Anzeige/Ad I am extra excited today to share my review of UK-based indie brand Bravura London, best known for their chemical peelings and acid toners that rival, nay surpass The Ordinary! And, acids are not all this indie brand has to offer!
By now most of my readers and social media followers know that I have a complicated, even tempestuous relationship with “one ingredient” it brand The Ordinary. Some products I liked, but – in all honesty – with most of them I just didn’t feel they were as great as the hype makes them out to be. I know that the most avid The Ordinary lovers usually point out the low price point especially for their actives such as the chemical peelings, but there are, in fact, some amazing brands out there that sell similar, if not superior formulas that are just as affordable.
Enter Bravura London! I first became aware of this charming indie beauty brand when I compiled my German list of The Ordinary alternatives. The Bravura London 2% Salicylic Acid peeling in particular kept being mentioned by Redditors as a perfect “dupe.” Being from Germany, I am always delighted to find especially Europe-based brands (I wanted to write “EU-based” and then got immediately sad…Oh, Britain!) that sell quality skincare.
When I finally got the chance to try some of their products a good six weeks ago, I was quickly wowed, especially by the truly outstanding chemical peeling solutions from this brand. So I am super excited to finally share my thoughts about the Bravura London products I’ve tried so far today! And, hey – this review comes just in time for the big Bravura London Black Friday Sale 2020, which is just around the corner, offering the perfect opportunity to give them a try! Alright, I’ll tell you a bit about the brand history and founder first, and then we’ll dive straight into my product overview.
Bravura London – the Brand Basics
Bravura London was founded by facial therapist Amanda Elias in 2003 and was the first brand to supply higher dosage acid peels in the UK – long before other brands hopped on the by now massive beauty trend of chemical exfoliants! As is so often the case for passionate indie beauty brands, Bravura London was founded because of the owner’s personal skin struggles, and the desire to develop high quality chemical peelings for an at home treatment.
By now the brand has greatly expanded and offers everything a skincare lover may need, from cleansers to hydrators and moisturisers. All Bravura London products are vegan and cruelty-free – Bravura London does not sell in China and would never test their products or raw materials on animals. I also really appreciate the eco-friendly packaging of both the products as well as the packages in which they are shipped!
Bravura London Review: The Cleansers
I tried two cleansers from the brand and pretty straight-forwardly love both of them – the First Cleanse Oil and the Purifying Gel Cleanser, plus their very popular Dermaflannel, which is a reusable all over cleansing cloth that gives you a very gentle physical exfoliation and can be used with or without a cleanser.
As a K-beauty blogger, I am very particular about my cleansing oils and balms – they need to perform exceptionally well to wow me. The Bravura First Cleanse Oil emulsifies like a dream, and rinses off easily and without any oily residue. It’s a light oil, and thus especially great for us oily to combo skin peeps, though I would say all skin types should do well with this.
Here is the full list of ingredients for the Bravura London First Cleanse Oil:
Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride(From Coconut Oil), Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, PEG-40 Sorbitan Peroleate (emulsifier), Tocopherol (Vit.E), Anthemis Nobilis Oil (Roman Chamomile Essential Oil), Lavandula Officinalis Oil (Lavender Essential Oil), Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Oil.”
The main oil used in this first step cleanser ist organic safflower oil, which is rich in antioxidants and moisturising linoleic acid. Avocado oil and coconut-derived triglycerides are added to the blend, creating a great mix of light, yet nourishing ingredients. This removes makeup and water-resistant sunscreen without any problems, and I haven’t had any issues with eye irritations or breakouts. You can get the 150ml First Cleanse Oil bottle for 14.93£ – remember to make use of the Black Friday Sale 2020!
I’m not going to lie, it took me a bit of time to get used to the somewhat “pungent” smell of the Bravura London Purifying Gel Cleanser – but, now I’m pretty much obsessed with it! It’s really difficult to find a cleanser that works to combat blemishes and oiliness, yet isn’t too harsh to the skin. Like so many of us these days, I’ve been battling with awful breakouts, mainly white heads galore, in my chin area thanks to constant mask-wearing. If you, like me, are in need of a really good “maskne cleanser”, this is a great pick.
