I never thought anyone could take the place of Paula’s Choice in my heart (and skincare stash). But gosh, Drunk Elephant is giving it its best shot. I kid you not, everything I’ve tried from Drunk Elephant has swept me off my feet. You know how rare is that?!
Its secret? Rather than churning out a new skincare product every month just because it can, Drunk Elephant takes the time to develop serums, moisturisers and co that really do what they say on the tin. That’s even rarer.
But, if every product works, how the heck do you choose the best ones?! Good news is, you can’t go wrong. But I do have my faves and I’m sharing them with you today. 🙂 Here they are, the best Drunk Elephant products:
- About The Brand: Drunk Elephant
- What Are The Best Drunk Elephant Products?
- Best For Dark Spots: Drunk Elephant Bouncy Brightfacial Masque Illuminateur ($78.00)
- Best For Combination Skin: Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum ($90.00/£76.00)
- Best For Brightening Skin: Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum ($80.00/£67.00)
- Best For Wrinkles: Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinol Cream ($28.00/£24.00)
- Best For Anti-Aging: Drunk Elephant A-Gloei™ Maretinol Oil Midi ($40.00/£35.00)
- Best For Sun Protection: Drunk Elephant Umbra Tinte™ Physical Daily Defense SPF 30 ($36.00/£30.00)
- Best For All Skin Types: Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream ($68.00/£57.00)
- Best Cleanser: Drunk Elephant Pekee Bar™ ($28.00)
- Is Drunk Elephant Cruelty-Free?
- What Are The Best Drunk Elephant Products For Wrinkles?
- What Are The Best Drunk Elephant Products For Acne?
- What Are The Best Drunk Elephant Products For Dark Spots?
- What Are The Best Drunk Elephant Products For Sensitive Skin?
- The Pros Of Drunk Elephant Skincare
- The Cons Of Drunk Elephant Skincare
- The Verdict
About The Brand: Drunk Elephant
Drunk Elephant was founded by Tiffany Masterson, a Texas stay-at-home mom who got he foot in the skincare world when she started selling an imported soap to boost her income during the 2008 recession. It wasn’t long before Masterson, who had often had issues with her skin, started doing her research. She became convinced that bas skincare ingredients are to blame for every skin issue out there.
In 2012, she began working with a chemist to develop a line of products free of the “Suspicious 6”, the ingredients Masterson believes are bad for your skin. I personally am not a fan of demonising ingredients, but a lot of what Masterson decided to leave out truly has no place in your skincare routine. Here are the “Suspicious 6” you won’t find it Drunk Elephant products:
- Essential oils: Agree with Masterson, they have fragrant components that can be very irritating for sensitive skin.
- Drying alcohols: This is more controversial. Alcohol like Alcohol Denat are only drying when used alone. In a moisturising formulation, they won’t hurt skin. But, there are other ingredients that thin the formula and enhance penetration of active ingredients that are better for skin.
- Silicones: They fill in fine lines and wrinkles so they look smaller and give skin a soft and smooth feel. Silicones don’t suffocate skin or cause breakouts like critics claim. But they have no real benefits for skin either. I mean, they can make it look better, but the effect is only temporary. It’s like putting a plaster on a wrinkle, if you know what I mean.
- Chemical sunscreens: The old generation of chemical UV filters still used in the US provides adequate sun protection, but can be irritating for sensitive skin. There are newer chemical UV filters that are both effective and gentle, but for some reason the FDA hasn’t approved any of them yet.
- Fragrances/dyes: They can cause irritations in sensitive skin.
- SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate): A cleansing agent that removes dirt, makeup, and other impurities. But it’s harsh, drying, and irritating.
In case you’re wondering about the name, Drunk Elephant comes from the hero ingredient used in almost every product, moisturising marula oil. Legend has it, when elephants eat the fruit of the marula trees, they get drunk on it!
What Are The Best Drunk Elephant Products?
Best For Dark Spots: Drunk Elephant Bouncy Brightfacial Masque Illuminateur ($78.00)
Tried everything to fade away your dark spots but they won’t budge? This leave-on mask has 10% azelaic acid, a powerful skin-lighter that fades away dark spots and smooths out bumps in your skin without irritating it.
