Meet the beauty brand that has customers queuing around the block

Cult US brand Drunk Elephant launched in the UK this week. Founder Tiffany Masterson tells us why her brand will apparently solve every skin problem

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By Tory Frost on

While I’m normally cynical about stories of "waiting lists" for a face cream, when it comes to the launch of US beauty brand Drunk Elephant I totally believe the 33,000-person hype. The range has been at the top of every beauty boffin's US shopping list for a while. And, in an industry that’s been obsessed with "game-changers" (see The Ordinary, The Inkey List), I think this brand is drastically different.

For starters, its founder, Tiffany Masterson, tells me she doesn’t fix "problem skin" – she eradicates problem ingredients. This means the entire range is free from her "suspicious six": essential oils, silicones, chemical sunscreens, sodium laurel sulphate (foaming agent), fragrance/dyes and drying alcohols. 

"I don’t believe in skin types, so in my mind I’m solving every single skin problem anybody can possibly have with Drunk Elephant. It’s more of a philosophy that I’m selling, than a beauty brand. The skin will address your needs itself, but you’ve got to let it function. By throwing the suspicious six ingredients at it, you can’t expect it to behave the right way." Meaning: spots, redness, irritation and sensitivity.

I don’t believe in skin types, so in my mind I’m solving every single skin problem anybody can possibly have with Drunk Elephant

This message – that there’s nothing inherently wrong with you or your skin, but it’s what you’ve been sold that’s the problem – is what’s disruptive. And I happen to believe it’s true.

Five years ago, when I’d reached the end of my tether with spotty, reactive, angry skin, I didn’t fix it with "spot-busting" products, but by throwing away 95% of the harsh, foaming, stripping products I was trying and following a simple, gentle, nourishing routine. Masterson's story is the same. "I had rosacea, an oily T-zone and large pores. I could fix one problem, but another would get worse. When I stopped using everything and was using just one product, all of my issues went away," she says. And I’m here to vouch that she has no visible pores, redness or rosacea today, despite meeting me practically foundation-free.

The range has now launched on Space NK and Cult Beauty, and it’s easy to see why a pop-up shop in Soho this week had a hundred people queuing to get in – Masterson has turned the old beauty trope that women are a problem to be fixed on its head. The industry’s the problem, she’s saying. She just happens to want to sell us the solution, and I’m one of the 33,000 buying it.

The 3 things to buy from drunk elephant:


BEST FOR HYDRATION: B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum, £52

As someone whose skin craves water and needs very little oil, I tend to judge a new brand on its hyaluronic serum. This didn’t disappoint: sinks in immediately, plumps up skin and I didn’t need a moisturiser on top. Tick. 


BEST FOR CLEANSING: Beste No. 9 Jelly Cleanser, £34

Tiffany swears this removes all traces of make-up (except very heavy eye looks), plus SPF, pollution, excess oil and grime. Don’t expect a squeaky-clean finish (that means you’ve stripped all the good stuff away from your skin, too); just rinse away with water or a soft wash cloth. 


Best for a skincare overhaul: The Littles Kit, £90

If you can afford to shell out a bit more, get yourself this seven-product kit that contains the full Drunk Elephant regime in travel size. Trust me, you’ll struggle to find this many products that are free from this many irritants anywhere else. Tiffany adds: “Give it 30-45 days to reset your skin."



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