The Inkey List just dropped a new dewy SPF - here's what you need to know

·10-min read
the inkey list reviews
The Inkey List has just dropped a new dewy SPFThe Inkey List

When The Inkey List first dropped onto our desks back in 2018, we were instantly intrigued. The MO is simple: effective, fuss-free skincare products that sort your skin out without costing as much as your fave Reformation dress. Four years on and after trying pretty much every product in the range, we're utterly obsessed.

Once a modest collection of bare essentials, The Inkey List has escalated into a diverse brand with over 45 products in its range. But despite its successful scale, simplicity and single-ingredient-led formulas have remained at the forefront of the brand. Put simply, when you’re on the hunt for affordable yet effective skincare solutions, its portfolio is truly one of the greats. However, The Inkey List doesn’t just develop a product willy-nilly, each launch is meticulously curated to meet consumer needs — so just in time for the sunny season, the brand has introduced its Polyglutamic Acid Dewy Sunscreen, offering SPF30 protection against UVA & UVB rays.

Two years have passed since the brand's first foray into SPF, so it’s fair to say we've been waiting long enough. But, after trying this one-of-a-kind launch, we quickly discovered it was worth the wait. In true Inkey List style, the formula headlines polyglutamic acid (or PGA) — a powerhouse hydrator that gives a plump, rejuvenated glow to the skin. It often slips under the radar (hyaluronic acid is the fame-hogging humectant), but this unsung hero is a supercharged ingredient to boost your skin’s moisture. It's not often that we come across a sunscreen formulated with PGA, so this really is a power move from the brand, setting the bar high for other iterations to follow in its wake. What’s more, the formula also contains glycerin and squalene to amp up the hydration further, which considering many sunscreens leave skin looking seriously dull, is a real win.

There are no tell-tale streaks — making it a suit-all for the full skin tone spectrum — and because of its hydrating nature, it sits beautifully under makeup, too. Ticking off many boxes that make a great sunscreen, this is a must-have staple we can’t wait to use now and forever.

So, if this new summer-ready launch has you hooked and you're intrigued to know more, here's everything you need to know about The Inkey List...

What is the Inkey List?

Each product in The Inkey List family is based around a single ingredient, making it easier to ascertain exactly what you’re putting on your skin. Even better, the brand takes the confusion out of science-y formulas by clearly explaining exactly what each product will do to your skin and the skin types that will love it.

Get the top-line info on the front of the (recyclable cardboard) box, or open it out to find a deeper dive printed inside. Clever eh?

Who makes The Inkey List?

The brand was started by Mark Curry and Colette Laxton. They incubated several beauty brands via their company’s umbrella company, Be for Beauty, before kickstarting the Inkey List.

The brand prides itself on having a small number of ingredients, with the focus being on the main, active ingredient in each product. Hence the name of one ingredient on the product. 'The reason the brand exists is to take the complexity away from the world of beauty,' Curry says.

What does The Inkey List mean?

So the brand’s name is actually wordplay on the ‘International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients’ or INCI List, which in case you didn't know is the long old list of ingredient names you find on back of a beauty product’s packaging. And so the INCI List became The Inkey List, ‘Your Beauty Translator’.

Is The Inkey List cruelty-free?

In recent years, there has been a noticeable shift in the beauty industry, with a huge push towards sustainable, cruelty-free and vegan products. This change was largely led by you, the customers, who called out for more transparency about where their products come from, and how they are tested.

Well, The Inkey List listened to your call. All of the brand’s products are cruelty-free (now recognised as Leaping Bunny Certified), and are not sold in any countries where animal testing is a requirement. However, not all of the Inkey List’s products are 100% vegan, but they do offer a wide selection of vegan-friendly products.

How sustainable is The Inkey List?

Surprisingly – especially for such an affordable brand – The Inkey List has pledged that, by the end of 2022, all its range will be recyclable. This includes the pump dispensers which are often are made using a metal spring that is tricky to recycle.

Which is better, The Ordinary or The Inkey List?

Now that's the million dollar question isn't it? Both brands are incredibly similar in that they're affordable with a single ingredient focus.

We've thoroughly reviewed so many of The Inkey List's products, and can report the hype is justified. These BS-free formulas really do deliver, once you know which ones your skin really needs.

What should I buy from the Inkey List?

Want to give the Inkey List and go but not sure where to start? To make things super easy, we’ve spoken to the brand founders to bring you the perfect routine from The Inkey List for every skin type. Read on for your straight-talking shopping list.

The Inkey List Reviews | A Routine For Every Skin Type

The Inkey List routine for...dry skin


Dry skin needs – you guessed it – serious hydration. Taking things to the next level, Polyglutamic Acid is able to hold up to four times more moisture than Hyaluronic Acid. Seal the serum in with 10% urea – another hydration hero.


Dry skin can really benefit from an exfoliating acid, especially from the gentle Alpha-Hydroxy Acid. Derived from fruit acids and fortified with hyaluronic acid, it helps to remove dead skin cells and lead to a brighter complexion. Finish your routine with a dose of gentle yet deeply hydrating Rosehip Oil.

