The Kiehl’s Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution is clearly a complete misnomer

by Paris B on · 52 comments

in Product Reviews,Serum


Reviewed by:
Rating:
2
On July 25, 2013
Last modified:July 24, 2013

Summary:

You know, I’d forgotten about this one. Remember when it was first launched last year? I remember lots of people loved it. I was gifted a bottle and I almost finished it up but for some reason, I didn’t review it. Ah bad me! In fact, I’d totally forgotten about this until Sam the Curious Bear pinged me on Twitter to ask me about it.

It turned out we both share the same view on it – it sucks at what it claims to do.

kiehls clearly corrective The Kiehls Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution is clearly a complete misnomer

Yeah you read it right. It sucks.

Alright, lets be fair. No product that claims to eradicate dark spots topically work. If they did, I’d have porcelain, clear, freckle and pigmentation free skin. I would be the best example of someone on whom dark spot serums should work. None do. The only one that has come closest to lightening my dark spots is the Clinique Even Better Clinical serum. Even then, it lightens it to a degree and then plateaus. The only way you will actually see any results is if you go for laser treatment.

So, now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about this very popular Kiehl’s product. I know many of you have given it a go. Do you like it? Did it work as promised for you or are you like Sam and I sitting here going “Huh? My dark spots are not diminished, dammit!”

However, I will be fair, this one isn’t a total whitewash.

I used up about 3/4 of the bottle and I liked the clear runny texture that absorbs very quickly into the skin and the light lavender scent. Use it with the Midnight Recovery Concentrate and it is sheer bliss to the senses.

kiehls clearly corrective2 The Kiehls Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution is clearly a complete misnomer

The active ingredients are supposed to be activated vitamin C to correct and reduce the reoccurance of dark spots, white birch to hydrate skin and peony extract to reverse discolouration.

But you see, my beef is with the name of the product – Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution. The idea is that this product will target and correct dark spots. I have dark spots. Lots of them. Not a single one was corrected rapidly or otherwise.

However, I liked how my skintone was clarified and brightened with daily use of this product. This part of it is noticeable. My skintone looked more even and my skin looked better. If you have fresh acne or pimple scars, it actually helps fade it more quickly. Pair it with the MRC and you can wake up to lovely glowy skin in the morning. I did experience this.

But this isn’t called a Skin Tone Evener Solution is it? It’s called a Dark Spot Solution. And in this respect, I will say it did diddly squat.

kiehls clearly corrective3 The Kiehls Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution is clearly a complete misnomer

So my take on this is that the name is a misnomer. This isn’t a Dark Spot Solution. It is a Clear Skin Solution or even a Clarified Skin Solution or maybe a Skintone Evener Solution or perhaps even a Acne Scar Fading Solution. Calling it a Dark Spot Solution just raises our hopes up and dashes them on the cold rocks of reality after you’ve gone through a bottle with no evident change to your dark spots.

Then again, perhaps I’m in the minority. I know this product is wildly popular. So many before/after photos online seem to tell the story of it being a Dark Spot Solution. So maybe its just me…. or maybe its Photoshop. Pbfft icon razz The Kiehls Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution is clearly a complete misnomer

In a nutshell

The Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution is a clear serum that is targeted at reducing the appearance of dark spots on skin and to clarify the skin. I vouch for the latter. My skin does look clearer and more even toned and does look better overall. I decry the former claim. Dark Spots Solution? Pishposh! Did nothing for my dark spots except maybe make it look even more prominent sitting on my brighter, more clarified skintone. Bleh.

Pros: Smells nice, Skintone generally appears more even toned

Cons: Does nothing to reduce the appearance of my dark spots, Expensive since it does not do what it claims to do

Who will like this: Anyone who isn’t too taken in by the idea of this ever reducing dark spots

The ingredient list for anyone interested:

Water, Propylene Glycol, Glycerin, Alcohol Denatured, PEG/PPG/Polybutene Glycol-8/5/3/ Glycerin, Hydroxypropyl Tetrahydropyrantriol, 3-O Ethyl Ascorbic Acid, PEG-6 Decyltetradeceth-30, Phenoxyethanol, Salicylic Acid, Xanthan Gum, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Potassium Hydroxide, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Lavandula Angustifolia Oil/Lavender Oil, Disodium EDTA, Linalool, Citrus Tachibana/Citrus Aurantium Tachibana Peel Extract, Paeonia Suffruitcosa Extract/Paeonia Suffruitcosa Root Extract

One more thing. This product is supposed to contain Vitamin C yet it comes in a clear solution in a clear bottle. It is a known fact that Vitamin C oxidises very easily so unless a clever chemist can tell me that the solution it is in makes it so stable that it does not oxidise in a clear bottle, then I’m guessing it’s pretty much rendered useless after a spell.

