The INKEY List skincare review. Best 5 products from The INKEY List skincare range. The science behind them. Why they work. Which actives they have. Get the need to know here.

The INKEY List Review: 5 Best The INKEY List Products

In Budget Skincare, Product Reviews by Cheryl Woodman MChemLeave a Comment

Budget skincare worth your bucks. Dear friend, if I had to sum up The INKEY list skincare in 1 sentence – this would be it. And since their launch in August 2018 they are showing fantastic signs of new product innovation. Aka making never before available actives at purse friendly prices – available. It’s not magic. But it sure feels like magic dust is being scattered.

If you have never heard of The INKEY List skincare here are the 3 snippets of info you need to know;

  1. The INKEY List pricing is insanely cheap
  2. These guys use active ingredients in concentrations which work (!)
  3. Their formulas are ‘wholer’ than The Ordinary skincare

Bottom line: Move over budget drugstore skincare, The INKEY List are here.

BUT. Wander into a virtual The INKEY List store un-prepared and your head will spin. BHA what? Hepta-peptide who? Q10… err Google (!) I need your love now.

My friend do not worry. With my formulating cap on and my scientific eye turned to high – I’m here to help. In this The INKEY List review I’m revealing which The INKEY List products should be top of your radar. Choosing your first from this list will have your skin singing. Exciting eh.

Ready to realise the best 5 The INKEY list skincare products you should consider using now? Let’s 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 this (!)

The INKEY List skincare review. Best 5 products from The INKEY List skincare range. The science behind them. Why they work. Which actives they have. Get the need to know here.

1. Best THE INKEY List Skincare; Hepta-peptide Review

Yes – you go The INKEY List. When these new kids to the block first launched their range looked extremely similar to The Ordinary. Budget skincare focused on key active ingredients. They matched The Ordinary skincare with a glycolic acid toner, a retinol and vitamin C treatment, a hyaluronic acid serum. What the Ordinary skincare were doing, The INKEY List skincare said yup – us too! Come try.

Until 5 new launches hit Cult Beauty’s shelves exclusively this March 2019.

Hepta-peptide is one of them.

An ingredient The Ordinary do not use.

A patented active with exciting skin benefits.

For you if you’re;

  • Concerned about signs of ageing
  • Want skincare to help you get rid of fine lines and wrinkles
  • Are seeing any kind of saggyness or slowing elasticity in your skin aka it loves to make sleep wrinkles stick
  • Want a skincare product that’s also going to make an immediate difference to your skin age – keep reading to learn how

Best for these skin types; All.

Where to buy; Only available at Cult Beauty here.

What is Hepta-peptide?

So glad you asked my friend. Hepta-peptide serum from The INKEY List is going to do 2 key things for your skin;

  1. Help your skin fight/get rid of/defend against fine lines and wrinkles – aka boost your skin healing/collagen/elastin levels
  2. Blur the heck out of existing fine lines and skin imperfections – instant benefit

Rather than having just 1 key benefit The INKEY List hepta-peptide serum is a multi-tasker. It can help you love your skin better now – plus in 2 months time. Pretty great eh. That’s because The INKEY List hepta-peptide serum contains 2 key groups of active.

First is The INKEY List’s naming hero – heptapeptide-7. 

Heptapeptide-7 communicates with your skin. It says hey – remember when you were 20? Do that again! Lots of anti-ageing skincare treatments work by causing microdamage to your skin – like microdermabrasion and that crazy Vampire facial. You make teeny-tiny wounds. Your skin’s immune system is activated. And bamn collagen and elastin levels boom.

Thing is – it’s still microdamage. And that’s inflammageing. You’re doing damage to do good – but you’re still doing damage. Yikes.

New age peptides like heptapeptide-7 do extremely similar healing – without needing damage to work. Yes please.

Heptapeptide-7 is a healer. A collagen booster. An epidermal growth factor mimicker.

Aka it’s going to help your skin resist UVA caused signs of skin ageing. Make your skin act younger. Help reduce skin saggyness and pesky fine lines. And it’s going to start showing you significant results after just 8 weeks of using.

But if even that feels too long. The INKEY List Hepta-peptide serum contains another set of actives. Ones which blur and smooth your skin. The hero of this set is polymethylsilsesquioxane. What a mouthful eh. Let’s call it Sili for short. Sili basically gives your skin in-life Instagramable soft-focus. It absorbs light and instead of scattering it straight back out, directly at your eye – aka what you need for sharp focus. Sili scatters it. Aka you get soft focus. Pretty awesome eh.

