If it hurts, it works – Sunday Riley Good Genes

You know the saying: If it hurts, it works?
Or: Medicine has to taste bitter to be effective?

Well, in the case of Sunday Rileys Good Genes Serum and Mask, the saying must be something like:
If it stinks, it brings.
Results, that is.

Sunday Riley Good Genes Serum and Mask (Sample size pictured, not the original bottle!)

Because it really is good skin in an instant. But it stinks like someone puked into your bottle.

What Sunday Riley claims:
A multi-purpose treatment, Good Genes works hard to un-do the damage caused by sunlight, acne, pollution & less-than-healthy lifestyle choices! The potent blend of ingredients combine to plump fine lines, fight hyper-pigmentation, heal scar tissue & boost circulation so skin looks smoother, younger & more vibrant. It can be used daily to give your complexion a moisture & radiance boost, or applied as a treatment mask to increase circulation & get skin glowing ahead of a special occasion.

I am not going to lie, this is one of the expensive treats to get yourself. One bottle contains 30 ml and retails for 117 € here.
The serum itself is of a creamy consistency, white and stinks horrendously.
I got a sample size first to see how I liked it and used it about three times a week on top of my usual night time routine.
For reference, the included 10 ml lasted me for three and a half months, so I reckon you´ll get about a years worth when purchasing the full size.

Looks more like a cream than a serum. Not pictured: The smell!

Favorable ingredients:
– Prickly Pear Extract: Smoothing, firming
– Blue Agave Extract: Antibacterial
– Lady’s Slipper Orchid Extract: Moisturizing
– Cactus Extract: Antioxidant, rich in fatty acids
– Aloe Leaf Extract: Soothing, moisturizing
– Lactic Acid: Resurfacing, moisturizing
– Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride: Lipid balancing
– Stearic Acid: Lipid balancing
– Glycyrrhiza Glabra Extract (Licorice): Antioxidant
– Xanthan Gum: Firming

Unfavorable Ingredients:
– Silicones
– DMDM Hydantoin: preservative, can be irritating
– Triethanolamine: Can lead to cancer in high concentrations (way higher than used here)
– Emulsifier

The main player here is Lactic Acid.
Compared to the other, widely used acids (Salicylic, Malic, Glycolic, PHA) this one works more on the surface, making it less irritating and leading to immediate results. Apart from that, it has some moisturizing benefits, making it a suitable acid for dehydrated as well as sensitive skins.

Does it live up to its claims?
I love the immediate effect it has on my skin and I believe in the long term benefits when looking at the ingredient list.
It is my go-to serum when nights have been to short and days jam-packed with work and errands, when I have been neglecting my water bottle or opted for the quick and easy lunch on-the-go instead of a plate full of greens.

Will I rebuy?
It stinks, it is expensive and beyond any doubt I need it in my life.

Who do I recommend it to?

Basically anyone.
It is suitable for sensitive skins having trouble with other acid toners, it works on acne prone skin as well as on dehydrated skin and it gives you immediate results.
If you are overly sensitive to smells though… Maybe get a sample first.
Have you tried anything from Sunday Riley before?
Does a smelly product put you off? Or do you prefer it over scented ones, knowing it hasn’t got any added fragrance?

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  • Haven't tried anything from this brand before but I can't get myself to buy a product this expensive, no matter how good it works.

    XO Naomi in Wonderland

  • I can put up with insane cost and stink if the product actually works, cool!

  • Susan Dollparts

    sounds really cool, I would definitely use this if someone would buy it for me haha.

    dresses-and-travels //@Susan Dollparts

  • I could probably get over the smell if it was really that great for my skin. Do you know what ingredient is causing that bad smell?? It does sound like a magic product and I know you take your skincare seriously but I don't think I could ever bring myself to paying that much for a skincare product.

    Agata http://herandmakeup.com

  • sounds good ! thanks for the review x

  • Have you tried anything from Sunday Riley at all?

  • It may be the Lactic Acid, but I am not sure.
    And it isn't THAT much to spend on skincare, just like in fashion there are no limits to how much a cream can cost. Just try and get a sample somewhere, it will last you a pretty long time and you can see whether or not it is worth it for you.
    Especially the Lactic Acid should be great for your skins needs.

  • If you happen to find that magic man willing to invest in your skincare, send him my way. I am in desperate need of a sponsor myself…

  • It does, I wouldn't want to be without it.

  • Try to get a sample, that may convince you that somethings are worth investing. Or, better, stay clear, because once you have tried it, there may be no going back.

