We're big fans of mineral-based sunscreens because the mineral actives titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are so gentle, but both have an aesthetic downside that's displayed too prominently here. As a result, Clinique's Mineral Sunscreen Fluid for Face Broad Spectrum SPF 50 is a product to consider carefully.
On the plus side, the thin fluid lotion is beautifully dispensed from a small bottle with a needle-nose tip. It spreads easily and feels hydrating, but doesn't leave a greasy-looking sheen. Those with normal to dry or combination skin that's also extra-sensitive will fare best with this formula and finish.
Despite spreading well, this imparts a white cast that is difficult to soften. With enough blending, it sheers out, but skin is left with a pallor that can only be described as unhealthy looking. Applying makeup over this is a must, even if your skin tone is fair—but especially if it's medium to deep.
Another letdown (though one that doesn't impact the aesthetics) is this sunscreen's lack of antioxidants. Research has made it clear that adding proven antioxidants to a sunscreen provides even better environmental defense. We discuss this in the More Info section.
So, where does this leave us? This fragrance-free, mineral-based facial sunscreen is gentle and easy to spread. We love its hydrating yet non-greasy feel, but were less impressed with its stubborn, pallor-inducing white cast that most will need to pair with makeup in order to avoid looking ill.
The antioxidants are missing in action, another issue that makes us hesitant to give this well-intentioned SPF the green light. Instead, check out our list of Best Sunscreens for superior choices.
Note: This formula is nearly identical to Clinique's For Men UV Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 50, and although both have the same positive attributes, this version's white cast was too obvious and long lasting to ignore, hence the lower rating. Your mileage may vary and if it does, let us know in the Community Reviews section!
Sunscreens That Lack Antioxidants: While this sunscreen goes the distance in terms of providing broad-spectrum sunscreen protection, a high SPF rating, and unique aesthetics (making it one you’ll actually wear and apply liberally every day), it lacks a comprehensive array of added antioxidants. Research has demonstrated that antioxidants, when formulated into a broad-spectrum sunscreen formula, boost its effectiveness in defending your skin against UV and environmental free radicals (Journal of Long Term Effects of Medical Implants, 2004 and Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 2012).
So, if you decide to try this sunscreen, we strongly recommend you layer it over a well-formulated antioxidant-rich serum. Serums are available in water-light textures for oily or combination skin and in hydrating formulas for normal to dry skin. Wearing one under your sunscreen every day will pay dividends in defending your skin against the free-radical damage and inflammation that destroy the skin’s ability to heal and to remain healthy and firm over time (Journal of Pathology, 2007 and Dermatology Research and Practice, 2012).
Active Ingredients: Titanium Dioxide 6.3%; Zinc Oxide 4%. Inactive Ingredients: Water, Dimethicone, Butyloctyl Salicylate, Polydimethylsiloxane, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Isononyl Isononanoate, Diethylhexyl Succinate, Neopentyl Glycol Diheptanoate, Methyl Trimethicone, Butylene Glycol, Ethylhexyl Methoxycrylene, Lauryl PEG-9 Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone, Silica, Dipentaerythrityl Tri-Polyhydroxystearate, Laureth-4 Cetyl PEG/PPG 10/1 Dimethicone, Dimethicone/PEG 10/15 Crosspolymer, Dimethicone Silylate, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein/PVP Crosspolymer, Triethoxycaprylylsilane, Dimethicone Crosspolymer-3, Isostearic Acid, Caprylyl Glycol, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Dipropylene Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Iron Oxides.
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 brand’s state that they don’t 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.
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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