Facetheory is a line of affordable clean skincare products that contain active ingredients to treat skin concerns such as dry skin, aging skin, fine lines and wrinkles, uneven skin tone, hyperpigmentation, and acne-prone skin.
They remind me of two of my other favorite affordable skincare brands: The Ordinary and The Inkey List, with a few key differences, which I will explain later. First, I’ll discuss the seven products I tested in this Facetheory review.
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Facetheory offers several products for various skin concerns and skin types. (I have a combination skin type, and my skin concerns are mostly aging-related.)
It can get confusing when you want to build a customized skincare routine, so be sure to check out Facetheory’s skincare routine builder.
You can also shop the following Facetheory routines on their website:
Facetheory Vitamin C Cleanser
Facetheory Vitamin C Cleanser is a bit different from other cleansers, starting with its packaging. The cleanser comes in a wide-mouth glass jar.
The cleanser is formulated to remove dirt and debris while being less harsh than other cleansers that contain soap.
This face wash contains a vitamin C derivative, sodium ascorbyl phosphate (SAP), which is a stable form of pure vitamin C (l-ascorbic acid). SAP is an antioxidant that can help to brighten your skin and improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
SAP also protects the skin from environmental stressors. If you have acne-prone skin, this is the vitamin C derivative to use since SAP may even help with acne.
Apricot kernel, sweet almond, and avocado oils are plant oils rich in fatty acids. These oils can help nourish and moisturize the skin and give the cleanser a luxurious and emollient feel.
You only need to use a small amount of cleanser, as it has a thick creamy texture that feels very rich upon application. While noted as a cleanser for combination skin, it is suitable for most skin types, including sensitive skin.
I think dehydrated and dry skin would appreciate this moisturizing cleanser, as it never leaves your skin feeling tight or stripped.
The cleanser comes in a scented and unscented version. The scent version contains Mandarin peel essential oil. I chose the scented version, which imparts a light citrus fragrance.
I didn’t love the packaging because if you don’t use a spatula or scoop to remove the product, you’ll need to use your fingers, which is not very hygienic. Also, once you get about halfway through the jar, it gets a little hard to remove the cleanser. I would prefer a pump, which I think would completely change the application experience.
Otherwise, I enjoyed using this cleanser. It was one of the most moisturizing cleansers I’ve tried and left my face soft and supple. I think this would be a great AM cleanser, especially if you get the scented version, which has a bright, uplifting scent.
Facetheory Glycolacsal Solution
Facetheory Glycolacsal Solution is a glycolic acid toner formulated to help improve the appearance of dullness, fine lines, wrinkles, and uneven skin tone.
This exfoliating toner contains 8.5% glycolic acid, an alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA).
Glycolic acid works by breaking up the bonds that hold dead skin cells on the skin’s surface. This increase in cell turnover can help to improve the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, hyperpigmentation, enlarged pores, and uneven skin tone for a brighter, smoother complexion.
In addition to glycolic acid, the toning solution contains 1% salicylic acid. Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA)
Like alpha hydroxy acids, beta hydroxy acids exfoliate the skin’s surface. But BHAs are also oil-soluble, which means they can travel into your pores and clear away sebum (oil) and debris trapped inside.
Salicylic acid is also an anti-inflammatory, so it can help to soothe and calm the red, irritated skin.
The toner also contains 0.5% lactic acid, another AHA. Lactic acid has a larger molecule size than glycolic acid, so it is not as irritating.
Lactic acid not only exfoliates the skin but can also help hydrate and moisturize the skin. It is a Natural Moisturizing Factor (NMF), which is a compound found naturally in our epidermis that helps keep the skin hydrated and has water-binding properties.
The toner comes in a glass bottle without a pump or dispenser. Apply it by pouring a small amount onto a cotton pad and apply it to your face.
I have been using this toner for a few weeks. It tingles a bit upon application since I have somewhat sensitive skin, but it subsides quickly.
I think it has helped to improve the overall texture of my skin. My skin looks brighter and feels smoother.
