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Clinique Clarifying Lotion 2 vs 3 (The Definitive Guide)

When it comes to skincare, you've definitely heard of Clinique. Their Clarifying Lotions in particular are routine staples.

But how do we choose between the Clinique Clarifying Lotion 2 and 3? Let's delve into a side-by-side comparison to help you decide.

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Clinique Clarifying Lotion 2 vs 3

Purpose and Skin Type

Both lotions serve as "gentle" (we'll come back to this later, don't worry), dermatologist-developed liquid exfoliators that sweep away dulling flakes and excess oil, prepping the skin for smoother, brighter skin and better moisturizer absorption. The primary difference lies in the targeted skin types.

The Clarifying Lotion 2 is designed for Dry Combination Skin (Type 2), aiming to balance the drier and oilier parts of the face. If your skin is generally dry but you deal with an oily T-zone, this could be your pick.

On the other hand, the Clarifying Lotion 3 caters to Combination Oily Skin (Type 3). It's developed to manage the oiliness that can lead to breakouts while ensuring the skin remains hydrated.


Both lotions share several key ingredients including Water, Denatured Alcohol, Glycerin, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel), Trehalose, and Hyaluronic Acid. However, there are some differences which contribute to their unique properties.

Clarifying Lotion 2 includes Acetyl Glucosamine and Sodium Bicarbonate, ingredients that can help with skin hydration and balance pH level respectively.

Clarifying Lotion 3, conversely, includes Salicylic Acid, a potent ingredient for combating oiliness and breakouts, and Citric Acid, which aids in skin exfoliation and brightening.

User Experiences

Despite their best-selling status, reviews for both products are very mixed (especially *off* their official site). Some users for both lotions note a high alcohol content that can be too harsh and drying for the skin, causing breakouts or irritation in some cases. A common sentiment across reviews is the strong alcohol-like smell, which some people find off-putting.

However, many users also report positive experiences (especially *on* their official site). For instance, some users of Clarifying Lotion 2 appreciate its effectiveness in controlling oil and improving skin texture, noting that it keeps their skin clear and helps with the absorption of other skincare products​​.

Similarly, users of Clarifying Lotion 3 have praised its ability to keep their skin oil-free and minimize the appearance of pores. Some users also mention that it helps with acne and evens out their skin tone​.

Despite these positive experiences, it's important to note that some users found that the product's effectiveness seemed to decrease with continued use. This may be due to the skin adapting to the product or becoming over-exfoliated, which can cause the skin to produce more oil to compensate.

Having personally tried Clarifying Lotion 2 (I have combination, dry skin), my skin felt nice and smooth upon first application, but I'm not entirely convinced that my skin would've been happy with me if I used it twice a day like Clinique suggests you should. I could already feel my skin feeling taut after the second use. It seems to be very much one of those YMMV (your mileage may vary) types of products.

In summary, the main differences between Clarifying Lotions 2 and 3 are their target skin types and some specific ingredients. Both have their share of fans and critics, and what works for you will largely depend on your individual skin type and sensitivity. If you have combination skin that leans more towards dry, Clarifying Lotion 2 may be a better fit. Conversely, if you have combination skin that's more on the oily side, you might want to consider Clarifying Lotion 3.

However, given the high alcohol content noted in many user reviews, it would be wise to patch test these products before applying them to the entire face, especially if you have sensitive skin. And as always, it's a good idea to consult with a dermatologist or skincare professional when introducing new products to your skincare routine (and maybe skip Clinique's little popup chatbox; that's only there to try sell you on it).

Clarifying Lotion 2 by Clinique, A clarifying lotion for Dry Combination Skin (Type 2)

Clarifying Lotion 2 by Clinique

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Our rating: ★★★★★

Price: $$$$

A clarifying lotion for Dry Combination Skin (Type 2).

What makes it special? Gentle dermatologist-developed liquid exfoliator sweeps away dulling flakes, excess oil, clearing the way for smoother, brighter skin. Preps skin for moisturizer.

Which skin types? Combination Dry skin.

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Clarifying Lotion 3 by Clinique, liquid exfoliating lotion clears the way for smoother, brighter skin.

Clarifying Lotion 3 by Clinique

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Our rating: ★★★★★

Price: $$$$

Liquid exfoliating lotion clears the way for smoother, brighter skin.

What makes it special? Gentle, refreshing formula is the difference-maker for healthy skin. Sweeps away pollution, grime, dulling flakes to reveal smoother, clearer skin. Preps skin for moisturiser—exfoliated skin is more receptive to hydration and treatment products.

Which skin types? Combination Oily skin.

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