As anyone who reads my blog on the regular knows – I’m having a REAL battle with my skin. Namely, hormonal acne. Since coming off the Pill six months ago, it’s been a daily struggle, and recently my face erupted into the worst cystic acne I’ve had since I was a teenager. Absolutely HORRIFIED, I did some research and ordered some acne-busting lotions and potions to try and tackle it once and for all. One of the things I ordered was The Inkey List Beta Hydroxy Acid.
What is Beta Hydroxy Acid and How Does It Work?
I’m going to keep it simple here – Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA) is an exfoliating acid. Salicylic Acid is the only BHA, so they’re essentially synonymous of each other. You’ve no doubt heard all about AHAs – glycolic and lactic acid, for example – and they’re great for gently exfoliating the surface of the skin and dissolving the ‘glue’ that bonds dead and dull skin cells to the surface. This is perfect and gentle enough for normal/dry skin, but what about when your skin is oily, congested, and you have more serious skin concerns, like cystic acne?
This is where BHA comes in. Whilst it does many of the things that AHAs do – smooths skin texture, brightens and firms skin, and reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles – it works inside the pores as well as on the skin’s surface, clearing out debris, bacteria and excess oil. As a result – it’s a great acne treatment, and should also reduce blackheads and appearance of pores. Despite working deep down in the pores, it’s still a gentle enough treatment for sensitive skin and actually works to reduce redness and inflammation!
My First Impressions of The Inkey List Beta Hydroxy Acid
To start with – I love the price of this product. At £9.99, Inkey List BHA is a real budget skincare product and acne treatment. But is it any good?
The packaging is very simple and the bottle is absolutely TINY – a lot smaller than I expected but that probably explains the small price tag. It has a flip top lid so this means you have to squeeze the product out onto your hand; this hasn’t gone down well with some users but I personally find it really practical as it means I use just the right amount. I find one squeeze to be enough product for my entire face, but sometimes I add a little extra to any break outs.
As you can see from the pictures above, it’s a watery texture; clear in colour and very thin. Because the texture is thin rather than thicker and gel-like, I find that it’s easier to spread across my face and it absorbs into my skin easier. It has no scent and I was really surprised to find that I don’t get the familiar tingling/prickling sensation that I’ve experienced when using combined acid exfoliators such as Glossier Solution or The Ordinary Peeling Solution. I apply BHA in the evening; you can use AM or PM but I prefer to use at night because I can leave it for longer to really work it’s magic.
So how did my skin feel after application? I’m not going to lie, initially, my skin didn’t feel great. The product left a slightly sticky residue and my skin felt tight and dry. My initial reaction was to start reaching for moisturising products, but it’s so important to wait before you proceed with the rest of your skincare routine. BHA works best when your skin is at a lower pH, so if you start loading on other products, your skin’s pH level is going to be disrupted. I left the BHA on for about 20 minutes before I applied anything else, and I felt a marked difference in the way the product felt during that time. It had absorbed really nicely and the sticky residue was gone, and my skin already felt smoother, less oily and the huge, cystic spots along my cheeks felt less raised and inflamed.
I followed up with a hyaluronic acid serum and a moisturiser before going to bed. The next morning, my skin’s appearance had visibly improved – spots were nowhere near as red as they had been the night before, and my overall skin texture was much smoother and more even.
So What’s the Verdict?
So, I’ve been using The Inkey List BHA for a week and… wow. WOW! It’s good. Take a look at these progress pictures to see how much my skin has changed in a WEEK.
So let’s break this down a bit. Obviously, the after picture HAS been taken in different lighting because I took it in the evening, rather than daytime, but the transformation I’ve seen in my skin is honestly insane. As you can see, before I started using the BHA, I had clusters of cystic, under skin acne – mainly on my cheeks but I was also having break outs on my chin and forehead. After TWO DAYS the cystic spots had reduced dramatically in size and were far easier to cover with makeup. My skin was still very oily and congested, though, and as you can see from the picture it’s texture was quite rough.
Over the next few days, I used BHA each night and didn’t see much further progress. My skin actually broke out horrendously – not as a result of the BHA, more a result of my hormones being all over the place – and nothing was containing it. However, fast forward a week of use and… woooow. I am in love. The biggest things I’ve noticed: acne has reduced DRAMATICALLY. As I said earlier, I haven’t experienced acne like this since my teenage years when it was impossible to treat topically, but the BHA seems to have it fairly under control at the moment. I haven’t had any further breakouts since the huge one I had last week, and I’m not getting pesky whiteheads or any painful under skin spots. The biggest difference I’ve seen though, is in the texture of my skin’s surface. It’s gone from being bumpy and congested with scarring, pitting and fine lines, to being crazy smooth and all the little bits of redness I get aren’t as noticeable. My makeup applies like an actual DREAM in the mornings and I’ve also found that it stays on better throughout the day – not sure if this is as a result of using the BHA or just a coincidence but I’m loving it!
Initially, I noticed that the appearance of my pores reduced and the BHA seemed to really clean out any blackheads I had, but unfortunately this result hasn’t lasted and my enlarged pores seem to have returned along with a smattering of blackheads on my nose. That’s a shame, but my biggest concern was the sudden explosion of cystic acne on my cheeks and the overload of oil in my skin and the BHA has really addressed these issues effectively. My smoother skin texture is an added bonus and at the moment I feel sooo much more confident in my skin and it’s all thanks to this tiny little bottle of goodness.
The Verdict: If you’re suffering with acne and have oily skin, and nothing topical seems to be helping, I FULLY recommend trying The Inkey List BHA. It’s gotten my acne under control seemingly overnight, reduced my inflammation and made my skin’s surface super smooth and lovely.
Rating: 4.5/5 stars