Thursday, February 2, 2012

Sunday Riley Stimulant III Perfecting Stem Cell Serum REVIEW

As you are all well aware by now, I am completely head over heels in love with Sunday Riley Modern Skincare! I have used this entire line for the past few years and my skin has never looked or felt better (and by entire line, I literally mean to say that I use every single skincare product that she makes. Compulsive, perhaps. Resolute in my devotion to this line, absolutely!).

My addiction commitment to Sunday Riley products began a few years back when I first started using her two best known products: Juno Oil (reviewed here) and Good Genes (reviewed here), and from that point on there was no turning back for me! I soon expanded my stash to include all three of her Stimulant Stem Cell Serums (Stimulant I reviewed here, Stimulant II review forthcoming), and every other face and body product in her magical arsenal of superior quality products. Suffice it to say, I am so well known at the Sunday Riley counter at Barneys in Beverly Hills that they say that it is my Cheers (where everybody knows your name)!

Stimulant III is a fantastic treatment for hyperpigmentation, enlarged pores, and loss of elasticity. Sunday Riley considers this product a must have product for anyone over the age of 30.

I use Stimulant III every single night (and have done so for a couple of years now), and when I wake up the following day my skin has an unmistakable clarity, evenness of tone, luminosity, and firmness to it. I have definitely seen a marked reduction and fading in the areas of sun damage (hyperpigmentation) that I have accumulated from my years of exposure to the damaging rays of the sun in Southern California. Don't get me wrong though, I have not sunbathed in many many years (though sun damage is cumulative over a lifetime), and I am judicious about applying sunscreen every time I walk outside of the house. I also have light olive skin (that tends to tan, rather than burn- thank you, dad!) that is in very good shape (few lines, thank you, mom!)- so the environmental damage to my skin is not what I would consider serious- particularly for someone living in Southern California. With that said, I did have one very stubborn hyperpigmented spot on the left side of my face (near my ear) that my doctor said was no doubt from repeated exposure to the harsh rays of the sun while driving my car. Nobody else really noticed this brown spot (even family members not prone to biting their tongues when expressing their opinions)- except of course when I would show it to them and complain about how much it bothered me. This brown spot seemingly took up permanent residence on my face, and simply resisted the charms of Stimulant III which had little or no effect on it. I eventually had my doctor burn it off largely for the sake of vanity, but also to avoid the possibility of it ever becoming cancerous.  Therefore, in my experience areas that are more deeply damaged will be more effectively dealt with by your doctor than by Stimulant III. Some spots can change and become cancerous before you are really aware of it, and thus applying topical treatments could do more harm than good. I think that it is very important to see your primary care physician or dermatologist before deciding to treat certain damaged areas of the skin with a high dose of retinol. While my brown spot was not displaying any of the tell-tale signs that indicated a precancerous or cancerous skin condition- it could have easily gone that way had I not decided to do something about it. I now make sure to slather that spot with sunscreen, and apply Stimulant III to it at night, and it continues to looks fantastic.

Use and suggestions:

Since this product contains high levels of retinol it should ONLY BE USED AT NIGHT. This is true for a couple of reasons. First, retinol is the most effective at night when your body enters its natural rest and repair mode. Second, retinols create photosensitivity and can cause reactions when exposed to the rays of the sun. In other words, don't use this during the day- even with a sunscreen. Sunday Riley also stresses that this product should NOT be used by pregnant women because it contains such a high dose of pure and fresh retinol.

Sunday Riley's suggested use:
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.

I  only ever apply mine full strength all over my face (1. Direct Hyper Serum, rather than mixing it in with other products (2. Adaptive, Personalized Skincare). I want maximum strength for maximum results, period. I do, however, often layer my serums- so I do frequently use the other Stimulants at night as well.

Key Points to consider for this formula:

1) 1% retinol (which is the maximum strength available without a prescription). Retinol helps battle signs of aging by improving the appearance of UV damaged skin, hyperpigmentation, and loss of elasticity and tone. It also helps soften wrinkles and lines.

2) This potent formula also includes a multitude of ingredients that calm and soothe the skin. Therefore you will not experience any of the dramatic redness and/or peeling typically associated with so many retinol products. That said this product may be too active for people with very sensitive skin.

