Beauty, Product Review, Skin Care

Sunday Riley- C.E.O. Rapid Flash Brightening Serum | Review

The Sunday Riley C.E.O. Brightening Serum is an award winning product which contains one of the trending new skincare ingredients, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate which is a stable, gentle, and lipid-soluble form of Vitamin C.  All this goodness at a high concentration of 15% which essentially means big impact and quick action. Of course like most Sunday Riley offerings this comes with an equally big price tag. Lets find out how it fares on my skin.

Sunday Riley CEO Vitamin C Rapid Flash Brightening Serum Review India

Sunday Riley: CEO 15% Vitamin C Rapid Flash Brightening Serum | Review

Vitamin C has always been a front-runner on the health and well-being front. It’s also a hero in the beauty world due to its skincare prowess. Recently Vitamin C seems to be having its hour of glory in the beauty industry, with tonnes of new launches in their bright orange package with citrus graphics. Read everything that you need to know about Vitamin C for skincare here.

To be able to do justice to the review I have waited for a long time to create a skin care routine which is primarily dependent only on a few products so that I can understand the efficacy without any bias.

The Brand:

Sunday Riley has been receiving a lot of positive reviews and praise for its effective and quick result driven product offerings. Her beauty oils are a cult favorites and are loved by many industry experts. I have always been a fan of women run businesses and my appreciation towards this brand has only increased after learning her unique approach towards skincare and product formulations.


85 USD for 30 ml.

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Sunday Riley CEO Vitamin C Rapid Flash Brightening Serum Review _ claims and Directions

Sunday Riley: CEO Vitamin C Rapid Flash Brightening Serum | Claims and Directions of Use

Product Description:

  • C.E.O. Brightening Serum, powered by 15% advanced Vitamin C, is targeted to quickly fight the look of dullness, dark spots, and discolorations at the source, while diminishing the signs of aging. Skin looks and feels firmer and plumper, as youthful skin bounce and even-tone are restored.
  • C.E.O. Brightening Serum uses a sophisticated, ultra-powerful form of Vitamin C called THD Ascorbate. Both highly stable and oil-soluble, THD Ascorbate rapidly absorbs into the skin for visible anti-aging benefits, including visual improvement in loss of firmness, the appearance of lines and wrinkles, and dark spots and dullness.
  • This hydrating antioxidant formula instantly illuminates the complexion with bright radiance, while phytosterols help to reduce the look of skin sensitivity. Saccharide Isomerate extract diminishes the appearance of pores and reinforces the skin’s moisture barrier for a skin-smoothing glow. Rapidly brighten the appearance of the skin and boost vital skin bounce, in a flash!
  • Cruelty-Free, Sulfate-Free, Paraben-Free, Gluten-Free, Soy-Free, Phthalate-Free, Fragrance-Free

Why is it a cult favorite?

Unlike the other Vitamin C offerings this one is formulated with 15% Tetrahexyldecyl (THD) Ascorbate, “gold standard” stable form of Vitamin C which brightens and evens out skin tone. It is an oil-soluble derivative that’s very popular especially in Asian skin care. THD Ascorbate converts into L-Ascorbic acid only once it comes into contact with skin, this version of the vitamin is very stable and doesn’t have the same oxidation issues as other forms.

The formula is very concentrated and is further supported by a host of moisturizing and brightening ingredients which has helped a lot of folks brighten their complexion, combat hyper-pigmentation, reduce the appearance of fine lines and get that youthful glow.

Sunday Riley CEO Vitamin C Rapid Flash Brightening Serum Review_ key ingredients

Sunday Riley: CEO Vitamin C Rapid Flash Brightening Serum | Key Ingredients and their properties

Key Ingredients:

  • Vitamin C: (THD Ascorbate/Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate) Extremely stable, oil soluble form of Vitamin C. Helps fight the signs of aging caused by time, stress, lifestyle, and pollution, including dullness, visible loss of firmness, the signs of lines and wrinkles, and the appearance of dark spots and uneven redness.
  • Phytosterols Complex: Isolated from soybeans and containing at least 40% ß-sitosterol, these concentrated phytosterols help reduce the look of redness due to skin sensitivity.
  • Saccharid Isomerate Extract: Reduces the appearance of pores while reinforcing the skin’s moisture barrier for smooth, youthful texture.
  • Glycolic Acid: An AHA, which refines skin texture and keeps the ph of the final product in the right zone for maximum effectiveness of the formula.
Sunday Riley CEO Vitamin C Rapid Flash Brightening Serum Review_ Ingredients

Sunday Riley: CEO Vitamin C Rapid Flash Brightening Serum | Full Ingredient List

All  Ingredients:

Aqua (Water), Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Squalane, Peg-8 Beeswax, Hydrogenated Polydecene, Polyglyceryl-6 Distearate, Ppg-12/Smdi Copolymer, Phenoxyethanol, Acetamidoethoxyethanol, Jojoba Esters, Sodium Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Glycine Soja Sterols, Tocopherol, Glycolic Acid, Caprylyl Glycol, Sodium Phytate, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Sweet Orange) Oil, Chlorphenesin, Cera Alba, Glycerin, Isosqualane, C30 Hydrocarbons, Saccharide Isomerate


The serum comes comes packed in a pump packaging. It works flawlessly, is almost opaque so the serum is not exposed to light. It can be locked for safe travel and over all the pump feels very luxurious to hold.

The pump is packed in a foam case inside a very well designed and expensive cardboard outer box. Almost the kind of box that comes along with your phones.

At that expensive price tag Sunday Riley has definitely not skimped on equally luxurious packaging.

