Allies of Skin is a semi-new indie brand that popped up on my radar about 2-3 years ago. They were kind of hard to get your hands on in Europe. But as the years went by, more and more skincare influencers on IG started talking about them, and soon they were more readily available than ever before. My curiosity grew bigger and I managed to try a few products from their line. You’re probably also curious, so I thought I’d share my thoughts about them here on the blog!
Peptides & Antioxidants Firming Daily Treatment
I’ll start with the very first Allies of Skin product I tried. The Peptides firming daily treatment, as it’s now called, is one of their most talked-about product and a best-seller, and for good reason! Although called treatment, it’s basically a powerhouse day cream filled with antioxidants to shield your skin from daily aggressors.
What it promises:
- De-puffs, firms and tightens skin
- Hydrates and repairs tired, worn-out skin
- Promotes the effect of a good night’s sleep
- Brightens, fades appearance of discolouration and refines skin
- Plumps skin with healing moisture and nutrients
- Soothes skin and calms redness
- Protects and purifies skin against pollution
Has a creamy texture with a pink tint – probably from the astaxanthin? No special scent to it. Two pumps give a tiny amount but enough to spread all over the face. The texture feels good, it’s neither too thick and hydrating nor too thin and matte. Felt balancing on my normal/combination skin. Leaves the skin feeling hydrated, soft, and sort of radiant (from the mica?). I personally add a few drops of oil (currently Votary Super Seed Oil), especially during wintertime, to the mix which helps me take a smaller amount to spread it more down the neck.
The first week and a half of using this moisturizer my skin experienced some mild purging. A little bit odd as it doesn’t have any strong actives? At least none I can think of that would cause this effect. But it was very mild, nothing I freaked about, and it eventually went away. I’ve been using it daily, and the 50ml will last you about 3-4 months by using two pumps.
I’m like Goldilocks when it comes to moisturizers. I want them to feel a certain way on the skin, which I can’t really explain in text. But I will say that the texture and finish of this cream satisfied me. It’s not as luxurious as something from conventional luxury brands, but knowing all the good that’s in there makes up for it. During wintertime, it has felt a little bit lacking in the hydration department. But by adding an oil or moisturizing serum has worked to combat that feeling. I don’t think it would be such a problem if I just allowed myself to take more. But the price tag on this product makes me take much less than I preferably would do. One of the downsides of expensive products is that you try to savor the moments and drag out their usage.
I was interested to try their Multi-Nutrient & Dioic renewing cream which is more for acne-prone skin. But seeing that it’s also for oily skin and has a lighter texture, I do think the Peptides Daily treatment is a great fit for my skin type. It has not aggravated my hormonal acne, but rather seemed to calm down and even out redness just as it says it will do.
Although the ingredients are better used for daytime to shield your skin from daily worries, it makes a good nighttime moisturizer too. Especially when my skin has felt worn down and in need of repair/TLC, using it twice a day has definitely helped it get back to balance.
I did a brief review on my IG a few months back. And my thoughts haven’t changed much. For the price, you’re getting an all-in-one day cream. (excluding sunscreen though) This has your peptides, vitamin C, niacinamide, ceramides, probiotics, antioxidants, NFT’s, you name it and it probably has it in some form! If you’re someone who just wants to slap a moisturizer and spf and go about your day, this is the moisturizer to reach for! So although this is an expensive product if you count your moisturizer and serums all together, you might end up with the same price point. Depending on what products you use of course.
Although Allies of Skin offers complimentary serums and boosters, I do feel like with this product you shouldn’t have to add any extras. Only in wintertime does this need a little boost of hydration, but it all depends on your skin and how frugal you are with the use of the product. With regular use I find my skin to look more even-toned and balanced. I wouldn’t say that it’s very firming compared to other products in that category. But it sort of does what it says it does. Again, I do see why this is a best-seller and a favorite among so many!
However, all-in-all, I don’t deem it as a necessity for my skin to thrive. It’s not like my skin breaks down as soon as I stop using, nor do I see such a huge difference when I do use it. Not to mention that I feel a sense of needing to be frugal with its usage despite me getting it for much less. And so, the price point on this one makes it much less likely that I will repurchase. I rather spend $109 on other actives than a day cream, even though this one shortens my morning routine to only two products. I haven’t tried the Retinal & Peptides repair night cream, but I would much rather go full price on that one instead.
