Sunday Riley C.E.O. 15% Vitamin C Brightening Serum Ingredients Explained

Last updated on July 18, 2023.

Overview

What it is

Serum with 22 ingredients that contains AHA, Vitamin C and Vitamin E

Cool Features

It is cruelty-free and reef safe

Suited For

It has ingredients that are good for anti aging, dry skin, brightening skin, oily skin, reducing pores, scar healing, dark spots and better texture

Free From

It doesn't contain any harsh alcohols, common allergens, parabens, silicones or sulfates

Fun facts

Sunday Riley is from United States. This product is used in 150 routines created by our community.

We independently verify ingredients and our claims are backed by peer-reviewed research. Does this product need an update? Let us know.

You should know

Here's our breakdown of the notable ingredients, benefits, and concerns we determined from the ingredients in this product. Click any item to learn more.

Notable Ingredients

AHA
Vitamin C
Vitamin E

Benefits

Hydrating (2)
Good For Oily Skin
Redness Reducing
Skin Texture (2)
Reduces Large Pores
Anti-Aging (3)
Dark Spots (2)
Scar Healing (2)
Brightening (4)

Concerns

Irritating (2)
Rosacea

Ingredient Info

Click any item below to learn more and view relevant ingredients.
alcohol-free
silicon-free
fragrance-free
sulfate-free
paraben-free
oil-free
fungal-acne safe
reef-safe
eu-allergen-free
vegan
cruelty-free

Ingredients Overview

Here's our quick-to-read summary of the ingredients in this product. Keep scrolling if you'd like to learn more about what each ingredient does!
Ingredient
Features
1
Skin Conditioning, Solvent
2
Antioxidant, Skin Conditioning
Vitamin C IconAntioxidant IconHelps reduce Skin Redness IconGood for Skin Texture IconHelps with Anti-Aging IconGood for Dark Spots IconHelps brighten skin Icon
3
Emollient, Skin Conditioning
1 / 0
Helps hydrate Dry Skin Icon
4
Emulsifying
Not safe for Fungal Acne Icon
5
Emollient, Masking, Skin Conditioning, Solvent
6
Emulsifying
Not safe for Fungal Acne Icon
7
Emollient, Skin Conditioning
8
Preservative
Preservative Icon
9
Humectant
10
Emollient, Moisturising, Skin Conditioning, Soothing
Not safe for Fungal Acne Icon
11
Emulsion Stabilising
12
Emollient, Skin Conditioning
0 / 0
Not safe for Fungal Acne Icon
13
Antioxidant, Masking, Skin Conditioning
0-3 / 0-3
Vitamin E IconAntioxidant IconHelps hydrate Dry Skin IconMay cause irritation IconHelps with Anti-Aging IconGood for Scar Healing IconHelps brighten skin Icon
14
Buffering
AHA IconGood for Oily Skin IconMay cause irritation IconGood for Skin Texture IconGood for Minimizing Pores IconHelps with Anti-Aging IconGood for Dark Spots IconGood for Scar Healing IconMay worsen Rosacea IconHelps brighten skin Icon
15
Emollient, Humectant, Skin Conditioning
16
17
Masking
Oil Icon
18
Antimicrobial, Preservative
Preservative Icon
19
Emollient, Emulsifying
Not safe for Fungal Acne Icon
20
Humectant, Skin Conditioning, Skin Protecting, Solvent
0 / 0
Helps hydrate Dry Skin IconHelps brighten skin Icon
21
Perfuming
Fragrance Icon
22
Humectant

Ingredients Explained

This product contains 22 ingredients. Click on any ingredient to learn more about it
1
What it does: Skin Conditioning, Solvent
Community Rating: Loved

Water. It's the most common cosmetic ingredient of all. You'll usually see it at the top of ingredient lists, meaning that it makes up the largest part of the product.

So why is it so popular? Water most often acts as a solvent - this means that it helps dissolve other ingredients into the formulation.

