Thursday, 13 March 2014

Review : REN ClearCalm 3 Clarifying Clay Cleanser

REN reviews, deuxieme partie: ClearCalm 3 Clarifying Clay Cleanser. This slightly absurdly named cleanser was another accidental find while I was looking for face oils for dry skin (see previous post). It contains clay, which you don't often find in cleansers. (There's Sunday Riley's Ceramic Slip Cleanser, but it's quite expensive at £35/125ml) At £18/200ml*, I thought it was a bargain and there was 20% off on top of that so I went ahead and bought it - but never before checking the ingredients!

{ Ingredients - "Bio-Extracts" in bold }
Anthemis Nobilis (Chamomile) Flower Water, Kaolin, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Cetearyl Alcohol, Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Oil, Cetearyl Glucoside, Glycerin, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Salix Nigra (Willow) Bark Extract, Benzyl Alcohol, Oryzanol, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Oil, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Leptospermum Scoparium Oil, Anthemis Nobilis (Chamomile) Flower Oil, Linalool, Limonene, Zinc Gluconate, Bisabolol, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Dehydroacetic Acid, Crataegus Oxyacantha Stem Extract, Glucose, Xanthan Gum, Lactic Acid, Tocopherol.

Ahh this is a long list to get through... 
Chamomile Flower Water - soothing and calms the skin 
Kaolin - AKA white clay. Anti-bacterial and detoxifying. Helps keep breakouts at bay.
Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride - an emollient 
Cetearyl Alcohol - this is a "fatty" alcohol. We like them for moisturising, we do not like denatured alcohol which is drying 
Sesame Seed Oil - contains fatty acids which act as emollients
Cetearyl Glucoside - binding agent
Glycerin - an emollient
Sunflower Seed Oil - contains Vitamin E, helps skin retain moisture
Willow Bark Extract or Salicilin - provides mild exfoliation and has anti-bacterial properties
Benzyl Alcohol - I've noticed this ingredient in a lot of "natural" skincare ranges (eg. balance Me). I wax lyrical about avoiding alcohol in skincare but it's not always possible - products will go mouldy otherwise. Gotta live with it. Benzyl alcohol is plant-derived and supposedly less drying than denatured alcohol, and since it's a bit further down the list, I like to think it's a fairly small quantity. I hope.
Oryzanol - skin conditioner
Sage Oil - anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-bacterial
Lavender Oil - antiseptic. You may have read that lavender is cytotoxic on Beautypedia. I went into an OMF-PANIC but I looked up the relevant study, and it turns out that tests were in vitro. In other words, it won't kill you.  
Leptospermum Scoparium Oil - AKA Manuka Essential Oil. Anti-bacterial. Soothes and nourishes.
Chamomile Flower Oil - anti-inflammatory
Linalool, Limonene - fragrance ingredients
Zinc Gluconate - reduces production of sebum
Bisabolol - anti-inflammatory
Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract - AKA Pot Marigold. Soothing, anti-inflammatory
Dehydroacetic Acid - preservative
Crataegus Oxyacantha Stem Extract - AKA Hawthorwn or Mayblossom. Anti-microbial and "tones enlarged pores" (whatever that means)
Glucose - sugar?
Xanthan Gum - thickening agent
Lactic Acid - an AHA, which are excellent for exfoliating the skin. However, it's so low down on the list that I doubt it's in any useful quantity! 
Tocopherol - anti-oxidant

You skimmed right past that didn't you ;)

The instructions direct you to pump this on to slightly damp hands but I never bother and apply it straight. The product feels quite cool when applied to the skin and has a luxurious thick consistency, like a mix of three parts clay mask to one part cream cleanser. It feels lovely to massage over the skin (one pump is enough) and leaves it feeling refreshed after rinsing off.
So. Ingredients: check. Texture: check. No French clay pooey smells? Check. So far so good, but does it work? Quite honestly, I find it hard to tell. When it comes to removing make-up, I can tell whether a cleanser does its job by the state of my flannel afterwards - a yellowy residue spells no. This test doesn't work here because I only use it in the mornings for a detoxifying cleanse not for make-up & daily gunk cleansing.

It's almost like a clay mask, so you wouldn't expect to see an immediate result. It needs time to make a difference. Now that six weeks have passed, the question to ask is: has there been an improvement in my skin's condition? The answer to that is ... no. Since I started using these two products from REN, I've broken out in spots -.- And the problem with using new products is that I don't know which of the two is to blame!

With that in mind, I can't really recommend either product at this stage. All I can say is that:
-The Omega 3 serum works very well for dry skin
-The Clay Cleanser should work well for spot-prone skin (and others, there's no reason to restrict it to "blemish prone" skin)
-But one of them caused my skin to break out.

After my skin calms down, I'll start using them again to figure it out. Part troisieme coming soon I suppose.


*A lot of websites are still selling the old size (150ml) for the same price. Make sure you choose the "33% extra free" 200ml size.


  1. Amazing review... I love how you've broken down each of the ingredients and explained what they all mean. I've never tried this cleanser, but I really want to.. especially with the 33% extra free! xx

    Gemma // Miss Makeup Magpie

  2. such a good review! i adore REN products and this is one of my favourite cleansers too

    from helen at

    ps. there £150 worth of high end skincare on my blog, if you fancy entering! click here.

    1. Thanks & congrats on reaching 4000 subscribers :)