The 6 Best Dupes For Sunday Riley's Good Genes Treatment

One of them is $7.

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The best dupes for the Sunday Riley Good Genes Lactic Acid Treatment, according to derms.
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If there’s one shared goal among the skin-obsessed, it’s to discover a product or unlock a routine that’ll deliver a bright, even complexion that breeds confidence — with or without makeup. So, naturally, it seems the hunt is forever on for the right exfoliating serum, aka a beauty elixir that promises to help slough away dull skin cells to deliver that covetable glow. The Sunday Riley All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment is one that’s garnered a cult following among beauty experts and skin care aficionados alike. With lactic acid — a gentler alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) — as its key ingredient along with squalane for hydration and other actives, it’s easy to get the hype. But, at $85 for a 1-ounce bottle, it’s an investment. On the bright side, however, Bustle pinged a handful of derms for their thoughts on the best Sunday Riley Good Genes dupes.

First, though, an investigative look at exactly how the Good Genes serum works its magic. Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Lindsey Zubritsky, M.D. says a lot of it has to do with the lactic acid in the formula. “Many other chemical exfoliants and AHAs can be too strong and irritating, but this serum works for any and all skin types,” she tells Bustle. She adds that it’s even gentle enough to use daily to tackle fine lines and hyperpigmentation. Along with removing dead skin cells, lactic acid also helps to increase cell turnover to deliver an overall boost of radiance, Zubritsky explains.

Lactic acid isn’t even the only skin brightener within the treatment. “The product also has licorice and lemongrass which further help to brighten the skin and improve tone and texture,” says Zubritsky. New York City-based dermatologist Dr. Whitney Bowe, M.D. adds that licorice extract has anti-inflammatory effects, which boost the formula’s appeal. “[That means] it can help soothe the occasional sting you feel with AHAs,” she explains. What’s more, Bowe notes that the Good Genes treatment contains phenoxyethanol, “a preservative that I find to be especially well tolerated even for the most sensitive skin,” she says.

It’s also worth noting, as the derms explain, that lactic acid is a milder alpha-hydroxy acid — but milder can also mean less powerful or slower acting. If your skin isn’t so sensitive, you may be well served by an exfoliating serum with mightier ingredients. “While lactic acid is a nice AHA, it doesn’t hold a candle to an 8-10% concentration of glycolic acid when it comes to smoothing out fine lines and wrinkles,” Bowe says. “That’s because glycolic acid is a smaller molecule, so it penetrates more deeply into the skin and can stimulate collagen production if used consistently over time. No other AHA can do that.”

So, if you’re in the market for an exfoliating serum that packs a glow-inducing punch, scroll on for six derm-recommended alternatives to the Sunday Riley Good Genes All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment. All are under $62 — and one is just $7.

We at Bustle only include products that have been independently selected by our editors. We may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.

The Hydrating Exfoliant

Board-certified Minneapolis-based dermatologist Dr. Jenny Liu, M.D. recommends this serum as a worthy Good Genes alternative, noting its affordability and combination of 10% lactic acid and hyaluronic acid — the latter of which is a humectant that pulls moisture from the air or from deeper within your skin. It’s gentle, but it still helps tackle dullness, signs of aging, and dark spots, all for under $15.

The Brightening Buy

Liu also likes this serum for its robust blends of AHAs, which include lactic, glycolic, and malic acid. She also points to the elixir’s soothing ingredients that balance the exfoliation, like oat extract and green tea, but recommends that those with sensitive skin use caution as it’s so chock-full of exfoliants.

The Skin Softener

Dr. Elyse Love, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist based in New York, likes this resurfacing serum for its use of 10% vegan lactic acid and squalane, aka two of the star ingredients found in Good Genes. It’s meant to tackle the appearance of pores and soften skin’s texture while hydrating. The formula also features clover, a botanical that’s been known to calm the skin. Overall, Liu says this product’s texture and results are very similar to the cult fave from Sunday Riley.

The Dark Spot-Banishing Peel

This one comes recommended by Zubritsky. “It gives you the same results as the Good Genes serum with the added brightening bonus of glycolic acid,” she says. It combines lactic acid, peptides, antioxidants, and ceramides to help hydrate the skin while tackling discoloration and wrinkles. For sensitive skin types, Zubritsky advises to use no more than once or twice a week.

The Drugstore Dupe

Bowe suggests this serum if you’re looking to reduce the appearance of pores, smooth your skin’s texture, and boost your overall radiance. It boasts an AHA complex, a lipo-hydroxy acid (which is well tolerated and gently exfoliates), and hyaluronic acid to hydrate and plump as it sloughs off dead skin cell buildup.

The Sensitive Skin-Friendly

Zubritsky suggests this product from The Ordinary, citing its affordability and similarity to the Good Genes treatment. As far as AHAs go, it contains only lactic acid, making it great for those with sensitive skin. “While this does not have extra brightening ingredients like licorice or lemongrass, it makes up for it in the hydration department with the addition of hyaluronic acid and Tasmanian pepperberry to reduce signs of inflammation and sensitivity,” she explains.

Studies referenced:

Ciganovic, P. (2019). Glycerolic Licorice Extracts as Active Cosmeceutical Ingredients: Extraction Optimization, Chemical Characterization, and Biological Activity. Antioxidants.

Han, X. (2017). Lemongrass (Cymbopogon flexuosus) essential oil demonstrated anti-inflammatory effect in pre-inflamed human dermal fibroblasts. Biochim Open.

Lipovac, M. (2011). Effect of Red Clover Isoflavones over Skin, Appendages, and Mucosal Status in Postmenopausal Women. Obstet Gynecol Int.

Sharad, J. (2013). Glycolic acid peel therapy – a current review. Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology.

Tang, S.C. (2018). Dual Effects of Alpha-Hydroxy Acids on the Skin. Molecules.

Zeichner, J. (2016). The Use of Lipohydroxy Acid in Skin Care and Acne Treatment. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol.


Dr. Lindsey Zubritsky, M.D., Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based board-certified dermatologist

Dr. Whitney Bowe, M.D., NYC-based board-certified dermatologist

Dr. Jenny Liu, M.D., Minneapolis-based dermatologist and assistant professor at the University of Minnesota

Elyse Love, M.D., NYC-based board-certified dermatologist

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