Have you used this serum? Did you have good results from it?

Naturally, you can tell I didn’t. All I had was a nice sensorial experience thanks to the lovely lavender scent and what appeared to be more even toned skin overall. But it definitely fails to live up to its name and label. Save your money and get something else.

Paris B

Kiehl’s Clearly Corrective Dark Spots Solution Price: RM200/30ml Availability: Kiehl’s stores

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[ 52 comments… read them below or join the discussion ]

Tracy@Beauty Reflections July 25, 2013 at 8:46 am

Hahaha you made me giggle hahaha! I don’t think I’ve seen “diddly squat” used in a review before hahaha! I’m totally going to use it the next time something sucks!
I’ve never tried this, but I have tried Luminaze and that stuff worked at lightening spots. Only problem for was that it would kind of break me out.

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Isabel July 25, 2013 at 10:04 am

I laughed too! It’s been ages since I heard “diddly squat” being used. This will probably make me pepper my words with “diddly squat” all day and annoy the heck out of my colleagues :D

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Paris B July 26, 2013 at 5:46 pm

teehee… I hope you did! :D (and my age is showing isn’t it? :P )

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Paris B July 26, 2013 at 5:39 pm

Always happy to bring a smile to your face ;) And yes, diddly squat really dates me doesn’t it? I don’t think anyone says it anymore :P

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Sheila July 25, 2013 at 8:46 am

I love your review and how honest it was. I have to agree with you that it does plateau after a while and it doesn’t really do what it says it does, but I like that it helps to brighten my skintone.

Also, great job at pointing out the issue of it being in a clear bottle. One of Kiehl’s other products – the Powerful Strength Line Reducing Concentrate – also contains Vit. C but that one is in a brown-tinted plastic bottle instead.

Another fantastic review!

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Paris B July 26, 2013 at 5:40 pm

Thank you Sheila :) I do think it does a good job at brightening the skintone, but to market it as a dark spot corrector just doesn’t do it. At least not for me. I do like the Powerful Strength Line Reducing Concentrate and as you’ve pointed out, it comes in a dark bottle! I’ve actually seen it oxidise too so I know it happens. So what up with that eh?

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Beauty Box July 25, 2013 at 9:18 am

Hmmm, looking at the ingredients, perhaps the salicylic acid helped to make the skin clearer and more even? I find that to be true with treatments/serums that have this ingredient.

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Paris B July 26, 2013 at 5:41 pm

You could be right Yu Ming. I was surprised to see it in there to be honest!

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phyllicia July 25, 2013 at 9:32 am

Hi Paris,

Would just like to ask if you applied this product on your whole face or just on your spots? I was told by a consultant that any lightening serums should only be applied to the problem areas and not the whole face or else the non-problem areas will brighten more, making the spots look prominent. (^-^)v

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Paris B July 26, 2013 at 5:43 pm

Hi Phyllicia, the recommended use is to apply all over the face. From what I can tell, this isn’t exactly a spot treatment, like some of those that are targeted at only certain areas which is why the name and use really puzzles me. The awkward thing about only applying a lightening product on spots or on certain areas of the face will be that you may end up with an uneven skintone if the product works! You could have little blotches of lighter skin and that would be awkward too but different products will have different targeted uses ;)

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monstro July 25, 2013 at 9:38 am

I’m in search of a dark spot corrector too. Too bad this doesn’t work. I was told the only vitamin c that works is the ingredient L~ ascorbic acid, which is the active kind. And it does need to be in a tinted bottle, and even then it’s extremely unstable so it will start browning. That’s when you know it’s oxidized and basically ineffective by then.

