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ColourPop is probably my favourite affordable makeup brand, but when they first launched their skincare sister brand Fourth Ray Beauty, I wasn't instantly sold... After all; skincare is a whole other ball game! However, as they've grown, they've released some products that really appealed to me and I've now tried some of their range across various categories to report back today on whether this brand gets it right or gets it wrong.
I have to say that this is probably the category with the most disappointments for me (spoilers up top!) This is an affordable brand but I don't think that's an excuse for some of these serums not being great; look at the Ordinary, the Inkey List and Good Molecules.
That being said; let's start on a positive with the Remedy 10% Niacinamide Serum | $15. If you don't know about this skincare ingredient; I'll give you a little summary. This is Vitamin B3, which is water-soluable and can contribute to overall skin health by helping to strengthen and repair the skin's natural barrier. Not only that, but it's amazing as a gentle everyday option for oily / spot-prone skin, as it can help reduce the size of pores and regulate the oils your skin is producing. It can also help to reduce the appearance of fine lines. One of the other things I love about this ingredient is that it plays well with others; you can use it in conjunction with other actives like Vitamin C, retinol or AHAs / BHAs. This also contains glycerin, which is incredibly hydrating, and Hyaluronic Acid, which we'll talk about later! This doesn't feel sticky, tacky or filmy on my skin; it's fine to apply and absorbs nicely into my skin. I've found it leaves my skin soft, hydrated, balanced and clear. I get hormonal breakouts at a particular time of the month so have been switching to this during that week and it has an amazing calming and clearing effect. This product gets my seal of approval.
From my most-loved to my most-hated pick of the serums; I just did not get on with the Rainfall 2% Hyaluronic Acid Serum | $15. Just for clarity; I usually love this ingredient and it's an absolute essential for me in my skincare routine, but this formula just isn't it for me! Hyaluronic Acid can famously retain 1000x its weight in water, acting as a humectant, which means it draws moisture from the atmosphere and into your skin. Ideally you want to apply a hyaluronic acid serum to damp skin and you want to look for a formula with a variety of molecular sizes, so this ingredient can reach every layer of your skin. This particular serum only contains Sodium Hyaluronate, which has a small molecular size, so it can penetrate deeply. It also contains coconut and cucumber water, which are fine by me. However it contains sea salt too, which frankly seems bizarre to me in a leave-on product and - despite having had a Google - I just don't see the skin benefits of this inclusion. If anything, it's probably going to cause more problems, as I can imagine it being drying and irritating to sensitive skin. That aside; I just don't see the level of plumping, softening and hydrating magic I usually get from this ingredient when using this serum. It also feels so sticky and tacky on my skin! I really don't enjoy the feel or the application. If you'd like some other affordable hyaluronic acid serum recommendations check out this post.
Next we'll talk about RAYdiate Vitamin C Elixir | $15. I'm a bit ambivalent about this product because it's a nice moisturising oil-serum, however I just don't think it does what I want a Vitamin C serum to do! Vitamin C is an antioxidant so protects the skin from environmental aggressors, it can also give your complexion a dewy glow and even help to brighten and even the skin tone. However, there's a catch; it's very unstable. That was the first red flag with this product, because Vitamin C is usually found in opaque packaging to stop light breaking it down and reducing its effectiveness. Whilst some high-end brands use special UV packaging that looks clear but filters out light, I just doubt that a product at this price-point is using that sort of technology, so I was instantly a bit sceptical. It contains tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, which is considered to be a more stable, premium form of Vitamin C; so that's a pro. This is a dual-phase oil-serum that also contains Hyaluronic Acid and turmeric (which we'll talk about later...) It does also contain a lot of fragrant fruit and plant oils, including orange peel extract pretty high up on the ingredients list, which can be irritating to the skin, so if you're sensitive; I'd steer clear of this one. You give it a good shake before use and yes; it's very nourishing and makes my skin look plumper and fresher, but it just didn't knock my socks off and I didn't get those Vitamin C-specific benefits. I also feel like for the minimal pros of this product, I'd rather use something with fewer potentially problematic ingredients that don't serve enough of a purpose to justify their inclusion in this formula. I'm not super-draconian about not using anything fragranced in my routine, but they need to be functional for me and this is just a really long list of pretty pointless essential oils.
