Navigating the Sunday Riley Serums

The past few months, I’ve kind of been on a Sunday Riley kick. After all, I have always been a fan of the lines beautiful presentation from the frosted glass bottles to the golden design touches.

Perusing the entire line, I couldn’t help but feel a little overwhelmed with all the information for what all the products did that I kind of didn’t know which was actually the right product for me. This is common for brands that have multiple items in one category. With Sunday Riley, I ended up indulging my inner beauty junkie and exploring the differences between her anti-aging serums: Luna, Good Genes, Bionic (this was even more confusing when her Skin Adrenaline was on the market).

Use the following as a cheat sheet when picking your anti-aging power house from this line:

Luna

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Luna is essentially a face oil that is infused with retinol. This is to say, it’s not going to be a cream/gel type of serum but rather a very, very strong oil. As a retinol product, you’ll be limited to using this as a night time product. Also if you do not want a retinol product, it’s very simple: just steer clear of this one and go for one of the others.

The lightest of the three, this is applied first if you want to combine the products. If you want to add this with one of the other products, I think Bionic should be your pick and you’ll see why shortly.

For a full review of Luna, please check out this earlier post.

Good Genes

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Good Genes has perhaps the most exposure compared to the other two. Emily Weiss of Into The Gloss says it literally gave her skin the confidence of having ‘good genes’ in the old school days before she turned her eye from high-end brands to cater to her new image as queen of the new-age mass market millennials.

I think it’s easy to get swept up in the messaging of Good Genes – the light cream is sold as a treatment that can be used as mask and it is said to deliver brightening, multitasking that reveals newer, younger skin, smoother complexion, restoration from damaged skin, reduction in fine lines and wrinkles, and increased firmness. Unlike Bionic, Good Genes is a ‘corrective’ treatment which may make some think it is more active.

After purchasing these products what I realized is that Good Genes is essentially a lactic acid based exfoliation product. When skin is exfoliated technically all the above claims are true. Now – as a lactic acid exfoliating serum, it probably doesn’t get any more luxurious than this, however I don’t want you to be misled into thinking there is that much more in terms of ingredients that back up the claims.

Due to this, I tend to use Good Genes either as a Sunday mask to clear out pores and exfoliate or I use it once a week (twice if it is summer) as an overnight treatment without any of the other two products.

Similar Products:
Kypris Moonlight Catalyst
Kate Somerville – Exfoliate
REN Wake Up Wonderful Night Time Facial

Bionic

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Bionic has comparatively less press than the aforementioned products. This doesn’t mean it is one to overlook. Bionic is actually the only product out of the three that is in the “Anti-Aging” category on the Sunday Riley website.

Think of this orange cream as a moisturizer suped up with anti-aging ingredients like peptides and antioxidants. This has a roster of ingredients ranging from the buzzy resveratrol and copper peptide to the mainstays like CoQ10.

In terms of results, I don’t think it’ll give the quick results one might see from Luna or Good Genes which are ‘corrective’ products but if you’re looking for that daily moisturizer that keeps skin looking young which I think most people are when they say they’re looking for an anti-aging cream, this is the one.

* I know some retailers are carrying Skin Adrenaline but did not include it in this round up as it is no longer produced by Sunday Riley. But for those of you who are interested, Skin Adrenaline is essentially the anti-aging moisturizer option for normal-to-oily skin while Bionic is stronger as a moisturizer for normal-to-dry skin. For what it’s worth I was able to use both products without breaking out but my personal preference is actually Skin Adrenaline. 

Similar Products:
Tata Harper Rejuvenating Serum
Omorovicza Radiance Renewal Serum
Ren Keep Young & Beautiful Firming & Smoothing Serum

This is just a quick breakdown and of course I made a lot of generalization in the spirit of giving a quickly digestible cheat sheet. In general, my view is that most people searching for an anti-aging product are in reality looking for products that have ingredients that help with skin aging whereas most brands’ answer this with products that take off layers of skin (retinol, acids, etc) and so I wanted to be helpful in this regard that the often overlapping messages between these products can be clarified by these sweeping distinctions:

Retinol – Luna
Exfoliating Acid – Good Genes
AntiAging Moisturizer – Bionic

*All Photos from the Sunday Riley Instagram Account

Sunday Riley Good Genes

Good Genes is what I don’t have when it comes to the genetic skin lotto. When I hit puberty, my face was just a constant battle between breakouts and astringents, in college I had cystic acne that lumped onto each other which even made the dermatologist say “I could give you some retin-a and antibiotics, but honey, that’s like treating a fire with a kitchen faucet at this point”.

Even now that my skin is at the place I’ve dreamed it could be (in no small feat due to the product formerly known as Ultimate Perfect Serum, Cell Perfecto PM– read about my experience with it here) – I still don’t think I’ve ever been in the category of people fortunate to be born with skin that just naturally glows and looks flawless.

If I can’t be born with it, then I’ll buy it! And Sunday Riley has the perfect product for such a thing, fittingly named Good Genes. The playful name promises to deliver the look of “good genes” for everyone! If there is anything Sunday Riley does well, it is in marketing her products.

The instructions for the product are very precise, it is a corrective treatment to be used at night (at least I think it should be), about once or twice a week, for a power treatment she recommends using it for five consecutive nights. The reason is because this is a very acid-heavy chemical exfoliator with a primary active being lactic acid. This doesn’t mean the formula isn’t clean, only that it doesn’t exfoliate through physical means which I actually really like, and lactic acid is fairly clean compared to alternatives.

The full promise of the product is that it will ” plump fine lines to reveal brighter, newer skin, and improve circulation to offer a smooth, vibrant complexion. Long term use will help restore damaged skin, reduce hyperpigmentation and scars, reduce the depth and number of lines and wrinkles, even out skintone, and increase epidermal thickness and firmness.”

The lactic acid is probably the active that addresses fine lines, revealing newer skin. Other actives include licorice which brightens complexion, yeast extract, squalene, lemongrass, and arnica.The formula comes out as a white creamy fluid that smells like dried fruit creamsicle (all her products seem to smell like a creamsicle). It is absorbed fairly quickly, though not as fast as Bionic. After one use, I did not experience irritation, but when I did the consecutive week long treatment I noticed my skin was getting red and I actually got a new breakout on my forehead and not looking so great around Day 3/4 – and my skin is fairly sensitive, so those of you with ‘normal’ skin might not find this to be too tough to handle.

The slight issue I have with this product is once again, it isn’t as clean as I hoped it could be, 3 types of silicones, 2 types of parabens, 2 PEGs, and caricinogenic Phenoxyethanol – I just wish they could have really lived up to their promise of 99% natural, botanical based products without injecting so much of this chemical stuff, it is actually a cheaper way of production that they don’t need to take since they’re at such high price points. Due to my silicone sensitivity, I think this might also explain why instead of getting clearer, my skin was freaking out during the 5 day test.

Good Genes retails for $105 for 1 oz in a beautiful glass vial that feels very heavy in a high-quality way. After having used nearly half the bottle (it does last a while) I will say that I think it is my favorite Sunday Riley product (after hits and misses), and it works well as a chemical exfoliator. The smell is good, texture is good, and results are good. There are cheaper options on the market, such as Ole Henriksen Invigorating Night Gel at $45 (it has a cleaner formula too – but is much stronger and less refined).