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Paris B July 26, 2013 at 5:44 pm

Exactly right Monstro. Clear bottle is a no-no for anything with Vitamin C! I personally had good experience with Clinique Even Better and Shiseido wasn’t bad either ;)

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Janessa July 25, 2013 at 9:47 am

I was always dubious of this product, especially since it’s housed in crystal clear packaging. I love your posts, Paris! You have such witty and engaging writing that makes a negative review fun to read haha. Thank you for this honest review and it was very helpful you mentioned which similar product (Clinique) actually did something for you and reviewing this after using most of the bottle first. :)

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Paris B July 26, 2013 at 5:44 pm

Thank you for enjoying this one Janessa :D I sometimes think I’m cut out to write negative reviews haha! :D

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Firn July 25, 2013 at 9:55 am

I am living proof that laser treatments and IPL can fade freckles, but even then, not completely.

I think Kiehl’s has made a stabilised version of vitamin C, 3-O Ethyl Ascorbic Acid, but even then I think a clear bottle is a stupid idea. Futurederm has done an encapsulated vitamin C serum that scientifically makes more sense and has a more stable formulation. Unfortunately it irritates my sensitive skin.

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Paris B July 26, 2013 at 5:46 pm

Sigh I’m much too chicken to try laser or IPL or peels. This is what one bad experience does to you >.< Then again, I guess I can live with my skin, imperfections and all :D Kiehl’s have said that their version of Vitamin C is stable but you know, we can’t tell can we? I have been thinking of trying something with Vitamin C too. I tried the quite popular Cosmetics Skin Solutions Vitamin C + E but didn’t do anything for me.

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Victoria July 25, 2013 at 10:12 am

I so nearly bought this as I needed a serum to brighten my face due to not using sunscreen earlier in my life. I did read many blogs that raved about this product and they also mentioned that since it is Activated Vitamin C, it need not be in a tinted bottle. Don’t know what to believe really. Sometimes the more you research on products, the more you get confused on which one is best for you. Hahaha. Decided to go with Cosmetic Skin Solutions Vitamin C+E instead. Fingers cross that this one works for me :-)

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Paris B July 26, 2013 at 5:48 pm

Personally I’ve had good experience with Clinique and Shiseido for something that does almost work. The Clinique one especially is quite impressive and I went through 2.5 bottles ;) But you’re also right about doing research. Sometimes, we confuse ourselves more the more we try to understand what’s happening. I hope the CSS serum works for you :)

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Ting July 25, 2013 at 10:48 am

oooh… First fail product from Kiehl’s eh? It would be interesting to hear opinions from those if this product actually work on them or not. Just wondering, does the freckles come back after you stop using the special serums on them?

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Paris B July 26, 2013 at 5:49 pm

Haha yes, definitely a fail from me. Big red F! :P For me, when I used these lightening serums, my freckles do get lighter. It stays that way until I go out in the sun and then they all go mad and then get darker again. So, its a neverending battle for me to stay out of the sun, keep the sunblock applied and keep skin hydrated. So, when I go to the beach, I can expect to come back needing a whitening serum :P

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Renee | Beauty Fool July 25, 2013 at 12:47 pm

Shame to hear about it not working. :/

I had a VERY stubborn dark spot near my nostril; it was from a freaking zit in my acne years as a teen and pigmentation from the zit left what I call a “booger mole” LOL. :D But I used a serum from Clinique (Dark Spot Corrector, I believe); and that worked VERY well, I would recommend that 100%. My “mole” is like a faded freckle now; and only because I stopped using it – I think if I had carried on it would be gone by now!

x Renee

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Paris B July 26, 2013 at 5:55 pm

Yeah, it would have been awesome if it had worked because it smells so nice ;) Ooh its so good to know the Clinique serum worked for you too! It’s been the only serum that I can truthfully say works to lighten pigmentation and blemishes effectively. Takes a while, but it does.

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Jyoan July 25, 2013 at 2:03 pm

The ingredients list is a tell-take sign that this is not as potent as it claims to be. There are good stuff like salicylic acid, citric acid, vitamin E, lavender oil, etc. But those are in the bottom third of the list, too little to work.

Only the acids need to be in smaller amounts, but the oils can be more, although that will take away the nice water gel texture.

