When The Inkey List first launched in the US, I was intrigued. The Inkey List offers advanced skincare formulations in basic packaging at a budget-friendly price, very similar to The Ordinary skincare products. I heard good things about the brand, so I tried a few of their skincare products. Since the results were quite impressive, I bought a few more.
Before I knew it I had collected several products, so today I thought I’d discuss my experience with The Inkey List. As new products come out from The Inkey List, I will add to this review as I try new products.
DECEMBER 2020 UPDATE: I’ve tested more products from The Inkey List! In this update, I’ve added Brighten-i Eye Cream, Ceramide Hydrating Night Treatment and Kaolin Mask. Scroll down to the bottom of the post for more details.
JULY 2020 UPDATE: I can’t resist this brand! I picked up their Tranexamic Acid Night Treatment, Q10 Serum, Polyglutamic Acid, and Multi-Biotic Moisturizer. Spoiler: They’re really good!!
MARCH 2020 UPDATE: The Inkey List recently introduced several new products including a cleansing balm, apple cider vinegar peel, vitamin C serum, retinol eye cream, a vitamin B, C, and E moisturizer, and a peptide moisturizer. These products are so affordable, so I had to give them a try!
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Here are The Inkey List products that I tried and my thoughts on each product:
The Inkey List Glycolic Acid Toner helps reduce the appearance of pores and exfoliate dead skin cells. Glycolic acid penetrates the skin deeper than lactic acid, so sensitive skin may find this irritating. I found this to be a nice alternative to my regular toner a few nights a week. I’ve used other more expensive glycolic acids, and this one is comparable.
Related Post: How to Use Glycolic Acid in Your Skincare Routine
The Inkey List Hyaluronic Acid Serum has low and high molecular weight for the best penetration beneath the skin’s surface. This skin plumper also contains Matrixyl 3000 peptide which supports natural collagen production for an added plumping effect.
Hyaluronic acid can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water and is the ultimate hydrator. This serum sinks in quickly and dries faster than other hyaluronic acids that I’ve tried at a higher price. It’s a great no muss no fuss product that does not interfere with other skincare products.
The Inkey List Collagen Booster Serum is meant for all skin types and targets fine lines/wrinkles and loss of elasticity/firmness. Matrixyl 3000 peptide which helps support collagen production and the appearance of fine lines is another active ingredient.
It also contains glycerin and hyaluronic acid for moisture and hydration. This formula absorbed nicely without interfering with other skincare products or makeup. I would use this as one of the first products in my skincare routine.
The Inkey List Lactic Acid Serum contains 10% Lactic Acid along with a Low Molecular Hyaluronic Acid 1% for added hydration. My skin loves lactic acid and did not experience any irritation. I woke in the morning with smoother and brighter skin after using this product at night thanks to the exfoliation occurring overnight.
The Inkey List Retinol Serum has stabilized retinol 1% and granactive retinoid 0.5% to help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. This retinol also contains squalane for added moisture and hyaluronic acid for hydration. This is my favorite product from The Inkey List. I have tried many different retinols and have always given up because they were too strong, caused irritation and my skin would rebel.
This retinol is one of the only retinols that doesn’t irritate my skin. The morning after I use this my skin appears smoother, brighter and tightened. The slow-release formula for low irritating, effective active delivery was very gentle on my skin.
Related Post: A Guide to Drugstore Retinol
The Inkey List Hepta-Peptide Serum contains Gransome Heptapeptide-7 to help reduce the appearance of crepey skin. It contains carnosine which works as an antioxidant and supports collagen-boosting abilities. Other ingredients include glycerin and squalane for moisture. It also contains Agastache Mexicana Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract that targets inflammation and redness.
I have mixed feelings about this serum. At first, it seems to absorb all the other products underneath and on top of it and make my skin dry. But then I noticed an almost blurring effect on my skin which I loved. I used it again thinking it might work well as a primer since it leaves your face matte. But then I found that my foundation would stick to this and be streaky. So it has its pluses and minuses. I found that this product worked best for me at night.
The Inkey List Vitamin C Brightening Cream contains pure L-Ascorbic Acid 30%. This is quite a strong formulation, so irritation may occur on those with sensitive skin. There are three silicones in this product to make it a very smooth application and allow vitamin C to be delivered to the skin without water being present.
This cream irritated my skin on the first application. On subsequent applications, I applied this cream as the last step before my moisturizer and I found it less irritating. I noticed it left a dry almost powdery finish to my skin.
Unfortunately, since it is one of the last steps of my skincare routine, I don’t know how much of the vitamin C cream my skin is ultimately getting since the other products underneath may be blocking some absorption.
