Product Review: Clinique Repairwear Laser Focus Wrinkle & UV Damage Repair Serum

Skin Care

I’ve always been a fan of Clinique products, ever since my first 3-step system years ago (type 2, thankyouverymuch).  So, recently, when the Clinique Repairwear Laser Focus Wrinkle & UV Damage Repair Serum ($44.50, premiered, I was enthusiastic.  The serum claims to treat discoloration as well as fine lines, and to have a 63% reduction in the appearance of deep wrinkles.

Unfortunately, upon ingredient analysis, at least 30% of the product is silicones, and that is a low estimate.   Silicones have long been used in skin care formulations as both emollients and to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, but their effects are mostly temporary and cosmetic.   For instance, according to the textbook Principles of Polymer Science and Technology in Cosmetics and Personal Care, silsesquioxane crosspolymers provide a water-resistant barrier, whereas dimethicone provides an improved feel/softness, and dimethicone copolyols reduce irritation with the skin.  Besides their hydrating effects, there is really no proven long-term benefit to the use of silicones.

Not My Favorite Weapon Against Hyperpigmentation

Where this product really disappoints is in its lack of proven hyperpigmentation fighters.  Although research is limited, there are studies that have proven the efficacy of several combinations of ingredients in fighting hyperpigmentation.  The powerhouse combinations include:

*0.01% fluocinolone, 4% hydroquinone, and 0.05% tretinoin (as found in TriLuma; FDA approved for the treatment of melasma, available by prescription).

*2% kojic acid, 10% glycolic acid and 2% hydroquinone (has been established to have higher efficacy than 10% glycolic acid and 2% hydroquinone without kojic acid). All three ingredients are found in Peter Thomas Roth Ultra Gentle Skin Lightening Gel Complex, with 2% hydroquinone and unknown concentrations of kojic acid and glycolic acid, and Age Advantage Laboratories Spot Life Serum, although the concentrations of all three ingredients are not known in the product.

*2% hydroquinone (over-the-counter strength) and 4% hydroquinone (by prescription).

*5% (or greater) L-ascorbic acid (vitamin C), although substantially less than 4% hydroquinone.
In general, based on the review, it may be inferred that Tri-Luma OR a combination of 2% kojic acid, 10% glycolic acid and 2% hydroquinone are more efficacious than 4% hydroquinone, which in turn is more efficacious than 5% L-ascorbic acid in treating hyperpigmentation.

Unfortunately, Clinique Repairwear Laser Focus Wrinkle & UV Damage Repair Serum does not contain any of these combinations of ingredients, nor does it contain any of the single ingredients in high enough concentration for it to have been proven effective by independent research.   The only hyperpigmentation-fighting ingredients it contains are soy extract and vitamin C as aminopropyl ascorbyl phosphate, but soy has only been shown to fight hyperpigmentation in one 2000 study, and vitamin C is provided in very low concentration.  I would therefore NOT select Clinique Repairwear Laser Focus Wrinkle & UV Damage Repair Serum on the basis of its hyperpigmentation-fighting capabilities.

Mild Wrinkle-Fighting Capabilities

Besides antioxidants, the two other major anti-aging ingredients in this serum are retinyl palmitate and peptides (as acetyl hexapeptide-8 and palmitoyl oligopeptide).

Retinyl palmitate is a combination of pure retinol and palmitic acid (a substance typically used in cosmetics as a cleansing agent).  When present in sufficiently high concentrations, retinyl palmitate displays results similar to that of retinol.  And considering that retinol is one of the gold standards in the arsenal against aging in today’s market, I would say the inclusion of retinoids in this product is an excellent thing!

Acetyl hexapeptide-3 (also known as acetyl hexapeptide-8, or Argireline,  is better known from radio commercials as  “an alternative to BotoxTM”.  The reason?  Argireline was found in a 2002 study by Blanes-Mira et. al to reduce the depth of wrinkles by up to 30% with thirty days when injected into the skin, similar to BotoxTM.  Unfortunately, while injections of argireline produced similar results to BotoxTM, the form of argireline in modern skin care creams cannot diffuse through the top layers of skin to reach the crucial muscle-nerve connections like injectable BotoxTM.  (While a diffusable form of BotoxTM is in the works, this ain’t it, honey!  You will have to go to the dermatologist for a long time, and perhaps perpetually, in order to get it.)

In the lower concentration of the two peptides is palmitoyl oligopeptide (AKA palmitoyl pentapeptide-4 or palmitoyl pentapeptide-3 or Matrixyl), a synthetic signaling peptide proven to increase the firmness of your skin following regular topical application by stimulating the production of collagen types I, III, and IV; fibronectin,  elastin, and glycosaminoglycan within your skin.    Palmitoyl oligopeptide was also shown by a 2005 study in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science to reduce the appearance of fine lines better than placebo when used over the course of 12 weeks.  However, it is notable that the concentration of palmitoyl oligopeptide used in the study was 3 ppm; it is highly doubtful that Clinique Repairwear Laser Focus Wrinkle & UV Damage Repair Serum contains a similar concentration.

