“Can great skin be created?” That’s the question Carol Phillips—a special projects and beauty editor for Vogue—asked in 1968. Her research led her to leading New York dermatologist Dr. Norman Orentreich, and Clinique was born. Orentreich had developed a three-step skincare method for patients: cleanse, exfoliate, and moisturize. It was tailored to each client’s skin type, and back then, it was groundbreaking. Though their product range has greatly expanded since then, Clinique is still famous for creating dermatologist-tested products that are safe, simple, and effective, with impressive results.
Founded: Carol Phillips and Dr. Norman Orentreich started the brand in 1968.
Based in: New York City
Best known for: Achieving great skin for all with scientifically researched products that deliver maximum efficacy yet are gentle enough for sensitive skin.
Most popular product: Since it launched in 1968, Clinique's three-step system remains iconic; it’s still the first system many young people use when they start a skincare regimen. This system uses the Clarifying Lotion, Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm, and Moisture Surge 100-Hour Auto-Replenishing Hydrator, all of which you can read more about below.
Fun fact: Last year, Clinique sold one Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion every eight seconds.
As Clinique has evolved over the years, they’ve stayed true to their core values, formulating products that have scientific backing and bring serious results sans any irritation. The brand is constantly updating tried-and-true formulas as ingredients and technology advance, and they’ve also upgraded their packaging to become more sustainable (changing to glass or post-consumer recycled content). How the brand speaks to their customers has also progressed, since they’ve added new platforms, most recently TikTok.
Curious about Clinique? So were we. That's why we tapped the brand to spill on their formulation secrets, hero ingredients, and best-selling products.
Ahead, find out which Clinique best-sellers—classic and new—continue to fly off the shelves.
Part of the Three-Step Skincare System, this liquid exfoliator delicately rids skin of excess oil and flakes that can dull the skin, revealing a smoother, clearer complexion. A true Clinique classic, it also preps skin for moisturizers and other products that follow to help them absorb better.
Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm
Say sayonara to every trace of makeup with this delightful cleansing balm. After warming it in your fingers, the balm melts right into skin, transforming into an oil that delicately removes makeup, sunscreen, and excess dirt and oil, rinsing away clean to reveal fresh, dewy skin.
Moisture Surge 100-Hour Auto-Replenishing Hydrator
True to its name, this mega moisturizer really does keep skin hydrated for up to 100 hours, yet it feels super lightweight on skin thanks to its oil-free gel texture. Designed to work for all skin types, it features an aloe bio-ferment and hyaluronic acid to delve deep into skin. Leaving a radiant glow, it’s also great as a primer pre-makeup application.
Even Better Clinical Serum Foundation
Blending the line of makeup and skincare, this serum foundation combines the best of both worlds. Loaded with three types of serums—hyaluronic acid to hydrate and plump, salicylic acid to smooth, and vitamin C to brighten—it improves the texture and appearance of skin over time. Available in 42 shades, the buildable formula offers medium to full coverage. The satin-matte finish looks natural and wears comfortably on skin.
Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion+
An OG favorite, the Dramatically Different Moisturizers are now available in three formulations to better serve a range of skin types. There’s the original Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion+, a soothing lotion for dry skin; Dramatically Different Oil-Control Gel, for oily skin types who require hydration while zapping excess shine; and the newest Dramatically Different Hydrating Jelly, a lightweight formula ideal for people who can’t stand that sticky moisturizer sensation.
Acne Solutions Clinical Clearing Gel
Bust breakouts with a topical treatment that won’t irritate skin. This clearing gel uses salicylic acid and is as potent as a prescription, as studies showed it only takes three days to see a 37 percent average improvement in your complexion.
Even Better All-Over Concealer + Eraser
Thanks to the range of 42 shades, pretty much everyone can find their perfect match in this lightweight, full-coverage concealer. Chock full of skin-loving ingredients, it improves the appearance of dark circles over time. The clever blurring sponge hidden inside the cap makes it ideal for on-the-go—no brush required.
Even Better Clinical Radical Dark Spot Corrector + Interrupter Serum
Hyperpigmentation doesn't stand a chance against this effective serum. Impressively, in addition to correcting existing discoloration, it helps to prevent future marks as well. The ingredients list spotlights yeast extract to break up and exfoliate clusters of uneven pigment, glucosamine to weaken the bonds that bind dead skin cells together, and salicylic acid to exfoliate skin cells.
Smart Custom-Repair Serum
From fine lines to dark spots to discoloration, this game-changing serum tackles a range of signs of aging. A combination of peptides, glucosamine, salicylic acid, vitamin C, and botanicals do the work, leaving skin looking more even with a smooth, refined texture.
All About Clean Liquid Facial Soap
Cleanse and condition with this soft, non-drying soap that works up a lather to loosen surface flakes, remove dirt and pollution, and safeguard skin’s natural moisture balance. With hyaluronic acid, aloe barbadensis leaf extract, and sucrose, it leaves skin super soft and never stripped.