Here is the full list of ingredients for the Bravura London Purifying Gel Cleanser:
Aloe Vera Gel, Decyl Polyglucose, Glycolic Acid (7%), Salicylic Acid , Cocomidopropyl Betaine, Dimethicone, Yeast Extract (Vitamin B), Sodium PCA, Glycerin, SD Alcohol 40, Lactic Acid, Watercress Extract, Papain, Bromelain, Lavender Extract, Soap Wort Extract, Camphor, Sodium Hydroxide, Guar Gum, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Benzoate.”
As you can tell from the ingredient list, this cleanser contains glycolic (7%), lactic and salicylic acid, so it’s a great way to use these acids without causing too much irritation risk, given that you rinse the cleanser off again. The base for the cleanser is aloe vera gel, a great humectant, and it doesn’t contain any harsh surfactants. I really notice a soothing effect on my inflamed chin area in particular whenever I use this, and it manages to cleanse deeply without being stripping. Salicylic acid cleansers are great when you struggle with blemishes, breakouts and blackheads – and, well, that pesky maskne!
You can purchase the 160ml bottle Bravura London Purifying Gel Cleanser for 15.44£.
Bravura London review: The Chemical Exfoliators
No doubt the “crown jewels” of the brand, the Bravura London chemical exfoliants are probably what intrigued me the most when I first noticed their products. I received a trio of higher dosage peelings: the Glycolic Acid 10%, the Lactic Acid 10% and the Salicylic Acid 2%.
So, let’s start with the peeling that I – in all honesty – have used the least overall, mostly because higher dosage glycolic acid and I aren’t the best of friends. Most people tolerate glycolic acid well, but for me this AHA works best in low percentages, sparsely used. The Bravura London Glycolic Acid 10% peeling is a watery peeling solution that comes in a green, frosted glass drop applicator bottle.
Here is the full list of ingredients for the Bravura London Glycolic Acid 10%:
“Distilled Water, Lavender Water, Glycolic Acid, Glycerin, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Hydroxide, Hydroxyethyl Cellulose.”
Short and sweet, right? All of the chemical exfoliants have such a minimalist ingredient approach, focusing mainly on supporting and enhancing the effectiveness of the AHAs and BHAs contained in the formula. I have actually been using a few drops of the glycolic acid on my scalp these past weeks, and it works so well as a way to gently remove dead skin from my often flaky scalp. I am also currently experimenting with using a drop or two on my armpits every other night, which fights those nasty bacterias that cause sweat to smell, and also keeps that area nice and smooth.
Glycolic acid is also a wonderful anti-aging treatment, great for anyone struggling with fine lines, dull or tired-looking skin, as well as flakiness – the 10% are still gentle enough to work for most people, though if you are an acid newbie, I’d advise for you to go slowly when you use it on your face. Start with 2 times per week and see how well your skin can tolerate the acid, and don’t forget to use a daily sunscreen of course, since chemical exfoliation reveals new skin that will be more sensitive to the sun.
You can purchase the 30ml Bravura London Glycolic Acid 10% Peel bottle for 9.88£ – make sure to check out all the helpful tips on how to use this or any of the other acids they offer provided on the site.
For me personally, the Bravura London Lactic Acid 10% peeling, with its lovely magenta-coloured bottle, was probably my favourite chemical exfoliant out of the trio I’ve tried! I have a deep love for lactic acid, which is a very gentle AHA due to its larger molecular size. Not only does lactic acid exfoliate very gently, it also has humectant properties, and thus isn’t as drying as some concentrated acids can potentially be.
Here is the list of ingredients for the Bravura London Lactic Acid 10%:
“Purified Water, Rose Floral Water, Lactic Acid, Glycerin, Hydroxyethyl Cellulose, Sodium Hydroxide and Sodium Citrate.”
