Sunday Riley Good Genes vs. Biossance.

Sunday Riley Good Genes

You probably know this by now, but I am a very big fan of lactic acid as an ingredient.

What is Lactic Acid?

Lactic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) but is much gentler than a lot of the other acids (like glycolic acid) out there, while still being very effective: smoothing and brightening the skin… making a BIG difference in just a single night. Originally derived from sour milk (but now there are vegan + synthetic versions available), the lactic acid molecule is larger than other alpha hydroxy acids which means it doesn’t penetrate the skin as deeply. Because of that, it’s incredibly effective at exfoliating the texture of your skin, but again – gentler than other acids!

Lactic acid is great for all skin types (even sensitive skin can handle it, unlike Honeymoon Glow which I love but is IMO a lot more intense) and it is one of the few products I use where I see a noticeable difference the next day – it does wonders for the texture of my dry skin which can get rough, bumpy, and uneven! Acids are an important part of my skin care routine… as I get older I find that using a chemical exfoliator is so important to help prevent dullness, fine lines, dry skin, and clogged pores while sloughing away dead skin. I try to do them 2-3x a week!

Important: do not mix lactic acid with vitamin C or retinol (or any other active, for that matter!). Also, acids make your skin more sensitive sto the sun, so be sure you wear SPF during the day!

Sunday Riley Good Genes vs. Biossance

More recently though I found myself wondering: which is better… Sunday Riley Good Genes, or Biossance’s lactic acid?

Before we dive into the review, I also wanted to have a frank talk about packaging. One obvious difference between these two products is price: The Biossance is $62 and the Sunday Riley is $85. When you pick up both bottles, the Sunday Riley one feels much more substantial and weighty. But both products are an ounce. So just be sure to always check the product weights. It can be deceptive. With Sunday Riley Good Genes I do think that you’re definitely paying for the nicer, fancier packaging.

My testing process:

I started testing the two products on May 4th. Every other night (or around this), I would put Good Genes on the right side of my face and Biossance on the left side of my face. In case you were wondering, I remembered this because there’s an R in Sunday Riley. R = right. Very official.

The important thing to note is that I’ve used both of these products a lot over the years, but for the purpose of this test, spent 19 days comparing the two.

Sunday Riley Good Genes

Sunday Riley’s Good Genes is always going to have a special place in my heart as it is the first high end beauty product I ever tried. This was pre-blogging, around 2008 or 2009, I think. The brand had just launched and was teeny tiny and a girlfriend who was doing their PR brought samples to book club.

How to Use It:

I like to use an acid 3x a week. (As a refresher I do retinol 1-2x a week, acid 3x a week, and Bader on the off nights). I will typically wash my face, tone, apply this, let it sink in, and then apply oil or cream over it. More about my skincare routine can be found at The Beauty Hub! (I keep it up to date with my exact routine).

  • Nice packaging
  • I prefer the texture of this one over Biossance. It’s a small thing but this one glides on and absorbs faster.
  • Contains prickly pear extract (another power ingredient – it’s been called the natural botox!) which soothes, calms, and evens.
  • Licorice root extract is one of the key ingredients, and that helps with dark spots! (I do not personally have dark spots so cannot personally vouch about either one being better for dark spots).
  • Honestly this one doesn’t smell very good.
  • It’s not clean.
  • Price – it’s $23 more than Biossance
  • Contains less lactic acid than Biossance (only 5%!)


Biossance is a brand I’ve only just started to use but have become quickly obsessed with. They’re one of my favorite clean brands as the products are all scientifically backed, using good for you ingredients. Their Squalane + 10% Lactic Acid Resurfacing Night Serum has become one of my favorites  of their products.

How to Use It:

Same sitch as Good Genes. I like to use an acid peel 3x a week. (As a refresher I do retinol 1-2x a week, acid 3x a week, and Bader on the off nights). I will typically wash my face, tone, apply this, let it sink in, and then apply oil or cream over it. More about my skincare routine can be found at The Beauty Hub! (I keep it up to date with my exact routine).

  • Smells better than Sunday Riley
  • It’s less expensive than Good Genes.
  • Contains squalane (the brand’s signature ingredient!) for hydration.
  • Contains double the amount of lactic acid as Good Genes.
  • I find that it makes the biggest immediate difference. Over time they even out but this one is a little bit stronger IMO.
  • It’s clean.
  • Texture is not quite as nice as Good Genes but honestly that’s the only con IMO.

Which is Better?

Honestly, both products are great. For the past month, 3x a week I used Sunday Riley on my right side and Biossance on my left side. I took careful note of how my skin felt and responded to both products and the difference is pretty negligible.

