The founders discuss their sell-out success and the values at the heart of the brand
The Inkey List sprang onto the skincare scene a mere two years ago, during which time they've also branched into haircare, built up a massive loyal fan base and amassed almost 150 thousand followers on Instagram.
The sell-out success is impressive enough, but what about if I told you the brand went from concept to consumer in just 18 weeks? No really, that is how quickly founders Colette Laxton and Mark Curry got their products selling in the UK. Not even six months after they first had the idea were they completely selling out on Cult Beauty. #JoinTheWaitlist.
Seriously down-to-earth and passionate about their products, the pair had both previously worked for some of the biggest names in the beauty industry in product development, marketing, branding and more. But both felt there was a gap in the market for something a bit simpler for the regular customer.
'We launched the brand to answer consumer needs; there is so much clutter and frustration out there in the jargon-filled beauty world,' Mark explains. 'We wanted to make it easy for consumers interested in skincare; whether you are a skincare junkie or newbie and wanting to try something new, The Inkey List is for you.'
What does The Inkey List mean?
The brand's unique name is word play on the 'International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients' or INCI List – that's the list of long ingredient names you find on a product's packaging. And so the INCI List became The Inkey List, 'Your Beauty Translator'.
Is The Inkey List cruelty free?
Yes, all of The Inkey List's products are cruelty-free, and several are also vegan.
The most important thing for the two brand founders when creating and marketing their products? 'Our consumers!' Colette enthuses; 'We responded to a demand for simpler, more straightforward products with high-quality ingredients for less.
'We pride ourselves on offering products that cut through the beauty jargon – our packaging reflects this, calling our products after the key ingredients and even telling you how to pronounce them.'
'You won't find confusing, technical talk or exaggerated beauty marketing at The Inkey List,' Mark adds. 'You won't find complicated science or overinflated price points either; instead you'll get transparent communication, straightforward packaging and cutting-edge formulations made with cutting-edge ingredients.'
Without further ado, let us talk you through some of the brand's hero products. They're stocked on Lookfantastic, Cult Beauty, Feelunique and Boots – but finding them in stock is a bit like winning a golden ticket. Our advice? Get in there quickly if you do see them in stock...
The Inkey List Salicylic Acid Cleanser
One of the brand's more recent launches, this cleanser contains salicylic acid (a beta-hydroxy acid) alongside a zinc compound to help manage excess oil. It can be used morning or night and is a great match for skin that struggles with oiliness, breakouts and or acne.
The Inkey List Retinol Serum
A form of Vitamin A, retinol is the anti-ageing ingredient everybody is talking about at the moment, and The Inkey List's is an impressive concoction. Combining 1% stable retinol and 0.5% of (slightly stronger) granactive retinoid, this solution also contains soothing ingredients to counter the sometimes irritating effects Vitamin A can have on the skin.
The Inkey List Niacinamide
Beauty lovers are obsessed with niacinamide, so it's no surprise that it's one of the products the brand can't keep in stock. It helps to regulate sebum production, minimise pores and reduce redness. The 10% solution also contains 1% hyaluronic acid for a little bonus hit of hydration. What's not to love?
The Inkey List Hyaluronic Acid Serum
This is without question one of our favourite hyaluronic acid serums ever, and not just because it only costs a fiver and is seriously accessible. It's not sticky, absorbs into the skin really quickly and helps to keep skin's hydration levels up – exactly what a good HA serum should do.
The Inkey List Vitamin C
The best vitamin C serums are a great brightening skincare step, both in terms of preventing and treating visible signs of damage and evening out skin tone. Vitamin C is notoriously difficult to stabilise in skincare products, but the brains at The Inkey List have managed to do so in a waterless 30% pure L-ascorbic acid formula.
The Inkey List Tranexamic Acid Overnight Treatment, Cult Beauty
Containing 2% tranexamic acid, this is a brightening mask that works while you sleep. Aiming to brighten the complexion, tackling dark spots and hyperpigmentation, it also contains Vitamin C for added radiance. As with any new active ingredients, introduce it to your skincare routine gradually.
The Inkey List Oat Cleansing Balm, Feelunique
The Oat Cleansing Balm was one of the brand's new launches in 2020, and it's been hard to get your hands on ever since! It's gentle, fuss-free and easy to use, dissolving make-up in a flash for a thorough cleanse.
Keep scrolling to shop a few more of The Inkey List's bestsellers below.
Dark under-eye circles and puffiness? You need a hit of caffeine – in this anti-inflammatory serum, not just in your morning coffee. It'll help protect against free radicals, which can make the appearance of dark circles worse.
A protective anti-oxidant, Q10 naturally occurs in the body, so this serum helps to supplement your natural stores to protect against the damaging effects of the environment.
In 2020, Inkey took their skincare knowledge and applied it to the world of haircare, for which we were eternally grateful. One of eight treatments on offer, the Hyaluronic treatment is great for hair that's dry, boosting shine and countering brittleness for softer hair.
Glycolic acid one of the big players of the skincare world, helping to combat all sorts of issues, like congestion and uneven skin texture. And at 10% concentration, it's powerful stuff – so be mindful of this if it's your first time using glycolic.
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Lucy is a freelance beauty editor and contributor at Marie Claire, and has written for titles including Glamour, Refinery29, Popsugar, woman&home and more. She was previously Marie Claire’s junior beauty editor. During her career, she’s covered everything from backstage beauty at fashion week to interviews with famous faces like Drag Race royalty and Little Mix. As for her beauty ethos, she’s a big advocate for not having to spend a fortune on beauty products to get good results, and when she’s not got beauty on the brain you’ll find her reading or hanging out with dogs.