If you've entered lockdown with a string of sudden skin issues such as acne, eczema, uneven skin texture and dryness, you're not alone. Alongside stress and anxiety as a result of the coronavirus crisis, not to mention more central heating, less fresh air and skipping your regular, daily skincare routine, there are many factors which might contribute to lacklustre skin right now.
Unfortunately, since beauty salons (including skin and dermatology clinics) were recommended to close following government guidelines, getting expert advice for any skin gripe isn't as easy as before. While lots of beauty experts have taken their services online, digital consultations can often be expensive and that's before you've bought the recommended skincare products. There is one skincare brand that has your back, though.
Enter: The Inkey List.
If you're a fan of affordable and efficient skincare brands, it's likely you've already heard of them. (If not, you can read our honest review here.) Now available at Cult Beauty, Boots, Look Fantastic and more recently Sephora in the US, The Inkey List makes skincare simple with a range of single-ingredient products including a retinol cream, glycolic acid toner and vitamin C serum to name a few. Even better, nothing exceeds the £15 mark. Dreamed up by skin experts Mark Curry and Colette Laxton (formerly of Boots' branding and product development team), the brand has just launched a free 24-hour online chat service – #askINKEY – to solve all of your skin dilemmas – and it's impressive.
There are a few ways in which you can get involved. Head to theinkeylist.com/ask-inkey/ and you'll spot the Live Chat tab in the bottom right-hand corner. Whether you're keen to know what's causing your breakouts and pigmentation or simply want skincare routine recommendations, a team of dedicated and professionally trained skin experts are working around the clock to answer your queries. If you'd rather use social media, you can get in touch with the team via Facebook Messenger, Instagram Direct Message, Twitter or email, and you can expect a detailed response in just 30 minutes.
As a beauty editor I wouldn't recommend a new service like this without giving it a number of goes myself, and it seems no topic is too big or too small for the experts on board. I began with a question about blackheads. An expert explained exactly what might be causing them (blocked hair follicles filled with dirt and dead skin cells). I also received a full, step-by-step skincare routine for morning and evening, complete with proven, blackhead-busting ingredients like salicylic acid. So far, so good.
Excessively dry hands is also a big topic thanks to constant washing and sanitising, and the pros offered advice on this, too: supplement a hand cream with a few drops of rosehip oil, which contains fatty acids and vitamins to help rehydrate parched skin. Even better, it took experts just five minutes to get back to me each time.
As you might have guessed, the products recommended are all Inkey, but the great thing about lots of single-ingredient skincare brands is that you don't have to buy into them entirely. Depending on your skin concerns, it's easy to mix and match products and ingredients, like hyaluronic acid, glycolic acid and retinol. If you haven't already, try supplementing your skincare routine with other expert-approved, affordable brands like The Ordinary (R29 rates the Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%, £5, for minimising oil and the appearance of pores), Garden of Wisdom (try the Glycolic Acid Serum, £12, to fade skin staining left behind by spots) and Beauty Pie. Its new Japanfusion range is packed with daily essentials, including this Light Urban Air Purifying Day Moisturiser, £12.72 for members, which acts as a pollution shield.
If you're currently at a loss when it comes to your skin, askINKEY is definitely worth a try, but there is a wealth of knowledge online. On Instagram, dermatologists such as Dr Anjali Mahto and Dr Emma Wedgeworth regularly share skincare advice via grid posts. You can get dermatologist-approved skincare information in regard to skin conditions such as rosacea and chronic acne by visiting the British Skin Foundation and the British Association of Dermatologists online, too.