As Supreme is to hypebeasts everywhere, the Topicals Faded gel and Like Butter mask have become almost collectors items in the skin care space. Despite only launching during the summer last year, Topicals has quickly developed a cult-like following and is rarely in stock—both on it’s own website and on other retailers’. In fact, the brand landed on Sephora.com this week and promptly sold out in just 45 minutes.
The brand—which only consists of two products at the moment—is worth the hype. I was personally drawn to it thanks to its hyper-targeted products (one for acne and dark marks, one for eczema) and mission to make skin flare-ups fun. No preachy skin-positivity to be found, the brand is all about working with what you’ve got, and making the most of breakouts and flare-ups, societal expectations be damned. Plus, the packaging is cute as hell and looks fab on Instagram and in my bathroom. And the fact that it’s founded by two women of color under 25 years old is the icing on top of the cake.
There’s also the fact that the products are insanely good. I’ve been using Topicals Faded gel since the brand launched, and it’s one of the best things I’ve tried all year (let alone while testing for the Glamour Beauty Awards). As the name implies, the gel-serum’s main mission is to gently fade dark marks and acne scars, but it can also be used to fight off any active acne you have going on. A combination of kojic, azelaic, and tranexamic acids are where the product gets most of its fading powers from, while niacinamide fights inflammation and evens skin tone, cica calms, and licorice root brightens. (Topicals has an excellent breakdown of exactly what each ingredient does on its website if you’re curious.)
I’m currently dealing with both active acne and a constellation of red marks from years-old breakouts. The scars are all pretty much all over my face, but the clusters concentrated on each cheek from a particularly painful breakout are what bother me the most. The brand recommends using Faded daily all over your face, but since I’m on a prescription acne topical that combines retinol and benzoyl peroxide, I use it it about three times a week only on my scars as not to overwhelm my face. I’ve never experience any irritation or purging, but know that it is an intense product. I’d recommend easing into it by using it a few times a week and building up to every day, just to be safe.
Be warned that since the product contains sulfur and is fragrance-free, it smells a little crazy. As in, I gagged the first time I opened the tube. After a few uses I got used to it, and I know the brand has since reformulated so it’s less of a strong scent, but still, it’s something to be aware of.
However, it’s worth it, I promise. Over the past six months or so I’ve been using Faded by Topicals on and off, I’ve noticed a significant lightening of many of my scars. They aren’t totally gone, but they are way less noticeable, which is incredible for marks that old. The real proof is in the before and after photos: I took these shots of a newer scar three weeks apart, after using the gel about three times a week. The mark is still fading, but the difference is pretty undeniable. (And looks even more clear in person—shout out to New York City apartment lighting.)
At only $36, it’s an easy price to pay for feeling a little better in my own skin, that is if I can get my hands on a tube.
Looking for more incredible product recommendations? Check out all 265 winners from the 2021 Glamour Beauty Awards.
Bella Cacciatore is the beauty associate at Glamour. Follow her on Instagram @bellacacciatore_.