Finally for the serums, we have the Reveal 10% AHA Serum | $15. This product is recommended for use in the evening, probably because use of acid exfoliators like AHAs can increase the skin's sensitivity to sun damage and 10% is a fair dose. For this reason also, they recommend starting with using this once or twice a week and stopping there if you're more on the sensitive side or building to every other night if your skin allows for that. Lactic acid is one of the first ingredients on the list, which shows how effective it's going to be in the formulation; this acid is more on the gentle side and is particularly recommended for dry skin. It also contains exfoliating fruit enzymes derived from pomegranate and strawberries. There's glycolic acid in the mix too; one of the most common AHAs out there for giving the skin a glow-boost. The formula also contains sodium hyaluronate and glycerin, to counteract the sometimes stripping process of exfoliation by drawing some water into the skin. The only real issue I have with the ingredients list is orange peel extract, around halfway down, because it can be a fragrance sensitiser and if you have sensitive skin and you're using a high concentration exfoliation product like this; that could aggravate things. However, from my personal use of this product, I've had no issues with sensitivity and I haven't found this too harsh using it every other night. I've been really impressed with how soft, smooth and clear my skin has been. A couple of weeks back I had some hormonal breakouts and I feel as though this really helped with the red marks left behind. My skin has been looking healthy and radiant too. I don't find the texture sticky, it doesn't pill up and the application process is fine too. Overall this gets my stamp of approval!
- THE CLEANSERS -This was a pretty decent category in my personal opinion; nothing where I’m like ‘I can’t live without this and no other product could possibly replace it in my routine’ but they’re solid and they do the job. I also think a first and a second cleanse being available from this brand means they have a nice core collection of products.
First, let’s talk about the BFD Cleansing Oil | $14. This is a ‘no frills’ basic cleansing oil that I use for removing makeup. It’s formulated with sunflower seed oil (this is a nice, fragrance-free emolllient) and a few other oils like camellia and juniper berry. The ingredient list isn’t too extensive, which I like and I’m not too fuss about what sorts of oils are in this product because it’s one I'm going to remove and fully cleanse off my skin afterwards. My main criteria for a first cleanse is: does it remove makeup effectively without stinging my eyes or leaving behind a greasy excess? This lightweight option fits the bill in that respect, so - whilst it’s not incredibly remarkable - it’s one I’ll use and enjoy until it’s empty.
The morning or second cleanse option I chose (there is also a gel formula, but I’m not a huge fan of those) is the Cloud Bank Milky Cleanser | $12. This has a really nice consistency, which isn’t quite like anything I’ve tried before; it comes out as a fluid milk but it does foam very gently as you add water. This is billed as ‘great for sensitive skin’ but if you are sensitive, I’d just check out the full ingredients list because it is quite extensive and contains essential oils that can irritate some people, so don’t just take the brand’s word for it. Glycerin is a great, basic hydrator, I find rose water and jojoba oil very nourishing and argan milk (a non-fragrant emollient) is a fantastic source of Vitamin E, which moisturises and repairs the skin. I think this is a nice option for normal and combination skin types, as it has that balance of being milky and hydrating, whilst also giving you that very mild foaming action if you want to ensure dirt and surface oils are gently removed.
- THE OILS -I actually only have one of the oils from their range. These are generally single-ingredient products, though there are one or two blends in the range too. As there’s no water in the formula, bacteria won’t grow in these oils so they can remain 100% pure oils with no preservatives. The only degradation they should undergo is oxidisation, which means that they’ll stop being effective if you keep a bottle for ages (these bottles are pretty small so using this daily, I’d personally get through one in a few months). However, I’d still warn that even products marketed as this can be adulterated during the processes they undergo, which is why all oils aren’t created equally.
I tried the Watermelon Seed Oil | $8. Watermelon seed oil is packed full of antioxidants and fatty acids, so can help to nourish, smooth and protect the skin, as well as absorbing sebum (making it an option for oily skin too). This oil has a really nice texture; it doesn’t feel thick, greasy or smothering on my skin; it just absorbs really nicely. I tend to use this overnight, however it doesn’t make my skin overly shiny so I wouldn’t be against using it during the daytime. My only annoyance is how difficult it can be to get a good amount of product out of the bottle with this packaging! Overall, though, I liked this product a lot; using this I found my skin was softened, smoothed, moisturised and looked healthier by morning.
