This brand was originally founded by Susan Yara of the Mixed Makeup YouTube channel and a business partner with the aim of elevating the typical single-ingredient actives that have flooded the market in recent years. I would be remiss not to mention the controversy when this brand launched; you can go and look up the ins and outs yourself if you're interested but the gist of it is that Susan Yara promoted Naturium as an exciting new brand with great products before her association with the business was disclosed. Obviously, this is a significant conflict of interest and people weren't happy about it at all! That was a few years ago, and the brand has been free from controversy since then, so I decided they were worth another look. I'm not saying you have to do the same, but if there's not a consistent pattern of poor behaviour (whether that's in terms of customer service, misleading claims or anything else) and the brand is interesting enough for me, then I'm happy to try the products and see how I feel about them.
Let's start with the basics and the Purple Ginseng Cleansing Balm* | £21. For me, a cleansing balm is the first step in my double cleanse in the evening, to remove my sunscreen and any makeup I’m wearing. This silky formula reminds me a lot of a less-expensive Farmacy cleansing balm if you’ve ever tried that product. This is made with synthetic wax and a combination of moisturising plant oils. You don’t need much product at all and it melts effortlessly with the warmth of your hands against your skin. It breaks down into an oil as you massage it in to lift everything up. Then you can simply emulsify it into a milk with water and wash (or wipe with a cloth) away the cleanser and your makeup, sunscreen and the general grime of the day. This doesn’t leave an excess on my skin, it’s gentle on my eyes and it effectively removes everything, so ticks all the boxes for me. It doesn’t have a scent but it feels lovely and silky on my skin so I find it really enjoyable to use.
Next is a highlight from the line for me; the BHA Liquid Exfoliant 2%* | £19. This toner is formulated with an encapsulated salicylic acid. Salicylic acid is a BHA, meaning it’s an oil-soluble chemical exfoliant that can get into your pores and clear out spot-causing debris, as well as helping with the surface inflammation and preventing the blemish from scarring. The encapsulation is something a little more special; let’s face it, there are loads of salicylic acid products on the market because it’s one of the best ingredients you can get in a cosmetic product to treat acne. Encapsulation means to case the active ingredient in a coat that allows it to be absorbed more effectively into the skin and release more slowly. This means the ingredient isn’t going to feel as harsh on your skin and can work even more effectively. This comes in a simple, fragrance-free base which includes hydrating glycerin and Vitamin E for it’s moisturising and antioxidant benefits. This is non-drying and non-irritating on my skin but it works! I switch to using this every other night when I’m breaking out or I’m heading into the hormonal zone. It’s hard to stand out in a market full of similar toners, but this does to me, with its encapsulation and how it could work for even those with sensitive skin who need a gentle but effective formula.
Onto serums, let’s start with the Vitamin C Complex Serum* | £22. My issues with Vitamin C have been documented through my Vitamin C series, but in short; ascorbic acid is the pure form of a Vitamin C and we have the most studies and evidence to back up the claims made about it (vs. derivative forms of Vitamin C). Vitamin C can boost collagen production (which depletes as we age and gives our skin its fullness), it’s an antioxidant so can protect the skin from free radical damage (which comes from our environment and can cause premature ageing) and it can also help even out the skin tone and provide an immediate glow boost. The issue is that it’s very unstable when exposed to any level of light and / or oxygen. It can also be quite irritating to the skin and the optimum formulation for ascorbic acid is currently under patent by Skinceuticals and their product is pretty pricey! Derivative forms of Vitamin C can give the antioxidant benefits and help promote an even, healthy complexion but we don’t have the evidence that they can help increase collagen production. This formula contains ascorbic acid alongside stabilising antioxidant Vitamin E and sodium ascorbyl phosphate, which is a very stable Vitamin C derivative. There’s also glycerin and a hyaluronic acid derivative in here to draw hydration into the skin. In terms of the positives, this product is hydrating, it makes my skin glow and look nice and clear and it comes in a hydrating gel formula. In terms of negatives, I would say that there are a lot of plant extracts in here, which can provide additional antioxidant goodness but on the flip side, those with sensitive skin can find them a little irritating. Also, despite the opaque, airless pump packaging, whilst this was only a light yellowish orange when I first opened it, within a couple of weeks I did notice it darkening to a more orange hue. This is a tell-tale sign of oxidisation, which obviously renders your antioxidant ineffective. This comes in at a really good price-point and overall it’s a good serum for your AM routine, I’m just not 100% convinced you’re getting the full benefits of ascribed acid with this formula.
