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It's not that often that a new-new skincare brand launches, so when a mystery package arrived at my place, I was EXCITED! As I opened up the Byoma products, the ingredients and the information given on the packaging really resonated with me and when I saw they'd gone live on Cult Beauty and I saw the prices, I was even more into it. The entire line formulates with the triple threat of ceramides, cholesterol and fatty acids in the 'golden ratio' studies show our skin is most likely to be receptive to. These are the 3 fundamental components of the skin barrier and you can't get enough of them, to be honest ,so it's great that they're in every product to support the other ingredients. All that being said, let's take a closer look...
Obviously the packaging is very Gen Z - I personally think it's really cute but I wouldn't discount this brand if you're not in that demographic because skin barrier support is pretty universal (also don't be scared of these fatty ingredients if you have oily skin either - we all need them and oily skin barriers can be compromised too). I like that the packaging not only tells you how to use the product but also where it slots into your routine, and not just what's in there but what function those ingredients serve. There's a lot of information but it's presented in an easy, accessible snapshot.
Let's start with the Creamy Jelly Cleanser* | £9.99. Ok, so I posted an Instagram Story about this product showing it's texture (a gel that foams with water) and I really didn't expect so many people to see it and to get the dozens of responses I did! Let's rewind and I'll walk you through how I review products to give you some context. I don't think you should need to be a cosmetic chemist to be able to work out what skincare you're likely to enjoy. As an enthusiast, if I make a purchase, I do quite a bit of research and generally have a high success rate. But you know what really interest me? Negative reviews of products I love on very mainstream websites like Boots and Superdrug, because to me: that's an insight into how they're received by the average consumer. For example, a toner / lotion I really enjoy got a bunch of negative reviews because it 'just sits on top of the cotton pad', whereas for me it was intuitive that I applied a texture like that with my hands. A cleanser I really enjoy had numerous negative reviews because it 'just didn't remove makeup', whereas in my mind that type of cleanser wasn't made to and wouldn't remove makeup because it's a morning or second cleanser. It doesn't mean these people are 'stupid' or 'wrong', it just means that the average person is going to use the instructions along with the product description and name to inform them on which products they buy and how they use them, so although this information is effectively marketing: it's probably not good for a brand if a chunk of their consumers feel misled about product texture and performance.
I personally look to use a mixture of description and visuals to get across to you what a product is like and I always provide details on how I use it and when I use it e.g. is it a first cleanse or a second cleanse? Is it an oil-to-emulsion? Does it foam? Does a moisturiser work well under makeup? Is it something that I only use overnight because it looks a bit shiny on the skin? And so on. This is to give you an idea of what to expect and if it might be right for you. 90% of the people who sent a reply on that Story were confused or disappointed that the product didn't connect with their expectation based on the name. Ultimately adjectives exist to help us to build a picture in our minds and the majority of skincare users are going off prompts like the name of a product to understand if they'll enjoy a texture or consistency. Whilst I don't recommend you do this at all, I have pretty tolerant skin so if I'm sent a product, as a reviewer I often try it once or twice before doing my INCI research to get that consumer perspective on how intuitive it is to use.
So, I don't think the point is whether this is a product name we can reach to find a justification for, it's really about whether (for the majority of people looking at buying it) the formula matches their expectations built on the name, instructions and marketing of the product. My straw poll says: no, and I was personally expecting something like a Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser, the Aveeno cleanser, or even a Herbivore Pink Cloud would’ve made sense to me. It doesn't mean it's a bad product but had it been called a 'gentle foaming cleanser' or a 'barrier support cleansing gel' I'd have gone into it not expecting to love it, because that's not my texture preference. I know that not all foaming cleansers are drying but it just isn’t the nicest feeling on my skin, just like all oils aren’t going to be comedogenic to all breakout-prone skin, but someone who is very oily and has acne might not enjoy putting that on their skin (and might be disappointed if they pick up a 'serum' that turns out to be an oil). However the choice of name for this cleanser made it that little bit more disappointing, especially as the ingredients sounded so great; obviously, we have the triple skin barrier-boosting combination alongside glycerin, allantoin, licorice root and green tea. I know it's a cleanser but the added brightening and antioxidant benefits are always welcome, as are the added soothing and hydrating ingredients. It wasn't drying as such but it just wasn't my preference (I know I'm in the minority though, given most people prefer foaming cleansers): if you want a water-based gel cleanser with that lathering action then check it out, though I do have to also say this stung my eyes (which can be a little sensitive). For me, this is a morning or second cleanse so that's not a personal deal-breaker but worth pointing out for those who want to be able to use it in that way and also have easily-irritated eyes.
