One of the main barriers to achieving a good skincare routine is knowing how to navigate the sheer volume of ingredients and formulas on the market. It seems as though a new hero acid pops up every week, and by the time you’ve finally deciphered your vitamin Cs from your retinols, you’re then faced with the challenge of which ingredients you can use together. In short, it’s an utter minefield.
Facetheory is a skincare brand that looks to alleviate this confusion. Its formulas blend botanical ingredients with highly concentrated actives that can sound daunting, and its website is refreshingly accessible. There’s a skincare routine questionnaire to help you find the best products for you, and you can also search by concern type, from rosacea to hyperpigmentation, as well as active type, from niacinamide to azelaic acid.
Its sustainability credentials are not to be sniffed at either. In a bid to rid itself of single use plastic, most of its products come housed in amber glass jars with easily recyclable aluminium caps or tubes and will arrive in biodegradable packaging. Any plastic that is still used is fully recyclable and detailed packaging information can be found for each product on the website. We appreciate this level of transparency straight off the bat. Facetheory hasn’t compromised on affordable pricing to achieve this either, with most products costing under £20.
But how does the skincare actually perform? After seeing plenty of TikTok videos showing seriously impressive results, as well as before and after testimonials on the brands Instagram, we had to get our hands on some. We took Facetheory’s skincare questionnaire before exclusively using the brand’s acne-focused products for three weeks to see if they delivered.
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Facetheory clarifying cleanser C2
Buy now £11.99, Facetheory.com
Best: For balancing congested skin
You’ve probably seen this bestselling cleanser all over TikTok, as it’s touted as a holy grail for acne-prone skin. We’ll be honest, the trifecta of powerful acids in this formula – glycolic, salicylic and lactic – were quite daunting. We’ve used them all individually before but never in unison as our sensitive skin can suffer from combining too many actives.
However, the creamy cleanser left our skin feeling clear and more refined with reduced redness after just one use, all with minimal irritation. We did experience slight tingling upon application, but nothing too uncomfortable. After two weeks, we really noticed reduced texture and experienced zero breakouts; our skin felt balanced and controlled with minimal oil and reduced pores. For sensitive skin, we’d suggest sticking to using it once a day in the evening, every other day, before building up to daily use.
The cleanser is available in both unscented and scented versions – we opted for the scented but didn’t experience any breakouts or irritation. With that said, the mandarin scent was natural but quite strong, so we’d go for the unscented next time. A little goes a long way too, we’ve been using it everyday for a month and still have half a jar left.
Facetheory lumizela azelaic acid serum A15
Buy now £21.99, Facetheory.com
Best: For acne scarring
Another popular product from Facetheory, you may know it by its former name, azeclear. Despite the new name, it’s the same azelaic acid-based formula; a natural powerhouse ingredient that works to reduce inflammation and hyperpigmentation while fighting acne-causing bacteria.
We’re not usually as drawn to natural ingredients when it comes to fighting acne, but were proven wrong with this formula. Cleverly balanced, the creamy serum was a joy to apply unlike other azelaic acid products, thanks to the soothing natural ingredients that counteract any irritation. Our skin felt hydrated without being oily, and we were impressed by the near immediate reduction in acne scarring and redness.
After using the brand’s clarifying cleanser, we interchanged this serum with Facetheory’s pore bright n10 formula (£14.99, Facetheory.com) every other night and didn’t experience any issues with using varying acids regularly.
Facetheory porebright serum n10
Buy now £14.99, Facetheory.com
Best: For hydration and refinement
This serum combines niacinamide and hyaluronic acid, two of our favourite skincare ingredients for acne-prone skin, so we were immediately drawn to it. You’ll see a pattern here with the concerns all of these products are trying to target – evening out skin tone, reducing pores, battling hyperpigmentation, redness and acne lesions. Sign us up.
Azeliac acid is present here too, but despite the high acid concentration, it didn’t cause any irritation. Unlike other niacinamide serums, the formula isn’t thick or gloopy and feels lightweight, a godsend for oilier skin types. Our skin felt hydrated and clearer after regular use, and the formula feels more refined than other similar offerings, which is impressive given the price point.
Facetheory supergel oil-free moisturiser M3 for oily and acne-prone skin
Buy now £13.99, Facetheory.com
Best: For oily skin types who hate moisturisers
If you struggle with oily and/or acne-prone skin and find moisturisers only exacerbate the problem, add this non-comedogenic formula to your basket. The oil-free formula has a gloopy gel consistency that made us wary to begin with, but it immediately sinks into the skin and dries down matte, leaving oily skin feeling hydrated without any unwanted shine or greasiness.
The formula, like all of Facetheory’s products, is packed with a high concentration of actives, including brightening and acne-busting vitamin C, refining niacinamide and salicylic acid to soothe congestion. But the natural ingredients are present here for balance too, including chamomile, aloe vera and green tea to relieve sore or inflamed skin.
We found that this lived up to the hype, despite its potent ingredients list, the formula felt gentle and clarifying, even during bad breakouts. Despite claiming to be unscented, it does have a slight clinical whiff, but nothing off-putting. It’s a must-have for oily skin.
The verdict: Facetheory products for acne-prone skin
We were really impressed with the results we enjoyed after just a few weeks of using these products from Facetheory. We’re not usually drawn to natural ingredients when it comes to combating acne, simply because we’ve been conditioned to think that they don’t perform as effectively, but we were happily proven wrong with these clever formulas. Marrying high concentrates of actives with soothing botanicals brings balance for sensitive, congested skin, without compromising on results.
Given the high potency formulas, we would like to see more detail on what order to use the products in, and which products you can use together, perhaps as part of Facetheory’s skincare questionnaire. But that’s our only gripe; we’d certainly recommend trying this routine out for acne, especially at such affordable price points.
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Looking for more acne-focused products? Read our review of the best salicylic acids that unclog pores and even out skin’s texture
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