Reviewed: The Best (and Worst) Skincare Products from Drunk Elephant

Is this cult clean beauty brand worth the hype?
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Drunk Elephant

With its Instagram-friendly packaging and promise of cleaner ingredients, Drunk Elephant has become one of the hottest skincare brands on the market today.

Whether in your feed or on your vanity, you can't help but be drawn to the brightly-coloured bottles. And the idea of a results-driven line without fragrance, alcohol or silicones is highly compelling.

Who wouldn't want to include a few Drunk Elephant products in her skincare routine? 

That's why I created this guide! I'm always being asked which of their products are truly worth it (and which are not). So, now that I've tried almost everything, I've put together this comprehensive review of the ENTIRE Drunk Elephant line. 

Just like my guide to The Ordinary, this is based both on my personal testing experience and my analysis of the ingredients lists. 

Also rest assured that this is a 100 percent honest review, as I have no relationship with the brand and everything here was purchased by me!

Drunk Elephant Background

Drunk Elephant Tiffany Masterson

Drunk Elephant founder Tiffany Masterson

Before we dive into the products, here's some quick background.

Drunk Elephant is the creation of Tiffany Masterson, a Texas stay-at-home mom who got her start selling an imported soap to make extra money during the recession. Initially, she thought its ingredients had transformed her skin, but soon realized it was what WASN'T in it that was making a difference!

That inspired Masterson to do her own research, eventually coming to the conclusion that "ingredients to avoid" are "at the root of every skincare issue," as she told W Magazine. With this philosophy in mind, she began working with a chemist in 2012 to develop her own formulas.

Today, there are 18 products in the Drunk Elephant range, which gets its name from the hero ingredient, marula oil. When elephants eat the fruit from marula trees, they get drunk!

All of the products are cruelty-free and without what Masterson calls the "Suspicious Six":

  • Essential oils
  • Drying alcohols
  • Silicones
  • Chemical sunscreens
  • Fragrances and dyes 
  • Sulfates  

Notably, Masterson has been criticized for her assertion that skin types don't exist, and that any reaction while using her products is from OTHER brands that do formulate with the "Suspicious Six."

Well, I was already avoiding the "Suspicious Six" long before I ever tried Drunk Elephant, so let's see how well that argument holds up, shall we?

(For the record, I don't love the concept of skin types, either, because there are many factors that can influence how your skin looks and feels on any given day. But to suggest that achieving "normal" skin is as simple as avoiding these six ingredients is false, especially for conditions like acne.)

Alright, on to the products (and I'll update this list as new ones are launched)!

Drunk Elephant Reviews

Drunk Elephant

Drunk Elephant's skincare range

Drunk Elephant Beste No. 9 Jelly Cleanser

Drunk Elephant Beste No. 9 Jelly Cleanser

Drunk Elephant Beste No. 9 Jelly Cleanser

Drunk Elephant Beste No. 9 Jelly Cleanser is a gel cleanser.

  • Sulfate-free, with a slightly acidic 5.5 pH—so it shouldn't strip the skin's protective moisture barrier.
  • Cleans with coconut-based surfactants and marula oil, while glycerin and cantaloupe extract deliver hydration.
  • Has a jelly-like texture and rinses off easily with water.
  • Can remove light makeup, but I suggest using a separate makeup remover if you need to get off a lot of eye makeup or foundation. (My favourite is Bioderma or, for a clean beauty option, Caudalie or BIOeffect.)
  • The brand recommends using this in the evenings only, as they don't think a morning cleanse is necessary. Personally, I think it's fine to use cleanser twice a day if it's gentle enough.
  • Although it is said to be suitable for even dry and sensitive skin, I think those skin types may find it a little drying. I'd recommend a creamier cleanser instead, such as Dr Roebuck's or Peet Rivko.
  • Some users have reported getting breakouts from this product, although I am acne-prone and haven't experienced any.
  • I think this is a good basic cleanser for normal to oily skin, but the Indie Lee Brightening Cleanser is still my favourite gel cleanser, and has equally clean ingredients.
  • Due to the small amounts of linoleic acid, linolenic acid and marula oil, I would use this up within 12 months (before they oxidize).

Where to buy: Sephora • Cult Beauty 

Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum 

Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum

Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum

Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum is a vitamin C serum.