Plus, it’s infused with all kinds of goodies: salicylic acid unclogs pores and removes blackheads and pimples; antioxidants prevent premature aging; natural oils and ceramides strengthen your skin’s protective barrier and give you baby soft skin; and niacinamide gives everything else a helping hand. This multitasking ingredient hydrates skin, fights acne, fades away dark spots, and even soothes skin.
I wouldn’t recommend this mask to oily skin due to its high oil content, but everyone else will love it. For best results, use it as the last step of your skincare routine at night. Drunk Elephant says you can also mix a few drops with your moisturiser. Three or four times a week is more than enough. This mask has exfoliating properties and daily exfoliation may be too much for skin.
Available at: Sephora and SpaceNK
Best For Combination Skin: Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum ($90.00/£76.00)
Have dryish skin with blackheads and can’t decide if you should exfoliate withglycolic acid or salicylic acid? Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum has both. 12% glycolic acid removes dead skin cells, hydrates skin, and reduces the signs of sun damage, such as wrinkles and dark spots. 1% salicylic acid gets inside the pores, unclogging them from all the gunk that causes breakouts and blackheads.
Like that weren’t enough, the serum also has some lactic acid, an hydrating exfoliant that further helps in shedding dead skin cells, brightening the complexion, and keeping skin silky soft. Basically, the serum treats both sun damage and breakouts, making it an amazing exfoliant for combination skin. But anyone can use it (unless you have sensitive skin).
Did I mention it contains antioxidants and hyaluronic acid to prevent wrinkles and keep skin hydrated too? For best results, use it every other night, alternating it with retinol. Glycolic acid can be irritating when used too often, so be careful. Everything in moderation.
Available at: Cult Beauty, Sephora and SpaceNK
Related: Glycolic Acid VS Salicylic Acid: Which One Is Right For You?
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Best For Brightening Skin: Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum ($80.00/£67.00)
Most Vitamin C serums on the market are terribly underwhelming. They don’t give you enough Vitamin C. Or they give you derivatives that don’t work as well as the pure form of Vitamin C (L-Ascorbic Acid). Or they leave out other antioxidants that maximise the effectiveness of Vitamin C. *sighs* The gold standard for Vitamin C serums is still Skinceuticals CE Ferulic, but that costs an arm an a leg. I’m happy to report Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum is a dupe for Skinceuticals – at half the price!
But what does Vitamin C do exactly and why should you use it? Vitamin C is an antioxidant on steroids. It fights the free radicals that cause wrinkles, promotes the production of collagen that keeps skin firm, and even reduces dark spots and hyperpigmentation. Together with vitamin E and Ferulic acid (they’re both in Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum, too), it even boosts the effectiveness of your sunscreen!
Add in some more antioxidants (such as green tea and licorice extracts), hydrating hyaluronic acid, and moisturizing marula oil and you have another wonderful formula that’s perfect for dry skin (oily skin may find it a little sticky). Oh, don’t let the yellowish hue of the serum fool you. Usually, that’s a sign that vitamin C has gone bad, but this serum contains ingredients (anti-irritant tetrahydro curcuminoids, if you’re curious) that have a yellow colour. Apply it every morning under sunscreen to give it a boost.
Available at: Cult Beauty, Sephora and SpaceNK
Related: Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum Full Review
Best For Wrinkles: Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinol Cream ($28.00/£24.00)
Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinol Cream isn’t for the faint of heart (or should I say, skin?). This baby contains a whooping 1% retinol, an antiaging superstar that fights wrinkles on 3 fronts: it destroys free radicals, boosts collagen production and speeds up the skin’s natural exfoliating process. The catch? 1% retinol is VERY irritating. To avoid redness and irritation, start with a smaller concentration of retinol and work your way up to this. It’s worth it.
Retinol aside, this cream is loaded with antioxidants that prevent premature wrinkles, natural oils to moisturize skin, and niacinamide, the skincare jolly that hydrates skin, soothes irritations, fades away dark spots, fights wrinkles and even helps treat acne. In other words, it’s one of the best antiaging products I’ve seen in a long time.
