If you buy something from the affiliate links, marked with an '*', I may earn a small commission. This does not bias product recommendations.
With another short and snappy name and another addition to the Smart Serum line comes something new from Clinique laboratories: Clinique Smart Clinical Repair Wrinkle Correcting Serum. This purple powerhouse packs in three wrinkle targeting technologies to hydrate, resurface and stimulate collagen. But am I in love and does it even work? Both myself and my partner have been using this for a couple of weeks now and are starting to see some initial differences.
If you’re wanting to know more about how skin ageing or photo-ageing works, I’ve written a very easy to digest, top-level guide; Skin Explained: Ageing & Photo-Ageing.
As full disclosure, 10 years ago whilst at University I worked for Clinique. I haven’t now for over a decade and for any fears around potential bias, I think Clinique have some fantastic, skin-transforming products… but also some formulations I wouldn’t touch with a bargepole.
Clinique Smart Clinical Repair: Ingredients
The formulation team obviously asked the powers that be “what ingredients would you like in this serum?” to which the answer was “yes”. There’s everything but the kitchen sink in here in good old Clinique form. There’s some stuff I like; some stuff I don’t like and some stuff I’m indifferent over as with most Clinique products:
Clinique Smart Clinical Repair Wrinkle Correcting Serum Ingredients List:
Water\Aqua\Eau, Dimethicone, Isododecane, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Polysilicone-11, Ascorbyl Glucoside, Sodium Hyaluronate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Squalane, Hypnea Musciformis (Algae) Extract, Gelidiella Acerosa Extract, Sigesbeckia Orientalis (St. Paul’s Wort) Extract, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Extract, Hordeum Vulgare (Barley) Extract\Extrait D’Orge, Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Extract, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Caffeine, Acetyl Hexapeptide-8, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7, Palmitoyl Hexapeptide-12, Peg-10 Dimethicone, Glycyrrhetinic Acid, Whey Protein\Lactis Protein\Proteine Du Petit-Lait, Isohexadecane, Propylene Glycol Dicaprate, Caprylyl Glycol, Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate, Acetyl Glucosamine, Cholesterol, Peg-8, Yeast Extract\Faex\Extrait De Levure, Peg-6, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Glyceryl Polymethacrylate, Polysorbate 20, Sodium Phosphate, Synthetic Fluorphlogopite, Polysorbate 80, Carbomer, Hexylene Glycol, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/Vp Copolymer, Acrylamide/Sodium Acryloyldimethyltaurate Copolymer, Potassium Hydroxide, Tin Oxide, Disodium Phosphate, Citric Acid, Disodium Edta, Sodium Citrate, Phenoxyethanol, Potassium Sorbate, Titanium Dioxide (Ci 77891) <ILN49151>
Clinique Smart Clinical Repair: Ingredients Overview
I’ll do my best to break this down, but what I find with Clinique products (not being a cosmetic scientist) is that on the surface, there can be an abundance of ingredients that alone I’d rather not see there, but when researched, the things they’re blended together with make them effective and ‘good’ as compounds. Clinique Smart Clinical Repair Wrinkle Correcting Serum is absolutely no exception. Their formulas are so complex that it’s often misguided to scream blue murder about the inclusion of one ingredient when it may be totally transformed by another.
Clinique skincare has always been one of the hardest products to break down ingredients-wise and there’s an awful lot of patented elements to their formulations that make it difficult to investigate.
The base of Smart Clinical Repair is pretty basic and very true to type on Clinique serum textures and I enjoy them. They have this gorgeous silky and cushiony feel that’s verging on a little too rich but then disappears in an instant.
There’s water; dimethicone for delivery and smoothness; isododecane for smoothness and moisture retention that does have some sensitivity ‘question marks’ around it (but what beyond water doesn’t to be fair); butylene gylcol – a fairly standard moisturiser – and glycerin to boot.
There’s some really interesting additions here including Acetyl Hexapeptide-8 (agireline) which is a substrate of Botox. In high enough concentrations and well formulated, which this could very well be, it can act as a very mild neurotransmitter-inhibiting peptide, reducing wrinkles; but this does not replace Botox or is anywhere near as effective.
There’s also a high concentration of brightening vitamin C in the form of Ascorbyl Glucoside.
There’s then a bunch of natural extracts in here including calming algae; St. Paul’s Wort that has no known proven benefit whatsoever; sunflower; barley; wheat and cucumber.
Most of these ingredients are fairly calming and moisturising as well as decent antioxidants which are very important as stabilising those nasty free-radicals in the skin.
Finally there’s a little Titanium Dioxide and Tin Oxide that add what Lush Ltd refer to as ‘lustre’ – basically glitter that’s not glitter. In the formulation, on the skin, it adds this very welcomed radiant sheen that looks exceptionally natural and brightening.
How does Clinique Smart Clinical work? The Three Feature Ingredients
Clinique highlight this serum is powered by three key ingredients, including their patented CL1870 Peptide Complex; a potent retinoid (that isn’t proprietary) and hyaluronic acid. Let’s break them down:
CL1870 Peptide Complex
Clinique describe this as “an expert blend of peptides and optimizing ingredients, designed to help support the skin’s youthful appearance“. This blend includes:
- Palmitoyl tripeptide-1 (a repairing fatty acid)
- Acetyl hexapeptide-8 (the botox substrate mentioned above)
- Palmitoyl tetrapeptide-7 (reduces inflammation)
- Caffeine and algae extract (really reduce inflammation)
Overall it’s difficult to say how well this works as it’s been created and tested by Clinique, but back in my Clinique days over a decade ago, I did see their products do some quite fantastic things for people.- I do generally and genuinely believe their testing and efficacy.
