“Clean” is one of the biggest buzzwords around. It applies to everything from eating to beauty, and household products. But what exactly does clean beauty mean? While there is no formal, singular definition, clean beauty generally means products which are free from fragrance, parabens, phthalates, sulfates, silicones and chemical sunscreens or anything that may be deemed harmful to consumers. One of the biggest and buzziest newcomers in the clean beauty space is Drunk Elephant. Here’s a closer look at the brand, what it sells and should you try Drunk Elephant products?
What Is Drunk Elephant Skincare?
Drunk Elephant is the brainchild of Tiffany Masterson. She launched the brand in 2014 with the philosophy that “a product is only as good as its worst ingredient.” She was inspired to launch Drunk Elephant after her own battles with issues such as rosacea, enlarged pores, acne and combination skin. As she describes on the company website, “Nothing ever really worked and if it did, it wasn’t for long.”
Masterson entered the beauty industry when she started to sell an imported cleansing bar, which inspired her to take a deep dive into the world of skincare ingredients. This lead her to identify the six skincare ingredients which she felt were responsible for her problematic skin. Today she calls them the “Suspicious Six” (more on that later).
Drunk Elephant debuted in 2014 and quickly built momentum and a loyal fan base. According to WWD, by 2016 Drunk Elephant’s T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial was the best-selling skin-care product on Sephora.com within a week of its launch in 2017, and was named Sephora’s top-growing skincare brand the same year. Today Drunk Elephant includes a full collection of skincare products, such as moisturizers, serums, cleansers, masks and sun protection.
What Is the Concept Behind Drunk Elephant?
The brand’s philosophy is “clean clinical” skincare. The company sums it up this way. Clean clinical means a commitment to only using ingredients that directly benefit the skin’s health or support the integrity and effectiveness of the formulations. Ingredients are based on their biocompatibility, rather than choosing them based on whether they are synthetic or natural. Another key cornerstone of the Drunk Elephant philosophy is to ensuring proper pH levels and safety, and using active ingredients at their optimal levels.
What Is the “Suspicious Six”?
The brand’s list of “Suspicious 6” ingredients include essential oils, fragrance/dyes, silicones, sodium laurel sulfate, chemical sunscreens and drying alcohols. Drunk Elephant believes that these six ingredients are behind every skin issue and when they are eliminated from beauty routine (which they called “a clean break”), skin can reset and return to a healthy, balanced state.
Where Does the Name “Drunk Elephant” Come From?
Marula oil, from the African marula tree, was a key ingredient in one of the company’s first products, a moisturizer. The name is based on the urban legend that elephants who eat fermented marula fruit become drunk.
What Does Drunk Elephant Sell?
Drunk Elephant includes cleansers, moisturizers, serums and masks. Here’s a closer look at some of its best-selling products.
Drunk Elephant Serum
Drunk Elephant C Firma Day Serum – This high potency cocktail contains 15 percent l-ascorbic acid, one-half percent ferulic acid and one percent vitamin E to help brighten and hydrate skin.
Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum – Skin exfoliating acids including tactic, tartaric, citric and salicylic acids along with raspberry extract work together to gently dissolve dead skin cells, revealing fresher looking and smoother skin. The serum should be applied at night.
Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum – Formulated for anyone with dry skin or looking for a moisture boost, this serum is packed with pro-vitamin B5 and pineapple ceramide along with a lentil/apple/watermelon complex.
Drunk Elephant Eye Cream
C-Tango Multivitamin Eye Cream – This soothing eye cream can be used twice daily, and is designed to moisturize the eye area and brighten it thanks to cucumber extract and five forms of vitamin C.
Drunk Elephant Shaba Complex Eye Serum – Apply this eye cream twice a day to help fight the signs of aging, such as fine lines and wrinkles. Key ingredients include sea buckthorn oil, black tea ferment and copper peptides.
Drunk Elephant Mask & Treatments
Drunk Elephant TLC Sukari Babyfacial – The Babyfacial helps to exfoliate the skin and improve texture with a blend of AHA/BHA – including 25% AHA while matcha tea, apple fruit and milk thistle help soothe the skin.
Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinol Cream – 1% vegan retinol is the key ingredient in this anti-aging night cream, which is designed to help minimize the look of fine lines, wrinkles and discoloration.
Drunk Elephant D-Bronzi Anti-Pollution Sunshine Drops – This bronzer has the added benefit of protecting the skin from damaging free radicals. Just add a drop or two to a serum or moisturizer for a sun-kissed glow.
Drunk Elephant Creams
Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped – This cult favorite cream has a whipped texture that glides on but packs a hydrating punch thanks to six types of African oils and plant ceramide complex, along with hyaluronic acid.
Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide – Drunk Elephant says the best way to describe this product is that it is the beauty equivalent of a protein shot in a smoothie. Loaded with proteins and peptides, this cream can be applied in the day and at night and helps hydrate the face and tackle signs of aging.
