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This has been a bit of a long-gestating post! Throughout 2020 I tried bits and pieces here and there from the brand Facetheory and, given it's Affordable Beauty Month, it seemed like time to discuss my experience using the products...
- BRAND BACKGROUND -
Facetheory have actually been around for a good 6 years now. When they first launched, way back, they were called ForYou and I actually got some samples of their products in a goodie bag for a blogger event I went to and really fell for their M1 moisturiser (here's my 'review' from back then if you want a laugh!) Of course, they've since rebranded and over the past year or so there's been a real increase in interest in the brand, so I revisited their product line. I think they've been really smart in how they've positioned themselves; they were out before the Ordinary but in the time they've been operating, single-active formulas kind of took over the market, but more recently many confused consumers have begun to move away from them.
Facetheory focus on blends of ingredients, so although the actives are front and centre it's clear who the product is for and the benefits it will deliver with this multi-pronged approach. Their packaging is basic, functional and glass (for recyclability). Whilst the price-point is higher than the Ordinary and a touch higher than the Inkey List, there's usually a discount going... Whilst I wouldn't say they're super education-focused like the Inkey List, their products are a tad less confusing and their range not as extensive, so it's not a deal-breaker for me. What I do like is that they explain what each ingredient is when they list it on their website so you can understand what chemical names mean and why an ingredient is in your product. Their products are vegan (so when I refer to lactic acid below, it's a synthetic form) and cruelty-free, and I can't see anything on their site over £20. I also love that they give a 30 day money back guarantee; here in the UK you generally can't return beauty products that have been opened, so the fact they're this confident in their products really gets me on board with the brand and I always appreciate good customer care. (Update: Facetheory have provided a discount code (not affiliate) for 25% off for my readers: JASMINETALKSBEAUTY25.)
- THE PRODUCTS -
But, how are the products and formulations? Let's get into it... For context; I have normal-to-dry skin with persistent dehydration. I get hormonal breakouts during 'that time of the month' and struggle with scarring and pigmentation left behind after them. Therefore these are the issues I'm looking to target with the products I chose. Just as a side-note; I didn't pick up their sunscreen to try, but with active ingredients like these, be sure to use one every single day.
Let's start with the first step in the skincare routine: the Vitamin C C1 Cleanser | £11.99. I really like that this product comes with the option of scented or unscented because everyone has their preferences and this caters to both audiences. At the end of the day it's a wash-off cleanser so the risk of irritation is pretty low. This is formulated with Vitamin C (sodium ascorbyl phosphate) and comes in opaque packaging presumably for that reason. If you want to avoid potential oxidation with this ingredient then I'd recommend getting the pump version over the jar version. I know it says its a stabilised Vitamin C but even looking at the pump of mine, I can see product that has oxidised. I personally think that whilst there are water-activated Vitamin C facial products you can get, by and large it's a 'nice to have' in a cleanser but not something that's going to transform your skin on its own. If you want to get the absolute most out this I'd actually suggest leaving it on your skin for a minute or really taking your time to massage it into your skin. It doesn't dramatically give me Vitamin C results, but it nicely brightens the skin and gives it a glow boost. More than anything else, I just really like the creamy texture; it's very moisturising and contains nourishment via avocado oil and apricot kernel oil so leaves my skin feeling lovely and soft. It doesn't foam and it's not remotely stripping, so is great for dry skin.
Let's get into toners, I have two and the first is their Cera-C Pore-Reducing Toner T1 | £14.99. I feel like most of us can agree you can't just change your pore size with a topical product, but that aside; I picked this up because I really liked the ingredients. This is formulated with niacinamide (I won't repeat what it does for the skin because I've gone into some detail in respect of the Porebright toner below), Vitamin C, Vitamin E (for strengthening and repairing the skin), panthenol (for water retention), soothing aloe, lactic acid (an AHA, which also has humectant properties - this is likely a low concentration because there's nothing particularly exfoliating about this product) and ceramides, which naturally occur in the skin but deplete over time and are essential in supporting a healthy skin barrier. It doesn't contain alcohol, which I personally like because I prefer not having that feeling of a toner drying off your skin or it interacting with ingredients to give that astringent feeling. I feel this actually has a nice texture on the skin; not heavy or overly moisturising for oilier skin types, but it's also far from that traditional burning toner formula! It's one of those products that's very gentle and plays a subtle role in your skincare routine, but using this morning and evening for a month or so really gave me a 'good skin day' pretty much every day. A toner isn't a MUST in a skincare routine but this does that daily maintenance for me and it's a big, generous bottle at a reasonable price.
