Sunday Riley Review - The Dermatology Review

Sunday Riley Review



Sunday Riley is one of those rare brands that debuted with plenty of fanfare, and quickly became a cult favorite. Named after its founder, Sunday Riley is one of the buzziest brands around. It has devoted fans, breathless write ups and shelf space in some of the world’s best department stores, including Selfridges and Barneys. Here’s a closer look at Sunday Riley, some of its most popular products, and is it worth a try?

What are the Best Skin Care Products of 2021?

What Is Sunday Riley?

Sunday Riley was famous almost before it launched. In 2009 its founder, Sunday Riley, pitched the fledgling line to Barneys with just a few prototypes, including Good Genes, an exfoliator. According to Allure, the Barneys buyer suggested Riley name the collection after herself. The rest, as they say, is history. Riley used social media to spread the word and her skincare products quickly caught on. Today Sunday Riley sells skincare products as well as a scalp treatment and scented candles.

While the brand is certainly a cult favorite, it is not without controversy. In October 2019 Sunday Riley agreed to settle a Federal Trade Commission complaint that charged them writing fake product reviews. The FTC claimed the company was “misleading consumers by posting fake reviews of the company’s products on a major retailer’s website, at the CEO’s direction, and by failing to disclose that the reviewers were company employees.”

What is the Sunday Riley Philosophy?

The Sunday Riley motto is “Powered by science, backed by botanicals.” The brand states it uses “advanced, clinically proven ingredients blended with balancing botanicals, for non-irritating, fast-acting formulas.” Sunday Riley products are made in small batches and the company has “a commitment to produce clean formulas.” Sunday Riley products are scented with flower and plant extracts and oils, instead of artificial fragrances, and do not contain mineral oil and sulfate cleansers.

What Are The 7 Most Popular Sunday Riley Products?

Sunday Riley sells a wide range of skincare products, including moisturizers, exfoliators, eye creams and cleansers, along with a scalp treatment and candles.

 Arguably the best known product is the Sunday Riley Good Genes With Lactic Acid. Billing itself as an “all in one lactic acid treatment,” the product is designed to exfoliate the skin. It can be used as a mask or left on the skin overnight. The Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Oil contains the vitamin A derived retinol, which helps to encourage cell turnover and soften the look of fine lines. The addition of blue tansy and German chamomile are meant to help soothe the skin. THD ascorbate, a type of vitamin C that is meant to be stable and oil-soluble is the key ingredient in the Sunday Riley C.E.O 15% Vitamin C Serum. The serum is designed to help brighten the look of skin and help to fade dark spots.

Retinol is also the key ingredient in the Sunday Riley A+ High Dose Retinoid Serum. It contains a 6.5%  solution of a stabilized retinol blend along with CoQ10 and Hawaiian white honey. Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip Cleanser is a foaming gel cleanser made with rice, olive oil, and multiple types of clay. The oil free Sunday Riley Tidal Brightening Enzyme Water Cream contains two types of hyaluronic acid as well as papaya enzymes to help exfoliate the skin and zero in on dark spots. An oil based acne fighting product may sound like an oxymoron, but that is the concept behind the Sunday Riley U.F.O. Ultra-Clarifying Face Oil. The key ingredient is acne zapping salicylic acid, along with the antibacterial tea tree oil. Licorice helps to brighten the appearance of skin.

How Much Do Sunday Riley Products Cost?

Sunday Riley products range from a mid-price point to luxury. The Good Genes Lactic Acid treatment retails for $85 for one ounce, and $122 for 1.7 ounces. Luna Sleeping Night Oil is $55 for a half ounce jar, while the CEO Vitamin C Brightening Serum is $85. The Clean Rinse Clarifying Scalp Serum is $48, and the U.F.O. Ultra Clarifying Acne Treatment Face Oil is $40.

Is Sunday Riley Cruelty Free?

Yes. The company says it is cruelty-free, certified by PETA and Leaping Bunny. Most of the formulas are vegan (with the exception of those that use honey or beeswax), and all are vegetarian.

What Ingredients Are in Sunday Riley?

