drunk elephant b-hydra intensive hydration serum review

Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum is one of the most popular hyaluronic acid serums on the market. But at $48.00 a bottle, you’d be forgiven for thinking… “Can I get the same thing cheaper? The Ordinary has a hyaluronic acid serum that’s less than $10…”

I hear ya. If there’s a product that’s easy to dupe, this is it. I personally don’t like to splurge more than $20 on a hydrating serum, unless there’s something special about it that justifies the extra bucks. So what makes this one special? I’ve put it to the test to find out:

About The Brand: Drunk Elephant

Drunk Elephant is one of my fave skincare brands. Their mission is to use only ingredients that are beneficial and compatible with skin, leaving out of their formulations everything that could be problematic for skin. In particular, there are 6 ingredients you’ll never find in their products:

  • Essential Oils: They’re a mixed bag. Essential oils are made up of lots of different chemicals. Some of these chemicals have moisturising and antioxidant properties. But those chemicals that make the oils smell so nice can also trigger allergies and irritations.
  • Drying alcohol: They enhance the penetration of actives, but can be drying for skin.
  • Silicones: They fill in fine lines and wrinkles, so they look smaller. They also make skin softer and smoother. There really is nothing wrong with silicones. They’re not bad for skin. They just provide a temporary smoothing effect instead of long-lasting results.
  • Chemical sunscreens: The chemical UV filters currently available in the US can cause allergies and irritations in some people.
  • Fragrances/Dyes: They make the product smell and look good, but can cause allergies and irritations.
  • SLS: The most irritating cleansing agent in cosmetics. Most brands aren’t using it anymore anyway, as we have much gentler alternatives these days.

Now you know what’s NOT in Drunk Elephant products, what’s in B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum?

Key Ingredients In Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum: What Makes It Work?


What do Hyaluronic Acid, Glycerin, and Panthenol (Pro-Vitamin B5) have in common? They’re all humectants. In plain English, they attract moisture from the environment and bind it into your skin, helping to keep it hydrated for longer.

Moisture is the foundation of good skin. When you have enough, everything else falls into place. Skin plumps up so fine lines and wrinkles look instantly smaller; its texture gets softer to the touch, and your complexion glows as if lit-from-within.

Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydrating Serum may highlight Panthenol on the packaging, but Hyaluronic Acid is my fave. It binds to the skin up to 1000 times its weight in water. So. Much. Moisture.

Related: What The Heck Are Humectants And Why Do You Need Them In Your Skincare Routine?


Marula oil is the IT ingredients in all Drunk Elephant products – B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum is no exception. Derived from the nuts of the fruits of the Marula trees (a.k.a. Sclerocarya birrea), Marula oil is loaded with moisturising fatty acids, including linoleic and oleic acid.

Fatty acids create a barrier on the skin that slows down water loss, helping to keep skin hydrated for longer. Plus, it has its fair share of antioxidants to help you fight premature wrinkles, too.

That’s not all. Studies show that Linoleic acid also soothes inflammation, one of the main causes of acne and premature aging.

Related: How To Fight Acne With Oils

The Rest Of The Formula & Ingredients

NOTE: The colours indicate the effectiveness of an ingredient. It is ILLEGAL to put toxic and harmful ingredients in skincare products.

  • Green: It’s effective, proven to work, and helps the product do the best possible job for your skin.
  • Yellow: There’s not much proof it works (at least, yet).
  • Red: What is this doing here?!
  • Water/Aqua/Eau: The base of this serum (and most skincare products.
  • Coconut Alkanes: An emollient that gives skin a smooth feel.
  • Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer: A synthetic polymer that thickens formulations.
  • Pentylene Glycol: A water-binding ingredient that hydrates skin. It also enhances the texture of skincare products.
  • Wheat Amino Acids: A blend of amino acids from wheat protein with powerful hydrating properties.
  • Ananas Sativus (Pineapple) Fruit Extract: It has antioxidants and skin-soothing properties.
  • Berberis Vulgaris Root Extract: Another plant extract with antioxidants and skin-soothing benefits.
  • Citrullus Lanatus (Watermelon) Fruit Extract: A rich source of antioxidants, little molecules that fight premature aging.
  • Lens Esculenta (Lentil) Fruit Extract: It makes skin softer and provides antioxidant benefits too.
  • Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract: It hydrates skin and, thanks to its antioxidant properties, helps fight premature aging, too.
  • Coco-Caprylate/Caprate: An emollient that makes skin soft without leaving a greasy feeling behind.
  • Sodium PCA: Part of the skin’s natural moisturising barrier, it draws water from the environment into the skin and locks it in, helping to keep skin hydrated for longer.
  • Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate: Derived from licorice, it soothes irritation. It can also be used to fade away dark spots, but in higher concentrations (it won’t do that here)
  • Niacinamide: I wish it were higher on the ingredient list because this powerful multitasker can hydrate skin, fight wrinkles, fade away dark spots, treat acne, and soothe irritations. Unfortunately, it won’t do too much here, just because there isn’t enough of it.
  • Cyclodextrin: A cornstarch-derived sugar that keeps certain ingredients suspended and evenly dispersed to improve both stability and efficacy of the formulation.
  • Sodium Lactate: It hydrates skin. It’s also used to adjust the pH of a product.
  • Phenoxyethanol: A preservative that keeps bacteria at bay, preventing infections.
  • Hydroxyproline: I couldn’t find much information on this ingredient.
  • Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate: it neutralizes the metal ions in the formula (usually they come from water) so it stays nice for longer.
  • Citric Acid: It’s used to adjust the formula’s pH.
  • Caprylyl Glycol: Although it has hydrating properties, it’s used here as a preservative.
  • Chlorphenesin: Another preservative that prevents bacterial contamination.
  • Ethylhexylglycerin: A preservative that helps the formula stay stable.


The serum has a lightweight, refreshing gel-like formula that glides smoothly on the skin and absorbs easily and quickly. Not sticky at all. Oily skin will like it too.


It’s fragrance-free. I like that because fragrances always have the potential to be irritating for sensitive skin. This is something everyone can use safely (unless you’re allergic to one of the ingredients).

How Do You Use Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Gel?

Hyaluronic acid is one of those ingredients you can use both morning and evening. Apply it after cleansing/exfoliation but before moisturiser. If you have oily skin, you may be able to skip moisturiser. This serum is hydrating enough for you. Heck, Paula Begoun recommends it as a standalone moisturiser for oily skin. It is that hydrating!


Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum comes in a sleek white tube with a blue cap. I love the design, it’s both simple and eye-catching and looks great on your vanity. The bottle has a pump dispenser that releases just the right amount of product you need. It’s practical to use – especially the mini size. Drunk Elephant has some cute sets that allow you to try their products at a fraction of the cost.

Performance & Personal Opinion

You’d never guess Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Gel has Marula oil in it. Its texture is so incredibly lightweight, it sinks into the skin immediately and dries to a slight dewy, non-sticky finish.

It’s incredibly hydrating, too. You can use it alone as a gel moisturiser for oily skin or as a serum underneath your day/night cream if you’re dry or dehydrated.

Either way, it packs a hydrating punch. I personally prefer to use hyaluronic acid serums in winter when my skin is practically begging for extra moisture. In summer, I don’t need them as much. But your mileage may vary.

The serum makes my skin softer and smoother. At the end of the day, when I come home after a windy London commute, my skin is still in good shape. There’s no flakiness or tightness – tell tale signs my skin’s lacking moisture.

It makes my skin a little glowier, too. But this really depends on how dry your skin is. The more moisture your skin has, the more dewy it gets. If it doesn’t have enough to begin with, you may need to pair it with an oil to get that glow.