Note that, I came across three tubes of the Peptides firming daily treatment, and have been using it on and off for over a year now. The first two tubes I bought second-hand for about €10 each (magic manifestation), and the third I bought 50% off at Sephora. If you have the budget for it and/or are over 40-50 years old, I highly recommend this cream. While it delivers on its points, it’s not magic by any means. It doesn’t deliver results the way a retinoid product or exfoliant would when it comes to brightening and even out the skin. And that’s where I personally spend my money at the moment.
As I get older, I might change my mind and start investing in more expensive creams… I mean, Caroline Hirons recommends you do lol. But as someone entering my early thirties, I think I’m still fine using whatever hydrating cream I can find at the drugstore for barrier strength and spend my money on things that truly give results.
Promise Keeper Blemish Sleeping Facial
Next, I came across a mini size of the Promise Keeper Blemish Facial, which was one of the original products I wanted to try. This is a nightly leave-on treatment mask with a lot of good stuff! A blend of 2% Dioic acid (also found in their Multi-Nutrient cream) helps to brighten the complexion, balance, and support even skin tone as it acts as a melanin regulator helping fade hyperpigmentation. It’s then combined with some of my favorites, Mandelic, Lactic & Pyruvic Acid to further “purify” (you know what I mean…) the skin. Plus 15 antioxidants, brighteners, and anti-bacterial ingredients like Niacinamide, Silver, and Organic Rosehip Oil. It’s said to improve the appearance of imperfections and skin texture and visibly brighten and even the skin out.
What it promises:
- Gentle exfoliation
- Reducing the appearance of imperfections
- Hydrates and brightens dull and dehydrated skin
- Soothes and minimize redness and irritation
- Restores the skin’s natural protective barrier
- Boosts the skin’s natural reparative process
The cream comes out looking a lot like manuka honey (it actually contains some honey), but without being as sticky. Although applies well and sinks pretty much right in, it’s not as hydrating as it claims to be. I’d say it suits mostly oily acne-prone skin more than those that fall more on the drier spectrum. I now see that they do recommend you to mix a drop or two of your favorite face oil for an extra boost of hydration. But I honestly did not feel that being enough and made the cream feel sort of tacky. Otherwise, I usually went with a hydrating moisturizer on top, treating the Promise Keeper more like a serum.
Just like with the Peptides moisturizer my skin started purging. The purging was more intense this time, on the level “I don’t know if I should continue?”. Note that I wasn’t using it even daily like the moisturizer, but slowly introducing it 2-3 times a week instead of my regular leave-on acid. Nonetheless, this is something Allies of Skin actually warns you about with this product on their website. I wanted to love it as surely all those five-star reviews on their website couldn’t be wrong? I stuck it through 2 weeks and just when I was about to give up my skin started to clear.
However, not in the sense that it took care of my blemishes, more in the sense that my skin would now sort of tolerate it. Because, while I stopped purging, it wasn’t like my acne started to fade. Of all the products this one has me still asking how I feel about it? I feel like I’m in a constant struggle of wanting to love it, not admitting that this one, unfortunately, isn’t for my skin.
Don’t know what it is, but my skin does not feel very soothed when I use it.It’s supposed to be used in place of your regular nighttime moisturizer. But if I apply it without a moisturizer on top I wake up with dull and dehydrated skin. The very thing this is supposed to combat?! My fine lines on my forehead that I usually don’t see, become more prominent. Which kind of scared me… All that hydration I’m usually adding is hiding how old I really look lol.
Blemish-wise, I’ve used it both all over and as a spot treatment. On inflamed cystic types, it had sort of the opposite effect, making them worse. Sometimes it has caused itchiness around my jawline where my hormonal acne is most inflamed and I seriously had to wash it off. But sometimes I haven’t felt a thing? It’s on the milder types of blemishes, like whiteheads and blackheads, that I’ve seen the most minimizing results. But that isn’t my main concern when it comes to blemishes.
Allies of Skin does not disclose the percentage of acids other than the Dioic acid, but I’d say that they are low enough for this product to be used daily as a nightly treatment. I don’t think the purging is caused by the exfoliation but by something else. But overall, I don’t wake up with better and calmer skin like I do with their (spoiler) Mandelic night serum. Which is kind of odd, considering it being stronger?
Allies of Skin says to use this nightly to maintain clear skin, or as a preventative nightly treatment, before your period or during stressful times. Because of my initial bad experience, and that it’s not very hydrating, and I find the Mandelic Corrector to work better, I haven’t gotten into the habit of using it regularly. But also, my skin has been looking mostly clear (due to other reasons), so it hasn’t felt necessary to use this product beyond when I actually need it; like a few days before and during my period. But every time I reached for it I always felt like it made things worse. And if I had been off of it for a long period of time, the “back to square one”-purging seemed to start once again.
