Thursday, February 16, 2012

Sunday Riley Stimulant II Perfecting Stem Cell Serum Review

Sunday Riley's Stimulant II Stem Cell Serum was formulated to
radically reduce redness and inflammation, while providing an alternative anti-aging system for those with sensitive skin who, for instance, cannot tolerate active retinol based products. Therefore, if you have sensitive skin and can't use Stimulant III Perfecting Stem Cell Serum (reviewed here) then Stimulant II is just what you have been looking for.

Radically Reduces Redness and Inflammation due to Rosacea, Couperose, Post-Treatment, Post-Sun. Fights UV induced DNA damage. EGF, Ursolic Acid, Niacinamide, + Gotu Kola Stem Cells provide an alternative, corrective anti-aging system for those who cannot tolerate retinoids and chemical peels. Dramatically improves skin clarity.

Enriched with Gotu Kola (Centella Asiatica) Stem Cells. Skin types that do not have red tones will also reap anti-aging benefits. EGF, which thickens the skin to mask broken capillaries, will lend a more youthful, denser skin. Ursolic Acid dramatically fights UV damage, Niacinamide (max amount: 4%) is considered anti-acne as well as a great radiance enhancer. Paraben Free.

While I neither have Couperose (broken capillaries) nor Rosacea, I was interested in Stimulant II for its anti-aging benefits because while I use Stimulant III religiously, it can only be used at night (because of the high concentration of retinol). Stimulant II also works wonders after a peel- as it knocks down the redness and inflammation with remarkable efficacy. However, I had one specific experience that made me a true believer in Stimulant II.  On one very sunny LA day last summer I was sitting in the backyard reading, and while I was under an umbrella and slathered with sunscreen, time slipped away from me. When I went inside I saw that part of my chest had become sunburned (I have light Olive skin- therefore I tend to tan, not burn). I thought that I would cut a leaf off of my aloe plant and put it all over the overexposed area, but then I remembered that Stimulant II was supposed to do wonders to counteract the effects of solar radiation-- and a sunburn to the chest was the perfect way to put it to the test! So I pumped a generous amount into my hand a rubbed it into my sunburned chest, and then went about my day. A couple of hours later I took a look at my sunburn and was shocked to see that it was no longer red, I mean there was no evidence of a sunburn whatsoever! This is one seriously powerful and effective serum! Don't be mislead into thinking that just because Stimulant II is gentle enough for very sensitive skin types that it must also be marginally effective. I am now a big believer in this product!

Primary Properties:
1) Radically reduces redness, irritation and inflammation. Evens out skin tone.
2) Heals irritated inflamed skin even for people with very sensitive skin.
3) Fantastic treatment for post-sun exposure. It helps neutralize DNA damage caused by the sun before the damage is really done.
4) Densifies the skin- which is particularly helpful to thinning aging skin.
5) Wonderful for post-laser, post- microdermabrasion treatments

Sunday Riley's suggested use:
Great to use in the morning or post-treatment, post-sun. For more serious redness, use morning and evening. If you have had too much sun exposure recently (beach holiday, hot climate, ski holiday, etc), wash face post-exposure and apply Stimulant II mixed with a pump of Juno to restore the skin and fight UV damage before it sets in.

Stimulants can be applied in two ways:
1. Direct Hyper Serum: They can be applied directly to the skin, as a hyper-concentrated serum. First step, post-cleansing. More than one stimulant can be applied.
2. Adaptive, Personalized Skincare: They can be mixed-in with any other product (creams, serums, SPF, etc) to create a customized, tailor-made version of the original product. For example: For a customer who refuses to change their existing cream, we can offer to ADAPT their cream, creating a personalized version - by mixing the appropriate Stimulant(s) in with the cream, blending the two in the palm of the hand, and patting on. 

Key Ingredients:
1) EGF (liposomes) - increases skin thickness to camouflage broken capillaries too close to skin’s surface
2) Gotu Kola Stem Cells - Evens and improves skin tone, densifies the skin. Anti-inflammatory.
3) Niacinamide (4%) - Anti-acne, anti-inflammatory, inhibits skin pigmentation, increases skin translucence and clarity. Smooths out fine lines and wrinkles.
4) Ursolic Acid - Extreme Anti-inflammatory, relieves redness, anti-tumor (skin cancer), and antimicrobial properties, restores skin collagen and elasticity. Corrects DNA damage and neutralizes sun damage before it sets in.
5) Neutrazen 2% - Restores skin sensitivity threshold, neurocosmetic, anti-irritant
6) Palmitoyl Dipeptide-10 - Wound healing
7) Oxygen - Healing
8) Carnosine (L) - Dipeptide, quells inflamed, hyper-reactive skin and protect underlying blood vessels and free nerve endings
9) Guaiazulene - active in chamomile, extremely calming
10) Caffeine - Stimulant that promotes circulation and increases blood flow, anti-inflammatory, vasorestrictor resulting in reduced redness and puffiness
11) Anti-Redness complex (Bisabolol, Horse Chestnut, Glycyrrhetinic Acid, EGCG, Asiatic Acid)
12) Beta-Glucan - Skin immune cell macrophage activation, protects and moisturizes, promotes healing through cell turnover, stimulates collagen synthesis, anti-oxidant
13) Boswellia Serrata - Anti-inflammatory, stimulates cellular regeneration, soothing to dry and irritated skin
14) Phytosphingosine - Reduces the signs of acne, inhibits the growth of micro-organisms on the skin, reduces redness and inflamed skin
15) Turmeric - Antioxidant, healing, anti-inflammatory
16) Magnolia Bark - Anti-Inflammatory
17) Feverfew - Anti-inflammatory through inhibition of proinflammatory cytokines, good for inflamed acne skins, reduces redness, calming, soothes irritated and dry skin
18) Allantoin - Healing

