Disclaimer: I have won the product(s) in a giveaway, with no obligation to review them. Read the full disclosure here.
I’ve been seeing Drunk Elephant products everywhere on social media, and I have to admit that some of the reviews have been very tempting. I’ve been thinking about splurging on some of the products, especially after trying a small sample of their B-Hydra serum and loving it. Imagine my luck when I won a big number of their products in an Instagram giveaway hosted by Breaking Beauty Podcast (I still can’t believe I won this).
I decided this would be a great opportunity to thoroughly test and review the products, so I followed the Drunk Elephant suggestion to use their products exclusively and to allow some time for the skin to “purge” all the stuff I’ve been using from their “suspicious 6” list. So I used these products exclusively for two months (in February and March), then combined with other products from April onwards as some of the DE products would run out. I believe this is sufficient time to decide if the products work for my skin. For your referrence, my skin is dry/combination.
Before I get to the products, I have to give my opinion on some of the Drunk Elephant philosophies. First off, they state that their products don’t contain the suspicious 6 ingredients: Essential Oils, Drying Alcohols, Silicones, Chemical Screens, Fragrance/Dyes and SLS, and that these six ingredients are the reason for skin issues. Also, removing these six ingredients makes their products work for any skin, and they don’t support the usual skin types (oily, dry, combo etc). Instead they believe that by removing these six ingredients skin will have no issues like breakouts, dryness etc.
Well, I am not any sort of an expert, but I can’t agree on the skin types. I do believe that some ingredients on the list need to be avoided, but I also believe that some can be used in small amounts if you are not sensitive to them (i.e. essential oils). However, this is just my opinion, and I was eager to see if using DE products exclusively would make my skin more balanced and better looking.
These are all the products I’ve received, creating a very extensive facial routine. I started using a few at a time, and adding more as I formed an opinion about them.
This gentle facial cleanser is a bar infused with a blend of blueberry extract, marula oil, and honey. Out of the three cleansers on the photo above, this one is truly the most gentle one. I followed the instructions to use it – lather in hands, and then cleanse my face with the foam. The soap lathers gently, and the foam I get is enough to leave my face clean. I always remove my makeup first. I like that although this cleanser is in a bar form, it doesn’t strip my skin like most similar cleansers. I do need to moisturize after using it, but there is no tight feeling. I find that I reach for this bar any time my skin is more dry or sensitive than usual. Like all the Drunk Elephant products, this bar is unscented, but it doesn’t have that unpleasant scent that some unscented products have.
Ingredients: Sodium Coco-Sulfate, Disodium Lauryl Sulfosuccinate, Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Starch, Cetearyl Alcohol, Paraffin, Sclerocarya Birrea Seed Oil, Water/Aqua/Eau, Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Honey/Mel/Miel, Glycerin, Vaccinium Angustifolium (Blueberry) Fruit Extract.
This bar exfoliates and cleanses, and I found it still gentle enough for my skin. This is my favorite DE cleanser among the three that I’ve tried. The instructions note not to apply the bar directly to the skin, however, I find the exfoliation pretty much non-existent when I just lather the bar in my hands and then apply the foam to my face, so I have used this bar directly on wet skin, with no issues. Please note that I don’t have sensitive skin, and this was ok for me, but it may not work for you. When used this way the bar gently enfoliates, and it was never too harsh. It’s just a little bit more drying than Pekee bar, but I always moisturize right after cleansing my face, so this was not an issue for me. I make sure to alternate the use of the two bars, so my skin never got irritated from using Juju bar. Like all the DE products, this bar is also unscented, and it has a little bit of that unpleasant scent that some unscented products have, but only when I smell the bar directly. When I use it the scent is not noticeable that much.
Ingredients: Sodium Coco-Sulfate, Disodium Lauryl Sulfosuccinate, Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Starch, Cetearyl Alcohol, Bambusa Vulgaris Leaf/Stem Extract, Paraffin, Sclerocarya Birrea Seed Oil, Water/Aqua/Eau, Heilmoor Clay, Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Euterpe Oleracea Fruit Extract, Lycium Barbarum Fruit Extract.