Related Post: Anti-Aging Skincare: Drugstore Vitamin C Treatments
The Inkey List Caffeine Eye Cream contains caffeine which has antioxidant properties and helps target puffiness and dark circles. This is another product in the line that contains Matrixyl 3000 peptide, which is a cell-communicating ingredient that helps support the production of collagen and the appearance of fine lines.
Other notable ingredients include squalene and hyaluronic acid for moisture. I think this is a great basic eye cream. It performed well under makeup and did not irritate my eyes.
The Inkey List Hemp Moisturizer contains Green Tea Extract for antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. It also contains sativa seed oil, glycerin, and omega-3 for hydration. I used this as the last step in my skincare routine. It helped lock in all my other treatment products. This would be a great moisturizer in the winter for dry and parched skin.
New Inkey List Products for 2020
Read on for reviews of new skincare products from The Inkey List:
I was so excited to see that The Inkey List has a cleansing balm, being that cleansing balms are one of my favorite types of skincare products. The Inkey List Oat Cleansing Balm is an oily balm that is formulated with 3% oat kernel oil to protect the skin’s barrier and reduce blackheads. 1% colloidal oatmeal reduces redness and minimizes irritation.
This balm is described by The Inkey List as the first step in your skincare routine to reduce redness. I agree that this should be the first step of a two-step cleanse. It is an oily and rather thick balm that I think would be well suited to dry skin. It removes my makeup but I do feel a bit of residue on my skin after rinsing. So for me, it is absolutely necessary to use a non-oil-based second cleanser after this.
This balm is a little different from other balms in that it comes in a tube and it is not solid at room temperature. That makes it easier to get the product out of the tube. Even though the tube can get a little messy, I think it’s much better than a jar which would be difficult to extract with a spatula since the balm is not solid at room temperature.
Although this is not my favorite cleansing balm, as I prefer solid balms at room temperature, this is really nice as a first cleanse for those days when my skin is feeling dry and irritated from retinoids and other drying skincare treatments.
Related Post: The Ordinary Anti-Aging Skincare Review
The Inkey List Retinol Eye Cream is an eye cream for nightly use that is formulated to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It contains Vitalease, which is a stabilized retinol in a slow-release formula that minimizes irritation. It helps brighten the skin and supports collagen formation while being gentle enough to use around the sensitive eye area.
I think this is a fantastic eye cream for the price. It is light, non-sticky, and non-irritating. Since it is only to be used at night, I don’t know how it performs with makeup. I think this might even be helping to reduce milia (bumps) around my eye area. It leaves the skin around my eyes smooth and soft.
I really like using retinol in eye creams since retinol not only helps with those fine lines and wrinkles, it also helps with cell turnover and supports collagen production. This is very helpful as the eyes are one of the first areas on our face that start to show the signs of aging. For just under $10, this eye cream is a steal.
The Inkey List Apple Cider Vinegar Peel is a 10% glycolic acid peel that is enhanced with 5% cranberry fruit enzymes and 2% apple cider vinegar. Glycolic acid is a powerful alpha-hydroxy acid that exfoliates dead skin cells while helping the skin to maintain oil balance. Apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid to banish bacteria and citric, lactic, and succinic acids. These acids complement glycolic acid by helping to reveal brighter and more even skin tone.
My skin can get a little temperamental when it comes to glycolic acid, but I still wanted to give this peel a try. The first thing I noticed is the strong scent of apple cider vinegar. It dissipated after a few minutes, which was a relief! My skin experiences stinging and irritation after first applying the peel, but that goes away after a few minutes.
I only apply I light layer when I use this, but after 10 minutes, my skin is brighter and clearer. This is a very nice peel for the price. I think this treatment would be great when used just as suggested, in the evening once or twice a week.
The Inkey List 15% Vitamin C and EGF Brightening Serum contains 15% Ascorbyl Glucoside, a highly stable and low-irritation form of vitamin C, and 1% Epitensive. Epitensive is a plant-derived Epidermal Growth Factor, a signal peptide, which supports collagen production and elasticity of the skin.
The Inkey List notes that if you choose to apply products on top of this vitamin C serum, you should wait for 10 minutes to allow EGF to do its job. Since I use this in the morning, I apply it as soon as I get out of the shower and then get dressed and finish my skincare routine.
This thin clear liquid vitamin C serum is applied without any irritation, is not sticky, and dries quickly. It is weightless under makeup and my skin seems brighter and more even since I started using this on a daily basis. This is a drastically different vitamin C experience compared to the other The Inkey List vitamin C product that I tried. This formulation works much better for my skin without any irritation.
TIP: Be sure to check on the inside of the box that The Inkey List product is packaged in. The inside walls of the box, which can be ripped apart, may have extra notes and helpful info about the product!
