Sunday Riley Good Genes is a cult-favorite skincare treatment that has been covered in beauty blogs countless times in the last few years. I admit that I, too, love this product, but I don’t love the price. So is there a dupe, or an affordable lactic acid treatment out there comparable to Good Genes, or are we all destined to spend countless dollars replenishing Good Genes more times than we’d prefer?
Both The Inkey List and The Ordinary offer lactic acid serums at very cheap prices. I tried both of these serums as was quite surprised by the results. So are they dupes for Good Genes? For my results, read on!
OCTOBER 2020 UPDATE: To this day, I still use Sunday Riley Good Genes religiously, usually every other day. Even though the price of Good Genes has been reduced by the manufacturer since I first wrote this post in 2019, it is still pricey. I have searched and searched for additional comparable lactic acid products available at drugstore prices, and I’m excited to share that I’ve added a new contender as a Good Genes skincare dupe.
While not strictly a lactic acid treatment, it does contain lactic acid along with some other fantastic exfoliating ingredients to help you get your glow on. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to read more about this skincare find from Mad Hippie Skincare.
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What is Lactic Acid?
Before discussing the products, let’s discuss lactic acid. Lactic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that works as an exfoliant on the surface of your skin. While synthetically produced for products today, lactic acid was originally derived from sour milk. No wonder there are tales that Cleopatra bathed in milk! Luckily lactic acid treatments are much easier for us to use today.
The lactic acid molecule is larger than other AHAs, so it doesn’t penetrate the skin as deeply. Lactic acid may be a good introduction to AHAs if you never used them before or may be beneficial if you have sensitive or dry skin.
Lactic acid targets fine lines and wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, dark spots, discoloration and may even help acne. It is generally recommended to not mix AHAs such as lactic acid with vitamin C or retinol.
Skincare Routine Note: I use lactic acid treatments every other night. I’ll use retinol one night and then lactic acid the next and so on. Currently, I save vitamin C for mornings due to its fantastic antioxidant properties.
It is important to note that lactic acid and other AHAs make your skin more sensitive to the sun, so it is important to wear a broad-spectrum SPF sunscreen to protect your skin for seven days after using these products.
Sunday Riley Good Genes All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment is formulated with purified lactic acid to exfoliate, smooth, brighten, and improve skin texture and the appearance of dullness, discoloration, and dark spots. It helps to reduce the dead skin cells and excess sebum that can cause blackheads, breakouts, and acne. It has been proven to plump fine lines in as little as 3 minutes. The result is brighter smoother glowing skin.
In addition to lactic acid, the serum contains licorice which has brightening qualities that improve luminosity and radiance. Lemongrass works an astringent that supports a toned skin. It also imparts a fresh clean citrus scent. Arnica soothes the skin and prickly pear extract is a rare desert cactus that calms irritation that can come along with chemical exfoliation.
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My Experience with Sunday Riley Good Genes
When I first tried Good Genes, it irritated my skin. But instead of quickly washing my face like usual when I encounter a product that my skin does not like, I pushed through, and to my surprise, after a few minutes, the irritation went away. I am SO glad that I gave it a chance because I woke up the next morning and my skin was never so smooth. Even a few minutes after applying it my skin appeared plumper!
Fine lines and hyperpigmentation have become concerns for me, and this product went to work on both. No other product has given me such immediate results. This is due in part to the lactic acid which worked to slough away dead skin cells and plumped my skin, making it appear more radiant. I find that personally, my skin tolerates lactic acid better than other AHA’s.
NOTE: If your skin is sensitive and Good Genes is too strong to leave on overnight, you can use it as a mask. Simply apply 1 to 3 pumps to dry skin and rinse after 15 minutes. You can patch test the product on your skin if you are concerned about a reaction.
I continue to see great results with this product, especially when I wake up in the morning after using it at night. Some days I wonder why my skin looks better and then I remember, oh right, I used Good Genes! The only drawback for me is the price. It is expensive, even if I use it every other night.
Searching for an Affordable Good Genes Alternative…
So the search began for an inexpensive dupe or even somewhat comparable affordable lactic acid-based product. There have been some very reasonably priced lactic acid treatments that have hit the market recently. Since my skin has been loving Sunday Riley’s Good Genes Lactic Acid Treatment for such a long time, I wanted to try some options to see if they were viable alternatives.
If you consider the cost to be an important factor in your decision to purchase a lactic acid product, well, let me tell you, The Ordinary and The Inkey List’s products have you covered, as you can purchase them at rock bottom drugstore prices.