I think this alcohol-free toner would be great for anyone looking for an effective glycolic acid toner for brightening and clarifying your skin texture and tone. Just be sure to follow the instructions and don’t overdo it, which can lead to irritation.
The toner is suitable for all skin types, but if you have sensitive skin, you may want to start slow to see how your skin responds to the trio of exfoliating acids.
NOTE: Since this toner contains AHAs and a BHA, it is important to wear sunscreen during the day while using it and for a week after, as exfoliating acids make your skin more sensitive to sun exposure.
Facetheory Exaglow Serum
Facetheory Exaglow Serum is a brightening serum that tackles hyperpigmentation, dark spots, uneven skin tone, and areas of rough skin texture.
While some brightening treatments use only one active ingredient to target dark spots, Exaglow Serum uses five:
1. Tranexamic Acid: The serum contains 5% tranexamic acid to help reduce the appearance of dark spots and hyperpigmentation.
Tranexamic acid is a synthetic derivative of the amino acid lysine that inhibits melanin production. Melanin is the pigment that gives our skin its color. But when melanin is produced in excess, it can result in dark spots or patches on the skin.
Tranexamic acid is not harsh like some exfoliating acids, so most skin types can use it. This clinical study even found tranexamic acid to be a safe and effective treatment for melasma.
2. Niacinamide: Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3 that can help brighten the skin and even skin tone. Niacinamide can also help to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, reduce the look of enlarged pores, balance sebum (oil) production in the skin, and strengthen the skin barrier.
3. Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (Vitamin C Derivative): Sodium ascorbyl phosphate (SAP) is a stable and water-soluble form of vitamin C. Once SAP is absorbed into the skin, it is converted to ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and can provide the benefits of vitamin C.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can help to brighten the skin and improve the appearance of dark spots and hyperpigmentation. Vitamin C also has anti-aging benefits as it can help stimulate collagen production.
4. Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract: Licorice extract is a natural skin brightener that can help to reduce the appearance of dark spots and discoloration. It is well tolerated by most skin types. It also has anti-inflammatory properties that can help to soothe the skin.
5. Lactic Acid: Lactic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that exfoliates the skin and improves the appearance of dark spots, hyperpigmentation, and uneven skin tone. Lactic acid is also a Natural Moisturizing Factor (NMF), which helps to keep the skin hydrated and moisturized.
The serum also contains sodium hyaluronate, a form of hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid is a moisture-binding ingredient that plumps and hydrates the skin.
The fragrance-free serum comes in an amber glass bottle with a dropper. It has a lightweight watery consistency.
I have been using this serum for a few weeks during the day. As long as I give it a few minutes to dry down, it leaves my skin soft and smooth and does not interfere with makeup. I’m unsure if it is the lactic acid content, but my skin feels quite moisturized after applying the serum.
I have not noticed a huge difference in my skin tone, but I like it for its antioxidant content and brightening ingredients that cause zero irritation on my skin. Typically serums may contain a few ingredients to target dark spots and uneven skin tone, but this one contains five.
Sure, it’s a bit pricier than other drugstore brightening serums, but for the impressive formula, I think it’s worth the price.
I recommend this serum to anyone looking for an affordable brightening serum containing multiple active ingredients that target dark spots and discoloration.
Related Post: Best Tranexamic Acid Serums
Facetheory Mandelibright Serum
Facetheory Mandelibright Serum is an exfoliating serum that contains 10% mandelic acid (at a pH of 3.5) plus 2% niacinamide to improve the look of pores and skin tone.
Mandelic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid with a larger molecule size than glycolic acid or lactic acid, so it absorbs slower and not as deep into the skin’s surface. This makes it more gentle on the skin and better suited to those with sensitive skin types.
Mandelic acid, like other AHAs, sweeps away dead skin cells for brighter skin and improved skin clarity. Mandelic acid has even been shown to be helpful in the treatment of acne.
The serum also contains licorice root extract to target dark spots, sodium hyaluronate to hydrate and maintain moisture, and green tea extract, a potent antioxidant. Green tea extract can help to protect the skin from free radical damage from environmental aggressors such as pollution and UV radiation.
