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Sunday Riley Is Facing a Class Action Lawsuit Alleging One of Her Products Is ‘Snake Oil’

The brand’s Bionic anti-aging cream is the subject of the suit.     

Photo: Sunday Riley

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Skincare diehards swear by Sunday Riley. Under her eponymous brand, the Houston-based entrepreneur offers one of the best-selling products at Sephora, Good Genes, a lactic acid-based exfoliator that garners rave reviews. And every time she launches a new product, there’s internet buzz.

But one of Sunday Riley’s older products, Bionic, is the subject of a recent class action lawsuit. Two women filed the suit in early December after purchasing the product, which sold for $125 for 1.7 ounces, according to Top Class Actions. Bionic does not appear to be currently available at any of the brand’s retailers.

“Like a modern-day snake oil salesman, Sunday Riley … preys on consumers’ fundamental fear of aging by marketing the [cream] as if it were an FDA-approved drug that could change the physical structure and function of skin itself,” the plaintiffs, Helena Armstrong and Lynn Moore, allege in the suit, which you can read in full here.

The suit goes on to provide examples of claims taken from the brand’s product descriptions and label, which stated benefits like “…loaded with active ingredients that activate your body’s ability to extend the lifespan of your skin” and “repair and restore collagen.”

The brand’s website has been shut down for several months and Bionic removed from stores, prompting fans in a thread in Sephora’s community forum to wonder if Bionic had been discontinued and whether the brand might be going out of business (it’s been quiet on some social media channels as well). Letters had been going back and forth between the two parties at least since June 2016, according to the filing. Sunday Riley declined to comment at this time.

It’s unclear why the plaintiffs chose Sunday Riley’s brand to target with this suit, since any number of higher-end (and higher-profile) skincare brands make similar claims. It’s not unusual to find vague claims of skin regenerative powers and allusions to “studies” by many brands. I also wonder cynically whether these women really believed that they would see miraculous results after using one bottle of this cream. But this is the risk the beauty industry takes to sell product, and, like the St. Ives apricot scrub lawsuit demonstrated, people will go after brand claims — because they can.

I reached out to the Lee Litigation Group, the law firm handling the case on behalf of the plaintiffs, and will update when I hear back.