Related Post: The Best Drugstore Vitamin C Serums
If you are looking for a very inexpensive no-frills daily lightweight moisturizer, then The Inkey List Vitamin B, C, and E Moisturizer may be for you. It is formulated with vitamin B3 (niacinamide) to control oil and calm redness, vitamin C for brightening dull skin, and soothing vitamin E to reduce the appearance of scarring from blemishes.
It is so lightweight and leaves a nearly matte finish, so I think this moisturizer would be ideal for normal to oily skin types. The tube packaging allows a little too much product out unless you are careful, but otherwise, this product is a steal. It works well under makeup during the day and really does seem to help with controlling oil. You absolutely can’t beat the price of $4.99!
The Inkey List Peptide Moisturizer is formulated with a peptide duo for collagen support and hydration. The peptides included in the moisturizer are 2% Royal Epigen P5 to help even skin tone and decrease the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and 1% Hydrating Peptide Solution to hydrate and support the skin’s moisture barrier.
The moisturizer is lightweight and non-greasy. It works well as the last step of my evening skincare routine and leaves my skin soft and hydrated. I love that there are peptides in the formula that address the signs of aging while hydrating and protecting the skin’s barrier. I think this is a nice moisturizer for evening use and it complements their new Vitamin B, C, and E moisturizer that I’ve been using during the day.
This moisturizer comes in a cylindrical jar and dispenses from the top by pressing down on a pump. For such an inexpensive skincare product, it’s nice to see this different kind of packaging. Plus, I think it’s kind of fun to dispense.
The packaging is reminiscent of Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Moisturizer, another peptide moisturizer that is over 4x the cost of The Inkey List Peptide Moisturizer. Perhaps this is formulated to be similar to Drunk Elephant. I’ve sampled Protini before, and the texture is rather similar, so you may want to give this a try if you are a fan of Protini and are looking for an inexpensive alternative.
The Inkey List Tranexamic Acid Night Hyperpigmentation Treatment supports the appearance of even skin tone and targets hyperpigmentation and dark spots with 2% Tranexamic Acid, 2% Acai Berry Extract and 2% Vitamin C Derivative to repair damaged skin cells and to brighten the skin.
This is a concentrated formula that should be applied as a thin layer on your face and neck in place of your moisturizer or can be used as a targeted treatment for dark spots and scarring.
I’ve heard great things about this product for fading acne scars. I have more of an issue with hyperpigmentation on my cheeks, so I like applying it after The Inkey List Alpha Arbutin Serum at night for a double dose of evening and brightening of the skin. So far so good for me…I like that you also get added antioxidant benefits in the form of vitamin C.
TIP: The Inkey List notes (on the inside of the package) that you should continue to use this treatment even if you don’t see results immediately. It can take up to six weeks to see results, so you really need to give it some time to reap the benefits.
Related Post: Good Molecules Skincare Review
When I hear the word Q10, I immediately think antioxidant. The Inkey List Q10 Serum is exactly that, a powerful antioxidant serum that protects, hydrates, and targets the signs of aging. This pale yellow creamy serum is formulated with Syn®-tacks, a dual peptide, which supports the formation of collagen, plus squalane for its emollient and moisturizing properties.
The serum targets the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while protecting against environmental stressors. Formulated at a pH of 5.89, this serum helps to protect skin from free radical damage which leads to the signs of aging, hyperpigmentation and loss of elasticity,
If you have issues with using vitamin C as an antioxidant for your skin due to sensitivities, Q10 is a great alternative. Sometimes vitamin C serums can have application texture or irritation issues, so I’ve been reaching for this serum often for use during the daytime. It works well under makeup and protects from environmental aggressors.
You can also use this serum at night. I’ve been testing it on top of The Inkey List Polyglutamic Acid Serum and under The Inkey List Multibiotic Moisturizer. I’ve really been enjoying the combination of these three products. My skin drinks in the hydration and is super soft and supple in the morning.
The Inkey List Polyglutamic Acid Hydrating Serum is all about hydration. The gel formula is not only hydrating but also plumping and smoothing but reduces the appearance of fine lines with a 3% Polyglutamic Acid Complex.
Did you know that polyglutamic acid can hold up to four times more moisture than hyaluronic acid? That’s a lot of moisture considering the hyaluronic acid can hold up to 1,000x its own weight in water. This serum forms a breathable film on the skin to lock in moisture, making it the ideal base for makeup.
The Inkey List Hyaluronic Acid is my favorite hyaluronic acid product and one of my favorite products from the Inkey List. This product has a much different consisiency. It is thicker and feels even more moisturizing than their Hyaluronic Acid Serum.
