Sunday Riley Review: A Review of The 10 Best Sunday Riley Skincare Products - The Dermatology Review

Sunday Riley Review: A Review of The 10 Best Sunday Riley Skincare Products

SKIN CARE REVIEWS

05.10.21DISCLAIMER

Sunday Riley is an indie skincare brand that rose to cult status surprisingly fast. In 2009, the brand’s founder, Sunday Riley, pitched the fledgling line to Barneys with just a few prototypes, including Good Genes (which is now the brand’s most popular product). According to Allure, the Barneys buyer suggested Riley name the collection after herself. The rest, as they say, is history.

What are the Best Skin Care Products of 2021?

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.” All of this sounds good in theory, but do Sunday Riley products really deliver results?

To answer this question, we’ll have to evaluate the key ingredients in Sunday Riley products. We’ll also share some Sunday Riley reviews so that you can get an idea of what customers really think of these products. 

What Are The Top 10 Best Sunday Riley Skincare Products?

Sunday Riley sells a wide range of skincare products, including cleansers, exfoliators, oils, treatments, serums, moisturizers, eye care, sun care, and more. Arguably the most popular product is the Sunday Riley Good Genes Lactic Acid Treatment. We’ll discuss this and the other best selling Sunday Riley skincare products below. 

 

Sunday Riley Good Genes Lactic Acid Treatment

  • A leave-on exfoliator that is said to deeply exfoliate the dull surface of the skin for an instant glow and radiance. It is also said to visibly brighten the appearance of dark spots and discoloration, as well as plump the look of fine lines and wrinkles in just 3 minutes
  • 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
  • Key ingredients include a botanical blend, lactic acid, and squalane
  • Contains fragrant essential oils

 

Sunday Riley Good Genes Glycolic Acid Treatment

  • A leave-on exfoliator that is said to deeply exfoliate and repair the look of dull, congested, and sun damaged skin for a visibly radiant, healthier-looking complexion
  • 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
  • Key ingredients include glycolic acid, squalane, and potassium lactate
  • Contains fragrant essential oils

 

Sunday Riley Luna Retinol Sleeping Night Oil

  • A retinol facial oil that is said to boost the look and feel of skin plumpness, while improving the appearance of wrinkles, redness, and pores for visibly younger-looking skin
  • Can be used by all skin types (should not be used during pregnancy)
  • The retinoid used in this oil is hydroxypinacolone retinoate (HPR), which provides the same benefits of retinol but without the irritation
  • Additional key ingredients include avocado oil, grape seed oil, blackberry seed oil, chia seed oil, and blue tansy oil
  • Contains fragrant essential oils

 

Sunday Riley CEO Glow Vitamin C and Turmeric Face Oil

  • A vitamin C facial oil that is said to promote instant vibrance, leaving your complexion looking brighter and nurtured
  • Can be used by all skin types, but is best for those with dark spots, discoloration, uneven skin tone, and/or signs of aging
  • The form of vitamin C used in this oil is tetrahexyldecyl (THD) ascorbate
  • Additional key ingredients include red raspberry seed oil, jojoba oil, cucumber seed oil, pomegranate seed oil, cranberry seed oil, evening primrose oil, and turmeric root extract
  • Contains fragrance

 

Sunday Riley CEO Vitamin C Rich Hydration Cream

  • A vitamin C moisturizer that is said to deeply hydrate, visibly brighten dull skin, prevent and repair the visible signs of premature skin aging, fight the signs of dehydration and damage, and provide advanced antioxidant support
  • Can be used by all skin types, but is best for those with dark spots, discoloration, uneven skin tone, and/or signs of aging
  • The form of vitamin C used in this cream is 5% tetrahexyldecyl (THD) ascorbate
  • Additional key ingredients include squalane, hydrogenated vegetable oil, sweet almond oil, and bisabolol
  • Contains fragrance

 

Sunday Riley CEO 15% Vitamin C Brightening Serum

  • A vitamin C serum that is said to quickly fight the look of dullness, dark spots, and discolorations at the source, while diminishing the signs of aging
  • Can be used by all skin types, but is best for those with dark spots, discoloration, uneven skin tone, and/or signs of aging
  • The form of vitamin C used in this serum is 15% tetrahexyldecyl (THD) ascorbate
  • Additional key ingredients include squalane, soybean sterols, and vitamin E
  • Contains high concentrations of fragrance (e.g. limonene is the 6th highest concentration ingredient)

