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I remember when I first started getting into beauty back in 2014, I cringed at the fact that until quite recently I'd been using face wipes and Superdrug own brand face cream and a scrub as pretty much my only skincare... Fast-forward a few years and I'm happily slathering on their cleansers and serums and using their chemical exfoliants, so what's changed? Apparently, a lot! I know Boots No.7 and Botanicals and the Superdrug Vitamin E line have been around for donkeys, and are all continuing to grow, but today I wanted to focus on the newer lines from Boots and Superdrug now they're competing with the likes of the Ordinary and the Inkey List...
Let's start with Me+ by Superdrug, given I have three products here from the line. Something I really enjoyed at the end of 2020 and start of 2021 was the Me+ Tranexamic Acid Booster | £8.99. I like that this is described as a 'booster' because - for me - there's no one ingredient that will resolve uneven skin tone or hyperpigmentation: it has to be a multi-pronged attack, of which tranexamic acid can be one facet. This ingredient was initially used to treat blood loss but began to be used for melasma, a discolouration issue that often arises during pregnancy, and it's now available in cosmetics. It's very compatible with a range of other skincare ingredients and also very unlikely to cause irritation. This serum comes out as a clear gel, suitable for just about any skin type, and does contain glycerin to pull water into the skin, so you get a bit of hydration in too. I thought this was a really great formula, particularly in helping along newer discolouration marks.
I also really enjoy the Me+ Hyaluronic Acid Cleanser with Niacinamide and Ceramides | £6.99. This is a newer product to me but my skin was loving it as the weather turned cold. I primarily use this as a morning cleanse when my skin needs that, but it also makes a great second cleanse. It has a creamy consistency but melts down beautifully, so it's almost like a cream-gel. It's totally non-foaming and actually feels very light on the skin compared to other cream cleansers. It's obviously a wash-off product but it's fragrance-free and contains skin barrier-friendly ingredients like hyaluronic acid, niacinamide and ceramides. It's super gentle and leaves my skin feeling soft but also refreshed.
Lastly, for this line, let's talk the Me+ BHA Toner | £8.99. This was such a pleasant surprise for me! Not that I wasn't expecting it to be good, but there are so many BHA toners on the market that it's not always easy to stand out. This is formulated with 2% salicylic acid as its BHA, which is an oil-soluble exfoliant so jumps into your pores and clears out a lot of that debris that leads to blemishes. It can also help on a surface level with leftover blemish scarring. I use something like this when I need it, as someone who gets hormonal breakouts, but if you have a more acne-prone skin type, I think you could use this 2-3 times a week as both a treatment and preventative step. What I really enjoy about this is that it clarifies and clears congestion, but it's not remotely drying and doesn't irritate my skin. It's fragrance-free and has a simple ingredient list, but there's panthenol and allantoin in here, which are soothing and hydrating for the skin. I can't think of a salicylic acid toner on the high street that's as good as this: for an accessible, affordable product, I really recommend trying this. I think even for a teenager, this is probably within budget and it's even often on offer.
Next, we're going to talk about Optimum, a Superdrug brand that has me intrigued. I have been sent a couple more things from them since that actually look really promising, so I'll update you on those once I've unpacked in the flat I've just moved into and had a chance to try out some of the new skincare I have in. Today we're talking the Optimum Collagen Serum | £12.99 | which I picked up on a whim and really enjoyed. Collagen (this is plant-based) applied topically isn't going to replenish lost collagen in the skin - it just doesn't penetrate to that level - but it does have great hydrating and moisturising benefits. I'm a little more like 'maybe leave it' when you're looking at very high-end products and collagen is the standout ingredient, but for £12.99: this was a great plumping, hydrating, smoothing serum that gave my skin a lovely glow. And that's not all: you're getting antioxidant benefits from ethylated ascorbic acid (a Vitamin C derivative) and Vitamin E. We also have skin-plumping peptides, niacinamide (to help with uneven skin tone and also to regulate oil production and boost up the skin barrier) and humectants in the form of glycerin and hyaluronic acid. I don't think all of these ingredients are at super-efficacious concentrations based on where they are on the INCI list but overall, this is a really well-rounded serum. The only thing I need to point out is that it does contain fragrance.