3) Corrective lightening of stubborn hyperpigmentation and brown spots (from the sun or those typically associated with aging) with 15 advanced actives. These potent active ingredients work to reduce unevenness and blotchiness without altering your natural skin color (this does not bleach the skin)

4) It refines the appearance of pores, and gives the skin an unmistakable luminosity or glow.

5) Increases elasticity creating a more youthful complexion.

Further breakdown of the Key Ingredients:
-Pure, Fresh Retinol (1%) - improves the appearance of UV-damaged skin.
-Octadecenedioic Acid - Dramatically improves skin tone, texture and natural radiance, combats melasma, naturally brightenin
-Buddleja Stem Cells - Protects against and reverses photo-damage to skin, including hyperpigmentation
-NonaPeptide-1 (Melanosatine 5) Reduces hyperpigmentation by preventing activation of tyrosinase and blocking melanin synthesis
-Phenylethyl Resorcinol - Skin lightener and antioxidant, potent levels of tyrosinase inhibition
-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
-Songyii Mushroom - Natural skin lightener, skin smoothing polysaccharides, antioxidant, moisturizing, UV filter/absorber
-Depigmentation Factor Bioflavonoids - Citrus bioflavonoids encapsulated in nanospherical liposomes
-Kojic Dipalmitate - Alternative form of Kojic Acid used for skin lightening, stable to pH, light, heat and oxidation
-Bearberry (Uva Ursi) - Natural arbutin content for skin lightening properties, anti-bacterial, antioxidant
-Glycyrrhetinic Acid - from Licorice, skin brightening
-Niacinamide - Skin radiance and clarity
-Lotus Zymbiozome Fermentum - Assists in controlling skin color and tone by slowing formation of tyrosinase
-Lipobrite (Hydroxycinnamic Acid) - Skin lightener, found in plants and contains additional antioxidant properties, non-irritating, anti-mutagenic
-Undecylenoyl Phenylalanine - Improves lightening effect when used synergistically with classical lightening ingredients

Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Niacinamide, Glycerin, Undecylenoyl Phenylalanine, Ethoxydiglycol, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Retinol, Buddleja Davidii Meristem Cell Culture, Nonapeptide-1, Sodium Hyaluronate (L), Gluconolactone, Tricholoma Matsutake (Songyi) Extract, Rumex Occidentalis 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, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice Powder, Lonicera Caprifolium (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract, Lonicera Japonica (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract, Squalane, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Limnanthes Alba (Meadowfoam) Seed Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Cetearyl Olivate, Sodium Hydroxide, Phytic Acid, Phenylethyl Resorcinol, Sorbitan Olivate, Hydroxycinnamic Acid, Tocopherol (D-alpha), Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, Dextran, Xanthan Gum, Alcohol, Phenethyl Alcohol, Sorbic Acid, Caprylyl Glycol, Potassium Sorbate, Carbomer, Cyclodextrin, Sodium Benzoate, Phenoxyethanol

Overall assessment: FANTASTIC PRODUCT! I have repurchased it before, and will continue to! A definite Holy Grail product for me. It does wonders to even out skin tone and fade hyperpigmentation. However, particularly dark spots need to be seen by a physician. The one dark spot that I had (driver's side sun damage) did not fade from Stimulant III- instead my doctor had to burn it off. The three Stimulant Stem Cell Serums are housed in air-tight containers that are required to maintain the potency and stability of the ingredients. As a result these are among the very few Sunday Riley skincare products that they do not sample out. Therefore if interested in any of them you are committed to purchasing the full size container which is quite expensive, but worth it!

$295.00 1 oz. Barneys New York


  1. Thanks for this review Lola. I have some pesky age spots that don't seem to lighten up. After using Caudalie's Vinoperfecting Radiance, I found after awhile with daily use, I felt like it just stopped working on my skin. My other option was to go the Lancome Visionnaire route, but my skin tends to break out with most of Lancome products. And I've never even heard of jasmonic acid (aka: secret ingredient) in Visionnaire and can't find any research online about it. Is this serum like that too where it just stops working after awhile or makes your skin go crazy? I know Sunday Riley has some of the best skincare products out there. Maybe I really need to just cure my curiosity by buying this product. ;)

    1. Hi Jen, You are very welcome! I think that the particularly pesky age spots and sun spots have a very difficult time being effectively dealt with through the use of over-the-counter cosmetic products (even excellent and effective ones like Stimulant III). By this I mean the kind of damage that involves lots and lots of layers of skin. That's what I was dealing with on the left side of my face (but that was after years of driving without adequate reapplication of sunscreen to an often neglected area of the face- since it was nearly in my hairline). In fact when my doctor burned it off she said that it was pretty deep and was going to burn deeper to get rid of it altogether. That was a while ago and between Stimulant III and Cashmere SPF 30 I have prevented that ugly spot from coming back.

