Wednesday 12 May 2021

Beauty on a budget #4: which The Inkey List cleanser should you buy?

This post contains PR samples. PR mentions may be present. All links used are affiliate.

Which The Inkey List cleanser is right for you?

The Inkey List has had its fair share of new and exciting launches recently but the Fulvic Acid Brightening Cleanser has got everyone in the skincare community talking. But how it compares to the other cleansers by the brand and which one should you opt for? With 3 cleansers to choose from, it may be a little overwhelming to know where to start. Let’s chat.

You have two gels and a balm to choose from, so whatever your preference, there’s an Inkey cleanser there for you!


If you’re a fan of melting cleansing balms, and/or are dry/mature/sensitive and don’t get on with gels, then The Inkey List Oat Cleansing Balm is an affordable answer to any and all cleansing needs. Balm to oil formula that emulsifies and washes off to nothing without stripping the precious moisture is almost unheard of at this price range. I love how gentle it is, and thanks to colloidal oatmeal, oat kernel oil and ceramides. It breaks down even the most stubborn makeup with ease, cleanses well and has a truly luxurious feel to it, at a fraction of a price. It reminds me a lot of Indeed Labs Watermelon Melting Balm (RPR £24.99), Drunk Elephant Slaai Makeup Melting Butter Cleanser (RPR £29)and even more pricey at £55 for 100ml Deviant Cleansing Concentrate (in feel and how well it works, not so much exact formulation/ingredients). If you’re on the lookout for a fragrance-free, luxury feels cleansing balm that won’t disrupt your moisture barrier but in fact, care for it, while you cleanse, look no further. Oh and it doubles up as a mask too, just leave a thick layer on for 10 mins or so to calm inflammation and deeply nourish the skin.


Maskne must-have, this gel cleanser gently cleanses and exfoliates, perfect if you’re oily or any other type with tendencies to spots. Thanks to BHA (Salicylic Acid) it goes deep into pores and helps not only cure existing breakouts but also prevents new ones from forming. It foams the tiniest bit on contact with water and isn’t overly stripping but if you’re dry/dehydrated, you may want to follow up with a mist. I use it once to twice a week to give my pores a deeper cleanse but up it to daily if I’m experiencing breakouts. Oily skin can probably use daily, as it’s gentle enough to do so. If you’re not acne-prone or experiencing mask related zits, I would suggest sticking to 1-2 a week. Sensitive skin-friendly thanks to soothing ingredients like allantoin buffering BHA quite nicely in this basic but hard-working formula.


The newest launch promises to not only cleanse but also help remove makeup as well as brighten thanks to a variety of skin-brightening agents (Fulvic Acid, Liquorice Root Extract) as well as Kakadu Plum responsible for radiance and luminosity and soothing Aloe Vera. Gel to foam formula makes for a perfect second cleanse for combo to oily skin, but even dry skin should appreciate it in summer months. Despite the visible ‘bits’, you won’t feel these on the skin, there’s no scratching or physical exfoliation at all involved making it a great choice for even the most sensitive skin. As with others, there’s no added fragrance. This cleanser foams more than salicylic acid, so if foaming ain’t your thing, you may not like this. It’s not stripping per se, but my super dry cheeks require a few spritzes of mist after cleansing. Will a cleanser, which stays on our skin for a very short time, truly work on brightening your skin alone? No, but combined with a brightening-based routine, it’s a great first step.

Let’s compare: 

First/second cleanse

Skin type

Key ingredients:

Does it foam?

Best for:

Where to buy?

Oat Cleansing Balm

First but can be used as only cleanse in the morning

All but an ideal choice for dry, mature and sensitive

3% Oat Kernel Oil; 1% Colloidal Oatmeal

No - it emulsifies on contact with water

Nourishing cleanse

The Inkey List (UK); Boots, Cult Beauty; Feel Unique and Look Fantastic

Salicylic Acid Cleanser

Second but can be used as the only cleanse in the morning 

All but an ideal choice for problematic, acne skin. Very dry skin may find it a little stripping in the winter months.

2% Salicylic Acid; Zinc; 0.5% Allantoin

Yes but only a little

Exfoliation and maskne

The Inkey List (UK); Boots, Cult Beauty; Feel Unique and Look Fantastic

Fulvic Acid Brightening Cleanser

Both - nothing too heavy makeup-wise though

All but an ideal choice for uneven skin tone/dullness. Very dry skin may find it a little stripping in the winter months.

O.5% Nordic Beauty Peat (Fulvic Acid); 1.5% Kakadu Plum Extract; 1% Liquorice Root Extract; 0.5% Aloe Vera 


Brightening dull skin

The Inkey List (UK); Boots, Cult Beauty; Feel Unique and Look Fantastic


As someone with extremely dry cheeks and a more normal to oily t-zone, I can use all but tend to stick mainly with Oat Cleansing Balm all over as it’s the only one that truly nourishes my dry cheeks. Not that either the Salicylic Acid Cleanser or Fulvic Acid Brightening Cleanser are stripping. Rather surprisingly but I haven’t found the Salicylic Acid cleanser at all stripping, neither the Fulvic Acid one, though I may feel a little tight afterwards, so I use it on my oilier days, or after a balm or oil cleanser to counteract that feeling. In fact, these are two out of a very small number of gel cleansers that don’t make my skin scream for water, but I would use a mist afterwards to take away from the ‘I’ve cleansed with a gel cleanser’ kind of feel. I love Oat Cleansing Balm and will forever recommend it over a lot of more expensive cleansing balms in my routine, I mean you can’t beat the price here! I’ve also enjoyed using both Salicylic Acid Cleanser whenever there’s a need (read: hormonal period skin), and lately, I’ve been reaching a lot for the Fulvic Acid Brightening Cleanser since we’re closer to warm summer days now. I can see myself reaching for it more and more when it gets warmer, and my skin gets a lot more oily. I’m intrigued by the ingredients, and as an extremely pale person, appreciate any and all formulas that can even out my skin tone a bit more and maybe brighten some of that hyperpigmentation!

Have you tried either of The Inkey List cleansers yet? What's on your wishlist?

Until next time my Queens,

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In line with an updated CMA/ASA Non-broadcast Code, if gifted products are present, the disclaimer at the top of the post will be specific if all or some products have been sent for review consideration. In the instance there's a need to differentiate between PR and non PR, all products marked with * have been gifted to Beauty Drama Queen for review consideration, therefore are considered sponsored and displayed as a form of an unpaid advertisement.

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