Overall Opinion: Not My Favorite Clinique Product

While Clinique has a few winners (Clinique Superdefense SPF 25 & Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion) and even a few products I can’t live without (Clinique Superbalm Lip Treatment & Clinique Quickliner for Lips/Eyes), I honestly do not feel that Clinique Repairwear Laser Focus Wrinkle & UV Damage Repair Serum lives up to the hype — or the company’s usual reputation.  The company would be better to take out a few of the silicones and replace them with higher concentrations of powerhouse antioxidants, retinoids, and peptides – and maybe even to consider microdelivery systems or something equally revolutionary for an Estee Lauder brand.  At any rate, I’m sticking with the Skinceuticals CE Ferulic anti-aging serum for day (under a broad-spectrum sunscreen) and the Revale Skin Coffeeberry Serum (over a retinoid) for night.  But thanks for all of the requests for this review, guys – you’re the best fans ever!  🙂

Product Rating: 3/10 (High concentration of proven effective ingredients: 0/1.  New technology or unique formulation: 1/3.  Value for the money: 1/3.  Sunscreen: 0/1).


Ingredients in Clinique Repairwear Laser Focus Wrinkle & UV Damage Repair Serum:  Water, Dimethicone, Butylene Glycol, Polysorbate 20, Methyl Trimethicone, Vinyl Dimethicone/Methicone Silsesquioxane Crosspolymer, Bis-PEG-18 Methyl Ether Dimethyl Silane, Glycerin, Silica, Polymethylsilsesquioxiane, Lauryl PEG-0 Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone, Methyl Gluceth-20, Polysilicone-11, Sigesbeckia Orientalis (St. Paul’s Wort) Extract, Retinyl Palmitate, Plankton Extract, Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Juice Extract, Arabidopsis Thaliana Extract, Sea Whip Extract, Whey Protein/Lactis Protein/Proteine Du Petit-Lait, Pinanediol, Camphanediol, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Protein, Ergothioneine, Acetyl Hexapeptide-8, Caffeine, Micrococcus Lysate, Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, Anthemis Nobilis (Chamomile), Linoleic Acid, Sodium Mannose Phosphate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Caprylyl Glycol, Carbomer, Glyceryl Polymethacrylate, Cholesterol, Aminopropyl Ascorbyl Phosphate, Hyaluronic Acid, Sodium Hyaluronate, Tocopheryl Acetate, PEG-8, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Carbomer, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol [ILN36513]

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  • Susan

    Hey, Just ran across this review. Great information…the only thing that I noticed after visiting the Clinique website to look for more information about this product, nowhere does it state that this product helps pigmentation. I see another product for that. Are you sure that it is even supposed to address that issue?

  • Maria

    For DR CYNTHIA BAILEY: Hello! Wondering if you could comment on IPL? I and many other women have experienced bad results with IPL: decreased radiance ( from constriction of capillaries?) dryness( from cutting off sebum from pores?) it left am overall pallor that is difficult to fix. One woman described it as “draining all my beauty.” I also noticed damage to collage hence a slackening of skin on face and neck, and! The worst! …. Loss of fat around my eyes! ( these last 2 were probably caused by her use of Radio Frequency which was an option on the Syneron machine she used- please comment ! thank you

  • DW

    I used this product for three month now and I have not seen a great change either to my pigmentation nor to my wrinkles.

  • Jeanette

    Well – I’m back. It’s been about 5 weeks or so since I have been off the Laser Focus. I did research and read it was best to use glycolic, AHA’s, and I wanted something with antioxidants. My skin looks horid now. During this time, I’ve tried several things. Nothing I tried works. I have very sensitive skin – and this is the only thing that even came close to working – well – looking back, my skin looks like it has aged about 8 years since I was using this product. I don’t know what they have in there, but I’m going to get another bottle tomorrow. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear to help in the long run. The “effects” started to fade at day 5 off of the Laser Focus. Perhaps it was “trailing off” because I didn’t keep it out of the light perhaps, or perhaps it is the bottle which is a disaster and it got contaminated or “old” quickly. I am going to try something else later on – perhaps a Vitamin C product – but for now – it’s an emergency 🙂 Just wanted to post an update.

  • Jeanette

    I’ve been using the Clinique Laser Focus for about 3 months now – maybe a little less. At first I was excited – it really did help my tone, texture – even wrinkles – but now – disappointed. For some reason – it stopped working – maybe I got a bad bottle – but I doubt it. Usually things break me out and I have bad reactions – this didn’t – that’s a Real Big Plus – but if it doesn’t help then . . . . I am in the market for something else now.

  • Carol

    For about 3 weeks I’ve been using Laser Focus on my entire face and eye area. I’ve also been using the Aveeno Ageless Vitality Rejuvenating eye system and was thinking of adding the Aveeno system for my face. I’m mainly interested in wrinkle reduction and firming.

    Is this just overkill? Should I be using only one of the products?

  • josephine

    Any clinical research that you’ve read or your review of NeoStrata’s latest & greatest…Exuviance Age Reverse?

  • angela

    thanks! it’s actually the newest product called Lancome’s Rénergie Microlift VOLUMETRY. i keep reading about it. just got the name wrong as the RARE seems so similar.

