Sunday Riley “Good Genes” on Acne Scars & Fine Lines. Before AND Afters.

So I got a sample of what is apparently a vial filled with gold.

Not… literally. But this is a pricey one guys. This is The Sunday Riley Good Genes Lactic Acid Treatment


This 1 ounce bottle goes for $105?!!

Yes I use high end skin care and make up but I try to limit my make up spending to $50/month unless it’s something I really want for this blog… so that’s 2 months of no other beauty products for me and I’m not sure if its worth it.

I’m at a place in my life right now where I’m starting to get fine lines (no major wrinkles) and I’m recovering from a pretty nasty bout of cystic acne. So I have a lot of acne scars.


Most of the pigmentation is on my cheeks/jawline, and I would like something to melt this off my face please. This product does claim to deal with hyperpigmentation issues such as dark spots… so maybe it’ll help me too!

And then I looked at my forehead…



What is this witchcraft?!

I put a product that was really affordable from the Ordinary on one side my face and compared it to this expensive product.

2. after screen r side
If you look closely the Sunday Riley side does look a little bit filtered. Now keep in mind that these results were INSTANT (like within the 5 minutes it took me to brush my teeth and take a picture of my forehead.

Whenever I get instant results I start to ask questions…. Because as great as it may seem this isn’t botox, so I should not be seeing results right away.

It takes skin at minimum 4 weeks to really see results from a product…

which has to do cellular turn over and lifespan of a skin cell. Sometimes this takes even longer if you have a couple of years on you.

So I narrowed down the instant results to 2 possibilities…

  1. My skin is just dry and this product is providing deep moisturization

  2. This product has a smoothing ingredient (like in primers) to make my skin look better instantaneously.

The serum I used on the other side was also very moisturizing as well and I’ve used it with success… so it’s not like I’m comparing something moisturizing to nothing on the other side…

Let’s look at the ingredient list:

(I put the first half of the list in bold because ingredients must be listed from largest component used to smallest, and usually the last half of the ingredient list comprises 1% or less of the product)

Opuntia Tuna Fruit (Prickly Pear) Extract, Agave Tequilana Leaf (Blue Agave) Extract, Cypripedium Pubescens (Lady’s Slipper Orchid) Extract, Opuntia Vulgaris (Cactus) Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract & Saccharomyses Cerevisiae (Yeast) Extract, Lactic Acid, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Butylene Glycol, Squalane, Cyclomethicone, Dimethicone, Ppg-12/Smdi Copolymer, Stearic Acid, Cetearyl Alcohol And Ceteareth20, Glyceryl Stearate And Peg-100 Stearate, Arnica Montana (Flower) Extract, Peg-75 Meadowfoam Oil, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Cymbopogon Schoenanthus (Lemongrass) Oil, Triethanolamine, Xantham Gum, Phenoxyethanol, Steareth-20, Dmdm Hydantoin.

In English, this is what the first half the ingredient list functions as in order:

Vitamin C, cosmetic astringent, soothing, moisturizing/humectant, antioxidant, exfoliation (lactic acid), skin conditioning/smoothing

So essentially the instantaneous effects of this serum are deep moisturization… as well as smoothing (it has silicones)


So is this a quick fix?

Will these results last any amount of time?


(I’d hope so because I’m not going to pay $105 forever…)

Let’s play!



So this smells like a Homer Simpson carrying cardboard box that was filled with nuclear waste. (I know that’s not logical in any way but that’s what my brain went to first, okay?)

It’s not terrible.. but it’s a slap in the face. Well, in the nose.

Some people online said they felt a tingling sensation… But I’m no newbie to acid treatments on my face, so I literally felt nothing. It was a thin watery consistency, and I needed 2 pumps for my whole face. Depending on how my face looks, I might reserve this for my forehead and acne spots so that I can get away with using just 1 pump of this $$$.

I used this everyday (ended up using it only on my forehead because of my sensitivity to the ingredients… I’ll explain later) for a WHOLE MONTH… and here are my results.

Drum roll please!






Oh and BTW these pictures were taken in the morning after I put the product on at night. (So the instant effects of the serum as a moisturizer does not impact results)

ALSO in the “before” picture I have a lot of acne scarring… I actually put this experiment on hold in 2017 because I had a crazy break out and I was using a bunch of prescription medications that I thought would bias the results. The pictures below are a whole year later so the scars have faded over time (not as a result of this product)


2. e b4 2 .jpg
Again this is from before my crazy break out (so about a year ago) The fading of acne scars are a consequence of time and not this serum.  We’re just looking at the lines here.

2-3 Week Check In

2 week check in
My skin definitely looks more moisturized! I still have fine lines… and I stopped using this product on my cheeks because I think it was clogging my pores. I have REALLY sensitive skin so most of you probably won’t have this issue.

