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There’s perhaps no other beauty company that better epitomizes the term “cult-favorite” than Sunday Riley. The Texas-based brand has been around for a decade, initially amassing devoted followers quietly and flying somewhat under-the-radar. But their popularity has skyrocketed in recent years, and this once niche brand is now a major force to be reckoned with. Credit their curated and relatively limited collection of products—currently less than 20—all of which use tried-and-true ingredients to make a noticeable difference in how your skin looks and feels. (Not to mention that the formulas are also free of parabens, phthalates, and artificial fragrances, too.) They also recently announced a partnership with United Airlines, providing their first- and business-class amenities, and are now available at Ulta. The bottom line: If you haven’t yet heard of the brand, mark our words, you will soon.
Jump aboard the bandwagon with any—or all—of these Sunday Riley products we think are true stand-outs.
If we absolutely, positively had to recommend just one Sunday Riley product, it would likely be this often buzzed about treatment. The Byrdie team is fully obsessed; it's the winner of the best chemical exfoliator award in the 2019 Byrdie Skincare Awards.
The star of the show is, no surprise, purified lactic acid. It gently yet effectively exfoliates to even out and smooth your complexion, and is coupled with other plant-based brighteners to boot. (FYI, that lactic acid does give this a, let’s call it distinct, sour milk scent, but it’s a small price to pay for how well it works.) If your skin is sensitive, use it as a mask and rinse off after three minutes—it works that fast. Otherwise, leave it on overnight and prepare to be amazed when you look in the mirror come morning.
This strikes the perfect face wash balance, cleansing without ever over-drying your skin. Credit four plant-based, ultra-gentle soaps plus French clay that acts like a magnet to pull out dirt, oil and other unwanted gunk. At the same time, rice oil esters pull in moisture, leaving your complexion perfectly balanced. While they call it a foaming cleanser, we find it veers more toward the creamy side of the spectrum, though never leaves behind a residue. Also nice: A little bit goes a long way, so one tube lasts quite a while.
No matter whether you’re trying to combat the effects of a late night, an early morning, or the dreaded combo of both, reach for this formula. Caffeine and ginseng root take down puffiness almost instantly—try our trick and keep it in the fridge to further up the ante—while antioxidants and hydrating ingredients moisturize and smooth out the look of crow’s feet over time.
There’s no denying that retinoids are the undisputed champions of the skincare world, and this formula, one of the brand’s latest launches, relies on a combination of different ones. We’re talking a six-and-a-half percent combo of stabilized retinoids and botanicals (a blue-green algae) that acts like a retinoid. Soothing ingredients are added to mitigate the potential for any unwanted side effects (read: irritation and redness). Still, as with other retinoids, it’s a good move to start using this gradually to give your skin time to acclimate.
Breaking news: Not all forms of Vitamin C are created equal. This rich serum uses a powerful form known as THD ascorbate; it’s stable and oil-soluble, quickly soaking into the skin so that it can reap the benefits, namely brightening, line-smoothing, and antioxidant protection. Consider it the perfect base layer to apply under sunscreen daily. The intense orangey scent is also a nice pick-me-up on sleepy mornings.
Infused with blue tansy essential oils, this retinol oil does, in fact, go on blue, though blends in clear when rubbed in. A retinoid complex knocks out fine lines and plumps skin, while that blue tansy and German chamomile essential oil combat sensitivity and redness. You may notice some positive changes the next day, though for best results give it a good four weeks.
Sure, this does the job of a good moisturizer, using two types of hyaluronic acid to attract water to the skin (and the oil-free, bouncy gel texture that’s innately cooling and refreshing is nice, too). But it doesn’t stop there. Infused with both exfoliating papaya extracts and brightening alpha-arbutin, it also goes to town targeting unwanted spots and hyperpigmentation. And how pretty is the pastel turquoise hue?
We know, we know, oil and acne treatment sound like an oxymoronic pairing, but trust us, it’s not. This treatment relies on salicylic acid, not a new acne fighter by any means, but mixes things up by combating its potentially drying side effects with milk thistle and cucumber seed oil. Tea tree oil also helps decongest pores and brightening licorice is an added boon, helping to fade those annoying dark marks pimples can leave behind.
Like a big ol’ glass of water for thirsty skin, this is a choice hydrator for anyone whose complexion skews on the normal to dry side. It works two ways, first pulling in moisture, then locking it in, thanks to ceramides that keep your skin barrier strong and healthy. The results? Plumped skin that’s as soft as a baby’s booty. Rich and creamy, it’s a great pick to use in the dead of winter or pre-bedtime.
If you love the C.E.O serum, you’ll appreciate that this heavy-hitting hydrator has that same potent version of vitamin C. But here it comes in a lower concentration, making it a good pick if your skin is slightly more sensitive. Unless your complexion is crazy dry, save this for bedtime use; it’s definitely heavy and can be a bit too much under makeup.
For those whose skin is ultra-dry, or for those who wear a lot of makeup and are too lazy to use a separate makeup remover (insert hand-raising emoji here), this is choice. Thick and luscious, the base is made of hydrating cocoa and moringa butter and uses sugar-based cleansers to remove impurities. The vanilla and orange scent coupled with the luxe texture will make you feel like you’re in a spa, transforming run-of-the-mill face washing into the ultimate self-care moment.
Dealing with a galaxy-sized pimple? Dab on this mask, packed with 10% sulfur to dry up blemishes, plus anti-inflammatory niacinamide to reduce redness and anti-bacterial tea tree oil, among other ingredients. (Plus, the green hue makes for a great Insta’ masking content.) It contains sulfur, so fair warning, it is going to be smelly, but the benefits are worth it.