The rise of ingredient-led skincare has taken the beauty world by storm. Vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, retinol, it’s no longer about finding the right serum for your skin type, but the right ingredient for your skin concern. Dull skin? Go for brightening vitamin C. Dehydrated skin? A shot of hyaluronic acid will sort that out. With adult acne on the rise, it’s probably no surprise that salicylic acid was the most searched-for beauty ingredient of 2021, with 73,000 monthly searches. Extracted from willow tree bark, salicylic acid is an astringent, oil-soluble BHA chemical exfoliant, meaning it can cut through oil and exfoliate deep within pores to remove blockages caused by dead skin cells and sebum, therefore preventing acne and reducing the appearance of spots, whiteheads and blackheads. It encourages cellular turnover and helps to slough off dead skin cells, which in turn can improve skin dullness and texture. Thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties it also reduces redness caused by breakouts (source: Byrdie). All in all it sounds like my skin is going to get on just fine with this acne-fighting ingredient. Goodbye congested skin, dullness and oily T-zone. No doubt I’ve encountered salicylic acid in more than one skincare product, but it’s not made much of a lasting impression. Caudalie’s salicylic acid-enriched Vinopure range has changed that for good: after using the full range for a solid month I’ve experienced first-hand a reduction in the severity of my breakouts and how much more balanced my skin feels. As with many skin-related concerns, consistency and longevity pave the road to success: if you don’t see results within the first days, don’t give up straight away and move on to the next shiny new toy (not that I’m one to talk). Many skincare products undergoing clinical or user trials will do so for 4 to 6 weeks, so stick with it to reap the benefits and see the full effects.
Ah the cleansing gel. In the last few years I’ve favoured cleansing balms over gels for their more nourishing approach: my skin consistently feels clean without the ‘squeaky’ you’d typically get from more stringent options. I thought I’d left my gel cleanser days firmly in the past as my favoured method of my teens and twenties, but I stand corrected with Caudalie’s Vinopure Cleanser. Ideal for acne-prone skin (think blemishes, enlarged pores, blackheads), the organic and vegan formula manages to purify skin without drying it out. Its soap- and alcohol-free nature will go a long in assisting its non-drying status, as will the presence of hydrating aloe vera. The gel cleanser format is back on my radar. 150ml RRP £16.00
Toners have suffered from a bad rap for forming a pointless step in the skincare routine. Not as essential as a cleanser and not as impressive as a serum, it can feel like it sits in no-man’s land. So if you’re not sold on the concept of a toner, here’s an idea: why not use it in the morning instead of a cleanser, to freshen up skin and prep it to receive all the goodness of a serum? Applied on a reusable cotton pad for added exfoliation, this 99% natural formula with salicylic acid and organic rose water cleans, purifies and mattifies skin for truly noticeable, less shiny skin. 200ml RRP £19.00
Ideal for combination skin, this lightweight gel serum enriched in natural salicylic acid and niacinamide (known to minimise the appearance of pores and improve uneven skin tone) unclogs pores and refines skin texture. Caudalie boasts impressive clinical results: -63% acne spots from 1 week – wow! Reading the small print, this is achieved by using the whole Vinopure skincare routine (all of the above products plus the lotion reviewed below), not just the serum, and due to the cost of running clinical trials, the sample size is small, at just 22 women. So a few caveats to take into consideration, but still, I can vouch for the efficacy of the core products in noticeably reducing my breakouts. 30ml RRP £30.00
This is the product I was the most reticent to use. Although I get blemishes, I wouldn’t say my skin was highly oily (certainly compared to my teens or even twenties), so even through breakouts I tend to opt for thicker moisturisers and facial oils for my dehydrated skin. The word ‘mattifying’ makes me want to shrink away from the tube. But I needn’t have worried: enriched in hydrating organic grape water, the refreshing lotion achieves the tricky balance of regulating sebum production whilst still providing healthy-looking skin. I do feel the need to top up hydration levels mid-afternoon with a facial mist, but the skin tightness and dry patches on my cheeks are more frequent and noticeable on a week day when I’m sat in front of a screen for 10 hours a day, so it may be unfair to blame it all on the product. 40ml RRP £24.00
I haven’t used this mask nearly as often as I should have. Probably only twice in the last 5 weeks, when my congested skin would have benefited from weekly masking. Again, I was unfairly biased towards this green clay and zinc mask, thinking that yes, it would purify skin, but also dry it out in the process. Of course it did not. Applied as a targeted treatment on my T-zone and jawline where I often get breakouts, it unclogged pores and mattified skin, all in the space of 10 minutes. 75ml RRP £24.00
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