Sunday Riley Wake Up With Me Review: Great Products, a Questionable Deal

My Sunday Riley Wake Up With Me review: It’s complicated.

I love Sunday Riley products — chief among them Good Genes, a lactic acid treatment that I horde like liquid gold. I’ve been less enthusiastic about some of the other products, like the Ceramic Slip cleanser, which I find both terminally mid and expensive, and Juno, a “hydroactive cellular face oil” that did nothing for my skin (full review here). After five straight months in Iowa, my skin was looking like I’d been living in a basement, and I was ready, as they say, to “disappear for a month” and come back with improved skin. I took Sunday Riley’s Wake Up With Me array of products with me.

Now here’s the confusing part: My skin looks great. But I have some issues.

Sunday Riley Wake Up With Me: What’s Included

Wake Up With Me includes a laundry list of Sunday Riley’s big hits: Ceramic Slip, Pink Drink (a “Firming Resurfacing Peptide Face Mist” — I have no idea what it does but using it is incredibly satisfying), three CEO products (the original vitamin C serum; CEO Glow, a vitamin C and turmeric face oil; and Afterglow, a brightening moisturizer), and Autocorrect, an eye cream that I never used. Use them every morning, they say: These are “all the must-haves for glowing, radiant skin.”

Sunday Riley Wake Up With Me kit - image of packaging

BUY IT HERE: Sunday Riley Wake Up With Me kit: Sephora

How It Worked

I used each product (except Autocorrect — I lost it on Day 1 and never found it) religiously. As I mentioned, I’ve used about half of them separately, just not as part of a “system,” because I know that systems are what beauty and hair care brands use to make people buy products they don’t need or could be swapped out for better or less expensive ones. Indeed, over time I got a little careless with my application of Afterglow, because my skin didn’t seem to need one more product in addition to the four that were already present + accounted for — maybe another brightening product would make sense in January, but in July it didn’t.

And you know what? They passed my big test. About halfway through, I took a short trip to London, getting up at 4 a.m. to get to the airport, walking all over the city in the rain, etc. You know how you’ll do that thing where you look into a mirror and expect your face to reflect your lack of sleep? I kept doing that and thinking, “Wow, that doesn’t look so bad” — multiple times. There’s no better proof of a product’s, or indeed a system’s, effectiveness than forgetting you applied it and liking what you see.

The Math

However — however! I started using these on July 1. And only 22 days later, the Ceramic Slip was gone, and the Pink Drink has maybe three or four sprays left. This is disappointing. The set cost $95, and it lasted precisely 22 days. (And I was extremely careful about not applying too much.) That’s four dollars and change a day! That sounds ridiculous to me. I didn’t expect it to last forever — these are minis, after all — but neither did I expect to start looking around for something else less than a month later. (Note that of course Sunday Riley reminds us we’re saving money by purchasing this set over individual products — they advertise it as “an $185 value” — but that’s using the price of the miniatures, which is stupid, or at least definitely not a good deal relative to the lower costs-per-ounce of the regular-sized products. I’ll pay a little extra for products that work but this felt extortionate.

It’s hard to do the math around this, because a milliliter of Ceramic Slip is a lot cheaper than CEO Glow: Using two full-size containers for reference, the full-size Ceramic Slip is $.23 a milliliter, while the CEO Glow is $2.28(!!) per milliliter. But essentially, there’s 100 milliliters of product, total, in this set. That works out to $.95 a milliliter.

Now let’s do some more complicated math. We don’t have individual prices for Sunday Riley for the small sizes because they’re given out as samples. The best we can do is compare full sizes to full sizes and work out the proportions from there. Each full-size product and its price per ounce:

Ceramic Slip: $35, 150 ml, $.23 a milliliter
Pink Drink: $48, 50 ml, $.96 a milliliter
CEO: $85, 30 ml, $2.83 a milliliter
CEO Glow: $80, 35ml, $2.28 a milliliter
CEO Afterglow: $65, 50ml, $1.30 a milliliter
Good Genes: $122, 50ml, $2.44 a milliliter
Autocorrect: $65, 15ml, $4.33 a milliliter (the most expensive product — looks like I really missed out by losing this one)

If we then extrapolate the cost per milliliters for each product to the sizes, we find at full-size prices we have $6.90 of Ceramic Slip, $9.60 of Pink Drink, $36.60 of Good Genes, $42.45 of CEO, $22.80 of CEO Glow, $19.50 of Afterglow, and $21.65 of Autocorrect. This is a total of $159.50. This is actually closer than I thought it’d be to the advertised “value” of $185, even if it’s still about 15% lower. I had actually assumed that the advertised value would be based on the mini-sizes — where available, they’re obviously much higher — so color me (slightly) surprised.

Sunday Riley’s Wake Up With Me Kit: Conclusions

I’m really partial to Bumble and Bumble, because I worked in a Bumble salon while I was in art school — not cutting hair but sweeping it up. My favorite non-sweeping job was “product information” — basically memorizing all the Bumble talking points and helping people figure out which products to buy for their hair. I still have my favorites from that line, like the Sunday clarifying shampoo (sadly, it’s too clarifying for my color-treated hair, but it totally does the job.) I also have more bottles of Surf Spray than I know what to do with. (Note I no longer recommend this product — there’s a reason it has so many one-star reviews. Breakage, tangling, etc. — it’s literally a mess.) But I generally think their products do what they’re supposed to do — a rare quality in the beauty industry.

The Final Analysis of Bumble and Bumble Seaweed Air Dry Cream

So — what to do with this information? Mu skin looks great. I do not want to spend $4 a day on skincare (though maybe I do???). From past experience, I know that I wasn’t wild about Ceramic Slip, so I’ll definitely go back to my normal cleanser (Aesop’s Fabulous Facial Cleanser, FWIW) and be sad when I run out of Pink Drink and probably buy CEO and CEO Glow when they run out. Ta-da.

So all that said: If you’re looking for a way to jumpstart your skin, and don’t mind paying for the results (and maybe have a cheaper cleanser you can sub in if your Ceramic Slip also runs out early) — I don’t know, there’ve been times in my life when I would have paid anything for good skin. So I feel like you just need to know what you’re paying for: three weeks of sample products that, at least some cases, can massively upgrade your complexion.

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