Because of that, I would recommend the Biossance – simply because it uses only clean ingredients, has double the lactic acid, and it’s $23 cheaper! I don’t think that the Biossance is so much better that you should stop using Sunday Riley if you’re using that already BUT when you run out, I’d say get the Biossance next, as it’s considerably less expensive, contains more lactic acid, and features only clean ingredients.

PS – The Ordinary lactic acid is a fraction of the price and has gotten great reviews as a lactic acid treatment. I’m definitely curious about it but The Ordinary’s products but I’m not sure I trust them. I’d love your thoughts if you’ve tried them – that $7 price tag is pretty outrageous and the reviews are very good!

Sunday Riley Good Genes vs. Biossance Sunday Riley Good Genes vs. Biossance.

Leave a Comment


  1. Katie says 5.24.20

    I have used Good Genes for a while so I will definitely have to give this Biossance a try! Thanks for the thorough review!

    The Ordinary is not on the same level as these IMO. I have tried their products before because of the $$$ and they are okay, but just don’t even compete with this level of skincare!!

  2. Wendy says 5.24.20

    I love this method of comparing the two! I will say that Biossance had a promotion about two years ago (I think when the brand was just making a name for itself) where they gave you pretty substantial samples of their squalane + vitamin C oil and eye cream— you were only on the hook for paying for $5 in shipping, and it was probably, like, a 4 week supply? Anyway, I feel like any company that stands by their product so much that they’re willing to give it away basically for free, knowing you’ll be loyal once you try it, is pretty awesome! I’m not a marketing guru, so it may just be a ploy to gain consumer loyalty at a relatively low cost, but damn if it didn’t work on me. I love their products!

    • grace at the stripe says 5.24.20

      That is so cool! From what I can tell they seem like a great company!!!

    • Alexandra says 5.24.20

      I LOVE the sample sizes that you can get through Biossance! They are big enough that you can actually tell if they are suited to you and I love that the packaging is just a miniature version. Nothing worse than getting a sample and having an open paper/plastic squeeze pouch that inevitably leaks!

  3. Ake says 5.24.20

    I’m a big fan of The Ordinary. Their products are very effective for a great price. But you typically get what’s on the bottle label without all of the extra fancy additives of the more expensive brands. That can be both a good and a bad thing. If your skin has bad reactions to certain ingredients, it’s great to just get what you want. But if you’re looking for a one-stop product, that’s definitely not The Ordinary.

  4. Jana says 5.24.20

    I use many The Ordinary products, including their lactic acid. It works great for my skin, although I don’t have any comparison to a more expensive product.
    Generally I find all TO products more than worth their money. You only need to have a certain amount of knowledge once you start using and mixing different ingredients.
    Have a lovely Sunday!

    • Emma says 5.24.20

      Jana, I’m in the same boat as you! I just started using The Buffet and this exact Lactic Acid from The Ordinary. The first night I used the Lactic Acid, my skin was a little red and I could feel it working but I haven’t had any irritation since. This is my first foray into acids and I think it’s a good place to start for me personally as I’m about to turn 30. The product is definitely potent and I’ve already seen results in a couple weeks, but again, I don’t have anything to compare it to. Xo

    • grace at the stripe says 5.24.20

      Thanks Jana!

  5. I love The Ordinary’s products! Though I haven’t tried their lactic acid… but their other stuff is really good imo! ❤️✨

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

  6. Caitlin says 5.24.20

    The ordinary’s azealic acid has been a miracle for my acne and fading post acne hyperpigmentation. Great for fungal acne too if you don’t want to cover your face in nizoral shampoo. The texture is horrible like a silicone primer so you have to spot treat areas and be ready for flaking so it’s a night time only product. It’s only 8$ though so I’m willing to overlook the flaws for how well it works. Most companies don’t make an azealic acid like there’s and I figured why not. (Hopefully they will make more- it’s great for acne and rosacea)
    I used up a bottle of the bioissance lactic acid but didn’t repurchase because I prefer the ordinary product (for acne concerns over anti-aging- even though I’m in my thirties fml). Everyone is different and different products work for different people! I couldn’t get over the smell of good genes (I got a sample- it did work well but ended up in the trash). Thank you for all your awesome content during quarantine! ❤️

    • grace at the stripe says 5.24.20

      That’s so great to hear! It sounds like we have pretty different skin so it’s great to hear another POV!

  7. Gaby says 5.24.20

    I was deciding between these two during the Sephora sale and ultimately picked the biossance because of the price – they seemed comparable ingredient-wise. However I’m really turned off by the smell of it! Reminds me so much of self tanner and I just cannot get past it. Wondering if anyone else had this issue??