  • You should become my skincare adviser! 🙂

  • I would be happy. Just need to move closer, so I can do a fact-to-face consultation 😉

  • idu

    Great review. I love that it's effect is immediate. Not a lot of products have that. Added to my must try list. Thanks for sharing. http://fashionablyidu.blogspot.com/

  • Ooh, that sounds so promising! Do you use it in the AM? I'm actually looking for a serum that works well under makeup. I will see if I can get a sample. November's not too far away – this may be a good buy during the Sephora sale 🙂

  • Have heard amazing things about this product but the bad smell and the price tag have been putting me off. 🙂

    Renata | Speaking Beauty UK

  • Maireem Maneje

    Nice product review 🙂 Smelly products definitely are not my favorites…


  • Wow that's expensive! But if it really works and the fact you'd repurchase it proves it must be worth the price!
    I'll have to go and smell this for myself now…

    The Everyday Life of Rachel

  • nunzia sofia

    it looks like a great product!!!!
    big hug to you.
    Check it out my new post:

  • First time I'm hearing about this product. Thanks for sharing!


  • Moa

    Really want to try this one! :)<3


  • And the best thing is: The effect is immediate and lasting. Some products just work for the moment, but this one is different.

  • I use it AM, but I have heard some people complaining that it is too effective to use under makeup, as it exfoliates and leads to patchiness combined with makeup. Personally I haven't experienced this issue, but I would test first if you plan on wearing it under makeup.

  • The smell doesn't linger, and for me it is worth the price, but that is a personal decision. Are you sensitive to smell?

  • Mine neither, but I forgive, as it works really great.

  • I guess the decision how much you spend on your skincare is a personal one, for me it is the part of my routine I invest the most, so I can justify the price. But it is for sure no budget friendly product…
    Do you invest in skincare or in makeup?

  • Thank you.

  • It is well known in the UK.

  • Try and get a sample then. But I warn you, you could become addicted!

  • I definitely invest in makeup over skin care at the moment and I know that's the wrong way round! Skin should come first!!

  • It sounds interesting… I don't really like stinky products, they just really put me off. But too scented don't work for me too. I am more of a natural scent girl. But if product doesn't have a scent and claims to be more natural – I am all for it! 🙂

    -L | The Nerdy Me

  • Ugh I'm so torn now! Do I get this or not!?? I don't think I've ever been able to like a beauty product that smells bad.. so not really sure what the fate of this one would be! Wish it wasn't so expensive! Great review Anne! 🙂

  • Kate

    For some reason the fact that it stinks makes me more convinced it will do a good job! Of course I would prefer my products to smell amazing, but I wouldn't let a bad smell put me off if it was really good – and it sounds really good! x
    Kate Louise Blogs

  • Nina

    I've never heard about this treatment. thanks for sharing. xx


  • Lovely post, I must try this out!

    Anika | http://www.anikamay.co.uk

  • Dressed With Soul

    Jetzt habe ich schon ein bisschen grinsen müssen, als ich Dein Review las. Aber entsprechend Deinen Erfahrungen ist es das Stinken auf jeden Fall wert. Du hast mich jetzt wirklich so neugierig gemacht, dass ich parallel schon geschaut habe, wo ich das Serum auf die Schnelle herbekomme 🙂 Danke für Deinen Tipp und eine tolle Woche für Dich.

  • i really want to try this!

    from helen at thelovecatsinc.com

    ps. win some amazing USA beauty goodies from lorac, tarte etc on my blog! click here.

  • Анна-Алина Гевелюк

    Looks good, nice review. Have a great day!

  • Price has put me off, but I wouldn't say no if it fell into my lap! Actually, isn't lactic acid in coconut oil? I've used that on my face and it didn't suit me too well, but I know loads love it.

  • valeriesdays

    I really love your post : "It stinks, it is expensive and beyond any doubt I need it in my life". I'm always a little bit sceptical when a product is very expensive (I was disappointed by LA PRAIRIE)… About the smells… I really don't know : if it's efficient (like a medicine) : why not ? But the smell is a part of the satisfaction, no ? xox http://valeriesdays.blogspot.fr/

  • I would love to try this out, I don't mind the smell if it's effective !

    Fashion and Cookies – fashion blog

  • Monica

    Great review, thanks for sharing!:)

  • Zahra Suleman

    Great post it was written really well! Not sure if I want to try this product out if it smells bad though haha!


  • Wow das ist echt richtig teuer und dann stinkt es auch noch. Stinkige Produkte kaufe ich nicht unbedingt, auch wenn sie schön machen. Mit dem Silikon kann ich leben, aber die anderen "giftigen" Inhaltsstoffe kommen mir nicht auf die Haut. Da bin ich sehr kritisch. DMDM ist ein Formaldehydabspalter und der ist auch krebserregend. Die hätten bei dem Preis doch auch was besseres finden können 😀


  • I figure it stinks because it isn't scented, so it is okay for me. Unscented and smelling of roses would be my dream combination!

  • Thank you. Maybe try and get a sample? That way you can see if you´ll use it before you waste lot of money because the smell is just too much too bear.

  • Haha, it totally is like medicine. If it is tasty, I will assume it won't be doing anything for my health.

  • You are welcome.

  • You can. Cult Beauty sell it and as far as I know you can get it at SpaceNK.