  • @Angela – Thanks for the recommendations! I’ll be sure to check these out. One note: I always look at recommended products, but sometimes there isn’t enough material there to make a full post. But I’ll do my best to see what I can dig up!

  • @Jason – I like philosophy’s save me – it’s a solid over-the-counter retinol cream, and it includes vitamin C bound to a fatty acid (i.e., as ascorbyl palmitate), rather than in its purely acidic form, so that retinol can still work in its ideal, slightly more basic range.

    If you’re interested in controlling the amount of retinol you apply, Green Cream Level 6 contains 0.6% retinol, whereas Green Cream Level 9 contains 0.9% retinol; similarly, Skinceuticals 0.5 contains 0.5%, and Skinceuticals 1.0 contains – you guessed it – 1.0%. I’ve been using Green Cream for years, because I like the results that I’ve gotten from it.

    As always, it’s best to talk to your dermatologist before beginning any new skin care product – especially one as potent as a retinoid.

  • Jason

    what is your favorite retinoid to use at night, as you mention on your routine? I currently use philosophy’s save me. any thoughts?

  • @Dr. Bailey – Thank you very much for your insights and further analysis!

    @Josephine – Thank you for this comment. Dr. Baumann is a very well-known and respected dermatologist, and one of her books (Cosmetic Dermatology) actually helped to solidify my interest in the field. With that said, I am sure that Dr. Baumann has her reasons for her approval of the product – there must be research on the photolyase enzymes in the skin that I am unaware of. I apologize to you and my other readers for making this error, and I hope to be able to be able to uncover the studies so that I can precisely revise this post soon!

  • josephine

    Quoted from Erin Quinn’s article in the August 2010 Allure Magazine: “This is absolutely a breakthrough product,” says dermatologist Leslie Baumann. “The enzymes have been shown to unwind DNA and fix the damage within – damage known to cause aging and skin cancer.”

    After reading your analysis of the ingredients, I concur…So what gives? with well-known derm LB’s take on the product?

    Confusing. Then again, it’s a beauty magazine. LMK.

  • Nicki,
    This is a nice dissection of the product ingredient list-I love doing that. I also like your information on hyperpigmentation treatment. In all the years that I’ve practiced dermatology, this has been one of the ‘holy grail’ skin problems that I see. People with severe melasma or sun damaged hyperpigmentation on the sides of their face and neck are really hard to treat. I’ve tried all the new ideas and products when they come out like kojic acid, triluma etc. I’ve combined Retin A with 4% hydroquinone with some results. It’s humbling because I avoided Obagi Nu Derm for years because of some personal bias, but I finally gave it a try in my practice about 3 years ago and have to say it gets more results than any other product or treatment system. On the down side, it’s full of preservatives that I don’t like, it’s harsh and tricky to use, and I don’t like people on long term hydroquinone. That said, I still recommend a 3 to 4 month treatment with Nu Derm for people with stubborn hyperpigmentation. After the 3 to 4 months, I put people on healthier long term maintenance treatment with Retin A, and/or strong AHA’s, vitamin C and mineral sunscreen. I discuss real sun protection (ie. full brim hat collection and no tanning) and possibly even IPL treatments. Phew-it’s a lot of work, but people who suffer from blotchy hyperpigmentation are thrilled to finally get even color back to their skin.
    Thanks for the nice analysis.
    Cynthia Bailey MD, Dermatologist

  • @Diane – If you ask the scientists at the Environmental Working Group, then yes, silicones are something to be worried about. However, I have read many dermatologists’ recommendations of products containing silicones, and I have not seen any convincing studies demonstrating definite damage to the skin, one’s health, or otherwise from the use of silicones in concentrations typical to that in skin care creams. As I am not a physician yet, it is wise as always to ask your dermatologist for his/her recommendations.

    @Zoe – Photolyases are indeed exciting, but I have only read about their implications in transgenic mice ( or in vitro cell culture, not through topical application via a skin care cream such as this. But thank you for the tip! I love hearing from insightful and well-informed readers such as yourself, and if you have further information/insights, please pass them along!

  • angela

    Soooo glad you did this review. Thank you!!! Can’t wait for your review of Perricone’s Cold Plasma & Lancome’s Rénergie Microlift Neck R.A.R.E

  • jc

    good to see you back! always love reading your writeups!

  • Zoe

    You forgot the 4 most exciting ingredients in this product! Plankton Extract (Photosomes)- a form of DNA-repairing photolyase, Arabidopsis Thaliana Extract (Roxisomes), liposomes of OGG-1, (oxo-guanine glycosylase) known for reducing stress on mitochondria, and Ultrasomes, which seek out UV-inflicted DNA damage. Last but not least, Ergothionene is a powerful antioxidant that puts CoQ10 to shame. These ingredients were originally developed by Dr. Daniel Yarosh in an attempt to cure skin cancer. Believe it or not I don’t work for Lauder, but as one skin-lover to another it is worth looking into. These ingredients are supported by more clinical studies than I’ve ever seen. Thanks for the great blog!

  • Diane

    I worry that silicones will actually clog my pores with prolonged use. Something just doesn’t seem right about the feel. Am I worrying needlessly?

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