Niacinamide brightens the skin, balances oily skin, and reduces the look of pores. Chamomile extract soothes the skin.
The serum has a light, watery consistency, and it is fragrance-free. The serum is packaged in an amber glass bottle with a dropper applicator.
Once the serum dries down, it has no tackiness or stickiness. I experience no irritation at all when using this serum, unlike most lactic acid and glycolic acid serums. I use it in my evening skincare routine and wake with smoother, clearer skin.
I think this serum would be a great option for those that want to address dark spots and uneven skin tone but can’t tolerate more potent AHAs like glycolic acid or lactic acid. It could also be ideal for someone with acne-prone skin, thanks to mandelic acid’s benefits for acne.
Facetheory Regenacalm Serum Pro
Facetheory Regenacalm Serum Pro contains 3% retinol liposomes, which are encapsulated retinol molecules that are designed to penetrate the skin slowly for reduced irritation.
I reached out to Facetheory to get the pure retinol concentration, and they told me that 3% encapsulated retinoid equates to 0.3% pure retinol.
Retinol is a form of vitamin A that helps to increase cell turnover, fades dark spots, and improves the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It’s the gold standard in over-the-counter anti-aging ingredients.
The Regenacalm Serum also contains dill extract, which, per Facetheory, regenerates elastin, a protein that gives skin its firmness.
For skin brightening, the serum contains licorice root extract and sodium ascorbyl phosphate, a stable form of vitamin C. Sodium ascorbyl phosphate is less likely to cause irritation than pure vitamin C (ascorbic acid), making it a good choice for those with sensitive skin.
Ferulic acid and vitamin E are potent antioxidants that can help to protect the skin from environmental damage. Ferulic acid has been shown to increase the stability of a solution of vitamin C and vitamin E, doubling the duo’s photoprotection benefits!
The serum has a light, milky consistency, and it is fragrance-free. It comes in an amber bottle with a pump, which helps protect the retinol in the formula from sun and air exposure since retinol degrades when it comes into contact with light and air.
I have been using this serum for a few weeks and notice smoother and brighter skin every morning after using it the night before.
The 0.3% concentration of retinol is gentle enough that I can use this serum multiple times a week without experiencing irritation. This is my favorite Facetheory product that I tested!
This serum is a great choice for those looking for an antioxidant-rich and gentle retinol product. I think it is an excellent anti-aging serum that is affordably priced.
A Note On Facetheory Serums That I Tested
All of the serums that I tested are water-based serums that contain the ingredient propanediol, which is a plant-based solvent and ingredient that dissolves other ingredients.
Propanediol is derived from corn sugar and acts as a moisturizer and skin conditioning agent. It can also improve the spreadability of a product. Propanediol is a natural alternative to synthetic ingredients like propylene glycol.
Propanediol can make your skin feel a bit oily when applied to your skin. (I first noticed this effect when using some The Ordinary products that contain propanediol.) The oily feeling goes away after a few minutes as the propanediol absorbs into the skin.
Facetheory Ocuwake Eye Cream
Facetheory Ocuwake Eye Cream contains a blend of actives formulated to reduce the look of dark circles and eye bags. The eye cream contains an impressive list of actives for such an affordable price.
The cream contains a base of lightweight and nourishing oils, including Moroccan argan oil, lightweight jojoba oil, and rice bran oil.
It also contains Synovea HR, a skin lightener whose active ingredient, hexylresorcinol, has been shown in clinical studies to reduce the appearance of dark circles and brighten the skin around the eye area.
Meiview is a bacterial ferment extract that stimulates collagen production for firmer skin with improved elasticity.
Licorice root extract targets dark circles while also helping to soothe the skin. Chamomile extract is included for its anti-inflammatory and soothing properties.
Lactic acid improves cell turnover for reduced dullness and smoother skin around the eyes.
