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Even the most knowledgeable skin care aficionados would probably agree that the existing product landscape can be confusing. With new beauty brands cropping up daily and a rotation of ingredients claiming to perform better than the last, it can be difficult to adopt an effective regimen that works for you.
That could be why companies like The Inkey List, an affordable skin care line that specializes in single-ingredient products with no-fuss branding, have caught on.
The approach can make it easier for people to understand which products they may benefit from and to decide which products should or should not be combined, said Dr. Carmen Castilla, a board-certified New York-based dermatologist.
“Products that try to target multiple skin issues and contain a combination of too many active ingredients can sometimes be too harsh on the skin and difficult to tolerate,” said Dr. Lauren Penzi, a board-certified dermatologist also based in New York.
In September, The Inkey List applied this tailored take to its Supersolutions line, a collection of products that have been formulated to target one major skin concern each (like redness, dryness, acne and more), using active ingredients that have been proven effective. Each product in the five-piece lineup has been developed with dermatologists. (Neither of the dermatologists in this piece is affiliated with The Inkey List.)
“Supersolutions has products that have active ingredients very similar to prescription grade products. The concentrations of active ingredients are lower than a prescription strength product but may be effective if they are used consistently,” said Castilla. She noted that although the brand has used observational studies to determine product effectiveness, the studies have been very small, using 22 patients or fewer.
The Supersolutions products differ from The Inkey List’s regular assembly of goods, which also contain single-ingredient options but have lower concentrations of some of the active ingredients and haven’t been formulated specifically by a team of dermatologists.
Clinical-grade skin care isn’t always the most accessible or affordable, with some brands costing up to $250 for a single product. The Supersolutions products come at a relatively low price point, but Castilla said to keep in mind that “if trying to form a skin care routine, having to buy multiple products with single ingredients versus buying one product with multiple ingredients may be more expensive in the end.”
Whether your skin care needs include post-acne scarring, irritated dry patches or excess oil production, you can shop the entire Supersolutions line below. Mix and match for a completely customized routine and learn a little more about what these dermatologists have to say about the specific ingredients.
The dry and rough skin solution
Urea in concentrations of 2-10% has "excellent hydrating effects for dry skin issues," according to Penzi. She said that multiple clinical trials
on the use of urea-containing formulations have shown significant improvement in many of the dermatoses presenting with scaly and dry skin, such as atopic dermatitis and xerosis.
This fast-absorbing moisturizer contains 10% urea in a lightweight texture that won't feel overly thick or occlusive on the skin. Perfect for eliminating those red, flaky patches and repairing a compromised skin barrier, the addition of 1% colloidal oat helps to soothe irritation, making this suitable for people who have eczema or psoriasis-prone skin.
The Inkey List doesn't recommend using the product with benzoyl peroxide, BHAs, AHAs or retinol.
The acne solution
This gel-like cleanser is meant to target persistent acne without the irritation and dryness that can sometimes occur with products containing benzoyl peroxide, an ingredient that kills acne-causing bacteria. Penzi said that a 5% benzoyl peroxide concentration has been clinically proven to be just as effective as 10% in treating acne, but without as much irritation.
To combat irritation even further, The Inkey List added beloved hydrators like glycerin and hyaluronic acid to draw moisture into the skin and lock it in, even after the cleanser has been washed off.
The redness relief solution
Castilla said there's clinical evidence to support the use of azelaic acid, which is in this product, as a redness reducer. It also employs the calming capabilities of allantoin and micro-fine green color particles, which is helpful in offsetting the appearance of redness.
Because the serum's texture promises to be pill-proof and white-cast-free, it can easily be layered underneath other products or foundations for an added redness-masking effect.
The excess oil solution
If you've explored even the tip of the skin care iceberg, you're most likely familiar with niacinamide
, an all-encompassing antioxidant that plays nice with all skin types and is capable of addressing everything from excess oil production to uneven skin texture. The Supersolutions version contains a 20% concentration of the stuff, along with zinc to target sebum buildup and squalene.
"The 20% niacinamide concentration is relatively high and has the potential to be irritating. However, the formulation also has squalene, a fatty acid, which can help support the skin barrier and may prevent irritation," Castilla said.
A scar, mark and wrinkle solution
Most dermatologists will tell you retinol
is arguably one of the most important ingredients you can have in a skin care routine. By increasing cell turnover, the vitamin can help to resurface the skin and reduce the appearance of post-blemish scarring, marks and wrinkles.
This serum contains the Inkey List's highest concentration of retinol at 1%, along with the nourishing properties of apricot kernel oil and squalane to protect against moisture loss and irritation.
"Although [1%] is a high concentration, the general strength is determined by the actual retinol molecule,” Castilla explained.