I have bought a $128 set of 4 vials of almost pure vitamin C before. Probably much more worth it for dark spot correction. Unfortunately, I really did not need it, and was half cheated into buying. simply not suitable for me, because it burns, literally.

You are right, this kind of Vitamin C go bad in an instant. The vials that I had can only last one week. And the reason why it came in vials is because you are suppose to only crack each open to release the vitamin C only when you finish the previous one. Really high quality. Too bad, my skin is too sensitive for it.

For me, the bottom line is to really check the ingredients when it comes to commercial products because i have been disappointed enough, and also because my skin has reacted badly to many mainstream commercial products, so i dont trust these brands. The treatment vials I bought were private, beautician import product, that Is not available unless you know the seller. Somehow, these lesser-known brands are more sincere. They are expensive, but they really give you the quality.

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Paris B July 26, 2013 at 5:57 pm

Yeah, the ingredient list isn’t exactly inspiring. Pity eh? I have my reservations about some salon/direct sale brands too mainly because I’m concerned about the ingredient content. The use of a vial is definitely a good idea when it comes to Vitamin C serums so I plan to look for some that come in vials. I think Perricone does them :)

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Isabellmiao July 25, 2013 at 2:13 pm

Ouch! I remember when it was first released it was quite popular! I remember you writing about this too! Haha. Too bad it didn’t quite work out for you. :( But since my SK2 Cellumination Ex is finishing, I might try this out! Do you think it works about the same?

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Paris B July 26, 2013 at 5:58 pm

Yep! I was trying it out then and never updated HAHA! :P I haven’t used the SK2 Cellumination so I can’t say sorry! SK2 breaks me out something awful so I stay far away from their skincare :P

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Amanda July 25, 2013 at 2:23 pm

I was using that for 6 months and I didn’t see any difference with my dark spots. I’ve 1/3 product left in the bottle, I’m going to finish it and will never repurchase.

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Paris B July 26, 2013 at 5:59 pm

LOL same here. I was hoping it would do something but ended up with nothing :P

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Parita July 25, 2013 at 2:45 pm

I don’t think I would spend 200RM on a product which does not work

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Paris B July 26, 2013 at 6:01 pm

Neither would I, Parita! Thing is, many reviews say that it does hence my need to balance that out because chances are someone who reads a glowing review and then pays RM200 may be absolutely gutted when they realise it doesn’t work ;)

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terry July 25, 2013 at 2:52 pm

Hi Paris it’s me again! I’m not sure if this might be what you’re looking but one thing I’ve found to really work on my acne pigmentation is the Perricone MD Vitamin C Ester 15. It’s really quite expensive for the amount you get, but I love how they are packaged in 4 separate 10mL tubes to ensure freshness and stability of the ingredients. Also, they claim that 1 tube was supposed to last for a week, but I’ve had no problem using it for over 3 weeks even with twice a day applications (though admittedly I have quite a small face). I’m uncertain as to whether acne pigmentation is similar to dark spots since I don’t have any of those, but maybe it would work for you too! Anyway. Sorry for rambling haha.=P

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terry July 25, 2013 at 2:56 pm

OH also, on a side note, do you think the Clinique Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector is the same as the Clinique Derma White Brightening Essence? Because I seem to have a bottle of that essence lying around but I couldn’t find that product on the Clinique website… I can’t even remember if it was really old or what.=O

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Paris B July 26, 2013 at 6:04 pm

Haha good question! Its the same thing. I covered the name change here ;)

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Paris B July 26, 2013 at 6:03 pm

Hi Terry! Always nice to hear from you and feel free to ramble! :D And Perricone MD you say? I’ve been wanting to try their products for a while but never got round to it. You’re right, they are pricey but thank you for the recommendation! I will be sure to bear it in mind the next time I want to try something for pigmentation. I find that pigmentation from acne usually is reversible to a degree but those dark spots that “sprout” e.g. freckles/pigmentation usually don’t go away so easily. Lucky you to not have them! :D

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Natalie July 25, 2013 at 2:57 pm

You are right about this Paris B. it is true that it only make the skin tone more even. but have you compared it to SK2 cellumination essence? what do you reckon?

