CliniquePore Refining Solutions Correcting Serum
1 fl. oz. for $42.5
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Brand Overview
Expert Reviews

This silky, slightly tinted serum is supposed to clear your pores of the debris that causes them to become enlarged and makes magnifying mirrors your skin’s worst enemy.

Although the formula contains several helpful ingredients (including many antioxidants), the amount of alcohol is cause for concern. Alcohol causes dryness and irritation as well as free-radical damage that hurts your skin’s healing process and ability to become healthier. In testing this product we noted a distinct alcohol scent, which is not good news for those hoping this would make their pore problem vanish.

Another drawback is that the alcohol can stimulate oil production at the base of the pore, leading to more oil, which, you guessed it, prevents pores from becoming smaller.

The salicylic acid this contains is present in an amount too low for exfoliation to occur, plus the pH is too high for it to work as an exfoliant (salicylic acid needs a pH range of 3–4 to be effective).

In the end, despite Clinique’s guarantee of your pores looking 58% smaller, this isn’t a great bet for daily use over the long haul.

  • Silky texture and smooth, weightless finish.
  • Contains some good antioxidants.
  • Amount of alcohol is cause for concern and gives this serum a medicinal scent.
  • Acetyl glucosamine is not a great stand-in for AHAs or BHA.
  • Amount of salicylic acid (BHA, which really can improve pore size and function) in this serum is too low for it to work as an exfoliant.
  • Some of the antioxidant plant extracts are fragrant, and thus another source of irritation.

More Info:

This product contains acetyl glucosamine, an extract from shellfish or sugar that Clinique maintains can exfoliate. Although there isn’t substantiated research proving otherwise, the research on this ingredient’s ability to exfoliate comes from the Estee Lauder Companies, which own Clinique (Source: Journal of Cosmetic Science, July-August 2009, pages 423–428), so it’s not exactly an impartial source.

When large pores are a concern, AHAs are not as effective as BHA (salicylic acid). That’s because BHA can penetrate the oil buildup that leads to pores getting clogged, and enlarging. Without question, you can see tremendous benefit from daily use of a well-formulated BHA product. But the irritation this Pore Refining Solutions Correcting Serum can cause is not something any skin type should endure. Please see our list of Best BHA Exfoliants.

Last Updated:12.23.2014
Jar Packaging:No
Tested on animals:Yes
Community Reviews

Pore Resurfacing Complex quickly, gently clears out debris and rough flakes. Pores ‘snap back’ into shape. In 2 weeks, pores look 58% smaller. Guaranteed. Over time, help skin create stronger supports and healthier cells to see more improvement.


Dimethicone, Water, Polysilicone-11, Alcohol Denat., Acetyl Glucosamine, PEG-10 Dimethicone, Butylene Glycol, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Serenoa Serrulata (Saw Palmetto) Fruit Extract, Sigesbeckia Orientalis (St. Paul's Wort) Extract, Salvia Sclarea (Clary) Extract, Sea Whip Extract, Laminaria Saccharina Extract, Caffeine, Pantethine, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, PEG-11 Methyl Ether Dimethicone, Algae Extract, Polysorbate 20, Salicylic Acid, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Tocopheryl Acetate , Caprylyl Glycol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Glycerin, Lecithin, Isohexadecane, Di-C12-18 Alkyl Dimonium Chloride, Polysorbate 80, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Polymethyl Methacrylate, Coconut Acid, Padina Pavonica Thallus Extract, Nordihydroguaiaretic Acid, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Acrylamide/Sodium Acryloyldimethyltaurate Copolymer, Silica, Citric Acid, Hexylene Glycol, Ascorbyl Tocopheryl Maleate, Sodium Hydroxide, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxides

Brand Overview

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 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

About the Experts

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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