With its Instagram-friendly packaging and promise of cleaner ingredients, Drunk Elephant has become one of the most popular skincare brands on the market.
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, essential oils, 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 about these products, and now that I've tried just about all of them, I've put together a comprehensive review of the entire Drunk Elephant line.
Just like my guides for The Ordinary and Indie Lee, this is based both on my personal testing experience and my analysis of the ingredients lists. And rest assured, this is a completely honest review, as I have no relationship with the brand and everything I've used was purchased by me.
Drunk Elephant Background
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 2008 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 more than 20 products in the Drunk Elephant facial skincare 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 6":
- Essential oils
- Drying alcohols
- Chemical sunscreens
- SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate)
Notably, Masterson has been criticized for asserting (in a since-deleted blog post) that skin types don't exist, and that any skin reactions people experience while using her products are from other brands that do formulate with the "Suspicious 6."
Well, I was already avoiding the "Suspicious 6" 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 I disagree that achieving "normal" skin is as simple as avoiding these six ingredients, especially for conditions like acne.)
Alright, on to the products—and I'll update this review as new ones are launched!
Drunk Elephant Reviews
Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream
- Details: Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream is a peptide-based moisturizer with a light gel-cream texture. The peptides do everything from stimulating collagen to reducing inflammation, while various hydrating ingredients (including amino acids) bind moisture. At pH 4.0, this cream has a lower pH than most, so theoretically, you could layer it on top of acidic treatments right away, without much reduction in their effectiveness.
- Key ingredients: Glycerin, fatty alcohol, marula oil, plant-derived stem cells, peptides, amino acids, hyaluronic acid.
- Best for: Normal to oily skin. But if you are acne-prone, it may cause breakouts. (I can't use it for that reason—despite the light texture, it gave me multiple inflamed pimples!)
- Keep in mind: 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. So if you want anti-aging benefits, you're better off investing in a retinol, vitamin C serum and/or acid exfoliant (whether from this brand or another). Otherwise, if you're simply looking for a lightweight moisturizer, I find the ones from Versed, The Ordinary and Augustinus Bader are way better tolerated by acne-prone skin. If you do try this product, I recommend using it up within about six months, before the marula oil oxidizes.
Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Cream
- Details: Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Cream is an intensive moisturizer with a creamy, whipped texture. Not only does it contain multiple skin-softening emollients, it also includes fatty acids, cholesterol and ceramides to help repair and support your skin barrier. Since it has more occlusives than humectants, you may find this cream does a better job of sealing in moisture than actually delivering water to your skin. To achieve the latter, layer it over a hydrating serum (such as B-Hydra or one of the formulas from SkinCeuticals, Timeless or ClarityRx).
- Key ingredients: Glycerin, fatty acids, fatty alcohol, oils (baobab, watermelon, passionfruit, mongongo, marula and ximena), cholesterol, ceramides, hyaluronic acid.
- Best for: Normal to dry skin. If you are oily or acne-prone, it will likely be too rich, and may lead to breakouts.
- Keep in mind: Since it has more occlusives than humectants, you may find this cream does a better job of sealing in moisture than actually delivering water to your skin. To achieve the latter, layer it over a hydrating serum (such as B-Hydra or one of the formulas from SkinCeuticals, Timeless or ClarityRx). If it breaks you out, try one of the moisturizers from Doctor Rogers RESTORE, Dr Roebuck's or LXMI, which have similar textures but are less likely to trigger acne. If you do try this product, I recommend using it up within about six months, before the oils oxidize.
Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Face Oil
- Details: Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Face Oil is a facial oil comprised of pure marula oil and nothing else. This is a heavier-weight oil that is high in oleic acid. As a monounsaturated fatty acid, oleic acid is relatively stable and resistant to oxidation. Although the brand suggests you can moisturize with this product alone, oils by nature tend to sit on top of the skin instead of actually hydrating. For that reason, I'd suggest layering it over serums or creams.
- Key ingredient: 100% marula oil.