  • Contains 15 percent L-ascorbic acid—the most potent, proven form of vitamin C for antioxidant protection, brightening, fading of dark spots and boosting collagen production.
  • Also includes ferulic acid and vitamin E (tocopherol), which I consider essential in any L-ascorbic acid formula because they double its photoprotection and increase stability (see studies here and here).
  • Has an acidic pH of 3.3, which is ideal because L-ascorbic acid has been shown to penetrate best at pH levels less than 3.5.
  • This makes it comparable to the OG vitamin C serum, SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic (which is why the parent company, L'Oréal, is currently suing Drunk Elephant for patent infringement!).
  • A key point of difference is that this serum contains many more ingredients, including grape juice, gooseberry, fermented pumpkin, pomegranate extract and the peptide chronocyclin.
  • There's also a high quantity of marula oil, which is a heavier oil with a thick consistency that may clog pores. 
  • For this reason, I would definitely avoid this serum if you have acne-prone skin. I've attempted to use it twice now, each time with a fresh bottle, and it always breaks me out in cystic acne (whereas SkinCeuticals has never given me a problem).
  • Like all L-ascorbic acid treatments, it must be used up before it oxidizes, within three months. (The brand has said it maintains most of its potency even at six months, but I wouldn't risk it because oxidized vitamin C can be aging to the skin.)
  • Unfortunately, the rate of oxidation is not easy to gauge because it has a light golden tint even when fresh. Once it turns darker and more orange, it has probably oxidized, so I would discontinue use.
  • I think this is a fine option if you're not acne-prone and don't mind the high price point for a product that will only last a few months. 
  • But if you're looking for a cheaper and less comedogenic alternative, consider Timeless 20% C + E + Ferulic Acid Serum or The Ordinary 100% L-Ascorbic Acid Powder (which you can mix with your own serums).

Where to buy: Sephora • Cult Beauty 

Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum

Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum

Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum

Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum is a hydrating serum.

  • Has a lightweight gel texture that is ideal for layering under moisturizer, oil and/or sunscreen. 
  • On its own, it won't be hydrating enough unless you have oily skin, and can feel a little sticky.
  • Named for pro-vitamin B5 (panthenol), a humectant that helps skin absorb and retain moisture. Also contains the humectants glycerin, pentylene glycol and sodium hyaluronate (low molecular weight hyaluronic acid).
  • Although free of silicones, it is high in coconut alkanes, a natural silicone alternative, and ammonium acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP copolymer, a synthetic polymer. Along with marula oil, these help to lock in moisture. (For some reason, they claim it contains squalane as well, but it's not listed in the ingredients.)
  • If you're prone to acne or sensitivity, be cautious with this one. Both the coconut alkanes and the marula oil could trigger breakouts, and some people have experienced irritation (red, flaky skin patches).
  • Although my skin tolerates this, I think the Vivier Hydragel Advanced B5+ Complex is a superior B5 formula with a far simpler ingredients list. I also find Consonant HydrExtreme keeps my skin more hydrated, and it's only got two ingredients!
  • Due to the high marula oil content, I would use this up within six to 12 months (before it oxidizes).

Where to buy: Sephora • Cult Beauty 

Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream

Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream

Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream

Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream is a lightweight moisturizer with peptides.

  • One of the few silicone-free moisturizers on the market.
  • Has a gel-cream texture, making it the lighter of the two moisturizers Drunk Elephant offers.
  • Contains nine different peptides (the building blocks of skin proteins), which have various cell-signalling functions such as stimulating cell growth, increasing fibroblast production and wound healing.
  • Peptides are not as proven as retinoids, antioxidants and hydroxy-acids, and some dermatologists, such as Dr. Leslie Baumann, believe they are too big to penetrate the skin. They may be even less penetrative due to the cream format (compared to serums, which easily absorb).
  • Hydrating ingredients include dicaprylyl carbonate (a plant-derived emollient), glycerin, fatty alcohols, marula oil, fermented soybean extract and hyaluronic acid.
  • Has a 4.0 pH, which is lower than most moisturizers, so theoretically you could layer it on top of acidic products right away without much reduction in their effectiveness. (Normally, you need to separate them by 30 minutes.) However, I'm not sure I would do this, as peptides are known to interact negatively with other ingredients.
  • If you are looking for a light moisturizer, this is not a bad option, but acne-prone skin may not tolerate it (I broke out from this, unfortunately!).
  • But if you're after anti-aging benefits, I wouldn't rely on this cream alone. You're better off investing in a separate retinoid, vitamin C serum or acid exfoliant.
  • Due to the high marula oil content, along with the linoleic acid and linolenic acid, I would use this up within six to 12 months (before they oxidize).