Drunk Elephant Moisturizers
Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Face Oil – Drunk Elephant describes this face oil as “rehab for your face.” The face oil contains only 100% marula kernel oil and can be applied directly to the face, neck, chest, hands and under the eyes, or added to creams for an added dose of moisture.
Drunk Elephant Sunscreen
Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer Physical Daily Defense SPF 30 – This daily sunscreen goes on sheer, without any whiteness or residue and contains antioxidants as well as hydrating ingredients like marula oil.
Drunk Elephant Cleansers
Drunk Elephant Beste No. 9 Jelly Cleanser – An award winner, this jelly cleanser lathers up with a little water and whisks away dirt and makeup without stripping the skin thanks to hydrating virgin marula oil, glycerin and cantaloupe seed extract.
Drunk Elephant Slaai Makeup-Melting Butter Cleanser – This cleansing balm turns from an oil to a milk when activated with water. Key ingredients include fruit extracts and hydrating oils like marula and baobob seed oil.
How Much Are Drunk Elephant Products?
Drunk Elephant products have a midrange price point, and are all under $100, such as the Lala Retro Whipped Cream ($60), B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum ($52) and D-Bronzi Anti-Pollution Sunshine Drops ($36). Both the Slaai Makeup-Melting Butter Cleanser and the Umbra Sheer Physical Daily Defense SPF 30 retail for $34. Some of the priciest products in the collection are the T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial ($80), and the T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum which retails for $90.00
What Ingredients Are in Drunk Elephant Products?
Many of the brand’s products are formulated with no-nonsense skincare ingredients such as AHAs, BHAs, peptides, and nourishing plant and fruit derived oils. Exfoliating glycolic acid is the key ingredient in the Framboos Glycolic Night Serum, and the Drunk Elephant TLC Sukari Babyfacial contains a cocktail of acids including glycolic plus tartaric, lactic, citric and salicylic acids. Peptides are found in Drunk Elephant’s Day Serum along with skin brightening vitamin C. The Slaai Makeup-Melting Butter Cleanser contains multiple types of fruit oils (marula, cranberry seed, acai and watermelon). Retinol, a gold standard wrinkle fighter, is the key ingredient in A-Passioni Retinol Cream along with antioxidants like kale leaf extract and vitamin F, a fatty acid.
Where Are Drunk Elephant Products Sold?
Drunk Elephant is sold at Sephora, on its own website and online retailers including the Dermstore.com and Amazon.
Is Drunk Elephant Cruelty Free?
The company says that it does not test on animals.
Does Drunk Elephant Work?
When trying to determine if a product works and may be right for you, remember that beauty doesn’t have a one size fits all approach. One person’s miracle product could do absolutely nothing for someone else, so a little trial and error is always involved when testing new products – and looking into reviews.
The Drunk Elephant has received plenty of editorial coverage in publications such as Allure, New Beauty, Vogue and Refinery29 and has scooped up plenty of industry awards. The Drunk Elephant C Firma Day Serum won an Allure Best of Beauty Award in 2018, and a Reader’s Choice Award in 2019. Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum has received accolades from Shape, Real Simple, Stylecaster and New Beauty. Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped won Allure beauty awards for three consecutive years.
Customer feedback is largely positive. The Protini Polypeptide Moisturizer has over 162,000 “loves” on Sephora, and more than 2,000 reviewers gave it a 4.1 star rating out of 5. Users said the cream was “Everything I’ve ever hoped for” and “this is the one.” Those who didn’t love it had negative reactions to the cream, such as a rash or breakouts. One customer said her face felt “suffocated.”
The cult favorite C-Firma™ Vitamin C Day Serum has over 155,000 Sephora “loves” and a 4 out of 5 star rating. Fans say the serum is “pricey but worth it” and “can’t live without it.” Customers who weren’t fans said the serum was too sticky, didn’t do anything for them, or caused a breakout.
What Are Some Alternatives to the Drunk Elephant?
Drunk Elephant may not be the right choice for everyone, in terms of the price point or how it reacts with your skin. If you’re looking for a well-rounded skincare line, there are a few other brands to consider.
Formulyst’s philosophy is long-term and effective skincare. The brand wants to help its customers achieve their best looking skin, rather than covering it up with makeup. The comprehensive line of products focuses on everything from wrinkles to dark spots and dry skin. Formulyst’s Pro-Collagen Serum contains a highly concentrated mix of peptides and proteins, derived from seaweed, wheat and soy, to help address the signs of aging. Or reach for wrinkle busting retinol, a vitamin A derivative. This is the star ingredient in Formulyst’s Anti-Aging Night Cream. What makes this formula different is that it contains a high dose of retinol but it’s also packed with ultra-soothing and hydrating safflower seed oil and jojoba to lock moisture in and soothe the skin.
If you like the simplicity of a skincare kit, consider Advanced Dermatology. This no nonsense brand offers a pared down approach to skincare. The packaging is simple and streamlined, and the products bring skincare back to the basics. The kit contains just six essential items including a daily cleanser; serum; anti-wrinkle firming treatment; night cream; day cream and an eye cream. In other words, everything you need to achieve your best possible looking skin.