I find it interesting and not a little intriguing how one very affordable brand caught the world’s imagination by storm a few years ago (The Ordinary), while this other new brand – The Inkey List – has quietly crept into the beauty scene without much hullabaloo.
Aside from the few reviews I’ve done of some noteworthy items from The Inkey List, and some posts I’ve come across from some UK bloggers, there hasn’t been a lot of fuss about the brand.
I think it’s a pity, because I think it’s a great little single-ingredient, very affordable brand.
This post will serve more as an overview of the products I’ve tried, what I think of the brand in general, and why I think you should take a look, if affordable, effective skincare is what you’re after.
What is The Inkey List?
There isn’t much information out there. From what I can tell, The Inkey List was created by Mark Curry and Colette Newberry who previously worked in the Boot’s branding and product development team. I’d also read that their company has the backing of Unilever Ventures.
The business side aside, The Inkey List is basically a range of simple, basic skincare products. What I’d call “single-ingredient” skincare, because each item boasts of one single key ingredient e.g. Lactic Acid, Hyaluronic Acid, Retinol etc.
The philosophy is to create effective, easy to understand skincare products, that are not expensive. None of the products breach the £10 (RM53) mark, which is fairly impressive. However, there is a bit of sleight of hand at play, as I’ll show you further down. Not a bad thing, just something to note.
From what I can tell from using the products I bought, they are easy to use, easy to understand their purpose, and most importantly, they are effective at what they claim to do. All at a very wallet-friendly price tag.
Oh, and all that, without the drama that is associated with Deciem/The Ordinary, which is one of the things that has put me off that brand, alongside their unnecessarily complicated science jargon.
The Inkey List keeps things simple, and I like that.
The Inkey List – The Packaging
The first thing you might notice is the simple, rather utilitarian packaging of The Inkey List products. The black and white is very minimalistic, and stark.
I think you’d either love it or hate it LOL :)
The packaging is also a cheap-feeling plastic, which isn’t very luxurious when compared to the glass you get in brands like The Ordinary, but practical, because they make for portability, and it’s lighter. That cheap-plastic feel however, will put many people off.
Based on the products I own, the packaging comes in two forms – a short squat tube for lotion/cream textures and a press-flip-top bottle for more liquid serums.
I have had a reader ask in a previous review about how portable the packaging is, and whether it leaks. I can report that insofar as mine are concerned, they have held up. I have traveled with the tube of Turmeric moisturiser rather extensively (plane, road travel) and it was fine. I was a little worried about the flip-top serums, but I took them on a road trip, and they were fine. No leaking.
In fact, all the items in my Inkey List order flew here from the UK, and survived, bar 2. The Retinol cream which comes in a tube exploded (which I believe is due to design of the tube – the crimp at the end of the tube may not be so secure under high pressure) and the Glycolic Acid serum leaked a little (I feel the texture was too liquid for packaging of this nature and personally, I feel a screw top cover works best).
However, I can forsee a lot of complaints about the packaging, which I will say is not ideal for all the textures so they might want to relook into that department.
Easy to understand what a product is for
What I like about The Inkey List is how they don’t try to drown you with bombastic science names. That’s all very sexy to reel off and pretend that I’m a skincare expert, but really, all I want to know is, what is this product, and what does it do?
And that’s what The Inkey List does.
Each product is named with their key ingredient of that particular product. So, the Hyaluronic Acid serum, is just called that. They don’t scare you with the different types of hyaluronic acids, nor do they try to confuse you further by telling you that it also contains Matrixyl-3000 (which is collagen – good stuff) They just say “Hyaluronic Acid”.
But just in case you are still confused, and wonder “How do I use this Hyaluronic Acid? Is it a cream? A toner?” If you turn to the back of the bottle, it will specify if the product in question is a “Serum” or Moisturiser” or “Lotion” which is easier for mere mortals to understand without having to get a degree in chemistry.
They also tell you briefly how to use it e.g. after cleansing and before moisturiser. Very simple, very straightforward. My beef with some of these new-fangled brands in the market is how they try to put a smokescreen of exclusivity and mystique around them. That appeals to some people, but to me, I just feel it to be pretentious.
All I want to know is what is this product, and what does it do.
Oddly enough, I just noticed that the Hyaluronic Serum says “Oil” on the back, which is very strange as it is not an oil! Curious.