Where to buy: Sephora • Cult Beauty 

Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Cream

Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Cream

Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Cream

Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Cream is an intensive moisturizer for dry skin.

  • One of the few silicone-free moisturizers on the market. 
  • Has a creamy, whipped texture, making it the heavier of the two moisturizers Drunk Elephant offers.
  • Extremely oil-rich, with six different oils: marula, mongongo, baobab, watermelon, ximenia and passion fruit. However, it doesn't have an oily feel on the skin.
  • Also hydrates with glycerin, various emollients (including a "fermentoil") and low molecular weight hyaluronic acid.
  • I would recommend this cream to anyone with dry skin looking for a nourishing cream.
  • However, you should avoid it if you are oily or acne-prone, as it will more than likely be too rich and may lead to breakouts.
  • Due to the oils, some of which are unstable (polyunsaturated), I would use this up within three to six months (before they oxidize). So, keep in mind that you will need to go through this quickly to make it worth your while.

Where to buy: Sephora • Cult Beauty 

Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Face Oil

Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Face Oil

Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Face Oil

Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Face Oil is a pure marula facial oil.

  • Contains 100 percent unrefined marula oil, derived from the kernels of marula fruit.
  • Has a predominantly monounsaturated fatty acid profile (about 70 to 80 percent), with smaller amounts of saturated and polyunsaturated acids.
  • This makes it more stable and resistant to oxidation than most oils, with a shelf life of about six to 12 months. 
  • Although high in naturally-occurring antioxidants such as vitamin E and polyphenols, I wouldn't rely on this alone for antioxidant protection—you'll get more from a separate vitamin C or niacinamide serum.
  • Due to its high oleic acid content, this is a heavier-weight oil that is best for dry skin types.
  • It will work best when used on top of humectants, such as a serum or cream. (Otherwise, there won't be enough moisture to trap in the skin.)
  • Acne-prone skin types should definitely avoid this, as it's likely to clog pores and trigger breakouts. Instead, I'd suggest squalane, which is a much finer oil that is well-tolerated by most people. Indie Lee, The Ordinary and The Inkey List all have great squalane oils.
  • If you're looking to save money, The Ordinary and Acure make far less expensive marula oils.
  • If you do use Drunk Elephant's, I suggest purchasing the smaller (15 mL/0.5 oz.) size, as it may be difficult to use up the bigger one before it oxidizes (within six to 12 months).

Where to buy: Sephora • Cult Beauty 

Drunk Elephant Shaba Complex Eye Serum

Drunk Elephant Shaba Complex Eye Serum

Drunk Elephant Shaba Complex Eye Serum

Drunk Elephant Shaba Complex Eye Serum is an anti-aging eye serum.

  • Has a lightweight serum texture that is ideal under makeup. 
  • Can also be worn at night, as it is unlikely to migrate into eyes (like creams can, which leads to irritation and puffiness).
  • Treats fine lines and wrinkles with copper peptides, the most proven type of peptides. 
  • The fermented black tea and niacinamide may help with brightening, while the edelweiss and ubiquinone act as antioxidants.
  • Hydrating ingredients include glycerin, coconut alkanes, fatty alcohol and low molecular weight hyaluronic acid.
  • However, I would say it delivers only minimal hydration, so if you have a dry eye area, this probably won't be moisturizing enough. 
  • If you're sensitive, be cautious with this one. I find I can only use it every other night or so; otherwise, it starts making my under-eyes look irritated and crepey. I tolerate the eye serum from Indie Lee much better, although it is not as active.
  • Due to the soybean, sea buckthorn and marula oils, I would use this up within six months (before they oxidize).

Where to buy: Sephora • Cult Beauty 

Drunk Elephant C-Tango Multivitamin Eye Cream

Drunk Elephant C-Tango Multivitamin Eye Cream

Drunk Elephant C-Tango Multivitamin Eye Cream

Drunk Elephant C-Tango Multivitamin Eye Cream is an anti-aging eye cream.

