Sunday Riley Good Genes Lactic Acid Treatment and Drunk Elephant Sukari Babyfacial are both impressive and effective in their own right. But since they both do similar things with similar AHA-based ingredients, you don’t need both. If you’re struggling to decide which one to splurge on, here’s what you should know:
Sunday Riley’s Good Genes: Best for Mild to Moderate Signs of Aging
The Sunday Riley Good Genes Lactic Acid Treatment is great because it contains both lactic acid and licorice. A popular alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), lactic acid has smoothing abilities that are similar to that of glycolic acid. However, the advantage to lactic acid is that it does not temporarily thin the skin like glycolic acid does, according to the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. This is particularly useful during the summer months, when UV rays are the strongest. Granted, glycolic acid is smaller molecularly and penetrates the skin better, and it will increase skin thickness over time, while lactic acid will not (source), but I personally choose lactic acid over glycolic acid and other agents that thin the skin – even temporarily – during the spring and summer months, or any time I’m incurring more UV exposure.
Sunday Riley Good Genes Lactic Acid Treatment is also great because it contains licorice extract. Licorice root extract, scientifically known as Glycyrrhiza glabra L., is primarily used to help to prevent and treat age spots in skin care (Dermatologic Surgery). It’s also been used to treat eczema, dermatitis, cysts, and pruritis. A study in the Journal of Dermatological Treatment showed it to be an effective agent for the treatment of atopic dermatitis. Licorice root extract has also been used in skincare as a method of improving moisture retention and as a histamine and vasodilator. It’s used as an anti-inflammatory for subacute and chronic dermatoses and to treat other chronic conditions like contact dermatitis, seborrheic dermatitis, and psoriasis.
Drunk Elephant Sukari Babyfacial: Best for More Advanced Signs of Aging
Emerging on the scene a few years ago with their ever-popular C-Firma Vitamin C Day Serum, DE has struck gold again with their Drunk Elephant Sukari Babyfacial. This mask is a clever mix of 25% AHAs as glycolic acid, tartaric acid, lactic acid, and citric acid, plus 2% BHA. According to the company, the product is designed to work as a mask that “works as a ‘facial’ to reveal greater clarity, improved skin texture and tone, and a more youthful-looking radiance.”
The clever part of Drunk Elephant Sukari Babyfacial is that it is 25% glycolic + tartaric + lactic + citric acids, so you’re not getting all of the potency of just 25% glycolic acid. Instead, I estimate this is somewhere in the ballpark of 15% glycolic acid, which is still high, but not so high that you’ll burn off or damage your skin. Keep in mind that 25% glycolic acid would be more potent than 25% of an AHA mixture because glycolic acid is the smallest of the alpha hydroxy acids and would penetrate the skin more deeply than the others, hence having more potency.
For those with skin that is sensitive, or if you haven’t used a glycolic acid product before, start slowly! You may experience some burning or tingling at first, and that’s normal with a product with 25% AHAs. Just. Start. Slowly. Like, once per week slowly. And then, twice per week. Pretty soon, every other day.
Which is Better?
“Better” is going to be dependent upon what your skin needs are. If you’re in your teens or twenties, or are aging quite well and only have mild to moderate wrinkles and sunspots, 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.
If you’re in your 30’s, 40’s, and beyond and looking for a high-quality weekly treatment, you can’t go wrong with Drunk Elephant Sukari Babyfacial. This 25% AHA formula is in the same price range as Sunday Riley Good Genes Lactic Acid Treatment, with higher-potency ingredients. You’ll get all of the improvements in the appearance of your skin as with the Sunday Riley product, plus additionally notice some benefits in terms of skin smoothness/texture and radiance.
If you’re in your thirties, forties, or beyond, or are looking to get the biggest bang for your buck, then I would recommend Drunk Elephant Sukari Babyfacial. Sunday Riley Good Genes Lactic Acid Treatment 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.
I recommend using this on nights that you aren’t using a retinol. According to dermatologist Dr. Leslie Baumann, M.D. in an exclusive interview with FutureDerm: “You have to also be careful not to use a product that has ingredients that can render the active ingredient useless… glycolic acid (AHA)… can break down retinol and retinoids.”