reviewing the sunflower sweets serum (ayele&co)

EDIT (5/2/19): it has been brought to my attention that ayele & co has completely reformulated this serum since i published this post, and they also have deleted the claims i presented below. i will add bits throughout the original post that was written 12/2018. this is a nice WIN! super happy to see positive change!

this was a requested dupe, and to be honest, this formulation did pique my interest… but not all for good reasons. i hate typing this about a green beauty company, but i also would hate to see you mislead. in my opinion, transparency should be a key component of a green beauty company’s mission for their consumers.

while i’m sure there are many people out there that love this oil (we’re all different), the whole point of my blog is to help you all be more educated consumers, so here i am.

i have 4 overarching issues, but my two biggest ones are the false claims and the mislabeling. let’s get into it. edit **5/2/19 – please be sure to read the edits in RED, as they have reformulated every product i mentioned, and redid their website to be more accurate.

Related image

(photo from Bronze Magazine. their review is positive, in contrast to mine.)

let’s break down the ingredient list –

Ingredients- Vitamin E Oil, Tea Tree Oil, Jojoba Oil, Turmeric Oil Root, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange), Fetau Nyamplung Oil Extract, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Seed Extract, Adansonia, Grapeseed Oil. (12-22 months)    *taken from the ayele & co website on 12/27/19

ingredients as at 5/2/19 (reformulated): Vitamin E Oil, Tea Tree Oil, Jojoba Oil, Turmeric Root Extract, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange), Fetau Nyamplung Oil Extract, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Seed Extract, Adansonia, Grapeseed Oil. Tripeptide‑5 

ingredients are listed by weight. at least they’re legally required to be. (links to FDA cosmetic labeling requirements)

my first issue – the ingredients
1. if the vitamin e oil is derived from sunflowers, which it could be, then why not say so on the website… anywhere? it’s nowhere to be found. and if not, then why is “sunflower” in the name at all? where did the vitamin e oil come from? sourcing matters.
2. those petals floating around legally need to be on the ingredient list by weight contribution. where are they? what are they?
3. kudos on including turmeric root, because it’s highly beneficial for blemish-prone skin and has antioxidant properties. however, once again, it’s not listed properly. there is no such thing as turmeric root oil. it can be turmeric root essential oil, either solvent or CO2 extracted, or it can be an herbal infused oil, which they didn’t specify, so we don’t know.

*5/2/19 edit: points 1 and 2 still stand. point 3 was addressed in their reformulation and is no longer valid on my end. cool!

my second issue – the formulation related to the price
the first ingredient is vitamin e oil, followed by tea tree oil. let’s go over formulation… essential oils should only ever be used in small concentrations (for example, in the 0.1% to 3% range, depending on what you’re using and why… very small). if they did abide by this, and are properly listing ingredients by % contribution, as per FDA laws, then you have to logically assume the formulation is roughly something like this, working backwards:

  • vitamin e oil – 75%
  • tea tree oil – 3%, as the formulation ‘dividing line’
  • jojoba oil all the way to grapeseed oil = each one less than 3% contribution weight. let’s assume each one just has 3% to be generous, and for easier math

you’re paying $38 for 2 ounces of glorified vitamin e oil. GIRL STAHP.

*5/2/19 edit: point still stands.

my third issue – the ingredients are not listed properly (on this product or on their other ones)
1. they have a really weird mix of either the INCI or the common names, all strung together. you gotta use COMMON NAMES on cosmetic retail products, as per the FDA.
2. ingredients are sometimes solely listed as the genus they belong to… ex: “adansonia”… okay… so what is it? baobab seed oil, fruit powder, what?

*5/2/19 edit: point still stands. their listings do not abide by FDA regulations. 

my fourth issue – the claims
1. they claim it “hydrates” the skin. this is completely false, because this product doesn’t contain any aqueous ingredients. it can moisturize for sure, but only waters can hydrate.
2. they claim it paves the way for other products to absorb better. this is also false because you need an aqueous ingredient to do that. this product will actually do the opposite – BLOCK a face cream from being properly absorbed if applied before.

