Sunday Riley: Good Genes & that infamous email

Let’s talk Lactic Acid and my thoughts on the Sunday Riley scandal.

Acids - Exfoliation - Serum - Skincare

Can good genes actually be bottled? Sunday Riley suggest they can – but can we trust them?

Let’s get straight to it. If you hate the smell of lemongrass – steer clear.  That is the unavoidable, first impression that smacks you in the face with Good Genes. This is certainly not fragrance-free.  Quickly soon thereafter you’ll notice the creamy, glorious texture that makes this serum immediately different to most.  No sticky, clear, filmey serum here.

Good Genes applies like a light lotion but does some voodoo magic by feeling more hydrating than a lotion without the heaviness of a rich cream.  One pump is more than enough to cover my entire face and it spreads easily and effortlessly. While the UK version has been adapted to switch out lactic for glycolic, I’m solely using the lactic acid version.

On my skin, I find this to be a gentle, non-drying AHA exfoliant but I still don’t feel the need to use this daily.  I believe most people are over exfoliating their skin and breaking down their natural barrier which often leads to further irritation.  Remember, even the act of removing your cleanser with a towel, or vigorously rubbing in a product, is a form of exfoliation of your complexion.  Be gentle with your face – you only get the one! The game plan of this serum is to clear, brighten and improve skin texture – think unclog congestion, improve rough skin, and lighten sun-related discolouration with the help of liquorice.

If you have sensitive skin, I’d suggest starting this slowly, as with any chemical exfoliant, and seeing how your skin tolerates it. Generally, lactic acid is the go-to recommendation for sensitive skin compared to say, glycolic or salicylic acids. As a non-friction type exfoliant, it works to break down and dissolve the structure of dead skin cells without, in most cases, causing sensitivity. I tend to use Good Genes in the evening, about 3 times a week.  I’ve had zero irritation, and despite the strong fragrance, the lotion-like consistency of this serum makes application effortless.  Long-term results will be a wait-and-see job, but so far so good.

While lifestyle, hormones, environment and good genes may play more of a part than any topical serum you can apply, Sunday Riley’s potion might just help fight those monthly breakouts and reduce the sun spots just a little. I’ll let you know in the coming months whether it’s been a serious gene game changer.

Sunday Riley’s name has been copping some serious google searches over the last 12 months for another reason than it’s Good Genes European re-formation. The email scandal.

You can read all about it on numerous online sources including Refinery 29 which explain the whole saga and the brand’s response in detail. I don’t feel the need to re-hash what has already been printed. The low-down is they were not only instructing their staff to post positive reviews on various websites including Sephora, but also advising how to do it and get away with it. The internal directives are obviously a shocking insult to their consumers.

I, like most, found the revelation extraordinarily disappointing. It felt like we were being conned. Anyone who has experienced acne, skin sensitivity or any kind of irritation knows how much of an impact that can have on your self esteem, confidence and spirit. To turn to a brand, for help, and to online reviews for guidance from your peers, had seemed like a reasonable placement of trust. To have that trust betrayed, and not in whether a red lipstick is a nice shade of red, but in terms of a product’s power in clearing skin concerns or alleviating irritation, is a terribly sad event. What is perhaps more perplexing, is why a brand that had such a successful word-of-mouth following, and loyal fanbase, felt the need to stray into this deceitful area of misleading marketing in the first place.

What I feel is important to question is how many other brands are following a similar practice, and have not been caught out? We also need to understand that while brands may be posting fictional reviews in favour of their products, their competitors may be posting negative reviews on the same product in a horrid little spout of new wave, online review, business warfare.

What I believe is the only thing to take away from this entire mess is that online reviews, especially those which are linked to a commercial retailer and do not require proof of purchase, or even a trackable account and profile, need to be taken with a grain of salt. My wish would would be to see retailers only displaying purchase-validated reviews, but in the meantime, it is up to you to be skeptical in your pre-purchase research.

Turn to the bloggers or influences who’s opinions you trust, try out products in store, on counter, or request samples to try at home.  Learn to take note of specific ingredients that work for your skin, and those that don’t, and share your true thoughts and reactions on social media without hoping to receive a like from a brand, nor a sponsored post. As with most things, knowledge is power, and now that we have been given the knowledge of the dark reality of online beauty reviews, it is up to us to be more savvy, more educated, and more aware of who we’re trusting for advice before clicking Buy Now.