A dosage of 10% sounds high, but I personally tolerate it very well despite being pretty sensitive towards AHAs. Again though, be gentle and careful when you start a new active – just patiently work up your tolerance bit by bit. Developing a good skincare routine that incorporates actives is a marathon, not a sprint! Lactic Acid is a great choice if you are new to chemical peels, and for anyone with dry or sensitive skin. I also find that this AHA gives a really beautiful glow to the skin, and helps freshen up a tired complexion.
The 30ml Bravura London Lactic Acid 10% Peel bottle is available for 9.88£.
Now, as for the last peeling liquid in the trio, the Bravura London Salicylic Acid 2% – this BHA is a perfect fit for anyone with oily, blemish-prone skin, great also for any areas where you struggle with maskne breakouts. BHA is a lipophilic acid, so it dissolves oils and thus can clean out sebum “gunk” trapped in our pores. It also works as an anti-inflammatory and has antibacterial properties, which is why it’s such an effective treatment for acne sufferers.
Here is the list of ingredients for the Bravura London Salicylic Acid 2%:
“Distilled Water, Salicylic acid, Propylene Glycol, Hexylene Glycol, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Hydroxide.”
Routine-wise, I use about 3-4 drops of the Bravura London Lactic Acid 10% all over my face and even my neck, and then add two drops of the Salicylic Acid 2% on my nose and chin area to treat those annoying pimples and blackheads in those areas. Since using this combo about 3 times per week I’ve noticed my skin looking super glowy and plump, and I swear my nose blackheads have significantly decreased.
I have tried both the Paula’s Choice BHA Liquid as well as the currently unavailable The Ordinary 2% Salicylic Acid peeling, and neither of those had the same noticeable results for me. I honestly am not sure what the secret to this is, but for some reason, it works effectively in a way no other BHA product has for me, which I’m super happy about! The water-like texture also feels much nicer on the skin compared to the oddly “oily” Paula’s Choice BHA, or the sticky mess that was that The Ordinary peeling, though I guess this comes down to personal preference.
You can purchase the Bravura London Salicylic Acid 2% Peel for 9.88£ for the 30ml bottle.
Bravura London – Ginseng Toner, Hyaluronic Acid Serum, Azulene Moisturiser
I am so excited to talk about what may be my favourite product from Bravura London: the Revitalising Ginseng Toner! When I browsed the brand website, I instantly zoomed in on this exfoliating toner, given that ginseng is one of my favourite skincare ingredients, very popular in Korean skincare aimed at mature skin. Ginseng extract is said to have a firming and circulation-boosting effect on the skin, which helps to diminish the appearance of fine lines and plump up sagging skin.
Now, combine this with the exfoliating goodness of AHAs and you have a great toner that happens to be an amazing alternative to the Pixi Glow Tonic. As I’ve mentioned earlier, glycolic acid and I aren’t always the best of friends, but the 5% contained in this toner are usually the sweet spot for me, and I didn’t have any issues with using this once to twice a week.
Here is the full list of ingredients for the Bravura London Revitalising Ginseng Toner:
Purified Water, Aloe Vera, Witch Hazel, Horse Chestnut Extracts, Glycolic Acid and Ammonium Glycolate, Glycerin, Glucose, Fructose, Sucrose, Urea, Dextrin, Alanine, Glutamic Acid, Hexyl Nicotinate, Ginseng Extract, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Benzoate, Biotin, Polysorbate 20, Fragrant Oil.”
The toner smells delicious, sweet but not cloying, a lovely honey-floral scent. It really does a great job preparing my skin for any following treatments, and especially hydrating serums seem to penetrate deeper into skin after using the toner first. You can either purchase the full-sized 150ml toner bottle for 12.77£ or a smaller 30ml trial size for 3.71£. Use this after cleansing with a reusable or cotton pad and gently swipe over the face.