Sunday Riley products are formulated with a mix of botanicals as well as tried and true skincare ingredients, or as the company puts it, “Science-based formulations, backed by research and balanced by botanicals.” Sunday Riley states that its products create “positive and noticeable changes in the appearance of your skin” and the formulas are free from parabens, sulfate cleansers, phthalates, synthetic fragrance, mineral oil and petrolatum.

Some of the more commonly found ingredients in the Sunday Riley line include ceramides, which are lipids (fats), hyaluronic acid (a moisture magnet) and retinols. Ceramides are found in the Sunday Riley Ice Ceramide Moisturizing Cream, which is meant to deliver a big dose of moisture. As Sunday Riley herself explains in a video, the key ingredients are ceramides, fatty acids and cholesterol. Hyaluronic acid, which occurs naturally in the body, is famed for holding up to 1,000 times its weight in water. Two types of it are found in the Tidal Brightening Enzyme Water Cream, which also contains alpha arbutin (a plant extract) to help fade the look of dark spots, as well as papaya enzymes to help exfoliate the skin. The Water Cream formula also contains triglycerides (fatty acids), jojoba esters (an emollient) and several plant extracts, including turmeric, eggplant and basil.

The top ingredients in the Luna Sleeping Night Oil are oils- from avocado, grape, blackberry, chia, chamomile, blue tansy and neroli along with blood orange oil and ylang ylang. The last two ingredients are the color additives CI 61565 (GREEN 6) and CI 60725 (VIOLET 2).

The first three ingredients in the U.F.O. Ultra Clarifying Acne Treatment Face Oil are oils- including milk thistle, black cumin seed and cucumber seed. The formula contains 1.5% salicylic acid which is a commonly used ingredient to help tackle acne. It is derived from willow bark and is oil soluble, which means it can penetrate deeper into the skin and help to unclog pores. The Good Genes exfoliator comes in two versions- one with lactic acid, an alpha hydroxy acid, and one with glycolic acid. While both help to dissolve dead skin cells, the main difference is that glycolic acid is stronger than lactic acid; as Sunday Riley explains, glycolic Acid is the smallest AHA, which means that it penetrates deeper into the skin than other AHAs.

Where Can I Buy Sunday Riley ?

Sunday Riley is sold on its website and at retailers including Sephora, TheSkinStore, Ulta, and department stores including Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s.

Does Sunday Riley Work?

It’s easy to be swayed by the latest cult favorite product – but beauty is never a one size fits all approach. One person’s hero product may do nothing for you. One place to start when deciding whether to try something is with editorial reviews and awards. Sunday Riley products have scooped up plenty of awards. The Zoe Report named the Clarifying Scalp Serum an Editor Approved product in 2020, and the A+ High Dose Retinoid Serum won a 2020 New Beauty award. The cult-favorite Good Genes Lactic Acid was the winner of the best chemical exfoliator in the 2019 Byrdie Skincare Awards. The serum has also racked up mentions in Glamour, Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar.

Sunday Riley products do not use artificial fragrance but some users find the scent to be off putting. Refinery29 notes that the Sleeping Oil “smells uncannily like beef jerky” and asks this about the Good Genes Lactic Acid: “Does it smell like sour milk that someone squeezed a lemon into? It does indeed, thanks to the high concentration of lactic acid.”

What do real people think? The Good Genes All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment gets a 4.2 out of 5 star rating on Sephora, based on more than 3,000 reviews, and a 4.2 out of 5 star rating on Amazon. On Influenster, the product gets 4.4 out of 5 stars based on more than 9,000 reviews. Comments range from “It’s an amazing acid treatment that doesn’t sting or burn my sensitive skin, and I saw a difference!” and “My skin changed for the better when I started using this. Tighter skin, smaller looking pores, and more youthful overall”  to “I really wanted to like this product, but it did not work for me. I did not see any positive results.” Several users commented on its high price.

The Luna Sleeping Night Oil gets 4.1 out of 5 stars on Sephora; 3.9 out of 5 on Amazon and 4.3 out of 5 stars on Influenster. Customers who loved it wrote “My skin looked more even and dark spots were lighter” and “You’ll wake up looking more radiant and luminous than ever.” Some reviewers didn’t love the addition of blue dye, and others felt their skin looked better before they used it, or that it caused them to break out. “I am not a fan of this oil. The smell is very strong. My face hurt and looked red (like a sunburn) the next morning and most of the day. This will be returned.”

