Like any privileged teenager in the early 2000s, I began my skin care regime with Clinique. Having my skin assessed at my mall’s Clinique counter felt like entry into a secret society. After initiation, I’d go on to spend years toting my telltale plastic bottles around, until one day, when I decided that I needed…more.
Clinique’s iconic Dramatically Different Moisture Lotion ($28; clinique.com) is excellent at keeping skin supple, soft and hydrated. Peruse the almost-perfect reviews or slather it on, and you’ll hold this truth to be self-evident. But beyond consistently delivering moisture without irritation, its benefits won’t make you commit to an exclusive relationship. In a crowded market where we expect our skin care products to cook us dinner, seduce us and then do the dishes, the reliable staple gets lost in the rotation. “It’s hard to find the right moisturizer,” says Janet Pardo, Clinique’s SVP of Global Product Development. “On average, it takes shoppers 1-2 years, trying about five different products.” In other words, millennials approach discovering the ever-elusive miracle moisturizer like they do finding the perfect mate: with experimentation and expectations.
Thus, the new Clinique iD moisturizers are betting on offering a bevy of solutions. The iD system allows shoppers to choose from three different moisturizing bases (Dramatically Different Lotion, Oil-Control Gel, or Hydrating Jelly) and five active concentrates that tackle concerns (Irritation, Pores & Texture, Uneven Skin Tone, Fatigue and Lines and Wrinkles) to create tailored hydration.
When I heard about the five choices for active concentrates, my first thought was, “I need all of those.” I settled on the cocktail addressing Uneven Skin Tone, because my melasma and acne scars bother me the most. For nostalgia’s sake, I opted for the Dramatically Different Lotion as my base, since I loved it long before before I had melasma or acne scars. Those with oily skin types may prefer the Oil-Control Gel, while people who desire dedicated protection from pollutants should try the Hydrating Jelly.
Whether you shop online or in store, Clinique doesn’t burden customers with the guesswork of choosing their formulation. Either a Clinique consultant will evaluate your skin at the counter, or a very smart diagnostic app (live in early 2019) will. Both rely on your skin’s current condition and a dermatologist-developed set of questions. Afterwards, you’ll receive a personalized prescription. Your choice of concentrate clicks into the central chamber of your moisturizer, and together they dispense a specific ratio of separated ingredients, every single time. “You’re getting a precise dose of actives with each pump for maximum performance – 90 percent your moisturizer, and 10 percent your active concentrate,” says Pardo.
I’ve been using my iD moisturizer nightly for three weeks now, and I remember why I went steady with Clinique for all those years. On evenings when I can’t bother with my full skin care routine, it’s refreshingly easy to reach for one product. I wake up in the morning sans dry patches or flakes, and I rest easier knowing that my dark spots are also being treated, although it will take time to see the convincing results Clinique found in their clinical studies.
Each of the 15 possible combinations of Clinique iD costs $39, or one babysitting job in 2004. Skin care that works for my (adult, imperfect) complexion now, at a price teenage me could afford? Well worth a trip down memory lane.