Disclaimer: I don’t use either product. I believe high concentrations of acids are safe only in professional hands. Sure, a facial costs more, but if your aesthetician knows what she’s doing, it’s less risky.
But if you’re the adventurous kind and want to do peels at home, you’re probably wondering if you should go for Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial or the much cheaper dupe, The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution.
Here are my thoughts on it:
What Ingredients Do These Peels Contain?
ALPHA HYDROXY ACIDS TO FIGHT SUN DAMAGE
Alpha Hydroxy Acids are a family of exfoliants. Both Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial and The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% use the same members: glycolic, tartaric, lactic and citric acids.
These exfoliants work by dissolving the glue that holds skin cells together, so they can leave the building (ermm, I meant your skin) and give way to the smoother and brighter skin cells underneath.
Glycolic acid is the most effective. It’s the smallest member so it easily penetrates skin. While it’s at it, it also hydrates skin and boosts collagen.
Lactic acid deserves special mention too. It’s the gentlest member of the family so it’s suitable for sensitive skin too. But don’t let that trick you into thinking there’s anything gentle about these exfoliants. At these concentrations, and coupled with its siblings, even lactic acid can irritate your skin.
So what are the concentration? Drunk Elephant uses a 25% blend of AHAs while The Ordinary ups the game and gives you a whooping 30%.
More isn’t necessarily better in this case. The higher the dose, the higher the irritation (especially if you don’t follow the instructions to a T!).
FYI: both products are formulated at a 3.5-3.6 pH. That’s the ideal pH for this kind of exfoliation. Low enough to make the acids work their best. Not low enough to burn your skin (yes, acids at a low ph can do that! See why I prefer to rely on experts for peels?).
Related: The Complete Guide To Glycolic Acid
If you’re worrying about doing The Ordinary wrong, get your butt on this The Ordinary speed training. (affiliate link) It’s by my scientist friend Cheryl Woodman and in it she’s teaching you how to use The Ordinary to get makeupless skin you love.
BHA TO UNCLOG PORES
AHAs are great for treating sun damage but if you want to keep your pores clean, you need to add BHA (salicylic scid) to the mix.
Unlike AHAs, salicylic acid is oil-soluble. In plain English, it means it can penetrate inside the pores, removing all the crap (think excess oil and dead skin cells) that clog them up and give you pimples. While it’s at it, it exfoliates the surface of the skin, too.
Plus, it has anti-inflammatory properties that can soothe irritations and the redness that always comes along with pimples.
Both products use 2% of salicylic acid. That’s a standard dose that’s more than enough to do the exfoliating, pore-unclogging jobs.
Related: Why Salicylic Acid Is Key To Keeping Your Skin Pimple-Free
What About Is In These Peels?
Sorry, The Ordinary. Drunk Elephant wins hands down here.
Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial has its fair share of anti-inflammatory ingredients, such as fermented extracts and green tea. It’s true these ingredients work best when left on the skin. But in this case, they can still help to make the exfoliating process less irritating.
The Ordinary only has a tiny amount of anti-inflammatory extracts. That’s one way they keep the price low: they give you the actives absolutely necessary to make the product work and little else.
But, there’s a thing The Ordinary does better. Its bloody colour helps you spread the exfoliating liquid evenly all over your face. No way you’ll miss a spot with it.
Related: My Full Review Of The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution
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What’s The Texture Like?
The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution has a lightweight texture that’s more like a serum.
Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial is creamier and more like a lightweight lotion.
Both tingle for a couple of minutes when you apply them (FYI, tingling is OK. Stinging is NOT).
Related: What Does It Mean When Your Skincare Products Tingle?
What’s The Packaging Like?
Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial comes in a sleek baby pink and white bottle with a pump applicator.
The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution comes in a see-through bottle with a pump applicator.
How To Use Them
Drunk Elephant says to use T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial once a week and to leave it on for only 20 minutes before rinsing it off.
The Ordinary recommends you use AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution no more than twice a week and to leave it on for only 10 minutes.
Once the time is up, rinse off with cold water to neutralise the peel.
Personally, I think this is too much. For weekly use, I prefer a smaller concentration of acids used more frequently. Like leave-on glycolic acid two or three times a week or salicylic acid daily. That does pretty much the same thing but in a much gentler way.
These high-concentration peels are something that I would use only once a month or a week before a special occasion (no, not the night before. If something goes wrong, you want to give your skin time to recover 🙂 ).
Oh, and you know how I always bang on about that acids should be left on the skin for hours to work their best? That’s true for small concentrations. High doses work even in 10-20 minutes. Anything more than that will irritate your skin pretty. badly.
One last thing: if you get a small tingling, that’s totally normal. If the tingling is very intense or, worse, you experience a burning sensation, get this off your skin pronto!
Acids are serious business. Playing with them is like playing with fire. Don’t get burned.
Related: The Complete Guide To Glycolic Acid: What It Is, What It Does, And How To Use It
Which Of The Two Should You Go For?
If I can get the same benefits for less money, I usually go for the cheap option. But in this case, I’m team Drunk Elephant all the way.
Sure, The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution may give you the same exfoliating benefits and make your skin as soft as a baby’s, but the soothing agents in Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial make it a gentler option. There’s just a little less risk of irritation with it.
That’s something I’m willing to pay more for.
Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial: $80.00 at Sephora
The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2%: £6.30 at Asos, Beauty Bay and Cult Beauty
Is The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% A Dupe For Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial?
I wouldn’t call it an exact dupe. The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution will give you same exfoliating results as Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial. Smoother, baby soft skin that glows.
But it’s more irritating. 🙁
Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial Ingredients
Water, Glycolic Acid, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Glycerin, Sodium Hydroxide, Salicylic Acid, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Camellia Oleifera Leaf Extract, Lactobacillus/Pumpkin Ferment Extract, Lactobacillus/Punica Granatum Fruit Ferment Extract, Opuntia Ficus-Indica Extract, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract, Silybum Marianum Seed Extract, Saccharomyces Cerevisiae Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Juice Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Powder, Cicer Arietinum Seed Powder, Sclerocarya Birrea Seed Oil, Passiflora Edulis Seed Oil, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer, Sodium PCA, Allantoin, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Dextrin, Polydextrose, Sorbitan Isostearate, Amylopectin, Niacinamide, Phytosphingosine, Lactic Acid, Propanediol, Citric Acid, Titanium Dioxide, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Polysorbate 60, Caprylyl Glycol, Chlorphenesin, Phenoxyethanol.
The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution Ingredients
Glycolic Acid, Aqua (Water), Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Water, Sodium Hydroxide, Daucus Carota Sativa Extract, Propanediol, Cocamidopropyl Dimethylamine, Salicylic Acid, Potassium Citrate, Lactic Acid, Tartaric Acid, Citric Acid, Panthenol, Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer, Tasmannia Lanceolata Fruit/Leaf Extract, Glycerin, Pentylene Glycol, Xanthan gum, Polysorbate 20, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Ethylhexylglycerin, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol.