Battle of the Vitamin C Creams: Sunday Riley vs. The Ordinary

Super fancy or super basic? Find out which Vitamin C cream will win out!

Disclaimer: There are no affiliate links in this post. Any links I include are there for your convenience if you are interested in getting more information on, or purchasing the products mentioned. I get no compensation if you click on or buy something from these links. Also, I am not affiliated with any of the brands or subscription services mentioned in this post in any way. I buy all my beauty products with my own money.

Vitamin C is a marvelous addition to any skincare regimen.

It brightens. It helps smooth texture. It helps fight wrinkles. It helps lighten dark spots and Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH). These days it seems Vitamin C is in all kinds of skincare. It is also hard to find a serious skincare blog that doesn’t recommend using it in your daily regimen, no matter your age or skin type.

Vitamin C is everywhere! What kind of product should I use?

The three main ways to add Vitamin C to your skincare routine seems to be with serums, masks, or creams. Since I have creams, that’s what we’re going to explore today.

So far in my skincare journey, I have used two Vitamin C creams – the Sunday Riley C.E.O. Vitamin C Rich Hydration Cream, and the Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate 10% from The Ordinary. These two products are about as far apart as you can get as far as pricing and packaging go.

Wrinkles, War Paint, The Ordinary, magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, MAP, Sunday Riley, Rich Hydration Cream, C.E.O. Cream, Vitamin C, Vitamin C cream, skincare, affordable skincare, high end skincare
This is a head-to-head battle of Vitamin C creams! Fancy vs. Basic! High end vs. affordable! 1…2…3…Fight!

How do the Sunday Riley and The Ordinary Vitamin C creams compare?

Sunday Riley C.E.O. Vitamin C Rich Hydration Cream

Let’s start with the super fancy one. I received a full size jar of the Sunday Riley Vitamin C cream in my first ipsy Glam Bag Plus. (Yep, I upgraded! If you wanna know more about ipsy Glam Bag subscriptions, click here.)

Wrinkles, War Paint, Sunday Riley, C.E.O. Cream, Rich Hydration Cream, Vitamin C, Vitamin C cream, skincare, high end, luxury skincare
Sunday Riley C.E.O. Vitamin C Rich Hydration Cream. So rich! So pretty! So luxe! So… expensive!

The Sunday Riley C.E.O. Cream is certainly luxurious. For $65.00 (USD) you get 1.7 oz (50 ml) of lightly citrus scented, golden-colored cream in a heavy orange glass jar with a white hard plastic lid. There’s a plastic inner lid with a tab that you can discard after opening, but I kept it and used it as an extra layer of protection against oxidation.

Wrinkles, War Paint, Sunday Riley, C.E.O. Cream, Rich Hydration Cream, Vitamin C, Vitamin C cream, skincare, high end, luxury skincare
I used up the jar of Sunday Riley, so I had to go to Sephora to get a sample of the C.E.O. Cream for this post. See the lovely golden color? This cream looks and feels pretty luxe.

This cream applies and spreads across the skin beautifully. It absorbs into the skin after a few minutes, leaving my skin feeling soft and hydrated. It does have a light citrus scent, but that dissipates quickly after after application. Unless you are extremely sensitive to fragrance or citrus in your skincare products, you should tolerate this fairly well.

Wrinkles, War Paint, Sunday Riley, C.E.O. Cream, Rich Hydration Cream, Vitamin C, Vitamin C cream, skincare, high end, luxury skincare
The Sunday Riley C.E.O. Cream is so smooth. Look at that spread!

What’s unusual about the Sunday Riley cream is that it comes in a jar. Most people who know anything about Vitamin C products know that you don’t put ingredients that can oxidize or go bad quickly in a wide-mouthed jar. Sunday Riley claims that they use a powerful, yet highly stable formulation of Vitamin C (THD ascorbate) in their C.E.O. Cream. That is why they can put their Vitamin C cream in a jar instead of a squeeze tube or airless pump bottle.

The Ordinary Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate 10%

Now for The Ordinary. The Ordinary offers eight varieties of formulations and strengths of Vitamin C. The trick is finding the one that will work best for you. I decided to go with the Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate 10% (MAP) because I wanted to add Vitamin C to my daytime skincare routine and I didn’t necessarily want to add in a bunch of extra steps. A Vitamin C moisturizer seemed like a good 2-in-1 solution. I also wanted a moisturizer that wouldn’t leave my skin feeling greasy.