      I am often suspicious of cosmetic claims- especially when they talk about their secret ingredients that nobody else has ever heard of-- it's just marketing doublespeak intended to separate us from our money, as far as I'm concerned. I haven't heard of jasmonic acid either- so I would tend to be suspicious of their claims associated with it (at least until there is real scientific proof to back it). Since the cosmetics industry is basically unregulated they can make all sorts of wild claims and get away with it. That really leaves us with the burden of having to try to figure out what claims are real, and what is pure marketing BS!!

      I definitely continue to see the benefits from using SR Stimulant III (and Stimulant I has done WONDERS for the "11" expression line between my eyes on my forehead)- so no, it definitely hasn't stopped working for me after two years of continued use. It has done wonders for evening out my skin tone, and breaking up and fading hyperpigmented spots from the sun. So I will definitely continue to use it. It's just that I realized that the sunspot on the side of my face was going to require something far more invasive than a non-prescription topical, and judging by how deep my doctor had to burn (or freeze actually) I was right.

      Like I said, I love Stimulant III, but if your pesky age spots are anywhere as deep as that one spot that I had then I would say get your doctor to remove it, and then use Stimulant III on that spot to prevent it from returning (along with sunscreen). Should you decide to get it I'm betting that you will really love it, and will see a huge difference after using it for a while. I wish that it were less expensive, but one bottle lasts me about a year (I use it sparingly, but find that about a half a pump covers my whole face)- so it ends up being more cost effective than I initially would have thought.

      I will be posting my Skin Adrenaline Review tomorrow morning- which you may find helpful since it is among the SR products that you are considering. You can subscribe via email or via one of the Reader outlets and it will come right to you automatically.

      Let me know what you think of these products if you end up getting any of them. I sure hope that you love them as much as I do!! Have a lovely weekend!

  2. Thanks Lola. Yeah Visionnaire seems like a bit of a sham. Many of the reviews I saw on Makeupalley by users who have my skin type do not have high regard for it.

    I like the whole "green technology" thing behind Sunday Riley. I have been into the whole science with botanical thing since Joelle Ciocco products came on the scene. However, her products are less available, limiting only to NY, France, and one online place with expensive shipping. Sunday Riley seems to have the same effect but is readily available in the US. Especially online.

    I will definitely get this serum and Skin Adrenaline on my trip to San Francisco next weekend. And thanks, I will subscribe. Funny, I've had "Sunday Riley Stimulant III Perfecting Stem Cell Serum" in my alerts the last few weeks. Your blog was the only place that has a review of this product!

    1. I completely agree about the liking the whole "green technology" that Sunday Riley embraces- I think that it's the wave of the future in skincare. Marrying botanicals with high tech biochemistry is really getting the best of both worlds. I don't know much about Joëlle Ciocco products, but what little I have read is quite appealing.

      You are picking the right weekend to get your Sunday Riley goodies at Barneys because that coincides with the Barneys cosmetic bag event (free with $200.00 purchase) that runs Feb. 9-11. I love their gift bags, plus there will be a step up gift at the Sunday Riley counter if you spend $250.00-- which you will exceed. You should call to preorder Skin Adrenaline & Stim III because could easily sell out before you get there. They might also be offering a free Sunday Riley facial as well, and possibly a free make-over with her new makeup line. I will be indulging in the whole deal that day. It's funny that I was born and raised in the Bay Area, and managed to somehow never go to the SF Barneys!! Keep me posted!

      Glad that you will be subscribing-- let me know if there's anything that you want to see reviewed, and if I have it or plan to get it I will do it. I'm surprised that I'm the only one who has reviewed Stim III, but I definitely saw too few Sunday Riley reviews out there that were helpful to me when I was looking for more information about her products! So I'm glad that I could help you in any way!