For the past 2 years I’ve been silicone free in my skin care and make up. I know that there is no real scientific evidence for silicone being bad for you in moderation, but since I was diagnosed with hormonal problems I’ve been REALLY oily and REALLY sensitive to everything. This product has dimethicone pretty far down the ingredient list (meaning there’s not THAT much of it) and since I stopped using it on my cheeks my little closed comedones went away… but at least the skin on my forehead is more dry and not as prone to break outs! The experiment continues on my forehead!

4 week Check In


4 week check in.jpg
As I continued applying this product I was 100% sure that I would conclude the experiment was not worth it… but looking back at the check ins… my forehead actually looks pretty good! If you look very closely you can still see the fine lines but… I feel like that’s a pretty significant improvement!

This review has been a roller coaster of emotions for a couple of reasons… so let me summarize..

Final Thoughts


BREAKING NEWS! The brand and the claims

In the midst of this review there has arisen controversy that the brand has been requiring that their employees put fake reviews on Sephora’s website and fake accounts with other reviews. Yikes. They have agreed to an investigation. Results are pending… but they didn’t deny the claims. Thanks former employee of Sunday Riley for bringing this to the attention of the rest of us skincare junkies.

I felt that this needed to stated before I continue on with my thoughts.


MOVING ON. Here are my thoughts.

Does this moisturize your skin to reduce fine dehydration lines?

Yep! I’m only in my 20s so I don’t have crazy wrinkles. But I do have a thyroid problem so I get super dry/dehydrated in the winter and get crazy lines from dehydration. I can’t say what this will do with wrinkles… but fine lines it moisturizes really well!

Does this product immediately decrease your wrinkles?

No… I mean even the next morning after the drastic results the results were kinda ehhh so I think its just giving you a shot of hydration. Now I think staying hydrated is important for people of ALL skin types (oily, combination, or dry) after you get into your teens… and ESPECIALLY if you have been on strong drying acne medications or topicals. But you don’t HAVE to pay Sunday Riley money for hydration… in fact I’ll list some of my other recommendations below.

Would I recommend this product?

If you’re in your late 20s or early 30s and finding some fine lines and think you can use a shot of hydration… I would recommend the sample size. It definitely does the job. I also let my mom use up a sample size of this product… but she saw no improvements in her melasma/sun spots, but reported that she did feel very hydrated. Deeper wrinkles were still there but similar to my results her finer lines were more evened.

Would I buy this product?

…. No.

Maybe it’s just because I’m cheap… maybe its because I still owe grad school loans… but 1 ounce for $105?? If you just have too much money and don’t know what to do with it I can see how this might be appealing to you. You know it worksIt’s easily accessible. So for those people. Go for it.

Personally I love following drug store queens. I love being informed about the ingredients. I’m willing to pay more for ingredients that you can’t get at the drugstore and for results…

They did have clinical studies apparently with good results: (quoting from Sephora website)

“Clinically tested and proven to significantly improve the appearance of lines and wrinkles in 3 minutes. Results obtained via profilometry analysis:
– 100% of women said their skin looked and felt significantly smoother and more radiant, with visibly reduced lines and wrinkles after application
– 100% of women said this was the most effective skin-plumping product they have ever used and would definitely recommend this product to a friend”

But these are only short term (3 minutes) and do not speak to their other claims:

“Fine lines appear visually plumped while the skin looks more radiant. With continued use, the appearance of stubborn hyperpigmentation and the visible signs of aging are reduced for a healthier-looking complexion”

Where are the studies for the hyperpigmentation? I know that logistically those would be hard to prove, but if I’m paying $105 I want to know the results with last more than 3 minutes.

I’m being very critical because of the price tag… and because I know some of the $$$ is due to their marketing.

When companies determine the price of a product the amount of money spent on marketing is also considered. Looking at their controversies… I don’t know if I fully trust how this companies market. We’ll see how the investigation goes.

For those who are skin care junkies and want similar results here are some other products that helped with my fine lines:

Caudalie Vinoperfect Radiance Serum is available on Amazon
Silicone Free, $50-$79 depending on where you buy it for 1 ounce. Great for right before moisturizer for deep hydration!

Too Faced Hangover Rx Primer also available on Amazon
$34 for 1.35 ounces. I don’t really believe in primer for my generally OILY skin on the majority of my face because my skin melts through primers like chocolate melts in my purse in the summer. But my eyes and forehead and DRY in the winter, and I love this as a final skin care step to prevent them from wrinkling throughout the day! Also silicone free

What are your experiences with this product?

I’m especially interested if you have a different skin type or other skin concerns!

For my acne prone sensitive skin I could only use it on certain parts of my face…

Would you spend money on this product?

Let me know!



******FULL DISCLOSURE: This are my personal experiences and thoughts. I am not being paid by the brand or the company to review this product or talk about any claims. This product was not sent to me. Links in this post are a part of the amazon affiliate program. I have no monetary gain at stake for rating this product highly or poorly.*******




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