Topicals Skincare Review: The WOC-Owned Beauty Brand That Sold Out at Nordstrom in 48 Hours

Topicals Like Butter Moisturizer/Mask and Faded Serum

I’ve long been told not to judge a skincare product by its packaging (that’s how the saying goes, right?), but I also know that things with ugly packaging stay on the shelf. And when it comes to lackluster-looking products, traditional topical treatments seem to take the cake.

It’s an unfortunate truth, given that one in four Americans live with chronic skin diseases (think psoriasis, rosacea, etc.,) many of which are best managed with a derm-prescribed topical.

Yes, there are endless, ridiculously chic exfoliators and serums and even sunscreens, but few—if any—of them directly meet the needs of people with chronic skin issues. As a longtime sufferer of acne and hyperpigmentation, I’ve felt a little embarrassed and even ashamed whipping out my very boring, very medical tube of Epiduo.

Why are topical treatments so dull and taboo, when the rest of beauty is fun and exciting?

Enter Topicals Skincare (aka My Topicals on Instagram) a new beauty line focused on making the treatment of stigmatized skin conditions feel fun and luxurious. Equally excited and impressed, I knew I had to put these products to the test.

Read on for a detailed Topicals Skincare review.

Topicals Skincare Background

Meet Olamide Olowe, 23, and Claudia Teng, 24, co-founders of Topicals, the new skincare line seeking to transform the way Gen Z feels about skin. After both growing up with chronic skin issues, Olowe and Teng wanted a way to make the treatment of stigmatized skin conditions fun and luxurious.

Topicals co-founders Claudia Teng (left) and Olamide Olowe (right)

But Topicals is about much more than just making skin look good—it’s all about transforming the way we feel about skin and redefining beauty through a more realistic lens. Their science-backed, dermatologist-approved products are also ridiculously good-looking.

The hope is that chic packaging and insta-worthy aesthetics will make for products that users can feel proud of, in turn normalizing the reality of living with a chronic skin condition (and maybe even making flare ups a bit more fun.)

This dedication to de-stigmatization is mirrored in their philanthropic efforts to support mental health advocacy, which include a pledge to donate 1% of profits to various mental health organizations. Topicals also partnered with the JED Foundation at launch.

Topicals’ debut featured two products:

  • Like Butter, a thick, whipped mask for dry, distressed, and eczema-prone skin
  • Faded, a serum for discoloration and dark spots. All products are fragrance-free, dye-free, vegan, and cruelty-free

Topicals Skincare Faded Review

Topicals Faded Serum for hyperpigmentation

Best For:

Anyone dealing with stubborn scars, marks, and/or spots. Faded claims to be suitable for all skin types, but my skin isn’t necessarily sensitive or reactive so I can’t exactly stand behind that statement.

What Does Topicals Faded Do?

Faded uses a mix of exfoliating acids and niacinamide to brighten tired skin, smooth out rough texture, and balance skin tone.

It’s also formulated with licorice root, which helps break down deposits of excess pigment in the skin; centella asiatica leaf extract, which helps accelerate wound healing and collagen production; and melatonin, which fights free radicals.


Faded costs $36 for a 1.7 fl oz/50 mL tube. You can purchase both Faded and Like Butter as a duo for $56 on

How to Use Topicals Faded:

I use Faded the same way I’d use any other product with active ingredients. 2-3 times a week, I squeeze out a pea-sized amount of product and massage it onto cleansed, dry skin until it’s fully absorbed.

I’ll usually apply my holy grail Great Barrier Relief serum before Faded, just because it gives me a little added protection against any irritation.

The Results:

So, this thing absolutely reeks. But it’s kind of a catch-22 situation.

Faded is super pungent because for two main reasons: it’s fragrance-free, which makes the product far gentler than it would be with any added fragrance; and it uses medical grade actives, which tend to be quite…fragrant.

