I Was Beyond Excited When Fenty Skin Launched, so I Got Derms to Weigh In on It


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By now, you may or may not have tried at least a few things from Rihanna's Fenty Skin. At the time of its release, not only did our team's Slack channel go crazy for this news, but I was also personally so excited at the prospect of skincare from the queen herself.

Now, I'm no stranger to the trend of celebrities slapping their names on skincare, makeup, and haircare lines. It happens all the time, and it's not always good. But after seeing successful launches from celebs such as Tracee Ellis Ross, Miranda Kerr, and more, I'm not at all jaded on the topic. Not to mention that as a die-hard Fenty Beauty fan, I just knew Rihanna wouldn't bring subpar skincare products to the table.

You can also then imagine my dismay when I discovered less-than-favorable reviews of the brand's three key products: Total Cleans'r Remove It All Cleanser ($26), Fat Water Pore-Refining Toner Serum ($30), and Hydra Vizor Invisible Moisturizer ($38). I saw influencer after influencer calling out the ingredients, bashing the scent, and generally piling on in ways I hardly could have expected. Even though I'm always fully ready to give Rihanna the benefit of the doubt (even when it comes to the album we've all been waiting on for years—give it to us, sis!), I knew it was a good idea to get some expert advice on the matter. So I flipped through my Rolodex of experts and landed on two badass female derms to get their honest opinions on all things Fenty Skin.

Here to answer my burning questions are board-certified dermatologists Jenny Liu, MD, FAAD, assistant professor for the department of dermatology at the University of Minnesota Medical School, and Sheila Farhang, MD, founder of Avant Dermatology and Aesthetics. Read on for their expert opinions, and keep scrolling to see what our beauty editors think too.

What the Experts Have to Say


(Image credit: @badgalriri)

What are your thoughts on celebrities launching skincare lines? In your experience, are they well-formulated?

JL: I have no strong opinion. However, in my opinion, products are rarely formed with dermatologists on the team. That would be my only concern.

SF: I don’t think there is a one-size-fits-all answer. I think some celebrities really put thought into their brands and focus on ingredients, formulation, production, distribution, while others shortcut for speed, profit, and mass production. People on the internet are huge critics, so celebrities have a lot of pressure to do it right. The one bad thing is skincare isn’t really regulated, so claims can be made without any research.

One of the biggest criticisms of Fenty Skin has to do with a lot of the products having fragrance in them. Can you outline the most common dangers associated with scent or fragrance in skincare products and any common reactions that can occur? 

JL: Fragrance is one of the most common culprits for allergic contact dermatitis, especially for those with sensitive skin. Eczema-like rashes can develop and often do not go away despite treatment due to the exposure. It takes only one exposure every three weeks to keep the reaction going.

SF: Okay, people are rough on RiRi about this one. Yes, as dermatologists, we generally recommend fragrance-free products because many people (including myself) who have sensitive skin get increased irritation or rashes from products with fragrance. We usually recommend to keep it out so we are safe from skin irritation across the board. However, not everyone’s skin is sensitive to fragrance. Overall, I think fragrance just limits the number of people who can use it. I think it would be smart of [Rihanna] to create an extension of her line for those with sensitive skin. 


(Image credit: @badgalriri)

Another big criticism is that the Fat Water Toner Serum contains witch hazel as an ingredient. What are the risks associated with including witch hazel in a skincare product? What are the benefits?

JL: Witch hazel is a common ingredient found in astringents and toners. It can cause burning, contact dermatitis, redness, and irritation of the skin. It does have anti-inflammatory effects, which may be helpful in treating bites, stings, and acne.

SF: I actually don’t recommend toners to my patients unless they have super-oily skin. Witch hazel is from a plant, an antioxidant, and used for its drying and pore-shrinking effects. The other ingredients help soothe and improve the skin barrier that may have been disrupted by witch hazel. I love that she used niacinamide in her line! It's one of my favorite ingredients to improve the skin's moisture barrier, tone, and texture.

Which skin types are most susceptible to irritation from fragrances in skincare? From witch hazel? 

JL: I personally do not like highly scented products and definitely do not recommend to those with sensitive and eczema-prone skin or those who have a known history of contact dermatitis.

SF: Those with sensitive skin or eczema [are most susceptible to irritation from] fragrances. Those with dry or sensitive skin for witch hazel.

If a client came into your office and told you they were using this skincare line, would you sign off on that choice? Why or why not?

JL: I haven't tried myself so cannot say for sure, but I'm not a big fan of fragranced products. I also evaluate all products based on research, so I would need to look at that first if it even exists.

SF: Again, if someone doesn’t really have problematic skin—no acne, no drying, no sensitivity—then I’d say it’s fine. But it’s not all-inclusive. Skincare requires fine-tuning based on the person's needs and concerns.


(Image credit: @badgalriri)

Editor Reviews

Courtney Higgs, Beauty Editor


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(Image credit: @court_higgs)

Erin Jahns, Senior Beauty Editor


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(Image credit: @erin_jahns)

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This article was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated.

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Associate Beauty Editor

Courtney Higgs is a Cancer sun, Libra rising beauty enthusiast with about six years of experience in the editorial space. She was previously Who What Wear's associate beauty editor after spending many years working on the West Coast edit team at InStyle Magazine. She graduated from California State University, Northridge, with a BA in communication studies and pivoted to editorial after spending her college years working in the legal field. Her beauty philosophy is simple: She believes there are no wrong answers and that discovering our favorite beauty products and rituals is a journey, not a sprint. When she's not geeking out over products, she can be found adventuring around L.A. with her fiancé; watching reality TV with their French bulldog, Bernie Mac; or relating way too hard to astrology memes.