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What Is Clarifying Lotion?

Clarifying lotion.
Witch hazel is a common ingredient in clarifying lotion.
Skin toners may be referred to as a clarifying lotion.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 02 July 2014
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Clarifying lotion is another term for skin toner. People may be most familiar with the term because the cosmetics company Clinique® has used it for many years to refer to a skin toner product that is part of their three step face cleaning and care regimen. Ironically, this lotion is truly a liquid, as are many other toners, and it may have different ingredients depending on type of skin, since Clinique’s® cleaning process is designed for different skin issues and comes in several varieties. Just as clarifying lotion may be used as a synonym for toner, many people now refer to toners as clarifying lotions.

There are many types of clarifying lotion and they’re usually designed to accomplish a few things. Some are created to freshen skin and retain its moisture. Others help to provide extra cleaning of skin, usually by means of alcohol or other acidic ingredients. The latter group tends to be preferred by people with oilier skin, and who find that even exfoliation and cleaning with soap doesn’t remove all oil. These acidic/astringent toners are not generally appropriate for people with dry skin, since they will add to dry skin issues and could even contribute to other skin problems.

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A few ingredients common in an oil-removing clarifying lotion might include witch hazel, alcohol, salicylic acid or others. Some of these can be quite harsh, and paradoxically, total removal of oil and irritation of the skin with astringents may have the opposite effect, creating skin breakouts. When people notice that a toner seems to be increasing skin irritation or breakouts, they may want to consider a gentler brand, and especially one that is alcohol free.

At the opposite end of the scale are clarifying lotions that are meant to retain moisture and provide a finishing touch to a face cleansing regimen. Some of these also have acids, like citric acid, salicylic acid, or lactic acid, which may be partially exfoliative. Calming ingredients such as aloe vera, derivatives from herbs, or other things might be added. It’s important to read labels, especially for sensitive skin; it’s quite possible for toners that are marketed as gentle to be alcohol-based and have ingredients like witch hazel, which may be too rough.

Other places to look for a good clarifying lotion that has fewer ingredients include health food and natural foods stores. People may be able to find toners with aloe vera, rose water, or derivatives from citrus that work well. Other folks are just as happy buying toners or lotions at drug stores or cosmetics counters in department stores. Toners can give a finished feel to the skin prior to applying any form of makeup or moisturizer, but people shouldn’t hesitate to think through choices carefully, looking for the most complementary ingredients for their particular skin type. With very problematic skin, it’s advised that people seek advice from a dermatologist on what skin cleansers and toners might be best to use.

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Discuss this Article

anon155893
Post 3

Clinique's Clarifying lotion is actually a specific gentle exfoliation depending on your skin type. Yes it has toning qualities, but it is not a toner. Just as a square is a rectangle, but a rectangle may not necessarily be a square. Get your facts straight before you post things.

SteamLouis
Post 2

@feruze-- It's not bad! Whether you want to use it or not depends on how your skin is doing. If you don't have much blackheads or enlarged pores, you might not need clarifying lotion. Perhaps you have combination skin and not oily.

I use it every morning after my gel cleanser and before my moisturizer. I prefer an acidic formula for my clarifying lotion. Mild ones are better for those with sensitive skin. I have such oily skin that if I don't use a clarifying lotion, oil builds up in my pores and I have many blackheads and visibly enlarged pores. It doesn't look nice.

I noticed how problematic skin was when I came across a dermatologist in a pharmacy. They were doing these complimentary skin tests with a device that is held to your face and enlarges your skin on a screen.

If you are not sure about what you should use, talk to a dermatologist at a pharmacy, they are really helpful.

bear78
Post 1

I have oily skin but I have never used clarifying lotion or toners. I just clean my face and then apply skin lotion. Is this bad?

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