SUNDAY RILEY U.F.O



The spacecraft has landed. This review has taken me months to write because it's taken me months to even form an opinion on this product. Many of you may know I used to work for Sunday Riley in the field. When both Martian and U.F.O. ("ULTRA-CLARIFYING FACE OIL") were launched, I trained all Manhattan Sephora doors on both products. I helped make both products the sell-out success that they were. I was proud of the hard work I put forth then, and I still am now.

My former affiliation with them does not reflect this review in the slightest. I'm still a fan of Sunday Riley herself and I still think she's an incredibly smart, innovative, and passionate product formulator.

With the Prologue out of the way, I can start the discussion on U.F.O. itself. While I have some sort of opinion formed about U.F.O., there's still a large part of me that doesn't know what to think or what to say.

For many of you, U.F.O. has successfully helped to reduce inflammation, clear up active breakouts, and heal post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. For many of you, U.F.O. was your game changer. I'm always so happy to know that a product has worked for people. I'm so happy to know that it made a difference in some of your skin concerns. That's what matters.

However, for many of you, U.F.O. has worsened your congestion, caused you to breakout, provided little to no relief of existing breakouts, or made your skin worse. For many of you, U.F.O. made you breakout. Not the kind of "purging" process that happens when introducing an exfoliant or cleansing tool. The kind of breakouts that take forever to heal and are incredibly inflamed.

I'm factoring other people's experience into this review as much as my own. Because if a product has a very similar negative reaction on dozens of individuals, I feel that's worth mentioning. I want to be fair and balanced, but most importantly I want to be informative. It's not my job to tell you not to buy a product if you want to because it's not my money to spend. All I hope to do is provide enough insight and testimonials that you can make the decision for yourself.

Claims: What it is: A quick-absorbing, medicated dry oil to clear congested pores, treat and prevent acne, and smooth the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles for clearer, smoother skin. Solutions for: - Acne and blemishes- Blackheads- Pores If you want to know more…With 1.5 percent salicylic acid, this fast-acting, quick-drying, medicated oil clears acne and blackhead-causing buildup and debris from congested pores for smoother, blemish-free skin. Tea tree oil and black cumin seed oil support clear skin, while hexylresorcinol and licorice naturally brighten the appearance of old acne discolorations for a more even-toned complexion. Counterbalancing the potentially drying effects of salicylic acid, milk thistle and cucumber seed oil nourish the skin and smooth the appearance of lines and wrinkles, without leaving a greasy residue. Chamomile and neroli soothe stressed, blemish-prone skin. What it is formulated WITHOUT:- Parabens- Sulfates- Phthalates What else you need to know:"When I formulated U.F.O., I wanted to create a dry oil that practically disappears into the skin, leaving oily skin smooth (but never greasy) and yet effectively treated for blemishes and blackheads. Salicylic acid is notoriously over-drying, leaving your skin stripped and looking irritated. By infusing salicylic acid into clarifying oils (like tea tree oil and black cumin seed oil), the drying effects of salicylic acid are nipped in the bud, while all of the treatment aspects (like clearing congested pores and managing blackheads and blemishes) are in full-force. U.F.O. is part of the new Green Line, along with Martian Mattiyfing Melting Water-Gel Toner, created specifically for oily skin clients."—Sunday Riley

The Neutrals:

U.F.O. replaced Artemis, which you know I was a superfan of. I loved that it was smelly, thick, glossy, and unique. I still have backups that live in my fridge and I'll continue to use Artemis for as long as possible.

U.F.O. and Artemis have a lot in common, despite the fact that they're so different. The bolded ingredients in each formula show overlap. Interestingly, Artemis makes note of the ingredients that are organic grade while U.F.O. does not have the word "organic" printed on it anywhere. Just something I noticed.

Artemis: Artemis Essential Oil Blend [Eucalyptus Staigeriana (Ethically Farmed Lemon Ironbark) Oil, Backhousia Citriodora (Organic Lemon Myrtle) Oil, Citrus Paradisii (Organic Pink Grapefruit) Oil, Punica Granatum (Organic Pomegranate) Seed Oil], Nigella Sativa (Organic Black Cumin) Seed Oil, Silybum Marianum (Organic Milk Thistle) Seed Oil, Linum Usitatissimum (Flax) Seed Oil.

