U Beauty’s philosophy revolves around streamlining and reducing the amount of skincare products one has to use day to day. It’s meant to reduce a 12 step routine into a 2 step one, I guess, because they only make 2 products for the face so far, and the price for both of those is enough to purchase a 12 step routine, two times over. At least.
I’ll be reviewing both products they offer. There aren’t any cleansers in this skincare line, and if you watch Tina Craig’s (the founder) skincare routine you can see that she doesn’t consider cleansers a skincare product, apparently. Are you baffled? So am I. Watch the reaction videos by specialists (here and here), you won’t feel alone in your confusion.
This brand makes sure you’ll use very few products by making you spend your entire year’s budget for skincare on their two offerings. It’s expensive, people. £160 for a 50 ml moisturiser. £215 for a 50 ml serum. And those are the value sizes.
If their marketing is “you spend more on these, but you won’t have to buy anything else”, then their pricing shouldn’t be 3 years worth of a full skincare routine by brands like The Ordinary or The Inkey List. I don’t mind paying more for a well rounded, complete and well formulated product, but U Beauty’s pricing surpasses that: we are entering the luxury realm, where people spend £595 on shoes made of rope and cotton just because they’re Chanel espadrilles. Nothing against it, I’m guilty of stuff like that too, but just be aware that the value for money is no longer the criteria here.
Luxury skincare usually focuses on the sensorial experiment in detriment of scientific efficacy: lovely scents and pleasant textures abound, but so do irritating ingredients, specially for sensitive skin. Not with U Beauty though. There are no fragrant ingredients, no alcohol, no unnecessary irritants – and yet the products smell fine (very neutral, non offensive) and the textures are amazing. Kudos! The first good thing I can say about U Beauty is that it’s the first time I try a luxury brand that devotes itself to creating a lovely user experience without neglecting formulation. And another thing to note – and congratulate – is that packaging also takes into account product preservation. They’re both air tight, opaque pumps.
Resurfacing Compound – £215 for 50ml, £138 for 30ml, £85 for 15ml
This product is a yellowish transparent gel that spreads easily and dries quickly on the skin. There is a bit of tightening after drying, but nothing uncomfortable.
Resurfacing Compound makes it sound like a peeling treatment. It’s not that extreme; it’s not even a wash off treatment – otherwise you wouldn’t be able to use it twice a day like the instructions mention – but it does contain glycolic, lactobionic and mandelic acids, which are chemical exfoliants, so there is some “shedding” of dead skin cells. More than an exfoliant, though, this is a vitamin C serum – Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate is a form of vitamin C and the third ingredient on the list. It’s likely what causes the brightness you might experience when using this product.
The formula is really solid. There are a lot of humectant and soothing ingredients, a nice amount of antioxidants (vitamin C, superoxide dismutase, vitamin E), and what I assume is a tiny amount of retinol (retinyl palmitate), because it’s further down the list and I’ve used this compound morning and night for several days and felt no dryness or irritation.
It’s a nice, multifaceted serum. Will it be enough to replace all my other serums? Nope. I still need to have my niacinamide and my stronger retinol. But it’s a good product – specially if you’re looking for something that mildly exfoliates, promotes cell renewal in a gentle way, and costs the same as the gross domestic product of a small country.
Resurfacing Compound Ingredient List: Aqua (Water), Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice Powder, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Dimethyl Sulfone, Citric Acid, Polysorbate 20, Glycerin, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Leaf Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Glycolic Acid, Superoxide Dismutase, Lactobionic Acid, Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid, Glutathione, Acacia Decurrens/jojoba/sunflower Seed Wax/polyglyceryl-3 Esters, Mandelic Acid, Linoleic Acid, Retinyl Palmitate, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Oleic Acid, Palmitic Acid, Stearic Acid, Tocopherol, Linolenic Acid, Xanthan Gum, Pentylene Glycol, Butylene Glycol, Methyldihydrojasmonate, Hydroxyphenyl Propamidobenzoic Acid, Caprylyl Glycol, N-prolyl Palmitoyl Tripeptide-56 Acetate, Benzyl Alcohol, Dehydroacetic Acid.
