Is Sunday Riley ‘Good Genes’ worth the money?

As a lifestyle journalist, you might assume that I do a lot of beauty reviews. I don’t, really.

This means I don’t get free products from PR companies. It also means I’m completely impartial when it comes to skincare. I pay for products with my own money.

Regardless of whether somebody is given a PR sample or they just work with companies on paid advertising, it’s impossible to have complete impartiality when you’re getting paid (in actual money or free products) to talk about something.

That’s why I hope these reviews are helpful. If I’m going to ask you to part with your cash, know that I’ve also done the same thing.

Let’s talk Sunday Riley

I started my love affair with Sunday Riley a couple of years ago. I had a facial at Hershesons in London.

It wasn’t just a standard facial. There were lights and extractions and it got very cold. Mostly, it felt very good and my skin looked brand new by the end of it.

When I went to the US last year, I decided to buy Sunday Riley’s Good Genes, £85.

The American version of Good Genes is different to its EU regulated counterpart.

Cult Beauty explains it much better than I will, but in summary, the EU version has glycolic acid in it rather than lactic acid. The Scientific Committee of Consumer Safety law states that products must have a pH level greater than 5 to be sold in the UK and EU.

I decided to try the original (I’m a sucker for things you can’t get in the UK) and plus, the likes of Helen Mirren and Jourdan Dunn swear by the US one, I needed to get in on the action.

Sidenote: I’ve been told that the UK’s new formula is pretty much identical to the US one, so don’t worry if you can’t get hold of the lactic acid version.

How does it work?

The product breaks down the top layers of your skin to remove dead skin cells and encourages your new (very much not dead, hopefully) skin underneath to shine through.

It was the speed of this process that was particularly important to me. I wanted a product that immediately made a difference if my skin was dull. I didn’t want something I had to use every night for 15 weeks while also drinking 5l of water and sacrificing all my other skincare products over a burning fire.

When I saw that this made a difference in two minutes I did admittedly eye roll. Of course it does, I said with my classic British cynicism.

I was pleasantly surprised.

You can feel it tighten your skin almost immediately and it leaves a shine. I’m not talking about a greasy looking shine but more of a sheen that catches the light just right. 

It also absorbs into the skin to blur the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. I do notice my skin looking a lot plumper almost immediately as well.

It’s great for things like weddings or special events where you just need an extra little lift.

How do I use it?

It’s a serum, and so it should be used as you would any other serum in your skincare routine.

It says it can be used morning and night, but I’ve only used it at night so far (I think morning, too, might be a bit much for my skin).

When you put it on you may feel a slight tingle but it soon subsides.

I put it on top of my cleanser and then finish off my nightly skincare routine with moisturiser over the top.

I’ve been using Pixi Beauty Sleep Cream, £24, as my moisturiser. It’s quite a thick, luxurious feeling cream and it mixes really well with Good Genes.

It doesn’t mix well with any Ordinary moisturisers (although they’re great on their own). It all sits on top of the skin in this greasy gloop. Not a good look.

With that in mind, I’d suggest pairing it with a thicker, creamier moisturiser for maximum effect.

I’m using Kiehl’s Ultra-Facial Cleanser, £16.50 underneath. I really like this, too, but I would argue it’s a bit drying in comparison to my Emma Hardie one. I might go wild and try something different next.

Would I re-purchase it?

Yes. But, only as a special treat. I wouldn’t rush to get it again because I can live without it (it’s expensive after all) but I’d add it to a birthday or Christmas list.

And while you’re here – I post every Tuesday and Friday. Click here to see last Friday’s post.


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