You'll also recognize water as that liquid we all need to stay alive. Talk about multi-purpose! If you see this, drink a glass of water. Stay hydrated!

Learn more about Water
2
What it does: Antioxidant, Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Loved

Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate is a form of Vitamin C.

Vitamin C helps reduce redness, improve skin texture, reduce the effects of aging, reduce the visibility of dark spots, and brighten skin.

Your skin uses Vitamin C to produce collagen and collagen production plays a role in having a strong skin barrier and having plump skin. As an antioxidant, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate also helps reduce the signs of aging such as fine-lines and wrinkles.

Studies show Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate is more stable when combined with stabilizing ingredients.

VItamin C helps brighten skin by blocking the process of skin darkening.

Read more about other types of Vitamin C:

Learn more about Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate
3
What it does: Emollient, Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Loved

Squalane is an emollient that helps the skin hold onto moisture. It's an oily liquid that occurs naturally in certain types of fish and plant oils.

Because squalane boosts hydration in the skin, it also comes with plenty of benefits: it is an antioxidant and can help fight free radicals and skin damage. Squalane is also found to have a detoxifying effect when applied.

Squalane comes from squalene, which occurs naturally within the sebum of our skin. It is one of the oils our skin produces to keep itself hydrated. Squalane is the hydrogenated version of squalene and has a longer shelf life.

Research shows that squalane is non-irritating (even at 100% concentration).

In general, it's a fantastic ingredient. It does a great job at hydrating the skin, and it's suitable for those with sensitive skin.

The source of squalane may impact malassezia / fungal acne. This is because olive oil derived squalane can contain impurities such as fatty acids and plant waxes. Sugarcane derived squalane is recommended for anyone with malassezia concerns.

Is squalane vegan?
This depends on the source. Squalane can be derived from both plants and animals. Most squalane used in skincare comes from plants.

Please note: the source of squalane is only known if disclosed by the brand. We recommend reaching out to the brand if you have any questions about their squalane.

Read more about squalene with an "e".

Learn more about Squalane
4
What it does: Emulsifying

Peg-8 Beeswax isn't fungal acne safe.

5
What it does: Emollient, Masking, Skin Conditioning, Solvent
Community Rating: Mixed

Hydrogenated Polydecene is an emollient. It creates a non-occlusive film on the skin that offers extra protection for your skin barrier.

The texture of Hydrogenated Polydecene ranges from light and silky to rich.

Hydrogenated Polydecene is the end compound of controlled hydrogenation of Polydecene.

Learn more about Hydrogenated Polydecene
6
What it does: Emulsifying

Polyglyceryl-6 Distearate isn't fungal acne safe.

7
What it does: Emollient, Skin Conditioning

We don't have a description for Ppg-12/Smdi Copolymer.

8
What it does: Preservative
Community Rating: Very Disliked

Phenoxyethanol is a preservative that has germicide, antimicrobial, and aromatic properties. Studies show that phenoxyethanol can prevent germ and microbial growth. By itself, it has a scent that is similar to that of a rose.

It's often used in formulations along with Caprylyl Glycol to preserve the shelf life of products.

9
What it does: Humectant

Acetamidoethoxyethanol (long name!) is a recently developed synthetic humectant. The manufacturer claims this humectant can help keep skin moisturized for over 30 hours.

Acetamidoethoxyethanol helps bind the water molecules in the top layer of our skin using water and keratin. Keratin is a protein found in our skin that protects our skin from bacteria and infection.

The available information is from the manufacturer.

Learn more about Acetamidoethoxyethanol
10
What it does: Emollient, Moisturising, Skin Conditioning, Soothing
Community Rating: Disliked

Jojoba Esters is a wax created from Jojoba oil. It is an emollient and film-forming ingredient. In bead form, it is an exfoliator.

This ingredient has high oxidative stability, meaning it doesn't break down when exposed to oxygen.

Its similarity to our skin's natural oils makes it a great emollient. Emollients help soften and soothe our skin by creating a barrier on top. This barrier helps trap moisture in, keeping skin hydrated.

