Sunday Riley is a luxury skin care brand that makes a line of amazing cleansers, oils, moisturizers, and more, but their most well-known product is definitely Good Genes, a cult-favorite lactic acid treatment that claims to cure all your skin-related ails at once — but for the hefty price of $105 for a single ounce. Given the price tag, it's no surprise that people are searching for the best Sunday Riley Good Genes dupes and other products like it, because — let's be real here — most people can't afford to spend that much on a single product, no matter how effective it is.
It's important to note right off the bat that a product "dupe" doesn't really have a singular definition. As the beauty industry continues to expand and the efficacy of certain ingredients gives particularly expensive products a spotlight, cheaper versions of those best-sellers inevitably get released. But no dupe can be exactly like the original product in question. Since Good Genes is primarily (although, not only) a lactic acid treatment with a 5 percent concentration, the best Good Genes dupes should have a similar concentration, but other ingredients will vary.
So, What Is Lactic Acid?
Lactic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid, or AHA, which primarily works to exfoliate the outermost layer of skin, focusing on things like hyperpigmentation, scarring, and surface-level comedones. For some context, glycolic acid is an AHA, so other popular treatments, like the PIXI Glow Tonic or The Ordinary's Glycolic Toner, have similar goals to treatments like Good Genes, but don't work in quite the same way.
Lactic acid has a larger molecular size, which means it can take a little longer to see results because it's far gentler to the skin than glycolic, but the rub with Good Genes is that people really do see results overnight. I can attest that this is true, but no matter how much I love waking up with brighter, clearer skin than when I went to bed, I just can't afford that asking price.
But even though you may not see an immediate change in your skin with one of these dupes, if you stick with it, you'll get similar results over time — and at a fraction of the price. And one more thing: while you should already be wearing a daily facial sunscreen to reduce the risk of sun damage, lactic acid treatments can make your skin extremely sensitive to light, so no more playing around when it comes to sun protection. Whether you're using one of these products day or night, make sure you're not leaving your house without an SPF of at least 30 on your face.
1. The All-Around Best Good Genes Dupe (And It’s Budget-Friendly)
This product has the same lactic acid concentration as Good Genes, but in a gentle hyaluronic acid base, which makes it more effective over time rather than providing an instant dose of brightness.
As I said earlier, no two formulas are created exactly equal, but this lactic acid peel from The Ordinary comes pretty dang close (even though the only ingredient they have in common is lactic acid). Like in Good Genes, the lactic acid concentration in this product is 5 percent, but is less acidic than its expensive counterpart, making it gentler on skin. If you have sensitive skin that doesn't respond well to abrasive acne treatments like salicylic or glycolic acid, this product is a good place to start.
Unlike Good Genes, the primary base for this product is hyaluronic acid, a naturally occurring carbohydrate that can hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water. Our body produces it naturally to keep our skin plump, hydrated, and elasticized, but over time, we make less and less. Hyaluronic is a holy grail ingredient for drier skin types, and its inclusion in this product makes The Ordinary's formula less abrasive than Good Genes on chapped or irritated skin. Additionally, consistency-wise, it's more of a serum than a treatment, so it's easier to layer it under makeup or other products for daytime use, whereas Good Genes can pill if coupled with too many other things.
2. A Stronger Option By The Same Brand
Another formulation by The Ordinary with a higher lactic acid concentration than Good Genes itself, this product is perfect for folks whose skin has grown too used to the lower-lactic formula.
Another Lactic Acid treatment from The Ordinary — the brand so nice, we named them twice — this 10 percent lactic formulation is better for folks who've been using acids in their skin care routines for a while, and whose skin may have grown accustomed to more abrasive treatments over time, which eventually lessens their efficacy. While lactic acid is the second ingredient on the list in The Ordinary's product, it's the sixth in Good Genes, which means that there is a decently higher level of lactic in the dupe than the original, making Good Genes potentially more gentle for sensitive skin. Good Genes contains soothing and brightening ingredients like aloe and licorice to help lessen the sting of the lactic, but The Ordinary's formulation only uses Tasmania pepperberry — an anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal — to reduce redness and irritation.
As with any acid, it's possible to over-exfoliate and leave your skin more damaged than when you started, so when first incorporating this product into your routine, you might want to start with just a few times a week, to be safe.
3. A Great Prestige Alternative To Good Genes
While this lactic acid exfoliator is easily the most expensive item on this list, it's still $20 cheaper and twice the size of Good Genes. It also comes in a mini under $25 for those looking to try before they invest in the standard size.
As with its other cheaper counterparts, this exfoliator from Kate Somerville has lactic acid in common with Good Genes and works to fight acne and fine lines. However, ExfoliKate has some extra notable ingredients not found in its more expensive counterpart, such as vitamin A, vitamin E, aloe, honey, and the AHA salicylic acid, which further helps to fight breakouts and repair the skin's natural protective barrier. But the most noticeable difference between the two products is their exfoliating characterizations. While Good Genes is a chemical exfoliator, ExfoliKate is a physical exfoliator whose efficacy is contingent upon the movement of exfoliating granules across skin. Physical exfoliators also tend to be more abrasive than chemicals ones, so if you have particularly sensitive skin that's suffering from a breakout, you may be better off with a serum than a polish.
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