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10 Ingredient-Led Skincare Brands You Will Love

By Carly Cochrane - 3 years ago | Updated
ingredient-led skincare

The demand for ingredient-led skincare is booming right now, especially as shoppers start to swot up on what actually goes into their products.

Us ‘skintellectuals’, formerly known as the skin-savvy, are on an ongoing quest for healthy skin. With standout brands like The Ordinary proving that you can achieve real results with simple, science-backed formulas, and all for a pocket-friendly price, we’ve become passionate about stripping back our skincare routine and indulging in all that ingredient-led brands have to offer.

But what are they, exactly? Ingredient-led brands are, quite simply, skincare brands that create products based around one hero ingredient. Hero ingredients include the likes of hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, retinol, vitamin C, squalane, collagen; the list goes on. When formulas are made with hero ingredients and hero ingredients only, they become a total powerhouse within your skincare routine.

Sounds good, right? Here's 10 of the best ingredient-led skincare brands that we know you'll love.

The Ordinary

From viral Tik Tok videos to becoming the most searched beauty term on, The Ordinary are undoubtedly the brand paving the way for ingredient-led skincare.

Since bursting onto the scene in 2016, The Ordinary continue to raise the bar with their result-driven formulas, wallet-friendly prices and no-nonsense approach. Their simple and straight-forward products make it super easy to incorporate the likes of retinols, acids and antioxidants into your skincare routine. The only slight bump in the road is that the sometimes-scientific product names and potency percentages can be a little daunting, but once you’ve mastered the jargon, you’ll be well on your way. Plus, you can always refer to our guide to The Ordinary when in doubt.

Shop the best The Ordinary products:

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

£5.31 £5.60 (6% off)

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5


The Ordinary Natural Moisturising Factors + HA


The INKEY List

Coming for the crown is straight-talking skincare brand, The INKEY List. Just like The Ordinary, they pride themselves on the fact that their products are only ever powered by active ingredients - salicylic acid, niacinamide, retinol and vitamin C to name a few.

The brand is definitely having its spotlight moment, and who can blame them when they're affordable, efficient and backed by trusted ‘skinfluencers’ like Hyram. It’s definitely one to add to your wish list!

Shop the best The INKEY List products:

The INKEY List Hyaluronic Acid Cleanser

£11.46 £12.00 (5% off)

The INKEY List Glycolic Acid Toner

£11.95 £13.00 (9% off)

The INKEY List Symbright Moisturiser



Another brand that has swiftly become a household name is CeraVe. While we're sure you've heard a thing or two about their iconic cleansers, CeraVe also offer a line-up of moisturisers, serums, sunscreen and more. You'll find that each formula is laced with ceramides, whilst other hero ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and niacinamide, are often thrown in for good measure. If you want to repair your skin barrier with gentle but efficient formulations, make CeraVe your go-to.

Shop the best CeraVe products:

CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser

£11.46 £14.28 (20% off)

CeraVe SA Smoothing Cleanser

£13.72 £14.50 (6% off)

CeraVe Moisturising Lotion

£11.46 £15.12 (25% off)

Q+A Skincare

Q+A Skincare is climbing the ranks and set to become a fan-favourite; just one quick glance over their line-up explains it all.

With the philosophy that skincare shouldn't be confusing, Q+A are passionate about supplying ingredient-led products that debunk skincare myths, and of course tackle any and every skin concern. Again, you’ll find trending ingredients like niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, vit C and more lurking here, and all for a budget-friendly price.

Shop the best Q+A products:

Q+A Hyaluronic Acid Facial Serum

£6.95 £7.48 (8% off)

Q+A Oat Milk Cream Cleanser

£7.50 £7.96 (6% off)

Q+A Caffeine Eye Serum

£6.95 £7.48 (8% off)


If you’re looking for ingredient-led skincare that’s also Instagram-worthy, then allow us to introduce you to Herbivore. Behind the pretty packaging and rainbow-coloured formulas, this brand utilises cold-pressed oils, essential oils and natural ingredients to tackle problematic skin. From classic ingredients to the more unique powerhouses, such as bakuchiol and blue tansy, this is must-have for your collection.

Shop the best Herbivore products:

Herbivore Lapis Balancing Facial Oil

£6.95 £13.00 (47% off)

Herbivore Prism Exfoliating Glow Serum

£39.20 £52.00 (25% off)

Herbivore Brighten Pineapple + Gemstone Mask

£30.40 £38.00 (20% off)

Paula's Choice

Okay, so Paula’s Choice isn’t solely a single ingredient-led brand but she does boast a variety of products that are too good to miss – if you’re on Tik Tok, you’ll know what’s coming next.

From the viral 2% BHA Lotion Exfoliant to the selection of retinol, niacinamide and hyaluronic acid boosters, Paula’s Choice has plenty of ingredient-led products for all skin types and concerns.

Shop the best Paula's Choice products:

Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Lotion Exfoliant


Paula's Choice Resist 10% Niacinamide Booster


Paula's Choice 1% Retinol Booster


Allies of Skin

Whether you’re suffering with hormonal acne, skin irritation, redness or dryness, Allies of Skin can help you out. Bringing formulas back to basics, their selection of creams, lotions and mists are supercharged with skin-loving ingredients like hyaluronic acid and vitamin C.

Shop the best Allies of Skin products:

Allies of Skin Multi Hyaluronic Antioxidant Hydration Serum


Allies of Skin Peptides & Antioxidants Firming Daily Treatment


Allies of Skin Promise Keeper Blemish Sleeping Facial


Drunk Elephant

If there’s any brand that cuts through all the noise to bring simple, straight-forward, ingredient-led skincare, it’s Drunk Elephant. Best known for banning the ‘suspicious six’ (essential oils, drying alcohols, silicones, chemical sunscreens, fragrance/dye), their products only ever utilise good-for-you ingredients.

Shop the best Drunk Elephant products:

Drunk Elephant C-Firma Fresh Day Serum

£63.00 £70.00 (10% off)

Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum


Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinol Cream



Skincare after a long, hard and busy day can be a chore. Medik8 is the brand that helps you to take shortcuts, whilst still guaranteeing real results. Their focused formulas are not only powered by simple, science-backed ingredients, but they are also free from nasties.

Shop the best Medik8 products:

Medik8 Hydr8 B5 Serum


Medik8 Intelligent Retinol 3 TR


Medik8 Press & Glow Tonic

£28.00 £32.00 (13% off)


Last, but by no means least, we have SkinCeuticals. Whilst this collection sits on the pricier end of the spectrum, it’s completely worth every penny. The advanced skincare line utilises only the best science-led ingredients so that you can reveal a younger, healthier and more radiant complexion.

Shop the best SkinCeuticals products:

SkinCeuticals Hydrating B5 Moisturiser

£64.99 £85.00 (24% off)

SkinCeuticals Phyto Corrective Masque

£49.99 £75.00 (34% off)

SkinCeuticals Glycolic Renewal Cleanser Gel

£35.65 £45.00 (21% off)

Now that you’re up to date with our favourite ingredient-led skincare brands, you can tailor your routine to suit your skin’s every want and need. We can’t wait for you to see how the hero ingredients transform your skin quicker, and better, than ever before!

If you’re keen to explore professional skin care that little bit further, be sure to check out our roundup of the best Doctor-Developed Skincare Brands.

Carly Cochrane

Written by Carly Cochrane

As the Senior Content Editor for Cosmetify, Carly is the go-to for all the latest (and greatest) beauty tips, tricks and trends. With over six years of experience in the industry, she knows all the ins-and-outs when it comes to health, beauty and wellbeing. 

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