An Interview With Sunday Riley
Sunday Riley, the cult beauty brand that took the world and the internet by storm, has finally hit our shores! We were given the opportunity to sit down with famed founder and formulator, Sunday Riley herself last week and we talked skincare, finding balance, seeking inspiration from Mother Nature, and her plans for her namesake brand in the future. A lover of natural ingredients and essential oils, Sunday’s products are a full experience from the textures, to the aromas and most importantly, the amazing effectiveness. We asked our favourite makeup artist – and ahem, fellow Sunday Riley fangirl – Airin, to join us on this interview.
Andrea: What was your motivation behind starting Sunday Riley? Was it a love of skincare? Or did you see a gap in the market that Sunday Riley could penetrate?
Sunday: When we started, there was a definite gap in the market for what we called “green technology”. [Green Technology] is about having really high-tech active ingredients that are equipped with soothing botanicals. It’s not just about active ingredients and transformation: It’s also about nurturing and nourishing your skin and making sure that you’re naturally taking care of inflammation and irritation too.
Active ingredients are amazing, but it can cause irritation sometimes, so you have to be careful. The only way we’re able to actually use such high-potency active ingredients is because we [balance it out with ingredients] that would help to calm and soothe the skin at the same time. The truth is, I like putting products together — I like creating things [and solving] puzzles – it’s kind of intellectually challenging and I really enjoy it.
Andrea: When you were launching Sunday Riley, did you have a specific target audience In mind? And did you expect it to grow to this large and loyal following today?
Sunday: I did expect it. I always expect big and positive things. I’m a “more is more” person — I never say less is more, and I always assume great things are possible. I always have faith in the fact that amazing things are on the horizon or they can happen if I make the right choices and surround myself with the right people and listen to feedback.
Andrea: Talking about feedback, do you hold regular feedback sessions with your consumers? Or Internally? Do you get your team to try the products?
Sunday: We have levels of feedback. Let’s say I’m working on something new – I usually work on 8 different formulas at a time. I’ll try them on my hands first and take some notes (i.e. is it too sticky too this?). Once I get [the right formula], I tweak it a little bit more before asking my team in the office, “Hey, would you try this for me tonight? Tell me what you think, take it home!”
I usually ask them to do more than test it on their hands, I want to know if they enjoyed their whole experience with the product. And I ask different types of people of different skin types so I can see the differences. They’re pretty honest with me [and after I get their feedback we proceed to work on] consumer testing to make sure people like it.
We have a very transparent relationship with our fans and clients. So if they give feedback, we pay attention and we try to use their feedback to create a product that’s more specific to what that person is asking for.
Andrea: Did you experience this process with any products?
Sunday: UFO was — in its original version — an oil called Artemis. It was great and people loved it but [it gets cloudy over time] because of the unique oils that were in it. I was intending to reformulate this so we could get rid of that problem, and we did, but it suddenly became such a different product. So we just discontinued Artemis and brought out UFO and just told our clients who were Artemis followers, this is the one for you.
Airin: Most of your products actually have essential oils along with organic and natural ingredients. What are some of your favourite of these ingredients?
Sunday: My favourite essential oil is Neroli. I just love the smell of it, it’s the most beautiful smelling ingredient, and it has a very joyous and happy smell.
As far as natural ingredients go, I love something really simple like aloe vera which is great for the skin. But you can actually use technology to isolate the ingredient allantoin which is the active component in aloe which soothes the skin.
Andrea: Skincare can seem really complicated, do you have any helpful tips for those at home who want to know and understand more about the technical aspects of skincare? Chemicals and ingredients can sound intimidating, especially for beginners.
Sunday: Look for 3 different products to try in your life. Have an alpha hydroxy acids product, a vitamin c product and a retinol product, and you can see the transformation on your skin. You don’t have to feel pressure to have this huge, complicated routine to kind of freak yourself out. Just pare it down [to a cleanser], treatment or a serum, and a moisturizer. A very simple routine can still have amazing results.
Airin: In Singapore, most women are faced with hyperpigmentation. So what would you recommend them if they would want to buy just 1 Sunday Riley product?
Sunday: I would probably recommend them to use Good Genes and put CEO serum on top of it. The lactic acid in Good Genes really does help with the appearance of hyperpigmentation. By removing the dead layer of skin, the other ingredients in CEO go deeper into your skin to treat the issue.
Andrea: What is the ethos of Sunday Riley you want to foster?
Sunday: I believe in the power of change and the ability to change your destiny to achieve what you want. Skincare is a very honest experience and for a lot of people, they identify [features or aspects] they don’t like. They could see a breakout, wrinkles or hyperpigmentations and it affects their self-esteem. [It conversely] affects the choices they make in their lives and the people they surround themselves with. Skin has a profound effect on how we feel about ourselves. To have a chance to help people feel like they can be better, more confident versions of themselves and that they can make great choices in life, that’s really an honour.