Esi Eggleston-Bracey and Sarah Irby, beauty industry veterans at Unilever, were inspired to create Melé after they noticed a lack of skincare specific to women of color.
This realization brought together a team of Unilever scientists, dermatologists of color, and real people in the community to develop a brand to promote and protect the beauty of melanin-rich skin.
In this review, we’ll cover the Melé skincare products in detail, including the key ingredients and the research that supports (or doesn’t support) their use in skincare.
We’ll also share some Melé skincare reviews from real customers so that you can get an idea of how well they perform. Let’s get started!
What Are The Top 7 Best Melé Skincare Products?
At the time of writing this review, the Melé skincare collection consists of just 7 products, and we’ll give you the details on each one below.
Melé Gentle Hydrating Cleansing Gel
This is a gel cleanser with a pretty basic formula. Like most cleansers, the key ingredients in this formula are surfactants, such as potassium cocoyl glycinate and disodium cocoamphodiacetate.
A surfactant molecule contains one end that is hydrophilic (attracted to water) and one end that is lipophilic (attracted to oil). This allows surfactants to attract and suspend oils, dirt, and other impurities that have accumulated on the skin and wash them away, leaving the skin clean.
Despite “gentle” being in the name of this product, we have to point out that the formula contains synthetic fragrance ingredients that have the potential to cause skin sensitivity reactions.
Bottom Line: A basic gel cleanser that uses surfactants to remove makeup and impurities, but keep in mind that the formula contains fragrance.
Melé Even Tone Post Cleanse Tonic
This mild, non-stinging daily toner is designed to be used after cleansing in order to remove impurities and exfoliate skin’s surface by polishing away dead cells. This is accomplished with 5% lactic acid, a type of alpha hydroxy acid (AHA).
The brand claims that vitamin C is a key ingredient, however, the formula actually contains a very low concentration of vitamin C (less than 1%).
We know this because on the ingredient list (which is in order of descending concentrations) vitamin C is listed after phenoxyethanol. Phenoxyethanol is a preservative that cannot be used in concentrations of more than 1%.
Vitamin C is an ingredient that can be used in pretty high concentrations in skincare. One product that comes to mind is The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension, which contains a whopping 30% vitamin C!
Considering there’s such a low concentration of vitamin C in the Post Cleanse Tonic, we wouldn’t expect this ingredient to provide much, if any, benefit.
Of note, this Melé skincare product contains artificial dyes and synthetic fragrance.
Bottom Line: An exfoliating toner that uses 5% lactic acid to remove dull, dead skin cells, revealing a more even toned, brighter complexion.
Melé Even Dark Spot Control Serum
If you’re struggling with hyperpigmentation, you’ve probably tried your fair share of dark spot correctors. So is the Melé Even Dark Spot Control Serum really any different than the others on the market? Yes and no. After evaluating the formula, we noticed that this serum contains some pretty common ingredients that you’ll find in many dark spot correctors, such as niacinamide, hexylresorcinol, and retinyl propionate.
Niacinamide is especially beneficial for correcting dark spots. According to a publication in theBritish Journal of Dermatology, niacinamide can reduce hyperpigmentation by inhibiting melanosome transfer from melanocytes to keratinocytes. In simpler terms, this means that melanin (pigment) won’t be transferred to skin cells called keratinocytes. The result is fewer dark spots.
Plus, niacinamide is known to benefit the skin in several additional ways. For example, a publication in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, states that niacinamide can repair the skin barrier and improve skin moisture, as well as reduce inflammation, blotchiness, excess oil, and wrinkling.
While this dark spot corrector contains beneficial ingredients, we have to point out that the formula is packed with synthetic fragrance ingredients and artificial dyes that aren’t doing your skin any favors.
Bottom Line: A dark spot corrector with common ingredients like niacinamide, hexylresorcinol, and retinyl propionate that should help to fade dark spots and brighten skin tone, but keep in mind that the formula contains synthetic fragrance and artificial dyes.
Melé Smooth Pore Minimizing Serum
Melanin-rich skin can appear oilier and pores may seem more visible, which is why it’s a good idea to look for mattifying products, such as Melé’s Smooth Pore Minimizing Serum.