So, yes, I do gag every time I squeeze the tube, but the scent quickly disappears, and I’m willing to suck it up in the name of clear skin. (A side note just to say that a lot of really amazing beauty products tend to smell less-than-pleasant, like the best-selling Vitamin C serum that people love despite its “hot dog water” scent. You know the one.)

Once I got over the stench, I was pleasantly surprised by the smooth, creamy texture. That thicker consistency makes for super supple skin that stays plump into the following morning.

topicals skincare faded review
A close-up of the texture. I would describe it as a gel cream (and not as thick as an ointment.)

I was slightly worried that slathering on something that smelled that putrid would irritate my skin, but it’s done the exact opposite—my skin feels soft and smooth, and I’ve had no new breakouts since I added Faded to my rotation.

I’ve dealt with some subtle (but stubborn) texture on my forehead for years. Nothing had ever really helped it, and I’m always far more preoccupied with dark spots and active acne, so I’ve largely ignored the texture.

Faded definitely helped lighten up my acne scarring, which is a win on its own for me. But, even more impressive, it smoothed out all that texture on my forehead, which, in turn, has allowed me to wear less makeup and let my skin breathe.

An important note: Shea butter, which can be problematic for acne-prone skin, is pretty high up on the ingredient list. That being said, my own acne-prone skin has no problems with shea butter, but it’s definitely good to know.

Topicals Skincare Like Butter Review

Topicals Like Butter moisturizer/mask

Best For:

Dry, sensitive, irritated, and/or eczema-prone skin.

What Does Topicals Like Butter Do?

Like Butter restores dry, flaky skin, fortifies damaged moisture barriers, and helps sooth sensitive and stressed skin.

The ingredient list is packed with naturally soothing, anti-inflammatory ingredients like turmeric, colloidal oatmeal, green tea extract, and ginseng root.


Like Butter costs $32 for a 1.7 fl oz/50 mL tube. You can purchase both Faded and Like Butter as a duo for $56.

How to Use Topicals Like Butter:

Like Butter reminds me of Summer Friday’s Jet Lag Mask, in that both can be used in a myriad of ways.

Apply as a mask and leave on for at least 20 minutes or apply a pea-sized amount (like, less than you think!) to cleansed, dry skin and use as a moisturizer.

The Results:

Like Butter isn’t really like butter—and I mean that in the best way possible. There’s no greasy residue or heavy feeling like butter usually has.

While the cream is definitely thick, it doesn’t feel cloying or overwhelming. It actually feels super nice on the skin, more like a mousse than butter. It’s instantly soothing and seeps into the skin, creating a dewy, supple base.

I found my face a little slippery when I wore it under foundation, but that might be more due to the fact that I didn’t wait for the moisturizer to fully seep in and was sweating fairly soon after application.

Beyond that, it gave me a nice glowing-from-inside look. I think it’d work even better with makeup during the winter, when skin is prone to more dryness.

I really loved applying this before bed, because it really works more like an overnight mask than a moisturizer.

On the mornings after I applied Like Butter the night before, I wake up with plump, fresh-looking skin rather than my usual lackluster complexion.

Final Verdict: Is Topicals Skincare Worth It?

No doubt, Topicals’ first launches set the brand up for long-term success. Just from a branding perspective, they really nailed it.

Not only are the products beautiful, but they’re beautiful for a reason. There’s a compelling backstory, a clear mission, and an overt dedication to their cause—it focuses beyond products and really aims to make a cultural change in the world.

It’s a genius idea (how has no one else thought of making topical treatments cute!?) and very well-executed. It’s exciting to see a company led by young women of color succeed, and I love supporting a brand that shares the same values as I do.

Are their products perfect? No, but they’re damn close. While their packaging is adorable (and I love me a crinkly tube) I don’t love that the serum and moisturizer/mask are in the exact same type of tube—I think it makes it really easy to use one of the products in the totally wrong way.

Also, due to the tiny size of the caps, it’s hard to make the tubes stand up vertically in my medicine cabinet. That being said, I appreciate the compact, no frills approach to packaging. The products are sleek, chic, and fun without adding on any bells or whistles. I’m a fan.

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