- Best for: Normal to dry skin. But it's probably going to be too heavy for oily and acne-prone skin, and could clog pores and trigger breakouts.
- Keep in mind: If you're looking for a less expensive version, The Ordinary and Acure both offer pure marula oils. However, you should be aware that continuous topical application of oleic acid has been linked to weakened skin barrier function and even dermatitis. I prefer squalane, since it is much lighter, extremely effective on dry and chapped skin, and well-tolerated by most people. Try Indie Lee, The Ordinary or The Inkey List. Marula oil does have some naturally-occurring vitamin E and polyphenols, but won't replace a good antioxidant serum. You'll get more protection from a proven formula, such as C-Firma or SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic with L-ascorbic acid. If you do try this product, I recommend using it up within about six months, before the marula oil oxidizes.
Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum
- Details: Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum is a vitamin C-based antioxidant serum for daytime. Not only does it contain L-ascorbic acid—the most potent, proven form of vitamin C to brighten, repair sun damage and protect from free radicals—it has the same concentration as the ever-popular SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic. There's also the requisite ferulic acid and vitamin E to further increase photoprotection and stability, and an acidic 3.3 pH level to enhance penetration. But unlike most vitamin C serums, it has a thicker consistency (from the marula oil) and a slight golden tint (from the pumpkin extract).
- Key ingredients: 15% L-ascorbic acid, 1% vitamin E, pumpkin extract, marula oil, ferulic acid, hyaluronic acid.
- Best for: Normal to dry skin. For acne-prone skin, it may be too pore-clogging. (I've attempted to use this twice now, each time with a fresh bottle, and it consistently gives me cystic acne, whereas C E Ferulic has never caused a problem. I suspect it's because of the marula oil.)
- Keep in mind: Although there are similarities, C E Ferulic (which holds a patent) is still the gold standard when it comes to vitamin C. For a cheaper and/or less comedogenic formula, consider Timeless or Paula's Choice. (Or, if budget allows, there's also the new SkinCeuticals Silymarin CF, which is specifically for oily and acne-prone skin.) If you do try this product, I recommend using it up within three months, before the L-ascorbic acid oxidizes. Unfortunately, the rate of oxidation is difficult to gauge because of the pumpkin extract. While the brand states that "anything from a pale yellow to an amber orange is completely normal," I would personally be wary of using it past the pale yellow stage.
Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum
- Details: Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum is an acid-based exfoliating gel that you leave on overnight. With its high concentration of alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids (AHAs and BHAs), it both exfoliates the skin surface and unclogs pores. Even still, it is said to be non-drying and non-irritating, as the acids are paired with humectants and calming botanical extracts. The brand recommends applying it every other night at first, gradually increasing to nightly applications. You can also use it as a spot treatment on pimples.
- Key ingredients: 10% AHAs (glycolic, lactic, tartaric and citric acids), 1% BHAs (salicylic acid), glycerin, aloe, marula oil, hyaluronic acid.
- Best for: All skin except sensitive. However, some people will still find it too harsh because of the glycolic acid (which is notoriously irritating 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.
- Keep in mind: Like all acids, this treatment may cause purging initially if you are new to chemical exfoliants. (The marula oil is unlikely to be a problem, since there's less than 1%.) If you find it too strong, I recommend avoiding glycolic acid and switching to a lactic and salicylic acid combo instead. Try Tarte or Luzern Laboratories. You can even just use BHAs alone, as they offer the same benefits as AHAs in addition to cleaning pores, without causing inflammation. My favourite BHAs are from COSRX, Farmacy and First Aid Beauty.
Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum
- Details: Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum is a hydrating serum with a gel-like texture. It's named for the provitamin B5 (panthenol), a humectant that attracts and retains water. On its own, this serum probably won't be hydrating enough unless you have oily skin. For best results, layer it underneath a cream, oil and/or sunscreen, which will also help to keep the moisture locked in.
- Key ingredients: Coconut alkanes, glycerin, marula oil, pineapple extract, provitamin B5 (panthenol), hyaluronic acid.
