I’ve been dealing with acne pretty much ever since I hit puberty, and although it has got better as I’ve started investing more time in taking care of my skin, it’s still disheartening to be dealing with a what feels like a teenage problem as I move towards my mid-twenties.
I know my acne is – to a certain extent, at least – hereditary, but I also know that my family aren’t particularly big on skincare or beauty, so my plan for this year is to hunt down some products that can help keep my skin under control.
My first foray into the world of acne-fighting products is the Clinique Anti-Blemish Solutions Three-Step System (RRP £25). Clinique is consistently one of the highest-rated brands in the acne-solutions section of beauty websites, so it seemed like an excellent place to start, & the Three-Step System is a good way to try out their three core products without shelling out for the full-size versions.
The kit contains a Cleansing Foam, a Clarifying Lotion, & an All-Over Clearing Treatment.
My first impressions were largely positive. I liked how the three steps could act as a stand-alone skincare routine, or be slotted into a more extended process if necessary, & I was a big fan of how the packaging looked more mature than a lot of high street acne treatments, meaning I didn’t mind having it out on display.
However, having now used the system for around three weeks, I’m not convinced it’s for me.
In my early teens, I swore by the Body Shop’s Tea Tree Clearing Foam, but as I got older, I started to find foaming washes too drying, even on my oily skin, and this Clinique Foam was no different. Instead of leaving my face feeling clean, the Cleansing Foam made my skin feel tight & dehydrated, particularly in areas where I had a lot of acne already. I was also disappointed in the Foam’s lack of real cleansing power: it couldn’t even remove the lightest makeup residue, meaning I was having to use a baby wipe followed by my Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish to remove my makeup, before I could even start on the system, leaving the Foam feeling kind of superfluous.
The Clarifying Lotion is essentially a toner, designed to rebalance your skin after cleansing. This is probably the product I’m most ambivalent towards out of the system, but my biggest complaint is just how medicinal it feels. This is hard to quantify, but I think it’s a combination of the scent which has a definite alcohol base, & the fact that it stings during application, particularly if it comes into contact with any fresh acne. I’m reluctant to buy into the whole “If it hurts then you know it’s good for you!” narrative, & since I didn’t see any massive improvements in my skin, I think I’ll be sticking to my go-to Dr. Jart+ V7 Balancing Toner.
All-Over Clearing Treatment
This is probably the one element of the system that I would continue using. The All-Over Clearing Treatment is essentially a gel-based moisturiser which you apply all over your face at the end of your skincare routine. Although this doesn’t smell particularly pleasant, it does sink into the skin quickly & doesn’t leave any greasy residue behind. In the final week, I basically stopped using the Foam & the Lotion, & even with just my usual skincare routine plus the Clearing Treatment, the results were comparable with the period when I was using the whole system, suggesting that this is the real key to success.
Overall, I wasn’t massively impressed with the Clinique Anti-Blemish System. When used together, the products seem unnecessarily harsh, & the results I saw just didn’t justify the price tag, particularly if you were to buy the three full-sized products.
However, I am a big fan of the All-Over Clearing Treatment. I genuinely feel as though my acne has been less severe since I started using it, & any blemishes which have come up have faded quicker & scarred less. My one complaint would be that, since using the Treatment, I’ve had some issues with blemishes sitting under the skin, particularly along my jaw-line, but ultimately these are less visible & far easier to disguise than actual breakouts, so I’m not complaining.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the Clinique System, or any other acne-fighting products you think I should try – just let me know in the comments below.