CLINIQUE 3-Step Skin Care System


Post by A F Beauty


The past month I have been trialling the Clinique Three Step Program. I’ve never used the proper three step program before mainly because the cleansing step always used to be a soap bar which I’ve never been keen on. The pack now contains a liquid cleanser, so I gave it a go.

CLINIQUE 3-Step Skin Care System

clinique 3 step cleanser SephoraPhoto Stolen Sephora

I’ll start with the moisturiser. This is a reformulation of the original, now called Dramatically Different Moisturising Lotion+. They also have a gel formulation. My Clinique skin-type at the time of purchase was Type 2 which recommends the Lotion+. I like this moisturiser a lot. The texture is light, but the moisturisation level good. It’s OK under makeup, but it wouldn’t be enough for night time (for my skin). It is fragrance free, which is OK but either I am heavy handed or they are light on the pack size – the 30ml didn’t last an entire month for me using the system twice daily.

Next the Clarifying Lotion. With this I am very much in two minds. The Type 2 lotion contains menthol which I dislike at the best of times. It smells very chemically and menthol-y. I used it as instructed for most of the trial, but I have noticed towards the end my skin is more sensitive to other products – perhaps because this one is doing the job so well in exfoliating. The intent of this product is to tighten pores and clean the residue off the skin but I noticed as I swept the lotion over my skin it goes slightly pink and feels tight. I don’t like this. Objectively I can’t tell if my pores are any better – I think they are slightly – but is it worth it? If I’m honest with myself, I wouldn’t use this particular clarifying lotion again – I may go and check the others to see if they are of comparable formulation. For my skin I would prefer an exfoliating cleanser, either with texture or AHA/BHA and if absolutely necessary, a more soothing toner – but most likely I’d skip a toner. (The Clinique SA gave me a sharp look when I told her this!)

Lastly the cleanser. This time a gel liquid soap – very thick and glossy, needs a fair bit of water to break down and emulsify. Once it’s done it cleans well – is fragrance free like the moisturiser and the little tube in the sample pack goes a long way. I don’t think it is necessarily better than any other specific foaming cleanser, but it’s good enough. My skin felt pleasantly clean but not tight after using it.

Overall, I’d stick with the moisturiser, I wouldn’t say no to the cleanser and I’d not go back to the toner. The trial pack is a good way to see how your skin will respond to the three-step or to re-try some of Clinique’s products. Do you use any of the Clinique skincare products? Anyone else use a different Clarifying lotion? I’d like to hear reviews on the other three versions.

Clinique Australia has the Gift Set Sampler $39

AF Beauty xx

Side note: Some of Clinique’s website reviews are based on testers who are provided the products at no cost, although they do disclose this in the review. I purchased the Clinique three-step set with my own funds and the review is my opinion only.

11 thoughts on “CLINIQUE 3-Step Skin Care System

  1. Hi AF, I don’t bother with the clarifying lotion but the verdict in the beauty-sphere is that the MILD lotion is the one to pick from the range. It’s the only one that doesn’t have alcohol in it and is apparently quite good for dry skin types.

    I used the facial bar soap for oily skin for years and years but I’ve switched to foaming liquid cleansers from French pharmacy brands.

    The DDM gel is a god send in cluggy humid summer season.


    • Hey Willa, So what made you switch from the bar to the foaming cleanser – anything in particular?

      I love the French beauty ranges, I like that you always know you’ll get a good product. I have a few bits and pieces but I’m sure more will jump into my basket when I’m not looking! 🙂


      • And I may go back and look at the Mild Clarifying Lotion, probably just to compare more than anything else. I wanted to use the range as Clinique “diagnosed” me, but I noticed later that when re-testing my skin type at home I could easily switch between types based on equally true but slightly different answers. Personally I think that’s a bit of a flaw in that methodology if it can be that changeable.

        Thanks for the comment 🙂


      • Hi AF, I switched out of using bar soap to wash my face because soaps are alkaline. Not only does that disrupt the pH balance of your acid mantle (but that can be remedied using an acidic toner afterwards), it stings my eyes. I discovered pH neutral cleansers that cleanse thoroughly, and I never looked back. 🙂

        I don’t bother with these skin type classifications because they’re foolish imho. The fact is, everyone’s skin condition is constantly changing, depending on the weather, time of the month, and other products they’re using.

        My skin is naturally oily but because it’s winter, I’m loading up on oils, really moisturising products that Clinique would typically prescribe to their dry-sensitive skin type customers. The trick is to be able to read your own skin and know what it needs right now.


      • Yes, I actually agree about the skin classifications – the smallest things change skin type and condition – winter is especially challenging for me. I am currently trialling a L’Occitane set which has been good through the winter time – review on that coming up in the next month.


  2. Lovely post AF. I’ve used Clinique stuff for ages and like reading about it.

    I have dry skin and pick and choose out of the range – I’ve never bought a set. I go for the Liquid Facial Soap in extra-mild (repeat EXTRA – there is mild and extra-mild). I use it in the shower in the morning, where it emulsifies easily. The bar soap is drying on my skin, as is any cleanser that foams or lathers. I don’t really recommend the LFS as a makeup remover, especially if you wear full coverage foundation. It’s too mild, I think.

    I follow with the MILD Clarifying Lotion, which I love. (I wholeheartedly endorse Willa’s comments. Avoid the other Clinique toners unless you particularly need a toner with alcohol.) My skin doesn’t feel tight or dry after using these two products, just comfortable. Paula Begoun recommends the Mild Clarifying Lotion highly.

    And finally, I don’t use the DDML these days, having discovered that although my skin is fussy about cleansers and toners, it is not fussy about moisturisers. So I just use a Nivea SPF15, costs about $7.95 from the supermarket.

    I don’t do the routine at night. Doing that seems to make my skin dryer and over-sensitised – too much of a good thing. Of course the Clinique SAs will tell you that you should, but they just want you to buy more stuff.

    I chuckled at your remark about the sharp look you got. SAs don’t like it when you seem to know more than they do. They want you to be ignorant, so that they can persuade you to buy stuff you probably don’t need.


    • Hey annemariec, I agree with you about the liquid soap and make up remover, but I think that sort of applies with most cleansers I’ve used – not a lot will get up a full face of make up on the first go, especially with full face and eyes – I often find I’ll wash up twice to make sure my face is clean.

      And I also find my skin is less fussy on moisturisers, but sometimes there are some extra benefits such as in how make up applies or as you mentioned SPF that would make me choose one over the other. But this is a good way to save money or just spend it on the products that really make the difference be that a skin care dream product or a favourite bit of make up.

      I do kinda feel sorry for the SA’s sometimes, they are either entrenched in their product range or just working to make money, but I will always respect the ones that are honest enough to say that not all their products are for everyone or that their products will work with other ranges – that honesty makes me go back when I want something new.

      thanks for your comment 🙂


      • Yes, I should not be nasty about SAs. I had great service from Clinique once when I took back the bar soap after a few uses because it was so drying. She took it back without a murmur, and suggested an alternative product. Admittedly that was also from Clinique – the Comforting Cream Cleanser – but she really knew her stuff and was lovely to deal with. I used the CCC for years after that, until it was d/c last year. 😦


  3. Heya Alice,
    I’m naughty. Soap in the shower, After Shave lotion afterwards. Makeup removal with oil, currently the L’Occitane one that even gets mascara off first go.
    That’s my whole routine.
    Portia xx


    • If I have big eye makeup on I often use baby shampoo as the first line of attack – I like the no-more-tears formula, it means I’m not going to burn my eyes trying to get it all off!


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