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This Iconic Moisturizer Just Got a Major Upgrade—And It’s a Game Changer

Everyone remembers their first Clinique experience. Mine was at my grandmother’s beach house in South Jersey, where she had a bottle of Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion—the cornerstone of the brand’s iconic three-step cleansing, exfoliating, and moisturizing system—in the guest bathroom. Save for my occasional dalliances with the nostalgic glass bottle and sage green packaging, its contents never seemed to dwindle. Years later, I’d realize that Bubbles, as my sister and I called our father’s mother, kept the butter yellow elixir in the medicine cabinet not so much as a skin-care aid but as a beauty status symbol with a decades-old pedigree.

Since its launch in 1968, Clinique has remained fairly faithful to the fragrance-free and allergy-tested formula created by celebrated dermatologist Norman Orentreich, M.D. The company sells a box of one plumping-and-hydrating lotion every 5.7 seconds worldwide, and it has been described as having the perfect “slip” by beauty vlogger and “OG of YouTube” Kandee Johnson. A makeup artist whose shape-shifting tutorials have earned her close to 4 million subscribers and a lot of free products, Johnson came to DDML, as it’s called by those in the know, relatively late. After obtaining a free sample only a few years ago, the 40-year-old began purchasing the product regularly—sans influencer discount—as it has proved the perfect primer for a canvas that endures cosmetic transformations of Cindy Sherman proportions. What DDML lacked in buzz, she reasoned, it made up for with performance.

But what if the time-tested classic could deliver concentrated doses of the kind of cutting-edge, hyper-tailored ingredients that are regularly hashtagged on Instagram and in tutorials like Johnson’s, without sacrificing its distinctive silky feel? “As the science has advanced, we’ve learned that there are a lot of nuances we didn’t recognize before,” explains David Orentreich, M.D., a guiding dermatologist for the Estée Lauder–owned Clinique brand, who runs his father’s Upper East Side dermatology practice with his sister, Catherine. “Now,” he concedes, “we can address more individual conditions”—a pivot intended to appeal to a new, skin-care–savvy generation, according to Priya Venkatesh, senior vice president of merchandising at Sephora. With a rush on products that utilize algorithm-based programs and iPhone-generated facial-recognition technology, “it’s no longer just about aging prevention. It’s about what is right for a woman’s personalized concerns and lifestyle,” says Venkatesh.

“That doesn’t mean that with a million different people, there are a million different skin types,” Orentreich insists. But Clinique is banking on there being at least 15 different ways to appeal to a broad spectrum of skin-care needs with next month’s launch of Clinique iD, a clever riff on its Dramatically Different franchise, which features the hero moisturizing lotion as well as an oil-free gel and a quenching jelly. With an assist from Clinical Reality, a questionnaire the brand plans to roll out on Clinique.com and at counters worldwide, you can select from one of these three hydrating bases, and then mix and match with five color-coded cartridges of actives to customize results. Each cartridge fits neatly inside the moisturizer, and a specially designed pump simultaneously dispenses a 10 percent dose of targeted ingredients—such as refining lactic and glycolic acids, or plumping whey protein and soothing red algae extract—with a 90 percent dose of moisturizer. The precisely proportioned ratio maximizes the therapeutic effect of each formula and ensures proper absorption.

“No matter how good something is, over time you tend to think of it as: Okay—been there, done that,” Orentreich admits of the challenges updating a 50-year-old skin-care stalwart. But in beauty as in fashion, as Bubbles would say, what’s old can indeed be new again. Here, a preview of the potent possibilities.

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Believe it or not, there is such a thing as good bacteria, especially when it comes to your skin, which needs a precise balance of the good and the bad to keep external aggressors out and moisture in. An angry, red, flaky complexion is often the result of a compromised microbiome, which can be nursed back to health with a neutralizing probiotic, like the lactobacillus ferment in this formula. An infusion of white tea leaf extract provides an additional soothing effect. Clinique iD, $39, clinique.com

Irritation
Believe it or not, there is such a thing as good bacteria, especially when it comes to your skin, which needs a precise balance of the good and the bad to keep external aggressors out and moisture in. An angry, red, flaky complexion is often the result of a compromised microbiome, which can be nursed back to health with a neutralizing probiotic, like the lactobacillus ferment in this formula. An infusion of white tea leaf extract provides an additional soothing effect.
Clinique iD, $39, clinique.com

Photo: Courtesy of Clinique

Much like inexplicably aching joints and an aversion to music festivals, enlarged pores are an unavoidable part of getting older. Shrinking them down to preadolescent levels is nearly impossible, but proper exfoliation can go a long way. All exfoliators are not created equal, however, and the precise mix of glycolic and lactic acids in this blend effectively coax cellular turnover to reveal smoother, more uniform skin. Clinique iD, $39, clinique.com

Pores and Uneven Texture
Much like inexplicably aching joints and an aversion to music festivals, enlarged pores are an unavoidable part of getting older. Shrinking them down to preadolescent levels is nearly impossible, but proper exfoliation can go a long way. All exfoliators are not created equal, however, and the precise mix of glycolic and lactic acids in this blend effectively coax cellular turnover to reveal smoother, more uniform skin.
Clinique iD, $39, clinique.com

Photo: Courtesy of Clinique

By now, your summer glow has likely gone, leaving dark spots in its wake. The brightening Japanese angelica root extract in this formula, combined with gentle salicylic acid for a light exfoliation, helps reduce pigmentation so at least your skin will look brighter as the days get shorter. Clinique iD, $39, clinique.com

Uneven Skin Tone
By now, your summer glow has likely gone, leaving dark spots in its wake. The brightening Japanese angelica root extract in this formula, combined with gentle salicylic acid for a light exfoliation, helps reduce pigmentation so at least your skin will look brighter as the days get shorter.
Clinique iD, $39, clinique.com

Photo: Courtesy of Clinique

Energy. Your skin needs it as much as your body to function properly, and when your reserves are depleted, for a myriad of reasons—work deadlines! small children! an unexpected party night on a weekday!—it shows. Taurine, an amino acid that boosts cellular energy to optimize skin health, can cure a host of early-morning ills and keep skin looking its best throughout the day. Think of it like that essential (first) cup of coffee for your face. Clinique iD, $39, clinique.com

Fatigue
Energy. Your skin needs it as much as your body to function properly, and when your reserves are depleted, for a myriad of reasons—work deadlines! small children! an unexpected party night on a weekday!—it shows. Taurine, an amino acid that boosts cellular energy to optimize skin health, can cure a host of early-morning ills and keep skin looking its best throughout the day. Think of it like that essential (first) cup of coffee for your face.
Clinique iD, $39, clinique.com

Photo: Courtesy of Clinique

Fine lines and wrinkles have found a formidable foe in—wait for it—whey protein, the popular smoothie add-on used here to help plump skin for extra bounce. Sweet almond seed extract further remedies the physical signs of aging with a natural tightening effect that you can feel on contact, which should appeal to anyone (read: everyone) looking for immediate results. Clinique iD, $39, clinique.com

Lines and Wrinkles
Fine lines and wrinkles have found a formidable foe in—wait for it—whey protein, the popular smoothie add-on used here to help plump skin for extra bounce. Sweet almond seed extract further remedies the physical signs of aging with a natural tightening effect that you can feel on contact, which should appeal to anyone (read: everyone) looking for immediate results.
Clinique iD, $39, clinique.com

Photo: Courtesy of Clinique

Photo: Courtesy of Clinique

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