Brand Review | The Inkey List (niacinamide, retinol, eye creams, oat cleanser & more)

Gender neutral, ingredient focused, inexpensive and TikTok famous. Sounds like The Ordinary good, right? Over the past few months, I’ve been testing out quite an assortment of The Inkey List’s skincare products to see if they can make my skin look as Gen Z as the audience they market to.

They’re compared to The Ordinary a lot and for good reason. First, they have products with a high cconcentration of expensive skincare ingredients for a really low price. Second, they both focus on spreading scientific skincare knowledge. Third, and most important, they both start with “The”.

There are a few things that set them apart though. The Inkey List focuses more on a pleasant user experience, which is important to promote consistent, regular use. And the packaging really sets them apart – it’s extremely informative. The Inkey List’s philosophy divides skincare into 5 steps (clean, hydrate, treat, moisturise and SPF) and the packaging tells you in which step does the product you’re using fall into. It also says if you should use it day or night, and what other products can be used with it. Even the inside of the packaging is useful, by giving extra information and suggesting product combinations depending on what your goals are:

All of the products come is a very neutral, black and white plastic containers. They obviously cared about having light-blocking and air tight packaging for products that are sensitive to light and air. The only thing is that I would prefer glass instead of plastic. If nothing else because it’s better for the environment.

I appreciate brands that cater to consumers without making a gender distinction. Products marketed towards woman tend to be more expensive than the masculine equivalent; skincare lines for men traditionally offer less options. A unisex packaging won’t confuse consumers when it’s time to buy (and it also won’t intimidate that macho guy Bruno who’s not confident enough to use something with pink packaging).

Let’s get into the products (buckle in, there’s 9 of them).


Retinol – 9,99€ for 30 ml

This is the one product that made me turn to The Inkey List. I wasn’t happy with The Ordinary’s version of retinol serum, 1% Retinol in Squalane, because I don’t like feeling my skin oily, but I still wanted the anti-wrinkle benefits of a retinol product in my routine.

This serum is a lightweight gel like texture that spreads easily, doesn’t leave skin feeling greasy and layers well with moisturisers. It contains a bunch of hydrating and moisturising ingredients, skin replenishing fatty acids and antioxidants, and even peptides, which helps with skin restoration, making this a well rounded, well formulated anti-aging serum. It contains two forms of retinol: Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate and Retinol per se. The concentration isn’t the highest it can be but it’s still high enough where it is effective. I recommend using this every other day. Every time I used this several days in a row, by the end of the third my skin was showing some signs of dryness in reaction to it, so as with all retinol products, pay attention to your skin’s tolerance.

Retinol Serum Ingredient List: Water (Aqua / Eau), Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Propanediol, Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Dimethicone, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Caprylyl Glycol, Phospholipids, Caprylic/capric Glycerides, Squalane, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Extract, Carbomer, Sodium Ascorbate, Tocopherol, Polysorbate 60, Tocopheryl Acetate, Glycolipids, Sodium Hydroxide, Disodium Edta, Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate, Retinol, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Sterol, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Peg-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Hyaluronic Acid, Polysorbate 20, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1, Phenoxyethanol

Hyaluronic Acid – 6.99€ for 30 ml

This is a very fluid, clear liquid – it honestly is just slightly thicker than water. Hyaluronic Acid is a humectant that holds onto water and brings it from the outside into your skin, and it’s currently a very trendy ingredient, since it seems to be added to any new moisturiser and/or serum that comes out in the market. For that reason alone I think a Hyaluronic Acid specific serum is kind of redundant unless you have very dehydrated skin. The Inkey List’s version, however, contains peptides in it, so it adds a few skin restoring properties to the product, which makes it a bit more helpful to the skin.

Hyaluronic Acid Ingredient List: Water (Aqua/Eau), Propanediol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/Vp Copolymer, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Hyaluronic Acid, Carbomer, Sodium Lactate, Polysorbate 20, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1

Niacinamide – 7.99€ for 30 ml

This serum has a watery texture that’s a bit thicker than the hyaluronic acid serum, but still very easy to spread on the skin. Niacinamide is the second ingredient on the list, so it’s at a high concentration (I believe 10%), which is great. The serum has a lot of moisturising, skin-replenishing ingredients: glycerin, squalane, hyaluronic acid, propanediol. It’s niacinamide delivered in a very hydrating cocktail. Niacinamide is an all-star ingredient: helps with the appearance of pores, oil control, uneven skintone, hydration and it’s an antioxidant. You should be using niacinamide regardless of whatever your skin concern is, and The Inkey List option is a great choice.

Niacinamide Serum Ingredient List: Water (Aqua/ Eau), Niacinamide, Glycerin, Propanediol, Butylene Glycol, Squalane, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Hyaluronic Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Phospholipids, Xanthan Gum, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Extract, Allantoin, Disodium Edta, Polysorbate 60, Panthenol, Glycolipids, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Sterol, Disodium Phosphate, Citric Acid, Sodium Phosphate.

