Are They Dupes? The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% VS Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial

by Gio
dupe for drunk elephant talc sukari baby facial

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 fancy trying 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%

Here are my thoughts on it:

Alpha Hydroxy Acids

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

Salicylic Acid

AHAs are great for treating sun damage but if you want to keep your pores clean, you need to add salicylic acid 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 The Rest Of The Formulas?

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.

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% 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-in 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.

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% 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% 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. 🙁


Which of these two products is your fave? Share your pick in the comments below.

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% 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.



KT March 20, 2018 - 6:55 pm

I love the Ordinary AHA/BHA product! I use it weekly or bi-weekly, depending on what my skin needs, and it’s so. good. I have been a long-time user of OTC chemical exfoliants, so I feel like my skin has built up a tolerance to various acids and I don’t have any irritation at all. I think that the Ordinary product is worth trying, even if you are a little nervous about skin sensitivity. My recommendation is to leave it on for a shorter amount of time to start, maybe 3-5 minutes, depending on whether or not you’ve used a chemical exfoliator before, and work your way up to ten. If you know you have sensitive skin, do a patch test first for a few minutes on somewhere other than your face (like the inside of your wrist) to test your sensitivity. The first few times I used it, I maybe had a little irritation around the creases on either side of my nostrils, but for being such a strong product, that was it. If you want to calm your skin down after using this, you can put on some pure aloe to help. And one thing never to forget: USE A SUNSCREEN FOR UP TO A WEEK AFTER STOPPING USING THIS PRODUCT. I feel like not enough people talk about that. But if you’re wanting to try this out, I feel like it’s definitely worth using!

Gio March 30, 2018 - 5:10 pm

KT, thanks for sharing your experience. I don’t think this is suitable for sensitive skin. I know women who can’t use 5% glycolic acid! But if you’ve build tolerance, it’s definitely worth a try. You just have to be careful both during and after use. Definitely pile up that sunscreen afterwards!

Dorothy April 30, 2018 - 3:12 pm

I actually found The Ordinary to be less comfortable. Kind of made me wonder if it was even working (though I know feeling something doesn’t mean it’s doing something). When you say “irritating,” does that mean an irritation you can actually feel or an irritation where something is going on under the surface?

Gio May 4, 2018 - 7:05 pm

Dorothy. I mean an irritation you can actually feel. The Ordinary uses a higher concentration of acids so it makes sense that it’s less comfortable. That’s also a sign you shouldn’t use it too often.

Jackie S June 16, 2018 - 10:38 pm

I read Drunk Elephant has lye as an ingredient that can’t be good?

Gio June 22, 2018 - 10:57 am

Jackie, are you talking about this product? I don’t think it does.

Melissa Konopko January 24, 2019 - 8:09 pm

Is there a skin soothing cocktail that can be added to the TO option? The price difference is hard for me to swallow.

Gio January 25, 2019 - 8:19 am

Melissa, check out Niod Modulating Glucosides. It’s very soothing.

Fanny April 26, 2019 - 7:43 am

I’ve used both and I feel the DE sukari is more irritating at least for my skin. The price difference is huge I just use either one or the other and then some hylouronic acid sleeping mask from Vichy let it absorb and then some Sunday Riley’s CEO oil to lock in the moisture and it works really well, although I can only use aha/bha around once every month because it makes the skin around my mouth and chin very peely and irritated if I use it too often plus the sun really bothers me even with sunscreen everyday.

Gio April 26, 2019 - 9:33 am

Fanny, this is certainly something to use in moderation.

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