Tuesday, 29 January 2013

WINTER SKIN BLUES

I felt compelled to write my first ever beauty related post having tried Clinique's three step 'Anti-Blemish Solutions' skin regime. In Winter I always have rubbish skin; I get blemishes over my cheeks which can easily spiral out of control and spread. On top of this, my skin looks dull and it gets really dry. I can pretty much count on the fact that my skin will be bad in Winter... it's that predictable. In Summer I tend to have really good skin, and in the months in between, a few blemishes here and there but nothing to write home about. Winter really does bring the worst out in it.

Over the past ten years I've probably spent excessive amounts of time and money on finding potential cures for my break outs. These include doctor prescribed creams, various contraceptive pills with a supposed side effect of solving skin problems, and many, many store bought lotions and potions varying from Lush products to Simple and Clean & Clear. You name it, I've most likely tried it. 

I initially looked in to the Clinque Anti-Blemish products because of all the advertising surrounding them. I requested a tester of the anti-blemish moisturiser and really liked it, I did a little limited reading up on the range and was still uncertain about how well it worked as there were mixed reviews, but mainly people seemed to talk about it like it was some kind of miracle. Spurred on by this and ignoring the bad reviews, I decided to try it.


For the three full sized products, it cost £50.00 - not cheap. I bought mine from a Clinique counter in a Boots store. I think spending that much money on anti-blemish products makes you feel as if you have some kind of control over a problem that is so out of your control. Anyone who has suffered with spots will know how horrible it can make you feel. Spending a significant amount of cash on a 'cure' makes you feel like you've been pro-active, and hell, if it's that expensive, it's got to work, right?

The three products in the routine are: Cleansing Foam, Clarifying Lotion and Clearing Moisturiser. I was instructed by the Clinique lady to use all three both in the morning and evening. She also told me that I'd need to remove makeup with my normal cleanser, before using the cleansing foam as it would not remove makeup. She also told me to stop using any exfoliator. I voiced my concerns that every anti-blemish treatment I'd tried in the past had always dried my skin out, but she assured me this wouldn't.

The Products

Step 1 - Cleansing Foam: It doesn't smell great. I've read reviews that have suggested it smells like old cigarette butts. I wouldn't go that far, more like a faint moth ball smell. Bearable though, and pleasant enough. It leaves your skin feeling fresh and clean - much like any face wash would.

Step 2 - Clarifying Lotion: It looks like clear liquid with a cloud of white at the bottom. You have to shake the bottle vigorously before each use and then apply with a cotton wool pad and sweep over face and neck (I was told only a few gentle sweeps, no rubbing it over). It smells very alcohol-ey and when applying, it stings. I have sensitive skin on top of all the other predicaments, so from day one I was worried about using such a strong product on my face. For those of you who have used Clean and Clear's 'Deep Cleansing Toner', it has a similar feel and smell. It certainly sweeps away any last morsel of makeup that might still be hanging on.

Step 3 - Clearing Moisturiser: This is my favourite of the three, It smells more natural than the other two, like Tea Tree essential oil, which as we all know is good for break outs. A little blob goes a fairly long way and it absorbs easily in to the skin leaving your face completely non-greasy and comfortable. The tube is small in comparison to the large size of the other two products, which is a shame because I feel it's the best bit. I was told I wouldn't need to use any other moisturising product when using this...not true.

Result

Week 1 - My blemishes got dramatically worse after the third day of using the products morning and night. On top of this they were completely drying my skin out which didn't create a good base for applying makeup. Even a light foundation only highlighted the really dry areas. I did some further reading  in to the Clinique range and established that with a lot of people, their skin got worse before it got better, so I decided to continue.

Week 2 - By week 2 I'd given in to using an additional intensive moisturiser, Boots 'Organic Botanics Face Super Balm' (Approx £4.99 for a 15g pot). I've been a fan of this super balm for years, it's really dense, not for rubbing all over your face like a normal moisturiser but ideal for using on the most dry areas such as around the nose, and it works wonders. I'd recommend applying a little before going to sleep rather than in the morning as it's quite greasy and wouldn't work under makeup. Without this my skin would have been a mess. The Clinique clarifying lotion realllly dried my skin out, to the extent that it felt tight and uncomfortable 5 minutes after I'd applied it, unless moisturiser was applied straight afterwards. As for the blemishes, I guess I noticed a very slight improvement, but this could just have been down to my skin doing it's own thing and healing.

Week 3 - By week 3 I'd gone feral with the products. As in, I stopped following the advice of the Clinique lady and instead I was doing my own thing. At the end of the day, you know your own skin better than someone working on a makeup counter who has only met you for 5 minutes. It's a nice momentary fantasy to think that if you follow all of their advice and use the products religiously you'll get perfect skin like they promise - they're supposedly experts after all. But that's wrong, you're the expert of your own skin. So, I continued using the Clinique moisturiser day and night as I really liked it, but I was only using the cleansing foam once a day in the morning, and only using the lotion every other day as it was so strong. I also bought a face mask from The Body Shop, 'Vitamin E Sink-in Moisture Mask' (£12.00 for a 100ml tub), which I was actually using three times a week in the evening as my skin was so horrifically dry from the Clinique stuff and the rancid cold wind outside. I would highly recommend this face mask, it has a bouncy jelly consistency, smells like soft soapy talc and most importantly it does it's job. I would recommend applying it in the evening...leaving it on for around 15 mins and then rinsing. The next morning your skin feels moisturised and free from dry patches.

Week 4 - Well, it's been a month since I started using Clinique's anti-blemish regime. My verdict is that it's not a straight forward miracle like it's painted to be. I think if you have the odd blemish but fairly good skin overall and don't suffer from dry skin, it could work for you. But if you have persistently blemished skin on and off, and have tried several different treatments, you may be disappointed. It has got me in to a good routine, which interestingly is what I read on someone elses review as well. In that, I can be quite lazy with my skin care routine, but now I strategically cleanse, tone and moisturise every morning and night. Just not with Clinique. 


I have found ways of incorporating the products in to my routine, for example, I use the face wash a few times a week, I still use the moisturiser every day and night (it will be a perfect summer moisturiser as it's light and non-greasy), and I use the lotion on rare occasions, intertwined with two new finds, Body Shop's 'Tea Tree Facial Wash' (£5.00 for a 250 ml bottle) and Body Shop's 'Tea Tree Toner' (Also £5.00 for a 250 ml bottle). I was recommended these products whilst moaning about my skin and Clinique to a Body Shop employee. She was really helpful and had similar skin to mine. She gave me testers of the two tea tree products and highly recommended them. They are lovely to use, they have a subtle tea tree smell but not too strong and they haven't dried my skin out. Plus, they have definetly reduced the amount of break outs I'm having and have helped to heal the spots that are currently there.

To Finish...
If you are planning on trying the Clinique products for a blemish problem, I would suggest waiting until it gets a bit warmer outside, because Winter is already hard enough on the skin even before you try a whole new skin care routine. I would also suggest being pushy with the Clinique counter people; they will obviously want you to believe them so you buy the products, and they will want you to buy the biggest most expensive quantities. Don't be shy about asking for testers, even the facial foam could be dispensed in to one of the little tester pots, so just ask. Lastly, you don't necessarily have to buy the biggest, find out about different sizes and prices. I wasn't offered anything but the biggest sizes and only found out later that you can actually get a smaller set for £30.00, if you're in any doubt, get this instead.