Update: Today, after its UK launch earlier this month, Drunk Elephant announced that it would be slashing prices for its UK customers, stating: "As of Tuesday 23 October 2018, Drunk Elephant will be reducing its suggested retail price for the UK market." As the price tweak comes so close off the back of the brand's recent launch, UK stockist Space NK has announced it will be "issuing refunds of the price difference to all customers who purchased any Drunk Elephant products from Space NK before today". This will be repaid automatically to all customers who paid in-store or online using a debit card, credit card or PayPal account, so if that's you, rest easy (it should be back in your account in 28 days). Anyone else can contact the retailer directly. Going forward, though, expect to pay less for your favourites – the top-selling Littles Kit, for example (which features seven generously sized try-and-decide minis), has been slashed from £90 to £71. Still an investment, but every little helps.
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 5 things to buy from drunk elephant:
BEST FOR HYDRATION: B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum
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
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 softening: Virgin Marula Luxury Cleansing OIL
This stuff is magic. Use a couple of drops in the morning and evening for very soft-feeling skin. It's packed with lovely ingredients, like nourishing marula, vitamin E and omegas 6 and 9. Plus, it sinks in like a dream.
BEST FOR BRIGHTNING: C-FIRMA DAY SERUM
This contains L-ascorbic acid, the most potent form of vitamin C, which, over time, helps to brighten dull complexions. It comes out very runny and lightweight, sinks in quickly and helps to restore glow and reduce the appearance of pigmentation.
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."