- THE FACE MILKS -These are honestly what initially caught my eye from this brand. They’re essentially serums / boosters that you can use on their own or mixed in with your moisturiser to get a bit of extra nourishment. I have the original $8 bottles and went through them ridiculously quickly. They’ve since changed the bottles to about double the size for $14, which I think was a good shout. Again, these have quite a lengthy ingredient list and some of them contain a fair few essential oils (we’ll dive into them all individually) so I wouldn’t recommend them for sensitive skin - there are just too many different oils included so you’d probably struggle to find out what’s causing the issue if you do experience irritation.
These are all pretty similar in their use and effect, to be honest, but the ingredients vary so we’ll still break it down, starting with the Matcha Face Milk | $8. I pretty much used this every morning and evening when on holiday in Italy, as my skin felt so dried out by the sun! The pros include matcha / green tea (a soothing antioxidant that can even improve the appearance of sun damage, though of course prevention is better than cure), jojoba milk (as mentioned earlier; it’s a good fragrance-free plant emollient for drier skin types), camellia and apricot kernel oils (again, good antioxidants). Potential cons include lemon protein (lemon can be sensitising and offers few benefits that justify its inclusion here), and rosemary and lavender; both of which are quite fragrant, so could cause irritation. Although it’s natural fragrance; it still might not be great for sensitive skin. For my own personal use; I have rather enjoyed this product. It absorbs nicely and leaves my skin feeling plump and moisturised, as well as much softer.
I also tried the Watermelon Face Milk | $8. This one is a little better ingredients-wise in my personal opinion. Though you still have potentially iffy ingredients like jasmine flower extract and orange peel extract; they’re a lot lower down on the ingredients list than with the Matcha formula and there’s a lot more really good stuff up top! It contains cucumber extract (acting as an antioxidant), melon fruit extract (as discussed earlier), aloe leaf juice (a hydrating antioxidant, though it should be noted that this form of aloe is not the most effective at delivering potential benefits) and sodium hyaluronate (the form of hyaluronic acid we discussed earlier). I really like this product; it’s fresh-feeling on the skin and just delivers that extra boost of moisture that my skin definitely appreciates, particularly as we head into autumn. I also used this one throughout my holiday to Portugal - the one pro of the original smaller bottles is how travel-friendly they are.
Last but not least; let’s talk about the Turmeric Face Milk | $8. This is another one with quite a lot of essential oils from the middle to the end of the ingredients list. I think more ingredients generally mean more problems if you suffer from sensitivity, so I don't think this will be for everyone. In terms of good ingredients; I like seeing turmeric pretty high on their list, given that the product is marketed on it! This is a fantastic antioxidant and an ingredient I'm seeing around more and more often in skincare. There's also glycerin in here and sodium hyaluronate to bring that moisture into the skin. Camu Camu is in there, which is a high-concentration Vitamin C plant extract, however I wonder how effective it can be in clear packaging such as this. Almond Milk is a good non-fragrant moisturiser. And there's also licorice, another antioxidant that may have skin-calming properties. I personally found this softening and moisturising on my skin and liked how healthy my complexion looked after use. However, I think if you're concerned about potential skin irritation you'd be best off checking out the Watermelon formula, as the difference in what these milks actually did to my skin is minimal. They're all very nice and moisturising, so it's probably best to go for the one with the least potentially harmful ingredients if you really want to try this line but your skin doesn't always agree with essential oils.
- MY VERDICT -Overall I think this is a nice, affordable brand with some solid products, though there were definitely a few misses in there too. The packaging is glass on the whole, as opposed to plastic, which not only feels more premium but is more sustainable. Obviously their branding is all very cute too! They do some good value sets if you want to save even more money and all of their products are available on Colourpop’s website. This is a huge pro for me personally because if you spend $50 on either site, you get free international shipping (UK taxes are calculated at checkout too, so there are no nasty surprises when your order rocks up) so I can order a few things from Fourth Ray and a few from ColourPop from my wish list to meet that threshold.
The products are all cruelty-free, which is brilliant, as well as being paraben-free and gluten-free. I personally don’t see parabens as the devil’s work, but if you have sensitivity to them, then this could be a good line to check out. Many of their products are vegan, but refer to the specific product page for this information - something like the Reveal serum isn't because it contains milk-derived lactic acid. They do call themselves a ‘clean’ skincare brand, which I do think plays a little into this ‘natural = good’ mentality, and I have a problem with this, given that natural ingredients can be irritating to the skin. One thing I do think it's really cool that they have an ingredients glossary on their website, which is pretty handy.
Have you tried Fourth Ray Beauty? If so - what were your hits and misses? If not - are there any products that intrigue you?