Next, let's talk about the Niacinamide 12% Plus Zinc 2%* | £18. Niacinamide has been done to death, I have to admit, but it is a really great skincare ingredient with the ability to regulate oil production in the skin, prevent discolouration from spreading through the skin and boosting up the skin's ceramide production so its lipid barrier stays strong and healthy. The zinc is in here to also calm inflammation. The reason I say niacinamide serums have been done to death is because every brand seems to have its own standalone formula at increasingly high concentrations, even though many serum blends and moisturisers already contain niacinamide. The studies that back up niacinamide's benefits were actually done at concentrations between 2 and 6%, and there's not really any evidence that increasing the concentration leads to better results, however we do know it can be irritating (especially if you're using a serum with 10%, a toner with 5%, a moisturiser with 2% and so on). 10% seems to have become the 'standard' and now brands are going higher to differentiate their formulas. Do I think most people need a 12% niacinamide serum? Probably not, but if that's something you really want in your routine, I think this is a nice option; it feels well-rounded and hydrating on my skin (with additional ingredients such as glycerin, Vitamin E and a hyaluronic acid derivative) with a milky-gel texture that doesn't pill or foam (like some niacinamide serums I'v tried) and this doesn't irritate my skin (though I do ensure I don't layer this alongside other niacinamide-based formulas.
There's also the Retinol Complex Serum* | £22 | within the line. Retinoids are really your superstar ingredient when it comes to well-ageing; they boost collagen production, even out the skin tone, smooth scarring and can even reverse signs of photoageing, such as fine lines. So, unless you're pregnant or breastfeeding or on specific acne medication, I recommend anyone beyond their mid-20s getting a retinoid into their routine. The most famous ingredient in this family is retinol and this formula features an encapsulated form of the ingredient plus bakuchiol. As we've discussed already, encapsulation helps both get an ingredient into your skin but also slows down its absorption to minimise irritation. Bakuchiol is often touted as a 'natural' alternative to retinoids; whilst I think this ingredient is worth a go if you can't use retinoids for some reason, I think it's a bit of a reach to say we have enough evidence to make this comparison. However, it might boost up the efficacy of your retinoid without adding any further potential irritation. It's also an antioxidant and can help with discolouration. This comes out as a milky water-based serum that will suit a wide range of skin types and the potential dryness retinoids can cause for newbies is counteracted by ingredients like glycerin, murumuru seed butter, Vitamin E, hyaluronic acid and sunflower seed oil. It doesn't contain fragrance or fragrant essential oils. I was pleasantly surprised at how gentle this felt on my skin; I often find that retinol can be quite drying for my skin, even though I know on paper it's not supposed to be as strong as retinal, which is my preferred retinoid. Do I think this is punchy enough for seasoned retinoid users? Probably not. But it works and it's great for beginners. I've personally been using this on my neck and when my skin is a little more sensitive and it's an effective formula without the harsh edge.
Finally, we have the Multi-Peptide Moisturiser* | £21. I love a formula that takes a step out of my routine and this moisturiser with peptides can be used in place of a separate serum and moisturiser on busy days or during times when you don't want as many layers on your skin. This moisturiser comes in a light, lotiony cream texture, which is enough for my drier skin during the day and won't be too much for oily skin types either. It's softening and contains moisturisers and hydrators like glycerin, jojoba seed oil, panthenol and hyaluronic acid. In terms of actives, we have niacinamide, encapsulated 3-O ethylated ascorbic acid (a Vitamin C derivative) and three different peptides. These short-chain amino acids have a range of functions; they're hydrating, they're non-irritating and can be used alongside a range of active ingredients that aren't acidic (unless they're encapsulated, like the Vitamin C in here). Peptides show some real promise in the area of boosting up collagen production in the skin; whilst we don't have the historic evidence for their benefits that we do when it comes to something like a retinoid, they're absolutely worth integrating into your routine. This has a great texture and it contains some brilliant ingredients that remove the need for as many individual serums in your routine, so I absolutely recommend this.
I guess the question to answer here is: what is Naturium's place in the skincare market? Is there a gap for them and are they offering something new and interesting? I would say that the brand really shines for me when they offer multi-ingredient formulas like their serum complexes and with products that combine an active with a basic, like a cleanser or moisturiser formulated with added benefits. I think the niacinamide and hyaluronic acid serums in this line are fine, but they're Naturium's version of the popular products on the market, rather than something exciting that you need to try. I can see why they exist but I'm glad that the brand is steering away from just offering more cosmetically elegant versions of what's already on the market and instead is focusing on bringing less common ingredients and formats (such as retinal and offering azelaic acid in an essence) to us at a nice mid-range price.
Have you tried anything from Naturium?