Clinique vs. Dermalogica

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?

The answer is that there are good and bad products from each line.

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!

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14 Responses to Clinique vs. Dermalogica

  1. Susan C September 22, 2008 at 5:36 pm #

    I, too, use a mix of products from different companies. But one Clinique product that I love is their “all about eyes” eye cream. The feel of it is lovely and it absorbs quickly. There’s no pulling, as it has a wonderful “slip” without feeling greasy or sticky. I only buy Clinique during their Bonus Days (on now at the Bay, I think), so I get this one product I adore and I get to try several other things. Have never tried Dermalogica, but I prefer my skin stuff unscented.

  2. Barb September 23, 2008 at 9:42 am #

    I have always used a variety of products from different companies. I don’t believe that one company does it all.
    I also love products that are not always available in dept. stores.
    Skin doctors generally agree on one thing; essential oils and fragrance should be omitted from skin care as they can cause irritation and breakouts.

  3. Henna September 23, 2008 at 4:54 pm #

    Agreed – I haven’t found a company that can do it all either, but when it comes to skincare (for face) I think Neostrata and Neutrogena come pretty close (and no, I don’t believe they are part of the same parent company).

  4. sharon j October 6, 2008 at 8:47 am #

    I am a product and make up junkie and despite working in the advertising industry for many years, I still get sucked into the shiny marketing messages. Tired of buying products that didn’t do what they claimed and ending up with drawers full of ‘stuff’ I started everything before I put it on my face. I use Pauala Begoun Beautypedia as my source – according to her Dermalogica has a lot less going for it overall than Clinique. Based on her analysis, I do pick key products from Clinique and would not bother with any Dermalogica.

  5. Suzanne Gagne November 9, 2008 at 2:24 am #

    I adore Clinique 3-Step, and use the rinse off foaming cleanser to remove my make-up first. If I am lazy I just use that as my cleanser but when I follow with the Clinique soap my skin is super clean without being dry. I too love the Continuous Rescue Antioxidant Moisturizer as well as Superdefense; it’s a daytime moisturizer with SPF 25. My favourite Clinique Product is Turnaround Concentrate – it’s a cell renewing serum that makes my skin super radiant.

  6. kathy January 26, 2009 at 8:25 pm #

    What product line would be comparable to Dermalogica?

  7. Richie Mogwai May 29, 2009 at 4:09 pm #

    Sorry, but Clinique’s facial cleansers tend to dry my skin. But the Neutrogena skin toners work for me. They do as they say, they make the pores on my facial skin look smaller. Besides, Neutrogena products are so much less expensive than Clinique’s or Dermalogica.

  8. nadia July 15, 2009 at 3:11 pm #

    Sorry Richie Mogwai, but at Clinique, it is essential that you are skin typed to get custom fit products for your face. There is no way you would have gotten the right products and still made you dry. The facial cleanser is suppost to remove bacteria and dirt as well as “make” your skin comfortable and not dry. The clarifying lotion is used to sweep away dead skin cells left. And finally you use the dramatically different lotion to balance and moisturize your skin. If you use these three steps, with the correct products (through a clinique consultant), you will acheive great skin. And I am pretty sure you pay for what you get 🙂

  9. Henna July 15, 2009 at 6:02 pm #

    Nadia, I’m guessing you used to or still do work at Clinique.

  10. marina August 23, 2009 at 9:24 pm #

    hey i’v used the full three step + superdefense moisturiser from clinique as well as a full range of products – precleanse, special cleansing gel, multivitamin thermofoliant, hydrating booster, active moist + antiosidant hydramist all from dermalogica. As might haves guessed i definetly prefer Dermalogica over Clinique which left my skin really dry, my acne sore and even though its alot
    cheaper than dermalogica thats one brand i wouldnt go back to. Paula Begoun herself says the three step is pretty bad as well. the only product i would use from clinique now are their make up range and all about the eyes moisturiser!!

  11. Catherine October 27, 2015 at 5:16 pm #

    I’ve been using the Clinique 3 step skincare for near two weeks now. I’ve oily/combination skin, which obviously leads to breakouts that seem to last forever and dreaded blackheads! I do love the 3 step skincare routine as it leaves my skin super soft, but after a few hours my skin feels greasy again! Would the Dermalogica be a better option for me? I don’t want to be paste more money on products that don’t do anything.

  12. Henna October 30, 2015 at 11:22 am #

    Catherine, the truth is that your skin is going to get greasy no matter what because it seems like you have oily skin. Even if you use something very drying, the odds are that your skin will rebel by producing more oil to get rid of that dryness. If the oiliness really bothers you, then use powder or an oil-absorbing lotion to give your skin that velvet look and feel. I find that using a product with Salicylic acid in it also helps prevent skin from getting too greasy. I just wrote about a great Neostrata toner that would do the trick!

    Would Dermalogica be better? It won’t fix the problem you’re encountering.

  13. CP January 12, 2017 at 3:33 pm #

    I also have oily skin and have frequent breakouts.I have been using medibac range from dermologica. It is the only product I have found that stops my skin becoming greasy throughout the day.
    I would steer clear of any of their other ranges though as they are quite rich and make the greasiness worse!
    I’ve been given the Clinique range as a gift shop I’m trialling that just now, so far it seems a bit harsh on my skin and I have grease back!

  14. Henna January 23, 2017 at 10:26 pm #

    Thanks for your comment, CP! It could be that the harshness of the Clinique line is causing your skin to be more oily to compensate.

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