Why I Stopped Using Drunk Elephant (And What I Use Instead)

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Rachel Sheldon

I've written several blog posts on this blog about the topic of Drunk Elephant skincare. At one point in time, these were my ride or die, Holy Grail products that I couldn't live without - despite the steep price tag. However, in the past couple years I've slowly moved away from Drunk Elephant products and gradually replaced them in my routine with different, better products. 

Why Did I Stop Using Drunk Elephant?

Two reasons:

  1. Price
  2. Efficacy

First, the price of Drunk Elephant products is steep - there's no denying it. But they aren't the most expensive brand on the market by a long shot, and I do still spend a good amount of money on some of my Holy Grail skincare products. 

What I found over time is that the Drunk Elephant products weren't all worth the money. Especially with the rise of lower-priced brands like The Ordinary, it didn't seem worth it anymore to pay big bucks for the branding and packaging of Drunk Elephant when I could get an extremely similar and equally effective product for less than half the price from another brand. 

This is great blog post I found that goes through popular Drunk Elephant products and gives recommendations for cheaper dupes with the same ingredients. The same! There's no need to spend $72 on a facial oil when you can get an equally good one for $10.

The second reason I stopped using Drunk Elephant ties into the first. For the price, the products just weren't giving me the results I wanted. I absolutely loved using the Drunk Elephant TLC Framboos Serum for years, and while it did have a great brightening effect on my skin, it pales in comparison with my Retin-A.

I found that once I started using Retin-A (which I get by prescription from my dermatologist and is mostly covered by my insurance) I no longer needed to spend hundreds on other active ingredients - I was getting everything I needed already, in one hero product. 

So this leads into the second piece of this blog post...


What Do I Use Instead?

The overarching answer is: tretinoin. Otherwise known by Retin-A, this is a strong Vitamin A derivative that helps improve acne, skin tone and texture, and prevent signs of aging. I wrote an entire blog post on my journey with tretinoin, and I wrote a detailed breakdown of the different types of retinol that are available on the market.

To replace some of the other Drunk Elephant products, like the moisturizers and moisturizing serums, I've gone back to the drugstore and brands like CeraVe, Neutrogena, and La Roche Posay. I wrote a blog post about the products to use with Retin-A, and most of them are available at the drugstore for less than $20.


All you really need to have a solid skincare routine is a good cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen.


I'm going to get on my skincare soapbox for a minute:

There's so much noise out there on social media and online when it comes to skincare, and it has made a lot of people (myself included!) believe that they need a 13-step skincare routine in order to have good skin. This just isn't the case. In fact, for many people having too many products in their routine is what's CAUSING their acne (particularly for sensitive, acne-prone skin types).

When I stripped my skincare routine back to basics, I saw a massive improvement in my skin overall, especially my acne. Everyone is tempted by the latest greatest shiny object and new skincare fad, but constantly switching products and over-doing active ingredients and exfoliation can damage your moisture barrier and lead to even more problems. 

That being said, I love skincare and trying new products to see what will give me the best glow. After all, that's why I have this blog! But I try my best now not to get sucked in by marketing ploys and stick with research-backed, dermatologist-tested brands and ingredients. Be critical of the media that you consume when it comes to skincare - many people are just hawking a product they've never used because a brand is paying them. Find sources of information that you trust, and do your own research.

Okay, rant over (for now...)

To treat conditions like acne or anti-aging, an active ingredient can help a lot - but I recommend going to a dermatologist first to get a professional opinion before dropping hundreds of dollars at Sephora. You might be surprised that a single prescription product can go much further than dozens of over-the-counter lotions and potions. 

If you're not able to go to a dermatologist to assess your skin, there are also online services like Curology that can do the same. (I've never used Curology myself, but I have heard good things from friends and family - so proceed with caution and do your research, your mileage may vary.)

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