  3. It’s nearly impossible to find experienced people about this subject, but you sound like you know what you’re
    talking about! Thanks

    1. Thanks, that's very nice of you to say! :-)

  4. Hi Lola, I just wanted to ask if this is okay to use at age 26. I know this product is for 30 and over but I have very noticeable pores, dark spots from sun and post acne. It treats everything I need to treat.

    1. Hi, I'm not sure that this type of anti-aging serum is best suited to 26 year old skin. Grant it, that you are dealing with spots from acne and the sun, but I'm not convinced that you have to spend $295.00 for an ounce of product that is in the anti-aging category when your needs are more centered around sun & acne damage, and noticeable pore size. I find that Stimulant III is lovely as an anti-aging product, but I have found that the stubborn sun spots weren't really helped at all by Stimulant III, and that my doctor had to remove them. What I would do if I were you is see your doctor/dermatologist and see what he/she suggests you should use to meet your specific needs. They often have over-the-counter cosmeceutical products that target specific conditions, and in some cases they may want to pull out the big guns and prescribe something that will blow away the potency of anything that you can buy over-the-counter. Another thing to consider is that often times some of the sun spots may be pre-cancerous, or cancerous, and putting topical products on them may do far more harm than good. In my case, one of the spots that I had been trying to break up with Stimulant III was what my doctor called pre-pre cancerous-- she burned it off, and said that it would have eventually turned into skin cancer. So after the experiences I have had I would tell you what I was told by my doctor and dermatologist-- always have those spots looked at by a doctor before putting stuff on them on your own. Thanks for stopping by, and keep me posted! ;-)

  5. Hi Lola,

    You definitely seem to know this line very well. I've been using Juno, good genes for about a month now and I'm happy with it. My once perfect skin has had to deal with acne for the past two years and I've aged probably about 5 yrs from harsh products….should have just left it alone!!
    I love Juno and I'm not sure if it adds to the break outs or not but it definitely feels like my acne heals quicker…
    I read under the ingredients, a natural form of vitamin A from Broccoli seed… I've always been told not to wear retinol during the day, and of course I've been slathering it on day and night as I love it but questing if it has the same affect as the real thing.

    My question to you is-I've never been a retinol fan as I think that it seems to do the opposite as most doctors claim-It actually felt like it thinned my skin as some acids do…I could be wrong and everyone could have different results.
    I noticed that couple of her products include retinol.. and you seem to have gotten great results from it. Did you see any sensitivities while using them?
    As I'm dealing with aging as well as acne-any products that you would not recommend from the line that could potentially clog? I'm really interested in bionic, skin adrenaline…


    1. Hi there! Thanks for stopping by and leaving such a thought provoking comment!! You are raising a number of very important issues. First of all you really hit on something so important that I don't think that we think about nearly enough-- and that's the fact that we tend to over process our skin so often by using lots and lots of active ingredients (and quite often far more products than we actually need to use)-- which can certainly contribute to the thinning of the skin and making it more sensitive and reactive generally. As a result, I myself am trying to adopt a less is more approach to skincare-- because frankly using too many things confuses the skin and causes problems.

      I think that what you experienced from using harsh products is sadly a very common problem these days, and I think that we have been conditioned to think that harsh things should be used to eradicate acne-- but as you are all too aware the problems that are created are often far worse than the conditions that they endeavored to treat.

      I have combination skin, and I don't tend to be acne prone. However, I have a friend who had skin issues that sound remarkably similar to yours, and she found that Juno and most other oils broke her out, and that all of the products that contained retinol and silicones were making her skin more sensitive rather than less so. She decided to back away from more "active" products that she had been using from a variety of lines and use more basic ones (and with fewer harsh chemicals-- whether synthetically or naturally derived), and has found that her face has healed. I am no dermatologist, but I think that her approach was a really smart one-- and it really worked.

      I think that if you are having acne flair ups that it might be worth taking a breather and use things that you absolutely know won't break you out, and then slowly add in things one at a time to see if they are in fact acne triggers. Juno and/or Good Genes may or may not be breaking you out, but you will be able to determine whether they are. Also you might want to adjust how often you are using Good Genes because it is a pretty potent exfoliator with its unneutralized lactic acid. It sounds as though you need to give your skin a break, and reintroduce the products one at a time to find the culprits.

