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Clinique Youth Surge and what's in the secret sauce

March 11, 2009 Reviewed by Marta 12 Comments
Why would anyone think that inducing fear and self-loathing is a good way of trying to sell something.  The people at Clinique apparently do. Go to the website for their new anti-aging product, Clinique Youth Surge, and take the Look Younger Quizz. This is what I did. Only to be told that I have a skin age of 56. Before I went off to slit my wrists, I noted that use of Youth Surge would win me back eight years, making me 48. I am actually 49. So first Clinique insults me and then it gives me one measly year!

The other thing that ticks me off about Clinique is that they are never very informative. You will never find a comprehensive list of ingredients on their website. Even Sephora, whose website is getting better and better  at providing product details, can't seem to get Clinique to open its kimono. I don't understand why anyone would buy a product without knowing what's in it.

What I can tell you is that Clinique's sercret sauce is not - despite the cute little guy in the picture - turtle soup. It is sirtuins. This is the new killer app from Estee Lauder and it is the centerpiece of the new Time Zone range. As Clinique is owned by Estee Lauder, it isn't surprising that they are sharing secrets from the lab. They probably got a discount on a bulk buy of sirtuins.

Sirtuins are, in fact, pretty interesting. Although its all a bit vague. They are so new that little is known about them. What we do know is that they came out of research into why it is that mice put on a subsistence diet tend to live longer than normal. Researchers have now found that calorific restriction triggers a biochemical pathway that involves enzymes called sirtuins. The main role of sirtuins is to regulate the activity of the genes responsible for metabolism, cell defense and reproduction. When food is scarce, the body’s sirtuins go into self-preservation mode.

A sirtuin activator has been found in the form of resveratol found in grapes and already known to be an effective antioxidant. No one seems to know if a topically applied sirtuins activator really works. But it would brilliant if it did since I would rather die young and wrinkled than go on a subsistence diet.


The only empirical evidence (outside of any trials conducted by Estee Lauder) I have is a reader review of a REN product with sirtuins. Our reviewer wrote: "So, after my 30+ days of faithful usage,  is my skin firmer, brighter, and in better condition? Regretably, the answer is……. no. And no. And no."

Perhaps Clinique will have better results. If I knew what else was in it, I might buy it and find out. But then, I am still sulking from being aged seven years.

Related posts

More on what sirtuins is and Estee Lauder's Time Zone

Reader reviewed and rejected: REN Sirtuin Creme
  • June 20, 2011

    by Kinny

    I had the same reaction as the others experienced. Lately I was finally tested by a allergist and found out I was very much allergic to Propylene Glycol, which is used in creams, lotions and other personal hygiene prodcuts. I noticed YS cream has the glycol as well. So I stop using the cream. Hope no more contact allergy.

  • April 16, 2011

    by Jenny B

    I have also had a horrible allergic reaction to Y S cream. I started using it about a year ago and after a couple of weeks I got sore skin. At the time it thought it was a dental product I was using as I had soreness around my mouth as well as my eyelids, but I now know it was the youth surge. 3 days ago I ran out of my dramatically different and though i would give Y S another go. This morning I have woken up with severely swollen eyelids and a very sore mouth. Clinique must take this off the market !!!!

  • February 7, 2011

    by Sue

    Wow...just reading all this and am thankful I have figured it out fairly quickly. I started using it in June 2010, bought a new jar in November and first week of Decemeber started getting red patches on my face which progressed into severe swelling, to the point where my eyes were barely open in the morning. Bright red skin, itchy, painful face. I have been using a cheap hypo-allergenic cream recommended by a pharmacist ever since without issue, but applied the Youth Surge two days ago and am back to a swollen itchy face. Its scary how fast I am reacting this time. I have used Clinque on and off for years without any problems, but will stay away from this one!

