I tend to leave long gaps between posting skincare reviews to give products a fighting chance to work. My preference is to use a product for a good 10-12 weeks but, if I see tangible results by week four then I know something is happening.

The time it takes for new skin cell turnover varies from person to person, it’s dependant on age, environment, skin type, and even the seasons. Fortunately, we can nudge the process along with regular exfoliation which is why sloughing off old dead skin cells is such a vital step in our skincare regimen.

In September last year, I bought a bottle of The Inkey List PHA Toner. I’d almost run out of my much-loved Alpha H Liquid Gold and I thought I would try another exfoliating toner, plus the formula is meant to be extremely gentle. Coming into winter, I knew my skin was going to take a beating from chilly weather outside and an overheated, dry as a bone environment inside.


'The Inkey List' PHA Toner 

This gentle yet effective toner is formulated with PHA or Poly-Hydroxy Acids to exfoliate the skin surface for a more refined skin texture.

Ideal for dull, rough or congested complexions, the acid toner gently breaks down the bonds between dead skin cells, while helping to clear blocked pores. Designed to revitalise dull, dry and congested complexions, this formula calls upon poly-hydroxy acids to gently exfoliate the upper layer of your skin: clearing dead skin cells and blocked pores.

Unlike other acids, which have associations with dryness and irritation, PHAs possess humectant properties, helping your skin to attract and retain moisture. The toner is formulated with Aloe Barbadenis Leaf to nourish and hydrate, along with 3% Niacinamide to help regulate oil production, and promote a more uniform complexion by minimising pores.


Use in the AM or PM. Sweep over cleansed skin. Follow with preferred serums and moisturiser.


Mature skin loses elasticity and pores look more obvious ie larger because we produce less collagen year on year as gravity smacks us in the face.

It’s just not fair. The one thing that ‘holds skin up’ and keeps it tight and bouncy starts to gradually diminish when we hit our 20s when we’re still just babies!

I’ve been there, foundation on uneven skin is so ageing and is always noticeable. The more you slap on to disguise it, the more obvious it is. Try and rub it off and you’re left with patches of makeup, it’s a no-win.

In fact, if I had to choose between wrinkles (not deep Gordon Ramsey creases though) or textured skin, I’d go for wrinkles every time. Now, I’m not saying this toner has given me beautiful Korean glass-like skin, but my makeup is going on more smoothly and I love it for that.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by too much choice. I look at what’s on offer from The Ordinary and The Inkey List (clones of each other surely?) and I think what do I choose, how many products do I need? But, the reasonable prices from both companies mean that we can at least pick several and stick with the ones that work.

I chose well here, this unscented, alcohol-free toner really delivers. The clear liquid is slightly thicker than water and it doesn’t sting or irritate my sensitive skin.

But what I was really excited about is that I saw a tangible improvement in the texture of my skin after the 4-week mark and it continues to improve, at last!

The toner also took care of dry patches over winter. Not one area of dryness in 8 months and winter is always harsh on my skin.

I’m now on bottle number four. I crack open a new 100ml bottle every 2 months. It lasts so long because I barely dampen the cotton wool pad with the product and use it just 3 times a week. Even in lockdown, I have another one ready, this is a life long affair.

Oh, it’s also 60% cheaper than my beloved Alpha H.


This under-eye serum is loaded with anti-inflammatory, antioxidant benefits derived from coffee, which help to reduce puffiness, dark circles and prevent skin damage from free radicals, which can make dark circles more pronounced.

A wake-up call for your eyes, this serum works wonders for the under-eye area, helping to reduce the appearance of puffiness and dark circles. The added Matrixyl 3000™ peptide can help reduce the appearance of fine lines and the smooth texture provides a perfect canvas for make-up.

THE INKEY LIST Caffeine Serum


Use AM and PM. On cleansed skin apply a small amount onto finger and gently pat around the contour of the eye. Combine with preferred serums and follow with moisturiser.


I had high hopes for this cream, not only because of the positive reviews from lots of genuine sources but also because caffeine is a known skin firmer and it makes sense that it would work wonders under the eyes.

This is a light, serum/cream hybrid. Back in September, I applied it regularly every night for a month. I had to drop the daytime application because it smudged my Mac eyeliner pencil, which never smudges.

However, I persevered with my evening applications and limped on for another 8 weeks. Sadly, I didn’t see even the slightest improvement – yet the reviews from paying customers are so good, I don’t believe it was manufactured hype, it just didn’t suit me, it happens.


The Inkey List Brighten-I Eye Cream

4 times more potent than Vitamin C this eye cream helps aid the long-term improvement of dark circles, while also helping to instantly illuminate and prime the undereye for an instant boost or an ideal make up base.

An instant effect eye cream. Give your eyes an instant pop of luminosity, refreshes tired eyes, and brightens eye area over time.

Brightenyl is an active ingredient that is 4x more potent than vitamin C. It works to restore and even the tone of your eye contours by reducing dark circles and minimising redness. Paired with blurring and hydrating properties, this cream smooths the contours of your eyes for a totally attainable well-rested look.


Use AM and PM. Apply to a clean eye area. Pat product into eye contour.

Because the price point is so reasonable I bought a tube of Brighten I to also help diminish under-eye circles which have become a real problem.


I had slightly more success with this product, albeit in a cosmetic way.

This comes with a really useful metal applicator tip. I keep it in the fridge and will be using it long after the cream runs out. The shock of cold metal works wonders to help combat early-morning undereye puffiness.

Unfortunately, I can’t apply the cream itself straight from the applicator because far too much spills out. I give the tube a gentle half squeeze onto a cotton wool bud, dab it on my under eye area, then go over with the metal tip, no problem, less waste.

The cream does its job and brightens up the undereye area and, unlike the caffeine cream, it behaves nicely under makeup.

I’m not seeing any sign of long term brightening yet, but I’m hopeful.


The tube should always be stored sideways – not standing up, the cream is slightly runny and too much product will pour out.


Even though BOOTS stock a wide range of Inkey List products, they’ve never sold the toner, I get my supplies from Cult Beauty or Feel Unique.


      • PHA Toner 100ml £9.99 FEEL UNIQUE & CULT BEAUTY – IN STOCK 
      • Caffeine Eye Serum 15ml £8.99 BOOTS  * – NOT IN STOCK, BUT BOOTS WAITLIST IS RELIABLE
      • Brighten I Eye Cream 15ml £8.99 LOOK FANTASTIC * BOOTS *  – AGAIN, NOT IN STOCK (that’s annoying because I do want another one)


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