Clinique's fragrance-free CC Cream reminds us of their BB cream in that both were made to capitalize on a popular trend in cosmetics, but neither product improves on what's already available. If you're loyal to Clinique, you may want to keep reading; otherwise, there's really nothing to be too excited about here.
If you're wondering what the difference is between CC creams and BB creams, here's the answer: It's all about marketing language, nothing more. Generally, a BB cream from a U.S. brand is akin to a tinted moisturizer, while a CC cream tends to be more like a liquid foundation. In reality, there is no rhyme or reason behind the product names when companies launch their versions of these products—they can be completely different from what you expect.
BB and CC creams typically provide sun protection and may or may not include beneficial ingredients such as antioxidants or skin-lightening agents (but the best ones do). Neither BB nor CC creams are as revolutionary as they're made out to be—it's just a new twist on tinted moisturizers and foundations.
Clinique's entry provides broad-spectrum sun protection from a mix of mineral and synthetic actives. The synthetic actives make this product potentially iffy to use right up to the eye, as you normally would a complexion-enhancing product like this, because synthetic sunscreen ingredients can be irritating if applied in the eye area.
This does contain a smattering of beneficial ingredients, but nothing that cannot be found in lots of other products, and it contains nothing that's all that corrective.
Clinique claims this product "creates a natural glow in seconds," and that's due to the satin-like finish it leaves once blended. The texture is creamy and notably thick, which isn't the best for a smooth application, but it's workable with just a bit of effort. Still, this doesn't feel as good as lots of foundations or even as good as some competing CC and BB creams, so our overall thinking is "Why bother?"
Still curious? This provides light to medium coverage, just like lots of liquid foundations, and is best for normal to dry skin not prone to breakouts.
As for the shades: They're quite good, and include options for fair to dark (but not very dark) skin tones. The Medium shade is a bit iffy because it tends to go on slightly peach, and then look more peachy as the day goes on. The darkest shade, Deep, isn't as dark as the name suggests, but it's a good color, as are Very Light, Light, and Light-Medium.
Active Ingredients: Octinoxate 7.5%, Octisalate 5%, Titanium Dioxide 5.2%, and Zinc Oxide 3.2%; Inactive Ingredients: Water, Squalane, Octyldodecyl Neopentanoate, Butylene Glycol, Propanediol, Glyceryl Stearate, Behenyl Alcohol, PEG-40 Stearate, Polyglyceryl-10 Pentastearate, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Water, Thermus Thermophillus Ferment, Trehalose, Caffeine , Glycerin, Linoleic Acid, Lecithin, Stearic Acid, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Sorbitol, Polyglyceryl-6 Polyricinoleate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Pentaerythrityl Tetra-Di-t-Butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate, Isopropyl Titanium Triisostearate, Synthetic Fluorphlogopite, Xanthan Gum, Silica, Alumina, Sodium Dehydroacetate, Tin Oxide, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol. May Contain: Mica, Titanium Dioxide, 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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