    • grace at the stripe says 5.24.20

      It doesn’t bother me at all! I find that the Sunday Riley one smells worse to me, haha.

      • Sarah says 5.24.20

        I love the smell of Good Genes! But I haven’t tried the new formulation yet- I’ve heard it smells differently. I like that lemon-y scent!

  8. Hannah says 5.24.20

    Love this! Thank you for doing the hard yards x

  9. Courtney says 5.24.20

    I loved this article! It answered SO many of my questions were answered (questions I would have asked you Grace ). Thanks a ton for putting in research.

  10. Sarah says 5.24.20

    I alternate the ordinary and Good Genes just to help keep
    Costs down. The Ordinary is not like Good Genes at all. It is very watery. Stings a little when going on, but it ends up exfoliating well. The Good Genes plumps up my face more when I use it, I don’t get the same effect with the Ordinary. I definitely think this could be an option for people who need a Cheaper skincare routine, or want to make their more expensive lactic acid treatments last longer.

    • grace at the stripe says 5.24.20

      Thanks for sharing! THe impression I get about The Ordinary is that it’s the bare bone ingredients. So if you want to get all science-y and kinda make your own mixes, it’s great… but it you’re not going to get all the special benefits of more luxurious products! I’m curious to try it!!!

  11. Abby says 5.24.20

    I’ve been using Good Genes for a few years and love it, but you’ve convinced me to give Biossance a shot. I’ll def buy it when I run out of GG! Thanks for the always super helpful reviews!

  12. Cassidi says 5.24.20

    I have been looking forward to this post since I saw you talk about it on stories! I have been using the Biossance one for a few weeks and am like it!

  13. Amanda says 5.24.20

    I love how methodical you were in this testing, Grace! Personally, I use the ordinary lactic acid and love it! I used to use Drunk Elephant Glycolic night serum but feel as I get similar results from the DE lactic acid. It’s quite gentle on my skin but definitely effective. I have quite sensitive skin and don’t experience any irritation. Worth the price of 2ish coffees to try out in my view! My mom has the opposite of sensitive skin and doesn’t think it’s strong enough for her and prefers Good Genes as she finds it works better for her.

  14. Ailsa says 5.24.20

    I’ve been waiting on this review and had my suspicion that biosssance would win. I recently started using Good genes. Here I am in my forties and so slow to this whole skincare. I do like the bios dance eye repair cream, so I will give it a whirl. Thanks for yet another very thorough review.

    • grace at the stripe says 5.24.20

      So glad you enjoyed it 🙂 Don’t get me wrong, Good Genes is amazing. But next time you are out, try Biossance instead! Clean ingredients AND less expensive are a definite win!

  15. Kelly says 5.24.20

    Thank you for this research! I have been excited for your results because I’ve been loving some of the Biossance products, namely the phyto retinol, vitamin C oil, and rose masks. Good up know that you love this product as much as the SR one! I will give it a try! The only Ordinary item I’ve tried has been the 30% peel which is amazing for a deep exfoliation.

    • grace at the stripe says 5.25.20

      You’re so welcome! I am shook that a 30% peel is allowed on the market (I worry people would misuse!) but also want to try it now!!!

  16. Erin says 5.24.20

    Great review! Re: The Ordinary… I definitely got excited and tried to switch. However, once you’ve tried higher end products (eg. Sunday Riley) and then try to switch to The Ordinary lactic acid, the difference is clear. Yes, nice price, but also lacking the nice supporting ingredients and easy to use texture. I couldn’t stay with The Ordinary for anything other than the caffeine eye serum.

  17. Nicolette says 5.24.20

    I used Good Genes for YEARS and it was truly my holy grail, desert island product — but when biossance launched their lactic in December I made the switch and haven’t looked back. It’s just as effective (if not more) plus the peace of mind knowing it’s made with clean, sustainably sourced ingredients for less $. I really, really love it.

    • grace at the stripe says 5.25.20

      YES! I had been meaning to text you and ask you your thoughts as I know you love both!!!!! Thanks for confirming 🙂

  18. Zoe says 5.25.20

    I love this review- I am halfway thru a good genes bottle and loving what it does for my forehead (dry ish, always some wrinkles, tiny pores) and considered buying another but just purchased the ordinary to try. Like another poster said, I have other items for moisture, so I want to try the ordinary as just the acid in my skincare routine and see how that goes. Next on my list will be the biossance!

    • grace at the stripe says 5.25.20

      Let me know how you end up liking The Ordinary!!! I’m definitely curious. But highly recommend Biossance.