It’s disappointing as, on paper, this sounds like everything I want from an acne product! But unfortunately, it hasn’t felt like a bed of roses. I don’t wake up with better skin. It has just been a terrible iffy product to work with leaving me confused about how I feel. Sometimes my skin has been fine, other times not. But one thing remains, and that is that it’s not a very hydrating product and has sometimes caused discomfort for me.
It’s also their most expensive product which I kind of find distasteful of them to capitalize on something like blemish-prone skin where the majority of sufferers are young and kind of broke. This isn’t even their most advanced formula (imo). At $120 I’m disappointed that the Mandelic Corrector works much better in terms of exfoliating, brightening, hydrating, and calming down blemishes. But that one can’t be tolerated to be used daily by everyone like the Promise Keeper.
This cream may have won a couple of awards and mentions in magazines but it’s not their most talked about product in the influencer sphere? Even people with acne reach more for their other products. Which I always found a bit odd. Their other two exfoliating products, Mandelic Pigmentation Corrector and Bright Future bring more talk to the table than the Promise Keeper. I mean, people would be mentioning this one just as frequently (if not more) on social media if it was that good. It’s clearly not their star product as it seems to cater to a certain skin type: oily skin.
If your acne consists of whiteheads and blackheads, and you do have generally oily skin, then sure. I can see you might get along with this. I’m not gonna ignore all the five-star reviews, but I am gonna consider that it might work better on some acne types than others. Like, if your acne is more of the hormonal cystic and inflamed kind of type (like mine), I’d try to get a sample before spending $120 on a full-size.
Mandelic Pigmentation Corrector Night Serum
Of all the products from Allies of Skin, this was at the top of my wishlist. Mandelic acid has been a favorite of mine since about two years back. My favorite combo has been combining the Wishtrend 5% MA with Paula’s Choice 1% BHA lotion. This way I got a good and gentle mix of both AHA and BHA, but also some hydrating properties from the lotion. I then got hyped about Deviant Gentle Resurfacing Liquid, as it would be a one-in-all product instead of having to use two. Plus, it also packs in the blend of Lactic, Glycolic, Malic, Citric acid, and Gluconolactone.
I’ve quickly started preferring a blend of acids than a focus on just one. And the mix of my two favorite acids (Mandelic and Lactic) together with BHA plus the enhancement of Bakuchiol, peptides, and nourishing extracts, was more than enough to get me to want to try the Allies of Skin Mandelic Pigmentation Corrector!
What it promises:
- Refines and reduces the appearance of enlarged pores
- Reduces the appearance of imperfections
- Brightens and fades appearance of discolourations and refines skin texture
- Exfoliates and smoothes skin
- Reduces the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, whilst improving skin’s elastic feel
- Trains the skin to retain moisture and nutrients better
- Provides skin with protection against free radicals and environmental stress
This nightly serum reduces inflammation and excessive melanin production to help fight dark spots, melasma, and sun damage. Reduces breakouts and fades redness from blemishes. Works to stimulate collagen production to reduce fine lines and wrinkles. At the same time, strengthening the skin barrier and replenish with moisture.
This serum has an odd texture and color and feels quite sticky on the face. It doesn’t sink in very well and stays on top. Oily skin types might still be ok with it because it’s a nightly product. It has a funky smell, but nothing too bothersome I would say.
After a long time getting my skin barrier damaged from high percentage chemical exfoliants, I’ve adopted the motto that less is more. So I was a bit nervous if going high again, at 11% and the low pH of 3.5, might be too much for my skin as it’s been in the past.
In these past years of experimenting with active ingredients, I’ve learned my skin’s soft spot when it comes to frequency of use. Because I’m using some sort of retinol at the moment, I haven’t used the AoS Mandelic Corrector more than about once a week. And this has worked great with my skin! I haven’t found I need it more. And unlike their other products, I’ve surprisingly have not purged! I wake up happy with soft, soothed, and smooth skin. It’s like a lovely reset button!
The description of this sounds much like the Promise Keeper Blemish Facial, but I find this to work so much better for my skin. It does have a tacky/sticky finish, and while I think it’s supposed to be used in replace of your regular moisturizer, a thin layer of cream on top tones down the tacky finish a bit. I do think oily skin would be ok using this, especially if used as a nighttime moisturizer. If you have normal to dry skin, the Mandelic Corrector is a dream as it is hydrating. And for that, more suited for me.