Related: Can You Skip Moisturiser And Use Serum Alone?

drunk elephant b-hydra hydration serum

What I Like About Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum

  • Lightweight texture, sinks in quickly into your skin without leaving a greasy residue behind.
  • It’s fragrance-free, so less chance it’ll irritate your skin.
  • Very hydrating, it makes skin softer and brighter.
  • It plumps up wrinkles, so they look smaller to the naked eye.
  • Beautiful and practical packages.
  • Drunk Elephant offers mini sizes of this serum, so you can try it without breaking the bank.
  • It’s suitable for all skin types.

What I DON’T Like About Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum

  • The price. You’re paying mostly for marketing and packaging here.

Who Should Use This?

All skin types can use it. Dry skin will love the extra burst of moisture that makes their skin softer and smoother. Oily and acne-prone skin will appreciate how well this hydrates skin without adding more oil to it. Sensitive skin will be grateful for the lack of irritants. The only people I wouldn’t recommend this to are those on a very tight budget – there are so many alternatives for this (check out the Dupes & Alternatives section for my fave picks).

Does Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum Live Up To Its Claims?

This ultra-hydrating serum replenishes the complexion and improves the look of skin tone and texture. True.
B-Hydra™ delivers steady hydration throughout the day, leaving the skin looking healthy and more illuminated. True.
This lightweight, hard-hitting serum is ideal for all skin types. True again. It works for everyone, unless you’re allergic to one of the ingredients.

Is Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum Cruelty-Free?

Drunk Elephant itself is cruelty-free and doesn’t test on animals. However, the company is now owned by Shiseido and they do animal tests to be able to sell in China. It’s up to you to decide if you’re comfortable with this or not.

Price & Availability

$48.00/£40.00 at Cult Beauty, Sephora, and SpaceNK

The Verdict: Should You Buy It?

Your skin probably needs a Hyaluronic Acid serum. If you want to avoid silicones and don’t mind the little splurge, Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum is a good option to consider. It does the same job most hyaluronic acid serums do, but it does it really well.


Dupes & Alternatives

  • La Roche Posay Heal B5 Hyaluronic Acid Serum (£27.75): A simple, no-fuss Hyaluronic Acid serum that deeply hydrates and soothes skin. Available at Feel Unique and Look Fantastic
  • Niod Multi-Molecular Hyaluronic Acid (£25.00): My absolute fave Hyaluronic Acid serum. It contains sooooooo many forms of Hyaluronic Acid, it hydrates skin more than anything else I’ve ever tried. It plumps your skin so much, your wrinkles do look smaller. Available at Beauty Bay and Cult Beauty
  • Paula’s Choice Resist Hyaluronic Acid Booster ($34.00): This hydrating serum contains a sprinkle of antioxidants for extra anti-aging benefits. Available at DermstoreNordstromPaula’s Choice and Selfridges
  • The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 (£5.90): A super simple, but very hydrating formula for anyone on a strict budget. Available at Beauty BayCult Beauty and Feel Unique
  • Vichy 89 Mineral ($29.50): The most lightweight serum on the list, it adds an extra layer of hydration to your skin and is gentle enough for all skin types, including sensitive. Available at Feel Unique


Water/Aqua/Eau, Coconut Alkanes, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Glycerin, Pentylene Glycol, Sclerocarya Birrea Seed Oil, Wheat Amino Acids, Ananas Sativus (Pineapple) Fruit Extract, Berberis Vulgaris Root Extract, Citrullus Lanatus (Watermelon) Fruit Extract, Lens Esculenta (Lentil) Fruit Extract, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract, Coco-Caprylate/Caprate, Panthenol, Sodium PCA, Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Niacinamide, Cyclodextrin, Sodium Hyaluronate, Sodium Lactate, Phenoxyethanol, Hydroxyproline, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Citric Acid, Caprylyl Glycol, Chlorphenesin, Ethylhexylglycerin