The Inkey List’s Alpha Arbutin doesn’t have a lot of extras but does contain can the namesake ingredient in a concentration capable of delivering the results promised.
Packaged in an opaque squeeze tube that protects its delicate beneficial ingredients from light and air exposure, this lightweight serum glides across skin and absorbs quickly. The texture is slightly tacky for about 10 minutes after it’s dried, but after that it you won’t feel it.
True to claims, this can improve an uneven skin tone and hydrate skin. Research shows 2% alpha arbutin (the amount this is said to contain) brightens skin tone because it works by breaking down into hydroquinone, the gold standard when it comes to fading hyperpigmentation. Alpha arbutin is considered an alternative to hydroquinone for those who might not be able to tolerate hydroquinone itself directly on skin.
Backing up the alpha arbutin are workhorse hydrators like glycerin and propanediol plus skin-plumping hyaluronic acid. Skin is also treated to antioxidant- and fatty-acid rich squalane, some hydrating lipids, and tetrapeptide-30. Though it’s the last ingredient on the list, tiny amounts of tetrapeptide-30 can interrupt pathways that lead to discolorations and uneven skin tone. And did we mention this formula is fragrance free?
All-told, this is a great product that delivers on what it says it can do, which is something we always like to see!
- Serum texture is lightweight and suitable for all skin types.
- Alpha arbutin helps improve the appearance of dark spots and uneven skin tone.
- Includes hyaluronic acid, squalane, and a lightening peptide.
- Packaged to protect its light- and air-sensitive ingredients.
- Fragrance free.
A concentrated, two percent alpha arbutin serum to help reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation and dark spots. Derived from the leaves of the bearberry plant, this concentrated two percent alpha arbutin serum helps improve the appearance of hyperpigmentation, dark spots, and skin tone. Also formulated with squalane for increased hydration.
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: https://www.sephora.com/brand/the-inkey-list.
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.