Tuesday 11 June 2024

The Inkey List Oat Cleansing Balm review - a squeezy, sensitive skin solution to take the day off

Ceramic bowl by saskiarigby.com

As any Instagram followers may be aware, my profile blurb there reads: "Perfume blogger and industrial market researcher, prone to occasional bouts of travel writing, mindless knitting, and several kinds of dermatitis."

I should update it really, as I retired five years ago(!), though I still often undertake ad hoc research-related favours for friends - currently one to do with the relative merits and facilities of pitches at a motorhome park near Koblenz, whose website is only in German. The rest of my byline remains true, though touch wood I seem to have shaken off one of the three kinds of dermatitis, namely "seborrheic". For the record, I am convinced it was L-glutamine that fixed it by healing my gut in some way, though my GP was dismissive and said that dermatitis naturally comes and goes, so it was more likely just coincidence. Be that as it may, I continue to suffer from allergic and irritant contact dermatitis, especially in the current pollen season. The skin on my upper eyelids goes dry and crinkly / crepey (or more so than it is normally, say!). My eyes feel prickly and my face hot and stinging, prompting me to seek relief by spraying calming canisters of thermal water on it. In extreme cases**, I get redness, creasing and bags under my eyes as well, though not so far this year, thankfully. So while the pollen creates a baseline of irritation half the year, if I come into contact with an aggressive toiletry product as well, all dermatological hell breaks loose!

**For a very scary picture of how bad my skin used to get in summer, click on this post.

Ceramic cup on the right by saskiarigby.com

Now I already have a completely benign product for taking off make up (there will always be tinted sunscreen to deal with, even if my face is too sensitive to bear any more cosmetics than that), namely La Roche-Posay's Toleriane Dermo-Cleanser. It is absolutely bombproof for sensitive and angry skin, and I recommend it unreservedly, ditto their Toleriane Dermallergo Eye Cream. The Toleriane range is routinely endorsed by dermatologists on both sides of the pond, and I can't fault these two products for gentleness and lack of irritating ingredients.

However, for some time now I have been looking for an alternative to the Toleriane cleanser, for no other reason really than I find it a bit chilly when it hits my skin! I realise this must sound a bit illogical, when I have just said I spray my face with cold water to cool it down. But I also use the cleanser year round, and on a cold winter's night it can be tempting to go to bed with a face of slap on, rather than subject my complexion to chilly blobs of white goo...before remembering the dark admonitions of Caroline Hirons, and pulling myself together!

In the past I have enjoyed using the scentless - I flat out refuse to say "iconic", though it is revered as something of a gold standard of cleansers - Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm, which is white and odourless and reminds me very much of a craft glue we used in primary school, which came in a big tub. Reminds me in a good way, I hasten to add. ;) What I liked about it was the way it melted onto your skin, with no drag factor, and left it feeling silky soft. The downside was the fact that you were continually dipping your (potentially grubby) fingers into the tub, and the last one I owned ended up growing a disconcerting patina of black mould when it was only half used. Obviously, even I had to toss it in the end(!), though had it been a lump of cheese I might have just cut out the offending bits. I think the twin flaws with Take The Day Off were the size of the pot as well as the fact that it came in a pot in the first place rather than a squeezable tube. Had it been half the price and size, I might have been able to use it up in a timely manner, even with frequent finger forays. I have since established that there is a 30ml size for about £12, compared to £20-£34 for 125ml, but it does work out very costly that way, ditto the 15ml travel size for about a tenner! I might go for one of those even so, though the premium cost of the small tubs irks me.

But meanwhile I did a lot of research into well regarded cleansers, comparing different women's magazine polls and the like, and homed in on The Inkey List Oat Cleansing Balm as a possible budget contender, at £12 for 150ml versus £16 for 200ml in the case of the Toleriane (which makes them exactly the same price pro rata).

Source: Amazon

Here are the magic ingredients listed by The Inkey List(!):

  • 3% Oat Kernel Oil: a rich, natural oat oil which effectively removes stubborn makeup and SPF whilst hydrating and moisturizing by gently supporting skin’s moisture levels. 
  • 1% Colloidal Oatmeal: Helps to reduce the appearance of redness and soothe irritation.

I immediately thought that The Inkey List balm would be kind to my irritable skin on account of the oat-based formulation. I had tried an Aveeno moisturiser in the past that was primarily meant for babies and contained "colloidal oatmeal"; it didn't irritate me, though it was not as hydrating as I had hoped. To this day I don't know what a "colloid" is... Wikipedia to the rescue!

colloid is a mixture in which one substance consisting of microscopically dispersed insoluble particles is suspended throughout another substance.

