Sunday Riley A+ High Dose Retinoid Serum Review

20th May 2019 in Skincare, Treatment - 6 Comments - Talia James (The Skincare Saviour) - 3 min read
Sunday Riley A+ High Dose Retinoid Serum Review

Welcome, Skintellecuals!

If there is one product, I love more than anything; it has to be retinol because you can achieve so much with this. If you’re looking for actual results, then retinol is for you.
I know a lot of people can be somewhat wary of using retinol, but there is honestly nothing to worry about so long as you approach it correctly instead of just blitzing your skin.

The first retinol I ever used was Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil, which is a trans-retinoic ester (Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate), and I loved it was what got me obsessed with retinol. (If you are interested in starting using retinol check out my So you want to start using retinol?” post)

Sunday Riley A+ High Dose Retinoid Serum Review

Sunday Riley recently launched an all-new retinoid serum called A+ High Dose Retinoid Serum (£70), while I think the product is alright the name is a bit misleading as someone who doesn’t use retinol might believe this is a potent retinol, but it isn’t.
Sunday Riley claims this is a 6.5% serum but its more like 0.05% as it is a trans-retinoic ester, it would be comparable with The Ordinary 5% Granactive Retinoid.

As you can see from the ingredients it is said to contain 5% trans-retinoic ester, retinoid-like botanical extracts, stabilised retinol blend (1 %), and blue-green algae with retinoid-like activity (0.5%)

To me personally, this is bullshit I would never consider “retinoid-like botanicals” as effective as retinol. You will notice that they don’t even describe what botanicals are retinoid-like and since I can’t see Bakuchiol in the INCI list which is the only botanical that’s shown to have retinol potential you can count this out of the formula.

Sunday Riley A+ High Dose Retinoid Serum Review


Water/Eau/Aqua solv, Propanediol solv|h, Dimethyl Isosorbide solv, Triheptanoin emo, Dimethicone emo 0 1, Glycerin sii|h 0 0, Pentylene Glycol solv|h, Hexyldecanol emo, Disiloxane, Cetyl PEG/PPG-10/1 Dimethicone emu|surf, Diheptyl Succinate emo, Propylene Carbonate solv|vc, Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate cci, PPG-24-Glycereth-24 emu|solv|surf, Phenyl Trimethicone emo, Retinol cci, Ubiquinone (Coq10) aox, Honey Extract h, Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer sii|aox|h, Algae Extract emo|h, Zingiber Officinale (Ginger) Extract, Opuntia Ficus-Indica Fruit Extract so|h, Bisabolol so, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter emo, Phospholipids sii|emo, Saccharomyces Cerevisiae Extract h, Lecithin emo|emu, Sodium Acrylates Copolymer vc, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene emo 2 1, 1,2-Hexanediol solv, 4-T- Butylcyclohexanol so|cci, Polyglyceryl-10 Stearate emu, Caprylyl Glycol h|emo, Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil emo 0 0, Sorbitol h 0 0, Cetylhydroxyproline Palmitamide emo, Polysilicone-11, Benzoic Acid pres, Dehydroacetic Acid pres, Sodium Phytate chel, Glyceryl Polyacrylate, Polysorbate, Hydroxyphenyl Propamidobenzoic Acid so, Stearic Acid emo|vc 0 23, Brassica Campestris Sterols emo, PVP vc 0 0, Capryloyl Glycerin/Sebacic Acid Copolymer, Sodium Benzoate pres, Alcohol amic|solv|vc, Potassium Phosphate buff, Decyl Glucoside surf, Phenoxyethanol pres, Hexylene Glycol emu|solv|surf 01 02, Potassium Sorbate pres, Tocopherol aox 03 03
Hover the mouse / tap over an ingredient for short explanation. Read more on INCIDecoder.

While the formula itself is fine it’s going to work, I do like that they have included ingredients like CoQ10, Honey, Sodium Hyaluronate (water-soluble salt form of hyaluronic acid) and 4-T-Butylcyclohexanol which is also known as SymSitive, a soothing molecule whose unique feature is to decrease stinging and burning sensations instantly, as well as the formula is packed full of antioxidants. I honestly don’t have a problem with the formula. I have been using this every night for the past few months and while I think its an alright retinol I wouldn’t say you have to go out and get it now as there are others similar on the market with the same technology but more affordable.

I can’t honestly tell you to go out and buy this when I wouldn’t buy it for myself. I did expect more from this, but the more I researched it, the more disappointed I got. While this retinol might tick boxes in terms of anti-ageing and antioxidants, it certainly isn’t as potent as it’s claimed to be.

Sunday Riley A+ High Dose Retinoid Serum Review

You can find the Sunday Riley A+ High Dose Retinoid Serum online and instore at for £70*

What do you think of A+?
What retinol do you use?
Leave a Comment!

Talia James (The Skincare Saviour)

Scottish science nerd obsessed with all things beauty! Creator of The Skincare Saviour, a skincare blog covering everything from reviews, tutorials to busting myths, finding dupes and breaking down trends.

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  • Shireen 21st May 2019 at 2:53 pm

    I love you for this honest review, Andrew. Sounds like an okay product but for the price, I expect it to deliver more.

  • Blush & Pearls 21st May 2019 at 3:49 pm

    Sounds like I won’t be swapping it for my Paula’s Choice Clinical retinol. I hate when brands try to mislead you with product titles or lack lustre “botanicals” so I appreciate your review.

    Angela |

  • Bernadette 24th May 2019 at 1:37 am

    Sunday riley has been on my wish list for years. I’ve been wanting to try them but didn’t know where to begin. This serum sounds absolutely incredible, it definitely looks extremely effective. x

  • Jasmine Talks Beauty 30th May 2019 at 9:41 pm

    I was curious about this product but I think after reading this – I will stick to more affordable options. Thanks for sharing your honest thoughts 🙂

    Jasmine xx

    Jasmine Talks Beauty

  • BeautyGeekUK 4th June 2019 at 7:49 pm

    Thanks for your honest review! I love Luna, but more as a kind of treatment oil with a touch of retinol rather than an actual retinol product. I am a total retinol convert (I use Obagi mostly) and I genuinely think it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done for my skin xx

    Beauty Geek Beauty Blog

  • 2nd August 2019 at 10:20 am

    Totally agree. That formula is not worth the money.

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