Tired of products and treatments that destroy the natural skin barrier and create a vicious cycle of over-consumption? It speaks to a more virtuous cycle that REN and Pixi are brands who routinely send out new releases without any obligations to post. Not all of them are winners, but many make the cut and become solid staples for the long run.
It’s said that muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone. But with an increasing barrage of acids, peels, lasers, and exfoliants stripping away every last speck of dirt (and the skin along with it), the cosmetics industry is cashing in on fixing the very problems that it causes. These tried and tested remedies have proven worthy both in theory and in practice, and were found suitable for combination skin with off-label use of low-dose Roaccutane.
REN And Pixi Brands
REN were one of the first ‘clean skincare’ brands, founded in East London in 2000 by Rob Calcraft and Antony Buck. Rob’s partner, a busy mum-to-be, felt that the formulas of her everyday beauty products were causing her sensitive skin to react. Turning to natural skincare, she discovered that nothing really worked, and if it did, it didn’t work for long (similar to many natural supplements).
Rob recognised a need within the beauty industry for skincare that delivered gentle, yet effective results from bioactive, and not just natural ingredients (ingredients harnessed and processed for greater efficacy, and not just extracted). REN Clean Skincare was born, with a pledge never to compromise on natural efficacy, yet with sensitive skin in mind.
Effective products also work with, and not against, your skin’s natural processes. Irritation and breakouts are more likely when the skin’s natural pH is disturbed (through harsh soaps and cleansers), or the physical barrier is destroyed (through strong scrubs, lasers and acids). Internal changes that affect gut health or hormones can also affect skin sebum and flora (antibiotics, stress and illness). The REN skincare range includes products intended to target a variety of topical skin concerns, including blackheads, acne, and dry skin, offering a gentler solution for those who find most high street products too aggressive.
Brands such as Cetaphil also take a simpler approach, and are good for every-day essentials (scent-free sun cream, cleanser, moisturiser), whereas REN bring a slightly more novel and fun edge to the market, through their colourful use of innovative bio-actives. They are also cruelty-free (not tested on animals), and have made a Zero Waste Pledge – ensuring that all packaging has sustainability in mind (reduce, reuse, recycle).
Pixi Beauty have been ‘glowing for 20 years strong’, and are more focused on make-up than skincare. Petra Strand was a student at the Elegance International School of Professional Makeup in Hollywood; After she graduated, the Swedish-born makeup artist moved to London, where she founded her beauty brand, Pixi by Petra.
Petra also values affordable products infused with beneficial botanicals, and many of their releases are multi-purpose, allowing skin to breathe by avoiding over-layering. As a professional make-up artist, she is more than familiar with some of the common issues that arise when attempting to apply make-up over skincare (such as pilling and rolling) and has formulated each product in the range to avoid such pitfalls.
REN Perfect Canvas: Microbial Essence (£43)
A firm favourite, this gooey but quick-drying essence works to strengthen the skin-barrier and noticeably reduces redness after just a few uses. Apply 3 drops into your hands and gently pat onto a freshly cleansed face and neck.
It uses bio-fermented Hyaluronic Acid (HA) from wheat – through the fermentation process, the HA molecule becomes small enough to penetrate into the skin, offering a deeper level of hydration. Polyglutamic Acid (PGA) from sugar cane similarly helps to reinforce the skin barrier and smooth texture.
Marrubium Extract helps to protect against pollutants due to its antioxidant effects. It comes from the Horehound plant which is part of the Mint family and is usually dissolved in glycerin and water, which provide added moisture. Niacinamide is a popular ingredient for brightening and evening skin tone. It is a form of Vitamin B3 and is required for maintaining healthy cell function. It should not be mixed with topical Vitamin C as this can cause irritation.
Powered by a synergistic trio of post-biotic bio-ferments and antioxidants, this simple yet effective staple elevates the everyday by optimising for skin health and hydration, without feeling residual or heavy.
Pixi pHenomenal Gel: Neutralising Moisturiser (£24)
This light-weight gel moisturiser balances and stabilises your skin’s pH levels while moisturising, soothing, and toning complexion. The skin’s natural pH is slightly acidic, usually between around 4.7 and 5.75. When the acid mantle is damaged, using gentle moisturisers and oils will keep your skin hydrated and assist in rebuilding its protective barrier.