Full list of ingredients: Aqua (Water), Glycerin, Perfluorodecalin, Niacinamide, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Cetearyl Olivate, rh-Oligopeptide-1 (EGF), Palmitoyl Tripeptide-8, Centella Asiatica Meristem Cell Culture, Ursolic Acid, Atelocollagen, Bisabolol (L-alpha), Caffeine, Sorbitan Olivate, Chrysanthemum Parthenium (Feverfew) Extract, Magnolia Grandiflora Bark Extract, Allantoin, Glycyrrhetinic Acid, Carnosine (L), Phytophingosine, Alcohol, Guaiazulene, Boswellia Carterii (Frankincense) Oil, Beta-Glucan (D), Aloe Barbadensis Flower Extract, Horse Chestnut Powder, Orchis Mascula Flower Extract, Sodium Chondroitin Sulfate, Epigallocatechin Gallate, Curcuma Longa (Tumeric) Root Extract, Asiatic Acid, Boswellic Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Flower Extract, Yeast Extract, Orchis Mascula Flower Extract, Opuntia Vulgaris (Prickly Pear) Leaf Extract, Agave Tequilana (Blue Agave) Leaf Extract, Opuntia Vulgaris (Cactus) Extract, Lecithin, Sodium Benzoate, Xanthan Gum, Dextran, Butylene Glycol, Gluconolactone

Overall assessment: An amazingly powerful and gentle serum that means business! A must have for me!

1 fl. oz. $295.00 at Barneys New York


  1. I wanted to update you on my progress :) I think this is the 3rd week now. I noticed my pores are smaller or not as obvious on my cheeks. But I most impressed with the texture of my skin! I was not really sure what to expect. I have used other high end brands and after 2-6 months I notice no big difference. I have been using the Ceramic Slip, Good Genes, and Skin Adrenaline morning and night, every night! I actually look forward to the routine :) I still need to get the Juno oil and the Stimulant III. I am very happy! Also, my skin is so smooth and I noticed I don't need to use as much foundation. I actually started using a tinted moisturizer.

    I do have one question though, do you know of any whitening serums that work? I was given a sample of the Chanel Le Blanc one and have just started using it but not crazy about the strong smell, although it has not broken me out.

    1. Oh Nicolle-- I am so happy to hear how happy you are with the improvement in your skin!! I'm not in the least bit surprised by the changes that you are experiencing-- the same thing happened to me. After I had been using SR for a couple of months my husband (who sometimes isn't terribly observant) kept saying how amazing my skin looked. I can't wait for you to get Juno Oil into your routine-- I am curious how you feel about it, and for you to see what a difference it makes! I am so thrilled to hear that your skin has improved so much that a tinted moisturizer is all that you need!! I just got the new one from NARS and am about to review it-- I really like it a lot (and I fully expected that I wouldn't!).

      The closest thing that SR has to a whitening serum would be Stimulant III. Here are some of the key ingredients that help with skin lightening:

      1)Octadecenedioic Acid in it naturally brightens the skin
      2)Phenylethyl Resorcinol is a skin lightener and antioxidant, potent levels of tyrosinase inhibition
      3)Dermawhite NF (Mannitol, Sodium Gluconate, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Uhaloa, Dextrin, Ferulic Acid) - Skin lightening, reduces melanin pigmentation by inhibition of tyrosinase, promotes desquamation of pigmented skin
      4) Songyii Mushroom - is a natural skin lightener, skin smoothing polysaccharides, antioxidant, moisturizing, UV filter/absorber
      5) Kojic Dipalmitate - Alternative form of Kojic Acid used for skin lightening, stable to pH, light, heat and oxidation
      6)Bearberry (Uva Ursi) - has natural arbutin content for skin lightening properties, anti-bacterial, antioxidant 7)Glycyrrhetinic Acid - from Licorice for skin brightening
      8)Lotus Zymbiozome Fermentum - Assists in controlling skin color and tone by slowing formation of tyrosinase
      9)Lipobrite (Hydroxycinnamic Acid) - Skin lightener, found in plants and contains additional antioxidant properties, non-irritating, anti-mutagenic
      10)Undecylenoyl Phenylalanine - Improves lightening effect when used synergistically with classical lightening ingredients.