Get your hands on Hepta-peptide serum for the budget friendly price of £14.99/30ml at Cult Beauty here – psst – they also do international shipping!

2. Best THE INKEY List Skincare: Zinc Review

Right at this very moment in time, exactly as you’re here reading with me now – your skin is absorbing light. Which is an extremely fantastic thing – because your skin needs light to make collagen, vitamin D and more. But it can also be an extremely not fantastic thing – because UV light is ridiculously skin damaging, pro-ageing and wrinkle causing.

And the kind which is enormously damaging for your skin – UVA is the same strength in winter and summer. Plus – what most people don’t know – it can travel through windows. Wowzer.

Bottom line: The only way to protect your skin against UV ageing is to use sunscreen every day of your year – even if you’re staying inside, even if you’re having a boxset binge, even if it’s monging out day.

Trouble is finding a sunscreen you and your skin love – is a task.

Enter – The INKEY List zinc cream.

You might not have realised The INKEY List zinc cream is, in fact, a sunscreen and that’s because there’s no SPF on its label. But read up on The INKEY List zinc oxide cream moisturiser and you will find it to be SPF 50 – hooray.

It’s also;

  • Non-whitening
  • Quick absorbing
  • Moisturising – which is fab because lots of mineral sunscreen formulas can dry skin out

For you if you’re;

  • Concerned about signs of ageing
  • Want a mineral sunscreen which doesn’t make your skin white plus is easy and quick absorbing
  • Have found most other mineral sunscreens dry your skin out like crazy

Best for these skin types;

  • Sensitive
  • Dry
  • Normal
  • Combination

Psst! If you have acne prone skin this is not the formula for you.

Where to buy; here at Cult Beauty or here at FeelUnique.

Zinc oxide cream moisturiser is a demi-mineral sunscreen. A huge reason why this guy is non-whitening. 2 ingredients make up it’s protection;

  1. Zinc oxide – mineral sunscreen – UVA & UVB protector
  2. Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate – chemical sunscreen – protects mostly against UVB

So why oh why have The INKEY List not made it super-duper clear their zinc oxide cream moisturiser is a sunscreen? How are you supposed to know eh? There could be lots of reasons for this my friend. I’m taking a bet on these 2;

  1. Sunscreen claims testing is super-lengthy and expensive – to get this launched quickly they may be doing this in the background now.
  2. Sunscreens are drug products in the USA aka you need to go through drug testing – some schools in the USA until recently didn’t let kids use sunscreen at school – because it’s a drug and schools are drug free zones – how crazy is that.

Need to know; there’s no broad-spectrum claims on The INKEY List sunscreen descriptions which means we can’t be sure how well it will protect skin against UVA light aka the wrinkle causing light. What we do know is it contains zinc oxide which is UVA protecting and can be used as the sole ingredient in sunscreen for broad spectrum UVA protection.

My take on this; A fab moisturiser which is crazy easy to use the needed quarter teaspoon per face without making you look ghostly. If you hate using mineral sunscreen or struggle to use enough – use this guy instead.

Get your hands on The INKEY List’s Zinc Oxide Cream Moisturiser for the budget friendly price of £8.99/30ml at Cult Beauty Here or here at FeelUnique.

Psst, if you’re serious about getting glowing, healthy skin be sure to join for my 7 days of Get Great Skin Started email lessons (you get one new Great Skin email lesson each day) so you can go from feeling like your skin’s bleugh to wow, I glow so much people keep wondering if I’m pregnant 😅. Join for free here.

3. The INKEY List Review: Multi-biotic

Another new launch from The INKEY List. Yes team INKEY. Hitting it out of the park. Probiotic skincare my friend is a huge and evolving trend with legs. Imagine your excitement to come home and find 1 free ASOS outfit perfectly fitted for you, a year’s free supply of chocolate cake and an on-hand massage therapist loaned to you for the whole entire week. Pampered! This is the level of excitement scientists (yes me included!) are feeling about probiotics.

Probiotics are going to be massive in the next coming decades. 

Crazy fact: There’s more bacteria living on you that there are people on our planet.