Next, let's talk about the Brightening Serum* | £9.99. I know we're all at the point where we're a bit over niacinamide (it helps with oil regulation in the skin, boosts up the barrier and helps brighten the skin) and hyaluronic acid (a water magnet) - particularly as single-ingredient products - but hear me out! I'm in a lot of skincare groups and it seems as though the Ordinary's niacinamide and hyaluronic acid serums are still everyday staples for a lot of people. In fact, many of those complaining of a damaged barrier and posting their routines are using a 10% niacinamide serum every single day alongside other actives, which seems to have become the norm, however the studies we have on its benefits use 2-5% and there's no evidence that an increased strength does anything more than potentially irritate your skin. I was really hoping that this would be in that sort of region but haven't been able to confirm it. I understand that not every brand wants to outwardly advertise based on percentages because they are confusing and easily-misconstrued but I did hope that if you reached out to them to ask, there would be disclosed for those who want to know (a lot of brands are happy to), however unfortunately I couldn't get that information or even a ‘hey - we prefer not to disclose specific concentrations because of xyz, but we can confirm the ingredient is at a scientifically-supported level and we don’t look to include more than that just because other brands choose to’ which would kind of tell me without telling me... All of that to say: I don’t know where to pitch this. I would hope that given the brand’s philosophy we’re going to be somewhere in that sweet spot, but I've seen some incongruous marketing claims out there and I know that trends play a role in the products we see on the market.
My skin is pretty used to active ingredients so maybe I’m not the best judge of this but I used it alongside a Vitamin C derivative in the AM daily and had no issues, plus what I like about it is that it's a '2 birds, 1 stone' formula, making your life easier and probably saving you a bit of money over single-ingredient serums. It’s not going to resolve uneven skin tone on its own (so have realistic expectations) but niacinamide and its ability to prevent the spread of hyperpigmentation is a really important part of the puzzle (alongside sunscreen and tyrosinase-inhibitors). My only word of warning is that their gel moisturiser also contains niacinamide, so I personally wouldn't pair the two together given I can’t confirm the concentrations - as we know, there are now so many products at different steps in your routine containing this ingredient, so you don't want to overdo it. Try it without any other actives in the same routine to start with, perhaps, and see how your skin gets on. I have dry skin so I use my Vitamin C, this and the rich moisturiser (which we're about to get into) during the day, but if you're a little more combination or oily, I recommend having it in your PM routine (for example: this serum, your retinoid and then the rich moisturiser) and use the gel in the AM, just to separate things out and not overdo the niacinamide. This should be applied to slightly damp skin and sealed right in with a moisturiser. Speaking of which...
I've saved the best (in my personal opinion) for last: the Moisturising Rich Cream* | £12.99. Obviously, this comes in pump packaging so it's not going to be super-thick or heavy or something you can't easily spread and use under makeup, What I like about this is that it has this lovely softening effect, it has that nourishment but it's versatile. It's creamy, more substantial than a lotion but with a really spreadable texture. I can use this during the daytime and it layers really nicely with the rest of my products; as someone who is a little drier I really appreciate a deeply moisturising cream that I can still use in the day under my sunscreen and makeup. At the same time, I can use this as part of my evening skincare routine too - sometimes with a little bit of oil afterwards to really lock it all in, but it stands up on its own.
In terms of ingredients, we have the holy trinity of skin barrier supporters alongside shea butter, which gives this product its more nourishing feel. Cetearyl alcohol is in here too which helps replenish the skin and give it that really satisfying soft and happy feel that I personally crave, especially at this time of year. We also have bakuchiol, which is often marketed as 'the natural retinol' because it might trick the skin's cells into thinking it's Vitamin A (which is the gold standard in well-ageing and boosting up collagen production), giving you all the benefits without the potential irritation (and it's pregnancy-safe and can be used AM and PM). I don't think we have the evidence to support this idea yet but it's a 'nice to have' in a moisturiser for me and is also a great ingredient because it's an effective antioxidant that can help protect your skin from environmental aggressors.
This is a really well-priced product, I love the ingredients, the texture is spot-on for my skin and I really recommend checking this out of you have normal-to-dry skin, though if you're oilier this could still be your night cream (as long as your skin gets on with shea butter). It's definitely the standout product from this line for me and one of my top moisturisers under £15 that I've tried in a really long time.
In terms of the other products in this lineup that I didn’t try: there is a gel moisturiser. I really like the idea of this and might pick it up during the summer; obviously as a dry person in winter, it's not for me might now but the idea of these replenishing ingredients in a lightweight formula really does appeal to me. I was actually really interested in their mist too and was going to pick it up because it sounds like a really soothing, hydrating mix of ingredients but when I went to add it to my basket, I did notice people complaining about the mist being a bit wet and heavy. That's kind of a deal-breaker for me, but it's a pretty new, indie brand so it's not out of the question that they might change the mister component in the future, so if they do I'll pick it up. There are also a hydrating serum with hyaluronic acid and squalane - that combination sounds really great, and a clarifying serum with PHA, zinc and blue tansy, which isn't a combination I've come across before, so for £12.99 I think it would be well worth a look.
I would still say after using the products that I feel pretty well-aligned with this brand but there are a few little marketing choices that just don’t quite work for me which makes this review feel a bit more mixed than perhaps some others out there. It’s just a personal opinion thing to a large extent but maybe there’s some useful feedback within this review and I’m definitely up for trying more from the brand and I’m generally just quite interested to see where it gets taken next. At the end of the day - two out of the three products I tried were hits for me and one of them was something I would definitely pick up again, and I try a lot of moisturisers!
Have you tried Byoma yet?