Colorfully packaged, Clinique's Sweet Pots Sugar Scrub & Lip Balm bears more than a passing resemblance to a macaron— but it's not for eating! This lip scrub and tinted balm duo is housed in a double-sided, brightly colored plastic pot with dual twist-off, locking tops. This multipurpose product has some limitations but overall earns a good rating for its ability to provide sufficient physical exfoliation in the first step and plush, conditioning, shine in the second.
Clinique's choice of packaging for their Sweet Pots is a Catch-22 of sorts, as it's likely the reason many are drawn to this product but it's also its biggest blunder. There's no denying that it's cute and having both a lip scrub and balm in one product is also convenient, but when it comes to skin care, jar packaging is never the best way to go.
The reason for this is twofold. Many of the beneficial ingredients present, such as the antioxidants Vitamin E (tocopheryl acetate) and green tea extract, lose their effectiveness when repeatedly exposed to light and air. Luckily, the brand makes no anti-aging claims for these antioxidants, and because there are so many other skin beneficial ingredients in this formula, we won't ding them too heavily for that. However, there's also the hygiene factor involved with having to dip your finger while out and about to apply the balm portion.
Moving on, let's look at the sugar scrub first. It's pretty standard in that sucrose (sugar) is the first ingredient. Sugar is followed by a laundry list of beneficial plant oils (jojoba, avocado, grape seed, to name a few). The sugar particles are tiny which is great for providing gentle physical exfoliation without irritation. There is a sugary taste in the scrub while on your lips, but since you're instructed by the brand to both use it only thrice weekly and to tissue off immediately after use, leaving no taste behind, we don't see that the issue of encouraging lip-licking would apply here.
For those with extra-sensitive lips, we'll also note that there's clary extract in the scrub, which is a potential irritant, although the amount present would likely not cause issue for most due to the fact that it's wiped off immediately after use.
The fragrance-free lip balm portion of this product is currently available in 7 shades—6 available at most retailers and 1, Clinique's cult classic color "Black Honey," is a Sephora exclusive. Each balm provides varying degrees of sheer color, the key word being "sheer." "Black Honey," "Candied Cassis," and "Red Velvet" provide the most obvious (although still translucent) tints, but the remaining shades provide a shine only with no discernable tint.
The moisturizing claims are supported because the balm contains a host of emollients such as petrolatum, coconut oil, and shea butter. Together, these offer a plush, cushiony feel to lips. More to love, the balm is also lightweight and not sticky.
Overall, if you're attracted to Clinique's Sweet Pots Sugar Scrub & Lip Balm because of its aesthetic, we think it's worth a second look. The sugar scrub works well to provide gentle physical exfoliation of dry, flaky lips, and the balm delivers lasting moisture and a healthy hint of shine (and, depending on the shade you choose, a lovely sheer tint).
Sugar Scrub Ingredients: Sucrose, Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Microcrystalline Wax\Cera Microcristallina\Cire Microcristalline, Isononyl Isononanoate, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Cellulose, Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax\Candelilla Cera\Cire De Candelilla, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Silica, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, Salvia Sclarea (Clary) Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Caprylyl Glycol, Tocopherol Acetate, Ethylene/Propylene/Styrene Copolymer, Butylene/Ethylene/Styrene Copolymer, Pentaerythrityl Tetra-Di-T-Butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate, BHT. May Contain: Mica, Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Red 7 Lake (CI 15850), Yellow 5 Lake (CI 19140), Red 28 Lake (CI 45410), Red 6 (CI 15850), Yellow 6 Lake (CI 15985), Blue 1 Lake (CI 42090), Red 22 Lake (CI 45380), Red 20 Lake (CI 73360), Carmine (CI 75470), Red 33 Lake (CI 17200), Bismuth Oxychloride (CI 77163). Lip Balm Ingredients: Petrolatum, Polybutene, Polyglyceryl-2 Triisostearate, Hydrogenated Polyisobutane, Tocopheryl Acetate, PVP/Hexadecene Copolymer, Isononyl Isononanoate, Silica, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Butylene Glycol, C12-16 Alcohols, PPG-51/SDMI Copolymer, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Caprylic/Capric/Myristic/Stearic Triglyceride, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Astrocaryum Murumru Seed Butter, Coleus Barbatus Extract, Ceramide NG, Sea Whip Extract, Cholesterol, Polylysine, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Caprylyl Glycol, Linoleic Acid, Palmitic Acid, Lauryl PCA, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Ethylene/Propylene/Styrene Copolymer, Water\Aqua\Eau. May Contain: Mica, Red 7 Lake (CI 15850), Yellow 5 Lake (CI 19140), Iron Oxides (CI 77491), Iron Oxides (CI 77492), Iron Oxides (CI 77499), Red 33 Lake (CI 17200), Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Bismuth Oxychloride (CI 77163), Carmine (CI 75470), Red 6 (CI 15850), Yellow 6 Lake (CI 15985), Blue 1 Lake (CI 42090), Red 22 Lake (CI 45380), Red 30 Lake (CI 73360).
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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