And they’re being studied for everything from acne to Alzheimer’s.

Here’s the theory. Pretty much every kind of bad skin health or bad body health comes hand in hand with bacteria changes. Change back your bacteria balance and it looks like you could change back to happy skin health. Yes please.


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Basic example: The only reason your sweat smells is because bacteria eat and breed on your skin’s sweat and sebum – change your bacteria balance and you change or get rid of bad BO. Pretty awesome eh.

The INKEY List’s new Multi-biotic serum is a penny saving whopping 5% probiotic complex – the maximum percent recommended aka you’re really getting fab value here.

2 ingredients make The INKEY List’s multi-biotic work;

  1. Inulin – a pre-biotic found in banana, leek and chicory root
  2. Yogurt powder

Pre-biotics feed good skin bacteria, helping them dominate. The INKEY List’s multi-biotic is fab because most skin problems aka acne or sensitive skin or dermatitis are caused by bad skin bacteria breeding. And most anti-acne or anti-sensitive skin or anti-dermatitis skincare works to kill off ALL bacteria. Nuclear action. Short term gain for long term harm.

But not pre-biotics. These guys work for the good. They’re like a psychic whispering to your good guys, telling them exactly what the bad guys are up too – before even they know it. They’re giving your good guys what’s needed to win. Aka they’re helping your skin back to fantastic  health.

For you if you’re;

  • Skin health is in need of help
  • If you are struggling with acne or sensitivity or dermatitis or rough, red and pink skin
  • If your skin’s extremely easy to make itchy, red or irritated

Best for these skin types; All.

Where to buy; here at Cult Beauty

Bonus fact; staphylococcus aureus (s.aureus) is the name of the bacteria most responsible for bad skin health. It can naturally live on your skin but its when s.aureus goes dominatrix that your skin health will plummet. First it starts with irritation – maybe something like shaving rash or redness or hotter than normal skin. Then it moves to inflammation – acne, eczema, dermatitis, rosacea.

When s.aureus takes hold it makes everything your skin’s going through worse. Inflammation redder. Sensitivity more extreme. Acne huge.

The blend of prebiotics used in The INKEY List’s Multi-biotic does exciting stuff against s.aureus. In fact when tested in the lab it can give up to an 80% decrease in s.aureus levels. Epic.

Get your hands on The INKEY List’s Multi-biotic Moisturiser for the budget friendly price of £12.99/30ml at Cult Beauty Here.

Note: In the first how to use The INKEY List introduction review I wrote – and true on launch – all The INKEY List products were under £10. The INKEY List new launches are all under £15. In my opinion – very much still budget skincare picks for the active ingredients they have.

4. Best The INKEY List Skincare: Retinol Serum Review

No best The INKEY List skincare review is complete without mention of their 1.5% retinol serum. Retinol is the original OG. The gold-standard in anti-ageing. A superheroine for fine lines, wrinkles, acne, oily skin. And that’s just the starters of it.

While retinol is not the only anti-ageing active to help your skin be younger. It is the most well proven.

Psst! A recent and interesting comment was left on this post here on Instagram. Quick flashback – it mentioned retinol as you find in non-prescription skincare doesn’t have proven benefits like prescription retinoids and that it’s like rolling the dice because there’s no evidence of retinol working.

Which is a very common belief.

But fact check; there is evidence that retinol – the kind you find in non-prescription skincare works.

Take a peek at these in person studies;

  • 0.4% retinol (not retinoic acid like you find in prescription skincare) – has significant and remarkable anti-ageing benefits when tested in real life human skin – the study concludes skin changes to be similar to those you’d get with retinoic acid but without retinoic acid side effects – 2016 study here
  • This registered clinical trial tested 0.4% retinol cream up to 3 times a week for 24 weeks and concluded the cream as able to help reverse fine lines – probably by doing the same as retinoic acid aka boosting collagen production and plumping moisture lockers like hyaluronic acid – 2007 study here
  • Applying retinol to skin can help reverse both UVA (aka sun) caused signs of skin ageing plus naturally caused signs of skin ageing. To equal effect. In both kinds of aged skin retinol can boost collagen production and also help stop skin expressing collagen degrading enzymes – you lose less and you make more – winning – 2000 study here

There is an over-sized shopper bag worth of studies like these.

Bottom line: There is significant evidence non-prescription retinol is age reversing.