It is created using either the hydrogenation or transesterification processes on jojoba oil.

Learn more about Jojoba Esters
11
What it does: Emulsion Stabilising
Community Rating: Very Disliked

This long ingredient is a copolymer of sodium acrylate and sodium acryloyldimethyl taurate monomers.

It is used to help stabilize other ingredients and create a thicker gel-like texture.

Emulsifiers prevent oils and waters from separating.

Learn more about Sodium Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer
12
What it does: Emollient, Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Mixed

Glycine Soja Sterols is derived from the soybean plant. Sterols are an organic compound and technically an alcohol.

Unlike solvent alcohols, glycine soja sterols have emollient properties and help hydrate the skin.

This ingredient may not be Malassezia folliculitis, or fungal-acne safe.

Sterols can be found in plants, animals, and fungi.

Learn more about Glycine Soja Sterols
13
What it does: Antioxidant, Masking, Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Liked

Tocopherol (also known as Vitamin E) is a common antioxidant used to help protect the skin from free-radicals and strengthen the skin barrier. It's also fat soluble - this means our skin is great at absorbing it.

Vitamin E also helps keep your natural skin lipids healthy. Your lipid skin barrier naturally consists of lipids, ceramides, and fatty acids. Vitamin E offers extra protection for your skin’s lipid barrier, keeping your skin healthy and nourished.

Another benefit is a bit of UV protection. Vitamin E helps reduce the damage caused by UVB rays. (It should not replace your sunscreen). Combining it with Vitamin C can decrease sunburned cells and hyperpigmentation after UV exposure.

You might have noticed Vitamin E + C often paired together. This is because it is great at stabilizing Vitamin C. Using the two together helps increase the effectiveness of both ingredients.

There are often claims that Vitamin E can reduce/prevent scarring, but these claims haven't been confirmed by scientific research.

Learn more about Tocopherol
14
What it does: Buffering
Community Rating: Loved

Glycolic Acid is arguably the most famous AHA with research to back up its benefits. Its main role is to peel the top layer of skin cells from the newer layer of skin underneath. This helps skin to remove dark spots and look more even.

Glycolic Acid has shown to boost collage production, a protein that helps skin stay firm. Overall, Glycolic Acid helps with improving uneven tone, rough patches of skin, fine lines, wrinkles, and sun damage. It also increases skin hydration by playing a role in creating molecules that create hyaluronic acid naturally.

When applying Glycolic Acid, it is normal to feel slight stinging. The pH value and concentration of glycolic acid play a role in the effectiveness of the product.

Recent studies have shown Glycolic Acid may protect the skin against UV damage. However, you should always wear SPF, especially when using exfoliants.

Read more about some other popular AHA's here:

Learn more about Glycolic Acid
15
What it does: Emollient, Humectant, Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Liked

Caprylyl Glycol is a humectant and emollient, meaning it attracts and preserves moisture.

It is a common ingredient in many products, especially those designed to hydrate skin. The primary benefits are retaining moisture, skin softening, and promoting a healthy skin barrier.

Though Caprylyl Glycol is an alcohol derived from fatty acids, it is not the kind that can dry out skin.

This ingredient is also used as a preservative to extend the life of products. It has slight antimicrobial properties.

Learn more about Caprylyl Glycol
16
What it does:
Community Rating: Liked

Sodium Phytate is the synthetic salt form of phytic acid. Phytic acid is an antioxidant and can be found in plant seeds.

Sodium Phytate is a chelating agent. Chelating agents help prevent metals from binding to water. This helps stabilize the ingredients and the product.

17
What it does: Masking
Community Rating: Very Disliked

Citrus Aurantium Dulcis Oil comes from the bitter orange, an orange native to Southeast Asia.

This orange is commonly used in cosmetics and food. It is a common ingredient for marmalade.

Citrus peels are often made up of mainly limonene, a fragrance with a citrus scent. They also contain flavonoids, which have anti-inflammatory properties.

