From Typology to Q+A Skin, the rise of Instagram-worthy skincare brands backed by serious science shows no sign of slowing down. But how do you cut through the noise to find an effective brand that's actually worth your money? Perhaps when it has amassed countless positive influencer and beauty editor reviews. Or when it's snapped up by all of the biggest beauty retailers...
PSA Skin falls into both camps. New to ASOS (which is currently offering 20% off everything on site for Singles Day), Beauty Bay and Lookfantastic, the shiny new skincare was dreamed up by skin expert Nicolas Travis, who also founded Allies of Skin (the chic, results-driven skincare line that's currently sold out pretty much everywhere). Prices start at £20, which makes PSA a little more affordable than its sister range, and just like trusty brands such as The Ordinary and The Inkey List, the focus is on ingredients which make a proven difference to skin. Think glycolic acid for minimising hyperpigmentation, salicylic acid for treating breakouts and hyaluronic acid for deeply hydrating skin, to name a few.
So is it really worth the hype? Intrigued, I tried six products in place of my usual skincare routine. Here's what I want you to know.
This bright orange mask is very thick and a little bit sticky (hey, texture is important) but it really does make skin glow. The star ingredient is 11% L-ascorbic acid, or vitamin C. If vitamin C serums tend to make your skin tingle, give it a go in mask form instead. Not only does this pep up dull skin in a matter of minutes but it makes skin soft and plump with a hit of highly moisturising vitamin E and hydrating hyaluronic acid.
The best PSA Skin product for fine lines: MIDNIGHT COURAGE Rosehip & Bakuchiol Retinol Night Oil, £37.
This fast-absorbing facial oil contains two buzzy ingredients: bakuchiol (which skin experts are touting as a natural version of retinol) and hydroxypinacolone retinoate, which is a milder version of retinol. Together, they very gently encourage the skin to produce new skin cells, minimising hyperpigmentation and fine lines. While retinol is usually great for spot-prone skin, the thicker texture could clog pores (as I found out) so I'd only recommend this product for more mature or dry skin types. My only real gripe is that the bottle could be a lot bigger for the price. Looking for an effective retinol for blemish-prone skin? Try Perricone MD Blemish Relief Retinol Treatment & Moisturiser, £45.
The best PSA Skin product for dehydrated skin: THE MOST Hyaluronic Super Nutrient Hydration Serum, £34.
The best PSA Skin product for acne-prone skin and blackheads: GOALS Multi Acids & Probiotics Perfecting Night Serum, £37.
This night serum contains all the ingredients dermatologists rate for minimising spots: glycolic acid and lactic acid, which exfoliate the surface of the skin and minimise hyperpigmentation or skin staining left behind by acne, and salicylic acid, which sinks deep inside pores to break up the mixture of dead skin cells and oil that leads to blackheads. It smells very strong but the brightening, unclogging benefits outweigh the scent, which fades quickly. One thing to know: the concentration of glycolic acid is very high so it's best suited to those who have been using the ingredient regularly with little to no side effects such as irritation (it does tingle slightly) or flaky skin. After something a touch more affordable? Try Lixirskin Nightswitch BHA/AHA 10% £20, which also features lactic and salicylic acid combined. Always remember to follow with a high factor sunscreen in the morning, as acids can make skin sensitive to sunlight. Yes, even in the winter.
The best PSA Skin product for hyperpigmentation: HEROINE Mandelic & Licorice Superfood Glow Toner, £28.
This leave-on exfoliating toner may look and feel like water but don't underestimate it. Six percent mandelic acid and lactic acid exfoliate skin gently, while niacinamide controls oil production, minimises the appearance of enlarged pores and reduces redness caused by inflammation, making it the perfect addition to any spot-busting skincare routine. Simply drench a cotton pad and swipe on to clean skin before following with a light moisturiser two to three times a week at night. I found that it made my skin look and feel less like an oil slick. The packaging is also smart, as the bottle features a stop cap to prevent the product from leaking inside your skincare cabinet, which almost always happens with liquid exfoliators! Remember to follow with SPF in the morning.
The texture of this cleanser is quite similar to cult favourite, CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser, £9.50. It's silky and light but effective at dissolving makeup (including foundation and heavy mascara), although I found that I did need to double cleanse. While it won't transform your complexion, it makes skin soft, not taut.
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