Former sun-worshipper Trinny Woodall launches a next-gen sunscreen moisturiser for all skin tones - we review it, plus our thoughts on the whole Trinny London skincare range
Believe it or not, Trinny London announces yet another addition to what must surely be the fastest-expanding but still highly curated skincare line ever. Step forward See The Light, a daily SPF 50+ moisturiser, £45 with a high UVA protection to protect us from the skin-ageing UVA rays that can penetrate clouds and windows too.
Trinny describes herself as a "former sun-worshipper who has faced the consequences" in terms of skin ageing. The title of this new cream is a nod to seeing the error of your ways, as well as providing you with the shield that lets you go out into the sun in all environments (including polluted ones) with confidence.
It's a chemical filter sunscreen, which means no white cast. As soon as Editorial Director Victoria Woodhall (above, with Trinny) got her hands on one of the first samples, we tested it on multiple skin tones in the Get The Gloss office. We can confirm that it's a silky veil that anyone can wear. It has a lotion texture which means it disappears quickly and also acts as an effective primer.
It's light enough for oilier skins to get on with as well and has the signature fresh Trinny London skincare scent that fans of the range will be familiar with. The dosage is four pumps for the face and neck in order to get the SPF protection it says on the packaging. We found that this amounted to twice as much as we would use if this were a straight moisturiser, so be prepared to replenish often. There's a white tea leaf extract - tea is a powerful antioxidant - to help boost environmental protection.
More Trinny London moisturisers
Apart from the latest SPF, Trinny London skincare has two hardworking moisturisers Bounce Back Intense Peptide Moisturiser, £49, a youth-boosting "hug for the face," with a richer texture than the serum, and Energise Me Niacinamide Moisturiser , £42, formulated to recharge stressed skin, hydrate, and even out tone and texture.
“Our two moisturisers are skincare overachievers," Trinny told us. "They absorb incredibly easily and feel sumptuous, like a supercharged shot of hydration for your skin.”
Not one to leave any skin issue unaddressed, Trinny London's Plump Up Peptide+ HA Serum, £58 (or £52 for the refill), targets - you guessed it - skin that looks less than bouncy and hydrated. It teams moisture-trapping hyaluronic acid and betaine, which deliver sustained oil-free hydration, with six different peptides to synergistically help skin look firmer and smoother.
According to Trinny, the clear, light serum will restore bounce "like a flat cushion that needs a shake-up." It certainly quenches in seconds, bringing lasting comfort, and we’re impressed to see oligopeptide-1, or epidermal growth factor (EGF) in there, which is famed for helping to smooth and even out the skin’s surface layers effectively and without irritation.
Peptides, on the whole, are very well supported by all skin types, so this serum is a good alternative if you don’t get on with retinoids or just want a very effective hydrator with added benefits. It gets added points from us for its versatility: you can add it to your foundation for plumping perfection.
Looking for effective brightening? Trinny's high-strength vitamin C serum is a winner. Not the easiest ingredient to navigate, vitamin C is known for being very unstable. It oxidises (and therefore stops working) when exposed to air, oxygen and water. It is also acidic in nature, meaning sensitive-skinned users should ease it in gradually when adding certain iterations of the ingredient (there are many different vitamin C molecules to formulate with) to their skincare routine for the first time.
So, how has Trinny managed to include a whopping 30 per cent vitamin C in this new serum? Her chosen form of the popular antioxidant is ethyl ascorbic acid, which delivers all the brightening and collagen-boosting benefits of L-ascorbic acid (the purest and most potent vitamin C derivative), but without the fear of it giving up the ghost or causing skin irritation. Thanks to the addition of an 'ethyl group molecule' the L-ascorbic acid becomes stable in both oil and water formulations and is suitable for all skin types. That said, ethyl ascorbic acid is one of the molecules more prone to sting than others. So start slowly and allow your skin to get used to it.
Trinny's serum also boasts pigmentation-targeting plankton extract, lemon peel ferment (for a double whammy of antioxidants) and lactococcus ferment - a probiotic ingredient that enables the good bacteria on your skin to thrive.
Trinny London retinal serums
Retinoids are basically a shoo-in for more refined, age-proof skin, but they come with drawbacks: the most powerful ones can degrade in UV light and bring so many baby-fresh cells to the surface, the advice is not to wear them by day (and to ALWAYS wear SPF50 in the daytime when you use them overnight). They can also be very irritating and make skin redden and flake. The chances of the latter happening are minimal with the retinoids Trinny London has incorporated in these serums, so don't fret - you'll likely get all of the benefits and none of the issues. If you notice any irritation though, try using them just twice a week and work your way up, or apply them over moisturiser or face oil to mitigate any irritant potential.