Collagen Booster

9,99€ for 30 ml

I thought this was a serum as well, and that the name “Booster” was just a marketing choice, but apparently boosters are a whole other category of skincare. Fellow beauty blogger Blanca from Beauty and More recently made a post about it, explaining what they are and that’s how I learned about them. I think the gist of it is that they’re meant to be added to other products, particularly moisturisers, in order to boost up the original ingredient list. Collagen Booster can be used as a serum or added to moisturiser or body products, as the packaging suggests. The ingredient list is similar to the Hyaluronic Acid serum, and the texture is basically identical, but this has more peptides in it, which are components that tell the skin to produce better collagen. It does what it claims and it’s a solid product for the price.

Collagen Booster Ingredients List: 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

Tranexamic Acid Night Treatment

14,99€ for 30 ml

I had to learn what the hell tranexamic acid was when I got this because I never heard of it before. It’s supposed to help with hyperpigmentation and only be used at night, which reminded me of vitamin C – and funny enough, vitamin C is the 4th ingredient on the list (ascorbyl glucoside), coming right before tranexamic acid. It’s a jelly like texture that spreads easily and absorbs fast, and leaves the skin ever so slightly tacky. I had a nice experience with this but honestly, I’m not its target client – I haven’t struggled with hyperpigmentation for a really long time, since I always wear sunscreen, and I have been using vitamin C regularly for the past two years. I did noticed my skin was a bit brighter the mornings after using this, but I’m used to harsher treatments and I can get more extreme results with The Ordinary’s Vitamin C Suspension 23%.

This is a nice option if your skin is more sensitive or if you’ve just started trying out vitamin C/brightening treatments and don’t want to go overboard – and trust me, you don’t want to over do it. Red patches are never sexy.

Tranexamic Acid Night Treatment Ingredient List: Aqua (Water/ Eau), Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Ascorbyl Glucoside, Tranexamic Acid, Euterpe Oleracea Fruit Extract, 1-Methylhydanto- in-2-Imide, Sodium Acrylates Copolymer, Phenoxyethanol, Carbomer, Sodium Hydroxide, Cetearyl Olivate, Benzyl Alcohol, Sorbitan Olivate, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Lecithin, Squalane, Ethylhexylglycerin, Sodium Gluconate, Polysorbate 60, Dehydroacetic Acid, Lactobacillus Ferment, Sorbitan Isostearate.

Peptide Moisturizer

14.99€ for 50 ml

Even though The Inkey List describes this as being best for dry skin, I think oily skin types would get along with it just fine. It’s a super lightweight formula that doesn’t feel heavy or occlusive on the skin. The packaging is an air tight pump that you press down and the moisturiser comes out in the centre of it. It contains shea butter, a very moisturising ingredient, and vitamin E (Tocopheryl Acetate) which is an antioxidant, and obviously, peptides (two different ones). I don’t know what it is about this product in particular, but my skin was really happy with it. It was glowing, clear and even, to the point that I didn’t even need to use foundation. Skin texture also seemed to be perfected and softened. Good stuff.

Peptide Moisturizer Ingredient List: Aqua (Water/Eau), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Glycerin, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Betaine, Butylene Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Benzyl Alcohol, Carbomer, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Sodium Stearoyl Glutamate, Sodium Hydroxide, Ethylhexylglycerin, Sodium Gluconate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Dehydroacetic Acid, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Phenethyl Alcohol, Acetyl Hexapeptide-37, Maltodextrin, Pentapeptide-48.

Eye Creams

Retinol Eye Cream – 9,99 € for 15 ml

I’ve mentioned before, eye creams are not necessary. Anything that can be used around the eyes can be used on the whole face. There’s nothing out there that works magic around the eyes but it’s not ok for the rest of the skin. So that’s how I use this: as a night moisturiser. It’s thicker cream consistency that blends into a thin, silicone like texture – it almost feels like a primer. It contains a nice amount of moisturising ingredients and antioxidants, and retinol is well after phenoxyethanol on the ingredients list, which means that it’s a percentage well below 1% – because phenoxyethanol can only have a maximum percentage of 1% on cosmetics (and it’s usually less). It’s fine, non irritating and non offensive, but unnecessary in my opinion.

Retinol Eye Cream Ingredient List: Aqua (Water/Eau), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Pentaerythrityl Distearate, Shea Butter Ethyl Esters, Cetearyl Olivate, Phenoxyethanol, Benzyl Alcohol, Sorbitan Olivate, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Sodium Hydroxide, Sodium Hyaluronate, Sodium Stearoyl Glutamate, Copernicia Cerifera Cera, Propanediol, Glycogen, Sodium Gluconate, Retinol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Dehydroacetic Acid, Citric Acid, Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol, Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate, Tocopherol, Xanthan Gum, Humulus Lupulus Extract.