The Super Smart Hydrator – £160 for 50ml, £65 for 15ml
The texture of this moisturiser is very unique: it’s very fluid, very liquid-y, and yet so dense and occlusive on the skin. I think it must be all the oils in the formula – even though I don’t feel like this is an oily product, but more like a heavy moisturiser.
There are a lot – a lot – of emollient ingredients in this. Some of them are also antioxidants (argon oil, avocado oil, grape seed oil), and are amongst other antioxidants (tocopherol, tocopherol acetate, sodium ascorbyl phosphate, superoxide dismutase) . This still contains chemical exfoliants, at what seems like a lower concentration than the resurface compound, but still, if they were meant to be complementary, that seems redundant. Also, that might explain why some people find that using this system makes their skin drier, even though there are so many humectant and moisturising components in this fluid – but together with the resurfacing compound, it might be too much if you have very sensitive skin. There is also a fair share of soothing and skin identical ingredients to sooth the effect of the exfoliants, so don’t let those ingredients stop you, it’s just a matter of paying attention to over exfoliation.
Even though this moisturiser seems to be filled with great ingredients, I find that it’s too rich for me to use on a regular basis. Must be the oils (specially the sweet almond oil, that one has a tendency to clog my pores), because I felt my skin was a bit congested after using this for a full week, day and night. I like it, but I’ll reserve it for days when my skin is drier.
The Super Smart Hydrator Ingredient List: Aqua (Water), Squalane, Octyldodecanol, Pentylene Glycol, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Ethylhexyl Stearate, Cetyl Peg/Ppg-10/1 Dimethicone, Sorbitol, Methyldihydrojasmonate, Magnesium Sulfate, Passiflora Incarnata Seed Oil, Panthenol, Tocopherol, Acacia Decurrens/Jojoba/Sunflower Seed Wax/Polyglyceryl-3 Esters, Tocopheryl Acetate, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Superoxide Dismutase, Titanium Dioxide, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-8, Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer, Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid, Caprylyl Glycol, Mandelic Acid, N-Prolyl Palmitoyl Tripeptide-56 Acetate, Acetyl Hexapeptide-37, Polyglyceryl-4 Diisostearate/Polyhydroxystearate/Sebacate, Diisostearoyl Polyglyceryl-3 Dimer Dilinoleate, Polyglyceryl-3 Oleate, Cera Alba (Beeswax), Linoleic Acid, Oleic Acid, Sodium Acetylated Hyaluronate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Hydrolyzed Sodium Hyaluronate, Linolenic Acid, Lactobionic Acid, Glycolic Acid, Glutathione, Palmitic Acid, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Xanthan Gum, Mica, Stearic Acid, Butylene Glycol, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Dextran, Hydroxyphenyl Propamidobenzoic Acid, Propylene Carbonate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenethyl Alcohol.
Brand Overview and Final Thoughts
Individually, each of these products are great. Together, I don’t think they complement each other very well. And if you rely only o this line there are some crucial ingredients you won’t be getting – my skin really missed my niacinamide serum. The Super Smart Hydrator might not be ideal for someone with oily skin, so I also don’t think they work well for every skin type.
When we compare U Beauty to other brands in the luxury skincare market, it’s easy to say it’s great, wonderful, fantastic, but competition isn’t strong. It’s being
a big fish in a small pond a regular sized live fish in a pond with a lot of dead fish. If you’re into luxury brands, sure, it’s a great choice, but you can’t rely solely on U Beauty because there is not diversity at all in their range (no cleansers, no salicylic acid products for acne, no niacinamide). But if any of these two products excite you and it’s within your budget, I don’t think you will be disappointed.
Now, if you’re thinking you won’t ever have great skin because you can’t afford something like this, or are thinking about cutting on other serums to be able to just purchase one product from U Beauty, disillusion yourself. There are other solid skincare lines out there that’ll get you everything you need, within what you can afford. U Beauty is good, at the end of the day, but it’s a want, not a need.