Sunday Riley Retinol Review: Are The Sunday Riley Retinol Products Really Worth It?



Sunday Riley is an indie skincare brand that’s most well known for Good Genes — the brand’s best selling lactic acid treatment — but in this review we’re going to focus on the Sunday Riley retinol products.

Retinol is a superstar anti-aging ingredient, but that doesn’t necessarily mean all retinol products are formulated appropriately.

There’s many factors to consider before purchasing a retinol product, such as the packaging, the type of retinoid used, the supporting key ingredients, and whether or not there’s harmful ingredients like fragrance, denatured alcohol, and endocrine-disrupting chemicals in the formula.

Below we’ll discuss these formulation details for all of the Sunday Riley retinol products. Plus, like all of our reviews here at The Derm Review, we’ll share snippets of Sunday Riley retinol reviews from real customers so that you can see what they really think of these products.

What Are The Top 3 Best Sunday Riley Retinol Products?

At the time of writing this review, the brand offers three Sunday Riley retinol products. Below we’ll give you the details on each one.

Sunday Riley A+ Retinoid Serum

This anti-aging serum delivers a 6.5% solution of stabilized retinoid blends and botanical, retinol-alternative extracts into the skin. Specifically, the formula contains a 5% retinoid ester blend, 1% liposomal-encapsulated retinol blend, and 0.5% blue-green algae with natural, retinoid-alternative activity.

Ubiquinone, also known as coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), is another key ingredient in this Sunday Riley retinol serum that helps to defend against signs of skin aging. CoQ10 is naturally found within the mitochondria of cells and is essential for cellular energy production.

When applied to the skin, CoQ10 functions as an antioxidant that can counteract both short-term environmental oxidative stress as well as age-related CoQ10 deficits.

Lastly, we love that the formula also includes several hydrating ingredients, such as Hawaiian white honey, sodium hyaluronate, glycerin, and algae extract. All of these ingredients will help to draw moisture into the skin.

Bottom Line: Sunday Riley A+ Retinoid Serum contains a 6.5% solution of stabilized retinoid blends and botanical retinol-alternative extracts along with the antioxidant CoQ10 and several hydrating ingredients.

Sunday Riley 5 Stars Eye Serum

Crow’s feet don’t stand a chance with this targeted and gentle anti-aging treatment for the delicate eye area. The formula includes 5% retinoid ester combined with 1% liposome encapsulated retinol, which both work to strengthen and support natural collagen production in order to reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles.

We love that the brand combined this retinoid complex with niacinamide, which is one of our favorite skincare ingredients.

Here’s why: 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, hyperpigmentation, and wrinkling.

Plus, niacinamide is able to help with acne because of its antimicrobial and sebostatic effects, meaning it can help protect against the bacteria that cause acne while also helping to reduce oil production.

5 Stars is also balanced with poppy seed extract and ceramides to soothe, smooth, and nurture the eye area while olive oil and shea butter rehydrate for overnight restoration.

Bottom Line: A well-rounded eye serum that includes a 6% retinoid complex, niacinamide, ceramides, and soothing botanical extracts.

Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil

This Sunday Riley retinol oil is ideal for those with normal to dry skin because of the blend of non-fragrant plant oils — such as grape seed, blackberry, chia, avocado, and sunflower seed oil — that have moisturizing and antioxidant benefits for skin.

Hydroxypinacolone retinoate (HPR) is the retinoid used in this oil, which is an ingredient that provides the same benefits of retinol but without the irritation. Those benefits include improving the appearance of wrinkles, redness, and pores for visibly younger-looking skin.

Unfortunately, it’s still possible to experience irritation after using Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Oil because of the fragrant essential oils in this formula, such as ylang ylang and bitter orange oil.

According to a 2016 publication in the scholarly journal Dermatitis, nearly 80 essential oils have caused contact allergy.

This is because all fragrance ingredients (whether natural or synthetic) impart scent through a volatile reaction, and this natural reaction almost always causes a sensitizing reaction on skin.

Bottom Line: Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Oil features the retinoid HPR along with moisturizing oils, however, there’s also fragrant essential oils in this formula that may cause irritation.

What Are The Key Ingredients in Sunday Riley Retinol Products?

You already know that retinol is the star ingredient in all three of these Sunday Riley retinol products, but let’s dive a little deeper into the benefits of retinol because there’s a lot!

When applied to the skin, retinol is clinically proven to provide numerous benefits to the skin. For example, retinol can minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, improve uneven skin tone, restore skin firmness, and shrink the appearance of enlarged pores, according to a publication in the journal Clinical Interventions in Aging, Retinol provides all of these benefits by first being converted to retinoic acid (its active form) after being absorbed into the skin.

Retinoic acid works deep within the skin where it boosts collagen synthesis, increases elasticity, and repairs connective tissue. It also increases cellular turnover, which helps to prevent clogged pores and also promotes smoother, healthier skin.

Plus, remember that the Sunday Riley retinol products are formulated with additional ingredients to support retinol, such as skin-brightening niacinamide, hydrating ingredients like glycerin and hyaluronic acid, and plenty of soothing botanicals.

How Much Do Sunday Riley Retinol Products Cost?

The Sunday Riley retinol products are mid-range in terms of cost; they aren’t cheap but they are ridiculously expensive. Below are the current prices for these products:

  • Sunday Riley A+ Retinoid Serum $122 USD for 1.7 fl oz (50 mL)
  • Sunday Riley 5 Stars Eye Serum $65 USD for 0.5 fl oz (15 mL)
  • Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil $105 USD for 1.18 fl oz (35 mL0

Where to Buy Sunday Riley Retinol Products?

Sunday Riley skincare products are sold on the brand’s website (, as well as numerous third party online retailers, such as Sephora, Ulta, Dermstore, Amazon, and more. The brand also has a store locator on their website so that you can find a physical location that sells Sunday Riley skincare products near you.

Is Sunday Riley Cruelty Free?

Yes, Sunday Riley is cruelty free. None of Sunday Riley skincare products or ingredients are tested on animals, and the brand does not sell their products in mainland China (where animal testing is required by law). In fact, Sunday Riley is double certified as a cruelty-free brand, by PETA and Leaping Bunny.

Is Sunday Riley Retinol Vegan?

Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil and 5 Stars Eye Serum are suitable for vegans, however, the A+ Retinoid Serum is not vegan since the formulation contains honey.

Our Verdict

Overall, we think that Sunday Riley retinol products are formulated well, although they are a little on the pricey side in our opinion.


  • Retinoids in these products address multiple skin concerns, including signs of aging, enlarged pores, skin texture and tone, and more
  • Formulations contain beneficial supporting ingredients (niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, antioxidants, soothing botanicals, etc.)
  • Products are packaging appropriately (opaque, airtight packaging) to protect retinoids and other delicate ingredients
  • Many positive Sunday Riley Retinol reviews
  • Sunday Riley is cruelty free


  • Mid to high cost
  • Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Oil contains fragrant essential oils


J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2010 Feb; 3(2): 22–41

Clin Interv Aging. 2006 Dec; 1(4): 327–348.



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