You just have to know how to use it. I’ve seen reports of people saying this cream made their skin a dry and flaky mess. Again, 1% retinol is very powerful, so this should never be your first retinol serum. Work your way up to 1% slowly and, even then, use it only every other night, alternating it with exfoliation. This way, you’ll get all the anti-aging benefits without the irritation. If you have sensitive skin, stay away. 1% retinol isn’t suitable for your skin type.
Available at: Cult Beauty, Sephora, and SpaceNK
Related: What Strength Of Retinol Do You Need?
Best For Anti-Aging: Drunk Elephant A-Gloei™ Maretinol Oil Midi ($40.00/£35.00)
If A-Passioni, with its 1% retinol concentration, is too strong for you at the moment, consider A-Gloei™ Maretinol Oil Midi. It contains 0.5% retinol – more than enough to fight wrinkles, brighten the complexion, and treat breakouts (yep, retinol can do that, too). While it still has the potential to be irritating, it comes in a moisturising base that minimises dryness and other side effects.
Both ceramides and marula oil create a protective barrier on the skin that keeps moisture in and strengthen it against environmental irritants. They help you nourish your skin while retinol does its anti-aging job. Still, it’s a good idea to use it only every other day. As always with retinol, don’t exfoliate on the same night. You’ll get better results if you give your skin everything it needs at different times instead of bombarding it with everything all at once.
Available at: Boots, Cult Beauty, Sephora, SpaceNK, and Ulta
Best For Sun Protection: Drunk Elephant Umbra Tinte™ Physical Daily Defense SPF 30 ($36.00/£30.00)
Drunk Elephant won’t touch chemical filters. Instead, this sunscreen uses 20% zinc oxide, a mineral UV filter that provides broad spectrum protection on its own and is gentle enough for sensitive skin. The problem with zinc oxide? It’s thick, leaves a white cast, and can be drying in high concentrations.
This sunscreen is tinted (there’s a non-tinted version as well), so it won’t make you look like Casper The Ghost. It’s infused with natural oils that moisturise skin and banish dryness. And while it’s not as liquidy as chemical sunscreens, it’s still pretty lightweight for a mineral formula.
This is a wonderful formula for most skin types, but especially sensitive. I’m hesitant to recommend it to oily skin. This much zinc oxide + natural oils may clog your pores and cause breakouts. Chemical filters are still the best option for your skin type.
Available at: Boots, Cult Beauty, Sephora, and SpaceNK
Best For All Skin Types: Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream ($68.00/£57.00)
Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream is loaded with every peptide you can think of. But, that’s not what impresses me. Peptides aren’t the anti-aging miracle the press makes them out to be. Heck, most of the “proof” they work comes from the manufacturer. Not the most unbiased of sources… The only exceptions are copper peptides, which thankfully are in here too. Copper peptides keep your skin in a constant state of repair, so that it looks effortlessly smooth, soft, and plump.
But if peptides don’t impress me, why did this moisturiser make the list? It’s also loaded with amino acids (the building blocks of your skin) to moisturise skin and plump it up – without clogging your pores and giving you breakouts. Its lightweight, gel-like texture sinks in immediately, leaving skin softer, smoother, and dewy. The best part? It works for all skin types. But I’ll warn you: once you try it, you wouldn’t want to use anything else…
Available at: Cult Beauty, Sephora and SpaceNK
Related: The Truth About Peptides In Skincare: Do They Really Work?
Best Cleanser: Drunk Elephant Pekee Bar™ ($28.00)
I usually don’t use and don’t recommend bar soaps because the ingredients that make them solid and give them their powerful cleansing properties are terribly drying and irritating for skin. And yet, Drunk Elephant has managed to create a bar soap that cleanses skin without being drying. That alone is am amazing feat that deserve to be acknowledged in this list.
Available at: Cult Beauty, Sephora, SpaceNK, and Ulta
Is Drunk Elephant Cruelty-Free?
Yes, Drunk Elephant is cruelty-free. They don’t test on animals. They don’t outsource animal testing to any third company. And they don’t sell in countries where animals testing is still (why?) required by law.
What Are The Best Drunk Elephant Products For Wrinkles?
- Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum ($80.00/£67.00): This serum contains Vitamin C + Vitamin E + ferulic acid, a powerful combination that fights free radicals, brightens the complexion, and boosts sun protection. All in a moisturising, if slightly sticky, base. Available at Cult Beauty, Sephora and SpaceNK.
- Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinol Cream ($28.00/£24.00): A high-strength, 1% retinol serum that reduces the wrinkles you already have and prevents new ones from forming, fades dark spots, and even helps treat acne. It’s harsh, so build up tolerance with lower concentrations first. Available at Cult Beauty, Sephora, and SpaceNK.
- Drunk Elephant A-Gloei™ Maretinol Oil Midi ($40.00/£35.00): A medium-strength retinol serum to treat wrinkles, brighten the complexion, and reduce acne. It has a moisturising base that counteracts the dryness from retinol. Available at Boots, Cult Beauty, Sephora, SpaceNK, and Ulta.
What Are The Best Drunk Elephant Products For Acne?
- Drunk Elephant Bouncy Brightfacial Masque Illuminateur ($78.00): If you have sensitive skin that can’t tolerate other, harsher, acne-treatments, try this. It has azelaic acid, a powerful skin-lightener that reduces both acne and dark spots, and salicylic acid to unclog pores. Available at Sephora and SpaceNK.
What Are The Best Drunk Elephant Products For Dark Spots?
- Drunk Elephant Bouncy Brightfacial Masque Illuminateur ($78.00): This leave-on mask uses azelaic acid, a skin-lighter well-tolerated even by sensitive skin. Plus, it has salicylic acid to heal blemishes too. Available at Sephora and SpaceNK
- Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum ($90.00/£76.00): Glycolic acid is the best exfoliant to reduce dark spots. In this serum, it plays together with salicylic acid to unclog pores and treat acne, including blackheads. It’s especially suitable for combination skin. Available at Cult Beauty, Sephora and SpaceNK.
- Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinol Cream ($28.00/£24.00): Retinol isn’t just for wrinkles. This high-strength retinol serum also fades away dark spots. It’s harsh so start with a lower concentration and build your way up to this. Available at Cult Beauty, Sephora, and SpaceNK.
What Are The Best Drunk Elephant Products For Sensitive Skin?
- Drunk Elephant Bouncy Brightfacial Masque Illuminateur ($78.00): If you have sensitive skin and dealing with acne and/or dark spots, this azelaic acid can help you treat both without causing irritations. Available at Sephora and SpaceNK.
- Drunk Elephant Umbra Tinte™ Physical Daily Defense SPF 30 ($36.00/£30.00): This mineral sunscreen is gentle enough even for sensitive skin. It provides broad-spectrum sun protection, moisturises skin, and has a light tint, so it won’t leave a white cast behind. Available at Boots, Cult Beauty, Sephora, and SpaceNK.
- Wonderwild™ Miracle Butter ($38.00/£33.00): A rich balm infused with super moisturising natural oils and butters that strengthen your skin’s protective barrier. It protects skin from environmental aggressors and moisturises even the driest of skin types. Available at Boots, Cult Beauty, Sephora, and SpaceNK.
The Pros Of Drunk Elephant Skincare
Drunk Elephant products just work. They use science-backed, proven-to-work ingredients, like retinol and Vitamin C, at concentrations high enough to fight wrinkles, treat acne, and fade away dark spots. Plus, they’re free of irritants, like essential oils and fragrances, that ruin so many good formulations. These are the best (and most cost-effective) products from the line. But truly, anything you pick up will do what it says on the tin. And that’s not something you can say of most skincare brands. Plus, how gorgeous is the packaging?
The Cons Of Drunk Elephant Skincare
The main con here is the price. Some of the serums and moisturisers are more expensive than their rivals, but at least they do the job well (unlike La Mer and other brands that ask you a kidney for a subpar formula. Just saying…).
I’m also not always a fan of their marketing. Essential oils and fragrances may be bad, but silicones and chemical UV filters are perfectly fine for most people. Just because they irritated Maderson’s skin, it doesn’t mean they’re bad for everyone and need to be vilified, know what I mean? This could actually put people off from great (and safe!) products that work for them.
If you want to get the best bang for your buck, these are the best Drunk Elephant products to fight wrinkles, treat acne, and fade away dark spots. They all have what it takes to do the job and are free of irritants that could cause negative reactions.
I’ve always wanted to try their products but didn’t know where to start! Thanks so much for reviewing these! <3
Janessa, my pleasure! You can’t go wrong with this brand, but these are the best things they have to offer, in my humble opinion.
