Clinique recently launched its new open-pore controlling product, Pore Refining Solutions Correcting Serum ($39.50) promising that “pores will seem smaller, as if they had 'snapped back' into shape”. Looking at the ingredients list it wasn’t obvious to me how this would be achieved and then I stumbled across some research that made me realize that the words “will seem smaller” had to be taken literally. With Pore Refining Solutions Correcting Serum, enlarged pores might not actually shrink, but they may look as if they have. So how does Clinique create this optical illusion?

According to a website called Cosmetoscope, which analyzes the formulas of big name beauty products, Clinique is using silicone crosspolymers and silicon based surfactants. They are borrowing these from Estee Lauder’s Idealist and Perfectionist serums. The point is that they create a stable emulsion with velvety touch and optical properties, that detract the eye from such things as shiny skin and visible pores.

Clinique’s Pore Refining Solutions Correcting Serum isn’t all smoke and mirrors though. One of the most convincing ingredients is the botanical extract Salvia Sclaria (clary) It is most often found in shampoos as it can reduce excess oil or dandruff on the scalp. However, it also helps excessively oily complexions. This is most likely due to the mucilage formed from salvia sclarea seeds, which bond to small particles, allowing them to be whisked away. Interestingly, Estée Lauder owns a patent that describes something called sclareol, a component of clary sage. The patent claims that Clary sage extract is believed to contain about 70 percent sclareol and that it is an effective desquamation agent for treating acne.

Another helpful ingredient is nordihydroguaiaretic acid. This is the desert dwelling creosote bush and studies show that it corrects the abnormal shedding of skin cells (hyperkeratinization) that cause skin pores to clog.

I get the feeling that Clinique has added this to its burgeoning line of Pore Refining products, on the grounds that it has some antioxidant and anti-inflammatory ingredients. There is nothing here that is really a standout though. Rosemary is an antioxidant and is also an astringent and so may be helpful for oil control and its anti-bacterial properties could prevent breakouts. Sea whip is an anti-inflammatory, but I was amused to see that it is a marine creature that lives on reefs and has “tiny pores” (source). Perhaps it is here in order to set a good example.

If anyone has tried Clinique’s Pore Refining Solutions Correcting Serum yet, I’d love to hear from you. And if anyone wants to try it, I have a bottle for someone who is willing to give it a thorough test drive and review it for us. If that’s you, leave a comment below.


Dimethicone, water, polysilicone-11, alcohol denat, acetyl glucosamine, peg-10 dimethicone, butylene glycol, rosemary leaf extract, saw palmetto fruit extract, St paul’s wort extract, clary extract, sea whip extract, laminaria saccharina, caffeine, pantethine, hydrolyzed soy, peg-11 methyl ether dimethicone, algae extract, polysorbate-20 salicylic acid, tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, tocopheryl acetate, caprylyl glycol, sodium hyaluronate, glycerin, lecithin, isohexadecane, DI-C12-18 Alkyl Dimonium Chloride, polysorbate 80, hydrogenated lecithin, polymethyl methacrylate, coconut acid, padina pavonica thallus, nordihydroguaiaretic acid, ammonium acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP copolymer, acrylyamide/sodium acryloyldimethyltaurate copolymer, silica, citric acid, hexylene glycol, ascorbyl tocopherol maleate, sodium hydroxide, disodium edta, phenoxyethanol, titanium dioxide, iron oxides, mica.