beauty

TRIED AND TESTED: The $12 Revolution skincare products that seem too good to be true.

Mamamia’s Tried and Tested series is your weekly review of the latest to hit our desks in beauty, health and wellness. You won’t find any #sponsored content here, just honest, relatable and independent advice. This week, Senior Lifestyle Writer Amy Clark tried the new Revolution Skincare range.

Let’s talk about budget skincare. Because who isn’t looking for ways to save a few bucks? (Or many, many bucks.)

Yes, there are a lot of really expensive cleansers and moisturisers out there and some of them are even worth their price tags. But it’s also true that more money doesn’t always equal better quality products.

Side note – here are seven helpful skincare tips to try before bed! Post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia

With this in mind, I’ve been road testing Revolution Skincare, a new affordable skincare range from UK brand Revolution Beauty.

If the brand sounds familiar, you might’ve seen Revolution Beauty on the shelves at your local Priceline or heard it talked about in the You Beauty Facebook group. After officially launching their makeup products in Australia in 2019, the brand now offers active skincare products that promise real results, all priced between $12 and $20.

It sounds too good to be true, so I put a bunch of their best-selling products on my face to find out which ones are worth elbowing someone out of the way for at the next Priceline beauty sale, and which ones aren’t worth your precious coin.

REVOLUTION Skincare 5% Glycolic Acid Tonic 200mL, $20.

REVOLUTION Skincare 5% Glycolic Acid Tonic
This toner reckons it can clear out your pores for radiant skin. Image: Supplied/Amy Clark.
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What it does: 

"This exfoliating skincare saviour works to cleanse and condition your skin. Formulated with ginseng, a brightening antioxidant, aloe vera to soothe and condition and Witch Hazel to tighten pores. It comes in two strengths, 2.5% for Glycolic newbies and 5% for seasoned fans."

Ingredients:

  • The main ingredients listed are: Aqua (Water, Eau), Glycolic Acid, Butylene Glycol and Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Water.
  • Glycolic acid is listed second, meaning the only thing there's more of in the formula is water BUT there are a few different alcohols listed further down, so some skin types may find this product stripping.

What I thought:

Yep. This toner looks like another great acid toner, the REN Ready Steady Glow AHA Tonic ($49). I wouldn’t bother with the 2.5 per cent version - go straight to the 5 per cent, which is, for most, gentle enough for everyday use. (Take it slow though, start off applying it every second night if you've never used a Glycolic product before.)

I drenched a cotton round in the product and swiped it all over my face after cleansing, being careful to avoid sensitive areas like my cheeks and around my eyes. I only felt very mild tingling for a few seconds and my skin looked slightly brighter the next morning. The concentration of this AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) product is the same as another popular chemical exfoliant, Alpha-H Liquid Gold, but for $40 less. Regular chemical exfoliators might not find this product hectic enough, but it's perfect for someone who wants to try putting an acid on their face but doesn't want to spend big.

REVOLUTION Skincare Hyaluronic Essence Spray 100mL, $12.

REVOLUTION Skincare Hyaluronic Essence Spray
Unicorn tears or fancy water? Image: Supplied/Amy Clark.
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What it does: 

"Enriched with hyaluronic acid, which enables your skin to retain moisture and grapefruit extract, this hydrating formula helps to transform that troublesome tight feeling into skin that's soft to the touch – all in one portable pick-me-up."

Ingredients:

  • The main ingredients listed are: Aqua (Water, Eau), Bis-Peg-18 Methyl Ether Dimethyl Silane (water dispersable silicone), Glycerin, Phenoxyethanol (a preservative) and Sodium Hyaluronate.
  • Sodium Hyaluronate is a stable form of Hyaluronic Acid BUT it's listed fifth on the list, meaning there's likely not too much in the formula.

What I thought:

Revolution have a bunch of different sprays at a similar price point to the Mario Badescu ones. Having tried both brands, I prefer the spritz and scent of the MB sprays.

Really, the Revolution Hyaluronic Spray feels and smells a lot like you’re spraying Fanta on your face. The spray is on the wetter side (it's not a fine mist so it feels like being sprayed in the face with water) and the finish is a bit sticky. For me, it’s meh.

REVOLUTION Skincare Extra 15% Niacinamide Serum 30mL, $20.

REVOLUTION Skincare Extra 15% Niacinamide Serum
Oily skin will love this serum. Image: Supplied/Amy Clark.

What it does: 

"With 15% of blemish-busting hero Niacinamide, this soft, moisturising formula is perfect for all skin types to help reduce the appearance of blemishes and pores."

Ingredients:

  • The main ingredients are: Aqua (Water, Eau), Niacinamide, Propanediol (used to improve the formula or help the core ingredients absorb better into the skin) and Zinc PCA (helps with the skin's oil production and hydration).
  • Niacinamide is listed second = great.

What I thought:

I enjoy this serum. It looks like a hyaluronic acid serum - it’s colourless and has a slight fragrance - but it doesn’t dry tacky like an HA. Niacinamide (vitamin B) is listed second in the ingredients list so you know there’s a decent amount of it in there, and I didn’t find the formula irritating on the skin.

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I applied this serum in the evening after cleansing and before moisturising, but you can also use it morning and/or night. It reminds me of the popular The Ordinary Niacinamide serum, so if you like that one or are looking for a serum for oily/acne-prone skin, you'll probably like this one.

