Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil – Babylonian confusion

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If you are a regular reader of my blog, and even more if you are subscribed to my You Tube channel, you will know that I am no native speaker.

Most of the time that doesn’t lead to any difficulties. Not for me anyway, it is you that has to deal with my accent. But sometimes the difference between German and English gets really confusing. Take the Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil, for example. I wanted to write an introduction featuring the moon. Creative, I know.


Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil
Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil


Problem is, in German the moon is male. It is “he”, as opposed to “she” in English (and most other languages). So every sentence I wrote was confusing for me, I was switching gender way too often.

So I figured, I´d just get to the product. And say “it”. It is an oil, after all. But enough with semantics, lets get on with the review of Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil (what a name!)



What Sunday Riley Luna claims:

Let Luna´s advanced retinol complex be your secret weapon! Trans-retinol ester helps reduce the depth of lines and wrinkles, while focusing on damage caused by the sun, time, pollution, lifestyle and stress, helping to create the appearance of firmer, clearer, more translucent skin. Pore size is minimized for a visibly more youthful, healthier looking complexion. Essential oil complex high in azulene helps to lower the irritation associated with retinol, for calm, soothed skin.



Prize and size

One bottle contains 30 ml of product and is available for 108 € on the website here. It is a see-through glass bottle with a dropper, the blue color comes from the product itself. As you only need a few drops a time the 30 ml should last you almost one year.


Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil - the dropper
Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil – the dropper


Texture and smell

Marketed as a oil-based retinol, it feels like your regular face oil when applied. It isn’t the most lightweight, but sinks in pretty quickly. The smell is okay-ish, it isn’t pleasant, but not overwhelming and doesn’t linger. It leaves a hint of blue on my face when I put it on, but that disappears and doesn’t stain the pillow case either.


Application and effects

Other than your regular face oil, you are supposed to apply Sunday Riley Luna directly on cleansed skin and follow with your serum and moisturizer. That was awkward for me, as it is the opposite of what I usually do, but it worked.

After using it the night before, I would wake up to plump, hydrated and smooth skin in the morning. I have to admit though, I mainly bought it to combat hyper pigmentation, and I have included a little before and after using Sunday Riley Luna for six weeks.

The pictures shown here are of my left cheek, which is, shortly after delivery, still plagued by a ton of breakouts. I needed something against hyperpigmentation, so let us compare the pictures.

After six weeks of usage
After six weeks of use


Even with the change in lighting (I am sorry), you can see that the hyperpigmentation has faded a little, but way less than I had hoped for.

So the question is

Does Sunday Riley Luna really work?

To answer that, let’s take a look at the ingredient list first.


Ingredients of Sunday Riley Luna

Favorable ingredients:
  • Persea Gratissima Oil: Rich in antioxidant, fatty acids
  • Vitis Vinifera Seed Oil: Moisturizing, anti-inflammatory, rich in antioxidant and linoleic acid
  • Rubus Fruticosus Seed Oil: Rich in Vitamin C and E, antioxidants, promoting collagen
  • Salvia Hispanica Oil: Rich in linoleic acid, moisturizing and optimizing sebum production
  • Dimethyl Isosorbide (And) Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate: Vitamin A, increases cell turnover, helps with fine lines and hyper pigmentation
  • Chamomila Recutita Flower Oil: Soothing
  • Tanacetum Annuum (Blue Tansy) Oil: antibacterial, anti-inflammatory
  • Anthemis Nobilis Oil (Chamomile): Soothing
  • Eriocephalus Punctualatus Oil (Chamomile): Soothing
  • Citrus Aurantium Amara (Neroli) Oil: Reducing scars and hyper pigmentation, increases collagen production
  • Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Blood Orange) Oil: Increases collagen production
  • Cananga Odorata Flower (Ylang Ylang) Oil: Balances sebum production, antiseptic
  • Vetivera Zizanoides (Vetiver) Oil: Anti-inflammatory
  • Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil: anti-inflammatory, rich in Vitamin E and linoleic acid
  • Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract: Antiseptic
Unfavorable Ingredients:
  • CI 61565 (Green 6): Color
  • CI 60725 (Violet 2: Color
  • several essential oils: potentially irritating