Potent Retinoid: Granactive Retinoid
A very potent retinoid that is not developed by Clinique, but by Grant Industries Inc. Its chemical blend is two parts: Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate and Dimethyl Isosorbide. You may have heard of this retinoid before when I tell you it’s tradename is Granactive Retinoid; the very retinoid you can buy on its own courtesy of The Ordinary.
Granactive Retinoids and retinoids in general are covered here in my comprehensive guide to retinoids.
Granactive Retinoid is well documented/scientifically backed up and fairly potent so don’t mess around with it. By that I mean keep it clear of your immediate eye area and make sure you’re using daily broad-spectrum SPF of at least SPF15 as it will increase your skin’s sensitivity to sun and you don’t then want to be fighting off dark pigmentation marks.
What doesn’t contain Hyaluronic Acid these days? I remember when this used to be a high-end, exotic ingredient? HA is a fab moisturising agent that forcibly bonds moisture to surface skin cells. Well proven and highly recommended.
Clinique Smart Clinical Repair: How do you use this wrinkle serum?
Use the Clinique Smart Clinical Repair serum twice per day. It needs 1-2 pumps (for me I prefer two) and it sits underneath your moisturiser. If you use the Clinique 3-Step, then this goes over your DDML+ or DDMG and underneath your treatment moisturiser.
Pump it into your hand and then apply over your face being particularly careful to avoid your immediate eye area. If you’ve read through the ingredients, it’s pretty potent is this serum so treat it with a little bit more caution than you might otherwise would.
I find it sinks in within about 30-60 seconds and is ready to put your moisturiser over.
Must do: if you are using this product, make sure you use at least an SPF30 broad spectrum sun screen every single day; even in dull weather. The ingredients in Clinique Smart Clinical Repair Wrinkle Correcting Serum, whilst restorative and smoothing, do increase your skin’s sun sensitivity and you don’t also want to be fighting off dark pigmentation marks as well.
Is Smart Clinical Repair Wrinkle Serum replacing the Repairwear Laser Focus Serum?
It would seem that way as RWLF is now out of stock on the Clinique website at the time of writing so the Smart Clinical Repair Wrinkle Correcting Serum may be it’s replacement – I’d certainly recommend it as such. It may stay however as Clinique are usually pretty good when it comes to prolonging the life of their old formulations to placate their customer base. I remember almost being beaten to death in my uni-days when Dewy Smooth foundation was finally kicked off counter – Clinique fans can be militant but I’d put that down to the great distribution, very specific concern-targeting and mostly effective formulations
The bigger question is: would I recommend the Clinique Smart Clinical Repair Wrinkle Correcting Serum over Repairwear Laser Focus? The answer is unequivocally ‘yes’. RWLF was formulated over a decade ago when retinoids and other such ingredients weren’t really knocking around in the skincare market – Granactive 1518 (Granactive Retinoid) didn’t even exist then!
Also you may not know but the Repairwear Laser Focus serum used to be called the Repairwear Laser Focus Wrinkle Correcting Serum until they changed it to Repairwear Laser Focus Smooths, Restores, Corrects, a garbage name but I seem to remember it being due to legal issues. So whilst it might not be replacing it, I’d argue that RWLF is pretty old-school now and that you’re more likely to see real benefits from the Smart Clinical Repair Serum.
Does Clinique Smart Clinical Repair work?
My partner and I have been using this for almost two weeks now and have been enjoying it. Obviously we are yet to see any wrinkle improvement as both in our early-mid thirties, those forehead wrinkles are starting to show (to my mother’s dismay, the Botox needle beckons I feel). But the hydration and ‘plumpness’ has been nice to witness.
I have an on-off love affair with retinoids and haven’t used one for some months. I’m therefore being treated with a small breakout which is exceptionally common and is to be expected as skin function changes and things speed up somewhat.
I have been using this under Dermalogica Active Moist which is a great moisturiser for combination skin that loves a huge dose of comforting, oil-free moisture. I had been using Malin + Goetz Vitamin E Moisturiser more recently as in Winter my skin needs a bit more hydration and protection, but with the Clinique Smart Clinical Repair Serum, I’ve reverted back to the Dermalogica as it does give a nice shot of lightweight hydration that when combined with Active Moist, seems to be more than enough.
What I like:
- One serum to rule them all (no layering needed)
- Feels lovely on the skin, great texture
- Hydrating lessening the need for richer moisturisers on combi-skin
- No fragrance whatsoever
- Purple reflective particles make skin luminous
What I don’t like
- Potential economising shortcuts in formulation
- Heavy 50ml glass bottle is a chipped-sink waiting to happen
Clinique Smart Clinical Repair Wrinkle Correcting Serum is available from £55 in 30ml, 50ml and 100ml sizes and is available anywhere you can buy Clinique including John Lewis, Boots and Look Fantastic.
Subscribe to my free monthly newsletter and get my skincare and beauty insights straight to your inbox.