U.F.O.: Silybum Marianum (Milk Thistle) Seed Oil, Nigella Sativa (Black Cumin) Seed Oil, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Seed Oil, Diisopropyl Sebacate, Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Seed Oil, Vaccinium Macrocarpon (Cranberry) Seed Oil, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Linum Usitatissimum (Flax) Seed Oil, Caprylic/Capric Triglycerides, Ethyl Linoleate, Hexylresorcinol, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Salicylic Acid, Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot) Kernel Oil, Chamomilla Recutita Flower Oil, Citrus Aurantium Amara (Neroli) Flower Oil, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Citrus Paradisii (Grapefruit) Peel Oil, Melia Azadirachta (Neem) Leaf Extract, Melia Azadirachta (Neem) Flower Extract, Coccinia Indica Fruit Extract, Amino Esters-1, Amber Leaf Extract, Solanum Melongena (Eggplant) Fruit Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Flower Extract, Lawsonia Inermis (Henna) Extract, Ocimum Sanctum Leaf Extract, Ocimum Basilicum (Basil) Leaf Extract, Curcuma Longa (Turmeric) Root Extract, Corallina Officinalis Extract, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Pearl Powder, Moringa Pterygosperma Seed Oil.

In fact, there's a lot that U.F.O contains that is also in Tidal, which launched right before U.F.O. did. Again, bolded ingredients show overlap.

U.F.O.: Silybum Marianum (Milk Thistle) Seed Oil, Nigella Sativa (Black Cumin) Seed Oil, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Seed Oil, Diisopropyl Sebacate, Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Seed Oil, Vaccinium Macrocarpon (Cranberry) Seed Oil, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Linum Usitatissimum (Flax) Seed Oil, Caprylic/Capric Triglycerides, Ethyl Linoleate, Hexylresorcinol, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Salicylic Acid, Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot) Kernel Oil, Chamomilla Recutita Flower Oil, Citrus Aurantium Amara (Neroli) Flower Oil, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Citrus Paradisii (Grapefruit) Peel Oil, Melia Azadirachta (Neem) Leaf Extract, Melia Azadirachta (Neem) Flower Extract, Coccinia Indica Fruit Extract, Amino Esters-1, Amber Leaf Extract, Solanum Melongena (Eggplant) Fruit Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Flower Extract, Lawsonia Inermis (Henna) Extract, Ocimum Sanctum Leaf Extract, Ocimum Basilicum (Basil) Leaf Extract, Curcuma Longa (Turmeric) Root Extract, Corallina Officinalis Extract, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Pearl Powder, Moringa Pterygosperma Seed Oil.

Tidal: Water, Hydrolyzed Jojoba Esters, Glycerin, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Propanediol, Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer, Pentylene Glycol, Tamarindus Indica (Tamarind) Seed Gum, Ethyl Macadamiate, Sodium Acrylates Copolymer (and) Lecithin, Isododecane, Adipic Acid/Neopentyl Glycol Crosspolymer, Lauryl Dimethicone, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Strelitzia Nicolai (Bird of Paradise flower) Seed Aril Extract, Alpha-Arbutin, Aesculus Hippocastanum (Horse Chestnut) seed extract, Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid, Allantoin, Papain and Carbome 1, 2-Hexanediol (and) Caprylyl Glycol (and) Algin, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Extract, Melia Azadirachta (Neem) Leaf Extract (and) Melia Azadirachta Flower (Neem) Extract (and) Amino Esters-1 (and) Coccinia Indica Fruit Extract (and) Solanum Melongena (Eggplant) Fruit Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Flower Extract (and) Lawsonia Inermis Extract (and) Ocimum Sanctum Leaf (Holy Basil) Extract, Pearl Powder, Fragrance, Synthetic Fluorphlogopite, Titanium Dioxide, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin.

Granted, U.F.O. contains cucumber oil not cucumber extract, and basil not holy basil, but you get the gist. Obviously, U.F.O. contains Salicylic Acid, Artemis does not. U.F.O. is an oil, Tidal is an oil-free moisturizer. Even then, the ingredients have some similarities. This is merely something I felt worth noting.

The Pros:

The Value

U.F.O. is sold for $80 and is labeled as having 35 mL, which means each mL is $2.28. Multiply that by 5 and you're getting $11.43 more than oils that are priced the same but contain the more common 30 mL of product.

$11 is significant. 5 mL is at least a couple of weeks worth of oil. If you're in love with this product, that just means a bottle will last that much longer. That's a good thing if you ask me.

The Experience

Some may say that the way your skincare looks on your vanity, the way it smells on your face, or the emotion it evokes when you use it has no impact on the value of the product, but I disagree. I use skincare that has to provide a result and be enjoyable to use. If it doesn't, I'm not interested. There's no arguing that Sunday Riley's oil bottles are stunning, and U.F.O. is no exception. The green and gold are gorgeous to look at, and the outer packaging is just as beautiful. The sharp whiff of neroli and cool basil combine with a muted lemongrass and herbal-oil base. Slightly bitter floral, slightly herbal sweetness. This smells like a mix of traditional Ayurvedic skin potions and modern green beauty oils. I absolutely adore it. It smells like it works, if you're familiar with what I mean.

