THE INKEY LIST REVIEW: BRIGHTENING SKINCARE ROUTINE

I can’t believe this brand has only been around since 2018, yet in this short time The Inkey List has already gained cult status with a listing on Cult Beauty, featured on countless beauty journalists’ favourite skincare lists, and become as ubiquitous as The Ordinary on the skincare community’s social media feeds. Basically if you’re interested in skincare ingredients at an accessible price, this brand is for you. As the brand name suggests – a play on INCI which is the technical term for the ingredient list featured on every product packaging – it’s all about what’s in the formula: the ingredient benefits, the concentration, how to use them and combine them with other active ingredients. Deciphering an ingredient list can be daunting so The Inkey List breaks it down by highlighting the key actives, how much is in the formula and what it will do for your skin. Their online skin recipe tool is a great way of figuring out what products are right for your skin, and this is what I used when the brand reached out and asked if I wanted to try some products. Unsurprisingly my personalised skincare routine came out full of skin brightening products to tackle my dull pigmented complexion. If you’re still unsure you can ask any question via askINKEY to get feedback from one of their beauty partners – Jeremy Beth Michaels whose book I reviewed here is part of the lineup!

Fulvic Acid Brightening Cleanser

Both my morning and evening Inkey List skincare routines start with this Brightening Cleanser aimed at tackling dull and uneven skin tone. I’m always on the lookout for radiance-inducing products and ingredients but I’d yet to come across fulvic acid. Apparently Nordic peat contains a high amount of it and is proven to be a strong antioxidant. This cleanser features 0.5% Nordic peat, I’m guessing it’s the little black bits I see floating in the formula, as well as 1.5% Kakadu plum complex which boasts 50x more vitamin C than an orange, and 1% liquorice root extract which helps to reduce hyperpigmentation. This all sounds like a wonderful brightening cocktail, and the studies on this product offer strong claims to back this up, with 90% of people saying their skin was noticeably brighter after 7 days. Just 7 days! It certainly cleanses skin gently, building up into a generous white froth which comes off nicely with the softly buffing reusable pads The Inkey List sent me (it doesn’t look like you can buy them though which is a shame). I do need to apply a serum straight after to avoid a tight feeling, but overall this is a strong start to my Inkey List skincare routine. 150ml RRP £10.99

Hyaluronic Acid

Well I can see why one of these sells every 30 seconds worldwide. Anyone interested in skincare is by now familiar with the powerful hydrating benefits of hyaluronic acid. Many serums contain this key ingredient but if you fancy a dedicated moisture hit this little bottle delivers exactly that: a pea-sized amount of this thin liquid is enough to spread across my face and neck, and although it feels a little tacky, it is absorbed quickly into skin. I apply this in the morning to damp skin straight after cleansing to lock in moisture and prep skin for a serum or treatment. 30ml RRP £5.99

Niacinamide

For my evening routine I swap Hyaluronic Acid with Niacinamide, another popular ingredient which features in the top 10 most Google-searched for skincare ingredients (along with hyaluronic acid and vitamin C). For this ingredient the general consensus is that it’s effective at 2% to 10% concentration, and with this little bottle containing 10% Niacinamide you should be seeing decent results in terms of controlling excess oil, redness and hyperpigmentation. It’s gentle enough to use every day and plays well with most other skincare ingredients. 30ml RRP £6.99

15% Vitamin C + EGF Serum

No brightening skincare routine would be complete without vitamin C. To ensure visible results concentration should be 8% to 20%, and with this pale orange thin serum containing 15% Ascorbyl Glucoside I’m hoping it’ll deliver a brightening effect as great as my favourite Clinique Fresh Pressed Vitamin C 10%. You can use it twice a day but I prefer to switch to another treatment in the evening, so to avoid overloading my skin I apply one pump in the mornings only, straight after the Hyaluronic Acid then wait 10 minutes before applying a moisturiser or SPF on top (to give skin cells time to respond to the EGF and not affect the cell rejuvenation process). This is a potent formula so I would avoid using at the same time as retinol and AHAs which can sensitise skin. This feels like a very reasonably priced serum considering the vitamin C concentration. 30ml RRP £14.99

Tranexamic Acid Night Treatment

Like fulvic acid, this is another acid I’d never heard of before. The overnight treatment brightens the complexion by targeting hyperpigmentation, uneven skin tone and dark spots. This sounds right up my street, and as a new tool to my radiance-boosting skincare arsenal, it’s the product I’m most excited to trial. It contains:

  • 2% Tranexamic Acid helps to reduce hyperpigmentation
  • 2% acai berry extract helps to promote even skin tone
  • 2% Vitamin C derivative helps to brighten skin tone

After applying niacinamide in the evenings I use one pump of this overnight treatment then that’s it, nothing else afterwards. If you’re worried about dehydration you can alternate evenings between using this product and your moisturiser of choice, but my skin doesn’t seem to mind at all so I go for 5 or 6 nights a week. 30ml RRP £14.99

Symbright Moisturizer

I was a little dubious about this moisturiser due to its matt appearance – I just didn’t see how this could deliver a dewy glowy finish, or even keep my skin moisturised for the whole day. But it did, with the added benefit of minimal shine at the end of the day. Containing fermented clary sage and 2% vitamin C-rich Kakadu plum extract, it works to brighten dull skin. I apply a pea-sized amount in the morning, 10 minutes after the vitamin C serum, and have no issue moving straight onto makeup application. Unlike the more indulgent moisturisers I’m used to – Caudalie for the scent, or Balance Me for the texture – it doesn’t deliver on the sensorial side, but as with all the products in the range, the focus is on the performance, cutting out all the noise you can easily get distracted by like packaging and fragrance. This is functionality at its best. 50ml RRP £10.99

Salicylic Acid Exfoliating Scalp Treatment

Until I received my parcel of The Inkey List goodies I had no idea the brand delved into haircare. Scalp health is big news in haircare and with good reason: how your scalp is behaving shows up on your hair, so rather than treating just hair, it completely makes sense to tackle the roof of the issue (yes I did that on purpose). My scalp becomes itchy and flaky if I use stripping or highly fragranced shampoo, and as I tested The Inkey List products whilst on holiday I didn’t have access to my usual solid shampoo and my scalp started to feel irritated. The gently exfoliating Salicylic Acid works to remove flakes and balance oil production. I worked the liquid into my dry scalp pre-shampoo, massaging it in with fingertips and leaving it on for a few minutes before rinsing and following up with shampoo and conditioner as usual. Out of all the products I’ve tried this was the one I was least convinced about as my scalp didn’t feel any less itchy. I’ll admit I probably didn’t leave it on for long enough, and with 100% of respondents who tested this treatment saying their scalp and hair felt less oily I’m clearly in the minority, so I’m willing to give it another go and use it more consistently. 50ml RRP 11.99

Peptide Volumizing Hair Treatment

This hair thickening serum however I love. On the surface of it this unassuming thin liquid doesn’t look like it can do much to volumise hair, but after working a couple of shakes of the bottle through damp hair, once dry my fine hair instantly looks bigger and bouncier. It doesn’t feel like the product weighs it down, there’s no tackiness or crunchiness that you sometimes get from a volumizing mousse. This hair treatment provides satisfyingly instant results without drying hair out – I can’t fault this product. 50ml RRP £9.99

Features gifted products

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