Sunday Riley CEO Vitamin C Rapid Flash Brightening Serum Review_ Pump Packaging

Sunday Riley: CEO Vitamin C Rapid Flash Brightening Serum | Pump Packaging that can be locked

Sunday Riley CEO Vitamin C Rapid Flash Brightening Serum_ Packaging

Sunday Riley: CEO Vitamin C Rapid Flash Brightening Serum | Luxurious Overall Packaging

Colour, Texture & Consistency

The serum is actually not like serum at all. It is creamy white and has a light- runny emulsion like consistency. Texture wise, it is thicker than other serums I have tried, yet it has a great slip and spreads well all over the face. Initially I started out with two pumps but quickly realized that is too much for my skin type so I find one pump to be just right for one time use.


If you have ever eaten a Vitamin-C tablet you already know this scent. It smells like a synthetic orange and I don’t like it one bit. It reminds me of medication and just does not trigger any happy memories.  Thankfully it doesn’t last long or perhaps my nose gets used to it in about 5 minutes! I don’t like it but scents are a very subjective and there are many others I know who are quite fond of it.

My Routine with Tidal

I started using it in the summers which in itself was a bad idea knowing how hot summers are in India. (40+ Degrees & some humidity to add to the misery) To be able to give an unbiased feedback I almost went on a skin care sabbatical for a bit and finished all my old products and only then started using C.E.O. Brightening Serum.

I try to use the treatment products in the PM routine because I feel coupled with restful sleep and the face not being exposed to the elements gives the product a better chance to perform. Although I did try CEO both in AM and PM skincare routine but over time I realized it best worked for me in the PM.

Before hitting the bed I apply this on cleansed skin which is damp but not wet. It takes a while to get completely absorbed, during which the skin feels a little tacky.  The stickiness is perhaps due the the Bee’s Wax. After a few minutes it gets absorbed into the skin after which the face feels quite moisturized and looks slightly dewy. I believe this is as attributed to the third ingredient Squalene.

As an Indian with a combination skin I have found this to be very heavy and oily during the hot summers and humid monsoons. On a hot-humid day I would wake up with a oily face and initially I had a couple of breakouts around the nose. But my skin coped well with it during dry cooler times, where I woke up looking hydrated not dry or oily. 

As far as C.E.O’s claims for skin brightening are concerned, I have not seen any perceptible difference. I am 33 years old and my skin definitely has lost some brightness over the years but at this point I cant say if this made any difference. But I intend to periodically update this blog (like I did this one) as the seasons change.


  • Sophisticated Formula
  • Great Packaging


  • High price tag
  • Not easily available in India
Sunday Riley CEO Vitamin C Rapid Flash Brightening Serum Review (7)

Sunday Riley: CEO Vitamin C Rapid Flash Brightening Serum | Quantity, Shelf Life & Manufacturing Details

Is C.E.O Brightening Serum for you?

This serum’s main agenda is to create a brightening effect using the star ingredient THD Ascorbate supported with Glycolic Acid, (which helps in removing the dead cells and revealing a clearer skin) Saccharide Isomerate (that reduces the appearance of pores and providing long-lasting moisture) and a host of other ingredients that contribute to brighter skin. If you are above 30 years of age and struggle with hyper-pigmentation, dark spots, acne marks etc. this might be for you.

Normal to dry skin types will enjoy this due to its richer texture than the general serums. The climate and temperature in your region will also impact how your skin reacts to this.

If you are someone who struggles with sensitivity or irritable skin you might like this serum because it is found to be well tolerated considering the form of Vitamin C used here is less acidic.

Sunday Riley CEO Vitamin C Rapid Flash Brightening Serum Review

Sunday Riley: C.E.O Vitamin C Rapid Flash Brightening Serum | Final Thoughts

Closing Thoughts:

I really did expect “rapid-flash brightening” which perhaps was a lack of expectation management on my front but when that did not happen I was disappointed for sure! I intend to post updates periodically and am still hoping for the best.

I would love to know your experience if you have tried this product. Check out some other great options I have tried here & here. Also find me on Instagram here and lets discuss beauty.

Update | 14 July 19

Some brightness noticed- 5 months into it – alternate days PM routine.

Update | 19 Sep 19

Been consistent with this for the last couple of months in the PM Routine and observed some reduction in sun spots & pigmentation closed to the eye.


32 thoughts on “Sunday Riley- C.E.O. Rapid Flash Brightening Serum | Review

    • Annabel, I know what you mean and I am definitely going to keep folks updated about how it works over time so it helps to make an informed purchase decision.

  1. Michael David Oyco says:

    Looking forward to more about the updates.. Kind of interested to know more about this as many products are really promising much just like this. Hope this one delivers

  2. Fran Jorgensen says:

    Thank you so much for this great review! I have heard of the great properties of vitamin c in cosmetics. I can’t wait to try this one out!

  3. themimiodyssey says:

    I love Vitamin C serum since I have pigmentation on my cheeks. Thank you for this review, will be checking it out!

  4. Wren Marie says:

    I have not tried very many Vitamin C serums. This one sounds nice and I am always looking for stuff to nourish my skin and brighten it. I also like that the Vitamin C medicine scent does not last long.

  5. The serum sounds amazing I love skin care products especially when they bring bright and glow to your skin. Thank you for this review, will be checking it out!

  6. Alexandra Cook says:

    I’ve heard so much about Sunday Riley. My friends using this and introduce to me. I always wanted to try this

  7. Amy says:

    Sunday Riley is a must try product. I always wanted to try this and I have heard a lot about this before and been looking for this one.

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