This product has me completely confused. Apparently “no.9” means they had 8 other previous formulations that weren’t up to their standards. This sounded reasonable to me, until I did a little bit of research and realized that this is a reformulated Beste no.9 cleanser. So now there may be two different versions around, with the same name, and the only way to know which one you have, as far as I know, is to contact DE directly. It just seems that this could’ve been avoided it they just named the new reformulated version “no.10”. Which would make sense, too. Anyways, I am assuming I have the newer version, since I received the products directly from DE after the release of the new, reformulated Beste cleanser.
What led me to research this product in the first place is the fact that I found it much too drying for my skin. I gave it a chance, moisturized VERY well after each use, but I got dry patches on my cheeks after about a week of using it and stopped using the product after that. I just accepted that it’s not perfect for my skin, regardless of the claims that it works for everyone. I could get over the “unscented” unpleasant scent, and I find the jelly texture interesting and fun, but my skin was just way too tight after each use, even my slightly oily T-zone. Everyone is different, though, so what doesn’t work for me may work for you, but from my experience I would only recommend this to people with oily or oily/combination skin.
Ingredients: Water, Sodium Lauroyl Methyl Isethionate, Glycerin, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine, Sodium Methyl Oleoyl Taurate, Propanediol, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Coco-Glucoside, Lauryl Glucoside, Cucumis Melo Cantalupensis Fruit Extract, Sclerocarya Birrea Seed Oil, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Citric Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Benzoate, Sodium Chloride.
I received a small foil sample of this product much before I got this whole skincare line, and I immediately fell in love with it. Unlike most hydrating serums I’ve tried, this is a gel that doesn’t melt upon contact with skin. It stays in it’s gel form and feels like a lightweight moisturizer. I have even used it instead of a moisturizer on some warmer days. When I apply it to my skin, it doesn’t make it wet, it just absorbs immediately. This gel contains sodium hyaluronate, which is a salt of hyaluronic acid (HA), and as a smaller molecule penetrates deeper into skin. I found that this gel kept my skin well hydrated when used morning and evening, and it is great for layering with other hydrating products. This product also has virtually no scent, which is great for my sensitive nose.
I have to note here that I love the airtight bottle, and the little sticker saying to “twist” to open was more than necessary LOL. I couldn’t figure out how to get the pump to work until I noticed the sticker. Also, if you are not sure if your bottle is empty, you can gently pull out the whole pump mechanism to look inside (it may take some twisting and tugging).
Ingredients: Water, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Pentylene Glycol, Ananas Sativus (Pineapple) Fruit Extract, Berberis Vulgaris Root Extract, Citrullus Lanatus (Watermelon) Fruit Extract, Lens Esculenta (Lentil) Fruit Extract, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract, Sclerocarya Birrea Seed Oil, Coconut Alkanes, Panthenol, Sodium PCA, Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer, Sodium Lactate, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Coco-Caprylate/Caprate, Cyclodextrin, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Citric Acid, Chlorphenesin, Caprylyl Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin.
I don’t have too much experience with vitamin C (ascorbic acid) serums, so I was really surprised to see that this serum is an oil. It is greasy, and I can only use one pump at a time. It takes a while to absorb, but results are worth it. I normally apply this serum in the morning and let it sink in for at least 30 minutes before proceeding with other skincare or sunscreen. I admit I have skipped quite a few mornings, but every time I use it regularly for a week or two my skin gets more even and brighter. It’s definitely not my favorite product to use, because of the greasiness, but the results it gives me make me try to use it more often. DE housed this serum in the same airtight pump bottle as B-Hydra, and it keeps the vitamin C in the serum stable for longer. Vitamin C can deteriorate very fast in contact with air or light, so DE recommend using up this product within 6 months of opening. There is a “unscented” scent to it, but I don’t find it too unpleasant.