Reinal (or retinaldehyde) is earning its stripes as well for working 11 (!) times as fast, but being much less irritating, than retinol, and it's is the star ingredient in Trinny's serums. Like retinol products, you use it overnight (alone or under moisturiser) as UV light affects its stability and potency. Spiked with complementary actives, these, says Trinny, were "selfishly created to be my ideal serums. I wanted to challenge the damage I caused in my twenties and thirties (too much sun and stress), which resulted in lines and pigmentation. These serums actually make you wake up in the morning looking better."
Overnight Sensation Retinal+ Serum, £69, for dry to normal skin
This intense treatment boasts both retinal and granactive retinoid, and another line-softening, brow spot-fading form of vitamin A. Despite a high dosage of each ingredient, the fast-penetrating serum is unlikely to bite. Aimed at people aged 40 and up, it can even work on skin firmness. Goes beautifully under night cream under face oil, should you want to use one, and can be alternated with one of the Trinny London overnight exfoliants (see below). You will see results in weeks, if not days.
Overnight Clarity Retinal/Niacinamide Serum, £62, for normal to oily skin
Retinoids are the gold standard not just for signs of ageing but for tackling spot-prone and oily skin to, as they balance oil production and normalise skin function. This serum combines retinal, which, of all the over-the-counter retinoids, has been shown to work best on acneic conditions. There's also a mega-dose of niacinamide, much adored by skin specialists from its oil-balancing, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant AND wrinkle-plumping abilities. So it's ideal for mature skins that, infuriatingly, also suffer from breakouts. The formula visibly reduces the appearance of fine lines while clearing congested complexions: smoother, more balanced skin will be yours in weeks.
Trinny London exfoliants
New to exfoliators? Trinny's trio makes it crystal clear which is the right one for you, depending on your skin type and goals, and tells you exactly when to use it and how often. They are all acid exfoliators with a gel texture - you won't find any grainy scrubs here. All three are leave-on and you're instructed to wait a couple of minutes before applying anything else on top to give them a chance to work.
Tiptoe In for PHA Exfoliant £34, for sensitive skin and acid newcomers
This is your gentle starter acid exfoliator. PHAs (polyhydroxy acids) are the gentlest of acid exfoliators and can be used by anyone, even those with sensitive skin. Here, gluconolactone and lactobionic acids gently exfoliate dead skin cells without irritation. The gel is unscented and we love the hydrating, watery feel. If your skin barrier is compromised, as many sensitive skins are, you may well lose water more easily and so the addition of a water-binding ingredient called trehalose and calming azelaic acid make this a gentle, safe and comfortable way to exfoliate. It's the closest to a toner texture of the three, it sank in immediately and felt barely-there.
Use at night twice a week and build up to nightly use. For an extra boost, you can also apply it in the morning.
Find Your Balance BHA Exfoliant , £36, for blemish-prone skin
Salicylic acid and willow bark (also a form of salicylic) are BHAs (beta-hydroxy acids), oil-soluble acids that bind with the oily debris in your pores, getting to work on blackheads and whiteheads. Compared to Tiptoe In, this is a slightly thicker gel. It feels more like a serum or essence and has the merest hint of a scent. If you have oily or congested skin, this is for you. We found this still gentle (our tester's teens loved it) and hydrating and liked the addition of the prebiotic chlorella to support skin barrier.
Use at night and build up from twice a week to every night.
Reveal Yourself AHA Exfoliant, £38, for glowing, exfoliated akin
Going up a level on glow, this is an AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) exfoliator that works on a deeper level (AHA molecules are smaller and penetrate further). If you want a more radiant complexion without losing hydration, this is a good choice. While glycolic acid is probably the best-known AHA, it can be something of a sledgehammer and cause irritation. There's none of that here though. Instead, it uses the gentler malic acid and lactic acid (our bodies like it because we make it naturally) which is also a humectant, holding onto moisture. We found it non-irritating (although it's not recommended for sensitive skin) and our skin felt bouncy afterward and ready to absorb our serum better.
This is an unscented nighttime-only product, which, like the others, you build up from twice a week to daily.
Trinny London cleansers
Trinny's cleansers are designed to be used alone or in tandem. If you're going to double cleanse using both products, Trinny advises removing makeup with the Be Your Best cleansing balm before going in with the Better Off gel to add some gentle exfoliating acids (if you use this every night, we advise you to skip the toners or use those no more than twice a week). Alternatively, each cleanser can be used alone as both your morning and evening cleanser.
Skincare is all about preference, Trinny tells us. If you love a balm, use the Be Your Best, if gel is your thing, go for Better Off.