 

Sunday Riley UFO Ultra-Clarifying Acne Treatment Face Oil

  • A fast-acting, quick-drying, medicated face oil that is said to clear acne and blackhead-causing buildup and debris from congested pores for smoother, blemish-free skin
  • Can be used by all skin types, but is best for those with oily skin, clogged pores, and/or acne-prone skin
  • Active ingredient is 1.5% salicylic acid, a beta hydroxy acid (BHA)
  • Additional key ingredients include milk thistle seed oil, black cumin seed oil, cucumber seed oil, pomegranate seed oil, cranberry seed oil, flaxseed oil, and licorice root extract
  • Contains fragrance

 

Sunday Riley A+ High Dose Retinoid Serum

  • An anti-aging serum that is said to fight the signs of aging and improve the look of congested and UV damaged skin for the appearance of a calmer, even-toned complexion
  • Can be used by all skin types, including sensitive skin
  • Key ingredients include 5% retinoid ester blend, 1% liposomal-encapsulated retinol blend, and 0.5% blue-green algae with natural, retinoid-alternative activity
  • Contains fragrant essential oils

 

Sunday Riley Tidal Brightening Enzyme Water Cream

  • A lightweight, oil-free gel-cream that is said to promote instantly glowing, dewy skin, smooth the look of textured or dehydrated skin, and brighten the appearance of discolorations for clear radiance
  • Can be used by all skin types, but is best for those with normal, oily, or combination skin
  • Key ingredients include alpha arbutin, cucumber extract, allantoin, sodium hyaluronate, and horse chestnut seed extract
  • Formula also includes synthetic fluorphlogopite, a synthetic mineral that adds a shimmering effect and reflects light from the face, creating the illusion of a smoother, softer, and more radiant skin tone
  • Contains fragrant essential oils

 

Sunday Riley Ice Ceramide Moisturizing Cream

  • A dual action facial moisturizer that pulls hydration into the skin while also strengthening the skin’s natural moisture barrier, sealing in moisture
  • Best for normal to dry skin
  • Key ingredients include red algae extract, squalane, coconut fruit extract, ceramides, sodium hyaluronate, beet root extract, and fatty acids (linoleic acid, oleic acid, palmitic acid, linolenic acid)
  • Contains fragrant essential oils

What Are The Key Ingredients in Sunday Riley Skincare Products?

All Sunday Riley skincare products are free from parabens, sulfate cleansers, phthalates, synthetic fragrance, mineral oil, and petrolatum. The key ingredients used in Sunday Riley skincare products include a mix of botanicals as well as tried-and-true ingredients, such as alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), salicylic acid (BHA), antioxidant vitamins C and E, sodium hyaluronate, squalane, and ceramides. 

The brand’s most popular products — Sunday Riley Good Genes — contain the AHAs lactic acid and glycolic acid. AHAs provide many benefits to the skin, such as exfoliating the skin, stimulating the skin’s natural regeneration process, and helping the skin to retain moisture. Ultimately, this promotes smoother, brighter, healthier skin. 

Lastly, it’s important to keep in mind that nearly all Sunday Riley products contain fragrance, typically from fragrant essential oils like lemongrass oil, neroli oil, orange peel oil, and more. And there’s a very high concentration of the fragrance ingredient limonene in the Sunday Riley CEO 15% Vitamin C Brightening Serum. 

While these ingredients give the product a pleasant scent, it’s important to note that these fragrance ingredients aren’t helping your skin in any way. So why is fragrance a problem in skin care? Let’s look at the science. 

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

Even if you don’t have a full blown reaction to the ingredient, the damage may still be occurring every day. Ultimately, this can cause mild problems for your skin in the short term and worse problems in the long term. This is something to keep in mind before purchasing Sunday Riley products, especially if you have sensitive skin. 

Where to Buy Sunday Riley Skincare 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. 

What is The Sunday Riley Return Policy?

