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Bondi Sands started as an Aussie self-tan brand but they also have a really great line of sunscreen products and this year they branched into facial skincare more generally - and look how cute it is! The collection is at Boots, Look Fantastic and Cult Beauty here in the UK. Today I'm going to walk you through the entire line, and none of the products cost more than £12.99, so let's dive in...
Let's start with the Buff’n Polish Gentle Chemical Exfoliant* | £9.99. I honestly rarely find affordable, drugstore exfoliants that I like and that aren't too harsh, but right off the bat I was intrigued by this formulation; it contains two of my favourite gentle chemical exfoliants. Lactic acid is an AHA, meaning it's great for 'unsticking' dead cells on the surface of our skin so the excess can fall away and reveal smoother, softer, more even and glowing skin. Lactic acid has hydrating properties and a relatively large molecular structure so it's absorbed slowly by the skin to reduce irritation. PHAs are also utilised in this formula as an even gentler, even more hydrating exfoliator. The rest of this formula is pretty simple; there's glycerin to pull hydration into the skin and aloe as a skin-soother. This comes out as a gel rather than a liquidy toner, so I apply it directly after cleansing and will follow it up with a hydrating serum or just move straight onto my moisturiser. It isn't irritating but it does work to improve my skin's radiance and softness. If you have sensitive skin (or if you have robust skin and want to be able to use other actives like a retinoid or Vitamin C after use) then I definitely recommend checking this out as a budget-friendly alternative to the popular gentle exfoliants on the market.
I also have the Fresh'n Up Gel Cleanser* | £9.99 | which I didn't love but did like more than I expected to, actually. I generally have normal-to-dry skin, though it leans towards the latter during the colder months of the year, so a gel cleanser is something I'd use as a second cleanse in the evening (after removing my makeup) as opposed to in the morning (when my skin might feel a little more dry). This comes out as a gel (obviously!) but as you massage it onto damp skin, it does lather. It's not super foamy, it's more just that white frosting and it doesn't feel stripping on my skin. Ingredients include calendula, chamomile and aloe, which have calming benefits for the skin, there's glycerin in here again and grape seed oil to moisturise the skin. Will a gel cleanser ever be my personal preference? No, I'd much rather reach for a completely non-foaming jelly or a cream / milk. But is this a good product of its type? Absolutely. It gave an effective cleanse without leaving my skin parched.
Moving into the serum category: let's start with one of the only products in this range that I actually think isn't good - the Gold'n Hour Vitamin C Serum* | £9.99. This is a water-based 10% ascorbic acid formula. If you aren't familiar with the distinction: this is pure form Vitamin C, which is great at neutralising free radical damage, evening out the skin tone (particularly when combined with other tyrosinase-inhibitors, like the licorice root extract in here) and even boosting up collagen production, but is notoriously unstable in water-based formulas. I received this in January when the product range launched here in the UK and opened it within a few weeks because I knew it would oxidise (and therefore become ineffective as an antioxidant) quickly. However, this gel serum was a dark orange colour already! It's not stabilised with Vitamin E or ferulic acid and I don't know what pH it's at, so although it's in opaque, fairly airtight packaging: something clearly went wrong between the lab and it landing on my doorstep. I'm really not sure why they didn't just avoid this and bring out a Vitamin C derivative formula instead. For that reason, I wasn't even able to try the product and wouldn't recommend you do either.
