Ode to a Brand: REN – cleansing & toning

Oh, life before REN, what a drag! I discovered REN on a whim last year, drawn in by their claims of ‘clean’ skincare, functional and no-nonsense marketing and the positive results I’ve seen plastered about the place like nobody’s business. It started off as a collection of samples, very kindly sent to me by the PR department, then I bought a cleanser… Then a mask… Skip a year and it seems I have built up quite the collection.

Cleansers & Toners

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left – right: REN Clearcalm 3 Clarifying Clay Cleaner, REN Micro Polish Cleanser, REN Clarifying Toning Lotion

REN Clearcalm 3 Clarifying Clay Cleanser (£18)

I am on my second tube of this stuff now, and I think I can say with some certainty that it is the second of many. I love this stuff so much – it’s like a mini facial every night, but without any nasty drying side effects. Although I have extremely sensitive skin, I find this absolutely fine to use daily. I use it as a second cleanse in the PM – that is, I use another cleanser before this to remove makeup, and I use this to treat. I tend to pretty much ignore the bottle’s instructions (naughty naughty!) and apply this on dry skin with dry hands and leave on for 10-15 minutes, kind of like a mask i guess, except that this stuff doesn’t dry. I also have the mask from this range, but I don’t think I will be repurchasing that, and will be sticking with this in future. A bottle lasts me about 4-6 weeks when used daily, and I find about a pump enough for a thin layer on my face. I have seen a real improvement with using this cleanser, both in the short and long term.

REN Micro Polish Cleanser (£20)

I bought this mainly after seeing Kate from Gh0stparties rave about this, and seeing as I already owed REN my undying gratitude and needed a new facial scrub, I figured this was worth a punt. I do use and enjoy chemical exfoliators (see below), but sometimes there’s nothing like a good ol’ scrub, is there? I use this maybe twice a week in the morning, and like the clay cleanser above, I tend to put it on and leave it for 5 minutes or so whilst I wash my hair/moisturise/reperform a one-man edition of Les Mis, before rinsing clean. I do like the feel of this cleanser, it isn’t abrasive in the slightest, and the AHAs present in the formula make light work of any stubborn flakes. But I do have one big bugbear with this product: the packaging. It’s just so damn hard to get it out of the tub – I squeeze and I squeeze and all I get is some bubbles,I’m pretty sure if you look close enough you can see the bite marks where I have attempted to chew the product to death. It is so annoying,when the product is this nice and I can’t get at it, having to make do with the tiniest bit for my whole face, determinedly demented. I would happily repurchase this, but only after REN address the packaging issue. Dear REN, if you’re reading (hello!), I love you so very much but please change. the. damn. packaging.

REN Clarifying Toning Lotion (£18)

This is my second tube of this stuff (it was £16 when I first bought it!), as I just can’t get enough of the smell. It’s so nice, kinda like lemonade – it smells clean, it smells relaxing, it smells delicious. This is a chemical exfoliant, much like the Clarins Gentle Exfoliating Toner of which I am so endlessly fond, only it is aimed more at combination/blemish-prone skintypes (it is part of REN’s combination range) whereas I’d say the Clarins product is more suited for dry/sensitive skin (although anyone can use it). I have to say, I agree with this distinction wholeheartedly – whilst the Clarins can be used on my skin once daily with no adverse side effects, I definitely feel my skin drying out after a few consequent uses of the REN and it even stings a little, and red patches begin to appear. Therefore, I reserve this only for spotty days, Clarins every other day (I wish it was the other way around, price points and all!). It has to be said, though, that if you are oily skinned and blemish prone, this is for you – after just one use my skin is noticeably smoother and clearer; I find the Clarins far too gentle to really tackle big blemishes (after all, that’s not what it’s designed to do). Will keep this is in my stash as part of my ‘ohmygawdaspot’ arsenal. This is also Caroline Hirons approved… Descend, my pretties!

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left-right: REN Clearcalm 3 Clay Cleanser swatch, REN Micro Polish Cleanser swatch, Micro Polish blended

REN Skincare

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