Star picks from The Inkey List
I don’t profess to be an expert on this, but I have my favourites from the range of products I picked up, and if there is one item you should try, then these are it!
Turmeric Moisturiser – £7.99 for 30ml
You must have seen me mention this moisturiser ad nauseum, but too bad here it is again :P It’s a very good basic moisturiser for those of us with drier skins. I have not been this impressed with a simple, basic moisturiser in a long time!
I’m practically done with my tube, and I just know that I will have to order another. I have all kinds of moisturisers on my dresser that promise me the fountain of youth. But I’ve found myself reaching for this Turmeric Moisturiser so often, simply because it does its one job so well. LOVE THIS! Wish it came in a larger tube. For more details, best read the review.
It is a point to note that moisturisers usually come in 50ml tubs or tubes, because you tend to run through them more quickly. However, that would have them breaching the £10 mark which is why I believe they kept it at 30ml. In that sense, if I break it down, a 50ml tube would cost £13 – not expensive, but no longer within the “cheap” range. Still, I would buy it, because it’s good stuff!
RELATED READING: Is it yellow? Will this stain your skin from the turmeric ingredient? READ HERE
Hyaluronic Acid – £4.99 for 30ml
I’d also given the Hyaluronic Acid pride of place of its own review, because I found it incredibly impressive. What set it apart from many other hyaluronic acid serums is how non-sticky it is.
It sinks right into the skin and plumps it right up, and is all sorts of wonderful, without once giving you that icky feeling you often get with hyaluronic acid. Go read my review for the full glowing report.
RELATED READING: Read The Inkey List Hyaluronic Acid review – it’s really good stuff! READ HERE
Noteworthy selections from The Inkey List
These are products that I’ve been using which I think are decent, but which I feel lack a certain something one way or another. That is the key problem for me with a single-ingredient skincare product, and why I don’t favour them. I prefer a more well-rounded, better formulated product even if it might cost more.
Vitamin C serum – £7.99 for 30ml
I knew when I ordered the Vitamin C serum that it would be suspended in silicone, just like the one from The Ordinary (I hated that by the way). I’m a glutton for punishment :P
First off, I’d say that The Inkey List Vitamin C serum, while boasting 30% L-Ascorbic Acid and stabilized in silicone is similar to the one from The Ordinary, the texture isn’t. It isn’t gritty and it doesn’t sting my skin. That’s one point in its favour already!
It does sit on my skin in a strange manner that only silicone can, and it does have a metallic scent. But it was not as unpleasant. I still didn’t quite like it.
However, I appreciated that The Inkey List understood that not everyone would appreciate this texture, so they recommend that you can add a few drops of Hyaluronic Acid Serum to this one, before applying to your skin. And that for me, makes all the difference in the world!
It lightens the texture and helps it feel more comfortable and more pleasant to use. I took it with me on holiday in lieu of my usual vitamin c serum, and I must say that it was pretty decent at keeping my skin tone bright and clear. Also, the silicone makes for a good makeup base :D I’m not as averse to this one as I am to the one from The Ordinary that I think is a p.o.s – putting it kindly :P
INGREDIENTS: Dimethicone, Ascorbic Acid, Polysilicone-11, Peg-10 Dimethicone
Squalane Oil – £8.99 for 30ml
I picked this on a bit of a whim. I am familiar with squalane in serums and moisturisers but I’d not used it on its own.
The purpose is to protect and hydrate skin and this is more targeted at someone with drier skin. It has an oil texture, which I find quite comfortable, and it absorbs easily onto damp skin.
The little bottle is 30ml which will last a while, as you only use a few drops each time. Mix it into your moisturiser or your foundation, or use it direct to seal in serums.
What I’m not so crazy about is the packaging on this one. I find that being an oil, it seeps into crevices, so the press-flip-top cover gets a bit oily when you use it. As a product, I think it’s very very decent for the price. I however, won’t travel with this one.
The ‘It’s just OK’ selections from The Inkey List
Not necessarily bad, but the ones that had me thinking “Hmm… I’m not sold on this one”
Glycolic Acid – £6.99 for 100ml
Boasting a whopping 10% glycolic acid and 5% witch hazel, it is most certainly eye-catching for the price. However, I did not quite like this, because I felt that it stings my skin a little too much for comfort, and the formula felt harsh and raw.