  19. Melanie says 5.25.20

    I haven’t tried The Ordinary’s lactic acid specifically, but I use mostly that brand for my nightly routine – niacinamide & zinc, alpha Arbutin, & retinol! I’ve been very pleased with their products and love the price. I also like their caffeine for undereye and the AHA/BHA peel.

  20. Tiffany Ford says 5.25.20

    Awesome post; I always wondered about Sunday Rileys Good Genes.
    But I’m forever loyal to Biossance; after reading your review, I know for sure I can stick with them.

    • grace at the stripe says 5.25.20

      I love everything they make! Was only medium on the eye gel but even that is great for puffiness.

  21. Sarah says 5.25.20

    I like to try The Ordinary products before I invest in fancy versions to test how my skin reacts. I finished TO lactic acid and enjoyed it but didn’t notice much difference to my skin. Just opened biossance lactic acid from the Sephora sale and I hate to to be so picky but I’m so disappointed in the packaging! It feels so cheap and flimsily for the price (kiehls is comparable price but has nicer packaging). I know the inside is what counts and I’m enjoying the product. I just figured for the price the packaging would match.

    • grace at the stripe says 5.25.20

      That sounds like a really smart idea!

      Yeah, you are right – the packaging on the Biossance one def feels cheap and flimsy – I personally don’t mind as I love the product so much. Looking at it vs Sunday Riley confused me, I was certain that there was more product in the Sunday Riley bottle as it’s so heavy!
      It’s interesting as they chose that packaging as their retinol is so much more nicely packaged!!!! That being said I love the product.

  22. Stacy says 5.25.20

    THANK YOU SOOOOOO MUCH FOR DOING THIS!!!!! As a newer follower of yours (and BOP – Yay ) I have complete and total trust in your recommendations. I just started using the Biossance lactic acid serum, and do also love it, but constant FOMO has me always second guessing. I fear no more – Queen Grace had officially spoken!!!. I’m 41 and going through the COVID-19 quarantine, I’ve been forced to do something I thought I’d never do… miss an appointment for my quarterly Botox fillers. With all the junk completely out of my face, I can see it’s not really so bad. Sure, a few more lines, but I don’t immediately see my mother when I first see myself each morning. Your skin routine and rec’s have really helped me to find alternatives to the $500+ I was spending every 3 months on fillers. I’m not usually one to comment, but felt moved to just let you know how much I appreciate your words of wisdom and everything you share. Thanks Grace!

  23. Displaced New Yawker says 5.25.20

    Hello hello! Happy Memorial Day!
    Starting this morning bright and early with an honest opinion re: The Ordinary 🙂 I’ve tried the full spectrum of skincare lines – from ultra clean to classic conglomerate beauty co’s to DTC to drugstore buys. Some of the high end products I’ve tried (read: Tata Harper, which seems to be a blogger fave) and found that I had minimal results. Then, I’ve noticed crazy good results with less expensive brands. All of that is to say… I find The Ordinary to be hit or miss. It can be GREAT but I’ve heard a lot of people aren’t crazy about the textures of certain products, and as with any brand it truly varies on a person to person basis. I’m using their retinol now and was pleasantly surprised. Their buffet and niacinamide (spelling?) did nada enchilada for me. Their ascorbic acid was great for about a month but then it seemed like the product was breaking down a bit and not delivering the best results (not unheard of for vitamin c since it’s so unstable). Their caffeine solution is the bomb dot com and though a lot of people say the hyaluronic acid texture is too watery/can leave a sticky feeling, if it’s applied at the beginning of your skincare routine it’s not a problem. So, since it’s such an affordable brand I’d say to anyone who’s interested in trying it — try a bunch of different products from them (obviously not all at the same time!) and see which you like best.

    • grace at the stripe says 5.25.20

      Thank you so much. And it sounds like maybe you should start your own beauty blog – I’d absolutely 100% read it!!!!! 🙂

  24. Lori says 5.25.20

    Thanks for doing this review! I definitely want to try Biossance! Would you use instead of Honeymoon Glow or do you use for different reasons?

    • grace at the stripe says 5.25.20

      Instead! I love Honeymoon Glow too, don’t get me wrong… I have just found I personally prefer lactic acid!

      • Lori Tolan says 5.28.20

        Thank you!! I always trust your recs! I’m deciding between both as I’ve never tried either.

  25. Anne says 5.25.20

    Do you worry about squaline products and the reliance on hunting deep sea sharks to get it? I think there are sustainability issues potentially. Or does Biossance use a non shark liver oil squaline?

