Drunk Elephant acquired by Shiseido for $845 million

Photo credit: Courtesy
Photo credit: Courtesy

From Harper's BAZAAR

In our regular feature #TheBrand, Bazaar’s digital beauty director looks into an exciting and efficacious brand taking the beauty industry by storm. This time it’s American export Drunk Elephant, the playful but potent skincare brand, which was just acquired by Shiseido for $845 million.

What’s the story?

Picture the perfect indie beauty success story, featuring busy mother-turned-beauty entrepreneur Tiffany Masterson. Forever battling all sorts of skin issues she stripped everything back and relied on a basic bar soap she imported and began selling on the side, meanwhile taking up cosmetic chemistry in her own home.

This led Masterson to identify six ingredients she believes are at the root of skin problems. Termed the ‘Suspicious 6’, she began formulating products without any essential oils, silicones, chemical sunscreens, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), fragrance and dyes, and drying alcohol. The result? Her ‘Clean-Clinical’ skincare was born.

What her products do contain are the likes of topical acids and African marula oil, which – myth has it – can make elephants drunk, hence the brand’s tongue-in-cheek name.

The packaging is also playful, and confidently competes for your #shelfie space with happy pops of neon and a cute elephant outline forming the logo.

Photo credit: Courtesy
Photo credit: Courtesy

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What are the hero products?

The most-hyped has to be the T.L.C Sukari BabyFacial, which (sadly), won’t be available here just yet due to differing regulatory standards in the UK and US. The original formula contains a whopping 25% AHA and 2% BHA blend including glycolic, tartaric, lactic, citric and salicylic acids. Potent.

Available at Space NK and Cult Beauty, we recommend starting with the Beste No.9 Jelly Cleanser, a suit-all, do-it-all face wash. Perfect for morning and night, it removes all traces of make-up, dirt and pollution gently but thoroughly.

SHOP NOW Beste No.9 Jelly Cleanser, £27, Drunk Elephant at Space NK

The Lala Retro Whipped Cream is a rich moisturiser that cocoons skin without suffocating it. Ideal for the impending wintry months – parched, dehydrated complexions will lap it up.

SHOP NOW Lala Retro Whipped Cream, £50, Drunk Elephant at Space NK

B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum has a lightweight gel texture that replenishes the skin with lost moisture and nutrients. Smoothing out lines and reinforcing the skin’s barrier, it’s a winner for all skin types.

SHOP NOW B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum, £44, Drunk Elephant at Space NK

However, if you want to completely immerse your skin in the brand try The Littles, £70, a kit with serums, oils, creams, cleansers and more in a bright travel bag.

Photo credit: Courtesy
Photo credit: Courtesy

SHOP NOW The Littles, £71

Who endorses it?

In the space of a few years Drunk Elephant has amassed a cult following stateside (as well as an increasing international one), with 745k Instagram followers and countless industry awards. Masterson was named in the 2017 Ten of Tomorrow by WWD and the company won Indie of the Year in 2018.

The brand doesn’t rely on celebrity and influencer sponsorship (though they have plenty of high-profile fans), but it nicely acknowledges its customers by reposting their skin stories on Instagram when they tag Drunk Elephant in a selfie with the hashtag #barewithus🐘 and gifting them goodies along the way.

Other simple strategies that works wonders include sharing #skincaresunday and #shelfie posts without censoring out competitors. They needn't, frankly, as they count themselves in their own league.

It's biggest endorsement comes after months of speculation, that Shiseido has just signed a deal to acquire a 100 per cent stake in the brand, a transaction valued at around $845 million. The Japanese beauty company also owns Nars Cosmetics, Laura Mercier, bareMinerals and Clé de Peau Beauté as well as their own namesake brand.

Let the stampede commence.

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