      I wonder if the strong smell in the Chanel Le Blanc is fragrance? At least the sample didn't break you out!

  2. Yes, I believe the Chanel whitening serum is fragrance. I have used some of their skin care items but always got turned off by the strong smell and it didn't really seem to do much for my skin. And some of the items had too much alcohol. I don't know about your skin, but my skin can't tolerate gets dry, red, and I break out. Thanks for the list of ingredients. I noticed a lot of the high end brands are coming out w/whitening products. Sisley came out with one but it's $345! And same w/La Mer...I'll pass.

  3. I'm not in the least bit surprised. I think that it is ridiculous to put fragrance in skincare products for the face! Talk about known irritants!! I don't need a strong smell in my skincare products, or makeup for that matter! I have the same issue with too much alcohol as well. My skin gets dry and flakes, and sometimes it makes me break out as well- and I have combination skin! You are welcome for the list (I only included the one's that were intended to lighten).

    It does seem as though every high end (and even lower end) company is making whitening products-- I haven't tried anything from Sisley in years, and I haven't liked anything from La Mer enough to spend the money on in years. Their products just keeping getting more and more expensive (prohibitively so), and frankly they still use lots of inexpensive ingredients that I don't want to spend to spend luxury prices on (Mineral oil, petrolatum etc.). So I agree- I'd pass as well. I mean $345.00 is a lot of money. Of course so is $295. for Sunday Riley's serums, but those are tried and true for me-- and I know that they work. So while I wish they were less expensive- I will definitely continue to buy them.

  4. yea, there is a big difference when the products actually work. Then I don't mind paying a little more. I did get a little tempted after resaerching the La Mer new whitening line but then I remember how the brand uses mineral oil and how I have used other products from the brand and did not notice a difference.

    I used the Nars tinted moisturizer again yesterday and every time I went to the bathroom and checked myself out in the mirror, I was just surprised I was able to not have to wear medium-full coverage foundation. :)

    I was wondering though, do you use a toner? Sometimes I will use one for awhile and then stop. But since using Sunday Riley, I have not used my toner. Do they have a toner for SR? maybe I just missed it but I couldn't find one.

    1. Before you scratch the La Mer off of the list you should see if they have any samples and check out the list of ingredients. My sister's really close friend uses everything La Mer, and her skin looks amazing-- she really loves everything she uses!

      I know, NARS really seems to have gotten it right with this TM-- I'm totally loving it too. I'm continually surprised that I like it as much as I do.

      Sunday Riley doesn't make a toner or a manual exfoliant/scrub, and doesn't really believe in those types of products-- at least they don't comport to the philosophy of her line. While I use her entire line religiously I do periodically tone (not everyday, just when I feel like it-- so there isn't necessarily any rhyme or reason to when I do it). The two things that I do use are at opposite ends of the spectrum-- one is the Koh Gen Do Cleansing Water

      and the other is Erno Laszlo's Light Controlling Lotion

      I grew up using Laszlo and revisited the line recently. Light Controlling Lotion is heavy on alcohol so I don't use it every day, and I often saturate my cotton ball with water first and then only add a little bit of product. It feels very nice, but if I used it daily I suspect that it might be a bit drying-- even though I have combination skin.

      I bought the Koh Gen Do as an eye makeup remover, but really like it as a quasi toner-- it's very gentle and picks up any traces of cleanser that may have been left behind.

      I also use Kate Somerville's Exfolikate once a week when I remember, and really like it a lot.

      So while I a committed to Sunday Riley I do still rotate in other products periodically for my own personal use (beyond trying out products to review).

    2. I have the Koh Gen Do Cleansing Water and Cleansing Cloths - I love both, especially the cloths. They are very thick and don't make me break out unlike other make up remover wipes.

      I think the Chanel whitening serum is breaking me out :( either that or the sample Master Fluid primer I got from Giorgio Armani...I already 1 big one forming on my chin and another one my cheek. ugh! My gut feeling is telling me the whitening serum has alcohol in it and my skin doesn't react well to that or too too much silicone from the primer.

      Thanks for the suggestions!

    3. I love both as well! You should try them in lieu of a toner, if you haven't already. Both work so well in that application- at least on me!

      Sorry to hear that either the Chanel or the Giorgio Armani caused you to break out. I would bet that either one, or the combination of both caused the breakout. There's also the fragrance factor that could have contributed. Heavy silicone laden products don't do my skin any favors either. At least they were both samples and you can just toss them. I would give my skin a break to get back to center-- just go back to using what you know works for you.

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    1. Thank you, that's very kind of you to say! :-)


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