Drunk Elephant is one of those skincare companies that really broke ground with their presentation and branding. Drunk Elephant products are known for being expensive and effective, with all-natural proclivities but the same powerful active ingredients we know and love from mainstream brands.
We decided to give a thorough Drunk Elephant review, with a focus on the best products that the brand offers! We’ll tell you a bit about the brand’s origin story, along with our honest thoughts about the Drunk Elephant skincare philosophy and a couple of controversial company practices. To finish off, we’ve included tips to help you choose and use Drunk Elephant products properly!
In this article:
- Our Picks for the Best Drunk Elephant Products
- The Origins of the Drunk Elephant Skincare Line
- Honest Drunk Elephant Review
- How to Choose Drunk Elephant Products?
Best Drunk Elephant Products Overview
- Best Gel Cleanser: Drunk Elephant Beste No. 9 Jelly Cleanser
- Best Moisturizer: Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Moisturizer with Ceramides
- Best Night Serum: Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Resurfacing Night Serum
- Best Sunscreen: Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer Physical Daily Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30
- Best Anti-Aging Cream: Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinol Cream
- Best Chemical Peel: Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial 25% AHA + 2% BHA Mask
- Best Moisturizer for Oily Skin: Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Moisturizer
- Best Overnight Mask: Drunk Elephant F-Balm Electrolyte Waterfacial Mask
- Best Day Serum: Drunk Elephant C-Firma Vitamin C Day Serum
- Best Balm Cleanser: Drunk Elephant Slaai Makeup-Melting Butter Cleanser
- Best Eye Serum: Drunk Elephant Shaba Complex Firming Eye Serum
- Best Bar Cleanser: Drunk Elephant Pekee Cleansing Bar
- Best Body Wash: Drunk Elephant Kamili Cream Body Cleanser
- Best Body Lotion: Drunk Elephant Sili Body Lotion
Our Picks for the Best Drunk Elephant Products
These are the best Drunk Elephant products that give results, feel amazing, and potentially even merit the high price tag.
This cleanser makes frequent appearances in my cleanser compilations. Drunk Elephant products don’t include a ton of cleanser options because they don’t need to – this one does it all! It’s a gentle, gel cleanser with a skin-loving pH and a hydrating effect, so it suits all skin types though it’s best for oily, combination, and sensitive skin. You can use it alone or as a second cleanser in combination with a balm cleanser. It’s sold at Sephora and Amazon.
This is one of the most beautiful moisturizers on the market and is easily one of the best Drunk Elephant products for those with dry skin to try. It has the most luxurious texture and is slightly on the thicker side. The formula is perfection, with a healthy blend of moisture-binding humectants and fortifying oils and ceramides. It also includes different fermented extracts that support a healthy skin microbiome. Find it at Sephora or Amazon!
This formula features a 12% combo of AHA and BHA (i.e. salicylic acid), although the exact percentage breakdown is kept secret. Despite that, this serum definitely includes enough exfoliating acids to have an impact on scarring, acne, fine lines, pigmentation, and more. It also includes enough hydrators, and soothing extracts to prevent any irritation! You can get it at Sephora or Amazon.
A brand always gains a certain level of respect from me when their portfolio includes a great sunscreen. This all-physical sunscreen relies on zinc oxide for its protection, which also has skin-soothing effects. It has a creamy and moisturizing formula, but once it sinks in, it doesn’t leave a residue.
Since it’s a mineral sunscreen, it does look a little white on the skin at first, but that cast disappears after a few minutes. Some users don’t love the scent, but that’s often a given with fragrance-free sunscreens. It’s available at Sephora and Amazon.
When it comes to non-prescription anti-aging ingredients, retinol is the gold standard to which all others must compare. It promotes skin regeneration and collagen production and is one of the best treatments for fine lines.
At 1%, this cream includes enough retinol to have an impact but not so much that it’s too strong for beginners. As a bonus, it includes other anti-aging agents like antioxidant niacinamide and a triple peptide blend. Because it also contains coconut alkanes, ceramides, and a few different botanical oils, it’s best for those with mature, dry, or normal skin. Pick it up from Sephora or Amazon!
This product is not for the faint of heart or faint of skin since it’s a peel with a nearly professional-strength amount of acids, including glycolic, lactic, tartaric, and salicylic. It exfoliates the skin, helping to reveal a brighter complexion and to get rid of all kinds of skin texture issues.
Some might compare it to The Ordinary Peeling Solution, which I do not recommend, so what makes this product different? Most users find that Babyfacial is much less irritating to the skin, likely because of its lower acid percentage and its creamy texture, which takes longer to sink into the skin and helps mitigate irritation.
The brand also recommends that this only be used once a week, as opposed TO’s extreme recommendation of twice a week. We also think that because of the price, users might be less likely to overuse this product and damage their skin, though it still requires a lot of care. Find it at Sephora or Amazon!