Onto a more positive experience, let's talk about the Fountain Of Youth Bakuchiol Serum* | £9.99. This is a creamy, moisturising serum formulated with bakuchiol, an ingredient I really like but one that has been a little overblown in terms of what it can do for your skin! Bakuchiol is a powerful plant-based antioxidant that might trick your skin into thinking it's retinol. Retinol (and retinoids / Vitamin A derivatives more broadly) is a well-ageing powerhouse, with decades of research displaying its ability to help with the skin's tone and texture, reduce existing photoageing and boost up collagen product (this is the stuff that gives our skin its youthful bounce). Whilst there's some promising research on bakuchiol (and it might actually act as a booster when used alongside retinol), it's far from conclusive. However, if you're pregnant or can't use retinoids for any other reason: definitely give bakuchiol a go and see how you get on. Either way, it's still a great antioxidant and can help with discolouration in the skin. This formula is packed full of lots of moisturising goodness too, like sunflower seed oil, soybean oil, glycerin and fatty alcohol. All in all it's a moisturising, plumping serum that can be used by just about anyone in the AM and the PM. It won't be replacing my retinoids but I've really enjoyed using it within my own routine.
I've mentioned this a good few times already, so it probably comes as no surprise that one of my favourite products from the entire line is the Wonder Potion Hero Oil* | £9.99. I know not everyone wants or needs a facial oil in their routine, but what can I say? I love them, especially during the winter as the last step in my PM routine to give my skin a hug and ensure it feels soft, comfortable and moisturised by morning. This does exactly that and contains many of the same ingredients I enjoy in products 3-5 times the price of this, so what's not to love? It's super lightweight and non-greasy, and actually combines plant oils with water-based ingredients like glycerin, so it's nicely well-rounded. It's formulated with Vitamin E, rosehip oil, calendula, soybean oil and sunflower oil. It's light, it softens my skin beautifully, it leaves my complexion glowing and it works well with all of my other skincare products. I can't think of a formula at this price-point that I've enjoyed more!
It seems like no skincare brand can launch without a standalone hydrating serum and the Thirsty Skin Hyaluronic Acid Serum* | £8.99 | is the Bondi Sands take on that. This contains a hyaluronic acid derivative (I can't see that it contains multiple forms of the ingredient or different molecular weights) and glycerin. Both of these ingredients are humectants, meaning they draw moisture into the skin, which is why I like to apply these sorts of serums to damp skin and seal them in with a good moisturiser. This is a perfectly-fine hydration serum with a bit of extra body (likely thanks to the glycerin) but I find it unnecessary; both ingredients are ubiquitous in moisturisers and active-focused serums, so I'm not going to tell you to go out and buy a standalone serum. I can't think of many people who would need this and it doesn't really add anything in that would make it worth the extra step in your routine. It's not bad but it's not worth picking up, in my humble opinion.
Another product I don't think is really necessary but one that I actually liked more than I expected is the Begin Again Vitamin B3 Serum* | £9.99. This is another beat it seems like every skincare brand has to hit: the niacinamide serum. Niacinamide is loved by many with good reason: it can regulate oil production in the skin, boost up its protective barrier function by inducing ceramide production and help prevent hyperpigmentation from spreading through the skin (minimising post-breakout scarring). As with the humectants, it's in a lot of moisturisers, toners and serums that don't necessarily advertise it front and centre, so I would really consider if you need a standalone dedicated formula in your life. This is also at a 10% concentration, which will be ok for most people who don't have sensitive skin and aren't using it alongside any other heavy actives, but I don't know why this has become the default when the studies proving the efficacy of this ingredient were done at a 2-5% concentration. With how often it's added into other products, you can see how a 10% concentration could tip the balance towards things getting a little bit irritating. Personally, I decided to avoid using any other products containing niacinamide in my routine whilst using this and it didn't upset my skin. I also really enjoyed the slightly creamy texture of this product, which was pleasant to use and felt nice and moisturising on my skin. This formula does also contain zinc as an anti-inflammatory, so if you really, truly love the Ordinary's take on this combination but you'd like something more cosmetically elegant: this is for you. However, I'm not sure anyone else really needs this.
