Follow Vogue Arabia

Exclusive: Sunday Riley Reveals Her Biggest Fashion Week Skincare Secrets

Gigi Hadid for Hugo Boss x Russell Athletic

Wonder how models get their glow, despite the late nights and fast pace of Fashion Week shows, events, and shoots? Sunday Riley, the CEO, founder, and chief formulator of namesake skincare brand Sunday Riley says that skincare prep is crucial for getting a model’s skin glowing in readiness for the runway. “A lot of focus is often put on the makeup and the artistry when it comes to backstage, but prepping the skin is a hugely important part of achieving that catwalk-ready look,” she explains. “Often the appearance of makeup is hugely affected by how healthy the skin is, so I like to think of healthy and balanced skin as a great canvas for the makeup artists to then work on.”

Sunday Riley sitting front row at Milan Fashion Week

Currently the first official skincare partner for Milan Fashion Week, and midway through its Fall Winter 2022 schedule, Sunday Riley was also responsible for powering the now trending dewy skin-focused looks from the Italian city’s Spring Summer 2022 shows, prepping models’ skin for designers including Marni, Hugo Boss, Rejina Pyo, and Budapest Select. “We are also seeing natural-looking skin being celebrated on the runways, so skincare has become even more of an important part of the overall look and feel of a show,” adds Riley.

Hugo Boss x Russell Athletic

With models arriving backstage with tired, overworked skin, it’s up to the pre-show skincare team to prep complexions ahead of their next round of makeup. “Most of the model’s skin that we see has had to deal with a lot over the space of the week,” says Riley. “We see a lot of models come in with heavy makeup from previous shows, this can sometimes cause a lot of congestion within the skin, or we find that their natural moisture barrier can be compromised due to over-cleansing. We see a lot of dehydrated skin, or it may be a little puffy with a lack of sleep or excess travel.” For the fast-paced backstage environment, using skincare products that deliver immediate effects is crucial to keep on track and on time. “It’s always challenging backstage, we really want to focus on the results, but we don’t have the same amount of time we would normally have when applying skincare at home,” emphasizes Riley. “The reality is that we only have around three to five minutes with each model to fully prep their skin.”

Backstage with a Sunday Riley express facial

For the new Fall Winter season, Riley says that naturally fresh skin is an ongoing trend, with designers asking for beauty looks that enhance the model’s own skin health. “We’re seeing a strong continuation for a ‘less is more’ approach when it comes to finishes and looks for this season. Creative leads are focusing more on the skin’s natural beauty rather than looking for big bold and strong make-up looks. Naturally glowing and dewiness are big looks that we’ll be seeing repeated across many shows this season. It’s why our backstage skin prep is so in demand because our products really focus on celebrating the beauty of the skin and giving it that enviable natural-looking glow.”

Read on to discover Sunday Riley’s can’t miss skincare steps for a fresh off the runway glow.


The Complete Cleanse

“We start by giving the skin a really good cleanse. A lot of models have just come from a previous show and still have their makeup on. Their skin is put through a lot, and over-cleansing is a real issue for many over fashion week. We start with  Ceramic Slip Cleanser to deeply cleanse the skin while pulling critical hydration back into the skin. This helps support the moisture barrier, balances and ensures the skin isn’t being over-stripped. In some cases, we use Blue Moon Tranquility Cleansing Balm. This is a melting balm that draws out impurities while balancing, and deeply hydrating the skin. It’s a great option for those with stubborn makeup or if the model we are working on has very dry or dehydrated skin. It’s very calming and soothing on the skin and really gets to work lifting all of the impurities up and out of the skin. The skin is left feeling deeply hydrated, calm and soothed.”


A Firm Base

“Next, we like to balance the skin with a few spritzes of our Pink Drink Firming and Resurfacing Essence. It really helps support the skin’s microbiome while peptides work to tighten and firm the look of the skin. The health of our microbiome can actually make a huge difference to our skin, so giving it that shot of prebiotic support is a great way to keep it healthy and balanced.”


Extra Vitamins

“I love vitamin C and what it does for the skin, so my next step is C.E.O 15% Vitamin C Brightening Serum. It uses an ultra-stable form of vitamin C called THD ascorbate, it’s known as the gold standard of vitamin c and makes it perfect for all skin-types. You don’t get any disruption on the skin from oxidization that other forms of vitamin c can sometimes give. C.E.O serum is easy to apply, and we just massage a pump or two into the skin, it’s targeted to fight the look of darks spots and discolorations while visibly brightening the appearance of the skin. It’s perfect for anyone trying to achieve that natural-looking glow.”


Fresh Refresh

“The Good Genes Glycolic Acid Treatment works to micro exfoliate the surface of the skin, it uses tiny glycolic acid molecules to remove pore-clogging debris and works to even out skin texture. What I also love about this formulation is that it’s oil-free, so we can use it on our models and then instantly send them across to make up without any of the fear that the make-up is going to fall off or slide. It delivers the appearance of instant radiance without the oiliness.”

Instant Brightening

“We finish off the look with the eye area. Auto Correct Contouring and DePuffing Eye Cream is one of my favourite applications backstage. We always want to brighten the eye area before sending the modes through to make up. A lot of our models haven’t always had enough sleep. They can be sat in your chair at 6am in the morning after a late night and just a couple of hours sleep so can often be tired and have dark circles. Auto Correct is like a shot of espresso to the eye area, it helps reduce the appearance of dark circles and puffiness giving an instant lifted look to the eye area and a radiant luminosity.”

Read Next: The 8 Biggest Beauty Trends of New York Fashion Week

View All
Vogue Collection