We Tried Every Product From Sunday Riley — Here's What We Thought

Between Wild Wild Country and the endlessly disturbing details of the NXIVM bust, cults are dominating the mainstream news cycle in a way they haven't since 1969. And yet, provided you're not breaking any laws, having a "cult following" remains a very good, generally benign thing.
That is exactly what Sunday Riley has — a breathless legion of devoted fans and Sephora VIBs who worship the smart, high-performance skin-care line as if it's the only one on earth. The brand (which is named after a real person, by the way; she just prefers to stay behind-the-scenes at the company) has 224,000 followers on Instagram with just 13 individual products, which is no small feat for an independent company based out of Houston, Texas.
While we can't possibly confirm whether or not the lineup will work for your skin, we can say that all 13 are worth giving a shot, if only to size up their five-star reputations for yourself. So what are you waiting for? Maybe it's time to join the cult.
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Arguably the line's buzziest — and best-loved — product, this multitasking formula contains everything your skin needs to become a brighter, clearer version of itself. Does it smell like sour milk that someone squeezed a lemon into? It does indeed, thanks to the high concentration of lactic acid. But this tingly treatment works so well at creating fresher, smoother skin overnight, it's easy to overlook the scent.
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This retinoid oil (that's right) earns high marks across the board for its plumping, fine line-fading properties. What's special about this bright-blue solution, in addition to the fact that it smells uncannily like beef jerky, is that it seeks to bust the myth that retinoids are always drying, instead working to reduce redness, calm irritation, and leave skin soothed — and not even a little bit blue.
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Packed with 10% sulfur, 4% niacinamide, and a handful of other antibacterial ingredients like tea tree oil, turmeric, and manuka, this mask goes on bright green and rinses away to reveal smoother skin free of planet-sized zits. That said, it's best for the mild-to-moderate acne sufferer who's concerned with whiteheads and occasional breakouts; if you're concerned with more hormonal activity or have highly reactive skin, look elsewhere. (And, as with all acne products, for some people it won't do much of anything at all.)
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With a rich texture best described as buttery, this faintly citrus-scented moisturizer isn't suitable for daytime use, except for the very, very dry. But its potent combination of vitamin C, gentle chemical exfoliants, and a fruit-basket worth of oils and extracts make it an excellent reparative night treatment, without being too heavy.
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This fast-absorbing dry oil redefines salicylic acid the way Luna does retinoids: by putting the typically drying ingredient in a well-balanced formula that keep skin smooth and hydrated, not parched and flaky. It smells like sticking your head in a spice cabinet, but for acne sufferers in pursuit of minimized breakouts and a newfound glow, it's worth a shot.
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Our first impression was that this is the strongest-smelling vitamin C serum we've ever gotten a whiff of — fortunately, in the fresh-squeezed O.J. way, not the dreaded copper-penny kind. With a slightly heavier feel than we've come to expect from serums, this formula feels rich and nourishing and works as a nice dewy base under makeup, though it's a bit too greasy for use on oily skin.
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This hydrating eye cream, like many eye creams, is divisive. If you believe in a special moisturizer for the half-moon area under your eyes, then this one is excellent for brightening up dark circles and depuffing (especially when stored in the fridge); if you can think of 65 better uses for $65, then skip. Unless, of course, you're feeling open-minded... in which case, it wouldn't be the first time this formula in particular made an eye-cream skeptic change their tune.
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It smells funky and might leave oil stains on your pillowcases if you get overzealous with it (and you're probably going to get overzealous with it — it's that good), but this oil, jam-packed with vitamins and cold-pressed seed oils, is truly brightening, and leaves our skin looking like we've never seen the sun or environmental pollution in our lives.
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The name might bring the ocean to mind, but this water-cream hybrid does much more than hydrate: Its most targeted function is as a brightening treatment that uses dark spot-diminishing alpha-arbutin and papaya enzymes to clarify skin and fade discoloration. But this formula also provides immediate satisfaction in the form of a dreamy cooling sensation that makes skin feel instantly refreshed.
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If mattifying is a major concern for you, then this unique toner — it transforms from a lightweight gel to easily-absorbed liquid — will do the trick, using bentonite clay to minimize shine all day long. It might be too drying for more sensitive, less problematic skin types that need a bit more moisture, but it smells like cucumber water, which is nice.
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You probably won't notice major brightening results from any one cleanser alone, but this is an excellent cleansing oil for all skin types regardless. It's full of fatty acids to nourish as it dissolves makeup and grime, and natural AHAs and BHAs are a solid addition for gentle exfoliation.
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We can confirm that, if you close your eyes and use your imagination while massaging this luxe cleansing balm over your face, you might almost — almost — be able to forget that you're in your bathroom and not an actual spa. Yes, it also removes makeup and leaves skin feeling super fresh and clean, but any old cleanser can do that. This one is an experience (which, for $50, it should be).
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The brand recently reformulated one of its first products, the Ceramic Slip cleanser, to be gentler on sensitive skin that couldn't handle the potent deep-cleansing properties of the original. The new formula — which is just a blend of various clays and non-foaming surfactants — is indeed gentler, but it just doesn't have the same pore-purifying power that earned it such an ardent following in the first place.

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