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Paris B July 26, 2013 at 6:05 pm

Were you as disappointed too, Natalie? I haven’t used SK2 Cellumination Essence other than making fun of the name :P This is because SK2 products break me out and I don’t dare try any of them anymore. Sorry I’m no help there!

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Anthea July 25, 2013 at 9:48 pm

Hi Paris, what do you think about the Elizabeth Arden 8 hour cream? I’ve heard some positive things about it, but couldn’t find it here in our stores, like Sephora, perhaps I’m looking for it in the wrong places?

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Paris B July 26, 2013 at 6:14 pm

Hey Anthea, I actually like the 8 Hour Cream even though people say it stinks haha! But I use it on dry bits of skin e.g. on lips or on cuticles especially when I travel. It keeps my lips chap free and my cuticles and hands from drying out. I don’t use it as much when I’m here in Malaysia because I use other treatments. I believe it should be sold at Elizabeth Arden counters in department stores. Don’t think Sephora stocks EA? But then I could be wrong.

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Lily July 25, 2013 at 10:07 pm

This didn’t work on me much. Not impressed, so I passed to my mom. She liked it because it made her skin look brighter and smoother. So, it really depends on individuals :-) I did like the scent though!

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Paris B July 26, 2013 at 6:14 pm

Good to know your mom likes it although I still think calling it a Dark Spot Solution is really not on :P

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Natalie July 26, 2013 at 2:37 am

By looking at the ingredient list, it sounds more like a hydrating serum than the brightening serum! :D The vitamin C (3-O Ethyl Ascorbic Acid) is not even the active ingredient as it is not sitting at the top of the ingredient list. O_o

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Paris B July 26, 2013 at 6:15 pm

This is why we need an expert in the house! Thanks for pointing it out Natalie ;)

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liyeun July 26, 2013 at 6:23 am

Weeee~
Rm200 saved!!!! Thanks Paris! ^_^

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Paris B July 26, 2013 at 6:16 pm

Hehe… whee indeed! Put it towards something else ;)

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Ceej July 26, 2013 at 9:57 pm

I’m almost done with my clearly corrective bottle. It did lighten my acne scars faster. There’s even one big acne mark that is hardly visible now. But for sun spots, blah, it didn’t improve anything. Would I repurchase? No. Acne marks slowly lighten on their own eventually. And I’d rather spend on a good sunblock to prevent sun spots. Off topic, I bought the Shiseido UV perfect sunblock and I’m loving it! Thanks to your recommendation, Paris :)

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Paris B July 27, 2013 at 11:42 am

Whee! Glad you too are loving the Shiseido sunblock! So pricey but its so lovely on skin right? :) As for this Kiehl’s product I suppose as you have pointed out, it could potentially help someone who needs to lighten their acne scars more quickly but really, most of us would have been holding out for some sun spot lightening eh? Pity it just doesn’t cut it :(

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phyllicia July 27, 2013 at 3:56 am

Hi Paris,
Thanks for responding and the clarification. Love reading your blog. Keep up the good work. ^^

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Paris B July 27, 2013 at 11:50 am

My pleasure Phyllicia! See you around the comment box! :D

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Shasha July 31, 2013 at 11:43 am

Hi Paris,

I’ve also used this product, about half a bottle now. And i use it at night together with EL Advanced Night Repair. I see no difference whatsoever. Dark spots still here, in fact i dont think it does anything to my skin at all..So i guess, i’m on the look out for a new dark spot corrector! :)

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Paris B August 2, 2013 at 5:41 pm

Looks like I’m not alone! Thanks for sharing, Shasha :D

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nadz August 15, 2013 at 10:47 am

hi dear…
been using it for about 3 weeks now.
x sure yet about the effect on my skin tone, but 1 thing for sure it breaks me out!
i seldom break out. now its here n there, small ones though.
i’m sure does that mean the product doesnt suits me?
shud i return it? or shud i wait?
i hv next week till the date expires.
u r rite about the 30 days guarantee thing.
it is stated at the bottom of the receipt.

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Paris B August 15, 2013 at 5:56 pm

If this is the only product you have changed in your routine then it does sound like it doesn’t suit your skin. If you can, maybe it’s better to return it. Good luck

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