I have nothing bad to say really. It truly lives up to its hype of being gentle yet effective. This is my absolute favorite chemical exfoliant to date! My only complaint is the packaging (I don’t find the new one to be very good either) and that the texture/finish isn’t very elegant for the price. I wish it was hydrating without feeling sticky on the skin and sunk in more. Allies of Skin does not use silicones, so that might be why. But the results speak for themselves, so I can live with it. And despite a tacky finish, it doesn’t make my skin/problem areas itch or anything like that.
For being 11% it is surprisingly gentle and has not caused any irritation or redness on my skin. I believe it’s due to the hydrating properties and slower delivery system; it being a thick serum that buffers rather than a toner that instantly sinks in. I’ve come to realize that lotion-type of exfoliants works best for my skin.
I was going to try other gentle chemical exfoliants, but now I don’t see the point as this has all the properties and then some. It is expensive, but if you’re not using it more than 1-2 nights a week, this will last you a pretty long time.
20% Vitamin C Brighten & Firm Serum
This I got in my CultBeauty 2020 Advent Calendar. It’s one of their newer additions that’s supposed to be an alternative to their 35% Vitamin C + Perfecting serum for their European customers. Due to some regulations… Which I think surrounds Ethoxydiglycol? Not really sure… The 35% vitamin C is not available outside of the US and Canada. The 20% version is however sold everywhere. It’s not a dupe to the 35%, but if you are looking, NIOD ELAN is sort of it.
What it promises:
- Firms skin
- Protects and repairs tired skin
- Provides antioxidant protection
- Promotes smoother and radiant skin
- Visibly brightens dullness
The 20% vitamin C serum has an interesting thick texture. It’s best described as glaze you pour over cake. To be able to spread this one nicely, I found it was best to have either mist/a damp face or wet hands or mix with another liquid product. Otherwise, you’d have to use more than you actually need as the glaze texture sinks right in and is difficult to spread out.
Allies also recommend shaking the bottle beforehand. Don’t know if it was because my bottle was small, but I could not see how it did any good. The texture of this product is just too thick for anything to move?
This has no added fragrance but has a scent to it. I did read a review saying it’s awful, but I personally find the scent to be very lovely! I can’t put my finger on what it smells like… Some sort of candy?
Apart from the weird texture and having to dampen my face before application I really enjoyed using this vitamin C serum! Having tried some of the popular and expensive ones on the market, this one had the nicest texture and feel. Most vitamin C serums leave the skin feeling sticky, but this one has none of that and still delivers a nice glow. So I can see this one working fine throughout all skin types. Because of the glaze texture it sort of acts like a primer too. Skin felt more even and soft and makeup glided smoothly on top without pilling.
This has some orange extract, but not from essential oils. Nonetheless, my skin didn’t seem to react negatively to this product at all. No purging, no irritation. This is formulated with a new and stable form of vitamin C, Ethyl Ascorbic Acid (EAA), which I talked about in my Alpha-H profile review. The brightening isn’t as immediate as with pure ascorbic acid, but it’s gentle and usually more tolerated by the masses. But overall, I find vitamin C serums a little bit overhyped. In my opinion, chemical exfoliants, and retinoids reduce pigmentation better.
What’s not to like with this product is the packaging and texture. Again I don’t know if it’s generally my copy… But because the texture is so thick and it comes in a pump, I had a really hard time getting the last two (or more) uses out. The small travel-sized packaging made it very hard trying to scrape out the last. Which is a total disappointment when the product isn’t very cheap. Not to mention that the pump has no cover. So if you don’t use it daily, the product stiffens making it hard to pump out. I get that Allies of Skin are trying to be mindful and reduce plastic waste. But this product should’ve come in a squeeze tube! And the travel size barely lasted me over two weeks.
I feel like this is the best vitamin C serum in terms of texture and feel I’ve used! Although thick, it’s at least not too runny and sticky. I found it to make my skin feel smoother just like with other vitamin C serums, without the potential irritation. I can’t speak so much for the brightening effect as I wasn’t able to regularly use it for more than a month.
I’ve said this before, but I love EAA as it’s more stable and doesn’t spoil within 2-3 months. Being someone who doesn’t reach for their vitamin C daily, this is great! And despite the packaging (or the texture) needing improvements, I can definitely see myself repurchasing!