This gel contains added Horse Chestnut Extract (conkers) which tones skin while soothing irritation. Horse chestnut oil is gathered in autumn and is used to nourish and calm, making it especially suited to sensitive skin. Ginseng root extract contains a lot of compounds including vitamin D and B12 that help to improve circulation and boost collagen production.
REN Moroccan Rose Otto: Vegan Bath-Oil (£35)
An indulgent rose-infused bath oil to soothe the skin and the senses. Enriched with an array of naturally smoothing ingredients that make for a perfect winter home-hammam. Sesame oil is a natural source of omega-6 and its this fatty acid profile that ensures a healthy skin barrier by complementing the skin’s natural supply of ceramides and lipids, leaving it healthy and soft. Damask Rose Petals help to uplift and revitalise the senses, leaving skin delicately fragranced and hydrated with this holistic mind-body healer.
Pixi Clarity Range: Blemish Stickers (£12)
Blemish creams and gels that are ineffective or leave scars are fading out, and minimally invasive Korean-inspired blemish patches are sticking around. These barely-there pimple covers instantly minimise the appearance of blemishes while treating for balanced, clear and happy skin. The stickers are translucent and biodegradable, flattening spots while preventing you from picking. They also come infused with Salicylic Acid, Cica (Pennywort) and Green Tea to target and reduce inflammation. Do not leave on for more than a few hours at a time, in order to allow skin to fully heal and breathe.
REN & Now To Sleep: Pillow Spray (£15)
This aromatherapeutic spray blends the calming properties of Lavender, Hops and Frankincense to ease you into a better nights sleep. Ideal for those struggling to switch off, this feathery water-based mist is pillow and pyjama friendly. Spray it on or around the bedroom to turn your space into a sanctuary – alongside a good sleep hygiene routine.
Pixi Anywhere Patches: Eye Gels (£22)
Perfect for hiding puffy-eyes when travelling. These silky hydrogel patches are fun to use while smoothing and soothing the skin. The calming formula contains Peptides, Hyaluronic Acid and Ceramide which deeply moisturise and brighten.
REN Atlantic Kelp: Body Oil (£38)
A luxurious and rich body oil with nourishing Atlantic Kelp Extracts, Microalgae Oil and Plankton Extracts to replenish tired skin. Atlantic Kelp is nutrient-rich, helping to restore suppleness, and enriching Microalgae Oil is packed with healthy fats to further lock in moisture. Red Algae Extract contains phytosterols which help to encourage skin toning. Infused with their unique Anti-Fatigue Natural Fragrance Blend to awaken the senses, massaging this oil into the body is a holistic ritual that helps to relax and relieve muscle fatigue, leaving you and your skin feeling more supple and refreshed.
Pixi Liquid Fairy Lights: EyeLift Max (£12)
Everyday, long-wearing shimmer for unleashing your inner child’s festival flower power. Infused with Chamomile and Rosehip, this multi-purpose ethereal eyeshadow leaves a velvety veil of frosting and colour that can be worn solo or layered. Easy to blend for a soft-focus effect and containing a no-crease and no-budge formula, for an eternal ‘diamond baby-eyes’ look.
REN Mini Glow Daily: Vitamin C Gel Cream (£15)
A lightweight hydrating moisturiser that visibly brightens skin within the first week of use. Many topical vitamin C creams contain a form of Vit C that is ineffective when applied to skin. However REN use a Vitamin C complex that contains stabilised vitamin C and magnesium, combatting dullness by restoring radiance and reducing the appearance of hyperpigmentation or sun damage. Mini in size and major in hydration, this energising vegan formula focuses on quality over quantity, with strong antioxidant benefits. Glycogen from corn also helps to lock in moisture, and Tara Pod Extract soothes and evens skin tone.
Pixi Shadows: Shapeshifter Palette (£20)
An all-in one palette for shadow and contour making it handy for travel or touch-ups. This multi-pack contains 9 palettes to highlight, brighten, shape and define, taking you from day to night. Designed in partnership with make-up artist Promise, its shades are curated to be universally flattering, sheer and easy to blend for a professional-finish and fool-proof result. Formulated with natural mineral pigments which allow skin to breathe and avoid looking cakey, it’s also fortified with Vitamin E to nourish and protect, as well as humectants to moisturise and prevent flaking, all while being completely Paraben-free.