      I have also read repeatedly that it is not a good idea to use retinol based products in the day unless they are specifically formulated for daytime use. I only ever use retinol based products at night and then use piles of sunscreen the following day. I don't know whether the amounts of vitamin A in the Broccoli seed causes any sort of photosensitivity, but I wear high SPF sunscreen every time that I walk out of the house. If you have issues with retinol-- be aware that it is an ingredient in both Bionic and Skin Adrenaline. I myself haven't experienced problems with retinol based products causing any sensitivities in me. That said, If were in your situation where I 1) Had never been a fan of retinol based products, and 2) was having acne issues- then I would definitely take a step back-- heal my skin before adding in any new products that could be potential offenders. You might want to be careful about using moisturizers with too many silicones in them since they can be acne triggers for many people as well.

      I completely understand your desire to want to treat your skin with potent anti-aging ingredients, and I think that is a much more difficult task that has to be handled very very carefully and methodically-particularly since so many anti-aging products contain ingredients that would throw acne prone skin into a major tail spin.

    2. Continued:

      So to reiterate my thoughts, If it were me-- I would gently treat my acne first with tried and true basic products that I knew wouldn't cause me to break out, and then I would introduce one product in at a time to see what causes the triggers. Then I would permanently eliminate those things from my routine. I would avoid all aggressive actives and really let my skin heal, and then I would slowly add in some anti-aging products that are specifically geared toward sensitive and acne prone skin. I suspect that it's going to be a issue of striking the perfect balance between sensitive acne prone skin with anti-aging benefits. I also guess that once you find that balance that you aren't going to want to do too much skincare experimenting unless you can be reasonably assured that the ingredients are neither too rich nor too irritating. It sounds as though your skin is still rebelling against the harsher products that you once used-- so I think that you probably need to try a very different and gentle approach.

      I hope that I am making some sense to you!! Keep me posted-- I am very curious to know what you decide to do and how your skin reacts!

  6. Thanks for all of your insight. Honestly, I haven't found anything that hasn't broken me out since my acne started 2 years ago, which is so hard to accept for me as at one time, I could lather 10 million things on my face and not have one pimple..I know, skin changes and we all age but to see this kind of transformation with in a year has really crushed me.

    There are some products that I used that were ok for a month or two then I would have a massive break out. Which make me believe more and more that diet really has a lot to do with it. So many mixed responses from all of the doctors I've seen but I was a vegan for about 2 years and started adding dairy and eggs back into my diet…I noticed more breakouts. Unless, it's a coincidence every time… Again, just like my skin, I never had problems eating those things. I could eat a pound of chocolate, a whole pizza pie and my skin would be clear as the sky.
    So you can imagine, my head spinning like a mad woman, trying to figure out if its the diet or the skin care. It's like this vicious cycle!

    I used a line from nature bisse and was working ok for me, still breaking out but not bad, then when I started eating dairy, my breakout got worse. So, I'm not sure if its mainly diet for me or skin care or probably both. I've had a rough couple of years, dealing with some stress as well. Maybe it's everything. It doesn't seem like there's much that I can do.
    I've seen so many doctors who all just push harsh products, facials that just spread more bacteria, and probably have tried every skin care out there. In my twenties and early thirties, I could slather La mer and not have a problem even with all that mineral oil. Actually, even with all the bad rep these days, I did find that La mer kept me looking young. If I put that on now, that's a different story.

    I agree with you about letting my skin heal and introducing products slowly. Trust me, because I'm so frightened about breaking out, when I try something new, I actually just test it on one side of my face.

    Juno seems ok for my lower face but when I put anything rich on my forehead, it seems to get worse. A mistake I learned when I deicide to give my self an oil massage with pure jojoba oil! I don't know why but with all the comments about oil fighting oil, I went crazy..LOL

    So, I've been doing 5 days a month of Good genes. I'm thinking, maybe I would try using it once a week.
    I was interetsed in skin adrenaline bc it sounded like a good light moisturizer or a serum during the winter months.
    Does this have also have retinol and silicone?

    Right now, I'm using Ren cleanser to take off sunscreen, purpose facial cleanser, Juno and a light cream. That's all.
    Do you still use Sunday's SPF or do you know of any other sunscreens out there that's good for problem skin?
    I tend to use mineral as I've been told its better for acne. I've been using elta md for quite some time but not sure if it's helping or not.

