Clinique vs. Dermalogica

by Henna

Here is a question that I received from a reader:

“I’m always asking my friends, what their skin care routine and products are and in all of my asking/research i find there is a big debate of Clinique versus. Dermalogica. Aside from price differences i’m VERY curious which of the two you would recommend. Which of the lines actually works. Is one versus the other better? is it worth it to pay the money if you have normal to combination skin?”

Now, this is a really difficult question for me to answer, because the fact is that I use products from both lines on a daily basis.

The lines have one thing in common: they’re both clinical in look and marketing.  Both claim that they do a great deal of research before getting products out to consumers (and I have no doubt that’s true) and both say that they can help your skin if you follow their skin care regime.

But the products that both lines offer are different: Clinique products are unscented and they have lots of options for sensitive skins.  Dermalogica’s products have essential oils and thus are strongly fragranced.  If you have very sensitive skin or a fragrance allergy, you may find this troublesome for your skin.  Dermalogica also heavily promotes its manual exfoliants – these are scrubs that you use to make your skin softer and smoother, but in the long run they may add to more wrinkling.  For the record: I still use them because I like the immediate payoff and I’m not worried about getting wrinkled.

However, I am not one of those who believes that you have to use all the products from a particular line to get the most out of them.  Despite what anyone tells you, you can pick and choose depending on what you need for your skin.

What do I use? I use the Dermalogica cleansing products.  Their PreCleanse cleansing oil is one of my favourite products of all time and I love the way it smells and takes my makeup right off.  I follow up with the cleansing gel, and use their hand cream, and Multivitamin Power Firm on the days that my skin needs extra moisture.

From Clinique I use their Mild Clarifying Lotion and have used it for over 5 years.  It has Salicylic acid at a good pH and doesn’t contain any alcohol so it won’t dry out your skin or contribute to free-radical damage in the long-run.  I also believe that Clinique makes some of the best moisturizers on the market.  If you have dry skin and I ran into you at a department store, I would steer you in the direction of the Clinique Counter.

Now, the reader’s original question was: Which of these lines works, and is it worth it to spend the money?

Clinique’s 3-step program is crazy popular and I know quite a few people who have “fixed” their acne-prone skin using their products.  However, I would never ever use an alcohol-based toner on my skin and wouldn’t tell you to either.  I also don’t like that the soap in their 3-step system doesn’t take off makeup.  They want you to buy a separate soap for basic cleansing and another one for removing makeup, and that is just more than I care to purchase.  I want one cleanser that does the job, and there are those out there, both in Clinique’s own line-up or at the drugstore! I also don’t like the Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion, which has been undramatically the same for too long!  However, Clinique’s Antioxidant moisturizer is amazing, and does actually have a good amount of antioxidants in it.

Dermalogica’s products also “work” but you don’t have to get a whole line to see results.  Like I’ve said, the Precleanse cleansing oil is my personal favourite and it is a truly luxurious product to use.  If you can afford to get it, you should, and you can decide whether or not you want to follow up with another cleanser afterwards.  You may find, like I do in the winter, that your skin doesn’t really need it.

Dermalogica does have some great skin-care solutions, and having attended many of their information seminars, I can tell you that their science is not fluff or marketing.  They really do research and formulate products based on that research, and I have piece of mind using their products.

At the end of the day: different things work for different people, and both Dermalogica and Clinique have stellar products.  Besides the ones that I’ve mentioned, you have to decide what else your skin needs, what your wallet can afford, and what company’s advertising you’re going to listen to.  I will say that Clinique at least has a trial for their 3-step program so test-drive it before you commit to buying the whole set!  Like me, you might not like it at all!

Dermalogica offers great facials and getting one with skin mapping will give you an excellent introduction to the brand and then you can pick and choose the products that you want to try out.

I hope that answered your question!


  1. Lucas
    May 31, 2009

    Thanks for the informative read! I am a guy (obviously) and i am surprised that only women face these problems lol that or other guys are too macho to dig in, but I for one need to take care of my skin… I love my moms dermalogica products, but the price is out of control… will check out clinique (oily skin, some pimples, really red under the eye, like upper cheek area)
    Just looking for a good system that wont dry out my face like proactiv, but give me even healthy looking skin tone!

  2. Anonymous
    February 14, 2010

    i’m still a bit confused between Clinique and Dermalogica. Clinique works a bit but i cant use the clarifying lotion because it burns my skin to no end. What im kinda using is the Anti-Blemish solutions- which is the step two that i think im allergic to or something. Can anyone please help? i want to try Dermalogica, because my friend says it works for her to no end.

  3. Anonymous
    March 20, 2010

    There are several factors that a well trained Clinique Consultant will take into consideration before placing you in a Clarifying lotion. If you are new to exfoliating the higher level Clarifying lotions will be too strong, because the higher the number, the more oil control. The great thing about Clinique is that it is custom fit to your needs. The Acne Solutions sounds way too strong for your skin. Before you give up on Clinique, try a different Clarifying lotion. There is even an extra mild. Good luck.

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    April 21, 2011

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