• Cruelty free.
  • No parabens or sulfates.
  • Available online from Sephora and Cult Beauty.
  • Buy in 15mL or 35mL.
  • Formulated for all skin types!

While ‘The Ordinary’ may have been my first foray into this new age of purely functional skincare, Sunday Riley are responsible for the pretty glass bottles that make up the vainer aspect of this interest. Sunday Riley’s Ultra-Clarifying Facial Oil contains a multitude of natural ingredients, with a 1.5% dose of salicylic acid that works a dream for oily skin and offers an impressive aesthetic.

Created by Sunday Riley, a Texan-born cosmetic chemist and product formulator who also serves as the brand’s namesake, the line was born out of Riley’s own frustration with too many “ineffective products” in skincare. She’d worked with clients who felt they needed more out of their routine; products meant specifically for this and that, with fast and visible results. The range first launched in 2009, with one of the first products,  ‘Good Genes’ gaining instant success and throwing the brand into the spotlight. 


I am somewhat ashamed to say that I knew little of this ethos behind the brand and was initially drawn in by the golds and greens of the packaging and the desire for more salicylic acid in my life. I wanted that luxurious feel in my skincare routine and Sunday Riley ticked all the boxes – including the high price point which makes many grit their teeth. Can it be justified? I’ve been using this facial oil for over a month and it’s been… rather interesting.


Firstly, as salicylic acid is a BHA (a ‘beta hydroxy acid’) U.F.O. is best applied at night after cleansing. The properties of this acid work to decongest pores from inside the pore itself and on the surface, deterring the formation of new pimples and blackheads over time. If using salicylic acid in your routine, it is also so important to use a SPF in addition as it can make your skin more sensitive to sun damage, owing to the increased sensitivity in your skin cells. Secondly, U.F.O. is a self-declared acne treatment too, “[clearing] debris from congested pores for smoother, blemish-free skin”. Other ingredients include tea-tree oil and black cumin seed oil for clear skin, licorice and hexylresorcinol to brighten appearance and even complexion and finally milk thistle and cucumber seed oils to combat drying effects from the salicylic acid – a common feature.


The oil itself is a deep emerald green and smells incredibly musky and herbal, which may be a deterring factor to some. The tea-tree oil mixes curiously with other natural ingredients, but it’s a scent I love. Two to three drops works to cover my whole face and I rub it in, focusing on problem areas such as my cheekbones, nose and chin. It’s worth noting that this oil does not absorb into the skin, an issue I’ve been looking into. Some say that it does for them, others say they have the same issue where it sits on top of my skin and goes nowhere – a ‘make-or-break’ factor really. It can be mixed in with other non-acidic products in small amounts too, which will also take away from it’s herbal scent.


Results? Perhaps because I use U.F.O. in rotation with other hard-hitting skincare products, but I didn’t notice a drastic difference to my skin. My problem areas looked no different even after a month of use. I’d been alternating it twice a week with The Ordinary’s retinoid and felt there was more of a difference after using that. It’s a common complaint with U.F.O. and appears to be extremely hit-or-miss, even when used with other Sunday Riley products. It does feel lovely to apply and really feels like such a treat with the natural ingredients – but there’s no visible results as promised.

1.5% is quite a low dose of salicylic acid in comparison with other formulas – for example, The Ordinary’s salicylic acid is a 2% solution – so perhaps my skin needs something stronger and more constant use. Once I run out of this face oil, I plan to use another salicylic acid solution to see if it’s more effective. Or maybe, it’ll kick into gear in the meantime and I’ll see noticeable results. The high price point and luxe packaging makes it seem too good to be true and so far, it certainly has been. I do plan to try more products from Sunday Riley too as this one so far, still needs to live up to the boasts.




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