The INKEY List retinol serum is for you if you’re;

  • Concerned about signs of skin ageing
  • Want a treatment product to help reverse fine lines and wrinkles
  • Are after a retinoid which doesn’t cost the bank
  • Have oily skin and want it to be less oily

Best for these skin types; All.

Where to buy; here at Cult Beauty or here at FeelUnique.

The INKEY List retinol serum contains 2 types of vitamin A aka retinoids;

  1. 1% encapsulated retinol – encapsulated means it’s slow releasing and therefore less irritating
  2. 0.5% granactive retinoid – a new retinoid which is tested to be more sensitive to skin

Note: A cheeky extra word in front of retinol when The INKEY List describe their 1% stable retinol or 1% RetiStar – this guy is probably more like 0.5% retinol and that’s because 1% stable retinol will include the capsule shells that make this retinol less irritating aka slow release.

How do I know this? The secret my friend is found in a combination of the order of actives on The INKEY List’s ingredients list plus an understanding of clever marketing lingo/how to read skincare claims.

If you’ve considered using The Ordinary’s granactive retinoid 2% emulsion aka Advanced Retinoid 2% and this is your first experience of using retinoids – stop and start on The INKEY List’s first. The key with retinoids is to start low and work your way up.

Even though The INKEY List’s retinol is not a full whack 1.5% – having less sometimes means more. Retinol can be irritating to your skin and this The INKEY List serum is doing everything it can to not be. Less retinol, encapsulation, pairing it with more sensitive granactive retinoid. Plus – remember those retinol studies – they only used 0.4% (!)

Get your hands on The INKEY List’s Retinol Serum for the budget friendly price of £9.99/30ml here at Cult Beauty or here at FeelUnique.

Read more about where The INKEY List Retinol Serum fits in strength wise with The Ordinary range here.

5. The INKEY List Review: Q10 Serum Review

There are 2 must do’s to craft yourself the basics of a fantastic skincare routine;

  1. Use sunscreen – 365 days out of 365 days – even on leap years 😉
  2. Use antioxidants – always

Both will protect your skin, prevent your skin from ageing, help stop pigmentation like acne scarring or age spot, give fine lines chase, help your skin to be glowing and more.

Psst! A recent study even shows when you use sunscreen 365 days a year – and that sunscreen doesn’t have anti-ageing actives – your skin age still decreases. Extremely likely because instead of fighting and repairing skin stress, your skin can focus 100% energy on living its best life.

The INKEY List Q10 serum is a fantastic antioxidant serum with added anti-ageing and hydrating actives plus a ridiculous £4.99 price tag.

The INKEY List Q10 serum is for you if you’re;

  • Concerned about signs of skin ageing
  • Want to save and protect your skin age
  • You see your skin as dull and in need of glow

Best for these skin types; All.

Where to buy; here at Cult Beauty or here at FeelUnique.

Antioxidant Q10 or coenzyme Q10 or ubiquinone is a powerhouse antioxidant your skin naturally has. It’s even used in healthcare to help treat psoriasis. Alone it’s even studied to help reduce fine lines and to speed up your skin’s turnover rate or reawaken your skin’s metabolism. That’s fantastic because when your skin’s natural exfoliating rate slows down – skin looks dull. Boo to that.

But The INKEY List’s Q10 serum doesn’t stop here, it also contains;

  • Antioxidant Vitamin E
  • Collagen boosting peptides
  • Anti-ageing soybean extract – which can have estrogen-like benefits for skin aka help stop skin wrinkling and boost your skin’s hyaluronic acid levels aka help get you back that glow. Fun fact – estrogen creams applied to skin help re-boost collagen production.

Which is basically a yes, yes and yes, yes, yes to everything you’d want from a daily use antioxidant serum.

And let us just hover on this fact again £4.99. Are you serious?

Get your hands on The INKEY List’s Q10 Serum for the budget friendly price of £4.99/30ml here at Cult Beauty or here at FeelUnique.


UPDATE; The INKEY List’s product range has been growing like crazy. Read my 2021 Best INKEY List products review here.

Pretty darn awesome ‘eh. Which The INKEY List skincare are you starting with? All five? Or a key one or two? Come chat with me in the comments below. Oh and if you have questions about where to start or how to mix The INKEY List skincare in the right order – leave me those too…