Ingredients: Water, Ethoxydiglycol, Ascorbic Acid, Glycerin, Laureth-23, Lactobacillus/Pumpkin Ferment Extract, Sclerocarya Birrea Seed Oil, Ferulic Acid, Sodium Hyaluronate, Chondrus Crispus Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Lactobacillus/Punica Granatum Fruit Ferment Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Juice Extract, Phyllanthus Emblica Fruit Extract, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Tocopherol, Caprylhydroxamic Acid, Acetyl Glucosamine, Hydrolyzed Quinoa, Glutamylamidoethyl Imidazole, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Tetrahydrodiferuloylmethane, Tetrahydrodemethoxydiferuloylmethane, Tetrahydrobisdemethoxydiferuloylmethane, Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer, Glycine, Sucrose, Maltodextrin, Propanediol, Caprylyl Glycol, Sodium Hydroxide, Xanthan gum, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Isohexadecane, Polysorbate 60.
Lala Retro cream comes in an unusual packaging that I haven’t encountered before. You press the top down and the cream comes out of the middle, making the packaging completely airtight and prolonging the shelf life of the product. The cream really does have a whipped texture, but it’s quite thick and rich, and one pump was more than enough for my whole face and neck (sometimes even hands), especially if mixed with other DE products, like B-Hydra and C-Firma. This is the mix I used the most often, and I found it to be rich and moisturizing, but quite greasy. I would only recommend Lala Retro if you have dry skin. I found it to be too greasy even for my T-zone (I have dry/combo skin), but I liked it during colder months. When it became warmer I could only use it very sparingly and in the evenings.
Ingredients: Water, Glycerin, Caprylic/ Capric Triglyceride, Isopropyl Isostearate, Pseudozyma Epicola/Camellia Sinensis Seed Oil/Glucose/Glycine Soja Meal/Malt Extract/Yeast Extract Ferment Filtrate (Pseudozyma Epicola/Camellia Sinensis Seed Oil/Glucose/Yeast Extract Ferment Filtrate), Stearic Acid, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Cetearyl Alcohol, Pentylene Glycol, Plantago Lanceolata Leaf Extract, Adansonia Digitata Seed Oil, Citrullus Lanatus (Watermelon) Seed Oil, Passiflora Edulis Seed Oil, Schinziophyton Rautanenii Kernel Oil, Sclerocarya Birrea Seed Oil, Polyglyceryl-6 Ximenia Americana Seedate, Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer, Ceteareth-20, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Sodium Hydroxide, Citric Acid, Carbomer, Xanthan Gum, Caprylyl Glycol, Chlorphenesin, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin.
Oh, where do I start with this product? Many swear by it, but although I used it most of the summer it never really grew on me. I used it because it’s a physical sunscreen, and I prefer physical over chemical sunscreens. However, I had a number of issues with it. First off, it’s white. No matter how much I rub it in, it makes my face paler, which is a huge “accomplishment”, since I’m already quite pale. So if you are interested in trying a DE sunscreen, just skip this one and go straight for the tinted version. But my issues are not with the white cast only. I found the sunscreen to be too greasy, and I had to *gasp* apply a setting powder over it to tone the shine down. Also, it contains shimmer particles, which in combination with the white cast make me look a bit like a vampire from Twilight shimmering in the sun. Lastly, even though I find it greasy, it somehow manages to dry out my skin, which becomes flaky by the end of the day (and yes, I exfoliate, hydrate and moisturize regularly). Lastly, I didn’t like that I could feel it on my face, it feels almost like I applied a face mask and left it on. Like I mentioned before, regardless of all this I’ve been using the product all summer long, but it never worked for me well, and I’ve since discovered much better (and more affordable) physical sunscreens.
Ingredients: Water, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Pentylene Glycol, Glycerin, Steareth-2, Propanediol, Steareth-21, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Cetearyl Alcohol, Silica, Sclerocarya Birrea Seed Oil, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Chondrus Crispus Extract, Haematococcus Pluvialis Extract, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Sprout Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Juice Extract, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Raspberry Seed Oil/Tocopheryl Succinate Aminopropanediol Esters, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, DL-Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate, Tocopherols, Sea Water, Acetyl Glucosamine, Cetearyl Glucoside, Sodium Stearoyl Glutamate, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Glycine, Sucrose, Lecithin, Triethoxycaprylylsilane, Xanthan Gum, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Caprylhydroxamic Acid, Mica, Tin Oxide (SnO2), Caprylyl Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Iron Oxides (CI 77491).
