Clinique - 3 Steps to Great Skin (Cleanser, Clarifying Lotion, Moisturizer)

clinique 3-step program reviews
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Clean white counters and muted colours. People in white coats. No, I wasn't in the hospital...I was at the Clinique counter. I wasn't planning to walk in, but the guy at the counter asked me if I was interested in a skincare consultation, and I had time to kill, so I agreed. They also offer makeup consultations and recommend the right makeup depending on the skin type and specific concerns, but I opted for the skincare consult. Have to say, I find the staff at the counter very helpful and friendly :-)

The skincare consult involved answering a few questions about my skin type and some staring at my face through what looked like a huge magnifying glass. I am a bit of a clean freak, and the SA used a hand cleanser - just in case anybody else reading this is like me!

Clinique classifies into 4 types. Mine, I was informed, is Type 3 - combination oily to oily skin.

Now comes the 3-step process - Cleansing, Toning/Exfoliation, Moisturizing. This is what Clinique says: "Custom-fit steps give your skin exactly what it needs to be great skin. Cleanse deeply but gently. Exfoliate to sweep aside dulling flakes, refine pores, soften fine lines. Moisturize and build a barrier against impurities. Each step helps the other work better. And after 3-Step, treatments work better. Makeup looks better, too."

I was given a kit containing sample sizes (15 mL each) of the products in the 3-step process to try for about 2 weeks so I can decide if it suits me or not. This is what impressed me the most with Clinique. I so wish other companies would pick up on this idea too.

clinique 3-step program reviews

So, what's in the kit?  "Just 3 products, 3 minutes, twice a day—it’s that easy. Cleanse. Exfoliate. Moisturize. Three simple actions, morning and night."

Step 1: Facial Soap

The sample I got contained the liquid soap.  Clinique also has bar soaps.  I liked the product, and it does last a long while judging by what I got in the sample, but I would look around for a cheaper alternative.  Cost - Rs. 980. Comes in one size, and I don't remember the quantity.


Step 2: Clarifying Lotion

This to me is a toner. Clinique, however, says it sweeps away dead skin to reveal clearer skin, so "exfoliation."  The Clarifying Lotion for type 3 skin has alcohol in it, and I am not okay with using it. I use a water-based toner, and that is all I am comfortable with.  To be fair, it works amazingly on my oily skin, but I am not okay with the alcohol content.  Cost - 200 mL - Rs. 1200 and 400 mL - Rs. 2025  I subsequently bought the Clarifying Lotion type 2 and prefer that milder version.


Step 3: Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion or Gel

Since I have a type 3 skin, I was given Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel. The lotion is for the drier skin types.  I have purchased a full size of this and am currently using this as my daily lotion. I think the name is very apt, is really something different. Feels like I am rubbing some kind of thick water over my face. It absorbs pretty well, and all I am left with is super smooth skin. I use this regularly only now that it is summer, though. For winters and drier times, I prefer something more substantial. I was recommended the moisturizing lotion but have not tried it. Need to use a separate sunscreen/sunblock as this is as basic as a moisturizer can get, but that's not a problem for me - I actually prefer it that way.  Cost:  1400 for 50 mL. This is for the tube version. The bigger pump/bottle version is more economical, 125 ml - Rs. 2450.


What I liked about Clinique's 3-step program:

Very simply, IT WORKS. That's what I liked about it. What I didn't like: I got a few dry patches on my skin - but that was in winter. Absolutely suitable for a place with a more humid climate or for Bangalore summers.  The concept is just so simple and I think very fool-proof.  Plus, the products are hypoallergenic, and they have a separate line for sensitive skins.

Where to buy in Bangalore: Lifestyle, Koramangala. Phone: 09731718273

For those interested in ingredients...have just copied it down from the cover. Might have made mistakes while typing it, so please check on the cover of the products at the counter :-)

Liquid Facial Soap - Oily:  Water, Sodium laureth sulfate, lauramidopropyl betaine, cocamidopropyl hydroxysultaine, sodium chloride, sodium cocoyl sarcosinate, tea-cocoyl glutamate, Aloe barbadensis leaf juice, Serenoa serrulata (saw palmetto) fruit extract, PEG-120 methyl glucose dioleate, sucrose, menthol, hexylene glycol, polyquaternium-7-laureth-2, caprylyl glycol, sodium sulfate, EDTA, disodium EDTA, sodium benzoate, phenoxyethanol.

