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Sixteen-year-old me, pimple-y with electric blue braces, thought my embarrassing acne would be nonexistent before I turned 20. Fast forward six years and I’m still that same girl popping away in the mirror…minus the braces. This and a harrowing journey through acne medication and retinol lead to my current skincare obsession: all things Drunk Elephant.
Up until about three months ago, dermatologists routinely prescribed drying face creams that failed to work. Eventually, anger along with agitated skin forced me to changed dermatologists, do my own research, and test dozens of products. Finally, after enlisting the help of spironolactone (a medication that helps block acne-causing hormones) and Differin, a clear and healthy complexion emerged.
At this point, I made it my mission to lock down a skincare routine that wouldn’t mess with my winning streak. There are few downsides to working just feet away from an editor’s beauty closet, and I came face to face (literally) with one. Yes, having dozens upon dozens of products within arm’s reach feels like Christmas morning every day, but my overzealous testing also introduced drying chemicals, dyes, and irritating fragrances to my already sensitive and acne-prone skin.
So in the midst of my experimenting, Drunk Elephant was a beacon of light. Not only does the vibrant packaging make my dream #shelfie way cuter, but the brand’s clean skincare philosophy instantly won me over. With no “Suspicious 6” ingredients (essential oils, drying alcohols, silicones, chemical sunscreens, fragrance/dyes, SLS) in their entire range, I was ready to give my skin a “clean break.” After a month of letting nothing but Drunk Elephant touch my face, here are my honest thoughts on each product.
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C-Firma Day Serum
The first product I tried became an instant top favorite. C-Firma is a super potent vitamin C serum I use in the morning after splashing my face with water. I cannot live without a vitamin C serum as I’m attempting to brighten the appearance of my acne scars. Even though this is packed with delish ingredients, the smell is not the yummiest but this just means it’s the real deal.
B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum
Consider this a glass of water for your thirsty skin. I mix this in with my C-Firma in the morning, and all my serums at night. I noticed this has helped so much with the health of my skin and pairs well with almost any Drunk Elephant product. All of the products are made to work together, so consider this the water you add to your morning vitamin C smoothie.
C-Tango Multivitamin Eye Cream
I have SUPER sensitive skin under my eyes. I can’t let anything strong like retinol touch them or I’ll look (and feel) like I baked in the sun for hours. This eye cream is gentle, clean, and effective. It helped me not only with the firmness of my undereye area, but created a perfect canvas for my concealer too. I like to use this morning and night.
Protini Polypeptide Cream
The holy grail moisturizer! I slather this one all over my face and neck, morning and night. It’s a gel-cream hybrid so it sits well underneath makeup without feeling too thick.
D-Bronzi Anti-Pollution Sunshine Serum
Since retinol makes the skin more sensitive to UV exposure, sun protection has been crucial. And since I still crave that sun-kissed glow, especially in the winter, this product is absolutely necessary. I mix this with the Umbra Sheer Physical Daily Defense SPF 30 and layer it on top of my moisturizer. I love this because it makes me feel comfortable going makeup-free and defends against the pollution and environmental stressors in this NYC air.
Slaai Makeup-Melting Butter Cleanser & Bamboo Booster Exfoliant
Massaging oil over makeup on my acne-prone skin sounds like a horror story, right? Wrong! I will never go back to wipes that pull and tug at my skin. This is the first step in my extensive nighttime skincare ritual (aka favorite part of my day). The buttery cleanser is truly a game-changer and I also like to give myself a two-minute facial massage after activating it with water. Once a week, I add the Bamboo Booster for some physical exfoliation, which has helped so much in diminishing my acne scars.
Beste No. 9 Jelly Cleanser
This is a must-try for anyone who needs a mild cleanser that will remove makeup, oil, pollution, and other gunk without over-drying the skin. I squeeze a quarter size amount onto a Clarisonic Mia Prima after washing off the Slaai Makeup-Melting butter every single night.
A-Passioni Retinol Cream
I have seen it all when it comes to retinol, so I’m relieved to find this perfect fit. I make a skincare smoothie with this, B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum, and T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum every night. It’s packed with passionfruit, apricot, kale, marula and jojoba oils (so basically a superfood smoothie in itself). It’s made the most significant difference in the texture and tone of my skin and I’ll never go without it again.
T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum
This serum is blended with all the goods; lactic, tartaric, citric, salicylic, and glycolic acids. If you have acne-prone skin, you need this. Framboos resurfaces dull skin while chemically exfoliating which has helped significantly with my cheek redness. It can be sensitizing for people who are just starting out so use sparingly. I love to mix this with A-Passioni Retinol Cream and B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum at night since it opens up the pores and allows the retinol to go in there and do its thing while adding a shot of hydration.
Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil
I was a little skeptical about using this since I was always taught to stay away from oils with oily, acne-prone skin. Virgin Marula Luxury Face Oil has been the cherry on top of my extensive skincare routine. (Side note: I love that brand founder Tiffany Masterson got the name Drunk Elephant from the myth about elephants getting drunk off marula fruit.) I slather this on top of my nightly skincare regimen and down my neck as the final step and let it sink in. Tip: Add a drop to your foundation for a dewy glow.
T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial
This stuff is no joke (and illegal in Canada due to its high AHA/BHA percentage). I personally love it and now, it’s part of my get-your-life-together Sunday ritual. I leave this on for about 20 minutes and yes, you will feel stinging and burning, but it resurfaces your entire face, leaving it so smooth and insanely brighter.
Umbra Sheer Physical Daily Defense SPF 30
Sunscreen is crucial and I wish I had listened to my mom when she would scream at me to stop using tanning oil. Now that I’m 22 with a few sunspots and fine lines, I don’t leave the house without it. This one is packed with clean, hydrating ingredients so you don’t have to worry about clogging your pores with a thick, cakey formula. I mix this with D-Bronzi for a protected bronzy glow.
The cutest little Lippe balm. It doesn’t smell like anything but when you lick your lips, it tastes subtly sweet. Before using this, I was hooked on random lip balms filled with fragrance and drying alcohols that made my lips dry, so I kept on applying them. With this, I don’t feel the need to apply it all day since it leaves my lips super smooth and shiny in one single swipe.
If you’re a Drunk Elephant newbie and looking to start your clean break, I would recommend starting with the Beste No.9 Jelly Cleanser, C-Firma Day Serum, and Protini Polypeptide Cream. My skin couldn’t be happier and I think you’ll feel the same way once you take the plunge.