  • Has a creamy texture, but still absorbs well. (I find half a pump is plenty for both eyes, versus the one pump they recommend.)
  • Contains five types of vitamin C: sodium ascorbyl phosphate, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, ascorbyl glucoside and ascorbyl palmitate. 
  • These are all vitamin C derivatives, which offer mild brightening benefits along with better stability than L-ascorbic acid. A couple of them (tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate and magnesium ascorbyl phosphate) may help with collagen production.
  • Also contains eight peptides, but as with Protini, these are less proven for anti-aging compared to the vitamin C ingredients.
  • Highly moisturizing thanks to the glycerin, fatty alcohol, plant oils and various emollients like dicaprylyl carbonate.
  • Again, this may not be suitable for sensitive skin. So far, I seem to tolerate this one better than the Shaba Complex, but some people have reported irritation. I would suggest Dr Roebuck's Down Under as a good alternative—it's equally if not more moisturizing, and the ingredients are even cleaner.
  • Due to the marula, avocado and sacha inchi oils, I would use this up within six months (before they oxidize).

Where to buy: Sephora • Cult Beauty 

Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer Physical Daily Defense SPF 30

Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer Physical Daily Defense SPF 30

Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer Physical Daily Defense SPF 30

Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer Physical Daily Defense SPF 30 is a non-tinted broad-spectrum mineral sunscreen.

  • One of the few low-silicone mineral sunscreens on the market. (Triethoxycaprylylsilane is the silicone they're using, but it's near the end of the ingredients list, so the concentration is very low and not worth worrying about.)
  • Protects with zinc oxide, a safe mineral sunscreen filter that provides the most effective protection from both UVA (aging rays) and UVB (burning rays).
  • As per my sunscreen ingredients tutorial, 20 percent zinc oxide is the minimum concentration required to achieve the recommended SPF 30 level of protection.
  • Also contains algae extract, sunflower sprout extract and raspberry seed oil, which act as antioxidants (although a separate vitamin C serum would be more effective).
  • Hydrates with glycerin, propanediol, fatty alcohol and marula oil, but doesn't feel greasy on the skin. (If you want a matte finish, I would suggest dusting with a powder like ILIA Soft Focus Finishing Powder.)
  • Once worked in, it should not leave any detectable white cast on light skin. But it may not be suitable for darker tones (consider the Umbra Tinte instead).
  • Has a tiny bit of shimmer, but I've never found it noticeable once applied.
  • Like many mineral sunscreens, it may pill or flake, depending on which products you layer under or over it. See my pilling tutorial for tips on how to minimize this.
  • If you have sensitive or acne-prone skin, be aware that some people have reported breakouts and irritation. (For the record, I'm able to use this one with no problems.)
  • Can be used on both face and body.
  • Due to the marula, sunflower, jojoba and raspberry seed oils, I would use this up within six months (before they oxidize).

Where to buy: Sephora • Cult Beauty 

Drunk Elephant Umbra Tinte Physical Daily Defense SPF 30

Drunk Elephant Umbra Tinte Physical Daily Defense SPF 30

Drunk Elephant Umbra Tinte Physical Daily Defense SPF 30

Drunk Elephant Umbra Tinte Physical Daily Defense SPF 30 is a tinted broad-spectrum mineral sunscreen.

  • One of the only tinted, low-silicone mineral sunscreens on the market. (As with Umbra Sheer, they're using the silicone triethoxycaprylylsilane, but it's in a super low concentration.)
  • Protects with zinc oxide, the safest and most effective sunscreen filter that gives you complete UVA and UVB protection.
  • As per the "SPF math" in my sunscreen ingredients tutorial, 20 percent zinc oxide is the minimum amount you need to get an SPF 30, as recommended by dermatologists.
  • Gives you some antioxidant protection with algae extract, sunflower sprout extract and raspberry seed oil.
  • Glycerin, propanediol, fatty alcohol and marula oil deliver hydration without a heavy feel. (To further mattify, a tinted powder like RMS Beauty Tinted "Un" Powder would work well on top.)
  • Comes in one medium-toned tint, which should work for medium to deep skin tones and will offset the white cast of the zinc oxide. (Light skin tones will likely find this too dark and should wear Umbra Sheer instead.) 
  • Has a sheer finish (no coverage), so it's not a replacement for foundation.
  • Like Umbra Sheer, it does have some barely-there shimmer, but again, I've never been able to detect it on my skin.
  • Pilling and flaking can be an issue if you are layering this with other products. See my pilling tutorial for help.
  • May not be suitable if you're prone to acne or sensitivity (although I have that skin type and can use these SPFs daily without breakouts or irritation).
  • Can be used on both face and body.
  • Due to the marula, sunflower, jojoba and raspberry seed oils, I would use this up within six months (before they oxidize).