Another cult favorite product, the C.E.O. 15% Vitamin C Brightening Serum, gets 3.8 stars on Sephora; 4.3 on Amazon and 4.3 stars on Influenster. Many reviewers note its high price but for many people it is their “holy grail” and their “go to product and “This is the best C serum I’ve ever tried.” For some users, it made them break out or it did nothing for them. “This product, however, not only burned and irritated my skin but I saw zero improvement in brightness.”

What Are Some Alternatives to Sunday Riley ?

Although Sunday Riley is a buzzy brand, it may not work for everyone. Perhaps it did nothing for your skin or you’re looking for products that can do more.  There are a few other brands to consider.

Formulyst makes it easy to create your own skincare routine. Each skincare concern is assigned a number, and your personal combination will be just as unique as you (and your skin) are. All you have to do is find your formula, and follow the numbers.

 Arbutin is a common alternative to skin lightening hydroquinone, and is the star ingredient in Formulyst’s Luminous Skin Serum, which zeroes in on skin discoloration and hyperpigmentation. The serum is powered by Triple Brightening Technology, a powerful blend of naturally derived alpha arbutin, rumex extract (a plant that helps stop the production of melanin) and a biomimetic peptide.

Formulyst’s Anti-Aging Night Cream contains the all-star of any anti-aging regimen, retinol. It does a little bit of everything, from addressing fine lines, crow’s feet as well as dark spots. The night cream contains a high dose of retinol along with skin soothing safflower seed oil and jojoba.

Formulyst’s Active Serum is packed with good for you ingredients, such as nourishing vitamins B and E, and vitamin C, which helps skin look brighter. Rounding out the all-star list are ferulic acid and niacinamide which help stabilize the formula and boost the potency of vitamin C.

There’s no need to compromise when it comes to finding skincare that is effective and safe. Carrot & Stick takes a tough love approach to skincare, perfectly balancing the power of plants with cutting edge science. Not only is Carrot & Stick good for your skin, it is also good for the environment as the formulas skip harmful chemicals as well as the preservatives, emulsifiers and thickeners commonly found in skincare products.




The philosophy of Formulyst is long-term and effective skincare, rather than covering up any imperfections. The comprehensive line of products tackles everything from wrinkles to dark spots and dry skin. While some brands rely on unnecessary fillers and scents, Formulyst focuses on ingredients that help create results, such as vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.Read More

Carrot & Stick

Carrot & Stick takes a tough love approach to skincare. What does this mean? It perfectly balances the power of plants with innovative science, offering the best of both worlds.Read More

Advanced Dermatology

The Advanced Dermatology skin care regimen addresses the most pressing aging concerns.Read More

Sunday Riley Luna Oil

If you're looking for a retinol serum or facial oil, then reviews for Sunday Riley Luna oil may have caught your attention. This specialty oil is manufactured by Sunday Riley, a fairly well known skin care brand, and is available for purchase through various online channels, as well as from...

Sunday Riley CEO Review

What is Sunday Riley CEO? Sunday Riley CEO is a line of vitamin C skin care products by clean beauty brand Sunday Riley. Founded less than a decade ago by its namesake founder and formulator, Sunday Riley, this brand is focused on results and formulates their products with natural botanicals...

Sunday Riley Good Genes

What is Sunday Riley Good Genes? Sunday Riley Good Genes is a lactic acid treatment that is said to deeply exfoliate the dull surface of the skin for clarity, radiance, and younger-looking skin. It also visibly brightens the appearance of age spots and discolorations, as well as instantly plumps the...