- Best for: All skin. However, be cautious with it if you are acne-prone, since both the coconut alkanes and the marula oil could lead to breakouts. (For the record, my skin is acne-prone and I do actually tolerate this product very well.)
- Keep in mind: You can find hydrating serums with provitamin B5 from SkinCeuticals, Paula's Choice and First Aid Beauty, and since these formulas don't contain oils or alkanes, they are less likely to be comedogenic. If you do try this product, I recommend using it up within about six months, before the marula oil oxidizes.
Drunk Elephant Protini Powerpeptide Resurfacing Serum
- Details: Drunk Elephant Protini Powerpeptide Resurfacing Serum is an acid-based exfoliating serum that is gentle enough to use day and night. It targets dead skin cells with a high concentration of lactic acid, a mild and hydrating AHA. Taking inspiration from the Protini Cream, there are also 11 peptides for additional plumping and firming benefits. This treatment is supposed to be used after cleansing and before moisturizer.
- Key ingredients: 10% lactic acid, glycerin, oils (squalane, marula, camellia seed, borage and rice bran), sodium PCA, peptides, hyaluronic acid, provitamin B5 (panthenol), amino acids.
- Best for: All skin. But acne-prone skin may not tolerate this well, due to the multiple oils.
- Keep in mind: The peptides aren't comparable to retinoids in terms of anti-aging benefits, so you may prefer to invest in a separate retinol (such as A313 or Shani Darden Retinol Reform), and use this as an exfoliant only. By the way, Biossance has a similar 10% lactic acid serum, with a more minimalistic ingredients list and lower price point. If you do try this product, I recommend using it up within about six months, before the oils oxidize.
Drunk Elephant D-Bronzi Anti-Pollution Sunshine Drops
- Details: Drunk Elephant D-Bronzi Anti-Pollution Sunshine Drops is a tinted serum that gives your skin an instant bronzed look while helping to protect it from free radicals. While it won't have any effect on your body's vitamin D levels (if it did, it would have to be regulated as a drug), it does contain a peptide that is said to mimic the antioxidant benefits of vitamin D. Since the colour is so concentrated, you're meant to mix just a drop or two into your favourite serum, cream or oil. (Don't add it to sunscreens, though, as it could dilute your level of protection.)
- Key ingredients: Mica, glycerin, black currant seed oil, marula oil, cocoa extract, peptides.
- Best for: All skin. (It is unlikely to trigger breakouts if used by the drop, as directed.)
- Keep in mind: Fair, cool-toned skin will likely find the bronze tint too dark and too warm. Also be wary if you prefer a matte finish, as the mica gives it a subtle shimmer. Since it is not transfer-resistant, this serum is best worn with dark clothing. I would not rely on this product alone for antioxidant protection. Look for serums with stronger, more proven ingredients like L-ascorbic acid (in C-Firma and SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic, for example). If you do try this product, I recommend using it up within about six months, before the oils oxidize.
Masks and Treatments:
Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial
- Details: Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial is a 20-minute acid-based exfoliating peel to use once per week. It features a high concentration of AHAs and BHAs to exfoliate dead skin cells and unclog pores (therefore brightening and clarifying your complexion). Despite being highest in glycolic acid, which is known to be irritating, the brand has claimed that "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." As such, this treatment has a pH of 3.5 and, like all the products, is free of fragrance, essential oils and alcohol.
- Key ingredients: 25% AHAs (glycolic, tartaric, lactic and citric acids), 2% BHAs (salicylic acid), glycerin, aloe, green tea extract, pumpkin extract.
- Best for: All skin except sensitive.
- Keep in mind: Contrary to the brand's claims, glycolic acid-based treatments are certainly not for everyone, no matter how well they're formulated. (I don't consider my skin especially sensitive, but my dermatologist has told me I shouldn't use glycolic acids at all.) As with any acid, this product may cause initial purging if you haven't used chemical exfoliants before. However, I would argue that you can get better results by using a milder acid on a more frequent (even daily) basis, rather than relying on harsh weekly treatments like this one. COSRX, First Aid Beauty and Biossance have some of the gentlest AHAs and BHAs that are suitable for frequent use.
Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinol Cream
- Details: Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinol Cream is an overnight retinol treatment for fine lines, wrinkles and sun damage. Retinol is the gold standard ingredient for anti-aging, and there's a high concentration of it here—but Masterson told InStyle that it is in encapsulated form, making it much gentler. (It's too bad this isn't made clear in the brand's marketing copy!) To further reduce irritation, this formula has tons of emollients, plus peptides for additional firming benefits.
- Key ingredients: 1% encapsulated retinol, glycerin, fatty acids, coconut alkanes, niacinamide, fatty alcohol, oils (passion fruit seed, jojoba, marula and apricot kernel), peptides.
- Best for: Normal to dry skin. But proceed with caution if you are acne-prone. (I personally experienced the worst cystic acne from this product—and I know that it was not purging, since I was already using another retinoid.)
- Keep in mind: If you are new to retinoids, it's normal to experience some initial purging. Unfortunately, since this product also contains multiple comedogenic ingredients, it may be hard to pinpoint whether it is a true purge or just a breakout. It's also important to understand that encapsulated retinol is typically comprised of only 1-14% pure retinol, so this treatment is not nearly as potent as it seems (probably 0.14% retinol, max). If you're looking for a stronger and/or less comedogenic formula, I suggest A313 (reviewed here) or Shani Darden Retinol Reform (reviewed here). If you do try this product, I recommend using it up within about six months, before the oils oxidize.
Drunk Elephant F-Balm Electrolyte Waterfacial
- Details: Drunk Elephant F-Balm Electrolyte Waterfacial is an overnight sleeping mask to hydrate your skin and help strengthen its moisture barrier. It contains fatty acids ("vitamin F"), cholesterol and ceramides, which are a proven combination for sealing up the cracks between skin cells. It's also high in humectants to boost moisture levels, as well as niacinamide (which has an array of skin benefits). This product has a cooling, gel-like texture, and is meant to be applied as the last step in your nighttime routine.
- Key ingredients: Squalane, niacinamide, coconut alkanes, coconut water, jojoba oil, glycerin, marula oil, sodium PCA, fatty acids, cholesterol, ceramides.
- Best for: Normal to dry skin. But be careful if you are acne-prone. While it is one of the few sleeping masks that is silicone-free, it still contains several potentially pore-clogging ingredients.
- Keep in mind: If you are using chemical exfoliants and/or retinoids, this product could work to minimize irritation and flakiness—although it may also reduce the other treatments' effectiveness, depending on how close together they are applied. If you are looking for a similar type of sleeping mask, but in a simpler, less comedogenic formula, check out Pyunkang Yul Balancing Gel. If you do try this product, I recommend using it up within about six months, before the oils oxidize.
Drunk Elephant Sweet Biome Fermented Sake Spray
- Details: Drunk Elephant Sweet Biome Fermented Sake Spray is a hydrating and calming face mist that helps to support your skin's barrier and microbiome. It's named for the fermented sake, which floods skin with amino acids and antioxidants, and is also packed with humectants and barrier-repairing ingredients like ceramides. You can use it after cleansing, or anytime your skin needs a pick-me-up.
- Key ingredients: Sodium PCA, fermented sake, glycerin, fermented black tea, coconut fruit juice, marula oil, hyaluronic acid, amino acids, fatty acids, ceramides, cholesterol.
- Best for: All skin. But be careful if you are sensitive, as some people have reported experiencing red, hot, itchy skin.
- Keep in mind: Fermented sake is the star of the famous SK-II Facial Treatment Essence, which I think is the better option if you're really looking to benefit from this ingredient. This spray also has a tendency to feel sticky on the skin. Tower 28, Dr Roebuck's and Caudalie all offer face mists with simpler ingredients lists and a lighter feel. If you do try this product, I recommend using it up within about six months, before the marula oil oxidizes.