Where to buy: Sephora • Cult Beauty 

Drunk Elephant Slaai Makeup-Melting Butter Cleanser

Drunk Elephant Slaai Makeup-Melting Butter Cleanser

Drunk Elephant Slaai Makeup-Melting Butter Cleanser

Drunk Elephant Slaai Makeup-Melting Butter Cleanser is a cleansing balm.

  • Breaks up dirt, makeup and sunscreen with a blend of oils—safflower, marula, açai, cranberry seed, borage, baobab, watermelon, sweet almond, mongongo and ximenia—along with sunflower seed wax.
  • Super gentle on the skin, as it is free of harsh sulfates and surfactants.
  • Has a thick and waxy consistency and must be applied to dry (not wet) skin. 
  • In contact with water, it transforms into a milk, and is said to rinse away with just water. However, I would recommend using a cloth, followed by a toner, to ensure that all traces have been thoroughly removed. Otherwise, you may be left with a greasy film on your skin that triggers breakouts or irritation.
  • Comes with a separate Bamboo Booster vial of charcoal and microcrystalline cellulose granules. They recommend adding it to the cleanser one or two nights per week for a gentle physical exfoliation. 
  • Personally, I don't think it's necessary to invest in balms with an array of exotic oils when a single oil, such as coconut, will do the same thing with a much longer shelf life. 
  • Also, much of the moisturizing benefits and all of the antioxidant benefits will be washed down the drain when you remove this.
  • Due to the high concentration of unstable polyunsaturated oils, you'd want to use this up within three months (before they oxidize). 

Where to buy: Sephora • Cult Beauty 

Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum

Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum

Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum

Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum is a chemical exfoliant with alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids.

  • Contains an 11 percent blend of alpha-hydroxy acids—glycolic, tartaric, lactic and citric acids—which exfoliate dead skin cells and brighten the skin. 
  • Also contains one percent salicylic acid (beta-hydroxy acid), which provides additional surface exfoliation and penetrates more deeply to help unclog pores.
  • Has a 3.8 pH, which is on par with other acid-based exfoliants.
  • Has a gel texture, and can be applied all over the skin or as a spot treatment on pimples. You can also mix it with the Marula Oil.
  • The brand recommends starting out with applications every other night, increasing to nightly if you can tolerate it.
  • According to Drunk Elephant, it is without "harsh side effects like dryness or sensitization," thanks to the moisturizing plant extracts, marula oil and low molecular weight hyaluronic acid.
  • However, some people may still find this too drying and irritating because of the glycolic acid (which is notoriously harsh due to its small molecule size). I personally cannot use this product, as it makes my skin very inflamed and flaky after a few applications.
  • Like all chemical exfoliants, it may cause purging initially if you are new to this type of product (which is a good thing). However, it could also cause regular breakouts if you have trouble with ingredients like marula oil. So, it may be hard to determine which one is happening! See my purging tutorial for help.
  • Due to the small amount of marula oil, I would use this up within 12 months (before it oxidizes).
  • Because of the price, potential comedogenicity, and irritating nature of glycolic acid, I would recommend trying a BHA treatment instead. As I explained in my salicylic acid tutorial, you'll get the same exfoliating and pore-cleaning benefits, without the irritation and inflammation. My favourite is COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid.

Where to buy: Sephora • Cult Beauty 

Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinol Cream

Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinol Cream

Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinol Cream

Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinol Cream is a retinol treatment.

  • Contains a high one percent concentration of retinol, the gold standard ingredient for anti-aging. Retinol treats fine lines and wrinkles, sun damage and pigmentation.
  • Also has three peptides for skin firming, although these are far less proven than the retinol.
  • Physalis and kale extract are antioxidants, while xanthophyll (a carotenoid) is generating buzz because it helps protect from blue light.
  • Since retinol is notoriously drying and irritating, they've tried to offset that with tons of lipids, including passion fruit seed, jojoba, marula, apricot kernel, avocado, soybean, safflower and olive oils.
  • The high concentration of oils, along with the coconut alkanes, will be too comedogenic for a lot of people. I personally found this product broke me out in the worst cystic acne! (And I know that it was not purging, since I was already using another retinoid.)
  • However, you might purge if you are new to retinoids. The problem is, it will be hard to tell whether it's purging or breakouts, since this product has so many comedogenic ingredients.
  • If you're not acne-prone, you may have success with this product. But due to the many unstable oils, make sure to use it up within three to six months (before they oxidize).
  • For everyone else, I'd recommend trying A313, Lixirskin or Shani Darden, which will be comparable in strength but less likely to clog pores. 