I also have the Colloidal-C Anti-Redness Toner T3 | £14.99. This has a really similar application and texture to the other toner but it contains colloidal oat, to soothe and replenish the skin, lots of humectants, liquorice to brighten the skin, panthenol for water retention and again, Vitamin E, some lactic acid and Vitamin C. I really don't think there can be a lot of Vitamin C in this formula, because that can sometimes be irritating to the skin and I actually find this toner very calming on my skin when it's a bit irritated or flaring up. My main negative for the brand is that they often throw Vitamin C into every single product, and I just don't find it necessary; sometimes I just want a minimally-active product or I want to use a toner like this before my retinoid from another brand and worry that its inclusion here might prevent the two products from jiving. That being said, this is what I reach for the calm down my skin when it's feeling a bit reactive after walking in the cold and it works really well for me in that respect.
Next we'll venture into the many treatments and serums I tried from this brand, starting with the Porebright N10 Serum* | £14.99. I wouldn't get too caught up in the 'pore' element of the name and associate this as being for oily skin only; it's formulated with 10% niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, azelaic acid and salicylic acid as its main actives. Taking each of these in turn; niacinamide is really the star of the show here and 10% is a good treatment level concentration whilst also still being gentle enough for most skin types to tolerate it. Niacinamide can help regulate oil production in the skin, clarify its appearance by helping with hyperpigmentation, reduce redness and also help strengthen the skin barrier so it becomes less irritated and better at retaining water. There's a use for it that can apply to pretty much any skin type! Hyaluronic acid is a water magnet, pulling moisture from the atmosphere or the surface of the skin (which is why I recommend applying it to damp skin) into its deeper layers. Azelaic acid is newer ingredient to me, but one that I really enjoy. It works as an antioxidant and also has an element of exfoliation to it, but its main benefit is its ability to disrupt the overproduction of melanin that leads to hyperpigmentation, so it can really help unify the skin's overall tone. Salicylic acid is your BHA chemical exfoliant; it's oil-soluble so can deeply penetrate into the pores to clear out debris and improve breakouts and resultant scarring. I absolutely loved this serum; first up, I think the texture of this is lovely because it's very lightweight, it doesn't feel sticky or tacky, it won't pill up and it absorbs easily, meaning that most skin types will get on with it. Secondly, it works! It isn't something you're going to see overnight results with but stick with it for 4-6 weeks and you should experience what I did; smoother, clearer, more even skin. It's not at all harsh, in my experience, so I had no issues using it daily.
Next we have the Mandelibright Serum S7* | £18.99. This is one of the more expensive products from the range, but (spoiler!) it's absolutely worth it in my books. Unlike with the Porebright serum; this does give that immediate gratification of seeing a difference in your skin very quickly. The star of the show here is mandelic acid; an ingredient I really fell for last year, as it's one of the lesser-known AHA chemical exfoliation options. It has a large molecular size and is generally better-tolerated by most people than something like glycolic. The 10% concentration really hits the sweet spot of seeing results but also keeping things nice and gentle. Mandelic acid is specifically very good at targeting uneven pigmentation in the skin, which is something you need to use this consistently to see an improvement in. I personally think that if you're like me and you have experience with acids then using this either 3 times per week and ditching the acid toner, or using it once a week and your acid toner 2-3 times per week (obviously not on the day you're using this), so it just operates as a booster, are both options that work well. There's 2% niacinamide in here; nothing overly strong but you will still get some of those benefits without overwhelming your skin and making it reactive. The green tea and chamomile in this product can have a calming effect on the skin, which is always welcome in an exfoliating product and there are some humectants in the mix to pull in water. This is also formulated with liquorice, which I really enjoy in conjunction with acids as a gentle brightening agent, again targeting pigmentation marks. Again, the texture is really pleasant to apply, and I do think some of the extra money you spend on Facetheory goes into making the textures nice. This gives me incredibly smooth skin by morning (I use it overnight, as I do with any sort of exfoliating serum) with zero irritation. Over time, I did see that skin clarity too and it helped to fade some stubborn pigmentation on my cheeks from a hormonal breakout I'd had. All in all this is one of my top-rated products from the brand.
