Sunday Riley Talks Skincare, Science and Business

Lindsay Judge   |   04-09-2020

Sunday Riley has become somewhat a cult beauty brand over the last few years thanks to its unique blend of science and skincare.


Its huge popularity with beauty bloggers and influencers has seen women all over the world trying out the unique formulas; promising to have a noticeable, lasting impact on the skin. Behind the brand is Sunday Riley herself. This American- born entrepreneur had a dream to start a skincare brand like no other. In 2009 Sunday Riley was launched with founder Riley at the core of the business, developing chemical formulas using scientific ingredients that would really help the skin.


Sunday has been inspired by beauty her whole life but much of what she knows about science was self-taught. Experimenting with chemical formulas until she gets it completely right, this entrepreneur has an exciting passion for her business. When Sunday Riley launched in the Middle East it was welcomed with open arms by women who had heard about these unique formulas and this year we see a larger range of products than ever in Sephora stores across the UAE. To find out more about this unique brand we talk to the Founder herself; Sunday Riley.


What first inspired you to start your brand?

I thought I could do something different. I was passionate about formulating products that bring about real change in the skin. Seeing someone’s happiness grow because they have more confidence in their skin is what inspires me daily, just as it did when I started the brand 11 years ago.


In your opinion, what is so special about your approach to your products.

A couple of things. I’m the brand’s formulator, and my lab is in our offices. I write the formula out (sometimes hundreds of times until I get it right), and then evaluate each sample and make revisions until it’s perfect. That gives me a close relationship with each of the products. When I formulate a product, I always make sure that it is powered by something active and science-based, like Vitamin C or retinol. And then I balance the formula with soothing botanicals so that it works for sensitive skin. Looking at the whole health of the skin is one of my passions.




What makes Sunday Riley different from other beauty brands?

Our focus on ingredient integrity is one thing – we spend significantly more on high-quality ingredients by only buying them from highly vetted suppliers in key regions. Our products are almost all friendly for all skin types, including sensitive skin, and you can mix and match them within your routine and have fun, without really worrying if you are doing it correctly. Because the line is focused on results, you also see visible improvement in your skin very quickly – which is what we are all looking for.


The world has been through a difficult time this year – what does the rest of the year hold for Sunday Riley and will you be changing any of the strategy of the brand?

It’s been a tough year. We’ve worked really hard to push through this difficult time and give back where we could.


Good Genes


What can you tell us about Sunday Riley in the Middle East and what is a message you would like to give to your customers here?

Our clients in the Middle East are a top priority for us. Growing our business in the region and having a closer connection to our clients there is a passion of mine! I am working on formulating products that are ideal for the climate in the Middle East, to make sure that we are offering the products that our clients are looking for. We’re continuing to hire in the region so that we can support our business there as effectively as possible.


As a consumer how can we determine which products we should be using for our skin?

That’s challenging. I would say start with chemical exfoliation – like Good Genes. Daily removal of the dead skin cell build-up is good for all skin types – dry skin, oily skin, clogged pores, mature skin. Everyone sees improvement. Then add in a Vitamin C to protect your skin from free radicals and help with the natural brightening and collagen-building process.


Ceramic Slip


As a businesswoman what advice would you give to other entrepreneurs wanting to get into the industry?

Don’t be afraid to try something new or do things differently – that will be one of your main advantages. And don’t get discouraged when you fail. The path to my success has been paved by failures. That’s how you learn and grow. Also, you have to find a balance between being persistent, following your dreams, and learning how to pivot and evolve when the path changes a bit.


What is the professional motto you live by?

I try to say ‘yes’ to as many things as I can, even if I don’t know how to do it or how it can be done. I say yes and then figure it out afterwards. That mindset has served me well over the years and pushed me to increase my problem-solving skills.


What can you tell us about sustainability at Sunday Riley?

Sustainability is a major focus for us. We are pending B Corp certification, meaning we passed their rigorous sustainability requirements. We are switching to 100% recyclable packaging, and by 2021 all of our box trays will be made of a blend of bamboo and other sustainable materials, rather than foam. We also offset our carbon footprint for all shipments and use energy-saving appliances and motion-sensor lights in our offices. On top of that, our lab is currently being Green Lab Certified, meaning that we operate using clean principles.




What is something you would still like to do with Sunday Riley that you haven’t done yet?

We have so many products still to develop, so we still have a long way to go. I would also love to develop more spa treatments.


How would you sum up the beauty industry in the US and how is it different from the rest of the world?

The US beauty industry offers a lot of space for innovation and new, emerging brands. The US beauty consumer can also be pretty educated on skincare ingredients and isn’t afraid to experiment, so it’s important to offer as much information as possible about the ingredients (and their percentages) in each product.


What are the products you can’t live without?

If I had to only choose four products, I would choose Good Genes, CEO 15% Vitamin C Serum, and Luna Sleeping Night Oil, and A+ High-Dose Retinoid Serum. I’m a big believer that everyone needs Vitamin C, Retinol, and AHA in their skincare routine for glowing, youthful-looking skin.


If we were to go out and buy one product what should be?

Good Genes! It’s for all skin types, all ages. It exfoliates the surface of the skin, so your skin is smoother, lines are visibly plumped, and all of the pore-clogging debris (which can lead to breakouts) is removed. And best of all? Your skin looks more radiant and healthier from day one.


CEO Serum


What is your nightly skincare routine?

Around 9 pm, I wash my face with Ceramic Slip Clay Cleanser. Then I put a few pumps of A+ High-Dose Retinoid Serum on, followed with a few drops of Luna Sleeping Night Oil. Then I watch tv or read until 11 or 11:30 pm. At that time, I put on Good Genes, CEO 15% Vitamin C Serum, and a little moisturiser (depending on the weather – either Tidal Brightening Enzyme Water Cream or Ice Ceramide Moisturizing Cream).