Clinique: The New 3-Step

clinique 3 step

Clinique’s 3-Step skincare system seems to divide people, opinion-wise, like no other beauty product I’ve seen. There are those that have used it religiously (and successfully) since their teens, and there are those who are so vehemently anti-three-step they would seemingly rather clean their face with washing-up liquid than touch that famous yellow bar of soap. A quick Google and you’ll find people who are almost evangelical about the three step – they’ve used it for twenty, thirty years and wouldn’t ever try anything else – and you’ll also find a heap of beauty reviewers who are, at best, scathing. They hate the soap for its drying effects, the toner (“clarifying lotion”) could “strip paint”, the bottle of yellow moisturiser is fine, but nothing to write home about….

I have to say that when it comes to the standard-issue 3-Step I am firmly in the second camp. Scathing. The 3 Step was commonly (probably for many people) the first foray into proper skincare. When I was in my teens, getting “fitted” for your Clinique 3 Step was a kind of rite of passage. The questions about skin type! The special board thing they had with the sliders that magically revealed which products would transform your spot-ridden, red-nosed life! I was prescribed a bar of soap, which came in its very own green dish, a toner that I had to use with my eyes shut for fear of the fumes burning out my retinas, and a moisturiser that would simultaneously moisturise (hydrate wasn’t really a buzzword twenty years ago) and help with my oiliness. I think that I lasted a week with my “regime” – the soap dried out my face and my hands into little shrivelled prunes, the toner ended up being used to clean my laminate floor in the bedroom after I’d had friends round and we’d dropped a packet of hair dye. The moisturiser  was the only product that stood the test of time, but it was, unfortunately, quite boring compared to the other mango/strawberry/orange-scented, brightly-packaged moisturisers that you could get in Boots for half the price, and I don’t think there was ever a repeat purchase.

clinique 3 step

So I wasn’t at all sold on Clinique’s bestselling beauty phenomenon. But a recent successful episode with their new Dramatically Different Moisturizing Cream (above) had me thinking: Clinique have so many brilliant skincare products and none of them are included in the 3 Step System. The gorgeously effective Take the Day Off cleansers, the brilliant Super Rescue Antioxidant Moisturizer – there’s even a gentle version of the clarifying lotion (the Mild, a very well put-together acid toner) that I discovered through Caroline Hirons. Wouldn’t it be great if some of those products, that really work beautifully on the skin, were offered as part of the 3 Step routine? Here’s my idea for a new 3 Step – coming soon to a counter near you! (That part’s untrue. Though it would be nice.)


Step 1: begone, green dish of soap, and move over for the Queen of Cleansing Balms, Take the Day Off! Perfect for those who prefer unscented products, this tub of lard-esque cleanser quite literally removes anything, including mascara, but doesn’t strip the skin dry. Massage on and remove with a cloth or your cleansing brush or whatever it is you like to use. Your face will be spotless, fresh and non-dessicated. You can find it here online – it’s £22.

clinique 3 step

Step 2: out with the strong, alcohol-laden clarifying lotions and in with the mild version which is both alcohol free and also a very effective BHA exfoliant, so great for spotty skin or skin with an abundance of blackheads. You don’t have to use this daily (I use exfoliants about twice or three times a week) but you absolutely could, if you need to. It costs £16.50 for a bottle and if you were just using it as an exfoliating treatment it would last an age. Find the Mild Clarifying Lotion online here.

clinique 3 step

Step 3: the new cream version of the Dramatically Different is nice – very, very moisturising – but my top Clinique moisturiser choice would be the Super Rescue Antioxidant. I have used this for years and always go back to it as a default option for nighttime hydration. It leaves my skin plumptious and soft and it’s packed full of antioxidants for a bit of added skin protection and repair. It comes in different variants depending on your skin type – I use “dry combination” at the moment because my skin is still on the weird side, post-pregnancy. You can find this excellent moisturiser online here – it’s £40.

You can find all of the products, including the actual 3 Step system, if that sounds like something you’d fancy, on

*please note that this post is not sponsored. I wouldn’t normally point out that a post is unsponsored because I clearly mark when one is, but due to the overly-branded feel I thought it best to make it clear!


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