Drunk Elephant Beste No. 9 Jelly Cleanser
- Details: Drunk Elephant Beste No. 9 Jelly Cleanser is a mild gel cleanser to remove dirt, oil and makeup. It's sulfate-free, with a slightly acidic pH of 5.5, so it won't strip your skin's protective moisture barrier. It also produces a foamy lather and rinses clean without leaving any residue behind. The brand recommends using this nightly and skipping cleansing in the morning.
- Key ingredients: Glycerin, coconut-based surfactants, aloe, cantaloupe extract.
- Best for: Normal to oily skin.
- Keep in mind: This cleanser does a good job of taking off light makeup, but you may need a separate makeup remover for stubborn eye makeup or foundation (try E-Rase or the formulas from Bioderma or BIOeffect). If your skin is on the drier side, there are two gel cleansers I've found that are more hydrating, from iS Clinical and Indie Lee.
Drunk Elephant E-Rase Milki Micellar Water
- Details: Drunk Elephant E-Rase Milki Micellar Water is a gentle micellar cleansing water that removes dirt, makeup and pollution from your skin—no rinsing required. The formula is enriched with oils and ceramides, so it has a milky texture and softens your skin. Swipe it on with a cotton pad (I love Shiseido's).
- Key ingredients: Oils (marula, baobab, sweet almond, mongongo, watermelon seed and ximenia), vitamin E, ceramides, cholesterol.
- Best for: All skin.
- Keep in mind: Even though you don't have to rinse off this cleanser, I suggest you do so, since leaving the oil-rich formula on your skin could very well lead to breakouts. I think it is best used as step one in a double cleansing routine (followed by Beste No. 9 or another gentle cleansing gel). If you do try this product, I recommend using it up within about six months, before the oils oxidize.
Drunk Elephant Slaai Makeup-Melting Butter Cleanser
- Details: Drunk Elephant Slaai Makeup-Melting Butter Cleanser is a rich, oil-based cleansing balm that breaks up dirt, stubborn makeup and even water-resistant sunscreens. It's free of harsh sulfates and surfactants, and has a thick and waxy consistency that transforms into a milk when activated with water. It comes with a separate vial of bamboo and charcoal powder, which you can add to the cleanser once or twice per week for a gentle exfoliation.
- Key ingredients: Fatty acids, oils (safflower oil, marula oil, açai, cranberry seed, borage, baobab, watermelon, sweet almond, mongongo and ximenia), sunflower seed wax.
- Best for: Normal to dry skin.
- Keep in mind: You definitely want to remove all traces of this cleanser from your skin—otherwise the leftover residue could clog your pores and cause breakouts. I would not rely on water alone to rinse it off. I suggest wiping it off with a warm, wet cloth, and following with a toner (I love The Inkey List PHA Toner for all skin types). However, since any moisturizing and antioxidant benefits will be washed down the drain, I generally don't think it's worth it to invest in fancy cleansing balms. You can achieve the same results with basic coconut oil (I use Kopari), which also has a much longer shelf life. If you do try this product, I recommend using it up within about six months, before the oils oxidize.
Drunk Elephant Pekee Bar
- Details: Drunk Elephant Pekee Bar is a soap-free cleansing bar to remove excess oil and debris without drying out your skin. While most bar soaps are highly alkaline, which can strip your skin's natural protective lipids, this one has a more neutral pH of 6.5. It produces a creamy lather, and can be used morning or night.
- Key ingredients: Sodium coco-sulfate, fatty alcohol, paraffin, marula oil.
- Best for: Normal to oily skin. Proceed with caution if you have dry skin, as many people have reported that it left their skin even drier.