I’ve heard so many good things about their sunscreens. Even beautypedia gives them highest reviews. But the brand is kinda pricey, though:((
Alexandra, the price is the only thing I don’t like about them. But at least you’re getting your money’s worth. Their ingredients are proven to work, unlike, let’s say… La Mer that charges you an outrageous amount of money for a blend of mineral oil, petrolatum and glycerin.
I’m on my second bottle of the C-Firma Day Serum. I like it because it has hyaluronic acid in the formula and is half the price of Skinceuticals CE Ferulic. I’m curious about the rest of the line, though, especially the Glycolic Serum. Since I have combination skin, I like the the idea of AHA and BHA in one product!
Laurie, isn’t it great that we have so many alternatives for CE Ferulic these days? And if you like C-Firma, you’ll love the glycolic serum too. You do get the best of both worlds.
Yay! I’m so happy you reviewed DE!! I’ve been using the T.L.C. FRAMBOOS GLYCOLIC NIGHT SERUM and the C- Firma Day serum for a couple of months and love them both so far! Do you think the juju/peekee bars and B-HYDRA INTENSIVE HYDRATION GEL are worth trying for my combo skin? I am always on a hunt for a gentle cleanser and hydrating but not heavy moisturizer. Currently using First Aid Beauty’s Cleansing Milk Oil and Elta M.D. PM Therapy (not too happy with this one).
Thanks so much!
Bethney, I’ve been wanting to write this post for a long time. DE really is an amazing brand. The B-Hydra Gel and Juju Bar would work very well for combo skin indeed.
Sorry to hear you’re not happy with the ELTA moisturizer. What’s wrong with it?
Wonderful, I will try it!
I love my Elta MD UV Clear SPF but the PM Therapy has been a bit difficult to apply after a serum and it leaves a bit of a strange film.
How disappointing! I’m sure DE will work better for you. 🙂
Do you use the vitamin c serum and the night serum every day? On the same day? My skin is peeling, so I’m nervous that I’m overusing it…. should I space them out?
Maggie, that depends. Some people can use them together at the same time, others need to alternate them. If your skin is peeling, definitely space them out.
If you had to choose one brand, would you choose Paula’s Choice or Drunk Elephant?
Jane, that’s such a tough question! I will have to go with Paula’s Choice just because it offers more choice. They make boosters, have a line for every skin type, etc. Drunk Elephant is a newer brand so I am sure they will expand their offerings with time. All their products are amazing, though so you can’t really go wrong with either brand.
What are your thoughts on their tinted sunscreen??
Kimberley, I love it. I don’t think it was available when I wrote this post or I’d have added it in. 🙂
Can the C-firma destroy the skin barrier? I bought it and started using it….and now I have Perioral Dermatitis :/ mainly around my mouth and under my right eye. This was the only new product I introduced to my face at the time. Before that – I had flawless skin for years other than the occasional pimple from hormones once a month. I have combo skin…leaning more on the oily side of things.
Celeste, it shouldn’t happen but if you have very sensitive skin, there is a small chance this much vitamin C is too much for your skin.
First, I should say that it’s because of your website that I have taken control of my skin’s health AND I’m not susceptible to all of those fad skincare items that don’t deliver on their promises but charge exorbitant prices!
I was wondering – I had been using Dr. Dennis Gross’ overnight serum with retinol and ferulic acid. I just bought the drunk elephant retinol cream. I couldn’t find anywhere the % of retinol for DDG. If you had to choose between the two for ultimate effectiveness, which one would you say is overall a better choice? I’ve been debating which item to purchase more of in the future. I am trying out the DE retinol cream today 🙂 Thanks and keep up the awesome work for your blog!!
Tiffany, you’ve made my day! That’s exactly the reason why I’m doing all this. 🙂
They’re both great products, it just depends on what stage of your retinol journey you’re on. Dr Dennis Gross doesn’t disclose the % so it’s probably small and suitable for beginners. DE is the opposite, is very harsh and irritating, and only for pros. I recommend you try something in the middle, like 0.5% first. Paula’s Choice, The Ordinary and Skinceuticals have products with 0.5% retinol.