Learn more about Citrus Aurantium Dulcis Oil
18
What it does: Antimicrobial, Preservative
Community Rating: Disliked

Chlorphenesin is a synthetic preservative. It helps protect a product against bacteria in order to extend shelf life. In most cases, Chlorphenesin is paired with other preservatives such as phenoxyethanol and caprylyl glycol.

Chlorphenesin is a biocide. This means it is able to help fight the microorganisms on our skin. It is also able to fight odor-releasing bacteria.

Chlorphenesin is soluble in both water and glycerin.

Studies show Chlorphenesin is easily absorbed by our skin. You should speak with a skincare professional if you have concerns about using Chlorphenesin.

Learn more about Chlorphenesin
19
What it does: Emollient, Emulsifying
Community Rating: Disliked

Cera alba is beeswax, or the wax used by bees to make honeycombs. It is a texture-enhancer and emollient. A study from 2003 found beeswax to be a stronger emollient than ingredients such as petroleum jelly.

As an emollient, beeswax helps hydrate the skin by creating a barrier on top. This barrier traps moisture in.

Emulsifiers help prevent ingredients from separating. This helps create consistent texture.

The structure of beeswax is mainly long-chain alcohols and the esters of fatty acids.

There are three types of beeswax: yellow, white, and absolute. Yellow is pure beeswax taken from the honeycomb. White beeswax is created by filtering or bleaching yellow beeswax. Absolute beeswax is created by treating beeswax with alcohol. Beeswax used in cosmetics are purified.

Beeswax has been used throughout history and even in prehistoric times. Some common uses for beeswax still used today are making candles, as a waterproofing agent, and polish for leather.

Learn more about Cera Alba
20
What it does: Humectant, Skin Conditioning, Skin Protecting, Solvent
Community Rating: Loved

Glycerin is already naturally found in your skin. It helps moisturize and protect your skin.

A study from 2016 found glycerin to be more effective as a humectant than AHAs and hyaluronic acid.

As a humectant, it helps the skin stay hydrated by pulling moisture to your skin. The low molecular weight of glycerin allows it to pull moisture into the deeper layers of your skin.

Hydrated skin improves your skin barrier; Your skin barrier helps protect against irritants and bacteria.

Glycerin has also been found to have antimicrobial and antiviral properties. Due to these properties, glycerin is often used in wound and burn treatments.

In cosmetics, glycerin is usually derived from plants such as soybean or palm. However, it can also be sourced from animals, such as tallow or animal fat.

This ingredient is organic, colorless, odorless, and non-toxic.

Glycerin is the name for this ingredient in American English. British English uses Glycerol/Glycerine.

Learn more about Glycerin
21
What it does: Perfuming

Terpene Hydrocarbons is a fragrance.

22
What it does: Humectant
Community Rating: Liked

Saccharide Isomerate comes from sugars found in corn. It is altered so the structure is more similar to the carbohydrates found in our skin. Its ability to match these carbohydrates makes it a great moisturizer and humectant.

Humectants help draw moisture from the air to our skin. Studies show Saccharide Isomerate to be an effective moisturizer.

Embed Ingredients

Here's what our community thinks of the 22 ingredients in this product ✨

41% are loved or liked
9% have mixed ratings
27% are disliked or very disliked
23% have no rating yet

When to use

We've created a guide with info on when you should use Sunday Riley C.E.O. 15% Vitamin C Brightening Serum. We've also included some recommended products to use it with, as well as some routine inspiration!

Read our guide on when to use C.E.O. 15% Vitamin C Brightening Serum ->
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Latest Reviews

reneelovesherskin's Avatar'
Jan 19, 2023

my favorite serum
I wear this every morning, combined with the Sunday Riley C.E.O. face oil. It has a great citrus scent. I feel that it has contributed to lightening my dark spots and giving me a brighter complexion.

my favorite serum
I wear this every morning, combined with the Sunday Riley C.E.O. face oil. It has a great citrus scent. I feel that it has contributed to lightening my dark spots and giving me a brighter complexion.

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