As I already said, I have dry/combo skin, and facial oils are a part of my evening routine even in the summer, and in the winter I use them morning and evening. I am not very picky when it comes to a facial oil, but I do prefer the ones that absorb fast. This simple virgin marula oil is somewhere in the middle of my favorites, not at the top or at the bottom. It moisturizer really really well, and I only use 2-3 drops at a time, which makes it last FOREVER. It absorbs well, but leaves a bit of a greasy shine on my T-zone. If layered over other rich products, it does take longer to absorb. Also, sometimes it causes small pimples to pop up on my nose, but this doesn’t happen all the time. It is great for my dry cheeks and helps keep them flake-free. I also often use it before drying sunscreens, which gives my skin that dewy fresh look that makes it look better.
Ingredients: 100% Unrefined Sclerocraya Birrea (Marula) Kernel Oil.
This lip balm is good, but didn’t blow my mind. It’s unscented, like all Drunk Elephant products, and in this case I like that. It took a bit getting used to the natural oils scent, but the lack of scent and taste is good, since it makes me not lick my lips (licking your lips will make them drier). The lip balm is hydrating enough in the summer, but I didn’t love it for the colder months, since my lips would still feel a bit dry when using it. It’s perfect for summer hikes, because scented products can attract bugs. The packaging is cute, but chubbier than regular lip balms, so I don’t like having it in my pocket. Overall, it’s not a bad product, but it’s not exciting for me.
Ingredients: Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Sclerocarya Birrea Seed Oil, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Bis-Diglyceryl Polyacyladipate-2, Beeswax/Cera Alba/Cire d’abeille, Ozokerite, Polyisobutene, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax/Cera Carnauba/Cire de carnauba, Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax/Candelilla Cera/Cire de candelilla, Camellia Oleifera Leaf Extract, Dictyopteris Membranacea Extract, Magnolia Grandiflora Bark Extract, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Schinziophyton Rautanenii (Mongongo) Kernel Oil, Vaccinium Macrocarpon (Cranberry) Seed Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Dicaprylyl Ether, Tribehenin, Sorbitan Isostearate, Lauryl Alcohol, Linoleic Acid, Linolenic Acid, Caprylyl Glycol, Phenoxyethanol.
It’s no secret that I love acid treatments, and I use them regularly. I normally opt for gentle AHA serums (5%), and use them nightly, but I do enjoy a good strong peel every now and then. I was a bit scared of using this 12% AHA/BHA blend at first, but as recommended by DE on Instagram, I started using it every other night and never really felt the need to use it more often than that. Although I already had some tolerance to acids when I started using the serum, I was surprised to feel no tingling, even the first time I used it. The serum makes my skin a bit flushed every time, but not too much. Needless to say, I really loved it. The serum made my face clear and smooth, and I could not stop touching my baby soft skin. The only thing I needed to get used to was the scent – it has a scent that reminds me of a strong washroom cleaner and reminds me of some chemicals from the science class at the same time. Luckily, the scent is not that noticeable once I apply the serum. Unfortunately, I had to de-stash this product before using it up, because it’s not recommended to use BHA or strong AHAs in pregnancy, but I would use another bottle once I’m allowed to again.
Ingredients: Water, Glycolic Acid, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Sodium Hydroxide, Salicylic Acid, Lactic Acid, Citric Acid, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Juice Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Opuntia Ficus-Indica Extract, Aesculus Hippocastanum (Horse Chestnut) Seed Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Rubus Idaeus (Raspberry) Fruit Extract, Saccharomyces Cerevisiae Extract, Buddleja Davidii Meristem Cell Culture, Sclerocarya Birrea Seed Oil, Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer, Allantoin, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Galactoarabinan, Propanediol, Disodium EDTA, Xanthan Gum, Hexylene Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Sodium Nitrate, Potassium Sorbate, Pentylene Glycol, Sodium Benzoate.
