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The Inkey List

15% Vitamin C and EGF Serum

1.70 fl. oz. for $ 14.99
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Brand Overview

The Inkey List’s 15% Vitamin C and EGF Serum is a very good, just-shy-of-great vitamin C treatment for all skin types struggling with dullness and uneven skin tone. Its fragrance-free formula may even help improve brown spots from sun damage and fade post-acne marks faster!

This fluid, thin-textured gel is packaged in an opaque plastic bottle outfitted with a pump dispenser. Use caution with the pump, as it’s easy to dispense more than you need, and there’s no convenient way to put it back.

Skin is treated to a 15% concentration of ascorbyl glucoside, a form of vitamin C whose research primarily centers around it brightening skin and fading discolorations. The packaging mentioned above is ideal for keeping this delicate ingredient potent and stable throughout usage.

We appreciated how well this gel layers and sets to a minimally tacky finish that feels almost weightless. Also of note: we didn’t experience any pilling or rolling when applying other products over this one.

What about the plant-derived EGF, which stands for epidermal growth factor? It’s a synthetic peptide (oligopeptide-1) derived from proteins found in the Nicotiana benthamiana plant. This plant is related to the tobacco plant, and is commonly used in studies of plant cell biology, especially viruses, because unlike most plants, Nicotiana benthamiana is susceptible to most viruses. This gives researchers the opportunity to study how the plant defends itself from numerous pathogens, and potentially translate this information to how animal and human immune systems respond to viruses. Fascinating!

But back to skin: The oligopeptide created from extracting certain proteins in this plant is said to impact skin cell regeneration and aid protein synthesis in the layer between skin’s epidermis and dermis, which is known as the extracellular matrix. With the passage of time and cumulative sun damage, this vital matrix in skin loses its ability to create healthier cells, resulting in less elastic skin that also becomes less able to maintain hydration.

The company that supplies this peptide has some interesting studies on its ability to improve collagen production (recall that collagen is also a protein); however, independent studies are lacking. That doesn’t mean the supplier’s info is bad or invalid, just that some skepticism makes sense.

The peptide supplier indicates that the recommended usage level of this peptide is 1-2%. Based on it being the last ingredient list and because such ingredients tend to be expensive, we’re also skeptical they’re using at least 1% as claimed due to this serum’s price. But assuming they’re being forthright and because this peptide is part of a blend that also included butylene glycol, it does appear to be another worthwhile anti-aging peptide.

Other than that, this serum is primarily about its vitamin C content, and in that regard you can be sure you’re getting a reliable amount that should deliver visible improvements when coupled with daily use of broad spectrum sunscreen.

  • Contains a form and amount of vitamin C likely to banish dullness.
  • Packaged to keep the vitamin C stable during use.
  • Thin gel texture layers well (no pilling) and sets to minimally tacky finish.
  • Fragrance free.
  • The peptide may not be used in the recommended concentration.
Jar Packaging: No
Tested on animals: No

A highly stable vitamin C serum and plant-derived EGF that delivers a potent dose of actives to help brighten dull, stressed-out skin. 15% Ascorbyl Glucoside (Vitamin C) helps brighten the look of skin and protect from environmental stressors; 1% Epitensive: A plant-derived Epidermal Growth Factor to support natural elasticity and skin health.

Aqua (Water/Eau), Ascorbyl Glucoside, Sodium Hydroxide, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Phenoxyethanol, Benzyl Alcohol, Butylene Glycol, Xanthan Gum, Ethylhexylglycerin, Sodium Metabisulfite, Dehydroacetic Acid, Phytic Acid, Oligopeptide-1.

The Inkey List is the creation of Colette Newberry and Mark Curry, respectively the former branding and product developers of the widespread UK-based drugstore chain Boots, which has its own namesake skin care line. As with a number of up-and-coming “indie” brands, the media coverage centers on their inexpensive products with minimalist formulas that tend to focus on a single star ingredient, such as hyaluronic acid, squalane, or retinol.

If you’re wondering about the inspiration for the name, it’s the pronunciation of the acronym “INCI,” which stands for the International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients, an agreed-upon, regulated list of how cosmetics ingredients should be identified on product labels. Each product has its chief ingredient listed on the packaging with dictionary-style writing underneath showing how the name is phoneticized, a clever and slightly erudite touch.

Though the formulas are somewhat basic, The Inkey List gets its packaging spot-on – all products are in opaque containers, with no jars or clear containers to be found. Fragrance isn’t on this brand’s radar, either--at least not in terms of adding it to their products (which will make your skin very happy).

We’d like to see more complex formulas, but then again such formulas cost more to make, and The Inkey List is mostly a bargain brand. We wrote “mostly” because in some cases, on an ounce-per-ounce basis, The Inkey List costs just as much as some other brands offering the same type of products (like leave-on exfoliants) in larger sizes.

Even with the predominantly one-note ingredient theme, the brand typically includes beneficial ingredients in efficacious amounts and skips irritants, with the exception of a couple a products that contain witch hazel water and drying denatured alcohol.

That aside, the brand offers a good selection of effective products, something we’re always glad to see. The Inkey List is sold exclusively in the U.S. at Sephora; you can learn more about the brand here:

About the Experts

The Beautypedia team consists of skin care and makeup experts personally trained by the original Cosmetics Cop and best-selling beauty author, Paula Begoun. We’re fascinated by skin care and makeup products and thrilled when they meet or exceed our expectations, but we’re also disappointed when they fail to perform as claimed, are wildly overpriced, or contain ingredients scientific research has proven can hurt skin.

Our mission has always been to help you find the best products for your skin, no matter your budget or preferences. Beautypedia’s thorough and insightful reviews cut through the hype and provide reliable recommendations for all ages, skin types, and skin tones.

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