If your skin is a little oilier, you will probably prefer this moisturizer to Lala Retro. It’s a lightweight lotion-gel that offers a ton of hydration. It’s loaded with proteins, which have a moisture-binding effect when applied topically. Polypeptides also take a front and center role here, adding a supportive anti-aging effect. You can shop for it at Sephora or Amazon.
Another great option for moisture from Drunk Elephant is this overnight mask. It’s an ideal version of what a night mask needs to be with a gel texture and important film formers. The star ingredients are linoleic and alpha-linolenic acids, which are incredibly skin-soothing fatty acids that we usually love in face oils. It also features emollient squalane and refining niacinamide. Despite being a gel, it creates a protective layer over the skin that binds moisture in at night, so you can wake up feeling soft and nourished. Buy it at Sephora or Amazon!
Good vitamin C serums are rarely cheap, making this one of Drunk Elephant’s more reasonably priced products (all T, some shade). What makes it so good, though? Let’s start with the 15% vitamin C, in the form of super-potent l-ascorbic acid, proven to brighten pigmentation, increase collagen production, and give the skin an overall anti-aging boost.
The vitamin C is stabilized with antioxidant ferulic acid and made extremely moisturizing thanks to hyaluronic acid, marula oil, and glycerin. It’s a fantastic choice for all skin types, and you can purchase it at Sephora.
Every makeup addict should have a balm or oil cleanser in their arsenal, and this one is a fantastic choice. It has a buttery texture that melts down both eye and face makeup and then emulsifies when water is added for easy rinsing.
It contains gorgeous, skin-nourishing oils from the vitamin E rich yet light safflower to some antioxidant-rich and exquisite ones from marula, baobab, and melon. As a bonus, it comes with a little vial of Bamboo Booster, a charcoal-based powder that you can add to the balm for a luxurious physical exfoliation experience. Pick it up at Sephora or Amazon!
For us to recommend an eye product, it has to be truly remarkable since we’re perfectly happy slathering a good moisturizer around our peepers. Will, this definitely fits the bill! It’s a gentle serum that perks the eyes right up with a firming black tea ferment extract, soothing edelweiss extract, and antioxidant copper peptide. It’s creamy, but we’d still recommend layering your favorite eye-safe moisturizer on top of it for added moisture. Order it from Sephora or Amazon!
Bar cleansers are usually soap-based, so we’re not big fans because the alkalinity is just so wrong for the skin. This little bar breaks those rules, however. It’s a cleansing bar made of solid surfactants rather than harsh soaps, so it cleanses the skin gently without disrupting the acid mantle.
In addition to the gentle cleansing agents, it also includes honey and glycerin to impart a bit of moisture to the skin during the cleansing process. It’s ideal for combination and oily skin, in particular. You can order it from Sephora or Amazon.
This new addition to the Drunk Elephant product line has generated mixed reviews, but we’re actually huge fans. The body is often neglected when it comes to skincare, so this is one of the first body washes we’ve seen formulated with the level of respect the body deserves. It’s truly gentle and sulfate-free, with a low pH and a ton of gentle moisturizing oils. If you have dry skin, you might even be able to use it on your face.
The main complaints about it are that it doesn’t get sudsy, which, to us, is a sign of how non-irritating it is, and that it smells strongly of almond oil, which makes sense because it’s fragrance-free, and that’s the main ingredient! Do your body a favor and pick it up from Sephora or Amazon.
In the same way that Kamili is a body wash made like a facial cleanser, this is a fantastic body lotion made like a face cream. It is very lightweight, so it’s awesome for those who don’t like the feel of a heavy body cream.
Despite this light texture, it’s extremely effective at moisturizing the skin, with emollient superstars like stable squalane and silky coconut alkanes. There are also some sexy-sounding ingredients, like both marula oil and butter, which load the skin up with an antioxidant blend that helps ward off signs of aging. You can buy it at Sephora or Amazon.
The Origins of the Drunk Elephant Skincare Line
Drunk Elephant has the same basic founding story as a lot of other clean or natural cosmetic companies. The founder, Tiffany Masterson, came to the conclusion that her skin couldn’t tolerate a specific collection of ingredients or ingredient categories and decided to create a range of products free of them. Those ingredients were branded as the “suspicious 6,” a list that includes fragrances, essential oils, ethyl alcohol, silicones, SLS, and chemical sunscreens.
The brand also selected marula oil as its star ingredient (with the name Drunk Elephant referring to a myth about elephants eating the fermented marula fruit and getting drunk), which is a lovely oil rich in antioxidant and moisturizing fatty acids.
However, Drunk Elephant utilizes a lot of ingredients that I find much more exciting, like the anti-aging superstars retinol and vitamin C, as well as other potent actives. They also focus on keeping products at a low pH, which is important for keeping the skin functioning well and resisting damage.
Drunk Elephant was one of the first brands to popularize the concept of “clean beauty.” They use both synthetic and natural ingredients, with the main focus being on avoiding anything that could be an irritant.