The Texture

This is an incredibly low-viscosity oil. It's polar opposite to Artemis, and absorbs almost instantly. There's next to no slip left behind on the skin, so if you combat extreme oil production, you'll definitely appreciate that. The texture is very balancing, and it has a dry finish to it. I really enjoyed the lightness when I used it in the heat of the summer. In winter, it's simply not enough for me.

The Formula

It's undeniable that U.F.O. contains a broad array of wonderful plant oils. Milk Thistle is known to balance oily or combinations skins. Tea Tree is a natural alternative to benzoyl peroxide because of its ability to kill bacteria that can cause inflammation and feed infection. Cranberry has a one-to-one ration of Omega 3, 6, and 9. It's fantastically healing. U.F.O. as an oil is quite good. It is targeted toward those with oily and congestion prone skin, and the oils that Sunday used will help to support that.

The Cons:

Availability

This is only sold in Sephora in the USA, and recently Cult Beauty in the UK. If you don't have easy access to these retailers, regardless of where you live, it's hard to get a hold of U.F.O.

The Death of Artemis

I was a superfan of Artemis, which U.F.O. has since replaced. The formulas are similar as you saw above, but there was something so special in Artemis that made it stand out. I much prefer the experience and results of Artemis to U.F.O. With that said, Artemis had a major tendency to congeal or coagulate into crystals that would clog inside the rubber pipette tip or inside the bottle, the scent was off putting for many, and the texture was quite thick. I wish that Artemis had been tweaked instead of replaced, but that's my own opinion.

Salicylic Acid + pH

I recently took a cosmetic chemistry class and learned quite a bit about pH. I am by no means a cosmetic chemist, nor do I claim to be. However, I feel that I have enough knowledge to bring up a few conceptual viewpoints.

The pH scale measures the concentration of [H+] - hydrogen - ions in a substance. The lower the pH, the higher the concentration of [H+] ions. Water is H₂O, and therefore contains some amount of [H+] ions in order to be detected on a pH scale. This is why all products containing water have some sort of pH. Products that don't contain water will not register on a pH scale.

As many of you may be aware, Salicylic Acid needs to have a pH between 3.0 and 4.0 in order to be considered effective. Because U.F.O. is free of water, it's very hard to get a pH reading. I tried both litmus papers and digital meters and could not get a reading on either format. To me, this makes the Salicylic Acid in U.F.O. ineffective because it doesn't have the correct pH. It doesn't have a pH at all - at least not one I could successfully test for.

If there is any proof that the 1.5% Salicylic Acid concentration in U.F.O. does have a pH, especially one that supports effective exfoliation, I wish I had a way to find it. But I don't.

My Experience

All I can say is that U.F.O. didn't work for me. In multiple instances, it provided congestion or breakouts as soon as the next morning when used at night. I tried using it multiple days in a row - which caused breakouts on my nose and jaw. The breakouts it caused were in areas I rarely to never breakout in. From time to time, I'll get congestion in the form of blackheads on my nose but they haven't formed an active breakout or pimple in at least a few years. I can get pimples on my jaw or chin when my diet has been particularly bad or my immune system is weakened, but those are fairly predictable.

When I used U.F.O., which was primarily in the evening, it caused active pimples on my nose, cheek, and upper cheekbone the next morning in multiple trials.

As a treatment for active breakouts, I didn't find it cleared them up. I tried it every couple of days or as needed in order to combat breakouts - which did not provide the relief I'm accustomed to with my old-faithful Paula's Choice 2% BHA Liquid or BHA 9. It took days and days to clear up, or I got frustrated and just reached for BHA 9 to get rid of it.

So where does this leave us?

My overall experience with U.F.O. was not positive. It caused immediate breakouts and didn't treat ones that I was dealing with when I had them. I'm personally weary of its ability to exfoliate, but I still think the oils it contains are lovely. At the end of the day, though, the main focal point of U.F.O. is its salicylic concentration.

I have heard from dozens of followers on both Instagram and YouTube that U.F.O. caused breakouts to worsen. I've also heard that many found it to be a successful acne treatment.

Most products are a gamble, that's a given. But, with the amount of success I've experienced in other BHA products, I'm not planning to bet any more money on the U.F.O. blackjack table.

Sunday Riley U.F.O Ultra-Clarifying Face Oil $80 for 1.18 fl oz, or 35 mL Available in the USA exclusively at Sephora, or from Cult Beauty in the UK.

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