All the skincare secrets and life advice we learnt from Sunday Riley

What are her secrets to glowing skin and work-life balance?


Much to the delight of beauty aficionados in Singapore, cult beauty brand Sunday Riley has finally arrived at Sephora stores. While we may have gotten well-acquainted with its hit products such as lactic acid treatment Good Genes (which, btw, has already been swept off the shelves at Sephora since we last checked) and sleeping night oil Luna, we don’t actually know much about the brains behind the brand. But we’re about to change that.

First of all, who is Sunday Riley? The low-down: She’s a 41-year-old Texan entrepreneur who launched her eponymous brand back in 2009. She is also the cosmetic chemist behind all the product formulations.

Riley was recently in Singapore for the launch of the brand and naturally, we had to catch up with her to chat all things beauty – everything from her skincare routine to tricks to getting glowy skin instantly – and how she does it all (building a beauty empire and bringing up four kids all at once)!

What made you decide to go into beauty?

“I think [beauty is] profoundly deep, particularly skincare, because it is really the art of removing everything and seeing yourself in the mirror just as you are and all the emotions that go with that. If you’re born a supermodel, that’s an amazing experience. Like for Giselle, that’s amazing. Elle McPherson, still having a good time. But for the average person, what they see in the mirror are acne or lines and wrinkles, irritation, redness, the hyperpigmentation, and that usually tends to be something that affects their confidence and self-esteem.

So to be part of skincare and be part of helping people take control of their lives, helping them feel more confident with their skin and who they are – that’s amazing. That’s also what’s always drawn me to the beauty industry.”

Welcome to #TellAllThursdays, a new social series at SRHQ where you can learn a little bit more about how we make magic happen in skincare, our superior ingredients, and what drives Sunday Riley! ✨Curious about how Sunday formulates her skincare...? Here's what she had to say about her process! “You can learn a lot about cosmetic chemistry in school, but I learned almost everything (my preferred types of ingredients, my formulation style, etc.) by trial-and-error, on the job. Almost everything I know comes from practice - I formulate a lot, and hopefully, practice makes perfect. I also take formulation continuing education courses, belong to the Society of Cosmetic Chemists, and meet weekly with ingredient suppliers to learn about the latest trends. ” - Sunday Riley ✨

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How do you balance work and family life?

“I’m not going to lie to you - it’s hard to do it all, and I can only focus on a few of them. So I prioritise work because I really enjoy it, and I prioritise my family. So I don’t always get to exercise or hang out with friends, because I have to focus on my priorities. But you can focus on family and work as a woman and still be very successful. I hope we see more and more women who believe that they can do that.”

What do you do to unwind amid the craziness?

“I would love to say that I have this process, but the truth is I don’t have a lot of spare time for myself. If I were to meditate for even five minutes, I get small humans calling my name. But what I do have are great coping mechanisms: I do visualization exercises, so I even though I have a stressful life, I’m not a stressed person at all.

One thing I do is to imagine myself in a hotel. When people throw problems at me, I just put that problem in a room, shut the door and keep walking down the doorway. It’s like, I’m sorry, your problem is in a room, I can’t deal with it right now, I’ll come back to you. The whole purpose of that is to not overwhelm myself by thinking of too many problems at the same time. I try to compartmentalise and say ‘I can do one thing at a time, so I’m going to focus on one thing, I’m going to get it done then I’ll go to the next room.”

What’s your skincare routine like?

“It’s pretty easy. I get up in the morning and I wash my face with Blue Moon, cause I don’t produce a lot of oil in my sleep. Then I put on Good Genes All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment, and go about my morning and make coffee and stuff. When I come back, I’ll put on C.E.O. Rapid Flash Brightening Serum, a vitamin C serum with great antioxidant protection, then sunscreen and I’ll do my makeup.

In the evening, I’ll wash my face and if I need to double cleanse I do Blue Moon Tranquility Cleansing Balm and Ceramic Slip Clay Cleanser. Afterwards if my skin looks rough or if I’ve been dehydrated or travelling a lot, I’ll use Good Genes again. I’ll definitely do Luna Sleeping Night Oil and then usually Tidal Brightening Enzyme Water Cream. And I’ll layer Juno Antioxidant + Superfood Face Oil in too, depending on how I feel that day. I’ll also use Juno on my nails and on my hair.”

Where’s the best facial or massage that you’ve had?

“I don’t do facials but I can think of two massages. I go to Las Vegas for work once a year and someone recommended the Encore Spa – the massage was phenomenal. Also, I was at Aman Sveti Stefan in Montenegro this summer – it is so beautiful and the massage at the spa was amazing.”

What are some of your beauty pet peeves?

“It can be kind of a pet peeve for me whenever people would say ‘oh that’s going to be too strong for me’. I’m like ‘how do you know, you haven’t even used it yet!’ For example, if you’re concerned about starting on Good Genes, I’ll start by using it three times a week, using a very small amount, and working your way up. There’s a way—Just try and trust.”

What’s your one trick to getting glowing skin instantly?

“Good Genes. It exfoliates the surface of your skin and gives skin an even radiance, so all your other products go in quicker. I alternate between using Good Genes and Tidal or Good Genes and CEO Serum, and then I end up with really radiant, dewy skin that’s not oily at all.”

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