    To be honest, my acne isn't that bad, not like I need to go on Accutane but definitely not great. When I think back to 2 years ago, it wasn't bad at all but because I wasn't used to it, I freaked and stupidly used Benzoyl peroxide for months. I think, I'm just mad at myself for over reacting and mad at the doctor for treating me when he should have just told me to go home! Because of that, now I do have acne as it really messed up my skin but I'm trying very hard to not dwell on it…

    Apologies for rambling on…and gratitude for your wonderful thoughts!
    Thanks again.

    P.S I know you have been enjoying Olio lusso oil-What differences do you see between hers and Juno? I was actually going to try that first before Juno but was put off by the strong scent.

    1. Absolutely my pleasure! My guess is that you have a combination of things going on, and I would bet in addition to a previously harsh skincare ritual, and dietary changes (going from being Vegan to reintroducing dairy can definitely wreak havoc on the system-- I did the exact same thing and my body went bonkers for a while), but I would bet that you also have been having hormonal fluctuations that could be adding to it. My suspicion is that it's a combination of factors. My suspicion is also that you need to find something in between harsh products from a doctor, and products that you find on your own in department stores. My sister recently had her skin go nuts-- she has combination skin and all of a sudden was experiencing dry patches in places and then breakouts on her forehead. She went to her aesthetician friend-- who also happens to be a nurse, and she pulled her off of everything that she was using (at that point she was using Arcona). In addition to periodic facials she gave her products that she knew would turn her skin around, and that she knew to be effective. She also steered her away from expensive gimmicky things that she knew would be pointless. It also helps to have someone look at your skin who will take everything into consideration before determining your needs-- and rather than just dealing with the symptoms will make an effort to get at the root of it. It is also possible that you are having an allergic reaction to certain ingredients that you repeatedly use.

      It definitely doesn't seem as though the harsh products from your doctor did your skin any favors. Oh your poor face must have just gone bonkers when you massaged in the Jojoba Oil!! Skin Adrenalin and Bionic both contain Retinol as well as a variety of Silicones-- so you might want to get samples to see how your skin responds.

      I am finishing up a bottle of the SR Cashmere SPF, it is a lovely product, but you have to be willing to pay $125.00 for a 1.7 oz. bottle of sunscreen. It also contains various silicones and parabens- which could potentially cause you trouble. I would get a sample first if you are considering it. In fact, I would try to get samples of ANYTHING that you are thinking about trying so that you know how your skin reacts before shelling out a lot of money. I have used this sunscreen for a long time, but actually want to try something different next time-- partly because it is so expensive, and because I want to try something else.

      I would think that some of the REN products would be a good fit-- I REALLY love that line-- they have so many extraordinary products.

      It sounds like your skin needs some balance-- which I think can probably be achieved by finding gentle products-- probably not heavy in botanicals that can cause irritation, and perhaps dietary changes. I can't help but wonder if you've got some food and product allergies that can be creating this imbalance-- that's why I thought that someone with deeper and more integrated insights might be just what you need (someone like my sister's friend who is both an aethetician and a nurse).

      Oh, Olio Lusso is my newest great love!! Like you, I resisted it for a very long time because I was worried about putting Jasmine Oil on my face, but I have to say that it is my very favorite face oil now. I find that it sinks in quicker than either Juno or Sponge Ladi Avokanto, and it has eliminated two little dry patches that neither Juno, nor Ladi were able to tackle. I also feel as though my skin looks more radiant and even-toned, not to mention that the fine lines seem plumped up and my skin feels more balanced and hydrated. I still think Juno and Ladi are lovely, but my skin clearly looks better with Olio Lusso-- it's a pretty alarming difference. I actually sort of expected that it would break me out and that I would have to use it on my neck only, but it is kind of my magical secret weapon these days. I wish that it wasn't so expensive, but I only use 2-3 drops at a time. xx

  7. Thanks for all of your wonderful suggestions! So appreciated.

    There are a lot of things that I need to get under control and will take it one thing at a time.

    Amazing blogs! A perfect mixture and balance of everything beauty lovers need and seek!

    1. That is very kind of you to say, thank you VERY much! You are most welcome! It just really seems to me that the solution is a matter of looking at what your body and skin are doing as an integrated whole-- rather than just treating symptoms-- i.e. break-outs. Since it's not clear what ingredients, foods etc. are offenders it seems logical to take a slow and methodical approach to getting at the root of the problem, and not introducing in a bunch of new products until you have a better picture of what is going on. The answer and solution is out there, and I suspect that you will find it. Please keep me posted!

