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Today I'm doing a post that feels long overdue! It's my top 10 from affordable UK skincare brand the Inkey List...
9. Alpha Arbutin* | £9.99 | I actually recommend this product above Inkey's Vitamin C if you're looking to target pigmentation marks; I used this product for a period of time without incorporating Vitamin C into my routine at all and saw some pretty great results. It has a lotion-y texture that also contains moisturising and hydrating ingredients like squalane, hyaluronic acid, lipids and soybean extract, making it a really well-rounded formula in my personal opinion. Arbutin is plant-based and often seen as a similar but less... invasive alternative to hydroquinone, because it can help dark spots without any potential unwanted side-effects. It's effectively inhibiting melanin production, because overstimulation of this production is what causes these dark spots left behind after a cut, breakout or other form of trauma to the skin. It also plays very well with other ingredients, which is helpful when dealing with these single-active-focussed sorts of products. I also personally find this product very gentle; I used it every night and experienced no irritation. I saw amazing results in terms of skin clarity and evening out my skin tone and this is a very stable ingredient, unlike Vitamin C. It's very underrated in my opinion and this product has really got me into the ingredient.
8. Q10 Serum | £4.99 | I won't lie; before trying this serum, I really associated Q10 with L'Oreal products that weren't really targeted at me. I honestly assumed it was a patented ingredient and didn't really trust it! I picked this up on a whim because it was under a fiver and looked into things a little more. This enzyme has incredible antioxidant benefits, protecting the skin from free radical damage. There are a lot of big claims made about this ingredient, but just to clarify; no ingredient besides retinoids (other than sunscreen, from a preventative perspective) is proven to reverse the signs of ageing. However, a temporary plumping effect can be achieved, which will reduce the appearance of fine lines and antioxidants are fantastic when paired with sunscreen to prevent that environmental damage. This serum combines Q10 with squalane (a skin-similar plant-derived moisturising oil) and it's very gentle and non-irritating on my skin. It hydrates my skin and really does seem to improve its overall appearance so it's healthy, bouncy and looking fresh.
7. Hyaluronic Acid Serum* | £5.99 | I'd say this is definitely my preferred affordable / drugstore hyaluronic acid. There are a lot of sticky, filmy, unpleasant formulas on the market, but this is not one of them. If you don't know; hyaluronic acid is a water magnet, drawing water into the skin. Therefore, I recommend applying it to damp skin to give it something to work with and sealing it right in with a moisturising to lock in that hydration. I really like the texture of this lightweight gel-serum, and it gives me those hyaluronic acid benefits I love; plumper, smoother, more hydrated skin. This is my second bottle of it and my only negative is that it doesn't last me that long (despite being a standard 30ml bottle).
6. Salicylic Acid Exfoliating Scalp Treatment* | £11.99 | Salicylic acid is known for being a great ingredient for oily / spot-prone skin, however its properties also make it fantastic for clearing the scalp. Salicylic acid can penetrate deeply due to its oil-solubility and 'unglue' dead skin cells, clearing out skin debris. This is fantastic if you experience a dry, flaky scalp or lots of irritation and build-up because using this treatment once or twice a week really helps clear all of that out. This is like a solution so I shake it directly onto my scalp, massage it in, leave it for 10 minutes and then rinse. My scalp feels clearer, healthier, the flakiness is at bay and I don't feel like I have to wash it constantly. If I had one criticism it would be that this only launched over summer and I believe this is already my 3rd or 4th bottle (once gifted and the rest purchased): release a supersized edition please, Inkey!
5. Peptide Moisturiser* | £14.89 | Honestly, I haven't had the best luck with the Inkey List's moisturisers in the past, so I didn't have high hopes for this one when it launched, however I just kept hearing good things about it! I really like the packaging; there's just something inherently satisfying about a reverse pump. This moisturiser comes out as a sort of lotion texture; it's nothing too rich or heavy at all but it's still enough for my normal-to-dry skin. Peptides are an interesting area of skincare; brands often like to claim they stimulate collagen production, but we don't really have the evidence to say this conclusively. However, I personally find them very hydrating and find that they have a temporary plumping effect on my skin, so if you can get them at an affordable price like this; they're well worth a look. There's also shea butter in her to provide that deep, lasting nourishment to the skin. I absolutely love the texture of this moisturiser; it just melts into my skin, leaving it soft, smooth and moisturised.
4. Tranexamic Acid Night Treatment* | £14.99 | This is another great option when it comes to targeting uneven pigmentation in the skin. As the name suggests, this is an acid, so it's best not to combine it with exfoliating acids (gentler options could work but I'd avoid glycolic and salicylic on night's you're using this), particularly if you have quite sensitive skin. It does play well with other ingredients, if your skin can handle it; this formula combines the tranexamic with ascorbyl glucoside to really take the results to the next level. I can personally use this every night with zero irritation but if your skin is more on the sensitive side; proceed with caution. I use this as a treatment / serum step as opposed to as an overnight mask, which is what the brand suggests. It works to make the skin less susceptible to discolouration, including as a result of sun exposure (though, of course, still slap on the sunscreen the following morning!) This really helped me with inflammation, post-breakout scarring and uneven skin tone. Something about this formula just really works for me as a whole!
3. Niacinamide* | £6.99 | I love niacinamide as a skincare ingredient and I love this product because it feels very well-rounded with additional beneficial ingredients in there like squalane and hyaluronic acid, so you're getting additional hydrating and moisturising benefits all in one product so you don't need to layer several. Niacinamide is a multi-purpose ingredient that will work for most skin types; it has benefits including regulating oil production in the skin, helping the appearance of uneven pigmentation in the skin, reducing redness and inflammation and strengthening the skin barrier. It's definitely a long game; you need to consistently use this serum for a good few weeks to reap the benefits, but once you do it works so well. This improves the overall quality and texture of my skin and it has a beautiful texture that applies nicely and feels good on my skin.
2. Oat Cleansing Balm* | £9.99 | I didn't actually love this product when I first picked it up almost a year ago! However, as I got into the product a little more and it became easier to get out of this flipping tube (be warned; for the first few uses, it's a strength test), I found myself instinctively reaching for it over and over again and suddenly I was all out. I really appreciate this gentle, effective formula and it's a product I can reach for whenever my skin is reactive. It's formulated with oat kernel oil, sunflower seed oil and sweet almond oil to effectively melt down makeup, including around the eyes (without being at all irritating). It emulsifies nicely on contact with water to remove everything without leaving behind any excess. It also contains colloidal oat to look after the skin barrier.
1. PHA Toner* | £9.99 | This is another product I picked up when it launched last March and, again, I've since used up and have been sent a replacement. PHAs are an incredible class of ingredient; think of them as the gentler siblings of AHA and BHA chemical exfoliants. Their larger molecular size clears up dry skin cells on a surface level and you can use them daily, if you wish (I generally don't recommend that with AHAs and BHAs). They also have amazing humectant properties, drawing in and retaining hydration in the skin. This toner is also formulated with calming aloe juice, moisturising castor oil and actually a bit of niacinamide too to offer those skin clarifying and barrier-building benefits even if you're not using a dedicated serum. This toner gently smooths and softens my skin, also leaving it plump and hydrated after use. I think even quite sensitive skin types could really love this stuff. It opened my eyes to other sorts of exfoliators and it remains one of my all-time favourites.
Have you tried the Inkey List? What were your favourite products, or if not which do you want to try?