The Sunday Riley return policy states, “We want you to love your purchase, so if you are not totally satisfied, please email [email protected] so we can provide you with a return label and our return address. Within 30 days, upon return and inspection of the product at our warehouse, we are happy to offer you a full refund or merchant credit, depending upon your preference.”

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. 

Sunday Riley Reviews

Sunday Riley reviews on the brand’s website are overall very positive. The product with the most reviews is the Sunday Riley Good Genes Lactic Acid Treatment, which has earned an average rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars after more than 400 customer reviews. 

The positive reviews for Sunday Riley Good Genes mention that it improves the skin in multiple ways, such as fading dark spots and promoting smoother, clearer skin. For example, one review says, “I have been using Good Genes about 3 months now, every day, and have noticed a drastic improvement in my skin’s overall appearance, especially the fading of dark spots and overall brightness and clarity. I LOVE this product!”

While there aren’t many negative reviews for Sunday Riley Good Genes, those that we did read were from customers who experienced adverse reactions after using this exfoliant. For example, one reviewer shares, “I bought this product because it had amazing reviews but geez my skin has never looked worse. Kept it up for a few weeks (sometimes you break out after you switch products) but I’m getting acne in places I never did before. Can someone tell me how this is a 5 star product?!”

Then, there are some reviews for Sunday Riley Good Genes from customers who saw no difference after using this product. For example, one review says, “I religiously use this at night and have not seen any difference in my skin. I have dark spots and breakouts and was hoping this would help. Nothing. I have kept with it hoping it would take a few weeks and no change. Disappointing.”

Another product with very positive reviews is Sunday Riley Luna Retinol Sleeping Oil, which has earned an average rating of 4.9 out of 5 stars after nearly 300 customer reviews. 

The positive reviews for the Sunday Riley Luna oil call this facial oil the “holy grail” and others promise they are “lifetime users of the product”. For example, one review says, “Absolutely love this oil. It’s the first oil I’ve tried that isn’t heavy and greasy. It’s light, hydrating, and doesn’t feel like a heavy, oily mess. It absorbs beautifully and hello, retinol. Will purchase again and again.”

There are no 1-star reviews for the Sunday Riley Luna oil, and the only negative reviews are from customers who don’t think it’s worth the price. For example, one review says, “I love all SR but the bottoms are false! There really isn’t enough to tell if it’s good. It’s like a sample! Too much money for too little product!”

Our Verdict

Overall, we think that Sunday Riley skincare products are formulated well, but we wish the brand would formulate their products without fragrance.

Pros

  • Products contain beneficial key ingredients (vitamin C, AHAs, BHA, squalane, ceramides, etc.)
  • Many positive Sunday Riley reviews
  • Sunday Riley is cruelty free

Cons

  • High price point (e.g. Sunday Riley Good Genes is $122 for 1.7 fl oz)
  • Almost all Sunday Riley skincare products contain fragrance

What Are Some Alternatives to Sunday Riley Skincare Products?

While we do think that Sunday Riley products are formulated well, we understand that this brand is out of reach for many people due to the cost of these products. That’s why we’d like to recommend a couple alternatives for you to consider. 

One brand we recommend is Formulyst because, unlike most skin care brands, Formulyst maximizes the use of powerful ingredients and minimizes the use of superficial ones. The result is clinically advanced skincare solutions that help to promote healthy, more youthful-looking skin.

Formulyst Retexturing and Perfecting Serum is a lightweight serum that is expertly formulated to gently exfoliate, clean, and refine pores, as well as help remove dead cells and visibly reveal the brighter, healthier skin beneath. Similar to Sunday Riley Good Genes, the Retexturing and Perfecting Serum contains an AHA — glycolic acid — which breaks down dull, dead skin cells to reveal smoother, brighter skin. 

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 as well as the preservatives, emulsifiers, and thickeners commonly found in skin care products.

References:
3. de Groot AC, Schmidt E. Essential Oils, Part IV: Contact Allergy. Dermatitis. 2016;27(4):170-175. doi:10.1097/DER.0000000000000197

THE BEST SKIN CARE LINES 2021

1

Formulyst

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
2

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
3

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...
INGREDIENTS

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.

INGREDIENTS

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.

INGREDIENTS

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.

INGREDIENTS

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.

INGREDIENTS

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.

INGREDIENTS

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.

INGREDIENTS

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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