Drunk Elephant products are not categorized based on skin types, which is something the founder doesn’t believe in, and the products are meant to be one-size-fits-all, though, as you can see in my individual product Drunk Elephant reviews, I disagree.
Regardless, this approach has clearly worked for Drunk Elephant, which sold to Shiseido last year for $845 million, with Tiffany Masterson staying on as the brand’s Chief Creative Director.
Honest Drunk Elephant Review
Overall, it’s clear that Drunk Elephant is a remarkable brand that is extremely consistent with formulating. I love that their approach eschews fragrances and highlights well-researched, potent active ingredients like retinol and AHA.
Another thing I appreciate about Drunk Elephant products is how well-curated they are, thanks to a minimalist approach that other brands could benefit from adopting. Putting together a Drunk Elephant skincare routine is an easy process, and it’s not hard to understand when to use what and at which order. Their products come together easily, without conflicts or redundancies.
Overall, while I love a lot of the individual products, I do think a Drunk Elephant review needs to also look at the brand as a whole. I have criticisms of DE, which range from mild to slightly more serious.
To start, I really like silicones in skincare. They feel silky on the skin and help blur imperfections, they rarely cause breakouts, and have a wonderful protective and barrier-forming effect. There is a small group of people out there that don’t react well to silicones in their products, and they deserve to have excellent skincare. When Drunk Elephant first launched, it offered some excellent products to a group of people that had been underserved up until that point.
However, nowadays, a lot of mainstream companies have followed suit, deciding to leave silicones out of their formulas. This isn’t directly Drunk Elephant’s fault, though I do think they’re partially responsible for the trend due to their unproven claim that silicones harm the skin.
There is no alternative to silicones that manages to totally replicate their combination of cosmetic elegance, low chance of irritation, and barrier-forming effects. The most common natural alternative, coconut alkanes are not quite as cosmetically elegant, and they are also not entirely non-comedogenic.
In general, I don’t like that fear-mongering presents such a big part of their branding. They discourage customers from having mixed-brand routines, ostensibly because it’s “safer,” but in reality, it probably has a lot more to do with wanting people to buy more of Drunk Elephant products and less from their competition.
Drunk Elephant has also come under fire for having some not totally kosher business practices, which has led influencers like Hyram Yarbro to boycott them altogether. Some examples include deleting negative feedback and making unprofessional comments about other brands through their Instagram profile. This behavior is unsavory, but I suspect we won’t see repeats of it now that DE is owned by a massive multinational company.
Finally, there is the question of pricing. I wouldn’t say that individual Drunk Elephant products are worth the price – the range is undeniably expensive, and it’s often possible to find more affordable products with similar effects.
However, value in skincare can be subjective. If you’re trying to avoid a specific irritant in your routine but still want powerful ingredients, Drunk Elephant products are a safe choice, and the time saved on having to research and read ingredient lists might be worth the higher price tag. However, if you’re on a tight budget, doing the extra research to find more affordable products that still pack a punch is a more economical choice.
How to Choose Drunk Elephant Products?
Putting together a Drunk Elephant skincare routine is a simple and easy process, but I do have some tips!
• Basics First!
To start, a basic skincare routine should always include a cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen, and all three product categories are available from Drunk Elephant. From there, it’s easy to expand toward whatever direction fits you best! Choose the cleanser that you think will suit your skin best (we recommend Slaai cleanser and Lala moisturizer for dry skin, and Beste cleanser and Protini moisturizer for combination or oily skin).
• Patch Test
Drunk Elephant products include a lot of botanical oils, plant extracts, and strong actives, which are effective and safe for most people, but may still cause irritation or acne for some. It’s difficult to predict whether a reaction will occur, so make sure to patch test Drunk Elephant products for a few days before applying them all over the face. Use them on your forearm or behind the ear to check for sensitivity and try them on an area of your skin that is more prone to breakouts if your main concern is acne.
• Expand Appropriately
Regardless of whether you have basics from DE or from a different brand, introduce new products based on your needs. Drunk Elephant makes it easy, by offering just one or two products in each category, like serums, masks, and exfoliants, and by helping to correlate each product with a few clear skin concerns.
• Follow Brand Directions
When it comes to actually using the products, read the brand directions to ensure that you don’t overuse anything and that you use them at a point in your beauty routine when it makes the most sense.
• When in Doubt, Go Easy
Some Drunk Elephant products are a little more likely to irritate the skin because they’re so potent, including their AHA products and retinoids. If you’re worried about your skin becoming sensitized but are still interested in those products’ effects, use them but in ways that limit irritation.
For A-Passioni and TLC Framboos, only use them a few times a week and slowly increase frequency, and for a product like Babyfacial, leave it on your skin for just 5-10 minutes and then slowly increase the length of time you leave it on your face.
Photos via Drunk Elephant