The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA contains 10% lactic acid, hyaluronic acid, and purified Tasmanian pepperberry to help reduce irritation and sodium hyaluronate crosspolymer that adds moisture for a plumping appearance of your skin.
The serum in a glass bottle with a dropper that dispenses the liquid formula. It’s quite runny, so it’s important to dispense the product into the palm of your hand and gently apply it with your fingers to your face. Otherwise, it could get messy and run off your face and down your neck, although your neck could certainly benefit from this treatment.
I found that the product did not irritate my face and dried pretty quickly. In the morning, my skin was smoother and more refined. I noticed that I did not get the immediate plumping that Good Genes provided, but I kept reminding myself that for the price it did a great job.
If the 10% concentration is too strong for your skin, you can try the 5% concentration: The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA.
NOTE: I’ve read that some people use this product to help keratosis pilaris, those annoying bumps often found on the back of your arms. I am looking forward to giving it a try. At this price, I can afford it!
The Inkey List Lactic Acid Serum consists of 10% lactic acid and 1% low molecular hyaluronic acid to help the lactic acid penetrate deeper into the skin and for added hydration.
It has a running texture and the plastic squeeze tube became a bit messy upon application. Unfortunately, it was difficult to control the product, as it would run down the side of the bottle. I understand that due to the price, some concessions must be made, and the packaging is an example of this.
The Inkey List recommends this product if you have dry or more sensitive skin. I have somewhat sensitive skin, and this product did not irritate my skin at all. It felt like the hyaluronic acid kept my skin from feeling too tight or dry and provided a nice hit of hydration.
I appreciate the clear instructions on the bottle which indicate that it should be applied first under other serums and moisturizers. I applied other Inkey List serums that I was testing on top of this treatment and it didn’t pill at all. Just like The Ordinary, my skin appeared smoother and exfoliated the next morning.
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Mad Hippie Exfoliating Serum is not simply a lactic acid serum, but rather a serum super charged with 16 actives including alpha hydroxy acids, apple stem cells and gigawhite. If you are wondering what in the world gigawhite is, I wondered the same thing! Read on…
The alpha hydroxy acids present in the formula include glycolic acid and lactic acid. We all know the wonderful benefits of lactic acid as noted in the other products in this post, but what about glycolic acid? How does it differ from lactic acid?
Glycolic acid has one of the smallest sized molecules of all alpha hydroxy acids. This means that it can penetrate pores deeply to exfoliate away dead skin cells, oil and other impurities. The side effect of being so potent is that it can cause irritation for those with sensitive skin.
Glycolic acid is present in higher amounts than lactic acid in this serum (9% glycolic acid vs 1% lactic acid), so glycolic acid is definitely doing more of the exfoliating work in this serum. Glycolic acid also improves the appearance of wrinkles, discoloration and age spots. (I luckily am able to use this serum with minimal irritation.).
But there’s more! It also contains sodium hyaluronate, the salt of hyaluronic acid, which has been shown to penetrate better than hyaluronic acid. It hydrates and plumps the skin. Apple Stem Cells help reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Matrixyl Synthe ‘6, an advanced peptide, helps to rejuvenate the skin and reduce the visible signs of aging.
Gigawhite is a blend of 6 organically grown alpine plants that reduces the look of discoloration. White tea and goji berry offer antioxidant protection and a ceramide protects the skin barrier and helps skin retain moisture.
This is a pretty impressive ingredient list for a serum under $30. It brightens, clarifies and exfoliates just as well or even better the The Ordinary and The Inkey List Lactic Acid Serums. This is not surprising due to the addition of glycolic acid and a more complex formula. I think it is a solid contender for a Good Genes dupe.
Final Thoughts on Sunday Riley GooD Genes Dupes
I found both The Ordinary and The Inkey List’s lactic acid treatments very impressive. My skin likes lactic acid and it is one of the only AHAs that does not really irritate my skin. Mad Hippie is another alternative to Good Genes that will brighten, smooth and exfoliate your skin.
Due to their affordable prices, I would repurchase all three serums. I love the potent age fighting ingredients in Mad Hippie Exfoliating Serum. If I had to choose between The Inkey List and The Ordinary serums, I slightly favor The Ordinary since the packaging allows for a better, if not perfect, application of the product.
The one thing that you get from Good Genes that I haven’t been able to replicate is that immediate plumping appearance that is not present with any other products that I’ve tried. Even though I will continue to use these dupes, I will reluctantly repurchase Sunday Riley Good Genes that to me is worth every penny.
Thanks for reading, and until next time…