Clinique Mild Clarifying Lotion Review

Clinique MCL edit

My very precious, nearly empty bottle.

They say:

Allows the driest and most delicate skins to reap the advantages of twice-a-day exfoliation.

How to Use: Use twice a day after facial soap. Dampen cotton ball, sweep in one direction over face and throat, avoiding eye and lip area.

About the Product

  • Removes impurities to reveal vibrant, glowing skin.
  • Refines pores and smoothes texture.
  • Mild formula for sensitive skin.


Water/Aqua/Eau; Butylene Glycol; Biosaccharide Gum-1; Cyclodextrin; Salicylic Acid; Panicum Miliaceum (Millet Plant) Glyco-Protein Extract; Aloe Barbadensis Powder; Arginine; PEG-10 Soy Sterol; Ceteth-20-Dimethicone-Ceteth-2; BIS-PEG-18 Methyl Ether Dimethyl Silane; Cetyl Alcohol; Phenoxyethanol; Green 5 (CI 61570); Yello 10 (CI 47005)

I say:

Exfoliating sensitive skin is a logistical nightmare. By definition, it entails the removal of old dead skin cells on the skin’s outermost surface, which can cause much irritation, thus exacerbating said sensitive skin. But this ‘removal’ can help clear clogged pores, speed up the skin’s renewal process and promote a brighter complexion. Think about any hard skin you might have on your feet and how soft and pink and fresh the skin can look after some good old fashioned pummeling with a pumice stone (I’m not suggesting you use a pumice stone on your face. Please don’t. Unless that’s your thing).

Years ago, facial scrubs were the in thing. I remember being in L.A, in the beauty section of a department store, in about 2003 and a really nice (slightly plastic looking) lady, with very persuasive selling powers (and big bazookas), managed to talk me into buying a microdermabrasion (a product containing exfoliant crystals) scrub. She convinced me that this was the answer to beautiful skin. All I needed to do was use this scrub a few times a week and my skin would be transformed to that of a younger, more gorgeous woman (yeah, right). I duly went back to my digs and vigorously rubbed my face with this stuff until it was red raw. This was before I had rosacea, however, my skin was extremely sensitive even back then and I had no idea of the damage I was doing. I associated a bright pink face with a healthy glow. But I was just stripping my skin, removing its natural protective barrier. Which I finally realised, after a couple of weeks of determined scouring, the damage I was doing, I stopped and swore never again.

Now there are many chemical exfoliants (also known as acid toners) on the market, which remove dead skin without causing damage. And they can be extremely effective. You can read more about them in an anti-aging post I wrote here.

Clinique’s Mild Clarifying Lotion is one of the only exfoliators I’ve found which I can use without any problems. It doesn’t contain any glycolic acid, which my skin just can’t tolerate, instead, it uses salicylic acid to gently slough away defunct skin cells while also fighting blocked pores and acne. It’s a win win.

The lotion comes in a plastic bottle and it has a faint smell, slightly floral, though there’s no fragrance in it, nor is there any alcohol. It has a green hue to it and a silky, moisturising texture. You just pop some on a cotton wool pad and wipe it over your face, avoiding the delicate eye and lip areas. It doesn’t sting and dries quickly without drying out the skin.

I use it about three times a week and find it helps get rid of scaly patches and tackle pimples too. In fact, if I squeeze a spot (I know, very naughty) I’ll use some of the Clarifying lotion to clean it afterwards. You can use it as little or as often as you like, but as with anything new, it’s a good idea to make sure a product doesn’t irritate your skin first.

I thoroughly recommend this stuff. As for Clinique’s other Clarifying Lotions, I would avoid them like the plague, unless you like the feeling of rubbing your face with sandpaper. And if you do, then you should probably get some help. Or carry on and find some kind of kinky club you can join.

Clinique’s Mild Clarifying Lotion is available at Boots for £16.50.


If you owned a company that made a brilliant product which made you lots and lots of money and was really popular, would you stop selling it? No. I thought not.

Well Clinique have done just that. They’ve discontinued their Mild Clarifying Lotion and replaced it with Clarifying Lotion 1.0 Twice A Day Exfoliator. And it’s a load of old twaddle. I know because I got a sample from Boots and it left my skin sore and dry. It’s a bit like using nail varnish remover on your face (if that appeals to you – honestly – call the Masochistic Help Hotline number). I think that’s probably down to the Witch Hazel it contains which can inflame already sensitive skin. And there’s less salicylic acid in it too.

I must say, I’m completely fed up. I finally find an excellent acid toner and they get rid of it. Mind you, it’s getting some pretty poor reviews online so maybe they’ll bow to public pressure, relent and bring the old formula back! I can only hope.

Clinique’s Clarifying Lotion 1.0 Twice A Day Exfoliator is available at Boots for £16.50.


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  1. Laura
    24th February 2017 / 2:21 am

    I am still so mad they discontinued this product! My skin does not tolerate the new one and I can’t find a gentle toner for my sensitive skin. Any suggestions?

    • 24th February 2017 / 1:05 pm

      Hi Laura, it’s such a pain isn’t it? I don’t understand why these companies get rid of their most popular products. Nobody likes the new formula, so they should just bring the old one back. Unfortunately I haven’t found an alternative, but I’m not going to give up and I’ll review any that I try. Fingers crossed; there must be one out there!

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