Caffeine Eye Cream – 9.99€ for 15 ml

This is a thin gel that’s easy to spread, like basically any other Inkey List product I’ve mentioned so far. It contains a small amount of caffeine (I think I can detect a very, very faint scent of coffee when I apply it, but I might be imagining it) and as far as I’m concerned, that’s fine for me because caffeine applied topically isn’t really proven to be all that beneficial. Like the eye cream before, I use this all over the face, because eye cream are just glorified moisturisers. This one contains nice hydrating ingredients (jojoba esters, squalane, hyaluronic acid), antioxidants and peptides – honestly it’s an overall good formula in spite of the caffeine, and it’s comfortable to use over other serums and underneath makeup. I still prefer the Peptide Moisturiser though.

Caffeine Eye Cream Ingredient List: Water (Aqua / Eau), Glycerin, Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Propanediol, Polyglyceryl-6 Distearate, Cetyl Alcohol, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Jojoba Esters, Glyceryl Dibehenate, Albizia Julibrissin Bark Extract, Squalane, Caffeine, Polyglyceryl-3 Beeswax, Phospholipids, Tribehenin, Ethylhexylglycerin, Xanthan Gum, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Extract, Polysorbate 60, Disodium Edta, Glyceryl Behenate, Glycolipids, Butylene Glycol, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Sterol, Leuconostoc/radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Hyaluronic Acid, Carbomer, Darutoside, Polysorbate 20, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1, Phenoxyethanol.

Oat Cleansing Balm

10.99 € for 150 ml

Now that the weather is warmer, the consistency is much gooey-er. During the winter this got so thick and hard it was difficult to squeeze it out of the bottle. So many dirty joke potential in that last sentence.

I have mixed feelings about this cleanser. It’s a balm so I was expecting it would break down makeup easily, because oily cleansers usually do, but honestly, this really… doesn’t. This is not what you want to bring for a waterproof makeup removal – because you now those waterproof formulas are going to put up a fight. I can see this being very comfortable for extremely dry skin because it does live a balm-y film on the skin after use, and although it’s not uncomfortable, I’m not the biggest fan of it. It seems to me the purpose of this is more to moisturise than it is to cleanse, and I always have to follow up with another cleanser to remove the film and the remaining makeup. And usually end up using Bioderma’s micellar water as well to take off what’s left of mascara and eyeliner.

I have tried other oil based cleansers , both by themselves and as the first step in a double cleanse, that are better than this at cleansing. But if you wear minimal makeup and have extremely dry skin, you might enjoy it.

Oat Cleansing Balm Ingredient List: Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Cetearyl Alcohol, PEG-6 Caprylic/Capric Glycerides, Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Oil, Candelilla Cera (Cire de candelilla), Silica, Sorbitan Stearate, Tribehenin, PEG-60 Almond Glycerides, Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Flour, Aqua (Water/Eau), Benzyl Alcohol, Phenoxyethanol, Lecithin, 1,2-Hexanediol, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Tocopherol, Biosaccharide Gum-4, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil.

Brand Overview and Final Thoughts

What I can say for The Inkey List that I haven’t been able to for these more ingredient focused, no nonsense skincare brands is that the product textures are very lightweight, layer well with each other and are a pleasure to use. For a brand that uses no fragrance (or other unnecessary ingredients with irritation potential), the sensorial experience is really nice.

They offer a nice range of products that cater to a lot of different skin concerns, but none that is so harsh or extreme that you could cause unintentional harm to the skin by not being careful enough. The downside to that is that you’ll likely won’t see short time results (but certainly will through consistent long term use).

They provide a lot of ingredient and skincare education with just the packaging alone, and really stay true to the philosophy that knowledge is power. Some products are not (and never were supposed to be) meant for me, but I enjoy and see results with the majority of them, and all the formulas are reliable and trustworthy. Last but not least, the price point is really a strong pro for this brand, making some state of the art, expensive ingredients accessible to a wider audience. Because everybody deserves to have good, healthy skin. Even Bruno.

6 thoughts on “Brand Review | The Inkey List (niacinamide, retinol, eye creams, oat cleanser & more)

  1. I‘m a big fan of The Inkey List skincare. I love every single product I tried from this brand and I agree with you the textures are much more user friendly than those from The Ordinary. They really are great value for money products, very easy to add to any skincare routine and become must-haves to keep buying on repeat. The Retinol is by far my favorite and I need to have a go at the Niacinamide. I thought it would not be suitable for my very dry, sensitive skin, but I’ll follow your advise.

    Thank so much for mentioning me, my blog and the boosters post and adding all the links as well! It really means a lot to me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you would enjoy the niacinamide serum, it works well on my dry patches as well. The serum is very hydrating overall. And of course! I learned something new (and that’s not that easy with skincare anymore) and I wanted to share! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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