REVOLUTION Skincare 12.5% Vitamin C Serum 30mL, $20.

REVOLUTION Skincare 12.5% Vitamin C Serum
This serum smells like a freshly-squeezed OJ. Can't decide if that's a good thing... Image: Supplied/Amy Clark.

What it does: 

"Famed for its skincare benefits, Vitamin C is an antioxidant that's known to help skin regeneration and help improve skin radiance. This radiance super serum will boost your glow and encourage a smooth skin texture."

Ingredients:

  • Aqua (Water, Eau), Propylene Glycol (a hydrating and delivery ingredient used in cosmetics) and Ascorbic Acid (a form of Vitamin C).

What I thought:

This product isn't for me, but that doesn't mean it's not for you. I have to say it - this Vitamin C smells like a citrus overload... it’s the smell you get when you open up a bottle of Vitamin C tablets.

The texture is a thicker gel that’s sticky and smells long after you’ve applied it. That said, it's worth noting the product does contain Ascorbic Acid (or L-Ascorbic Acid), which is what you want in a Vit C product. I applied it in the evening but you can apply morning and/or night. If you apply in the morning, chuck on a face sunscreen because Vitamin C can make your skin more sensitive to the sun.

Some Vitamin C products can be irritating or make you break out (Vitamin C is a hard ingredient to formulate) so the cheaper price point is a low-risk entry point into a Vit C serum. BUT you won't get the same results as more expensive products like the cult $210 SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic serum. Sorry.

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REVOLUTION Skincare Overnight Blemish Lotion (Buffering) 30mL, $20.

REVOLUTION Skincare Overnight Blemish Lotion
This is great for pesky blind pimples. Image: Supplied/Amy Clark.

What it does: 

"Target stubborn under-the surface bumps whilst you sleep with this overnight spot treatment formulated with hard-working ingredients to help reduce inflammation and prevent future breakouts."

Ingredients:

  • The main ingredients are: Isopropyl Alcohol (an alcohol), Propylene Glycol (a hydrating and delivery ingredient used in cosmetics), Isopropyl Myristate (texture enhancer and moisturising ingredient) and Aqua (Water, Eau).
  • Both Zinc and Niacinimade are listed further down the list.

What I thought:

This could be all in my head, but I noticed stubborn under the skin bumps and blind pimples were, at the very least, slightly less angry and bumpy the morning after applying this product. The packaging looks a lot like the cult pink Mario Badescu Drying Lotion but it's not a dupe (more on the actual potential dupe below).

Unlike the MB Drying Lotion, you should shake this formula before attempting to put a small amount on your finger to apply directly to the skin. The top of the product is a small nozzle, so it's annoying and a bit messy to apply. It's also only meant for under the surface pimples, not juicy whiteheads that are ready to pop.

Yes, it's got alcohol in it and smells of it too, but when applied only to blemish areas, you shouldn't experience an adverse reaction. Always patch test or apply to a single blemish before going ham with it all over your face.

REVOLUTION Skincare Overnight Targeted Blemish Lotion 30mL, $20.

REVOLUTION Skincare Overnight Targeted Blemish Lotion
Mario Badescu Drying Lotion, is that you? Image: Supplied/Amy Clark.
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What it does: 

"This two-phase pink solution targets active blemishes with a highly effective blend of skin-friendly ingredients; Salicylic Acid (a Beta Hydroxy acid known to target breakouts, enlarged pores, and blackheads), Zinc Oxide (anti-inflammatory) and Calamine (helps to soothe irritated skin)."

Ingredients:

  • The main ingredients are: Isopropyl Alcohol (an alcohol), Aqua (Water, Eau), Zinc Oxide, Calamine, Glycerin and Salicylic Acid.
  • The three advertised active ingredients are listed towards the front of the ingredients list = good.

What I thought:

Now THIS is the pimple product that's meant to be a Mario Badescu Drying Lotion ($26) dupe. It's got the same pink sediment down the bottom and you use it in exactly the same way - don't shake, dip a Q Tip into the pink part and apply directly onto a whitehead pimple. But is it a dupe? Maybe...

I will say the products are very similar. Same packaging. Same (ish) price. Near identical ingredients lists. Personally, I found it helped the appearance of my gunky, white pimples, but not dramatically. My honest experience of the Mario Badescu product is the same - I've always found it a bit hit-and-miss. Really, the main difference I see between the Mario Badescu and the Revolution Skincare products is accessibility, because you can pick up Revolution while you're waiting for your prescription to be filled.

Final thoughts on Revolution Skincare...

revolution skincare
Must admit, the packaging is very pretty. Image: Supplied/Amy Clark.
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To answer my earlier question, Revolution Skincare isn't too good to be true. In fact, it's pretty decent.... with exceptions.

Overall, the products are very lovely, come in cute metallic packaging and are great, affordable active skincare options if you're on a budget or are looking to swap out more expensive products in your routine for cheaper alternatives.

My best advice when shopping for budget skincare is: check the ingredients list and make sure the advertised active ingredients are near the front of the list.

Most of the time, everything you actually need to know about a product is in tiny writing on the back of the bottle, not in a shiny font on the front.

Feature image: Supplied.

Do you have any favourite budget skincare products? Tell us your recommendations in the comments below!

Mamamia's Tried and Tested series drops every week. Want us to trial and review a product or treatment you've seen everywhere? Easy, just send an email to [email protected] 

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