Wrinkles, War Paint, The Ordinary, magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, MAP, Vitamin C, Vitamin C cream, skincare, affordable skincare
The Ordinary’s Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, a.k.a. MAP for short. This is a no frills, effective, affordable Vitamin C moisturizer.

For $9.60 (USD) you get 1 oz (30 ml) of MAP in an opaque squeeze tube with a flip-top lid. The cream itself is lovely, if slightly thick, with no discernible scent. The Ordinary went with an opaque squeeze tube for this cream because while MAP is a highly stable derivative of Vitamin C, it will oxidize when exposed to air long term.

Wrinkles, War Paint, The Ordinary, magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, MAP, Vitamin C, Vitamin C cream, skincare, affordable skincare
The MAP from The Ordinary doesn’t have the golden color that the Sunday Riley has, but it does have a pretty smooth spread.

The Ordinary’s MAP also spread across the skin pretty well. It sinks into my skin after a few minutes leaving my skin feeling hydrated and looking a little glowy, but not greasy. If I use too much, the MAP can pill a little while I’m rubbing it into my face. The pilling with the MAP seems to also depend on which products I put on my face beforehand.

Wrinkles, War Paint, The Ordinary, magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, MAP, Vitamin C, Vitamin C cream, skincare, affordable skincare
I almost forgot to show you how the MAP spreads! I admit, this is not the best photo, but I was trying to get a decent shot with my camera on a timer. =/

So, which Vitamin C cream did you like better?

For $65.00 you do get beautiful packaging and a lovely product from Sunday Riley. I only wish two things: that it came with a tiny spatula so I wouldn’t have to dip my fingers directly in the jar, and that it wasn’t $65.00.

Wrinkles, War Paint, The Ordinary, magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, MAP, Sunday Riley, Rich Hydration Cream, C.E.O. Cream, Vitamin C, Vitamin C cream, skincare, affordable skincare, high end skincare
Here’s a side-by-side of the two Vitamin C creams. Sunday Riley is the one on the left, MAP is on the right. Aside from the color and the scent (or lack thereof), these two creams are fairly comparable.

I’m not going to lie. I really, really liked the Sunday Riley C.E.O. Cream. Even on my normal/oily skin, I could use a small amount as a daytime moisturizer without worrying about my face feeling greasy after I put it on. It hydrated my skin without feeling heavy, and I do think it may have helped lighten some of my dark spots. It took me almost 4 months of near daily use, but I used up the whole jar.

Wrinkles, War Paint, Sunday Riley, C.E.O. Cream, Rich Hydration Cream, Vitamin C, Vitamin C cream, skincare, high end, luxury skincare
Look, Ma! I cleaned my plate… er, I mean jar! I was a little sad the day I scraped the last bit of C.E.O. Cream out of here. While I would like to buy more, my pocketbook says, “Ha, ha, ha… NO.”

However, in this case The Ordinary wins out. I had been using the MAP for several months before I received the Sunday Riley. For me, the MAP does a good job of hydrating my skin while lightening dark spots. It’s effective. It’s affordable. It just works.

Now, if I use too much MAP, it can feel a little heavy on my face. I can usually prevent this by using a pea-sized amount of MAP and mixing it with two drops of The Ordinary’s Resveratrol 3% + Ferulic Acid 3% serum ($7.90 USD). That helps it spread more easily across the skin, as well as adding more antioxidant protection.

The MAP and the Resveratrol + Ferulic Acid together cost way less than a single jar of the Sunday Riley cream. That’s good, since I am on a tighter budget these days. The Ordinary’s price point is more what I can afford.

Wrinkles, War Paint, The Ordinary, Resveratrol, Ferulic Acid, magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, MAP, Vitamin C, Vitamin C cream, skincare, affordable skincare
This Resveratrol and Ferulic Acid serum from The Ordinary is a water-free, antioxidant multitasker. You can use directly on your skin, but I prefer to mix it into my moisturizer.

The Big Takeaway: I find I get the same effectiveness from the MAP as I do from the C.E.O. Cream, but at a much more budget-friendly price.

Don’t get me wrong. If I get a gift card or a bit of extra cash for the holidays or my birthday, I may go ahead and splurge on the Sunday Riley cream. But until then, I will stick with The Ordinary.

Have you added Vitamin C to your skincare routine? What products do you use? What’s your preference – cream, serum, or mask? Let’s chat about it in the comments below!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s