Sodium ascorbyl phosphate, a stable form of vitamin C, brightens the skin, and vitamin E and ferulic acid work with vitamin C to offer stronger photoprotection benefits.
This eye cream comes in a metal tube that protects the ingredients from light and air.
A little goes a long way with this eye cream, so the tube will last quite some time.
Once again, this is another impressive formula from Facetheory. It feels lightweight under the eyes and isn’t sticky or greasy in the slightest. It doesn’t pill under makeup or concealer either.
I have been using this eye cream for a few weeks. I haven’t seen a noticeable improvement in my under-eye circles, but not much can touch my hereditary circles (I have to use concealer to hide them every day.)
I’m picky when it comes to eye creams, as some can be too thick and others not moisturizing enough. This eye cream strikes the right balance for me. I love all the actives in the formula, and the unscented formula is non-irritating.
If you are looking for an advanced formula that provides lightweight moisture for a brighter under-eye area, this eye cream could be a great affordable option.
This eye cream is formulated for all skin types.
Facetheory Relaxing Night Cream
Facetheory Relaxing Night Cream is formulated for combination and dry skin types to replenish and nourish the skin overnight.
This moisturizer contains shea butter, olive, rice bran, and argan oils to moisturize and revitalize the skin.
Vitamin C derivative sodium ascorbyl phosphate offers antioxidant benefits that protect the skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
It comes in two versions: Lavender and Unscented. If you are a lavender fan, you’ll find that the cream really lives up to its name, as lavender oil’s light, calming fragrance is very calming.
I’ve been testing these products in the summer, and I found that while I enjoyed the light lavender scent, the oil-based cream was a bit too heavy for my skin.
If you have dry, dehydrated, or normal skin and love the scent of lavender, this could be a great option for a night cream.
Facetheory Product Benefits
- Facetheory focuses on giving you the best bang for your buck by combining actives that target specific skin concerns, especially aging, acne, hyperpigmentation, and dark spots.
- Some of the products give you a choice of unscented or scented versions. At such a low price point, this is a surprising but welcome option.
- Most of the products that I tried contain a vitamin C derivative. I rarely find a skincare line that includes a vitamin C product in ALL the products I test, from the cleanser to the moisturizer and even the eye cream.
- Since most of their products contain multiple actives, the products may target multiple skin concerns at the same time… i.e., wrinkles and fine lines, and dark spots.
- The products are vegan, cruelty-free, and paraben-free.
- Prices are higher than other low-priced skincare products, like The Ordinary and The Inkey List, although each product usually contains more actives than The Ordinary or The Inkey List.
- If your skin is sensitive, you may not want a product with multiple actives since you increase your chances of having a reaction with multiple actives in a product.
- While Facetheory focuses on sustainable packaging, the drawback is that some of the packaging is a little clunky and heavy due to the glass containers. I would prefer pumps for some of the products, like the cleanser and eye cream, but keep in mind the amber bottles and metal tubes protect them from degradation.
Founded by Jamie Shuker in 2015, UK-based Facetheory is a skincare brand created for those who want high-performance, clean, and vegan skincare without the luxury price tag.
Facetheory concentrates on active ingredients targeted at specific skin types and skin concerns.
They focus on sustainable packaging and are phasing out single-use plastic. This is why most Facetheory products are available in amber glass jars with aluminum caps or in 100% aluminum tubes that you can recycle.
Facetheory products are vegan, cruelty-free (Leaping Bunny and PETA approved), and made in the UK.
Final Thoughts: Facetheory Review
I’m impressed with the results I’ve seen from Facetheory products and will continue to use them in my skincare routine. They are a nice alternative and a step up from The Ordinary, The Inkey List, e.l.f., and other low-priced skincare products.
Facetheory offers several products, and I have many more on my list to try, like their Supergel Oil-free Moisturizer for Oily and Acne-Prone Skin and Porebright Serum.
If you’re looking for affordable skincare that contains active ingredients to target your skin concerns, I think Facetheory is definitely worth checking out.
Have you tried Facetheory? I’d love to hear about your experience!
Thanks for reading!