The Be Your Best Cleanser has been formulated for normal to dry skin and there are two things we noticed about it. First up, it’s not as solid as traditional balm cleansers, and this is something that Trinny felt particularly passionate about. “A lot of cleansing balms are like oil slicks and just create films over your face, I wanted to create something that had grippiness,” explains Trinny. And, we can report that it does feel like a velvety, nourishing treat for your skin when you massage it into dry skin.
To use just massage a few pumps of the balm onto a dry face, then wet skin to activate the enzymes and gently remove with the new T-Towel muslin cloth it comes with. It leaves skin feeling really looked-after, and soft rather than that squeaky-clean feeling that you sometimes get when you've used a cleanser that is too harsh.
“I want women to really understand and love to nourish their skin in the morning,” says Trinny, who is a big fan of using the cleansing part of your routine to incorporate some facial massage, self-love and lymphatic drainage into your day.
Cleansers are not usually the most exciting part of a skincare routine but the second thing to note about the Be Your Best Cleanser is the smell. It’s subtle but so good! “I wanted it to smell like you’re in a herb garden with a distant feeling of wildflowers in the background,” muses Trinny. And truly this cleanser, which uses rosemary and thyme (“things that make you feel healthy and nurtured”), needs to be turned into a fragrance because it’s divine to the senses.
The Be Your Best cleanser is all about melting away makeup and nourishing your skin ready for the next step. Naturally derived oils, including almond and jojoba, exfoliating fruit enzymes and a prebiotic complexion keep your skin’s microbiome in check. Much like the sunny yellow packaging, this is a cleanser that aims to give you happy, healthy skin.
Although Trinny has made clear that the scent of these cleansers is just an added bonus, I truly cannot get enough of how subtly good especially the balm smells and how the texture allows you to really spend time working them in for a thorough clean.
Better Off AHA/PHA Gel Cleanser is designed to be used after the Be Your Best Cleanser but it can also be used alone, and Trinny recommends it for normal to oily skin types. The gel isn't quite as aromatic as the balm but it does smell slightly spa-like in a non-overwhelming way. Milky in colour, it transforms into quite a tacky texture. Rub into damp skin before rinsing with warm water. It actually has an immediate brightening effect on the skin, we found, which is pretty impressive for a cleanser.
AHAs (alpha-hydroxy acids) and PHAs (poly-hydroxy acids) are exfoliating acids that gently buff away any dead skin cells. While AHAs work under the skin, PHAs target the surface layers - a double whammy. Trinny London Better Off is packed with lactic and mandelic acid, both AHAs which gently exfoliate the skin plus lactobionic acid, a PHA that manages to exfoliate and hydrate skin at the same time.
But why this specific combo? Well, Trinny thinks that although you're usually more likely to find BHAs (beta-hydroxy acids) such as salicylic acid in your cleansers you should leave these out until later in your skincare routine. “When you are cleansing, AHAs are small molecules that will go into the skin and the PHAs are gentle, I love that combination,” says Trinny, who prefers to leave BHAs, which she describes as like pore-seeking missiles, for the exfoliating part of the skincare routine.
Why did Trinny London wait 4 years to launch skincare?
“I launched with makeup because makeup was the first thing that the women I did makeovers on would see,” explains Trinny. “Skincare takes time, it takes nurturing. We launched it four years after the makeup because I wanted to create something with highly, highly active ingredients but anti-inflammatory effectiveness."
Trinny’s own skincare journey started 45 years ago, when she was 14 and on a trip to New York. Although teenage Trinny had acne, her mother never let her use anything other than the old school cold cream cleanser, Ponds cream, because she herself had great skin and didn’t think it was necessary. So, when Trinny came across the skincare counters in a New York beauty emporium, it was quite the revelation. “I spent all of the money I’d saved up that year on the Clinique three-step skincare regimen,” laughs Trinny, and thus began a lifetime love affair with skincare which has eventually led to the launch of Trinny London skincare.
From the ages of 14 to 30, she attempted to self-medicate her acne by switching up her skincare every six months, mixing together products from different brands and combinations of ingredients. But it wasn’t until she started filming What Not to Wear, a reality makeover show that defined British television in the early 2000s, that she began hearing stories from thousands of women about how they felt about their skin, hair and bodies. Although she didn't know it at the time, meeting these women was to provide the basis of the research into creating Trinny London, a brand that really caters to what real women want.
Trinny's proud that her skincare is totally refillable, with the airless pump refills always significantly cheaper than the original twist and pop tube. We've seen this refillable packaging used successfully across the Skingredients range too - another similarly-priced favourite.