Good or Nah: Sunday Riley C.E.O. Moisturizer

I’ve been using The Ordinary Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate 10% — one of their several vitamin C offerings — for the past couple (few?) months, but I finally ran out (as one does when one uses a skincare product nightly for many weeks in a row). Though I can’t PROVE that it did anything (there’s no BLAM WOW levels of before/after), I do feel like my skin is a little brighter and has a better texture than it did before I started — enough to conclude that I want to keep using a vitamin C product, but not enough to think OH HECK YES I WILL NEVER GIVE UP THE ORDINARY MAP 10%. Though I loved the price ($9.60/oz!) I hated the texture — it pilled. Pilling gives my fingertips the heebie-jeebies.

I was waffling between upping my The Ordinary game to one of their stronger Vit C products or investing in the SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic serum (which, at $165/oz, was laughably out of my price range). FORTUNATELY, I ended up with a deluxe sample of another vitamin C product — the Sunday Riley C.E.O. C + E antiOXIDANT Protect + Repair Moisturizer. (I just … Sunday, you realize acronyms are not created by randomly capitalizing letters in the MIDDLE of words, right? That’s not how acronyms work.) Past experiences with Sunday Riley have been pleasant enough, but I’m not rich and can’t exactly afford her stuff on a regular basis. (I’ll probably invest in the Juno or Luna oil once my Fresh Seaberry runs out … IF it ever runs out.) Still, I love trying their stuff and the deluxe sample was free with purchase, which is a MUCH better price than SkinCeuticals’s $165/oz.

At $65/1.7 oz, this stuff isn’t exactly cheap — but Sunday Riley promises that your $65 will get you “a hydrating moisturizer” which “visibly repairs the effects of aging, environmental stress, and pollution-induced damage. It is rich yet never greasy, providing hydration and antioxidant protection to the skin for a visibly younger, softer, and healthier-looking complexion.”

Last week I was kinda bitchy about Drunk Elephant’s claims regarding their B-Hydra Gel, but I have to say — my experience with THIS overpriced moisturizer has more or less aligned with its description!

The formula is a medium-thick cream with a more traditional emollient “cream” texture than the It Cosmetics Confidence in a Cream (which reminds me of extremely thick pudding — kind of wet, creamy, a little jiggly). It doesn’t absorb ~instantly~, but if you apply the cream before brushing your teeth and hair, you should be able to apply foundation after without too much issue. (Bonus: because it is a little more emollient than the It Cosmetics stuff, it provides a nice smooth base for foundations!) Sunday Riley isn’t lying about many of their claims — it’s hydrating, rich, and non-greasy, and my skin feels softer and healthier the next morning.

As far as the vitamin C thing — I’m not sure. :/ I mean, I can’t even prove that The Ordinary MAP did anything, and I used it for a couple of months, y’know? One thing’s for sure — the 2-3 weeks I got out of the CEO cream did NOT “visibly repair the effects of aging, environmental stress, and pollution-induced damage” for a “visibly younger” complexion. It didn’t press the rewind button on aging. I still look 28, not 18. But when I used the CEO cream overnight, my face was glowy and even the following morning. Was that due to the Vitamin C? I dunno, maybe. Vitamin C takes awhile to ramp up, but I’ve been using the MAP for long enough that the accumulative effects of long-term Vit C usage could start making a noticeable difference at this point. Or it could just be that my dry skin enjoys a creamy overnight moisturizer.

Honestly, all brightening claims aside, I genuinely loved the texture and hydrating effects of this moisturizer. My face looked happier when I woke up. If I could afford this, I *might* even consider switching from my It Cosmetics Confidence in a Cream (which is still doing a great job, and is just $38 for the same amount). But at $65, on a student’s budget? Hell no. (Would I be psyched to get another deluxe sample? Totally!) If you have money, dry skin, and need a good face cream, this might be a good choice for you; otherwise, you can probably find something good enough for less $$$.


  1. IT SMELLS LIKE ORANGE POPSICLES. Not the syrupy-sweet orange-vanilla dream bars (delicious, don’t get me wrong) — this smells like those tangerine all-fruit “healthy” popsicles. It’s TANGY-sweet and bright and perfect and I LOVE IT. (If you’re going to throw irritating fragrance in a moisturizer, at least make it smell like summertime!) Does this bias my opinion? Maybe a little. I’m sorry. I’m a sucker for citrus. And yes — that does mean there are fragrant plant oils in here (tangerine peel and lime), so beware if you’re sensitive to those.
  2. It’s a pale yellow color. On the one hand, pale yellow makes me think “How lovely and citrus-sunshine-happy!” On the other hand, Vitamin C oxidizes to a yellow-ish shade … so if your very expensive face cream starts losing its potency, you won’t be able to tell. I don’t know whether the color choice was innocent or nefarious on Sunday Riley’s part, but it feels kind of sneaky to me. (Fortunately, I know a way to transfer jar products into airtight pumps, which should help reduce the rate of oxidation. Check out the comment section of that post, as Collier brainstormed a better way.)