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Today we're talking Farmacy, which is a brand I've tried bits and pieces from here and there - I really enjoyed their cleansing balm and also their exfoliating serum back in 2020, but their UK product line saw a fair few additions last year, so I thought I'd round up three really nice products I've tried from them more recently...
Let's start with the Deep Sweep 2% BHA Pore-Cleaning Toner with Moringa & Papaya | £27. BHA toners are really ten-a-penny these days but in the interests of giving a proper review, I'll lay out what they are, how they work and why this is worth checking out despite the ubiquity of such products. This exfoliating toner is formulated with salicylic acid, which penetrates into the pore to clear out some of the stuff that can cause breakouts, but it also works on reducing the inflammation and potential scarring as a result of current spots. At a 2% concentration, this is really the star of the show. However, the product also features a little bit of lactic acid, an AHA with added hydrating properties that can resurface the skin and give a glow boost. There's also a small amount of PHA in here, which is a next-generation exfoliant with a large molecular size, meaning it absorbs slowly and has skin-softening benefits, as well as giving an added hydrating benefit.
Outside of the exfoliators, we have lots of fermented ingredients and sources of prebiotics to restore the skin's glow but also to help keep the skin barrier nice and healthy. This product is also formulated with plant waters, as a source of hydration, but also presumably for their antioxidant benefits, protecting the skin from free radical damage from our environment. This is a really well-rounded product, whether you're oily and breakout-prone and wanting a product that does it all, or you're like me and overall dry but deal with the occasional bit of congestion or hormonal breakouts, and want the BHA benefits without any drying side-effects. This is very gentle and balanced; I've tried 2% salicylic acids that have burnt my skin in the past but this product has been built as a good, hydrating toner that just happens to contain this powerhouse ingredient. The only thing I'd say is that - as gentle as this product is - you shouldn't overuse it, even if you're very breakout-prone, I'd probably stick to no more than every other day given it's a leave-on formula. But, all-in-all, this is a gentle, hydrating salicylic acid-based toner that I can thoroughly recommend.
Next, I'll walk you through the Very Cherry Bright 15% Clean Vitamin C Serum | £60. This isn't cheap, though I did get it 20% off, so I guess there's that. Again, this is built around a star active but is a well-rounded one-step product, which I love. Why do we all rave about Vitamin C? It's an antioxidant, meaning that it helps to protect your skin from free radicals, and damage from them is likely to lead to accelerated skin ageing. It's also a great ingredient to have from the perspective of evening out the skin tone and supporting the reduction of hyperpigmentation. It also gives you that immediate glow-boost and its pure form can also boost collagen production in the skin, which depletes as we age, however it's a tricky ingredient to formulate with, so many brands opt for less-proven, but gentler and more stable derivatives instead.
This serum is formulated with three forms of Vitamin C derivatives. 3-Glyceryl Ascorbate is an interesting ingredient - it's ascorbic acid (pure Vitamin C) bound with glycerin (a humectant, which draws water into the skin) so it's more stable but it's likely to be less potent as an antioxidant than the gold-standard pure form. We also have 3-O-Ethyl Ascorbic Acid, a form of Vitamin C where the chemical structure has been slightly altered to increase stability - this is one of the more promising options when it comes to imitating the proven benefits of the original ingredient. The two derivatives we've discussed so far are water-based but the next is oil-based, which might help this ingredient more easily get into the skin. Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate is a very gentle Vitamin C derivative that I personally like a lot (anecdotally), though we just don't have enough independent studies to say that it - or any of the derivatives I've discussed - are as effective as ascorbic acid. This formula contains a 15% complex of the three, so it should be suitable for use every morning for most skin types.
Things I look for in derivative-based formulas are: more than one derivative, which we have here, and also supporting antioxidants which we have in Vitamin E (known to help stabilise Vitamin C). We also have extracts like the acerola cherry that can be sources of antioxidant benefits too. There are some microbiome-boosters in the mix, soothing chamomile and allantoin and ingredients to draw water into the skin (glycerin and a hyaluronic acid derivative) plus moisturisers like jojoba oil. The serum comes out like a light translucent gel that's really hydrating and gives my skin that immediate healthy glow. It doesn't irritate my skin and I can actually easily use this daily, even with Deep Sweep preceding it 3 times a week. At the same time, my skin looked healthy and in great condition, as well as appearing nice and even and clear. Overall, it's pricey but I think this is a good formula that will be gentle but effective for people who just can't tolerate pure-form ascorbic acid.
Rounding off this quick little run-down, we have the Honey Halo Ultra-Hydrating Ceramide Moisturiser | £42. This is a surprisingly light moisturiser for how many heavy-hitting nourishers it contains, like shea butter and fatty alcohols. As the name suggest, this moisturiser is also formulated with ceramides, which are a fundamental component of the skin's lipid barrier, and when that goes wrong you'll know about it! The skin will be red, itchy, irritated and just overall unhappy, and winter weather can destabilise the skin's equilibrium, so ceramides are important to have in your routine (though I'd like to have seen them balanced with cholesterol and fatty acids in this formula, the other components of your skin barrier). We also have antioxidant Vitamin E, propolis and honey (to moisturise the skin and provide antibacterial benefits), plant extracts and sea buckthorn oil to nourish the skin and give it some antioxidant goodness. Bisabolol is in here too, to calm and soothe, plus glycerin is included for hydration.
This is a really nice moisturiser and the light-but-nourishing texture is perfect for both morning use during the winter and is great overnight. I love how it gives my skin that soft, happy emollient finish. The only negative I have is that it has a strong kind of rose / honey scent. The other products in the line contains plant waters and extracts that could be irritating to some people, but at least you know exactly what they are, whereas this just contains 'natural' fragrance. I personally prefer ceramide creams not to be scented so I can use them on a compromised barrier but this is still lovely for everyday use. I'd just avoid it if you have inflammation or reactivity.
And there you have it! My thoughts on three more recent Farmacy launches, which I've been really impressed with overall. These are gentle products that work, which has been my overall experience with Farmacy: they pair effective ingredients with ones that hydrate and moisturise at the same time.
Have you tried anything from Farmacy?