Sunday Riley Auto Correct Brightening + De-Puffing Eye Contour Cream Review

Sunday Riley is easily one of the hottest brands in the industry as of late, and for very good reason. Their innovative formulas and commitment to naturally derived ingredients help to put this brand on the map. But are their luxurious products worth their price tag? Looking at specific products like the Sunday Riley Auto Correct Brightening + De-Puffing Eye Contour, we can see how this brand has taken traditional skincare products and turned them on its head. This product was developed in order to instantly give the entire eye area a brighter, healthier and more lifted look while simultaneously reducing the appearance of dark shadows under the eyes and occasional puffiness. The formula behind this product contains solid standby ingredients like caffeine, as well as more unique ingredients like brazillian ginseng root, concentrated horse chestnut extract, and acmella oleracea extracts. These ingredients work together to reduce under eye puffiness and other temporary skin conditions which can make the eye area appear older, duller and more tired than it actually is. In addition to these ingredients, the entire formula has been meticulously formulated to help maintain optimal skin health for the sensitive and fragile skin around the eye.


Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip Cleanser Review

One of the slightly less well known, hidden gems from the Sunday Riley skincare line is the Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip Cleanser. This cleanser was designed to create a luxurious and deeply befinicial experience. Because of this, there are a number of key ingredients in this product that you don’t typically find in cleansing products. This includes several different types of clay as well as several ceramides. The clays in this formula help to detoxify the skin as well as clear out the pores without stripping the skin. Ceramides on the other hand, are an essential component for a healthy and well functioning skin barrier. Although this ingredient is better used for leave on products, the ceramides in this formula help to keep this cleanser from drying out and sensitizing the skin. Because of these factors, we’d recommend this type of cleanser for those of you who are looking for a cleanser that addresses skin concerns such as acne and breakouts, but also doesn’t strip the skin of the hydration that it needs.


Sunday Riley A+ High Dose Retinol Serum Review

Though this product hasn’t yet launched, chances are it will be one of the most talked about serums of this year. The Sunday Riley A+ High Dose Retinol Serum is one of the newest to join a growing family of over the counter, highly potent retinol serums. While retinoic acid based products are available over the counter in some countries, for others, including the U.S. and the UK, these top grade products are only available on prescription from a dermatologist, which can be pricey. In order to supplement that, a number of companies, including Sunday Riley, have released retinol based products that use gentler esthers and derivatives of retinoic acid at higher percentages to mimic its effects. But what makes this new serum different from Sunday Riley’s cult favorite retinol product, the Luna Oil? The big ticket with this product is that it contains 6.5 percentage retinol-based ingredients, which is huge in comparison to most products on the market. The most we tend to see in over the counter retinol products is around 5% though many more products hover around 1% to 2%. In order to achieve this high percentage, the A+ Retinol Serum contains 5% retinol ester, 1% slow-releasing retinol and .5% blue-green algae. The result is a fast acting retinol product that also manages to minimize the likelihood of irritation.


Sunday Riley CEO Rapid Flash Brightening Serum Review

The Sunday Riley Ceo Rapid Flash Brightening Serum was designed to serve as a brightening and dark spot lightening serum. This product features key active ingredients including 15% THD ascorbate, which is a vitamin C ester. Using a vitamin C ester in skincare products, especially those that are designed to target hyperpigmentation and dark spots, can be a bit of a double edged sword. One the one hand, these esters have been stabilized, which allows them to remain active and usable for much longer than your traditional L-Ascorbic acid based serum. This stability also helps to minimize irritation. At the same time, most vitamin C esters don’t have the same amount of research behind them, so we don’t currently know if these types of ingredients work as well as pure vitamin C. Because of this, we’d recommend this product to those who are new to vitamin C and are concerned about possible irritation.


Sunday Riley Ice Ceramide Moisturizing Cream Review

Sunday Riley Ice Ceramide Moisturizing Cream is a facial moisturizer that is said to replenish the skin with lasting hydration and strengthen the skin’s natural moisture barrier against environmental stressors responsible for premature aging. The formula contains three different ceramides (Ceramide NP, Ceramide EOP, Ceramide AP). Ceramides are a family of waxy lipid molecules that are naturally produced by the skin and are vital in supporting the stratum corneum (the outer layer of skin). Without ceramides, the skin barrier is weakened, resulting in dry, irritated skin and even signs of aging. Topical application of ceramides can help to replenish ceramide levels, thus restoring the skin’s natural barrier.