The brand points out that the formula contains “13% Blur Technology”. While we can’t say for certain what they mean by this, we’re assuming it has something to do with the highest concentration ingredient in this formula (after water), which is the silicone dimethicone/vinyl dimethicone crosspolymer.
Silicones are multi-tasking ingredients that provide many benefits. For instance, you’ll notice that this serum has a soft, silky texture that glides on skin effortlessly, and you can thank silicones for that.
Additionally, silicones help to “blur” the look of fine lines and wrinkles, minimize the appearance of pores, and create a matte finish to keep shine at bay. They also help even out skin texture and allow makeup to go on smoother and last longer, making Melé’s Smooth Pore Minimizing Serum ideal to use as a makeup-gripping primer under foundation when you want a little more coverage.
As for the ingredients that provide long-term benefits in this formula, you’ll find skin-brightening niacinamide, an anti-aging peptide, and skin-nourishing rose hip extract.
Bottom Line: A mattifying serum that uses silicones to create a matte finish while disguising lines, wrinkles, and pores.
Melé Dew The Most Sheer Moisturizer SPF 30
Did you know that melanin is a natural sun protector equal to an SPF of 13? While having a darker skin tone gives you some natural protection against the sun’s rays, it’s not enough to protect you from UVA and UVB damage, the light in your office, or even the blue light from your computer screen.
Melé Dew the Most Sheer Moisturizer blends without a trace to deliver hydration and protection from UV and blue light. The formula combines two chemical sunscreen ingredients — avobenzone and octinoxate — to provide broad spectrum SPF 30 protection.
We love that the formula also includes 3% niacinamide to help fade dark spots, combat acne, and strengthen the skin barrier.
Bottom Line: A lightweight sunscreen that provides broad spectrum SPF 30 protection while also protecting against blue light.
Melé Plump It Up Nourishing Cream
This non-greasy cream consists of a blend of emollients and humectants to help draw moisture into the skin, creating a soft, smooth appearance.
It absorbs quickly and feels silky on your skin for a velvety smooth finish. And like many of the other Melé skincare products, the formula contains the multi-tasking ingredient niacinamide.
Unfortunately, this is another product that contains synthetic fragrance ingredients and artificial dyes.
Bottom Line: A non-greasy cream that moisturizes, softens, and brightens skin.
Melé No Shade Sunscreen Oil SPF 30
This is another sunscreen in the Melé skincare collection, but this one differs from Dew The Most Sheer Moisturizer SPF 30 in that it’s an oil, not a cream. Despite being an oil, you’ll notice that it absorbs quickly without feeling greasy or leaving behind any residue.
This formula contains the same chemical sunscreen ingredients — avobenzone and octinoxate — to provide broad spectrum SPF 30 protection. The rest of the formula consists of emollients and silicones to soften the skin.
Bottom Line: A lightweight oil that provides broad spectrum SPF 30 protection while also softening and moisturizing the skin.
What Are The Key Ingredients in Melé Skincare Products?
The idea behind Melé skincare is to formulate products specifically for melanin-rich skin, but we noticed that there isn’t anything particularly unique about these formulations. For example, the Melé skincare products contain pretty common ingredients that you’ll find used by nearly every other skincare brand on the market, such as:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
Now don’t get us wrong, there’s nothing wrong with these ingredients. In fact, they are all excellent skincare ingredients that have plenty of research to support their benefits.
We’re simply pointing out that we didn’t notice anything particularly unique about these product formulations that sets them apart from others on the market.
And we can’t ignore the fact that all Melé skincare products contain synthetic fragrance ingredients and artificial dyes.
The use of synthetic fragrance ingredients can be a problem because the brand can use a proprietary blend of chemicals to create the fragrance. On average, this consists of 30 to 50 chemicals (but it can have as much as 200 components).
Want to know the worst part? The brand does not have to disclose which chemicals they use on the label. They are allowed to list this blend as “Fragrance (Parfum)” on the ingredient list.
