Clarins has had a product named Double Serum in their line for years. Every couple of years or so, they reformulate the previous version and re-launch, perhaps hoping you won't wonder that if the previous serum did everything it promised, why would a new one be needed?
On the other hand, a reformulation can be necessary if the goal is to keep up with the latest skin-care research—yet that doesn't seem to be the road Clarins traveled in this case. Instead, you're getting a very standard, overpriced (and overly fragranced) mineral oil–based serum whose numerous plant extracts present a mixed bag of results for skin. In many ways, this is very similar to the previous version, so really, it's more of a missed opportunity than anything else.
As with previous generations of Double Serum, the "Complete" version houses two serums in separate chambers. Each time you depress the pump at the top of the bottle, the serums combine, dispensing as one fluid. Although previous versions of this serum listed a "hydro" (water) phase and a "lipo" (fat) phase, with two distinct ingredient lists, for this version they consolidated the ingredient lists into one. Whether or not dispensing the ingredients separately matters for the skin (we can't imagine why it does), what ultimately matters is whether or not any or all of the ingredients in this fancy bottle make it the anti-aging breakthrough Clarins makes it out to be.
The main plant extract in this serum is Oxydendrum arboretum, a shrub without a shred of research proving it has benefit for skin. Clarins seems to be playing on the theme of plant stem cells, but as we discuss in More Info, stem cells from plants aren't a sure bet (or even a good idea) for your skin.
Beyond the plant ingredient mentioned above, this serum contains far more fragrance and preservative than it does beneficial plants. Despite Clarins' reputation as a natural line, this formula is surprisingly unnatural!
One of this serum's natural ingredients is a problem for all skin types: perilla oil. Related to the mint family, perilla oil is irritating (Source: www.naturaldatabase.com). It has some beneficial components, such as fatty acids and antioxidants, but there are other plant oils that offer these benefits without putting skin at risk of pro-aging irritation. Clarins included several good plant extracts, but none of them are anti-aging miracle workers, and the better ones are also found in other products that don't expose your skin to irritating plant extracts and a large amount of fragrance. See More Info to learn why daily use of highly fragrant products like this is a bad idea.
Why Stem Cells in Skin Care Don't Help: Stem cells are cells in animals and plants that are capable of becoming any other type of cell in that organism and of producing more of those cells. Despite the fact that stem cell research is in its infancy, many cosmetics companies claim they are successfully using plant-based or human-derived stem cells in their anti-aging products. The claims run the gamut, from reducing wrinkles to elastin repair and cell regeneration, so the temptation for consumers to try these is intense.
The truth is that stem cells in skin-care products do not work as claimed. In fact, they likely have no effect at all because stem cells must be alive to function as stem cells. Once these delicate cells are added to skin-care products, they are long dead and, therefore, useless. It's actually a good thing that stem cells in skin-care products can't work as claimed because one stem cell study has revealed that they present a potential risk of cancer.
Plant stem cells, such as those derived from apples, melons, flowers, and rice, cannot stimulate stem cells in human skin, but because they are from plants these ingredients likely have antioxidant properties. It's a good thing plant stem cells can't work as stem cells in skin-care products; after all, you don't want your skin to absorb cells that can grow into apples or watermelons!
There are also claims that because a plant's stem cells allow a plant to repair itself or survive in harsh climates, these benefits can be passed on to human skin. How a plant functions in nature is unrelated to human skin, and these claims are completely without substantiation.
Another twist on the issue is that cosmetics companies claim they have taken components (such as peptides) out of the plant stem cells and made them stable so they then can work as stem cells. This approach is not valid because stem cells must be complete to function normally. Even if you could isolate substances or extracts from these cells and make them stable, there is no published research showing they can affect stem cells in human skin.
Why Daily Use of Fragrant Skin Care is a Problem: Daily use of products that contain a high amount of fragrance, whether the fragrant ingredients are synthetic or natural, causes chronic irritation that can damage healthy collagen production, lead to or worsen dryness, and impair your skin's ability to heal. Fragrance-free is the best way to go for all skin types. If fragrance in your skin-care products is important to you, it should be a very low amount to minimize the risk to your skin (Sources: Inflammation Research, December 2008, pages 558–563; Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, June 2008, pages 124–135, and November-December 2000, pages 358–371; Journal of Investigative Dermatology, April 2008, pages 15–19; Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, March 2008, pages 78–82; Mechanisms of Ageing and Development, January 2007, pages 92–105; and British Journal of Dermatology, December 2005, pages S13–S22).
Powered by 20 pure plant extracts and potent, high-tech molecules—Double Serum’s innovative, dual chamber system combines two age-defying formulas into one groundbreaking serum that reactivates skin’s vital functions. The result: firmer skin, reduced wrinkles, a more even skin tone and less visible pores in just 4 weeks.
Water, Cetearyl Isononanoate, Paraffinum Liquidum/Mineral Oil/Huile Minerale, Glycerin, Pentylene Glycol, PPG-3 Myristyl Ether, Butylene Glycol, Hydrogenated Styrene/Isoprene Copolymer, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Oxydendron Arboreum Leaf/Stem Callus Culture Extract, Tromethamine, Hydroxyphenoxy Propionic Acid, Sodium PCA, Parfum/Fragrance, Maltodextrin, Phenoxyethanol, Macadamia Ternifolia Seed Oil, Perilla Ocymoides Seed Oil, Carbomer, Propylene Glycol Dicaprylate/Dicaprate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Diethylhexyl Adipate, Rosa Canina Fruit Oil, Carum Petroselinum (Parsley) Extract, Pinus Pinaster Bark Extract, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil Unsaponifiables, Pistacia Lentiscus (Mastic) Gum Oil, Xanthan Gum, Atractyloides Lancea Root Extract, Salicyloyl Phytosphingosine, Solanum Lycopersicum (Tomato) Fruit Extract, Arnica Montana Flower Extract, Citric Acid, Sodium Benzoate, Cedrelopsis Grevei Bark Extract, Tocopherol, Chenopodium Quinoa Seed Extract, Althaea Officinalis Root Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Musa Sapientum (Banana) Fruit Extract, Thymus Citriodorus Flower/Leaf Extract, Actinidia Chinensis (Kiwi) Fruit Extract, Arctium Lappa Root Extract, Humulus Lupulus (Hops) Extract, Castanea Sativa (Chestnut) Bark Extract, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Potassium Sorbate, Bocoa Prouacensis Extract, Pentapeptide-31, Ascorbic Acid.
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 lightening 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 (give me a break). 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.
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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