I Tried The Inkey List Skin-Care Products — & Here’s My Honest Opinion

Megan Decker
·4 min read

Welcome to Unfiltered, where we give our honest, no-B.S. reviews of the most buzzed-about beauty products, brands, and services on the market right now.

Skin-care vloggers and beauty editors alike describe The Inkey List as the UK version's of The Ordinary. The label, which was formulated, developed, and launched in the U.K. in 2018, launched at U.S. Sephora stores in 2019 following its success in the European market.

Since then, there's been consistent buzz around the brand, especially in the niche YouTube beauty vlogger communities (Hyram is a fan). The schtick is that, like The Ordinary, The Inkey List is an ingredient-forward label with the objective of simplifying skin care, cutting out the extra frills of packaging, additives, or fragrance to give consumers the pared-down product at cost. So, everything's super cheap; around $7-$15.

The affordability and general branding — everything comes in a plain white, colorless tube or bottle — piqued my curiosity. I went on The Inkey List website and took a skin-type compatibility quiz, which matched me with five Inkey List products to build into a daily routine that would hopefully plump, brighten, and hydrate my semi-sensitive, normal to dry skin. Read ahead for my honest reviews of all of them.

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<h3>The Inkey List Oat Cleansing Balm</h3><br>I eat a lot of oatmeal, and I can tell you this <a href="https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/best-cleansing-balms" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:cleansing balm" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">cleansing balm</a> bears zero resemblance to the hot breakfast in smell or texture. However, the ingredient list informs me that the name comes from the 3% oat kernel oil and 1% colloidal oatmeal, which I'll gladly slather on my face any night of the week. The soothing formula does the job of any oil-based cleansing balm worth its salt: dissolves my makeup without stinging my eyes. That said, this is more of a <a href="https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/makeup-remover" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:makeup remover" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">makeup remover</a> than a get-all-the-gunk-off deep cleanser. <br><br><strong>The Inkey List</strong> Oat Cleansing Balm, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.sephora.com%2Fproduct%2Fthe-inkey-list-oat-cleansing-balm-P455364" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Sephora" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Sephora</a>

The Inkey List Oat Cleansing Balm


I eat a lot of oatmeal, and I can tell you this cleansing balm bears zero resemblance to the hot breakfast in smell or texture. However, the ingredient list informs me that the name comes from the 3% oat kernel oil and 1% colloidal oatmeal, which I'll gladly slather on my face any night of the week. The soothing formula does the job of any oil-based cleansing balm worth its salt: dissolves my makeup without stinging my eyes. That said, this is more of a makeup remover than a get-all-the-gunk-off deep cleanser.

The Inkey List Oat Cleansing Balm, $, available at Sephora
<h3>The Inkey List Hyaluronic Acid</h3><br>If I were to hype one Inkey List product, it would be the <a href="https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/best-hydrating-serum" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:hyaluronic acid serum" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">hyaluronic acid serum</a>. It's very no-frills — no scent or color, and it feels a lot like a thick water. After <a href="https://www.refinery29.com/en-ca/how-to-double-cleanse-your-skin" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:double-cleansing" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">double-cleansing</a> and patting my face so it's not dripping but <a href="https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/should-i-use-hyaluronic-acid" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:still damp" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">still damp</a>, I squeeze a bit onto my fingers and press it into my skin, which truly guzzles it up. At $7, I would buy a few bottles to keep on hand whenever my skin looks or feels hungover and thirsty.<br><br><strong>The Inkey List</strong> Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Serum, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.sephora.com%2Fproduct%2Fhyaluronic-acid-serum-P443845" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Sephora" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Sephora</a>

The Inkey List Hyaluronic Acid


If I were to hype one Inkey List product, it would be the hyaluronic acid serum. It's very no-frills — no scent or color, and it feels a lot like a thick water. After double-cleansing and patting my face so it's not dripping but still damp, I squeeze a bit onto my fingers and press it into my skin, which truly guzzles it up. At $7, I would buy a few bottles to keep on hand whenever my skin looks or feels hungover and thirsty.