  • November 29, 2010

    by Barb

    OMG the same thin happened to me and it took almost a year to figure out. It was one of the worst years in my life. My face would get a red rash on it and it would get worse and worse until it was swollen and bright red all over my neck and face. People did not recognise me. My skin would then dry and flake and crack. It hurt to touch or put an expression on my face. We took so long to figure it out because the reaction caused food sensitivities. So what ever I ate would cause my skin to get worse so that I ended up living on anihistimines. It got so bad they put me on prednisone to get it under control. All along I thought I had developed all these food allergies. I put out so much money on Natural path Doctors and vitamins because the Doctors did not know what it was and it took 10 months to get into see an Allergist.

  • November 24, 2010

    by Maria

    I've had a similar reaction to the mentioned cream and was recommended not to try and combat my flaking skin with any type of "super-moisturizer" as this will only aggravate the skin but instead try a cream for sensitive skin. I bought Clarins Gentle Day cream and it worked: in 3 days my skin was more or less back to normal again – soft, moisturized and with an even skin tone.

  • November 22, 2010

    by Dana

    Me toooooooooooooooo, going nuts with those red itchy scaly leasions on my face. The problem is that it doesn't go away even when I stop using the cream. I haven't used it for over a week now and it's still there and getting worse. I have an appointment with the dermatologist in 3 weeks, meanwhile, I don't know what to use, what have you ladies been using?

  • September 27, 2010

    by Andrea

    I have also had a reaction to the Youth Surge moisturizer. I finally narrowed it down this weekend. I had a reaction this past spring when I started using it when the day time turnaround creme was eliminated. I went to the dermatologist who was more interested in selling me products than helping me identify what I was allergic to so I stayed away from all Clinique products until recently. I started re-introducing the basic moisturizer without problem but just last weekend started the Youth Surge again. Sure enough I got red welts near my eyes and around my mouth. It looks like my skin is burned and it is itchy. It is unusual for me to have a reaction to any makeup so this is very surprising and I have been using Clinique products for 30yrs. i would like more info on the ingredients but I have not gotten anyone at the Clinique makeup counters who know anything useful.

  • January 8, 2010

    by Mary Ann

    @ Melanie. I've had exactly the same reaction! When I first tried the YS sample, I LOVED the stuff and bought the full size. It took a while, but after ~ a month (maybe less) the redness, scaly-dryness, and crazy-making itch started.

    I've never had a reaction to Clinique (or any other skin product, for that matter) before.

  • November 3, 2009

    by Melanie

    I am now dealing with an incredible bad reaction to what i've traced tot eh youth Surge spf 15 cream (I used the oil-free formula, because I won't use the iffy oils Clinique uses) Actually I generally use oil-free products. My skin is quite sensitive so I am very very careful about what I put on my skin. I've used this cream about 2 months and about 3 weeks ago started to feel low key itch. It blossomed to bright red and scaly mainly on neck, but areas of face too, and saw my regular doc who prescribed desonide cream, but I see my dermatologist next week. Through several days of eliminating, then reintroducing face products I use, I pretty much zeroed in on the youth surge cream. I used to use dramatically different GEL until the youth surge, so went back to the gel for 2 days with no adverse reaction. Tehn used the youth surge again today and almost immediately an itchy feeling. I wore it all day at work, and couldn't wit to come home to wash my face. My face was pretty scaly and red and hot feeling, so used desonide cream again. I hope this info can be helpful, and also perhaps a warning. I have had other allergic reactions to clinique products, mostly the lip glosses with petroleum or whatever else causes red, scaly burning lips.

  • July 8, 2009

    by kora

    all the ingredients are labeled on the product if u go to a counter. Also if you actualy go to a counter the clinique consultants are trained on all the products and can answer your questions. Most consumers dont want the technical stuff but it is there is u want it.

  • March 11, 2009

    by Jess

    Apparently even though everyone thinks I'm 21, I eat raw vegan, never smoked, stay out of the sun, do yoga 5x week, and have no wrinkles, I look 36.

    That quiz is BS. I'm 29.

  • March 11, 2009

    by Darrell

    *quietly hums the chorus to Happy Birthday, seven times*

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