[Update 181017: Sunday Riley has admitted to having employees post fake reviews on Sephora after a whistleblower leaked an email outlining the practice to Reddit’s SkincareAddiction. Read more about the story in my post.]
I bought this cleanser from Birchbox back in October 2015 and have used it on and off since then. Yes, it has taken me a year to decide if I like it. aahaha In the meantime, I’ve had a lot of time to test it — which is great, because it seems like something not so great happened to my Ceramic Slip as it aged.
Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip Clay Cleanser Review
About the brand: Sunday Riley has some amazing, seemingly undupable (so far) skincare products. And prices that drive me insane (seriously, I’m offended).
What it is: a water-soluble, second-step cleanser. Start with an oil cleanser to remove makeup and sunscreen, then use this.
Where to put it in your routine: in the second cleanser slot. Need a basic outline of when to use your products? Here you go:
Past second cleanser reviews
I’ve reviewed a fair number of second-step, water-soluble cleansers (Glossier Milky Jelly and CosRx Good Morning are my favorites btw):
- 8 low-pH cleansers that didn’t work for me
- CosRx Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser
- Makeremake, the kbeauty brand that only sells cleansers
- Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser
- Innisfree Blueberry Rebalancing 5.5 Cleanser
Back to the Show
Ingredients: Water, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Cocopolyglucoside Tartrate, Sodium Cocopolyglucoside Citrate, Montmorillonite (French Green) Clay, Moroccan (Rhassoul) Lava Clay, Ascorbyl Palmitate (Vitamin C Ester), Citrus Aurantium (Neroli) Oil, Piper Nigrum (Black Pepper) Fruit Oil, Botswellia Carterii (Frankincense) Oil, Jasmine Officinale Oil, Santalum Album (Sandalwood) Oil, Xanthan Gum, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin, Caprylyl Glycol. CosDNA analysis.
Ingredient breakdown: This ingredient list is largely free of common ingredient triggers. Cleansers are washed off quickly, so I don’t feel like there’s a need to obsess over ingredients beyond that unless you have specific trigger ingredients you need to avoid. What’s most important is how it tests.
pH level: 6.5. Huh. I have amazing 7.0 NYC water, so I didn’t expect the pH to be this high. Kerry from Skin & Tonics tested Ceramic Slip and found it to be 5.0, so my result is quite a bit higher. :0 My best guess for what happened (since my test results tend to line up with those of experienced pH strippers like Kerry) is that my cleanser went pH funky as it aged (I’ve had it since October 2015). I asked Chel from Holy Snails if that’s possible, since she’s mentioned that improperly buffered cleansers’ pH levels can dip or spike. She said, “[w]hen you use cocobetaine, you can get low pH but if you don’t buffer properly, pH will gradually creep upward.” I’ve gone through four strips and they’re all coming up 6.5ish, so this is my guess. This is all guessing, but…for some reason this product’s pH isn’t in the ideal 5.0-5.5 zone.
This reminds me: if you review products and want to mention pH levels, you really need to do your own tests to verify what’s going on, because reusing pH results from other people can be extremely misleading. Water is different in different places, products age and their formulations aren’t sophisticated enough to keep their pH levels from going to shit, and different formulations appear unannounced sometimes. Test strips cost $15 — for the REALLY GOOD ONES! Skip the latest cute junk release and get some strips if you’re reviewing. I’m on my third box, no joke.
What type of skin might like this: oily and normal. I have oily-to-normal skin and it likes this, especially when my skin is overproducing oil due to hormones or whatnot. It’s on the edge of too stripping for me, so if you prefer retaining more moisture, skip it. If you enjoy feeling very clean (but not squeaky clean), this could be a perfect fit for you.
Packaging: hard plastic bottle with a very effective, smoothly pumping pump. Locks for travel. Extremely well done.
Smell: to me, Ceramic Slip smells like a terrible mismash of fragrances, which makes sense if you look at the ingredient list. This sort of thing pisses me off. IMO cleansers don’t need much in the way of fancy essential oils and whatnot because they drive up the price, increase risk of a skin reaction, and get washed away anyway. It smells like peppery, confused dirt. I hate it in the morning, tolerate it in the evening. Not a fan at all.
Price: $45. Forty-five fucking dollars. For a cleanser. I’m grabbing my neck like a kdrama grandma, I just can’t drop money like this on a cleanser unless it’s literally the only one I can see myself using, I’m sorry. Why does this need to be $45? If you absolutely love Ceramic Slip, I can see the purchase being worth it — two pumps (which equal very little product) are enough to wash my face and this bottle has lasted forever. That’s in part due to not liking the smell and not loving the ultra clean feeling, but it’s also due to the concentration of the product. That said, for this price, I’d like a lower pH —I’ve dismissed tons of cheaper cleansers for being 6.5.
What’s good: it doesn’t irritate my bitchy skin. A little bit of cleanser goes a long way.
What’s not good: the smell absolutely detracts from the experience of using the cleanser, the pH of my bottle really places it out of true low-pH contention (5.0-5.5 would be ideal), and the price is ridiculous.
My advice: if you must have this, go to Sephora, if there’s one nearby, and ask them for a sample to test at home. If this ends up being your favorite cleanser of all time and it’s all you can see yourself using, I don’t think the price is actually bad. But if you’re on the fence about the cleansing power, effect on skin of your type, smell, consistency, possible traveling pH…it would be a lot better to deal with the awkwardness of asking for a sample rather than shelling out $45 for it. Another alternative would be to buy a sampler with deluxe sample sizes of multiple products, if they interest you. There’s a Sunday Riley sampler available now at Sephora, in case you want to try several products, but not shell out for full-size bottles.
Will I repurchase it: no.
Did I miss anything important? Tell me in the comments and thanks for reading!
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