I like to add this into my skincare routine when my skin become dry and irritated after using retinoids. It doesn’t take the place of their Hyaluronic Acid serum, but I can see myself using this when my skin is very parched and might switch to this in the winter. A super duper hydrator!
The Inkey List Multibiotic Moisturizer is formulated to restore a healthy pH balance to the skin. So what exactly is a multi-biotic moisturizer? Sounds pretty high-tech. This multi-biotic moisturizer combines good bacteria (pro), with their nutrients (pre) along with by-products (post) to protect the skin from pollution and support a balanced pH.
This formula includes 5% Yogurtene Balance which help to replace bad bacteria with good bacteria, thereby reducing breakouts. 2% Brightenyl helps even skin tone while minimize darkening and redness. 2% Squalane moisturizes and controls oil production.
Probiotics have become very popular in skincare lately and combining ingredients that contain the right concentration of bacteria to balance the skin makes sense. This is a lightweight moisturizer that sinks into your skin without any greasy feel.
There is a noticeable scent that is pretty darn stinky. I’ve read complaints about the scent online, so this unpleasant scent is normal for the formula. The scent goes away once applied, so it doesn’t really bother me. This lightweight moisturizer leaves my skin silky smooth and brighter in the morning after using it at night.
Related Post: The Best The Inkey List Products for Acne and Oily Skin
The Inkey List Brighten-i Eye Cream is formulated to illuminate and prime the under-eye area and reduce the appearance of dark circles and shadows. This brightening eye cream is formulated with Brightenyl 2%, an active ingredient that brightens the eye contour and evens skin tone and pigmentation over time.
Grant-X blurring technology 5% helps to blur the appearance of fine lines. Peach Mica Mineral Blend 1% illuminates and brightens while 1% low molecular weight hyaluronic acid hydrates and plumps the skin.
This eye cream has a metal applicator that dispenses the product. I’ve never been a huge fan of this type of applicator, but I have to admit that it is incredibly soothing and cooling when applied in the morning. I think it really helps my red puffy under-eye area.
This eye cream contains mica that imparts a very slight glow which I like. It’s not too shimmery but brightening at the same time. If you are looking to brighten your under-eye area, this eye cream from The Inkey List is a great choice.
The Inkey List Ceramide Hydrating Night Treatment is all about the ceramides. Think of ceramides as the glue that holds skin cells together and supports the skin barrier. Environmental factors and sun exposure can deplete your skin’s natural ceramides. This treatment contains a 3% blend of a multi ceramide complex to protect, hydrate, and support the skin. It also contains 2.5% multi-molecular hyaluronic acid to hydrate and plump the skin.
The Inkey List suggests using this 2-3x per week as your nightly moisturizer after preferred serums. They recommend applying a hyaluronic acid product prior to this treatment to draw more moisture into your skin.
This is a somewhat gooey gel-cream that really pumps up the hydration. It helps rehydrate my complexion when my skin is dry and irritated from retinoid use. Although slightly tacky upon application, it sinks in pretty quickly and leaves my skin soft, plump and smooth. I use this as the last step in my skincare routine a few times a week when I really need some extra hydration.
The Inkey List Kaolin Mask is formulated with kaolin clay to remove impurities in the skin and smectite clay to absorb excess oil. This mask is ideal for those with oily and blemish-prone skin types.
Formulated at a pH between 5.0 – 6.0, this lightweight mask can be used up to 2x a week to unclog pores with its high-grade clay formula. Kaolin clay deep cleans and helps to reduce breakouts. In addition to your face, this mask can be used on other blemish-prone areas, such as your back and chest.
I love the lightweight feel of this clay mask. It does the job of deep cleaning my skin without leaving my skin feeling dry and tight. I remember reading about how you should never pay a lot of money for a clay face mask since the ingredients often don’t warrant a high price tag. This mask is a perfect example of an effective clay mask treatment for under $7!
NOTE: For the best results, The Inkey List suggests changing your pillowcases regularly. This can help reduce breakouts since old skin cells can find their way back to your skin, potentially clogging pores and making breakouts worse.
Final Thoughts on The Inkey List Skincare
Keep in mind that since most of The Inkey List products focus on single hero ingredients, the products tend to be most beneficial when combined with other products. As a result, if you use multiple products you need to know how to combine them, so some thought is required when using this skincare line. Overall, I was very impressed with the products that I tried and I look forward to trying additional products as they are released.
Unfortunately, the packaging is not the best and product delivery can be a bit messy, but that is to be expected when prices are so low. My favorites so far are the Retinol Serum and the Hyaluronic Acid Serum. These products really delivered comparable results to their more expensive counterparts. All of the new products I tried in 2020 are performing really well and I love that they deliver anti-aging benefits at rock bottom prices.
Thanks for reading, and until next time…