Typically I’ll spring for purchasing a full size, large product that I can test out for several months and give a fair shot review for, noting all of the different specifications and benefits to use in detail of a single product. But in researching the Drunk Elephant and their entire range of skincare products, there were so many different options, all which seemed to offer different benefits and features of use. I had heard rave reviews about the serum, face oil, and moisturizing treatments, and ultimately could not decide on which one to go with. While I would certainly prefer to be in a financial position to have an ability to purchase multiple full size products from their selection, I decided to spring for their 8-piece starter kit, “the littles,” and try out their most popular sellers instead. The kit features several products in sizes ranging from 5-30ml, including the Jelly Cleanser, C-Firma Day Serum, B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum, T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum, Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil, Shaba Complex Eye Serum, Umbra Sheer Physical Defense SPF 30 and the Lala Retro Whipped Cream. Cheeky names, just like the company, that’s the first pro. All products are free of additional fragrance, essential oils, silicones, and skin irritants, and on average they lasted about 30 days or so, enough to test out the range and see what was hit and miss.
Overall, I really adored the skincare and thought it was a wise choice to invest in the starter kit, as there are products that would be redundant given my current routine (the SPF, as an example), and those that I’d definitely purchase full-size, particularly the C-Firma day serum, and glycolic night serum. The products are all formulated for every skin type, including acne-prone and sensitive. They are formulated without any sulfates, parabens, or mineral oils. The Drunk Elephant does not use all natural ingredients, but rather focuses on clean ingredients based on safety and bio-compatibility, so while this isn’t ideal for organic-only fans, it’s a clean product line that is safe for use with sensitive skin. Personally, I support this line of thought, only because all natural and active ingredients themselves used to make fully organic products can certainly be quite irritating to sensitive skin.
About the Brand
The inspiration behind the cheeky name of the brand comes from the skincare benefits of murula oil, and is rooted in a myth that elephants become intoxicated by eating marula fruit. The founder of the company created a simple skincare brand free of any harmful additives, with clean yet powerful ingredients. Founder Tiffany Masterson describes her conceptual approach to brand management by saying, ” in developing this line, I wanted to pull the effectiveness from the clinical and the sense of safety from the natural, the result is something people haven’t really tried before.” In other words, effective and clean ingredients that offer skin solutions for our most common concerns without being rooted in an exclusively chemical/clinical-grade or organic approach.
Here is an overview and brief reviews on the featured products included in the set:
Beste #9 Jelly Cleanser
This product scored a spots in numerous publications as a favorite product, including Oprah Magazine and Self. It acts as a makeup remover and daily cleanser in one, and is great for all skin types. Skin doesn’t feel tight or dry after using it and it removes all dirt, oil, and makeup residue. Gentle, does not irritate the eyes but removes eye makeup, and feels refreshing. Perfect for daily use for night and day.
C-Firma Day Serum
This serum has a 15 percent solution of potent antioxidant complex, l-ascorbic, ferulic acids, and vitamin E in its formulation. Excellent product and would purchase the full size. It helps neutralize damage from free radicals, pollution, and diminishes signs of aging like fine lines and wrinkles. Skin was visibly brighter after use, as well as firmer and more radiant. Helps to reduce breakouts, pore size, and improves dull complexions. Skin feels soft and refreshed, with a more radiant complexion and visible glow. I can see why this product is the brand’s bestseller, it really works wonders and delivers on its claims. It’s likely the best Vitamin C containing serum I’ve tried, and while the full size is pricey, a minimal amount of product (i.e. one pump) is needed for full benefits to use.
B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum
This hydrating vitamin B5 serum has a lightweight gel texture and successfully delivers on a promise to restore hydration and dullness. Skin has a healthy glow, improved radiance and overall aesthetic, and feels soft and smooth to the touch after use. This makes an ideal product for anyone seeking a lightweight serum without any greasy texture or residue after use, and fully restores moisture to the skin. Great for restoring balance for all skin types, does not cause any breakouts, and is highly absorbing. As a standalone item, I would say this is more ideal for normal or combination skin, as those with very dry skin types may prefer to use this in conjunction with a heavier cream.
T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum
This serum has a gel texture and works to resurface dull skin, lifting dead skin cells away by gently dissolving the glue that holds them to the surface. The results are greater clarity and a smoother, more even-looking complexion. It effectively delivers results like any chemical exfoliant without causing irritation or dryness to the skin. Skin is left smoother, softer, more radiant, retexturized and has a visible difference with respect to even tone. Pores are noticeably smaller. This is definitely an excellent quality product and I would purchase the full size, albeit the price sticker isn’t as pretty as the results of use.
Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil
This luxury marula face oil packs a powerful blend of antioxidants that hydrates, nurtures and soothes the skin. It’s benefits include restoring glow, radiance, and anti-aging ability, with a reduction in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It is gentle, non-irritating, and the skin feels softer and smoother immediately after use. The skin has a healthy glow, improved radiance, and is brightened with continual daily use. It feels amazing to put on and doesn’t feel greasy or sticky at all. For an oil, it’s still lightweight but incredibly rich. Some reviewers have even found improvements in the appearance of acne scars, and around 90 percent of users notice visible anti-aging effects.
Shaba Complex Eye Serum
This eye serum was gentle and lightweight in texture, and I certainly noticed an improvement in treating puffy eyes. It helped in restoring a more refreshed and awake aesthetic, but I didn’t notice any incredible difference with fine lines or wrinkles. This is ideal for anyone seeking a suitable eye serum to help de-puff and prevent future signs of aging, but may not be ideal for those seeking total restoration or with existing signs of aging.
Umbra Sheer Physical Defense SPF 30
This cream is gentle, light, and acts as a sun protective block to prevent harm from UVA/UVB radiation and free radical damage during sun exposure. The sunscreen is a physical block rather than chemical formulation, but I still found it sweat-proof and it has great hold for daily use. The only downside is it may cause a slight white cast on the skin without the use of makeup.
Lala Retro Whipped Cream
This product is great, and acts as a go-to staple moisturizer for day and night and restores total hydration to the skin. It’s perfect for dry and dull skin, and helps to hydrate even the most dry skin types with existing damage. It feels great and refreshing on the skin, especially using it at night before bed. It’s buttery soft and leaves the skin feeling soft, supple, and helps achieve a much brighter aesthetic. It’s rare to find a moisturizing cream that delivers brightening and anti-aging benefits along with total hydration to dry skin in one product.
Positives and Negatives
Here is a summation of some of the pros and cons to the Drunk Elephant starter kit and the skincare products in general, based on unique experience paired with other reviews and points that seem to create commonality with the brand’s consumers.
- The starter kit is an excellent way to test out different products from the entire range and get a sense of what works and what doesn’t
- Great and suitable for travel
- Out of all the products in the kit, there wasn’t one I really disliked, and none caused breakouts
- All products are suitable for every skin type, including sensitive skin
- Products were non-drying, hydrating and brightening
- Suitable for treating even very dry skin types
- The C-Firma Day Serum produced visible results and brightened skin, even with only 30 days or so of use (both serums were really excellent in quality and seemed to treat skin breakouts and prevent the formation of new breakouts)
- Facial oil is wonderful and produced visible results and hydration benefits very quickly, in under the duration of the month-long supply
- Products are all free of parabens and sulfates
- Products are all free of essential oils, fragrances, silicones, and irritants
- Makeup applies smoothly and evenly over using all products
- Suitable for all ages, product is preventative in anti-aging and also treats signs of existing damage to the skin
- Radiance, glow, and vibrancy are restored
- The products all work very harmoniously together, complimenting one another quite well without any interactions
- Each product is formulated with a unique proprietary blend of ingredients that is company-specific, meaning you won’t find the same blends or products with any other brand or manufacturer
- Cruelty free company- products are never tested on animals and do not contain animal products, the company partners with International Elephant Foundation (IEF)
- Small sizes, while you can’t expect to receive full sized items, these are limited in terms of longevity, with daily use you’re looking at 30 days or less (the manufacturer says 30-45, so it is possible with conservative use to extend the duration of use)
- Price- full size products do not come cheap, and while they certainly offer great use, benefits, and value, the kit itself is also not cheap for a monthly duration of use
- Some reviewers reported experiencing breakout or dry skin
The manufacturer has a strong return and exchange policy that honors full refunds upon dissatisfaction or allergy, this policy favors the new consumer. If you are dissatisfied with the use of the products, or if they do not work for your skin to provide suitable benefits, or you experience any product allergy or reaction to the formulations, you may elect to return the entire set. In this case, you will receive a full refund equal to the entire purchase price of the item. You may also wish to exchange the product for an equal and full refund- or opt for a single product you prefer. One must bear in mind that you will need to return the entire set, as individual items within the kit are not available for return.
The Final Verdict
I would absolutely recommend Drunk Elephant’s “The Littles” starter kit, especially for those new to the brand looking to try out several bestselling products at once. They all work in tandem with one another to revive skin, and it’s an excellent way to test out different products to see what works for your skin type and chemistry prior to springing for a full size product option. Once you do see what you prefer and enjoy in the collection, the warning is only that you will want to purchase additional full size products, some of which can run on the pricier side. I don’t typically opt for starter or travel kits, but in this case it was a great option, and the line itself offers amazing and diverse benefits, while being a suitable solution for all skin types.