The Dimethyl Isosorbide and Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate used here is actually a retinoic acid ester, so not a retinol per se. It is said to be gentler than retinol in terms of side effects, but it is important to note that all research regarding Vitamin A and its benefits has been made with a different form, so it isn’t 100% sure that this form acts the same way.

This might be an explanation why the effects in the before and after pictures above weren’t as outstanding as I would have hoped.   On the other hand that means that the risk for irritation is way less than it is with a retinol.


How do I layer Sunday Riley Luna?

Retinoids are supposed to go directly on the skin after cleansing and, if possible, left there without other product on top. Retinoid molecules are unstable, so they have a tendency to interact with other ingredients (and UV light) and loose efficacy.

Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate on the other hand is more stable, so it can be paired with other ingredients, and the company suggests adding Sunday Riley Good Genes (read my review here) on top for maximum results.

Sunday Riley Good Genes is a chemical exfoliant, using Lactic Acid as main acid (at least it is in the US, in the EU only the Glycolic Acid version is available). I would normally advise against pairing a retinoid with an AHA, to not increase the risk of irritation, but in this case you might try it for improved results.



Does it live up to its claims?


It caused no irritation (despite containing a retinoic acid ester),  it is hydrating and contains the antioxidant rich ingredients backing up the anti-aging claims.

I would disagree on the soothing part though. Yes, Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate is less irritating than other retinoids but the inclusion of essential oils might pose a different risk of skin reactions should you be sensitive to them.


How does it compare to…

The INKEY LIST Retinol

The retinol The INKEY LIST offers is a cream rather than an oil, but is similar in the fact that it contains Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate to reduce the risk of irritation. It also contains peptides (the Matrixyl Complex) to  help with premature aging and an encapsulated version of retinol (again, it is unclear if the data collected when using regular retinol can be transferred to encapsulated retinol one on one).

If I had to put them in order in terms of strength, I would say it is slightly stronger than the face oil versions.

The main difference though is obviously the price, with The INKEY LIST Retinol being only 9,99 £ for 30 ml.

You can read my full review on The INKEY LIST Retinol here.


Instytutum Retin Oil

Another face oil containing Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate, and similar in price, is the Instyutum Retin Oil. It is golden rather than blue and contains Bakuchiol as well. If you are going Bakuchi-what now, here is an article explaining what Bakuchiol actually is.

I would say it is similar in strength and effects, so the Bakuchiol might be the thing that makes you favor this one over Sunday Riley Luna.

You can read my full review on the Instytutum Retin Oil here.


Would I repurchase?


It is a lovely product, but the retinol effect was weaker than I hoped for, and while the hydrating and soothing effects were amazing, it was´t was I was looking for at the moment. If your skin is very sensitive to even over the counter retinol, you might want to try this   one.


Who do I recommend it to?

If your skin is sensitive, dehydrated or easily irritated, I am sure that this product will be perfect for you.

If you want to give Retinol based products a go, but are afraid of the side effects, this is a great product to start with. No dryness or peeling, good for retinoid beginners.


Is Sunday Riley Luna safe for pregnancy and breastfeeding?

Should you be pregnant or breastfeeding, using any product from the retinoid family is not advised. While I personally wouldn’t worry much, as nowhere enough is absorbed into the blood stream when applied topically, the companies advise against it, so I suggest you err on the side of caution here and stop using the products should you find yourself with child or breastfeeding.


Sunday Riley Luna
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If this blog post sounds vaguely familiar, this is because it was first published in summer 2016. It was a little outdated and could use some new information, so I rewrote and republished it.
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