Let's move onto B. which is a well-established Superdrug brand that's recently had a bit of a revamp, both in terms of the products and the packaging. I recently tried the B. Overnight Smoothing Serum | £14.99 | and really enjoyed it. Superdrug's Me+ brand is the cheapest and simplest of the three and the Optimum and B. lines are a little more pricey but the formulas are more complex. This is a chemically-exfoliating serum that you can use as part of your PM routine once or twice a week (I certainly didn't use this nightly as suggested in the instructions). It's great if you prefer a slower release or you don't really use toners or masks in your routine. It's formulated with lactic acid, which is a form of AHA that's great for resurfacing the skin, boosting its glow and it actually also has hydrating properties. It's paired with gluconolactone, a PHA, which is a mild exfoliant with a slow penetration that's great for dry and / or sensitive skin, and again it does have a hydrating element to it. Not only that, but it contains ingredients that are fantastic for the skin barrier, helping to offset the exfoliation: ceramides and cholesterol are great, we have a Vitamin E derivative and also squalane - a replenishing oil our skin can recognise. It's another great, well-rounded formula. It comes out like a kind of gel-lotion, I didn't find it irritating at all but I loved how soft and smooth my skin felt by morning. Again, be advised there are some fragrant components in this formula.
I also really liked the B. Moisturising Tonic | £9.99. This is a light, transparent, essence-like formula that adds a layer of hydration with ingredients like panthenol (which is also nice and calming) and natural moisturising factors like hyaluronic acid. Castor oil is in here to soften the skin and help bind in that moisture. It does tout containing prebiotics but I don't see anything on the ingredient list that I recognise as a prebiotic, so possibly there are some extracts in here that can be prebiotic sources? I really don't know! Either way, this is a great product you can pick up in your local Superdrug to perk up dry, dull winter skin. Again, this contains fragrance.
Rounding out the Superdrug brands, I also tried the Naturally Radiant Glow Cleansing Milk | £7.99. This little bottle is super travel-friendly and the line this cleanser comes from is built around microbiome support so contains fermented ingredients, and this process can actually boost the efficacy of said ingredients. I don't personally apply this with cotton pads but you could do this to remove everyday makeup, though I tended to gravitate towards using it as a morning cleanse or if I was just wearing a bit of sunscreen, I'd use it as a one-step PM cleanse if I was feeling lazy. It's formulated with a Vitamin E derivative, glycerin and replenishing fatty alcohol. It does contain fragrance but in a cleanser, I'm sure it won't bother most people. It's a light creamy-gel that leaves my skin feeling lovely and soft after use.
For Boots, I've kind of honed in on the Ingredients range, as it just seemed the most substantive of their more recent own brand offerings. I used the Ingredients Retinol Eye Cream | £7 | for around 8 weeks every night before bed. I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with eye creams and spending less on them is a good way to avoid disappointment. This is a light melting cream-gel with retinol formulated for the sensitive eye area. I'm sure you already know, but retinoids are the proven ingredient for reversing skin damage, and our eyes are one of the first places on our face where we start to notice ageing. I didn't find this transformative, but I feel it helped my under eye area look smoother without being at all heavy and it contains some great moisturisers like fatty alcohol, shea butter and Vitamin E.
Last but not least, we have the Ingredients Lactic Acid | £5. This is a really simple formula so alongside your AHA lactic acid, you have glycerin and not much else of note. I recommend this for use a couple of times a week and it definitely gave me smoother and more radiant skin. My only negatives are that it's a little bit tacky, but that does disappear once you get your moisturiser on, and that you don't know what the concentration is. For these two reasons, the Ordinary is still my favourite lactic acid because I prefer how it feels on my skin and because you can choose if you want 5% or 10%, but if I'd run out and I was in Boots and this was what was in stock, I would pick it up again and be happy with it.
Have you tried any of these own-brand lines?