Clinique Smart Custom-Repair Serum

Clinique is saying that its new Smart Custom-Repair Serum ($59.50) is intelligent and all-knowing: “Our smart serum understands the particular needs of your skin, providing custom repair for the damage you see and the damage you don’t.” Well, that sounds like run-of-the-mill marketing claims, but what intrigued me was the how. According to Clinique, “damage sends signals that prompt new Clinique Smart into action.”

Hmmm. That implies there are ingredients with some kind of receptors. Let’s take a look and see if Clinique Smart can pass an ingredients IQ test with a lineup that really will deal with “uneven skin tone, lines and wrinkles, or firming.”

Of course, department store brand formulators have to pack their products with synthetic emollients and silicones, but once you get past those, there are some natural extracts (plus vitamin C) that have been chosen for their skin brightening properties. There’s grapefruit peel and mulberry (a source of the skin whitener, arbutin).

Clinique Smart has a clutch of ingredients that are uncannily similar to those in Estee Lauder’s Cyberwhite HD Advanced Spot Correcting Essence ($110) — unsurprising since they are owned by the same company. They are decent enough — extracts from barley and rice bran, skullcap with flavonoids including baicalin, an anti-inflammatory and analgesic, and whey protein.

Two peptides help live up to Clinique Smart’s line-busting promises: Acetyl hexapeptide-8, which helps to reduce the formation of expression lines, and palmitoyl oligopeptide, one of the peptides that goes into Matrixyl 3000 (although without the other peptide with which is supposed to work synergistically, one must assume it will be less effective than if Clinique Smart had sprung for Matrixyl 3000). In any case, this is just about the only ingredient that could be described as cell-communicating with receptor sites.

Although the formula degenerates to bulking agents such as synthetic fluorogopite and film formers such as glyceryl polymethacrylate, these are mostly benign. And the ratio of actives to fillers is in the customer’s favor. Overall, Clinique Smart has some decent ingredients, it’s just that you can find them in other products. While you wouldn’t be a dummy for buying Clinique Smart, do be aware that there’s really nothing that lives up to its claims of selective action and that there are more intelligent anti-aging products out there.

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Marta Wohrle is an anti-aging skin care and beauty expert and the founder/CEO of Truth In Aging. Marta is dedicated to uncovering the truth behind anti-aging product claims.