Lastly, in terms of serums, let's talk about the Exaglow Serum S10 | £18.99 | which is a newer launch and also one of their higher-ticket items. Tranexamic acid is a newer skincare ingredient to market that has the ability to fade discolouration (including melasma and even age spots), reduce post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and inhibit overproduction of melanin. It plays really well with other skincare ingredients, which is why it's combined with lots of other goodness in this formula. We have it alongside some fantastic ingredients I've already gone into detail on in this post, including Vitamin C, lactic acid, niacinamide and liquorice, all of which help to even out the skin's tone and give your complexion that glow. Again, I find the texture pleasant and for my skin, which is very much used to active ingredients, I can use it daily with no irritation whatsoever. This serum is a fantastic powerhouse for anyone dealing with uneven skin tone or stubborn marks that won't budge weeks after your breakout. I took a bit of a break from Vitamin C before testing this product out and the benefits I saw were amazing! I would say if you have more of an oily skin type, you'll benefit more from the higher percentage of niacinamide in the Porebright formula and having the other ingredients support its work, but if you're more like me and you aren't breaking out that often but you're struggling to get rid of marks left behind from when you last did, then go for this and go for this one, and you still get the niacinamide in there in a supporting role.
The moisturiser I tried from Facetheory is their Rejuvenating Moisturiser M2 for Sensitive Skin* | £12.99. This is formulated with oatmeal to calm and soothe the skin, cocoa and shea butters for that deep nourishment, hyaluronic acid and glycerin to attract water and panthenol to retain it. There's also a little lactic acid and Vitamin E in there, alongside Vitamin C (I've already made my feelings known regarding that). We also have some nice fatty acids and emollients in there to give the gorgeous soft skin feeling this moisturiser creates and to really replenish the skin. I think this is more accurately described as a moisturiser for dry skin; it actually has a light, whipped texture that nourishes without smothering the skin, but I don't think ingredients like shea butter would work so well for oily-sensitive skin types. This is a lovely everyday moisturiser for me personally; it feels light but gives my skin what it needs, even during the depths of winter we're currently experiencing.
Last, but not least, let's talk about their Hydrating Tamanu Oil O5* | £12.99. This is a huge bottle you get here for the price, making it great value for money. Tamanu oil isn't something I often come across in western products, but I have used it before in Korean skincare. There's not a ton of research behind some of the bigger claims made about it but it does seem to have some healing and soothing qualities, alongside being nourishing and replenishing for the skin. It's a great option if you want to try a face oil but find essential oils too irritating for your skin. I apply this as the last step in my evening routine to lock in everything else, and for my skin it's essential during the winter months as an extra layer of nourishment. This works incredibly well for that whilst having a non-greasy, fairly lightweight formula.
- FINAL THOUGHTS -
I have honestly been so impressed with the products I've tried from Facetheory. The serums in particular really did knock my socks off. They do have other basics like cleansers and moisturisers, but the treatments are the area in which they really shine. I'm not going to criticise things like the packaging, because at the end of the day; it's a very affordable brand, the packaging is functional for its purpose and I'm not looking for a fancy experience when I reach for these products, I'm looking for visible results (which they provide). My only real negative is the throwing of Vitamin C into every formula going, I just don't think it's necessary, personally. But it's a small gripe in an overall glowing review!
Have you tried Facetheory? Have any of these products caught your eye?