In addition to ceramides, Sunday Riley Ice Ceramide Moisturizing Cream contains vitamin F. In skin care, vitamin F is used to represent linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid. Vitamin F is a building block of ceramides, therefore, it replenishes lipid levels and strengthens the skin’s natural moisture barrier. Other key ingredients in Sunday Riley Ice Ceramide Moisturizing Cream include beet root extract and pomegranate sterols. Beet root extract increases skin smoothness and moisturization, while pomegranate sterols contain a high concentration of antioxidants that protect the skin from environmental stressors responsible for premature skin aging.


Sunday Riley CEO

The Sunday Riley brand is a cosmetics company known for its tech savvy formulations, dedication to natural based ingredients, and a host of skincare products that really work. Sunday Riley is the namesake beauty brand of its founder, Sunday Riley, who desired to create skincare products that were quick, effective, and high quality. The Sunday Riley CEO line is an addition to the brand's skincare range that has led the company to become a leader in the space where green beauty meets advanced cosmetic science.

Sunday Riley CEO is a collection of skincare products that are infused with two main vitamins, C and E while offering a dose of antioxidant protection. The Sunday Riley CEO moisturizer, Sunday Riley CEO serum, and Sunday Riley CEO cleansing oil are cornerstones of this innovative line that works to brighten, rejuvenate, and protect the skin. Each of the Sunday Riley CEO products is designed to solve a specific skin concern and each is home to the green technology that the Sunday Riley brand is known for. Let’s take a look at each of the Sunday Riley CEO products to see how they stack up against each other and other vitamin C based products available on the market today.

Sunday Riley Tidal

Sunday Riley has been on the receiving end of quite a bit of positive press over the last several years. Their beauty oils are cult favorites for many beauty bloggers, and their approach to skincare is unique and impressive. As they expand, their skincare range has grown to include a product for every step in your skincare routine. Today, we’re going to be looking specifically at their Tidal Brightening Enzyme Water Cream. We’ll walk you through the claims, their formula and even customer feedback so you can decide for yourself whether it’s worth the investment. So without further adieu, let’s get started!

Who is the Tidal Brightening Enzyme Water Cream For?

The Tidal Water Cream from Sunday Riley was designed to double as a moisturizer and treatment product in one. The light gel and water creams are capable of delivering and impressive amount of moisture without the typical heaviness of a traditional moisturizing cream, making it suitable for almost every skin type from extra dry to super oily, and everywhere in between. This water cream also contains some powerful active ingredients, making this a great option for those who are looking for a 2-in-1 product or just want to kick their moisturizing game up a notch.

Tidal Brightening Enzyme Water Cream

Sunday Riley’s Tidal Cream was designed to serve as an effective moisturizer as well as a brightening treatment, so the claims and the formulation differ quite a bit from your run of the mill moisturizing cream. The Tidal Brightening Enzyme Water Cream uses jojoba esters and other humectants to create a unique, watery texture that goes on and absorbs into the skin quickly. But while this cream may be lightweight, it is still capable of packing a seriously moisturizing punch. In fact, the ingredients within this formula allow for the hydration to remain on the skin for up to 24 hours.


Sunday Riley Good Genes

Sunday Riley Good Genesis a lactic acid treatment that is said to deeply exfoliate the dull surface of the skin for clarity, radiance, and younger-looking skin. It also visibly brightens the appearance of age spots and discolorations, as well as instantly plumps the look of fine lines and wrinkles in 3 minutes. In this review, we’ll discuss who may benefit from this product, key ingredients used in the formulation, how to use the product, Sunday Riley Good Genes reviews from real customers, and alternatives that you may want to consider.

Who is it for?

Sunday Riley Good Genes can be used by all skin types, but is best for those with dark spots, discoloration, uneven skin tone, dull skin, acne-prone skin, and signs of aging. This product can help with so many different skin concerns thanks to the multi-tasking ingredient lactic acid. We’ll give you all the details on lactic acid and other important ingredients in Sunday Riley Good Genes in the next section.

Formulation insight

Sunday Riley Good Genes is fragrance free and does not contain sulfates, parabens, gluten, soy, or phthalates. This product is also vegan and cruelty-free.

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