REVIEW: Is Drunk Elephant skincare as good as they say?

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 10:  Drunk Elephant on display at  the Drunk Elephant House Of Drunk pop-up on June 10, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images  for Drunk Elephant)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 10: Drunk Elephant on display at the Drunk Elephant House Of Drunk pop-up on June 10, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Drunk Elephant)

Drunk Elephant is one of those cult skincare brands that made beauty enthusiasts jump for joy when it arrived in Singapore. But is the hype right? Do Drunk Elephant skincare products really work?

Over the years I’ve tried so many beauty products I can’t count - really, I just can’t. I eventually settled on one or two products that always seemed to work, and also invested in quite a bit of botox and fillers. But when I was offered the chance to give the entire Drunk Elephant skincare regime a go, and I decided that I really should give them a try. After all, sometimes you need to update your skincare routine.


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Drunk Elephant Beste No 9. Jelly Cleanser. (PHOTO: Drunk Elephant)
Drunk Elephant Beste No 9. Jelly Cleanser. (PHOTO: Drunk Elephant)

Starting at the beginning, the Drunk Elephant Beste No 9. Jelly Cleanser, S$48, is considered to be one of the best products from the range due to its lack of Sodium Lauryl Sulphates, a pH level of 5.5 and the addition of essential oils. Honestly though, this is like most modern cleansers - it works, it doesn’t leave your skin feeling too dry, and although it claims to have no fragrance, there’s a very slight scent that’s not offensive.

Once you’ve cleansed, you then have quite a large range of serums and moisturisers to put on top. This is where the brand really seems to come into its own. Over the years of trying different cult moisturising and serum products I’ve always found that rich night creams, and anything to do with antioxidants and vitamin C have set my slightly sensitive skin off.

Drunk Elephant’s product range in this area offers only rich creams and refining serums I’ve tried that haven’t given my skin a bad reaction.

The Drunk Elephant C Firma Day Serum, S$114, is considered to be one of the brand’s top products. It has fruit enzymes, antioxidants, additional nutrients from Pump Ferment Extract and 15% L-Ascorbic Acid, plus its got a pH 3.3. This is a daily serum that is meant to help with wrinkles, photo damage and hyperpigmentation. While I can’t say it makes an immediate impact, it does help to resurface your skin, making it brighter and clearer. Since it is full of active ingredients, it is recommended that you keep it in the refrigerator after you open it, which can be a bit annoying, but at least it works as a cooling application.

My favourite of the Drunk Elephant refining serums is the T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum, S$190. Although there’s a warning that you may feel some stinging on first use, I didn’t at all. And although this made me think it might not be working that well, actually it does. This is a 12% AHA/BHA blend of active ingredients like raspberry extract, lactic acid and glycolic acid which work as gentle exfoliants overnight. Fine lines, rough surface texture and skin imperfections get dealt with; although for my sensitive skin, I only use it every second or third night. When I used it in combination with the C Firma Day Serum, I did find that it was a bit strong for my skin.

Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum. (PHOTO: Drunk Elephant)
Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum. (PHOTO: Drunk Elephant)

Another good daily product is the Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum, S$74. This is a solid moisturiser that delivers hydration without being too tacky or heavy on sweaty days. It is claimed that the product will hold up to 24 hours worth of moisture in the skin, although I found that this was more like 12 hours. Still, the pineapple ceramides and pro-vitamin B5 help to keep your skin nice and moisturised throughout the day, even in colder and drier weather.

My absolute favourite product from Drunk Elephant, however, is the Lala Retro Whipped Cream, S$86. This is a ‘recovery’ or ‘rescue’ product and while described as an all-purpose cream, I found that it worked best as a night cream. If your skin has a tendency to break-out after using rich night creams, this is the product for you. The ‘6 rare African oils’ that are the basis of the product are combined with sodium hyaluronate crosspolymers, a fermented green tea extract, and omega acids to create a cream that moisturises well without being too rich. Not a simple pimple arrived after I used it; I even used it during really dry winter days.

Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil. (PHOTO: Drunk Elephant)
Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil. (PHOTO: Drunk Elephant)

The Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil, S$102, is another highly touted product, said to be an anti-ageing product for all skin types to not only reduce fine lines, redness, wrinkles and other surface skin damage, but also give you a ‘youthful glow’. The brand recommends using it with other products like the B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum to boost their moisturising properties. Now, I have long been a major fan of the famous ‘C’ brand double serum, and have also tried a number of other facial oils as well, so I have a fairly good idea of what a facial oil should be like. To be perfectly honest, the Drunk Elephant Marula facial oil doesn’t seem to be much different than any other facial oil from a quality beauty brand. It does work well to blend with other products for added hydration, but it is also a bit sticky on application - it feels a bit thick - so it tends to take a while to be absorbed by the skin.

The Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinol Cream, S$105, is basically a low-percentage retinol cream - 1.0% retinol - using something called ‘Photo Protective Xanthophylls’ which are basically the yellow pigment found in leaves said to protect against too much sunlight in plants. There are a bunch of other active ingredients in this cream including vitamin F, apricot, passionfruit and jojoba oils, plus kale and winter cherry as antioxidants. I did find that this cream stung a little bit on first use, but apart from a slight improvement in general skin surface quality, this cream didn’t seem to make a major difference to my skin immediately.

Drunk Elephant Shaba Complex Eye Serum. (PHOTO: Drunk Elephant)
Drunk Elephant Shaba Complex Eye Serum. (PHOTO: Drunk Elephant)

Probably the only really disappointing product was the Drunk Elephant Shaba Complex Eye Serum, S$86. The active ingredients of copper peptides and Edelweiss stem cells are supposed to help with wrinkles, fine lines and sun damage; it also contains black tea ferment and niacinamide. I’m not sure how effective these ingredients are since I found it hard to use this product; you are not supposed to get the cream in your eyes but it is super hard to do this considering you need to use it on your upper and under eye lids, however the product is very fluid and absorbent, which means it just melts right into your eyes, making them sting. No matter how little of the product I used, it just kept melting into my eyes, which was really unfortunate; maybe the skin on my eyelids is just too thin for this product.

Conclusion: Overall I really liked a number of Drunk Elephant’s skincare products - my favourites are the Lala Retro Whipped Cream and the T.L.C Framboos Glycolic Serum - that are worth the somewhat higher prices. Another good point is that you don’t need a lot of the products per application - serums and creams spread easily onto the skin and are absorbed quickly. However, a lot of the more general products - like the cleanser - don’t seem to be that much different from other, more affordable, versions already available in the market. Drunk Elephant is a brand that is worth some of the hype, particularly if you have sensitive skin; the products are good, with lots of variety for different skin issues. You just have to find the one that suits your particular skin concern and skin type to get the best results.

The author received the Drunk Elephant products for trial from the brand.

Drunk Elephant products are available from Sephora Singapore.


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