- Keep in mind: The main surfactant in this bar, sodium coco-sulfate, is partially comprised of sodium lauryl sulfate—so while it is gentler, it may still cause dryness and irritation. I would also consider the 6.5 pH level perhaps a little too high. Yes, it is better than most bar soaps, but in general, I think skin is better off with slightly more acidic cleansers that are between pH 5.0-6.0. Try Beste No. 9, or if you want something creamier, check out Versed, Glossier and The Ordinary.
Drunk Elephant Juju Bar
- Details: Drunk Elephant Juju Bar is an exfoliating cleansing bar that dissolves excess oil and debris while gently smoothing your skin. Like Pekee, it is soap-free, and has a slightly more acidic pH level of 6.3. The addition of clay helps to draw out impurities, and bamboo powder gives it a somewhat gritty texture to remove dead skin cells. It can be used up to three times per week.
- Key ingredients: Sodium coco-sulfate, fatty alcohol, bamboo powder, paraffin, marula oil, clay.
- Best for: Normal to oily skin. Similar to Pekee, it could be too drying if you have dry skin.
- Keep in mind: Again, sodium lauryl sulfate is a component of sodium coco-sulfate, the main surfactant in this bar. So while it's not as harsh, it could still cause some dryness and irritation. For a gentler exfoliating cleanser, try Tatcha The Rice Wash. However, I think gentle chemical exfoliation is generally preferable to manual. I recommend betaine salicylate (a mild BHA) or lactic acid formulas, such as those from COSRX, Glow Recipe, ClarityRx and The Inkey List.
Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer Physical Daily Defense SPF 30
- Details: Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer Physical Daily Defense SPF 30 is a broad-spectrum mineral sunscreen for the face and body. With its high concentration of zinc oxide, it provides excellent protection from both UVA (the aging rays) and UVB (the burning rays). It starts out as a white cream, but once rubbed in, becomes sheer with a slightly dewy finish and barely-there shimmer.
- Key ingredients: 20% zinc oxide, fatty acids, glycerin, fatty alcohol, silica, marula oil, aloe. (There is one ingredient from the "Suspicious 6"—silicone—but it is near the end of the ingredients list, so the concentration is very low and not worth worrying about.)
- Best for: All skin.
- Keep in mind: While it claims to be sheer, this sunscreen tends to leave a white cast, so it's probably best for light skin tones only. Those with medium to dark tones should go with Umbra Tinte instead. However, I think ALL skin tones and types will prefer the sunscreens from EleVen by Venus, which offer the same high level of protection but are completely invisible (even on dark skin), with an ultra-lightweight feel. If you do try this product, I recommend using it up within about six months, before the oils oxidize.
Drunk Elephant Umbra Tinte Physical Daily Defense SPF 30
- Details: Drunk Elephant Umbra Tinte Physical Daily Defense SPF 30 is a tinted, broad-spectrum mineral sunscreen for the face and body. It contains the same high concentration of zinc oxide as Umbra Sheer, to protect from UVA and UVB rays, but comes in one medium-toned tint that helps offset any white cast. The coverage level is sheer, so it evens out your skin a bit, but won't be a replacement for foundation. It gives a semi-dewy finish, with a hint of subtle shimmer.
- Key ingredients: 20% zinc oxide, fatty acids, glycerin, fatty alcohol, silica, marula oil, aloe. (Like Umbra Sheer, it does contain some silicone, but as it's near the end of the ingredients list, it's such a low quantity that we don't need to worry about it.)
- Best for: All skin.
- Keep in mind: The brand claims the tint will flatter every skin tone, but anyone with light, cool-toned skin will probably find it too dark and too warm (go for Umbra Sheer instead). That said, even people with deep skin tones have reported that this sunscreen gives them a white cast, despite being tinted. So again, I highly recommend checking out Venus Williams' EleVen by Venus sunscreens. While they are not tinted, they leave zero white cast and feel incredibly lightweight on the skin. If you do try this product, I recommend using it up within about six months, before the oils oxidize.