  26. Kaitlin says 5.25.20

    I have been using the Biossance lactic acid for a few months after seeing it on your blog and I also highly recommend! Thanks for continuing to provide honest reviews!

  27. Julia says 5.25.20

    Grace, thank you for taking the time to do an actual left side/right side comparison. Much appreciated!

  28. Morgan says 5.25.20

    I got a sample of the Biossance through Sephora with points and really liked it the first couple of uses, but then the smell really got to me. I’m sticking with BeautyCounter Overnight Resurfacing Peel for now. I do really like how the Biossance products are EWG verified. I have tried many products from the ordinary. Ultimately, I found that the mixing myself was just too much. Too many layers, sticky, pilling under my tinted moisturizer, and I don’t have thirty minutes in the morning to let each step soak in for 5 minutes. All that said, I do like their plant based 100% squalane. I also liked the Mandelic Acid when I was pregnant as it is a safe exfoliator. The Rose Hip Oil is a nice occlusive. I have used the lactic acid but didn’t stick with it for the mixing reasons above. I do like the lactic acid for the backs of my arms… I have KP and aha lotions can be really pricey and smelly. I like that I can put that on at night and put my own clean body lotion on top. It does really help with the texture and can’t beat the price point.

    • grace at the stripe says 5.25.20

      The Resurfacing Peel is fab!!!! There are so many great options for acid, the important thing is finding one you love and consistently using it.

  29. Brandi says 5.25.20

    Thanks Grace for this review! I always love your beauty reviews but our skin is so different that it doesn’t always apply to me. I have been using the Biossance at your recommendation and I love it but was debating trying the Good genes as my current bottle is just about empty. (Grass is always greener, always searching for that HG product, etc., you know?!?!) So glad you posted this because the biossance does not break me out and that is unusual so I am happy to stick with it. Thanks!

  30. Jennifer Lodato says 5.25.20

    Wish I would have read this before I got my Sunday Riley… but I do like it and am glad to hear the review and will probably do what you suggest and buy Biossance when I run out 🙂

    • grace at the stripe says 5.25.20

      It’s still very good!!!! Next time just save a little $$ and do the Biossance!

  31. clare says 5.25.20

    Thank you for this! I am an active user and fan of Sunday Riley products but actually have not tried Good Genes yet because I’m now just exploring adding a lactic acid to my routine. I’ve been really curious about it but honestly, I think I’m going to go with Biossance. I like the idea of the product being clean and less expensive. Will keep on with my other Sunday Riley products but really glad you did this review. Love your blog!

  32. Husna says 5.25.20

    Hi, thanks for this, I currently use the biossance lactic acid so this was helpful! One question – why can’t I use this with vitamin C? I currently do and wonder if I need to stop?

    Thanks for the great content!

    • grace at the stripe says 5.25.20

      You should never mix active ingredients! Talk to your derm (I’m a blogger, not a derm!) but everything I’ve heard/experienced/been told when talking to the pro’s is it’s a big no. (I’m referring to in a single session, so you could totally do Vit C on alternating nights or in the mornings!)

  33. Jess says 5.25.20

    This was such a great post! I’ve been wondering about Biossance but haven’t tried it yet…definitely will after this. I also didn’t know that you shouldn’t do a retinol after the lattice acid! Sunday Riley seems to package them together – they have the “Power Couple” set with Good Genes and their retinol oil. This was a great heads up!

    • grace at the stripe says 5.26.20

      I saw that!!! I mean if the brand says it’s okay, I guess it is okay? BUT everything I have been taught is DO NOT COMBINE ACTIVES. So I do retinol 2x a week, acids 2-3x a week, and plain old Bader in between!

  34. Liza Marie Cameron says 8.6.20

    So do you prefer Honeymoon Glow overall? More than the Biossance?

    • I’m not sure how that’s what you took away from the post! I would say my preference is the Biossance.

  35. Heather says 10.31.20

    Thanks for posting this! I actually ordered the Biossance one yesterday morning from your Sephora post!

    I also ordered the Biossance vitamin C squalane oil because I hadn’t been liking my Drunk Elephant vit C. Do you know if I can use it the next morning after using the lactic acid?

    • grace at the stripe says 10.31.20

      I think you should be fine, but I’d check with a dermatologist! I don’t use vitamin C on a regular basis so am never sure here! Maybe patch test it on your arm first to be safe.

  36. Melissa says 11.8.21


    just stumbled upon this post as i was doing research about whether sunday riley products are clean or not… the website claims they are. but they are not on the sephora clean list. i cant really find anything that says why they are or are not clean and im not sure what ingredients to look up to determine “cleanliness” either. why do you say they are not clean?