  8. Thanks Lola!!! Your reviews posts about Sunday Riley are so helpful! I just discovered this line last year and have fallen heads over heels in love with it since. I haven't "graduated" onto the Stimulant serums yet but am looking to do so in the next few weeks. Which Stimulant would you recommend for someone who is in her early 30s, hormonal acne prone, and combination/sensitive skin? Thanks in advance

    1. Absolutely my pleasure, Miki! I'm so glad to have been helpful to you.

      Toward the end of last year I was told by a Sunday Riley Rep at Barneys that Stimulants II & III have been discontinued (but he was new and had only been there for a short period of time, and then no longer appeared to work there), and that they are being replaced by new serums instead. I haven't bothered to check to find out the status because I am super happy with what I have been using now. He said that the new serums were supposed to come out around the holidays last year, but I don't see them online. I did check the Barneys website, and they only seem to have Stimulant I-- which doesn't sound like the one that you need since it is specifically geared at plumping up fine lines. It sounds as though for your age, and being acne prone with combination/sensitive skin that you might benefit from a retinol-based product. That said, I think that Stimulant III might have been too strong for your combination/sensitive skin. Stimulant II was good for redness, and was great for sensitive skin, and has some anti-aging benefits, but it wasn't a retinol based product. When I was no longer able to get Stimulant III at Barneys- I switched over to FutureDerm Time Released Retinol 0.50, and actually like it better than Stimulant III and it is very gentle- yet quite effective. It is also 1/6th of the price-- about $50.00 versus $300.00. While I am currently testing out a few other retinol products- I definitely plan to use FutureDerm again.

      I reviewed it here:

      You might check with a SR Rep to see the status of those new serums, because what I was told is already quite old information- and it came from someone who was new to the company who is no longer there. So what you find out might be wildly different from what I was told last year.

      Keep me posted, and have a lovely weekend. :D

  9. Hi Lola,
    You have become my go to person for sunday Riley products you are so informative and I really appreciate all your information! My question for the day is if I'm already using a Retin A from the Dr what would be the benefit ( if any) of switching to the stimulant III others words whats the difference between Retin A and Stimulant III?

    1. Hi Victoria,

      WOW, you have no idea how timely your question is for me personally (more on that in a second). You are so kind for saying that. As I understand it (told to me by numerous SR reps long ago- Stimulant III was discontinued. About the difference between prescription strength Retin-A from a doctor versus over the counter skincare products that contain retinol: I actually had an interesting conversation about this very issue with a medical aesthetician (an aesthetician who works with a dermatologist)-- like me, she is a skincare junkie who spends oodles of money on high end products from places like Barneys, NM, Saks etc. She told me that she long ago quit spending money on over-the-counter retinol based beauty products because you get much more potent versions (and varied strengths) from the prescription based products from the doctor. She told me that she has been using prescription strength from her doctor for a long time, and highly recommended it. Your question is so timely because I am having my yearly physical next week, and one of the things on my list is asking my doctor for a Retin-A prescription. Having tried many over-the-counter retinol based products-- I want to see the difference myself. According to this medical aesthetician buying retinol based over the counter products is a waste of money because what she gets from her doctor is much more potent and effective. I will definitely report back on the differences that I see!

  10. What do you do, now that Sunday Riley have discontinued the stimulant line?
    I'm gutted we cannot buy this any longer!

    1. Hi Rea! Wow, I haven't used the SR Stimulants in soooo long! Actually there are a couple of things that I have been using that I like even better, believe it or not! For Stimulant I (the to temporarily plump lines). As a special line mask I use Roloxin Lift. Reviewed and featured in the following 2 posts:

      For a serum that plumps lines I am loving Beverly Hills MD Venox Anti-Aging Serum:

      I have tried a lot of different retinol based products since Stimulant III and the most effective one that I have used is a very low strength prescription Retin A that I asked my doctor to prescribe. I was told by a medical esthetician who works for a plastic surgeon/dermatologist that using a low percentage prescription Retin A is more effective and less expensive than any of the higher end department store products that I could buy. So as an experiment I gave it a try, and I have to say that I think she was right (at least it is true for me). Plus, I did it during a yearly physical exam and had her take a close look at moles etc. So, it really worked out well for me! Keep me posted!! :-)


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