Exclusive: Sunday Riley Is Creating Her Brand's First-Ever Serum, Launching Next Week

I’m one of the first people to advocate a multistep routine when asked for skin care advice, but I also know that carving out half an hour every morning and night to wash your face and slather on lotions and potions by weight isn't for everyone. So whenever I’m asked which type of product is the most effective ("if I had to choose one") or which formula should be used no matter what, my answer is always a tie between a powerful cleanser and serum. But it's not just any off-the-shelf pick that will do the trick—potent ingredients and an effective delivery system should be at the forefront of each product to make the cut before it reaches your skin—and lucky for us, skin care maven Sunday Riley is launching a new dynamic duo next week featuring the brand’s first-ever serum—that bottles up everything you should be looking for. "We’ve had strong retinol, BHA, and AHA products in our lineup with Luna, UFO, and Good Genes, but we were missing the traditional serum step," Riley tells NewBeauty. "It’s been on my list of things to work on and I couldn’t be more excited that our first foray into the serum world is so powerful."

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Just in time for brighter Springtime skin, the C.E.O line is gaining two new members, the C+E Micro-Dissolve Cleansing Oil ($38) and Rapid Flash Brightening Serum ($85), both designed to boost skin’s radiance fast. "The formulation of C.E.O. Rapid Flash Brightening Serum was a labor of love for me," says Riley. "I literally sat in my lab for months trying to perfect the formula, sometimes just staring at the wall, trying to crack the challenge of creating a powerful, innovative vitamin C serum that brings something new to the already saturated market. After painstaking research and trial and error, I finally had a eureka moment and switched my thinking. I put away the l-ascorbic acid and started formulating with a powerful vitamin C derivative called tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate (THD Ascorbate). THD Ascorbate is extremely popular in Asia, but it’s relatively new and unknown here. It took me a few more months, but I finally created a vitamin C serum that accomplished everything I set out to accomplish: it's high-performing, modern, and smart."

And high-performing it is: Riley explains that THD Ascorbate is an oil-soluble derivative of vitamin C which converts into l-ascorbic acid once delivered into the skin, but it doesn't stop there. It's also classified as a quasi-drug at 3 percent in Japan and at 2 percent in Korea for lightening dark spots, but is used at 15 percent in the serum for serious brightening power (have you seen the clarity of the complexions in Asia? You can do the math to how good this stuff is). "In a controlled, ideal environment, l-ascorbic acid is an amazing ingredient to formulate with, but it’s not as stable, tends to oxidize quickly and can also be quite irritating to people with sensitive skin. THD Ascorbate is incredibly stable (meaning it doesn’t oxidize easily), powerful, and less irritating that l-ascorbic acid, which is important for people with sensitive skin."

After learning the science behind the bottle, I was so ready to give the serum a try. The citrus scent was expected from a vitamin C–based product, but the consistency that came out of the bottle wasn’t. It’s more of a milky fluid than a traditional serum, so it delivers more hydration than some others I’ve tried in the past, which is always welcome in my book. Aside from the groundbreaking ingredients and cool formulation, what really blew me away was how it made my skin feel later on. A few hours after application, I touched my face (after totally forgetting that I had tried the serum at all) and it completely stopped me in my tracks—my skin felt and looked plumper (it’s safe to say this is the first product that’s ever led me to say that), more hydrated and so much smoother (the kind that feels healthier, not just coated with a cheap lotion) than it had in literal YEARS. When I woke up the next morning, my skin had never looked better; even my under-eye bags were gone! Makeup went on better and smoother because my skin was as dewy and youthful as ever and my complexion, although slight, already had a brighter overall glow to it from just one pump of the bottle. If these results are attainable after one night, I can only imagine the jaw-dropping difference a month or two of use will make. If you're just as curious as I am, start finding out what this must-have duo can do for yourself next week—both products will be available on Sephora.com on April 4 and in-store on April 7!

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