The Inkey List routine for...oily skin


First things first, oily skin needs balancing, so don’t be tempted to reach for harsh stripping products that will only throw your skin out of whack. The Inkey List’s Salicylic Acid Cleanser is a great morning-and-night option as it helps to control oil levels and shrink the appearance of pores.

Next up, apply a thin layer of the 10% Niacinamide serum, which will absorb any excess oils and close up large pores.


Start your evening routine with your Salicylic Acid Cleanser, then balance those oil levels with the niacinamide – simple. For a brightening upgrade, add in the Glycolic Acid Toner, which works to dissolve dead skin cells and prevent clogged, open pores. (If you’re new to AHA toners, use this twice weekly, building up slowly to nightly use.)

The Inkey List routine for...fine lines


Plumping and restoring fine lines needn’t leave a giant hole in your wallet, as this clever routine demonstrates. Collagen Peptide Serum is your new BFF: it uses advanced actives that mimic the plumping effects of the skin’s own collagen. Use it liberally, day and night. For a boost around the delicate eye area, the Caffeine Eye Serum will de-puff and brighten in no time.


This is where things get serious: The Inkey List’s Retinol Serum uses a precise blend of two vitamin A derivatives that work together to accelerate cell renewal without causing that dry, flaking feeling that other retinol products can do. Use it alongside the Retinol Eye Cream, of course.

Add on a thin layer of the Bakuchiol moisturiser to help boost collagen, and seal the deal with the Peptide Moisturiser, which works to support the skin's natural protein make-up for stronger, more resilient skin.

The Inkey List routine for...blemishes and acne


The Salicylic Acid Cleanser is your first line of defence against breakouts. Use this religiously each morning, then reach for the Beta Hydroxy Acid serum – a renowned blemish-banisher.

Hyaluronic acid is your holy-grail hydrator to draw moisture directly to the surface of your skin and beyond.


Firstly, reach for your Salicylic Acid Cleanser again, then it’s time to treat. The Kaolin Clay mask is ideal, as it sucks impurities and excess oil out of pores, just like a magnet. If you're more concerned with post-acne scarring than fresh breakouts, the newly launched Apple Cider Vinegar Peel is a great shout. Combining fruit acids with a heavy 10% glycolic acid, it's a very strong resurfacing peel that also works wonders on bacne.

The Inkey List routine for...sensitive skin


Of course, sensitive skin needs special treatment, so everything in this simple routine is designed to keep your skin barrier in balance. Hyaluronic Acid is a great way to boost your moisture levels while keeping inflammation at bay. Follow this with the 10% Urea: it's a great dense cream the hydrates without aggravating delicate skin.


Firstly, you're going to need a great cleanser for easily upset skin – no drying alcohol or fragrant foams here. Reach for the Oat Cleansing Balm, which gently melts makeup and comforts an out-of-balance complexion.

Sensitive skin can still benefit from chemical exfoliation – you just need to reach for the right acid product. The PHA Toner is excellent for reactive skin as it gently buffs away dead cells and improves the texture of your skin, without causing irritation. Next, impart some extra moisture with Hyaluronic Acid.

The Inkey List routine for... skin brightening


If your skin is looking 50 shades of grey then chances are you have a load of dead skin cells sitting on the skin's surface. These are a pain because they absorb light rather than reflect it, hence the dullness. So, after washing your face with the Oat Cleansing Balm sweep the Glycolic Acid Toner over skin to remove the build of dead skin cells so that the shiny new ones sit upfront. Follow with the Brighten Eye Cream to dial down dark circles.


Remove any make-up with the Oat Cleansing Balm and then harness the powers of Vitamin C 30% serum. This antioxidant powerhouse works to brighten skin over time and protect skin from daily aggressors. Finish with the Vitamin B, C, E Moisturiser to keep skin healthy and fresh looking.

And what about The Inkey List for hair?

For those not in the know, the budget-friendly brand also has a haircare line. The founders of the Inkey List sought to replicate the success they had with the skincare line by releasing a collection that targets specific haircare concerns.

From scalp treatments to hair growth serums, there is a product for each area and any hair-related concern you may have. You can expect to find a lot of the hard-working ingredients that you find in your skincare in these products too; from hyaluronic acid to caffeine.

The best bit? The formulas are all really lightweight: think creams, gel or serum textures that don't weigh hair down or leave it feeling greasy. It really is skincare for your hair.

The Inkey List has really made sure to cover all bases with their products. For bleached hair, the PCA Bond Repair Hair Treatment is great (and more affordable) than everyone’s favourite in-salon strengthening treatment. For those who are experiencing hair loss or simply want a little bit more oomph in their hair, there is the Caffeine Stimulating Scalp Treatment as well as the Peptide Volumizing Hair Treatment. For curly hair, you can opt for the Chia Seed Curl Defining Hair Cream to get those sought-after separated locks, used in tandem with the Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Hair Treatment to control frizz.

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