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Clinique Smart Custom-Repair Serum

A Sharp Look at Clinique Smart Custom-Repair Serum

Reviewed by Marta August 11, 2014 4 Comments

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.

See all our FIVE BEST recommendations including Five Best for sagging skinFive Best with vitamin C and Five Best eye creams and Five Best collagen boosters


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.

  • May 26, 2016

    by Christie

    I love Clinique's Smart Serum and use it immediately after washing my face with Andalou Soothing Apricot Facial cleanser, rinsing it off with fairly warm water and then, using a washcloth that is fairly clean(I use them 2 times). I hang them up to dry for a day at a time. I also use Andalou's Anti-aging Goji peptide cream after Smart Serum(Clinique). Then I use Strivectin neck cream ($15.00 at Macy's) for a small pot of it. It lasts a long time and I also put some on my expression lines, ie on my chin, neck and decollage' and I barely use any on the upper part of my back etc.
    Next I use Andalou's Night Time cream on my expression lines, morning and before I go to bed. Also, I really rave about ECO's $20.00 or less SPF 30 natural cream. I put it on in the morning and sometimes at night a little if I think that I'm going to the gym to work-out the next morning, which I usually do every other day to make sure that I keep in shape and toned with slight muscle tone(I think that a little muscle tone is suitable for me at age 58). The gym also helps in keeping my weight down, so that I can eat a lot at night(which I would'nt recommend for anyone, including myself). Now I need to search for fair skinned warm makeup - Natural if possible and I'm possibly going to have my eyelashes( if I can ever afford it). Or tint them myself, now that my tremors have gone away by using Primidone neurological medication which I need to go to my neurologist's to find out how much I should take(mgs.). Right now I'm taking 125 self-prescribed mgs. until I can schedule an appointment with her. I think maybe I need just a tiny bit more, because it doesn't kick in until the late morning. I need it to work from morning until bedtime. Anyway, I hope that this comment helps some people who are small-boned, thin,very blond naturally(I am) golden blond toned( I got lucky). I inherited light blond hair which is still totally, except for some muti-colored hairs and it's not gray at all that I notice. I inherited that from my Grandmother on my Dad's side. That's all I have to say for today.

  • September 26, 2014

    by Marta

    Hi Jessica
    I've now posted a few links in the article to anti-aging serums that have been tested and work. For instance, you could check these out: https://www.truthinaging.com/review/five-best-collagen-boosters-2014/
    Hi Liliana
    No. There just wasn't enough to persuade me to buy it. In general, how my skin feels isn't much of a factor for me. I am more concerned with whether I see a change in texture, fewer wrinkles after a month or so of use.

  • September 25, 2014

    by Jessica

    Which anti aging product do you recommend? Excellent review, by the way.

  • September 21, 2014

    by Liliana

    Have you given the Smart Serum a try? Did you use it as recommended?

    What did you think of it and how does your skin feel afterwards?

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