December 6, 2016

Clinique Pep-Start 2-in-1 Exfoliating Cleanser Review

I purchased this item and I receive a small commission if you shop using the links in this post.


Clinique Pep-Start 2-in-1 Exfoliating Cleanser is a multitasking diva that cleanses as well as exfoliates skin to remove makeup and dead skin cells in one good. This is actually one of four Pep-Start Skincare products that Clinique launched earlier this Summer for Fall 2016. The other three are the Clinique Pep-Start Quick Cleansing Swipes, Pep-Start HydroBlur Moisturizer, and Clinique Pep-Start Eye Cream.

Clinique Pep-Start 2-in-1 Exfoliating Cleanser ($19.50) has become a standard part of my double cleansing nightly routine the past few months because lord knows if I can get two things done at once that’s always a plus in my busy life.

Here’s my review!

I actually love this formula but wish it was more hydrating because man it leaves me feel dry and tight as hell but there’s good news! I incorporated Pep-Start 2-in-1 Exfoliating Cleanser into my nightly routine a few months ago and I think it’ll stay a permanent part of that routine as I actually really like this. I’m not going to say it doesn’t leave me feeling rather tight but if I follow up directly with the rest of my nightly skincare I can restore the moisture it sucks from my skin easily enough.

This is a gel cleanser with tiny exfoliating grains. In a sense, it very much reminds me of Philosophy The Microdelivery Exfoliating Wash which I’ve also always loved but felt was drying as hell. But I think the formula is actually superior to Philosophy as the gel breaks down into a foaming cleanser as you massage it in. At first, I felt like it wasn’t grainy enough for my skin but I realize it provided the perfect ratio of scrubbing action and foaming cleanser. The gel transforms into a rich lather and the grains melt down as you scrub.

I started using it in conjunction with my cleansing oil during my double cleansing in the evening. If I use my cleansing oil first, rinse, and following up with Pep-Start I notice my skin not only looks and feels cleaner but it also appears brighter and smoother. But yes, it does make me very tight. So, I quickly follow up with the first step of my nightly routine which is applying Hada Labo Rohto Goku-jun Hyaluronic Milky Lotion and my skin is instantly plumped and hydrated again.


Moral of the story? I can cope with the tight feel as this really does a nice job of smoothing my skin and removing dead skin cells while making it squeaky clean. It’s actually a very, very good product for those of us that embrace double cleansing.

Get it now at Or grab the Pep-Start Sampler for $15 to see if this is a good pick for you! It’s also available at

Tried it already?

Do share your thoughts on it!


I purchased this item and I receive a small commission if you shop using the links in this post.

About the Muse

Isabella MuseIsabella is just an average everyday geeky girl who doesn’t blend her eyeshadow correctly, wears too much blush, and hopes she never finds her holy grail products because she likes the thrill of the chase so much. Her mission is to bring you super honest reviews on makeup, skincare, fragrance and all things beauty. She’s in no way an expert on the topic and she sure as hell isn’t a super model. But she’s passionate about makeup and is seeking like-minded individuals that like pina coladas, getting caught in the rain, and ones that enjoy spending hundreds of dollars at Sephora without feeling buyer’s remorse. If you’re that person feel free to reach out and leave a comment or follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Bloglovin‘.

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  • Jen R

    I have oily skin and loved this so much when I bought the trial kit that I bought the full size! I feel like it’s rare to find something that both exfoliates well and foams up well, so I really like it.

    • Isabella Muse

      It leaves me tight but so long as I hydrate well after it works a treat 🙂 I like how squeaky clean it gets my skin!

  • Taylor

    Awesome!! I’m combo/more oily than combo.. and I could use the “tight” feeling. I’ve been using their 3 step system, so switching the liquid soap out for this would be great & stay within the same brand (my skin is sensitive I have to be careful trying new brands).

  • Jay

    I really love the texture of this, but I got pimples everytime I used it! I finished my deluxe sample but probably won’t get a full size :(. It’s a great scrub though! Not too rough or drying for super oily skin.

  • Claire L

    Yeah foaming cleansers dry your skin out, not the best for already dry skin . I can’t do foaming body washes either for this reason, they dry out my skin and leave it itchy.