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Today we're talking Geek & Gorgeous, an independent Hungarian skincare brand that formulates with some of the best ingredients out there without charging you a bomb! There are no additional charges to ship to the UK, postage is reasonable and it's really quick, so you don't have to worry about any of that! This brand definitely has a bit of a cult following but I personally think it deserves more hype, so today I'm spreading the love and sharing my review of the products I've tried from them...
The first product we'll discuss is the Liquid Hydration 5% Panthenol + NMF Toner | €7.50. This is one of my least favourite products from Geek & Gorgeous, but I do still have a use for it so we'll dive into all of that. As you can see: this product previously came in a splash bottle but now it's actually in a spray bottle, which I think is better for this type of formula. This is a very water-light toner without much weight or body to it, and it's formulated with panthenol to soothe the skin and help it better retain water, alongside natural moisturising factors such as lactic acid, sodium PCA and urea, which (as the name suggest) occur in the skin but keeping them topped up can help ensure things stay hydrated and moisturised, as well as keeping your skin barrier function ticking over nicely. It's at a slightly acidic pH, which imitates the skin's natural balance, which is great. There's also allantoin in the mix, which is wonderfully soothing for the skin. As I mentioned, it's not sticky, it just feels like water on the skin and that's kind of my issue, to be honest! When it comes to toners: I personally like something with a bit of weight and milkiness but this kind of just felt like nothing on my skin. If that's your preference, then fine, but it's just not mine. However, I did find this helpful as a scalp treatment to soothe irritation and reduce flakiness; I use it after washing my hair and before drying it. So, I can confirm the ingredients do what they're intended to, it's just about whether the overall formula is something you'll enjoy using or not.
Next is a bona fide hit: the Jelly Joker Low pH Gentle Cleanser* | €8.80. This cleanser comes out as a slightly thicker jelly, but as you massage it onto the skin it quickly melts down into a water-based, non-foaming formula. As with the toner, the pH is matched to that of the skin, which is great for ensuring your cleanse is gentle but skin-friendly. It's non-drying, it's effective and I can't really think of a skin type that wouldn't get along with this product - not something I can often say about a cleanser! For me, this isn't a makeup-remover, it's a morning cleanse or something I'd use after my oil-based cleanser in the evening. Or it can work as a one-step at the end of one of those work from home, sunscreen-only kind of days. It's a pretty basic formula but there is panthenol and allantoin in here to soothe the skin as it goes through the cleansing process.
Ok, so this is the only product that I actually just didn't like: the Calm Down 4% PHA + BHA | €28. On paper, it sounded like a bit of me: I love the idea of combining these two chemical exfoliants that work in slightly different ways. PHAs are hydrating and have a large molecular size, meaning they penetrate more slowly into the skin and are less likely to cause irritation. 4% isn't a hugely impressive concentration, but it's still going to help with you getting that multi-level exfoliation. Salicylic acid goes into the pores and clears out spot-causing debris as well as helping with surface-level scarring. It's only at a 0.8% concentration and for a really robust treatment, you generally want 2%, so I'd say that if you have more extensive acne: this might not be enough. If you just want a bit of spot-fighting power to help with occasional breakouts then this could work. It's interesting because this isn't a particularly strong formula but I just found it really drying! My skin was so tight after using this product, and the only reason I can think for this is that there just aren't enough hydrators and moisturisers within the formula for my skin. I also think this is really expensive compared to the other products Geek and Gorgeous sell (an exfoliating toner that's almost 1/3 more expensive than a retinal treatment just doesn't compute) - it's quite a small bottle and I think you can get something far better for the same cost per ml.
Time to talk about an absolute standout for me: the C-Glow 15% Vitamin C Serum | €12.50. My Skinceuticals dupe post is coming very soon and this product will feature in it, but the Cliffnotes version is: ascorbic acid (Vitamin C in its pure form) is notoriously tricky to get right and Skinceuticals have the patent for the most stable, gentle and effective way of formulating the ingredient. Unfortunately, their product is £150! With Geek and Gorgeous being a smaller brand working to limited batches, I had hope that their ascorbic acid would be freshly-made and if I cracked it open as soon as it arrived, I'd be able to use the entire bottle before it started to oxidise. As I opened the product, I could see it was completely transparent and I'm pretty much halfway through the bottle now and it's still not started to go orange. And this was whilst storing the product in my bathroom cabinet (the brand recommends keeping it in your fridge, but I just need my products easily accessible for doing my routine!) Whilst Vitamin C derivatives can brighten the skin, harmonise its overall tone and deliver some antioxidant benefits, ascorbic acid is the most proven in its antioxidant benefits and - most importantly - can help stimulate collagen production in the skin (this depletes over the year as our skin loses fullness). This makes it a well-ageing powerhouse and a great serum for your morning skincare routine. This formula didn't irritate my skin and it hasn't oxidised, so I'm really impressed to have found this product at such a good price with this amazing ingredient!
Next we have the aPAD 20% Azeclair Serum | €10.50. This is a derivative of azelaic acid (called Potassium Azeloyl Diglycinate) so you don't have some of the textural issues associated with the pure form (namely, it being a powder usually suspended in a silicone that's prone to pilling). That's also why it's formulated at 20%, which sounds really high but is actually skin-friendly in a derivative. Azelaic acid is a great multi-tasking ingredient showing promise in treating redness and rosacea, inflammatory acne and hyperpigmentation. This is a very light, water-based formula so it's really easy to incorporate into your routine and will suit any skin type. Whilst there isn't the breadth of evidence out there to support this derivative being 'just as good' as azelaic acid, I think it's worth a go if all of these benefits sound good to you but you've tried azelaic acid and it was just too fussy and messy for your routine. I personally found that this helped reduce breakouts and minimise scarring and how long post-breakout marks stuck around for. Whilst it's not a smoking gun in terms of treating uneven skin tone, it's definitely a piece of the puzzle and this alongside the C-Glow Vitamin C Serum would be a great combination.
Last, but absolutely not least: let's talk about the A-Game 10 0.1% Retinal Serum | €18.50. Retinal is my personal favourite form of retinoid; retinal is one step up from retinol so you're likely to experience better and faster results, but I personally find it less drying. The reason we want retinoids in our skincare routine once we've passed the mid-20s mark is because they are the well-studied category of topicals for well-ageing. They've been shown to not only prevent photoageing and collagen loss, but to boost collagen production and reduce fine lines and existing photodamage. I really recommend getting a form of this into your routine (unless you're pregnant or breastfeeding) and it's really then just a question of figuring out which one is for you. Retinal is my perfect balance between results and being gentle on my skin and easy to incorporate within my routine, however there aren't a ton of retinal products on the market and they're usually pretty pricey so I felt like if this delivered and had a decent texture, it would be an absolute winner! This is the higher concentration of the two options available but as a seasoned retinal user, I just went straight in with 0.1%. This comes out as a creamy yellow serum, which is what you expect from a retinal, and it actually feels quite moisturising but I follow it with a moisturiser as I'm fairly dry and we are in autumn now. It doesn't pill, it isn't any messier than my other favourite retinal products, it didn't dry out my skin or cause me irritation or purging and it works! I'm so glad I've finally found a product that's relatively cosmetically elegant and delivers the retinal results I love for a lower cost than my usual favourites. I never want to compromise on recommending the best ingredients, and I've never really had super well-priced retinoids I can wholeheartedly recommend, but this product has changed that!
Have you tried Geek & Gorgeous?