It also made my skin feel drier and I didn’t think very much of it. For maybe a couple of quid more, you can get the Glow Tonic from Pixi Beauty, which is far better formulated, and feels much more comfortable on skin.
Also, the packaging leaked on arrival. Not very much, but enough to make the box damp. I believe the texture is too liquid for the packaging so they should find something more secure.
INGREDIENTS:Aqua (Water), Glycolic Acid, Propanediol, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Water, Sodium Hydroxide, Butylene Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Alcohol, PPG-26-Buteth-26, Betaine, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Boerhavia Diffusa Root Extract, Ethylhexylglycerin, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate
Lactic Acid – £7.99 for 30ml
I generally like lactic acid but I’d previously used it in a serum texture. This one is a liquid texture, so I was confused if I should use it with my bare hands, or on a piece of cotton. I opted for the cotton in the end.
Personally I find this a little harsh on skin, especially if you aren’t used to using acids on your skin. I am, and even I found it a bit harsh.
When it comes to acids, I don’t believe in more being better, but how it is formulated as a whole. I don’t like putting these sorts of ingredients straight on my skin.
While the ingredients also boasts hyaluronic acid, I don’t like it very much. Perhaps you could consider it for a weekly treatment, but it is certainly not for daily use, and not if you have very sensitive skin.
INGREDIENTS:Aqua (Water), Lactic Acid, Propanediol, Glycerin, Sodium Hydroxide, PPG-26-Buteth-26, Sodium Hyaluronate, Phenoxyethanol, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Ethylhexylglycerin, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Agastache Mexicana Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract
Collagen Serum – £8.99 for 30ml
I only have this in this section, because I’m not sure what sort of results to see LOL! Texturally, it is very light, and absorbs easily and feels comfortable. More than that, I cannot say!
This serum is supposed to contain peptides of Matrixyl-3000 and Syn Tacks which mimic the effects of natural collagen, to keep skin looking more plump and smoother, and also to boost collagen production.
Perhaps if I had deep lines I could tell you if I saw results. As it stands, it doesn’t feel much different from the Hyaluronic Acid Serum, so I just skip this and use that one instead :P
INGREDIENTS: Water (Aqua / Eau), Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Propanediol, Phenoxyethanol, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Disodium Edta, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Carbomer, Hyaluronic Acid, Palmitoyl Dipeptide-5 Diaminobutyroyl Hydroxythreonine, Palmitoyl Dipeptide-5 Diaminohydroxybutyrate, Polysorbate 20, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1
IN A NUTSHELL
I think The Inkey List is a great new, affordable brand of single-ingredient skincare, if you are into that sort of alchemy. From the products I’ve tried, I’ve found that their formulation varies. In the main, they are comfortable. But with the acids, I found them harsh. I like how they are straightforward with what they do, and that they explain the purpose of each product, so you know where in your routine it should go. From the similar items I’ve tried, I’ve found the formulation more elegant than The Ordinary, and best of all, there is no unnecessary drama surrounding it. It’s just decent, affordable skincare at an affordable price. Well worth a look.
Effective single-ingredient skincare
Easy to use and understand
Packaging maybe too utilitarian
Packaging isn’t suitable for some of the products
Very basic skincare may not suit everyone
WHO WILL LIKE THIS: Anyone who wants an affordable single-ingredient skincare, Anyone already using a brand like The Ordinary and want to try an alternative
WHERE TO BUY: Cult Beauty, FeelUnique, Asos, Sephora
There is only one more item I want to try from The Inkey List and that is the Retinol Serum. It was in my original order, but it exploded and was unsalvageable. I still have to get round to ordering it.
I guess I could skip the rest of the items. They only have 15 items for now, and it’s quite well-rounded as it stands, with something for everyone. I’d say, give it a go. There isn’t much for you to lose :D
I have also noticed on Instagram, a large number of “resellers” based in Malaysia touting The Inkey List. Most of them have not even tried it, and they don’t even know what this is. All they know is that it’s affordable and they can make a killing off selling it in “pre-orders” at a markup, as they do with The Ordinary.
I say cut out the middle man, and make your own order. Why put your money in the hands of someone else when you can quite easily get it delivered to your doorstep direct from the source?! If shopping online scares you, don’t be – just read my international online shopping guide ;)
Had you heard of The Inkey List before this?
Have you tried anything from the brand or perhaps you disagree with my assessment? :D Share your thoughts with me!