Where to buy: Sephora • Cult Beauty 

Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial

Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial

Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial

Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial is a weekly chemical exfoliating treatment with alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids.

  • Contains a 25 percent blend of alpha-hydroxy acids—glycolic, tartaric, lactic and citric acids—which exfoliate the skin surface and brighten the skin.
  • Also contains two percent salicylic acid (beta-hydroxy acid), for exfoliating both the skin surface and inside pores to loosen clogs.
  • Has a 3.5 pH, which is even more acidic than T.L.C. Framboos.
  • Should be used only once per week for 20 minutes on clean, dry skin. (Then rinse off with water.)
  • Contains marula oil, passion fruit seed oil, aloe and other plant extracts to help offset the drying and irritating effects of the acids (primarily the glycolic acid).
  • However, according to the brand, "glycolic acids get a bad rap for being sensitizing, but we believe that it's the pH level and accompanying ingredients (think fragrant oils or high amounts of alcohol) that can be the real problem." I disagree; no matter how it is formulated, glycolic acid is certainly not for everyone. (My dermatologist, for example, has told me not to use it all!)
  • I would avoid this treatment if you have sensitive skin, as the high acid concentration could cause too much inflammation and irritation.
  • Purging is possible, but less likely since it's only being applied on a weekly basis. However, some people have reported breakouts, perhaps from the oils.
  • Due to the small amounts of marula and passion fruit seed oils, I would use this up within 12 months (before they oxidize).
  • I believe you can get far better results from using mild doses of acids on a more frequent (even daily) basis, rather than using them just once a week. There are many gentle AHA-BHA blends, such as the ones from Omorovicza, COSRX and Tarte.
  • If you are dealing with acne, I strongly recommend trying a BHA-only treatment as often as twice daily, since BHAs don't cause irritation and inflammation like AHAs do. COSRX and Paula's Choice are two of the most effective treatments.
  • Note that this product is not sold in Canada, as it exceeds the maximum concentration allowed by Heath Canada for consumer use.

Where to buy: Sephora

Drunk Elephant Juju Bar

Drunk Elephant Juju Bar

Drunk Elephant Juju Bar

Drunk Elephant Juju Bar is an exfoliating cleansing bar.

  • Cleanses with sodium coco-sulfate, which is chemically similar to sodium lauryl sulfate.
  • Therefore, even though it is described as "soap-free," this is a fairly harsh surfactant that may be too drying for many people.
  • Has a pH of 6.4, which is lower than most bar soaps (they are usually highly alkaline). However, it's still on the high side, as skin is happiest with cleansers that have a pH between 5.0 and 6.0. 
  • Contains bamboo powder to gently exfoliate, and clay to draw out impurities.
  • I was surprised to see paraffin in the ingredients list, since Drunk Elephant is considered a "clean" beauty brand. This an occlusive petrochemical ingredient that can leave a film on the skin.
  • Other hydrators in here include fatty alcohol, marula oil and sunflower oil.
  • Can be used up to three times per week.
  • Many people have reported both skin irritation and breakouts from using this soap, so if you are dry, sensitive or acne-prone, you probably want to avoid it.
  • Due to the marula and sunflower oils, I would use this up within six months (before they oxidize).
  • I believe Drunk Elephant offers this type of product only because of the founder's personal history selling soap. But there are far better cleansing options today. Tatcha Rice Polish would be a great alternative if you are looking for a gentle exfoliant and cleanser.

Where to buy: Sephora • Cult Beauty 

Drunk Elephant Pekee Bar

Drunk Elephant Pekee Bar

Drunk Elephant Pekee Bar

Drunk Elephant Pekee Bar is a cleansing bar.

