Sunday Riley A+ High-Dose Retinol Serum

 

Sunday Riley
A+ High-Dose
— Retinol Serum

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The A+ High-Dose Retinol Serum is an advanced-strength retinoid serum that delivers exactly what the title suggests – a high-dose solution, 6.5% in fact, of stabilised retinoid blends and botanical retinol-alternative extracts. Although this is recommended for normal, dry, combination and oily skin types, the main concerns this serum aims to target are fine lines and wrinkles, pigmentation, dullness, and uneven texture.

The formula combines 5% retinoid ester blend, 1% liposomal-encapsulated retinol blend, and 0.5% blue-green algae with natural retinoid-alternative activity. CoQ10 helps to improve the appearance of ageing or damaged skin, while Hawaiian white honey, bisabolol, cactus extract, and ginger balance and soothe the skin for a calmer, more even-toned complexion. This entire formulation is free from sulphates and parabens, however contains just under 1% of synthetic fragrance.

 
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Brand integrity

Sunday Riley is a high-performance skincare brand backed by science, balanced with botanicals. The brand uses advanced and clinically proven ingredients in unison with balancing botanicals for fast-acting formulas, without the irritation. They are committed to developing their products to be greener by ensuring preservative levels are low and manufacturing in small batches to ensure the integrity of each ingredient is kept.  

The predominant ingredient suppliers are based in USA, Japan, Germany, UK, France and Italy, to ensure the ingredients are sourced in their purest form. Each product is scented using flower and plant extracts and oils; no artificial fragrance is added. 

 
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First impressions

Fragrance
Highly potent serums don’t have the most soothing smell, and the A+ High-Dose is no different. It’s a high-active chemical fragrance, quite potent and lingers.

Texture
The texture is a light-weight serum, pale yellow in colour and seeps into the skin within minutes.

Efficacy
In an independent blind study of 102 women, after 4 weeks 90% of women agreed that the product was gentler then other facial retinoid serums used in the past, and after 6 weeks, found that the product was effective in addressing their concerns. It’s important to remember that stronger isn’t always better, though. If your skin prefers a lesser-percentage formulation, it may mean a slower outcome, however perhaps improved skin resilience.  

 
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Ingredient watch

read our full Formulation Analysis

The Good

Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate provides the anti-ageing effects with minimal irritation, as well as a new active formula to fight against mild to moderate acne.
Ubiquinone (CoQ10) is an antioxidant, protecting the cells in your body from damage.
Algae Extract is an incredibly hydrating antioxidant, protecting the skin from free radicals that contribute to premature ageing

The Questionable

Dimethicone is a silicon-based polymer – simply put, a silicon-based oil.
Disiloxane is silicon-based ingredient responsible for its fast absorption.

 
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Packaging review

This product uses one type of plastic in its packaging and a plastic label.

Bottle: Glass - See more about Glass and its impact
Pump: PP- See more about PP and its impact
Stainless Steel Spring
Label: Screen Printed

Sunday Riley packaged this serum in a cobalt blue tinted glass bottle, to protect the formulation from UV light. The label is screen-printed, meaning no plastic film was used in the process.

 

Formulation full analysis

The Good

Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate is a cosmetic grade ester of all-trans retinoic acid. Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate (HR) is the sister to the retinoid family (Vitamin A) – binding to retinoid receptors to initialize a myriad of skin benefits. The new formulation of HR provides the anti-ageing effects with minimal irritation, as well as a new active formula to fight against mild to moderate acne. Another key benefit to HR is its ability to improve hyperpigmentation that have developed through hormonal changes and sun exposure.

Ubiquinone (CoQ10) is an antioxidant, protecting the cells in your body from damage. The level of coenzyme Q10 within the skin peaks between 20 to 30 years of age and then gradually diminishes thereafter, and we must replenish from our topical treatments. CoQ10 applied directly to the skin has been shown to reduce oxidative damage caused by UV rays and even decrease the depth of wrinkles.

Algae Extract is a favourited ingredient in many anti-ageing products, and this is probably due to the fact that it is an incredibly hydrating antioxidant, protecting the skin from free radicals that contribute to premature ageing. It’s high in essential amino acids, proteins, and a variety of vitamins like A, B, C and E. Skin types who might see more benefit with this ingredient are those who are dry, sensitive and ageing skin.

The Questionable

Dimethicone is a silicon-based polymer – simply put, a silicon-based oil. It’s used as an anti-foaming agent and conditioner and gives products that spreadable glide over the skin. It also helps in ‘filling in’ fine lines and wrinkles on the face, which is why it’s often used in makeup primers. Although this ingredient has been assessed as safe to use in personal care products by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR), it is important to note that just like any petroleum-based products, silicone oils can actually make dry skin worse over time. Particularly if it’s ‘masking’ a skin concern, forming a plastic-like barrier outside the skin.

Disiloxane is the ingredient that makes this serum fast-absorbing, leaving the skin not oily, rather silky. It leaves a matte finish, and usually used for applications that incorporate active ingredients. Disiloxane is silicon-based, and studies have provided information on the toxicity of this chemical via EWG.

 

Thoughts?

Have you used this product in treating pigmentation, signs of ageing, or textured skin?

How do you find using high-strength retinol over more mild formulations?

Share your experiences with retinol below!


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