Is the oatmeal suspended in something, then? Moving on...I have been using The Inkey List Cleansing Balm for a couple of weeks now, and I can confirm that it is completely safe for sensitive skin - you can't get much more sensitive than mine, I wouldn't have thought, so I feel very confident in recommending it to the public at large. It goes on easily, but doesn't glide as such, or melt into your skin in the way the Clinique Take The Day Off does, or certain oil cleansers I have used in the past. There is a little bit of dragging involved, but not in an overly concerning way. It cleanses perfectly - even lashings of mascara - I wipe it off with a damp cotton wool pad, and it does leave my skin feeling comfortable and moist. Occasionally the balm seems to separate in the tube into a part clear, part opaque gel, but that doesn't bother me unduly either, and it doesn't happen routinely. And of course it is in a tube, which is great for hygiene reasons, and most importantly, it isn't cold on my skin! I can see this being a real winner in winter.

In conclusion, I wouldn't go so far as to say that this balm is my Holy Grail because of the lack of gliding and melting ;), but if (whatever the season) it keeps me from looking like Joe Bugner after he's gone six rounds, it's a keeper! 


Anonymous said...

Great new discovery V! I have heard good things about this cleanser but I'm lucky to not to have sensitive skin so I go for the ones that smell the best.

I'm currently enjoying Be Your Best by Trinny London (lemon and rosemary) and The Living Cleansing Balm by Then I Met You which is juicy fruit.

I'm so pleased your dermatitis has gone. I've heard miraculous things about L-glutamine too and considered trying it myself.


Vanessa said...

Hi Tara,

Ah yes, I would opt for a nice fragrance, given a free rein. That said, I use a Liz Earle cleanser in the morning (not to remove make up), and its scent doesn't bother me at all.

L-glutamine is great, but it is an amino acid so you have to be careful how much you take. I did find it made me even more wakeful at night, so had to ditch it in the end, but not before it had sorted the skin issue, I'm pleased to say.

Anonymous said...

Shockingly, I now only wash my face with water in the morning as it's prone to dryness.

Menopausal sleep issues have only just been fixed with magnesium gylcinate so I'm not keen to take anything that might set me back.

Considering two thirds of the immune system is in the gut and some types of dermatitis are down to an auto immune response, I have no doubt the L glutamine fixed it for you.

Vanessa said...

Hi Anonymous,

It's not shocking I don't think, as there is a school of thought that says it is better not to use any cleanser for a morning wash of your face, and I tend to do so more when I have a bath, because the Liz Earle is by the taps!

I take magnesium citrate to help with sleep, but have heard good things of the glycinate form. I may yet do a post specifically on sleep, as I have tried so many remedies now, including melatonin and CBD oil, and all sorts.

Yes, I think the gut/skin/brain axis is woefully under-understood (can I say that?), and if it weren't for the sleep angle I'd be tempted to take it still for ongoing gut health reasons.

Portia said...

Heya Vanessa,
Always exciting to see new posts from you. The way you write makes me smile and I think I'm still hearing it your voice.
I hear you on the skim problems. Mine are crazy right now. I'm ignoring them. It's only unsightly, no itching or drama.

I love reading beauty and skincare but as you might remember I don't use any except after shave balm and oil to take my war paint off. Currently it's avocado oil but the next bottle is grape seed oil. The pan stick we wear is oil based so everything comes off beautifully. After that I use a wet microfibre cleaning cloth bought in a pack of 20 at the hardware store. You have no idea how much extra it picks up. Leaves my face clean, shiny and new.
Portia xx

Vanessa said...

Hi Portia,

I always think unsightly problems are trickier for women, because they are meant to look more polished and to take more care of their appearance. It is probably an outmoded view of the sexes but there is still something to it.

Interesting to hear of your cleansing routine which sounds very effective! You certainly have quite a lot of makeup to remove. ;)

Undina said...

For the last couple of months I've been slowly working on the post about cleansing. I hope to post it one day - if I ever finish it :)

I hated... no HATED the Inkley List Oat Cleansing Balm. The worst part for me was the balmy residue that I could never wash away. The complete absence of any scent was the second. I bravely finished the whole tube (I don't like wasting things, and while being unpleasant, it didn't harm my skin), but if it's the only available cleanser, I'll stop using any cosmetics and will wash my face with water ;)

My current favorite is Farmacy Green Clean Balm, but it has some scent (I love it!). They also have a fragrance-free balm, Farmacy Clearly Clean.

Whenever I use a balm from a tub, I use plastic spatulas, so it's not an issue for me.

Vanessa said...

Hi Undina,

Oh dear, sorry you are not a fan of this particular balm! I don't mind the residue as my face still feels clean and almost as if I have a bit of moisturiser on at the end of the cleansing process. Then I seek out balms without scent, so there we differ...it's not that I don't prefer something with fragrance, but I daren't risk irritating my skin, especially around the eye area.

Might try the spatula trick if I ever buy the Clinique TTDO again.

I don't think your favourite product is available here.

Vanessa said...

PS I take it back - found the Farmacy brand on Amazon and Sephora UK.

Anonymous said...

Happily, I can use a few different cleansers without ill effect, although I am cautious. I used to love using scented hand soap, but I am sadly sticking to very gentle soap after an unpleasant reaction a few months ago. I've been taking magnesium citrate and it does seem to help with staying asleep.


Anonymous said...

Hi AnnieA,

I am glad your complexion is pretty robust, but can understand your being wary of scented products. Another fan of magnesium for sleep! - I am sure it helps.