As much as I was scared to use the T.L.C Framboos, I was terrified when the time came to try this mask. With whopping 25% AHAs and the additional 2% of BHA, this is a very strong acid peel. In fact, it’s so strong that by law it can’t be sold in Canada. But the reviews are so good that I felt tempted to try it, and I am really happy that I did. I started using it after using the Framboos serum for about 2 weeks regularly, and I felt that I’ve build up some tolerance to try the mask. The mask has a smooth clay consistency and definitely tingles when on skin, but it doesn’t cause too much redness. I manage to keep it on my face for the full 20 minutes, and it’s a bit hard to rinse off, like every other clay mask. I prefer to rinse it off in the shower, with warm water only. The mask gives instant results – my skin is truly baby smooth every time I use the mask. The effects last for a few days, and I was tempted to use the mask 2 times a week, but I ended up using it only once a week, since it’s so strong. This mask is named well – it’s a real facial in a bottle, and it would be great to use the night or two before big events (if you know you can handle it). Just like the Framboos serum, I had to stop using and de-stash the mask, but I would love to use it again when I’m allowed to again.
The only thing I didn’t love about the mask is the packaging – it’s airtight, but no matter how I press the top some of the mask always stay around the opening, making it dirty.
It’s recommended to use the marula oil after this mask, and DE conveniently includes a mini marula oil with it.
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.
This is not my first time trying exclusively one brand of facial products, but this was by far the most extensive. Except an eye cream, I didn’t add anything to these products for almost two months, and even after that I rarely mixed them with other products (until I started running out). I have to admit, I partly understand the hype – it’s hard to find unscented products, so DE covers that parts of the market well. They also provide a big variety of products, and some truly innovative ones. I discovered some great products, but can’t say I am one of those people who loves everything a brand comes up with, which shows here, too – there are a few products that I really didn’t enjoy, and a few that were just OK. My favorite products are definitely the two acid peels and the soap bars. The acid peels provide instant results and didn’t irritate my skin, and the soap bars were gentle and effective. The products that I didn’t like and wouldn’t use again are the Beste cleanser (too drying), C-Firma (too greasy) and the Umbra Sheer sunscreen (just didn’t like anything about it).
However, every skin is different (although DE claims their products work for any skin) and what works for me may not work for others, and vice versa. I highly recommend you ask for a sample of a product you would want to try, even if I didn’t like it – it may work for you better. Likewise, just because something worked for me, doesn’t mean it’ll work for you. Thread carefully, especially with those acid peels.
As far as the condition of my skin goes, I still believe my skin is dry/combo even after using just these products. I still got shiny forehead in the heat, small pimples on my nose and my cheeks would get dry every now and then. These are great products and work well when used regularly, but that didn’t make them much different than other high-end skincare products out there for me. I like that they avoid some ingredients, but since my skin is not sensitive this is not a huge advantage for me (I actually prefer some essential oils for a nicer natural scent).
My other issue is the pricing. I have no doubt that these are all quality products, and the formulations are innovative. I am just not highly likely to pay such a high premium for a product if there is something equally effective and more affordable out there. That being said, I would purchase the products I loved (the soaps and the acid peels), in case they can fit into my budget.
Except the Babyfacial, which is only available in the US, all of these products are available at Sephora (all prices are in CAD, except the Babyfacial):
- Pekee Bar – 4 oz/ 113 g/ $35
- Juju Bar – 4 oz/ 113 g/ $35
- Pekee+Juju Travel Duo – 2 x 1 oz/ 28g – $23
- Beste No.9 Jelly Cleanser – 5 oz/ 150 ml – $42
- B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Gel – 1.69 oz/ 50 ml – $65
- C-Firma Day Serum – 1 oz/ 30 ml – $100
- Lala Retro Whipped Cream – 1.69 oz/ 50 ml – $75
- Umbra Sheer Physical Daily Defense – 3 oz/ 90 ml – $42
- Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil – 1 oz/ 30 ml – $90
- Lippe Balm – 0.13 oz/ 3.8 g – $22
- T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum – 1 oz/ 30 ml – $112
- T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial – 1.69 oz/ 50 ml – $80 USD
Have you tried any Drunk Elephant products? Which ones are your favorite? Do you often get into the hype of using a popular brand?