Marketed as a "day screen," this fluid facial moisturizer makes anti-wrinkle and dark spot-preventing claims that are on par with what any broad-spectrum sunscreen provides. So, what does that leave us with? A mixed bag whose best qualities don't rise above what held this back from a higher rating.
This daytime moisturizer with sunscreen has a thin texture and soft-matte finish that's best for normal to oily skin. Those with combination skin may find that its feel and finish doesn't work well over their dry areas due to its minimal hydrating abilities.
Broad-spectrum protection is provided by titanium dioxide along with other sunscreen actives.
Part of what creates this product's light, fluid texture and nearly weightless feel is the high amount of alcohol it contains. The scent of alcohol is detectable upon application, a quality that's made worse by its strongly perfumed formula. (See More Info to find out why products with high amounts of alcohol and fragrance are a bad idea for your skin.)
The fragrance ingredients are included in a higher amount than the mix of anti-aging ingredients Clarins chose, including vitamin E, sodium hyaluronate, and several antioxidant plant extracts.
Regarding the tint, Clarins offers three shades, all of which tend to turn peachy and look unnatural. Each shade provides more coverage than you're likely expecting from a product labeled "tint", which only makes any color mismatch more obvious. The lightest shade (Light) is too dark for most fair to light skin tones.
Despite a super-light texture and ultra-light finish that many will appreciate (no one wants a heavy-feeling SPF), the amount of alcohol and fragrance makes this one to skip. For alternatives that carry fewer caveats, see our list of Best Daytime Moisturizers.
Irritation from High Amounts of Fragrance: 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 for all skin types to go for all skin types (Food and Chemical Toxicology, 2008 & American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, 2003).
The sneaky part about irritation is that research has demonstrated that you don't always need to see it or feel it for your skin to suffer damage, and that damage may remain hidden for a long time (Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, 2008).
In fact, the effect of inflammation in the skin is cumulative, and repeated exposure to irritants contributes to a weakened skin barrier, slower healing (including of red marks from breakouts), and a dull, uneven complexion (Aging, 2012 & Chemical Immunology and Allergy, 2012).
Alcohol-Based Skincare Products: Alcohol helps ingredients like retinol and vitamin C penetrate into the skin more effectively, but it does so by breaking down the skin's barrier—destroying the very substances that keep your skin healthy over the long term (Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, 2012 and Journal of Hospital Infection, 2003).
A significant amount of research shows alcohol causes free-radical damage in skin even at low levels (Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, 2012). Small amounts of alcohol on skin cells in lab settings (about 3%, but skincare products contain amounts ranging from 5% to 60% or greater) over the course of two days increased cell death by 26%. It also destroyed the substances in cells that reduce inflammation and defend against free radicals—this process actually causes more free-radical damage. If this weren't bad enough, exposure to alcohol also causes skin cells to self-destruct (Alcohol, 2002).
Research also shows that these destructive and aging effects on skin cells increased the longer skin was exposed to alcohol; for example, two days of exposure were dramatically more harmful than one day, and that's at only a 3% concentration (Alcohol, 2002). In fact, the effect of inflammation in the skin is cumulative, and repeated exposure to irritants contributes to a weakened skin barrier, slower healing (including of red marks from breakouts), and a dull, uneven complexion (Aging, 2012 & Chemical Immunology and Allergy, 2012).
How We Rate Daytime Moisturizers with SPF: “Daytime Moisturizers with Sunscreen” are differentiated from ordinary sunscreens as formulas that make direct anti-aging or other cosmetic claims by the brand, such as “deep moisture” or “redness-relieving.” Claims like “combats free radical damage,” “protects and firms,” “improves skin texture” or others that insinuate benefits beyond what a standard sunscreen formula provides. Daytime Moisturizers with SPF are judged based upon whether they provide broad-spectrum sun protection, their SPF rating, potential for irritation, packaging and aesthetics. They must also meet the same standards as an anti-aging moisturizer—the inclusion of beneficial antioxidants or other ingredients to back up the claims of improvements in signs of aging on skin beyond what sun protection alone provides. For more detail on how we rate this category of products, see the Best Daytime Moisturizers with Sunscreen section of Beautypedia.
Lightweight, oil-free day screen shields skin from UVA/UVB rays, pollution and free radical damage. An invisible shield protects the skin from the appearance of dark spots and the risk of early skin aging.
Active Ingredients: Homosalate 4%, Octocrylene 4%, Oxybenzone 1.5%, Titanium Dioxide 8.4%. Inactive Ingredients: Dimethicone, Aqua/Water/Eau, Alcohol, Polyglyceryl-3 Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone, Aluminum Hydroxide, Stearic Acid, PEG/PPG-18/18 Dimethicone, Nylon-12, PEG-12 Dimethicone, Sodium Chloride, Phenoxyethanol, Parfum/Fragrance, Glycerin, Ethylhexylglycerin, Tocopheryl Acetate, Disodium EDTA, Sanicula Europaea Extract, Butylene Glycol, Sodium Lauroyl Glutamate, Lysine, Magnesium Chloride, Sodium Hyaluronate, Hydroxypropyltrimonium Maltodextrin Crosspolymer, Thermus Thermophillus Ferment, Lapsana Communis Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract, Ribes Nigrum (Black Currant) Bud Extract, Potassium Sorbate, Citric Acid, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Cucumis Melo (Melon) Fruit Extract, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. May Contain: CI 77891/Titanium Dioxide, CI 77491/CI 77492/CI 77499/Iron Oxides.
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.
Beautypedia cuts through the hype to bring you product insights and recommendations you won’t find anywhere else!