Review: Clinique Acne Solutions Foundation

As many of you know, I recently tried Clinique's Even Better foundation after reading rave reviews online, but was sorely disappointed when it totally made my face break out (despite the excellent coverage and smooth, moisturizing formula; you can read my review of that product here). When I went to bring the foundation back to the counter, the Clinique representative suggested that I try their Acne Solutions formula instead, since it would also help treat my skincare concerns.

The most important thing to know is that this formula contains Salicylic Acid as its active ingredient, so if you are already using other skincare treatments with this ingredient, doubling up with the Acne Solutions foundation could cause your skin to become overly dry. As it is, Clinique only recommends this formula for Skin Types 2, 3 and 4, which are their Combination-Dry, Combination-Oily and Oily types.

Here's what the Clinique Web site says about this product:
Feels so fresh, looks so natural. Non-irritating, oil-free makeup helps blend away blemishes, neutralize redness. Medicated ingredients help treat existing breakouts and keep them from coming back.

Skin Types: 2 - Dry Combination, 3 - Oily, 4 - Very Oily
Formula: Liquid
Coverage: Moderate
Benefits: Covers and treats acne

Here's what I think:
Unfortunately, the coverage in this product is not as good as that of the Even Better formulation -- it's definitely a sheer-to-moderate finish rather than a moderate-to-full finish, and I found that it doesn't actually build very well to a full coverage, even with repeated application (because of the salicylic acid in this product, I found that it dried VERY quickly, which made layering the foundation look cakey if you didn't do it immediately). Also, since I am a number 2 (Combination-Dry), I definitely found this formula to be too drying for my skin. Although for the most part, it went on smoothly, it was difficult to blend around the hairline and in the corners of my nose, and when it dried it made my skin feel too taut and uncomfortable.

The second bad thing? The first time I used this foundation, I used my Sigma stippling brush to apply it and didn't wash the foundation off until several hours later. When I did this, I noticed that it turned all of the synthetic bristles a nasty shade of neon green! The next day, I tried using my foundation brush instead, thinking that maybe the white bristles were just particularly sensitive, but it also left a green tint to that brush! In the end, it meant that I had to apply this foundation with my fingers, which with acne prone skin, isn't something I like to do because I think the oils in my hands lead to a higher frequency of breakouts. Furthermore, Clinique should issue some sort of warning that the salicylic acid (or whatever ingredient it is!) can ruin your brushes as I think this is a BIG concern, especially if you have spent a lot of money buying professional grade brushes.

The third and final bad thing? Instead of clearing up my acne, this product made it TEN TIMES WORSE! If I thought the Even Better formula didn't agree with my skin, then that was the understatement of the year! By day 2 of using this product, I started to notice an uneveness in my cheeks. By day 3, I had full-on acne on my cheeks, including pistules (those red pimples with puss sitting on the top). By day 4, I had pistules on my cheeks, nose, chin and jawline. Now, I do have acne-prone skin, but normally I ONLY break out on my chin, and almost never see pimples on my cheeks or nose. I confirmed that the foundation was causing the breakout by not using any other new products on my face while trying it, and by seeing that my skin immediately began to heal the day after switching back to my regular Lancome foundation.

I need to make sure I'm clear in stating that this product will probably not make everyone who tries it break out. Since this is the second Clinique foundation that has irritated my skin, I am starting to think that there is just some ingredient that they use in their formula that my body is allergic to. Therefore, I don't necessarily recommend that you avoid trying this product purely because I had a bad experience. Rather, I'd suggest you just take it with a grain of salt, and perhaps ask the lady at the Clinique counter to provide you with a sample that you can take home and try for a few days before you go out and buy the full size.

To Recap:

- Relatively inexpensive for high-end brands at $24.50
- Contains Salicylic Acid as an active ingredient, which is helpful in clearing up acne (for some!)
- Quick-drying formula could be good for oily skin types

- Turned my makeup brushes neon green
- Quick-drying formula made blending/layering difficult on Combination-Dry skin
- Made my skin break out worse than ever before

Clinique's Acne Solutions Foundation can be purchased on their Web site at, or through stand-alone makeup counters in your local department store.


  1. I really hate some acne products! I can understand the getting worse before it gets better part with dryness, because
    curing acne products dry you out..but why should they cause more break outs? Doesn't make any sense! Do you have an updated skin care routine? I'd love to know it!

  2. I tried this product an I am in tears because if the condition it has left my skin in. And worst of all I cannot prove how clear my skin was before using this product in order to be able to return it. I will never use this again

  3. Wow, interesting review! This is actually the only foundation that works for me (and I've tried Lancome, MAC, L'Oreal, Rimmel, Revlon, Almay, etc). I don't have a hard time blending the Acne Solutions, because my skin is so darn oily. And thankfully, it doesn't break me out! My only complaint is that it DOES wear off after 8 hours, but that's still longer than any of my other foundations last on my superduper oily skin. ;)

  4. I broke out from this too I think! I had a sample size and I just got home and looked in the mirror and found bumps on my face like the acne that has no head! :( Currently doing a facial mask as I type and finding my old Estee Lauder foundation in the cabinet! This will be returned.

  5. i am actually in my third or fourth bottle of this and this is the first liquid foundation i have used. I used powder before but i found that to be to drying for some reason.

    I should have probably have read reviews before i bought it. The problem with the blending and the caking and the coverage i've started to notice to be a problem. i might start looking at new foundations after i finish this bottle which will be forever or take the plunge on something else and get samples.

  6. This is crazy. The Clinique acne solutions foundation is one of my favorite ones. I have oily and extremely acne prone skin and when I started using the foundation, the coverage was great and I'm using is almost every day now. I haven't broken out once due to the foundation and I have been using it for a very long time. I actually highly recommend it.

  7. Acne Solutions covers your flaws very well, it's not drying and just knowing that it has sacylic acid in it makes me feel like i'm using what's best for my skin.. Didn't make me break out at all.. I combine 2 colors to better match my skin color.. Only downfall.. Makes me look like a ghost in pictures .. The color doesnt pick up on camera .. Other than that .. I love it...

  8. Thanks for the honest review. I’m glad I didn’t try this product to treat my acne.

  9. I used to use Clinque for my acne - but it didnt work that well, it was harsh on my skin and WAY too expensive! I have combination/oily skin and after meeting with multiple dermatologists, I settled on the Citrus Clears products and they are the only thing gentle enough for my super sensitive skin. The Citrus Clear Moisturizer moisturizer is absolutely fabulous!



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