I was sceptical about the Bravura London Hyaluronic Acid Serum, since I’m pretty particular about my HA serums! Especially this year, these hydrating serums focused on the star humectant hyaluronic acid seem to just pop up all around us, don’t they. But, well, as someone who has tried a multitude of them, I have to say that “not all HA serums are created equal”, no matter how similar the INCI list may read at first. Formula, texture, feel – these things matter so much when it comes to a “simple” hydrating serum.
Here is the full of list of ingredients for the Bravura London Hyaluronic Acid Serum:
“Sodium hyaluronate (Hyaluronic Acid Sodium Salt), Distilled water infused with Witch Hazel and Aloe Vera, Propylene Glycol (and) Diazolidinyl Urea (and) Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate.”
Well, what can I say – I like this HA serum, a lot! The transparent gel layers beautifully in-between toners and moisturisers, and also works great if you are following the “double serum” trend. For winter, I love to layer the Bravura London Hyaluronic Acid Serum with a facial oil, followed by another hydrating serum – try this awesome combo for a maximum moisture boost to your skin! The Bravura London serum feels refreshing and helps combat dehydration without overwhelming skin, thus it is perfect for sensitised skin types, as well as those of us with normal to oilier skin. I also think this could be a wonderful serum for younger skin to start getting into a very easy, relaxed first “good aging” routine.
Can we just all take a moment and admire the deeply appealing, deep blue texture of the Bravura London Azulene Moisturiser? Azulene is such a wonderful skincare ingredient, very popular in K-beauty. Won from either German blue chamomile or blue tansy, in rare cases also from certain blue-tinted mushrooms, azulene is an organic dye that also happens to have a number of amazing skin benefits. Especially sensitive skin will find products that contain azulene soothing, due to its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and calming properties.
Here is the full list of ingredients for the Bravura London Azulene Moisturiser:
“Aloe Vera Gel, Safflower Oil, Stearic Acid, Cetyl Alcohol, Dimethicone, Sodium Alginate, Hops Extract, Rosemary Leaves Extract, Sage Leaves Extract, Hazelnut Oil, Wheat Germ Oil, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Sodium PCA, Triethanolamine, Avocado Oil, Azulene, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A), Ascorbyl Palmitate, d-Panthenol, Ginseng Extract, Allantoin, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Citric Acid.”
The lovely blue tint of this light, balmy cream comes from the azulene of course, a natural colorant. Hydration is provided by the added aloe vera gel and a number of plant oils, among them safflower, wheat germ, avocado and the amazing hazelnut oil, a great oil that has a pleasantly light texture and feel. Panthenol is another great skin-soother that works in perfect synergy with azulene (Korean brands often combine these two in their cica skincare lines), and ginseng extract adds some great anti aging benefits.
I love to use this cream at nighttime, sometimes as my main moisturiser and sometimes as a sort of “sleeping cream”, as a last layer to seal in all the goodness from the previous products, and to calm any aggravated areas on my face (again, mostly in the area where it was covered by a mask). The Azulene Moisturiser works best for normal to oily skin, as it may be a bit too light for dryer skin types, who may do better with the richer Collagen Moisturising Cream.
You can purchase the 50ml Bravura London Azulene Moisturiser jar for 10.20£ – this is a crazy good price in my opinion for such a wonderful cream!
Bravura London – Get Your Black Friday Wish List Ready!
I am so happy to have discovered this gem of an indie brand, with an eco-conscious, animal-friendly ethos and really well-formulated, unique skincare on offer. My favourites are, no doubt, the amazing Revitalising Ginseng Toner, the two cleansers and that deliciously-textured Azulene Moisturiser. But honestly, I enjoyed all of the products I’ve tried from Bravura London, and will most definitely keep using them (watch for them appearing on my Instagram profile on the regular).
The best thing? Bravura London is having their big 24h Black Friday Sale for 2020 this Friday, 27 Nov, with 25% discounts on everything excluding sets, sale items and pump accessories. Due to covid, some restrictions regarding shipping apply, so make sure to check this blog article for further details.
Let me know in the comments: Have you tried anything from this brand yet? Which products intrigue you the most?
Take care guys, and stay safe!