Eyes + Lips:
Drunk Elephant Shaba Complex Eye Serum
- Details: Drunk Elephant Shaba Complex Eye Serum is a lightweight eye serum that targets fine lines, wrinkles and sun damage. It does so with the help of copper peptides (which stimulate collagen and elastin), plus multitasking niacinamide and antioxidant-rich plant stem cells. The serum texture is ideal under makeup, but you can also wear it underneath or mixed with eye cream (such as C-Tango), day or night.
- Key ingredients: Glycerin, fermented black tea, coconut alkanes, fatty alcohol, niacinamide, peptides, plant-derived stem cells.
- Best for: All skin. But be cautious if you are sensitive. (I find I can only use it every other night—otherwise, it starts making my under-eye area look irritated and crepey.)
- Keep in mind: This eye serum delivers only minimal hydration, so if you have a dry eye area, it probably won't be moisturizing enough. If you're looking for the same anti-aging benefits but in a more hydrating, non-irritating formula, I highly recommend the iS Clinical Youth Eye Complex.
Drunk Elephant C-Tango Multivitamin Eye Cream
- Details: Drunk Elephant C-Tango Multivitamin Eye Cream is a moisturizing eye cream with brightening and anti-aging benefits. It's named for its five types of vitamin C (all derivatives), which help to firm and even out tone, with better stability than L-ascorbic acid. They're paired with eight different peptides, ceramides and various emollients to moisturize and strengthen the skin. The texture is rich but non-greasy and fast-absorbing.
- Key ingredients: Glycerin, fatty alcohol, fatty acids, vitamin C (sodium ascorbyl phosphate, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, ascorbyl glucoside and ascorbyl palmitate), oils (marula, avocado and sacha inchi), peptides, ceramides.
- Best for: All skin.
- Keep in mind: Vitamin C derivatives are not as effective as active vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid), nor are peptides as effective as retinoids. If you're really looking to get the benefits of vitamin C, then SkinCeuticals AOX+ Eye Gel is your best bet. In terms of retinoids, Avène RetrinAL Eyes is a good option with retinaldehyde (which is stronger but less irritating than retinol). If you do try this product, I recommend using it up within about six months, before the oils oxidize.
Drunk Elephant Lippe Balm
- Details: Drunk Elephant Lippe Balm is a nourishing and plumping lip balm. It contains an array of plant oils, butters and waxes, and is spiked with a peptide that helps lips to look fuller.
- Key ingredients: Oils (coconut, marula, soybean, safflower, avocado, mongogo and cranberry seed), shea butter, beeswax, vitamin E.
- Best for: All skin. But if you are sensitive to beeswax or vitamin E, it could make your lips drier.
- Keep in mind: This balm is high in occlusives, but lacking in humectants that actually deliver moisture. So some people may find that it sits on top of the skin without really penetrating to soften and heal chapping. 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. If you are looking for a super nourishing, non-irritating lip balm, I always suggest medical-grade lanolin such as Lanolips or Lansinoh. I used to always suffer from dry lips, but now that I use those, I never do! If you do try this product, I recommend using it up within about six months, before the oils oxidize.
I hope this review has helped you navigate the Drunk Elephant line!
As someone who pays a lot of attention to ingredients, I applaud the brand for formulating without the so-called "Suspicious 6." They've definitely raised awareness for the problems associated with essential oils, alcohols, silicones, chemical sunscreens, fragrances and sulfates—and I fully agree that avoiding these ingredients can improve the health of your skin.
I just wish that this line was better-suited to acne-prone and sensitive skin. Like I said, I was far from new to clean beauty before I began testing Drunk Elephant products, and a good number of them did break me out. Unfortunately, I don't think that skincare is as "one size fits all" as the brand's founder has suggested.
To sum up, here are my top picks—with the caveat that some of them may trigger breakouts or irritation, depending on your skin.
- Moisturizers: Protini
- Serums: C-Firma and B-Hydra
- Masks and treatments: A-Passioni
- Cleansers: Beste No. 9
- Sun protection: Umbra Sheer and Umbra Tinte
- Eyes and lips: Shaba Complex and C-Tango
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