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Sunday Riley right now is just about as hip as Drunk Elephant, which I reviewed yesterday. The biggest difference between the brands seems to be that Sunday Riley is hooked on the idea of high concentrations of botanicals plus lower concentrations of scientifically-proven ingredients, whereas Drunk Elephant seems to be the reverse (i.e,. high concentrations of scientifically-proven ingredients, plus some natural ingredients too).
Despite this, I do like some Sunday Riley products, like their retinoid ester-rich Sunday Riley LUNA Sleeping Oil (review here). But other products, like this Good Genes All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment, I did not like as much.
To see the company-issued description of the product, it reads pretty good: “Good Genes All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment repairs and helps prevent the visible signs of aging while promoting a brighter, more even complexion. NV-5 Ageless Complex reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while improving facial micro-circulation. Lactic acid refines your skin’s texture and diminishes age spots and blemishes while yeast extract accelerates new cell growth. Arnica and licorice extracts reduce inflammation while lemongrass tightens pores.”
But then the questions abound: What exactly is NV-5 Ageless Complex? If lactic acid and licorice are proven for hyperpigmentation, and arnica helps with inflammation and bruising, why are the main five ingredients this rather ineffectual botanicals like prickly pear, blue agave, and lady’s orchid slipper?
NV-5 Ageless Complex is Not All That Impressive To Me
According to Truth in Aging, the NV-5 Ageless Complex is comprised of prickly pear, blue agave, Lady’s Slipper orchid, cactus, and aloe.
This goes back to something I’m saying almost daily now: THE SKIN IS NOT THE DIGESTIVE TRACT. Yes, cactus pear has plenty of antioxidants, including ascorbic acid, carotenoids, glutathione, cysteine, taurine, quercetin, kaempferol and isorhamnetin (Food Chemistry, 2008).
But cactus pear cannot be broken down into these components so they can be utilized by the skin.
Think of it this way: In dermatology, there is a 500 Dalton rule, meaning that any protein or plant extract with molecular size larger than 500 Daltons cannot be absorbed by the skin. That’s why if you apply collagen to your skin (a molecule of about 300,000 Daltons), it does little more than hydrate. Collagen isn’t broken down into its component amino acids. And, similarly, there is no evidence that the skin can break down prickly pear into ultra-beneficial ascorbic acid, carotenoids, glutathione, cysteine, taurine, quercetin, kaempferol and isorhamnetin.
Lactic Acid is a Great Addition to Sunday Riley Good Genes Lactic Acid Treatment
Now, lactic acid is another story.
Lactic acid is great for wrinkle-reducing, wrinkle-refining, skin smoothing, and hydrating the skin. When used in concentrations of at least 10% (close to what I estimate is in Sunday Riley Good Genes Lactic Acid Treatment), it’s a great addition that packs a really great anti-aging punch.
Plus, unlike glycolic acid, lactic acid is an AHA that won’t temporarily thin the skin or make it significantly more sensitive to UV damage. (Still use a sunscreen anyway). It’s definitely superior for dry or sensitive skin types.
Licorice Extract Actually Works Against Hyperpigmentation, Age Spots and Eczema
Although there’s not much evidence that prickly pear, blue agave, Lady’s Slipper orchid, cactus, and aloe work to combat fine lines, wrinkles, and other signs of aging (probably owing to that 500 Dalton rule), there is evidence that licorice extract is utilized by the skin in treating hyperpigmentation and age spots (Dermatologic Therapy, 2007). Another recent study with 30 test subjects found that a cream with 2% licorice concentration helped reduce the appearance of eczema (NYU Langone Medical Center), meaning it may be helpful in reducing rashes and mild skin irritation.
Licorice may work on age spots and eczema in a number of ways. For one, licorice is a natural source of glabridin, which is a skin-lightening agent. It is possible that licorice may be broken down into the skin significantly enough for glabridin to have effects. For another, licorice also contains the chemical Licocachone A, which is believed to be an anti-inflammatory agent. Licocachone A is so potent that it has been shown to inhibit bacteria growth in foods (Tsukiyama, Katsura, Tokuriki, Kobayashi). Whether it is able to arrest inflammatory processes or hyperpigmentation within the skin remains to be seen, but all that is known is that licorice does in fact work on the skin.
Can be used as a daily serum or as needed for an immediate transforming treatment. Lightly hydrating. Good Genes can also be mixed with Sunday Riley Charisma Creme Cleanser or Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip Cleanser and used as a mask. Apply to the face for 10-30 minutes for an instant radiance boost.
Personal Use and OpinionsSunday Riley Good Genes Lactic Acid Treatment makes my skin feel smoother and slightly hydrated, but since I use retinoids six nights a week and an AHA peel/treatment once per week already, I didn’t honestly notice much difference. (I am in my thirties, have some resistant age spots, and occasionally it looks like I’m getting fine lines on my forehead but then I wipe them out with retinoids and concentrated AHAs in serums, moisturizers, and masques, and then I’m good.) So no go here for me.
If you’re in your teens or twenties, have extra bucks to spare, and are looking to combat the first signs of aging with a gentle formula, then Sunday Riley Good Genes Lactic Acid Treatment would be perfect for you. You’re likely to get some effects of age spot lightening and wrinkle fighting that are good enough for those first age spots, enlarged pores, and fine lines.
On the other hand, if you’re in your thirties, forties, or beyond, or are looking to get the biggest bang for your buck, then I would not recommend Sunday Riley Good Genes Lactic Acid Treatment. It simply doesn’t have a high enough concentration of proven ingredients like AHAs (would like to see higher lactic acid), retinoids, amino acids, sunscreen, niacinamide, peptides, and/or antioxidants as concentrates rather than as a part of a plant extract for me to highly recommend this for significant signs of aging.
So, good overall, but mostly for the young, rich, and fabulous. (Oh, to be 21 again, lol!)
Ingredients in Sunday Riley Good Genes Lactic Acid Treatment
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.