Clarifying Lotion 3: Hammelis virginiana (witch hazel), alcohol denat, water, salicylic acid, butylene glycol, disodium EDTA, benzalkonium chloride, Red 6 (CI 15850), orange 4 (CI 15510), Ext. Violet 2 (CI 60730)

Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel: Water, Dimethicone, Isododecane, Butylene Glycol, Bis-Peg-18 Methylether, Dimethyl Silane, Glycerin, Laminaria Saccharina Extract, Lactobacillus ferment, Polygonum cuspidatum root extract, Saccharomyces Lysate Extract, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Hordeum Vulgare (Barley) Extract, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seedcake, Caffeine, Trehalose, Sodium Hyaluronate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria), Polysilicone-11, Silica, Propylene Glycol Dicaprate, Oleth-10, Laureth-23, Laureth-4, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/vp Copolymer, Carbomer, Tromethamine, Disodium-Edta, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Yellow 5, Red 4, Yellow 6.

Related Posts: 
Clinique Clarifying Lotion 2
Clinique Derma White Super City Block (SPF 40/PA++)
Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel


  1. hey thnks for the info.. i will totally go to the clinique outlet.. this is really cool that they provide samples since the products are quiet expensive, a person gets to know how the product would react on their skin before investing in full size products. One ques though, do they give just these sample kits or do they have samples for other products as well.

  2. Great reviews! Been thinking about trying the 3-step for a while now. So u got the samples for free?!


  3. Tx Cynthia :-) Yes the samples are free. In fact the guy insisted I try the sample before buying! You just go and ask for a skin consult at the counter, at least it's that way here in India.

  4. Hi Priyanka..amnt too sure if they give samples of other products. This comes prepacked with the 3 bottles and is I think a way of marketing this 3 step thing. They might give you a one-time use sample of other stuff, but I really am not sure. If you are a frequent customer or are buying something I think it's the best chance for getting samples :-)

  5. Great review, I think the most important thing about a 3 step process, is it forces you to do all the 3 steps of daily skin care.

  6. Oh cool! Will visit them sometime. I'm happy they're giving samples now. I went last year but there was nothing like that.
    Thanks Rads :)


  7. Hi to the awesome cook :-) I totally agree with ensures we do all the 3-steps properly.

  8. Hi Rads,

    I've been using Clinique 3 step for abt 3 weeks now n its truely done skin is so much better (touch wood)...I am using the clarifying lotion 2 instead of I found 3 a bit looking for something effective for my undereye circles..

  9. Hii Michelle..I have been using the type 2 clarifying lotion too..but switched to Shiseido for the moisturizer. Not found anything useful for the dark circles yet, so if you find something good do tell me :)

  10. Hi rads,
    A lil Q here...I have been wanting to try this out for so long now..but acne is more a hormonal problem atleast in my case..i have like bouts of acne(mostly in rainy season) and then clear skin...goes like that...though I am u suggest these topical treatments (esp clinique 3 step) would work?

  11. I don't use this regularly, Anupam. I use their toner - Clarifying Lotion 2 - daily use in summers or at times when I feel I need a bit extra help with the oilies. Other times I use the toner maybe 3 times a week and use rose water or even skip toner completely on the rest of the days. I think you can use a creamy cleanser - any regular cleanser that doesn't dry out the skin too much - I like Shiseido's skincare cleanser or for a more drugstore option, I found Dove pretty good. Use the Clinique toner on days when the oiliness is acting up. Use a good moisturizer, find one that suits you - doesn't have to be Clinique. I think exercise and a healthy diet would help too :)

  12. Sorry if my answer was a little too long, but what I was trying to convey was, I change my skincare routine depending on the season and how it's behaving at a particular time. The 3-step would be great for summers and in humid places, but in winters or times when my skin is behaving normal, I try to use milder products.

  13. I really like long answers Radhika..thanks to you for sparing time to write this..!!no seriously u made life a little easier with the explanation..!!I used the toner for a couple of days and the skin got really dry...btw I have the Anti blemish one ..that says for all skin types..actually my sis got it for me recently..and right now even though its not summers yet I am already having a bad acne thought this might help..and as far as moisturizer is concerned I use Neutrogena Dry touch sunscreen in the mornings and nothing else..but the flakiness persists..!!so me confused!

  14. Anupam - is that a moisturizer? I thought that was just a sunblock which you had to use over a moisturizer? I think you should use a creamy face wash, and a good moisturizer. Personally, for me, among the drugstore brands, Olay worked - I know it's marketed as antiaging, but it worked for me as a decent moisturizer that did not break me out. Just don't use too much of it. Clinique's DDMG and Shiseido mattifying are also good - but are higher end products. Use a sunblock only after you moisturize, that should solve your dry skin problem, I think.

  15. Thanks.I guess I'll go with DDMG.personally I dont like to use 2 layers like a moisturiser and then a feels like my skin cant breathe..esp in summers...but I'll try the moisturisers as you mentioned and see if that works. Thanks once again.

  16. In that case go for a day cream with SPF..though I personally prefer the moisturizer-sunblock routine because I am yet to find a moisturizer with SPF that doesn't cause breakouts - even the Olay one I mentioned, I think I had the version with no SPF. And I use sunblocks only when I step out of the house - am horrible that way :D


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