  • It is an investment, but especially with your skin being on the drier side, lactic acid will be great for you.

  • Let me know if you do.

  • Ich beziehe es über das Internet, in Deutschland ist es glaube ich nicht im Verkauf. Lass mich wissen, was Du denkst, wenn Du es probierst.
    Dir auch eine schöne Woche.

  • Then you should.

  • Thank you.

  • Wow, loved this review! I'm pretty sensitive to scents (the Clarins blue orchid oil was a thumbs down for me with its patchouli scent)… so I'd have to smell this in store first!

    Erin | Erin and Katherine Talk Beauty

  • Yes, lactic acid is in coconut oil, or, to be precise, lauric acid which is transformed into lactic acid.
    What kind of reaction did you experience?

  • Thank you. I really like nice smelling products, but in this case the effect had me hooked in an instant.
    Expensive isn't always better in skincare, but sometimes the ingredients are really worth it, so I try and research the ingredients before splurging on a certain product.

  • You are welcome.

  • It is effective for sure.

  • While the product sounds lovely (lots of great ingredients) I don't think I could use it because of the smell. I'm fairly sensitive to scents, I have a serum that smells like the doctor's office and I just can't use it more than a few days in a row. It's hard to explain why, but I just can't take it!

  • I had a sample and I loved the effect. Had I smelled it in store first, I would probably have skipped it…

  • Ich bin sehr zurückhaltend mit der Bewertung als "krebserregend" bei Inhaltsstoffen, die Untersuchungen beziehen sich in den meisten Fällen auf Tier (vor allem Ratten) -versuche, bei denen mit Konzentrationen gearbeitet wurde, die um ein vielfaches höher sind als die, die wir erreichen, auch wenn wir das Produkt über Jahre anwenden. Eine Übertragung dieser Daten auf Menschen ist nicht so einfach möglich/zulässig.
    Aber natürlich verstehe ich Vorsicht und den Wunsch, möglichst kein Risiko einzugehen.
    Benutzt Du auch ausschliesslich physikalischen Sonnenschutz?

  • I despise Patchouli!
    Better go and take a sniff first…

  • Some people are very sensitive to smells, and it would be a shame if you wasted your money on a product you can't stomach actually applying.

  • I can't believe it smells so bad – that's crazy! I must admit a smelly product would put me off. I'm sold on the scent every, single time. But I'm intrigued this worked so well for you!
    Becca | theBeautyInbox

  • I assume it is the lactic acid smelling so bad, so you have to take the smell for the effect.

  • I am convinced by the product but I am scared of how bad it smells!!! Great review!

    Dora NEW POST on Bangs Bang | Bloglovin | Facebook

  • Ich benutze eigentlich überhaupt keinen Sonnenschutz. Es sei denn er ist in meiner Feuchtigkeitspflege enthalten. Ich musste von NK auf konventionelle Pflege umsteigen. Während der Heuschnupfen Zeit vertrage ich keine Naturkosmetik. Bekomme Ekzeme davon. Also das was du sagst ist bestimmt richtig, aber es doch auch ohne. Ich checke meine Produkte immer auf Codecheck info. Richtig toll sind die wenigsten Sachen, aber ich suche immer die mit den wenigsten Übeln aus. Ich benutzt überhaupt nur zwei Pflegeprodukte für das Gesicht. Tagescreme und Augencreme. Sonst nichts.

  • Das ist dann natürlich ein guter Weg. Ich bin Hautpflege-besessen, also komme ich mit zwei Produkten nicht aus, und da ich schon von Berufs wegen auf die chemischen Inhaltsstoffe setze, mache ich bei den Produkten keine Ausnahme.
    Codecheck ist wirklich eine tolle Seite, ich liebe die App auf meinem Handy für den schnellen INCI-Check, aber sie geben nur alle Daten an und werten nicht (was auch zuviel verlangt wäre).
    Das mit den Ekzemen ist natürlich blöd, wenn man gern Naturkosmetik benutzen möchte und dann so eingeschränkt ist, ist das sicher sehr ärgerlich.

  • The effect stays, the smell doesn't, so I´d say "Go for it!"

  • Jaa

    Oh I have a sample tube, too! Thanks for the heads up about the scent! Haha This post reminds me of the Tom Ford Illuminating Primer that I reviewed a while ago. Great results but man, stinkyyyyy!

  • Yes, I thought of your review, too.
    I´d love to hear what you think about it after trying.

  • I would definitely get a sample of this first! I don't like the idea of having something that smells like puke on my face 🙁 But I have heard Sunday Riley is a brilliant brand xx

    Brenda BusyBee

  • The smell doesn't linger, but I was definitely put off when I first used it.

  • yeah I think months ago i may have tried a sample of some kind ( i cannot remember what was the name ) but I do remember it was lovely! 🙂

  • I love most of their stuff, but haven't tried to much, as it is uberly expensive.