In our series Trial Run, TZR editors and writers put the buzziest new beauty products to the test and share their honest reviews. This week, our writer is putting the new Neutrogena Clear Coverage Flawless Matte CC Cream to the test.
Here is a list of things that have changed since I was a freshman in high school: the relevance of iTunes gift cards, sock buns, and the need for full coverage foundation at all times. These days, it’s nice to have a dependable product that leans towards the lighter coverage side for when wearing a mask all day gets uncomfortable, or simply when you’re in the mood for something a touch softer. That’s why I put Neutrogena’s latest launch, the Clear Coverage Flawless Matte CC Cream — which promises a moisturizing, full coverage, matte finish that is safe to use for acne-prone skin — to the test to see how well it worked with my skin.
If the phrase “CC Cream” transports you back to high school or earlier, as it does for me, don’t worry — the category has come a long way since then. “CC creams work to target unevenly toned areas of your skin, eventually evening out your skin’s dark spots or red patches, which is why it’s great for acne-prone skin,” explains award-winning celebrity makeup artist Yolonda Frederick, who helped formulate and create the new product for Neutrogena.
In addition to the buzzy new formula, the brand is now offering its widest shade range to date — 34 in all. Says Frederick, “This is a more inclusive offering and serves more diverse consumers, which excited me to become part of that as a Black female makeup artist.” She goes on to share, “to see my name, ‘Yoli,’ on the shade that matches my complexion means the world to me.”
The new formulation features niacinamide (a popular antioxidant ingredient that targets inflammation and redness), which, combined with a matte finish, is intended to “mask skin imperfections in a lightweight, yet breathable formula,” according to the brand. Eager to see how this product performed, I put it to the test.
My Skin Pre-Neutrogena Clear Coverage Flawless Matte CC Cream
While I’m not a consistent CC cream or even foundation wearer, I love the option of something buildable for when I’m craving a bit of coverage. My tendency is to combine an SPF plus a tinted moisturizer on my hand before applying it to my face and neck, and according to Frederick, Neutrogena’s Clear Coverage Flawless Matte CC Cream is prime for these types of at-home beauty concoctions. “I consider myself a mixologist,” she shares. “Of course mixing the CC Creams with an SPF will dial down the consistency and pigmentation a bit. However, it will remain buildable and you will still get the degree of coverage you desire.”
Come winter time, my biggest skin concern is locking in moisture for all day wear. As a survivor of the “all matte everything” phase in the 2010s, I’m borderline overcommitted to staying dewy at all times. With this in mind, I was curious to see how integrating the product into my moisture-focused routine would play out.
What Makes Neutrogena Clear Coverage Flawless Matte CC Cream Special?
If you’re confused about the difference between a CC cream like this formula and the more classic BB cream, here’s the deal: CC creams are one step up from BB creams in terms of coverage, they’re packed with ingredients focused on anti-aging or hydration, and are typically easier (and more forgiving) to apply than a traditional foundation. In this formula, the hero skin care ingredient is niacinamide, along with capric triglyceride (fatty acids from natural oils, such as coconut oil, with glycerin and niacinamide), to offer your skin plenty of moisture.
While many labels boast “clean” ingredients, this formula promises no oil, fragrance, parabens, SLS/SLES sulfates, or phthalates (all skin sensitizers), which makes this formula safe if you’re prone to breakouts. The only missing component is sun protection, which is easily remedied by a little at home mixing of equal parts CC cream and SPF.
Testing The Neutrogena Clear Coverage Flawless Matte CC Cream
My biggest ask of any base layer is color correction and wearability. That means, I want enough coverage to feel like I can skip my beloved green-tinted moisturizer (which helps to reduce redness). As for wearability, I’m looking to avoid pilling or looking overly matte during the day. In a dream world, I’d like the product not to rub off on my mask, either.
The easy buildability of the product is a sneaky highlight. I used my fingers for control over the amount of product (and therefore coverage) applied, and because it can help the product blend more easily and look more natural — that’s courtesy of the heat from your hands, which melts the cream into the skin. The first time I used the CC cream, I ended up with twice as much product as I really needed. A single pump, mixed in with sunscreen or applied directly to the face, should be plenty for a light, even coat.
Blending did require some effort (it’s thicker and closer to a foundation than I’m used to with a CC or BB cream), but the results were impressive enough that I could skip my concealer step altogether. The shade I ended up with seemed like it might be too dark in the bottle, but once I combined it with SPF, it matched perfectly.
I wore the product for a day in the city — subway ride, lunch, dinner out, drinks. Not only did the coverage last, but it washed off easily with a double cleanse at the end of the night. Sure, the CC cream isn’t the dewiest, and yes, there was some drying after walking around in the cold, but for the $14.99 price point, I was impressed.
Is The Neutrogena Clear Coverage Flawless Matte CC Cream Worthwhile?
So, would I recommend Neutrogena’s Clear Coverage Flawless Matte CC Cream? Yes, and specifically to two groups of users — the first is those just getting into cosmetics, whether because of recent skin changes or simply coming of age. There’s something less intimidating about using a CC cream versus a foundation, once you find the correct shade.
The second group I’d recommend the product to is those who feel ready for a break from the heaviness of foundation. Whether it’s mask wearing or colder temps (both of which can significantly dehydrate your skin), there are lots of reasons switching things up from a full coverage foundation can be beneficial.
Comparatively, other CC creams on the market range from $17 to $79, with all sorts of benefits like built in SPF or a velvety finish, but at $14.99 for one fluid ounce, (plus some impressive coverage, and a formula that is gentle enough for acne-prone skin), a foray into the world of CC creams is feasible without a hefty investment with this product.
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