Let's talk about moisturisers! This is a category I think the brand has really done well in. Starting with the Daydream Hydrating Whipped Moisturiser* | £9.99 | which is their original day cream, targeted at pretty 'normal' skin. It's a creamy lotion that's lightweight and easily absorbed by my skin, and it's that rare moisturiser I feel can work for me all year round. In terms of ingredients, it contains moisturising oils like rosehip and sunflower seed, alongside desert lime and Vitamin E to provide antioxidant benefits. It softens my skin, it leaves it moisturised, it's a nice, breathable light layer on my skin and it works great under makeup. I feel like this is probably about as universal as a day cream gets, so I recommend it pretty broadly to almost anyone reading this! It's simple and functional but a product I really can't fault.
I also very much enjoyed their Sweet Dreams Night Moisturiser* | £9.99. This is packed full of moisturisers and hydrators like fatty alcohol, coconut butter, grape seed oil and squalane, but it has a really nice, light texture. It's more substantial than the day cream and has that added extra bit of 'my skin is so soft and happy' so you're nice and cocooned before bed. It's going to pair really nicely with your PM actives, such as an exfoliator or retinoid. I'd say this is more for normal and dry skin types but it's still very light, which is why I enjoyed it so much before bed during the summer. It's giving you that exact right amount of nourishment without overwhelming the skin.
I also have a product I still can't seem to make my mind up on: the Eye Spy Vitamin C Eye Cream* | £9.99. I have mixed feelings about eye creams, to be honest, which is why I'm a little reluctant to spend a lot on them. Dark circles can be caused by all sorts of things, including the actual structure of your eye and your genetics. However, there are some things that can help which are in this product: Vitamin C has protective antioxidant benefits and can brighten hyperpigmentation, whereas caffeine acts as a vasoconstrictor, potentially reducing the visibility of blood vessels sat beneath the thin skin under the eye. This is also tinted peach with a pearly finish to help correct the colour and add some light-reflection. As far as eye creams go, I think it's worth a shot at this price-point for these ingredients and the slightly makeup-like effect it has. My only negative is really that you have to be careful in terms of how much you apply. I found that if I slightly over-applied this, it did sometimes pill with my moisturiser, sunscreen and makeup.
Let's round things off with my final few products. I won't dwell for too long on the Bondi Babe Clay Mask* | £11.99 | because it's just a product type that's hard to do that much innovation with. I feel like most people probably don't need a clay mask and even though I reach for them occasionally, I think this is a huge tube to try and use up! Ultimately, you can spend £12 within this collection and get a product that will make a much bigger difference to your skin. This is quite nice as far as clay masks go, in that it's not too drying if you only leave it on for as long as the instructions advise. It's formulated with clay, glycerin and algae and spirulina as antioxidants (though I'm not sure they'll do a lot in a wash-off product). If you desperately want a clay mask then this is fine.
Lastly, we have the Sunny Daze SPF 50 Moisturiser* | £12.99. Bondi Sands have a pretty extensive range of chemical sunscreens (which are pretty great, given it's an Aussie brand) but this is their mineral formula, meaning it might be better for those with very sensitive skin that reacts to the main sunscreen filters found in popular products on the market. This is branded as a moisturiser, but I actually found it a little drying; whilst that's somewhat to be expected given zinc oxide is a powder, I thought there'd be more in here to counteract that. For my skin, I still have to wear a moisturiser underneath it. This is tinted, meaning you get visible light protection (alongside a broad spectrum SPF 50) and it counteracts the white cast often associated with mineral sunscreens. The tint works well for my skin tone but I can't comment on how good it will look if you're deeper than me, or (conversely) if you have very fair skin. However, it sets down nicely and doesn't pill with my makeup. I probably won't pick this up again as we have so many great chemical sunscreens to choose from, but I do think there's a gap in the UK market for an affordable mineral formula and this product will fill it nicely for some.
All in all: these products have been pretty great! Even the formulas that weren't necessary for me or my skin weren't bad and there are a good few that held a place in my skincare routine for months on end. My standouts are the day and night creams, the facial oil, the exfoliant and the bakuchiol serum. I can't wait to see what the brand does next!
Have you tried Bondi Sands Everyday Skin?