The Inkey List Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Serum, $, available at Sephora
<h3>The Inkey List 15% Vitamin C + EGF Serum</h3><br>While I love a <a href="https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/vitamin-c-for-skin" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:vitamin C serum" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">vitamin C serum</a> — my skin tolerates them pretty well, and I obviously want the crystal-clear glow that follows — this stuff was too strong for me. Yes, it left my face looking brighter, but also feeling somewhat uncomfortable, tight, and in desperate need of a very heavy moisturizer. The texture is on the tacky side, which is normal for a vitamin C serum, but it takes a good 10 minutes to lose its stickiness... and I'm not super patient.<br><br><strong>The Inkey List</strong> 15% Vitamin C + EGF Serum, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.sephora.com%2Fproduct%2Fthe-inkey-list-15-vitamin-c-egf-brightening-serum-P455368" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Sephora" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Sephora</a>

The Inkey List 15% Vitamin C + EGF Serum


While I love a vitamin C serum — my skin tolerates them pretty well, and I obviously want the crystal-clear glow that follows — this stuff was too strong for me. Yes, it left my face looking brighter, but also feeling somewhat uncomfortable, tight, and in desperate need of a very heavy moisturizer. The texture is on the tacky side, which is normal for a vitamin C serum, but it takes a good 10 minutes to lose its stickiness... and I'm not super patient.

The Inkey List 15% Vitamin C + EGF Serum, $, available at Sephora
<h3>The Inkey List Caffeine Eye Cream</h3><br>You can't expect miracles from a $9 <a href="https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/best-eye-cream" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:eye cream" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">eye cream</a>, but this one's pretty good. It's very light, like a gel moisturizer, and gives my eye area a nice boost of hydration. Because it's cheap, I'm <a href="https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/use-eye-cream-on-face" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:not too precious about only using a &quot;pea-sized&quot; drop" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">not too precious about only using a "pea-sized" drop</a>.<br><br><strong>The Inkey List</strong> Caffeine Eye Cream, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.sephora.com%2Fproduct%2Fcaffeine-eye-cream-P443840" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Sephora" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Sephora</a>

The Inkey List Caffeine Eye Cream


You can't expect miracles from a $9 eye cream, but this one's pretty good. It's very light, like a gel moisturizer, and gives my eye area a nice boost of hydration. Because it's cheap, I'm not too precious about only using a "pea-sized" drop.

The Inkey List Caffeine Eye Cream, $, available at Sephora
<h3>The Inkey List Vitamin B, C and E Moisturizer</h3><br>Blindfolded, I might guess that this face moisturizer is actually the exact same thing same as the above eye cream, just in a bigger tube. The texture is similarly gel-like, and sinks into my skin almost on contact. That said, you might want something richer if your skin is prone to dryness, especially if you're layering it over something potentially drying like a vitamin C or <a href="https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/best-retinol-serum" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:retinol serum" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">retinol serum</a>. But this may be good for the warmer months if you're looking for something simple, cheap, and lightweight.<br><br><strong>The Inkey List</strong> Vitamin B, C and E Moisturizer, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.sephora.com%2Fproduct%2Fthe-inkey-list-vitamin-b-c-e-moisturizer-P455365" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Sephora" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Sephora</a>

The Inkey List Vitamin B, C and E Moisturizer


Blindfolded, I might guess that this face moisturizer is actually the exact same thing same as the above eye cream, just in a bigger tube. The texture is similarly gel-like, and sinks into my skin almost on contact. That said, you might want something richer if your skin is prone to dryness, especially if you're layering it over something potentially drying like a vitamin C or retinol serum. But this may be good for the warmer months if you're looking for something simple, cheap, and lightweight.

The Inkey List Vitamin B, C and E Moisturizer, $, available at Sephora

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