There aren't many skin lighteners in the cosmetics world marketed specifically toward men, even though men absolutely get brown spots and can develop an uneven skin tone from sun damage. Although this serum-like treatment has its strong points, it ultimately suffers from a few flaws that make it impossible to recommend.
Concern number one is the amount of skin-damaging denatured alcohol (see More Info for details). You never want to see a substantial amount of a pro-aging ingredient like alcohol in an anti-aging formula (or in any formula for that matter)!
The next issue with Dark Spot Corrector is the fact that it contains grapefruit peel extract. Listed as Citrus grandis (grapefruit) peel extract on the ingredient list, the peel is loaded with a class of ingredients known as furanocoumarins and coumarins, which are primarily responsible for what's known as a phototoxic reaction when skin is exposed to the sun—the result can leave skin discolored (Source: Journal of Food and Agriculture, October 2013, pages 10677–10684). We're sure this is not the result you're seeking from a product promising to improve discolorations!
Without the alcohol and grapefruit peel, Dark Spot Corrector would have been worth considering as a decent alternative to skin lighteners that contain hydroquinone. Its mix of melanin-inhibiting ingredients includes mulberry, licorice (glycyrrhetinic acid) extract, and dimethoxytolyl propylresorcinol, discussed in detail below.
Vitamin C is present in the form of ascorbyl glucoside, but this form may or may not be effective for lightening discolorations; It's been demonstrated effective only when paired with niacinamide (which Clinique didn't include).
Dimethoxytolyl propylresorcinol deserves a bit more explanation. It's a plant-derived antioxidant that slows the melanin-producing activity of an enzyme in skin called tyrosinase. Research is still limited—especially in comparison to other long-established skin lighteners—but it demonstrates that dimethoxytolyl propylresorcinol has does have an inhibitory effect on melanin production similar to that of other plant-derived lighteners, including those mentioned above (Source: Journal of Dermatological Science, August 2011, pages 115–121).
There is a tiny amount of the exfoliating ingredient salicylic acid present, but this formula's pH is too high (5.5) for it to have any impact as an exfoliant. Thus, you shouldn't expect an exfoliating boost to hasten the fading of brown spots.
In the end, there is more to be disappointed about than excited about in this product. If treating discolorations is your goal, you'll need to look for a skin-lightening formula that doesn't contain irritants and potentially phototoxic ingredients. Consider any of the recommended alternatives on our list of Best Skin-Lightening Products instead, and don't forget the sunscreen, which is essential to the success of any skin lightener.
Clinically tested formula helps visibly reduce past damage, including sun spots, age spots, acne scarring and darkening from shaving. Improves and unifies skin tone for a younger look. Restores clarity and brightness.
Water/Aqua/Eau, Isododecane, Dimethicone, Butylene Glycol, Silica, Alcohol Denatured, Polysilicone-11, Ascorbyl Glucoside, PEG-10 Dimethicone, Yeast Extract, PEG-6, Morus, Nigra (Mulberry) Root Extract, Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract, Curcuma Longa (Turmeric) Root Extract, Magnolia Officinalis Bark Extract, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Extract, Hordeum Vulgare (Barley) Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Fruit Extract, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Peel Extract, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Extract, Hydrolyzed Rice Bran Extract, Gentiana Lutea (Gentian) Root Extract, Caffeine, Cholesterol, Squalene, Acetyl Dipeptide-1 Cetyl Ester, Di-C12-18 Alkyl Dimonium Chloride, Propylene Glycol Dicaprate, Polysorbate 20, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seedcake, Salicylic Acid, Dimethoxytolyl Propylresorcinol, Acetyl Glucosamine, Caprylyl Glycol, Polysorbate 80, Glycyrrhetinic Acid, Sodium Hyaluronate, Laureth-3, Tocopheryl Acetate Tromethamine, Sodium Hydroxide, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Hexylene Glycol, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Yellow 5, Yellow 6
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.
Beautypedia cuts through the hype to bring you product insights and recommendations you won’t find anywhere else!