  • Like Juju, it cleanses with sodium coco-sulfate. Although technically "soap-free," this surfactant is actually similar to sodium lauryl sulfate, and can have a drying effect on the skin.
  • Has a 6.51 pH, even higher than Juju. Even though it's not alkaline like most bar soaps (the worst for your skin!), I would still consider this pH a little too high. Your skin is better off with a cleanser below 6.0.
  • Again, there is paraffin in here, along with fatty alcohol, marula oil, honey, glycerin and blueberry extract. All of these ingredients deliver hydration.
  • Can be used as often as twice daily.
  • There are many reports of this soap leaving skin tight with dry patches or breakouts.
  • Due to the marula oil, I would use this up within six to 12 months (before it oxidizes).
  • Again, I think you'd be better off trying a gentle sulfate-free cream, milk, foam or gel cleanser, depending on your skin type. A few of my favourites with clean ingredients include Dr Roebuck's, Odacité and Omorovicza.

Where to buy: Sephora • Cult Beauty 

Drunk Elephant Lippe Balm

Drunk Elephant Lippe Balm

Drunk Elephant Lippe Balm

Drunk Elephant Lippe Balm is a lip balm.

  • Hydrates and protects from moisture loss with a blend of oils—coconut, marula, soybean, safflower, avocado, mongogo and cranberry seed—along with shea butter and beeswax.
  • Also promises to plump the lips with the peptide Pal-GHK and an algae extract.
  • Green tea extract and a vitamin C derivative (tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate) may give you some antioxidant protection.
  • With such a high oil and wax content, this balm may be too occlusive for some people, sitting on top of the lips instead of delivering moisture. To heal chapping, you need emollient ingredients that penetrate into the skin. There have been many reports of drier lips from this product.
  • It also has a long list of ingredients, whereas I recommend using as few as possible on the lips, to minimize the risk of irritation or allergic reactions. Vitamin E and beeswax, for example, could pose a problem.
  • Due to the unstable oils, I would use this up within six months (before they oxidize).
  • If you are looking for a super nourishing, non-irritating lip balm, I suggest you try a medical-grade pure lanolin such as Lanolips. I used to always suffer from dry lips, but never do, now that I use it daily! Squalane oil, although it doesn't come in lip balm form, is also great for healing chapping. 

Where to buy: Sephora • Cult Beauty 

Drunk Elephant D-Bronzi Anti-Pollution Sunshine Drops

Drunk Elephant D-Bronzi Anti-Pollution Sunshine Drops

Drunk Elephant D-Bronzi Anti-Pollution Sunshine Drops

Drunk Elephant D-Bronzi Anti-Pollution Sunshine Drops is an antioxidant serum with a bronze tint.

  • Contains glutamylamidoethyl imidazole, a "chronopeptide" that the brand says "mimics the antioxidant benefits of vitamin D" without the risk of sun exposure.
  • To be clear, this product will have zero effect on your body's vitamin D levels—if it did, it would have to be regulated as a drug. 
  • Also has cocoa extract, white tea extract and vitamin E for additional antioxidant benefits, while platinum peptides (acetyl tetrapeptide-17) are said to treat wrinkles.
  • However, I would not rely on this product as an antioxidant or anti-aging treatment, as there are far stronger, more proven ingredients like L-ascorbic acid.
  • Since it has a concentrated bronze tint, you're meant to mix a drop or more into other products, rather than apply it on its own. The brand recommends adding it to sunscreen, but this can dilute your level of protection.
  • Can be used on face and body, but light skin tones may find this too dark in colour.
  • Like so many other Drunk Elephant products, this has the potential to clog pores and irritate. Hydrogenated polyisobutene (a mineral oil substitute), black currant seed oil and marula oil are likely going to be too heavy if you have acneic skin.
  • Due to the oils, linoleic acid and linolenic acid, I would use this up within three to six months (before they oxidize).

Where to buy: Sephora • Cult Beauty 

Conclusion

I hope this review has helped you navigate the Drunk Elephant line!

On the plus side, as someone who pays a lot of attention to ingredients, I applaud the brand for formulating without the so-called "Suspicious Six." They've definitely raised awareness for the problems associated with essential oils, alcohols, silicones, chemical sunscreens, fragrances and sulfates, and it's true that avoiding them improves skin.

On the down side, their products are very expensive, and for the most part, not well-suited to sensitive and acne-prone skin. Like I said, I was far from new to clean beauty before I began testing these, and a good number of them did break me out. Unfortunately, skincare is not quite as "one size fits all" as founder Tiffany Masterson suggests.

To sum up, here are my top picks—with the caveat that any of them may trigger sensitivity, and some (marked with *) may trigger acne.

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Have you tried anything from Drunk Elephant?
Which products have worked / not worked for you?

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