*5/2/19 edit: they no longer claim it’s hydrating, so my point is no longer valid. they also no longer claim it helps other products absorb better, so that point is no longer valid either. i see this as a huge improvement! 

most concerning is the ingredient listing issue isn’t unique to this SSS product. look at this one…

Ingredients Aqua (Water, Eau), Cold Pressed Unrefined Essential Oils, Thymus Vulgaris, Rose Water, Glycerin, Silicon, Mandarin, Anti-Microbials  *taken from the ayele & co website on 12/27/19

edit 5/2/19: they have completely reformulated this product as well.. the list is now: Aqua (Water, Eau), Cold Pressed Unrefined Rosehip Oil, Optiphen Plus, Thymus Vulgaris Extract, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Rose Water, Aloe Extract

  1. essential oils are not “cold pressed”- they are made through steam distillation. the sole exception to this rule are citrus EOs, which are pressed, but you wouldn’t want multiple citrus oils on your face… so let’s hope that’s not what they’re listing. since they don’t list what they use, this makes me deeply question if this company knows what they’re doing, why they’re formulating with essential oils, and why they’re saying ALL of their EOs are “cold pressed.”
    • side note – you don’t want anything containing essential oils in a plastic container. it will degrade the plastic over time. i have no idea if this company packages in plastic – this is just a friendly FYI if you ever see it for any other brand.
  2. the “essential oils” are before the rose water in the ingredient list, which means the rose water likely makes up less than 3% of the total formulation weight. if that’s not true, then their concentration of EOs are way too high, especially if they’re citrus.
  3. “mandarin” what? extract? fragrance?
  4. thyme what? extract?
  5. “anti-microbials” is not legally okay! if it was, we’d all be putting “water, oils” on a lotion ingredient label and calling it a day.

*edit 5/2/19: they got rid of “cold pressed EOs” so point 1 is now invalid. cool! point 3 still stands. point 4 still stands, although they changed it to its INCI name, which now does not abide by FDA regulations. and lastly, point 5 – they finally listed what they use as their anti-microbial – big win! i’m so glad they changed some things to be FDA compliant.

and another product that’s … suspicious  –

Ingredients- Vitamin E, L-Ascorbic Acid (10%), Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Fruit Extract, Anti-Microbials    *taken from the ayele & co website on 12/27/18

  1. L-ascorbic acid is water-soluble. period. as we can see, there is no water in this formula, which means it’s sitting on your skin, not penetrating. again, i deeply question their ability to properly formulate.
  2. “anti-microbials” again…

*edit 5/2/19: they completely reformulated this vitamin C product, too!! WOW! the ingredients are now:  Organic Aloe Leaf Juice (Aloe Barbadensis), Glycerin, Rosehip Seed Oil (Rosa Canina), Polysorbate 60, Vitamin E, Vitamin C Ester (Ascorbyl Palmitate), Vitamin E (Tocopherol), Sunflower Seed Oil (Helianthus Annuus), Phenoxyethanol, Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid 10%), Tripeptide‑5, Optiphen

>> i have two really great vitamin c serum DIYs that work… HERE.

so about that diy… 

i don’t want to “diy dupe” this. instead, i’ve listed (below) some oils that are far better for your skin and non-comedogenic. my blog is also full of effective DIYs, and has a nice little search bar, if you want to search for things like “body butter” or “eye serum”, etc.

  • hempseed oil
  • amaranth oil (this blend is
  • squalene (vegetable-derived)
  • argan oil (avoid if you have acne-prone skin)
  • prickly pear seed oil
  • black cumin seed oil (avoid if you are pregnant or breastfeeding)
  • cucumber seed oil
  • guava seed oil
  • goji berry seed oil
  • maracuja seed oil
  • watermelon seed oil
  • schisandra fruit oil (my personal favorite)

there are some oils you almost never want to use on your face, like marula and coconut. both are highly comedogenic and can only be used by very few people without resulting in blemishes.

this may have been hard to write, but i think i’ve done my civic green beauty duty.

what do you think?


5 thoughts on “reviewing the sunflower sweets serum (ayele&co)

    1. hi love! i noted in the post that a dupe would not be worthwhile or good for your skin, so i listed a few better oil alternatives. hope this helps 🙂

  1. I love this post! Thanks for educating us. Learned so much here…
    “you’re paying $38 for 2 ounces of glorified vitamin e oil. GIRL STAHP.” lol!

  2. I got this product back in January and I am so disappointed in it. My theory is that the oil is so heavy and uncomfortable on my skin, it MAKES me want to maintain a regular skin care regimen just so I can wash this off my face. And thus, makes my skin clearer.
    I made a spreadsheet of the price of sourcing all the materials because I’m curious to know how much overhead folks are paying.
    I’m definitely going to try out some of the oils you listed because I’d rather pay for one bottle of an individual oil and be disappointed than pay damn near $40 for a 2 ounce bottle that’s half dried flowers or whatever it is.

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