Fenty Skin arrived July 31 with a flurry of excitement from Rihanna superfans and online reviewers. The highly anticipated skin care line boasts a cleanser, a toner serum and a moisturizer with SPF. Given the success of the singer’s inclusive and well-loved line of makeup, expectations were high for another home run.
There have been, of course, some questions about the products’ effectiveness, the ingredients used and the fact that all three items have fragrance. Many reviews of the line have been glowing: Self editor Tiffany Dodson declared it showed “how invested Rihanna was in producing a skin care collection that wasn’t all hype but actually produced real results for all skin types.”
At about $30 per product, Fenty Skin is not the most egregious example of pricey skin care, but we were still curious how it would hold up in the eyes of medical professionals.
Jennifer MacGregor, a board-certified dermatologist at Union Square Laser Dermatology in New York, emphasized to HuffPost that skin care should be individualized. Still, she said, there are a few good signs in the Fenty Skin ingredients list, namely in the Fat Water Pore-Refining Toner Serum.
“It has calming niacinamide and gentle ingredients ― generally OK as a starter skin routine,” MacGregor said. “But no one product is going to be ‘good’ for ‘everyone.’”
The Total Cleans’r, which is marketed as a makeup remover and cleanser in one, also raised some questions. The product contains both an oil-based and a water-based cleanser, which dermatologist Joshua Zeichner told Teen Vogue “can be helpful in circumstances where there is extra soiling on the skin, such as heavy makeup.” But when you don’t wear a lot of makeup, Zeichner said a double-cleansing product likely isn’t necessary.
Then there is the matter of fragrance ― like Barbados cherry and fig. While some took issue with the use of any scents, MacGregor noted that it’s pretty typical, even when a product claims to have no fragrance.
“Many topicals labeled ‘unscented’ have fragrance or chemicals to mask unpleasant smells,” she said, adding that with any product, there is a chance for a reaction.
“Botanical extracts or essential oils may not be labeled fragrance, yet they are and can still cause an allergic reaction,” MacGregor said. “Vitamin E can even cause an allergic reaction in some people. I recommend patch testing to pin down the cause of allergy if you react to a specific product or generally have intolerant skin, rather than generally trying to decode a label.”
Fenty Skin’s “clean, vegan, gluten-free” products are devoid of one label: gender. They are all presented as gender-neutral.
MacGregor said that, in fact, gender doesn’t play a role in skin care. “Skin care would be based on skin type and concern ― redness, sun damage, oil, acne ― not based on gender,” she said.
She did have some cautionary words about the SPF moisturizer, which is chemical-based. As a general rule, MacGregor recommends mineral sunscreen because zinc and titanium offer the best broad-spectrum sun protection.
“Unstabilized avobenzone (found in the Fenty Skin moisturizer) is better than nothing, but it’s only active about 25 minutes and breaks down when exposed to light,” she said.
So, to sum up, Fenty Skin seems to be a safe bet for a wide variety of skin types, albeit perhaps not one you need to make a huge investment in ― and perhaps not the moisturizer.