Furthermore, a 2018 study by Women’s Voices for the Earth discovered that in over 3,000 chemicals reportedly used for fragrances, 1,242 were chemicals of concern – and that included at least 7 possible carcinogenic (cancer-causing) agents.
Fragrance ingredients also have the potential to cause skin irritation and sensitivity.
How Much Do Melé Skincare Products Cost?
Melé skincare products are pretty affordable, with the prices being comparable to higher end drugstore brands such as Olay and Burt’s Bees. For example, the Plump It Up Nourishing Cream costs $18.99 USD on Target.com.
Where to Buy Melé Skincare Products?
Melé skincare products are not sold on the brand’s website. You must buy Melé skincare products on third party online retailers, such as Amazon, Target, Ulta, and Walgreens.
What is The Melé Return Policy?
Melé does not have a return policy on their website since they do not sell products on their website and, therefore, don’t accept returns.
Is Melé Skincare Cruelty Free?
Melé skincare is not cruelty free because the brand is owned by Unilever, a company that tests on animals.
Melé Skincare Reviews
Melé skincare reviews on the brand’s website are overall very positive. The product with the most reviews is Melé Plump It Up Nourishing Cream, which has earned an average rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars after nearly 3,000 customer reviews.
Most of these reviews are from people who received this product for free in exchange for a review. Let’s take a closer look at what customers think.
The positive reviews for the Melé Plump It Up Nourishing Cream mention that it moisturizes well and helps to promote softer skin.
For example, one review says, “As soon as I put this on my skin, my skin was instantly moisturized and it lasted all day. Consistency wasn’t too thick or too thin. It wasn’t harsh on my skin. I was a first time user. I would recommend it.”
And another 5-star review says, “After trying Mele Plump It Up nourishing cream my skin had a positive reaction to it. My skin was a lot softer and gentler after trying it and it left my skin feeling good and moisturized but not too heavily moisturized where it feels heavy and like I have another layer of skin on my face. It is a light nourishing cream that doesn’t block pores or cause a buildup to create a breakout.”
However, there are a handful of negative reviews for the Melé Plump It Up Nourishing Cream from customers who found it to be too thick, greasy, and heavy, and many reviews note that it doesn’t absorb well.
For example, one review says, “Unfortunately, I didn’t have a good experience using this product. I have oily skin and I think this formula was too thick for my skin. It applied thick and heavy. It just sat on my skin and didn’t absorb into it. It almost felt like I had a thick film/layer over my skin. I also think it lead to some breakouts on my cheeks.”
And a similar review says, “Initially I was really excited to try this product since it is marketed for skin with melanin. I am sad to say that I really disliked this product. The moisturizer is a thicker consistency to what I am used to using and when I applied it to my skin it was like mixing water and oil. My skin just did not want to absorb the cream and instead I was left looking with a heavily oily face. The cream is also so thick/oily/greasy that it was difficult to remove AND it gave me some breakout issues.”
Overall, we don’t think there’s anything particularly unique about the Melé skincare products, and while the formulations contain evidence-based ingredients, we don’t recommend them due to the inclusion of synthetic fragrances in every product.
- Products contain evidence-based ingredients (niacinamide, vitamin E, peptides, etc.)
- Many positive Melé skincare reviews
- Melé skincare products contain synthetic fragrance ingredients and artificial dyes
- Melé skincare is not cruelty free
- Product formulations aren’t unique
What Are Some Alternatives to Melé Skincare Products?
If you’re looking for skincare products to address the signs of aging, one brand we recommend is Formulyst. Formulyst maximizes the use of powerful ingredients and minimizes the use of superficial ones, resulting in clinically advanced skin care solutions that help promote healthy, more youthful-looking skin.
For example, Formulyst’s Active Serum features a blend of antioxidant vitamins C and E, ferulic acid, niacinamide, and panthenol. This multi-tasking serum helps shield your skin from environmental assaults that age your skin. It’s the ultimate antioxidant formulation to help your skin look brighter, healthier, and more youthful.
Another brand that balances the power of plants with cutting edge science is Carrot & Stick. Not only is Carrot & Stick good for your skin, it is also good for the environment as the formulas skip harmful chemicals commonly found in skincare products.