Sunday Riley Tidal Brightening Enzyme Water Cream review

Why do you come in a jar?!

You’ve guessed it. I’m not a fan of this type of packaging. It looks pretty, but it ain’t hygienic. Plus, some ingredients stop working when exposed to light and air – i.e. when you unscrew the lid.

Usually, I err on the side of caution and leave anything in jars on the shelf. But Sunday Riley Tidal Brightening Enzyme Water Cream is SO good, it’s the exception that proves the rule.

Here’s how it made me break my “no jars” rule:

What’s In Sunday Riley Tidal Brightening Enzyme Water Cream?


Hyaluronic acid is a moisture magnet on steroids. Literally. Like a magnet, it attracts the droplets of water in the air and dumps them into your skin, binding them there. It’s so powerful, it can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water!

All that moisture gives your skin an instant plumping effect that makes your fine lines and wrinkles look way smaller. It brightens your skin with that translucent, glass-like glow Korean women are famous for. And it makes your skin so soft to the touch.

Sunday Riley Tidal Brightening Enzyme Water Cream uses two forms of hyaluronic acid: Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer and Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid.

That’s a double waterfall of moisture! It doesn’t get more hydrating than this.

Related: Why You Need Hyaluronic Acid In Your Skincare Routine (No Matter Your Skin Type)


Hydration ain’t the only brightening trick Sunday Riley Tidal Brightening Enzyme Water Cream pulls on your skin. This moisturizer has 1% alpha-arbutin, a powerful skin lightener.

Like most skin-lighteners out there, alpha-arbutin works by inhibiting tyrosine, the enzyme responsible for producing melanin (the pigment that gives your skin its colour).

In case you’re wondering, alpha-arbutin works even at 1% concentrations. In fact, 1% alpha-arbutin works better than 4% kojic acid.

P.S. If you have dark skin, consult your doctor before adding alpha-arbutin to your skincare routine. It belongs to the hydroquinone family, which can cause side effects in dark skin.

Related: Why You Should Add Hyaluronic Acid To Your Skincare Routine, No Matter Your Skin Type

sunday riley tidal brightening enzyme water cream


Papain is the enzyme in Sunday Riley Tidal Brightening Enzyme Water Cream. Derived from papaya, this enzyme literally eats away dead skin cells.

It works sort of like a chemical exfoliant: it gets rid of old skin cells to expose the brighter, softer and smoother skin underneath. It fades away rough patches of skin and gives you your glow back.

Papain is gentler than chemical exfoliants (glycolic acid & co). It’s also more unstable. Putting it in a jar wasn’t the smartest idea.

Related: The Complete Guide To Enzyme Exfoliants: What They Are, What They Do & How To Use Them


Sunday Riley Tidal Brightening Enzyme Water Cream has its fair share of antioxidants, like tamarind and cucumbers.

Antioxidants are your skin’s police force. They patrol your body looking for free radicals, the nasty molecules that destroy collagen, elastin and cellular DNA. All that damage inevitably leads to wrinkles and dark spots.

When antioxidants spot a free radical, they jump on it and neutralise it before it can wreak its havoc. Problem is, antioxidants don’t react well to light and air. As soon as you open the jar, they start to lose their effectiveness.

Let’s be clear: antioxidants don’t become useless the second you open the jar. It’s prolonged exposure to light and air that does the damage. As long as you use the cream every day and are careful to close that jar quickly, you’ll be fine.

But if you’re the type who leaves her jars open on your bathroom sink while doing the rest of your skincare routine, you’re not going to get their full antiaging benefits.

Related: What’s The Problem With Jar Packaging?

Struggling to put together a skincare routine that banishes shine, pimples, and blackheads? Download your FREE “Best Skincare Routine For Oily Skin” cheatsheet to get started (it features product recommendations + right application order):


Sunday Riley Tidal Brightening Enzyme Water Cream has an unusual texture that’s a cross between a refreshing gel and a thicker cream. It sinks into the skin quickly without leaving any greasy residue behind.


Subtle and floral.

How To Use It

In the AM, in between serum and sunscreen. At night, it’s the last step of your skincare routine.

Performance & Personal Opinion

Sunday Riley Tidal Brightening Enzyme Water Cream is hands down one of the most hydrating moisturisers I’ve ever tried. I remember the first time I used it. I woke up the next morning and my skin was softer than a baby’s. I couldn’t stop touching it!

When I looked in the mirror, I noticed the fine lines around my eyes didn’t look as noticeable. My skin was so plump, it was hiding them!

Plus, my whole complexion had taken on a glow of its own. I just looked healthy. Awake. It’s the sort of moisturizer you can slather on after a poor night’s sleep to look alive.

I can’t vouch for how well it fades away dark spots. I’m lucky I don’t have any now. But in anything else I can’t fault its performance. If only it didn’t come in a stupid jar!

Who Is This For?

It’s mostly suitable for oily and combination skin types.

Who Is This NOT For?

Dry skin may need something rich.


A blue jar. It’s pretty, but not the most hygienic. If you keep the jar open for prolonger periods of time, the antioxidants inside may lose some of their effectiveness, too.

Does Sunday Riley Tidal Brightening Enzyme Water Cream Live Up To Its Claims?

A lightweight, oil-free gel-cream for instantly glowing, dewy skin.  True.
Two forms of advanced hyaluronic acid infuse water into the skin.  True. But please, note Sunday Riley claims Hyaluronic acid does it, not the moisturiser.

Price & Availability

$65.00/£60.00 at Asos, Cult Beauty, Dermstore, Sephora, and Ulta

Do You Need It?

If you have oily or combination skin, this is a great moisturiser to consider (yes, even though it comes in a jar).

Dupes & Alternatives

I don’t know of any exact dupes for this moisturiser.


Water, Hydrolyzed Jojoba Esters, Glycerin, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Propanediol, Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer, Pentylene Glycol, Tamarindus Indica (Tamarind) Seed Gum, Ethyl Macadamiate, Sodium Acrylates Copolymer (and) Lecithin, Isododecane, Adipic Acid/Neopentyl Glycol Crosspolymer, Lauryl Dimethicone, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Strelitzia Nicolai (Bird of Paradise flower) Seed Aril Extract, Alpha-Arbutin, Aesculus Hippocastanum (Horse Chestnut) seed extract, Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid, Allantoin, Papain and Carbome 1, 2-Hexanediol (and) Caprylyl Glycol (and) Algin, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Extract, Melia Azadirachta (Neem) Leaf Extract (and) Melia Azadirachta Flower (Neem) Extract (and) Amino Esters-1 (and) Coccinia Indica Fruit Extract (and) Solanum Melongena (Eggplant) Fruit Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Flower Extract (and) Lawsonia Inermis Extract (and) Ocimum Sanctum Leaf (Holy Basil) Extract, Pearl Powder, Fragrance, Synthetic Fluorphlogopite, Titanium Dioxide, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin.