initially creamy texture becomes lighter (in feel) as you blend, and it sets to a gorgeous satin matte finish that enlivens skin rather than making it look like a layer of makeup intended to mask it. You’ll get medium coverage that’s ideal for evening out your skin tone and reducing minor flaws. All in all, this is excellent—and there isn’t a bad shade in the bunch.
Now, to the over-top-claims that are likely the reason some women may be willing to spend this much money on a foundation even when there are perfectly beautiful foundations available for less than half the price. Clarins wants you to believe you can fight aging and wrinkling with this foundation, but the only anti-aging element in this foundation is its sunscreen, which is the same for any well-formulated foundation with sunscreen. This makeup isn’t restorative on any level other than sunscreen, and it doesn’t contain any ingredients capable of lifting skin. It also is not a specialized formula for those over the age of 50. Such a ridiculous notion won’t go away, but please don’t shop for skin-care or makeup products based on the number of candles on your birthday cake—age is not a skin type. Such claims rarely lead you to the products you really need, especially if you’re in your 50s and still struggling with breakouts, oily skin, rosacea, blackheads, whiteheads, or overly sensitive skin.
The ingredient list for this foundation is similar to that of many others I’ve reviewed favorably (and for less money, but we already mentioned that). Clarins included a lot of fragrance, which keeps this from earning a Best Product rating, and the allegedly “super-restorative” plant extracts are but a dusting, so you’re left with the unsung heroes of today’s best foundations: silicones and silicone polymers. These are what create the silky, unbelievably smooth textures and finishes that, when combined with modern pigment technology, result in foundations that look more skin-like than ever.
Note: This foundation’s rating is due to its overall performance rather than its SPF rating. Due to concerns about people not applying sunscreen liberally enough to get the amount of SPF protection stated on the label, it is often recommended to look for SPFs with ratings higher than 15. If you plan to use foundation as your sole source of facial sun protection, consider using one rated SPF 20 or greater. If the foundation with sunscreen you choose is rated less than an SPF 20, we strongly advise applying it over a daytime moisturizer rated SPF 15 or greater and following it with a pressed powder rated SPF 15 or greater. That way, you’re ensuring sufficient broad-spectrum protection which is essential for having and maintaining healthy, younger-looking skin at any age.
Strengths: Broad selection of effective, broad-spectrum sunscreens; some good self-tanning products; some good cleansers and gentle topical scrubs; a great foundation primer;superb foundations and powders; very good powder blush; wonderfully creamy lipsticks; great lip glosses and mascaras.
Weaknesses: Overpriced; pervasive reliance on jar packaging; most products have more fragrance than beneficial plant extracts; poor toners; an overabundance of average moisturizers; no effective products for fading discolorations or treating acne; no AHA or BHA products; disappointing eye pencils; average eyeshadows and makeup brushes.
Clarins is a distinctively French line whose beginnings go back to 1954. It was then that founder Jacques Courtin-Clarins began formulating plant-based treatments for his clients. He parlayed this into a Beauty Institute, and from there, with an all-natural mantra that was slightly ahead of its time, the business grew. Never wavering from its original marketing angle, Clarins has steadfastly held on to the belief that whatever grows from the ground and smells nice must be the cure for every skin ailment, from breakouts to loss of firmness to the dreaded "sponginess" of cellulite. A visit to today's white- and red-trimmed Clarins counter confirms that the plant-based, natural-extract rhetoric is still intact, and the counter staff is eager to discuss it (yet ask them what some of the non-plant, unnatural ingredients are doing in their products and you may be met with a blank stare).
You'll also find that Clarins routinely offers facial appointments at their counters, yet more often than not these appointments, which are done behind a privacy screen, are about selling products, not about performing a legitimate facial. (For example, cleansing, toning, and facial massage are included, while extractions are not.) One other point of difference you may hear about is the Clarins Anti-Pollution Complex. First added to their products in 1991, this Complex consists of a group of plant extracts though what they may be is a mystery, since all manner of plant extracts show up in these products, with few repeats. This "high-performing" protection is supposed to shield skin from pollutant gases, corrosive particles, and industrial emissions. Although that sounds good, it's not true and there isn't a shred of proof to the contrary (Clarins research is unpublished). Plant extracts, alone or in combination regardless of the remote locations they may come from cannot keep pollution off the skin. If anything, the amount of fragrance in these products can weaken the skin's defense mechanisms, resulting in more damage from the pollution our skin encounters daily.
This line is enormous, and is absolutely one of the most cumbersome around. Within it, the assortment of plant extracts ranges from the usual to the exotic and ultimately to the no-one-knows-what-in-the-heck-these-are! Clarins has something for every skin concern imaginable, from keeping pollution off the face (not possible) to lifting a sagging jaw line (not possible without surgery), and even protecting skin from electromagnetic waves. It would seem there is nothing these supposedly miraculous products can't do! And you'll find a horde of plants here with the promise that this can really all come true.
However, once you're armed with even a modicum of ingredient knowledge and a fair helping of myth-busting, you'll realize how ridiculously out of whack all of this hype is. That's not to imply that all of these products are bad, there are good ones; or that all of the plant extracts aren't good, because many are very good anti-irritants, antioxidants, emollients, or antibacterial agents. However, many plant extracts are also potential allergens or skin irritants. Clarins also has its fair share of ordinary, standard, and completely unnecessary products whose claims are at best misleading and at worst downright false, and overall the products are incredibly overpriced for what you get. What is most startling is the redundancy among the Clarins products. There are few differences, for example, between the moisturizers and the mask cleansers, and the oil-control products are more reruns than they are new alternatives for skin care.
Note: All Clarins products contain fragrance.
For more information about Clarins, call (866) 252-7467 or visit www.clarins.com.
Clarins showcases its prodigious skin-care products so prominently that you may not have noticed that their excellent makeup collection has become even more impressive. Evaluating Clarins makeup is 180 degrees different from evaluating the lackluster and confusing assortment of skin-care products they sell. When it comes to foundations, powders, and lipsticks, texture is critically important. Luckily, this is where Clarins color line excels, despite premium prices and going a bit overboard with fragrance. Their foundations are marvelous, the lone concealer is much better than their former attempts in this area, and every powder-based product feels incomparably silky while looking stunningly smooth on skin. (Keep in mind, however, that even the best makeup looks only as good as the skin on which it is applied.) Giving Lancome and Dior a run for their money, Clarins' mascaras are surprisingly good, and at least their lipsticks feel as rich as you'll need to be to afford repeat purchases. You don't need to spend this much money to get beautiful results and stellar products, but if your budget allows you to fill your makeup bag with department-store products, Clarins' nicely organized makeup display should be one of your first stops.
Clarins likes to promote that many of their foundations contain a special anti-pollution complex to safeguard your skin. Don't believe it for a second, because there is no way to completely shield skin from the effects of pollution and antioxidants. Besides, the kinds of ingredients that can reduce, not block or eliminate, pollution-based free-radical formation are rarely included in Clarins makeup.
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.