No: sulfates, alcohol, lanolin, detergents... more

A Clean Break: AKA, the Drunk Elephant Non-Toxic Breakthrough

November 26, 2014 | 1 Comment

You heard it here: There’s a difference between what’s natural and what’s non-toxic. Even so, “all natural” skincare is currently “all the rage.” Why? Because consumers widely perceive anything natural to be safe. 

All natural does not equal non-toxic

The drawback is that natural doesn't work as well. All natural formulations can’t contain some of the most effective ingredients (collagen building peptides, hyaluronic acid, r-lipoic acid and so on), which are super effective, but are actually non-toxic and safe. Also, natural ingredients are much harder to preserve, which can compromise their safety and effectiveness. Meanwhile, clinical brands that are proven effective are sometimes a bummer, because many of these companies don't put enough emphasis on avoiding hazardous and controversial ingredients. But here’s the hard truth: Neither do most natural brands — they just present like they do.

Yes, natural ingredients (especially essential oils) can be oh-so-irritating and troublesome. So we decided early on at Drunk Elephant that we would eliminate any question marks in our products. In other words, we took out every ingredient that carried a risk and called it the Black List which carries our “If there’s any doubt, it’s out” mantra. The parabens, phthalates, the -cones — they’re all gone. 

Now this doesn't make D.E. some sort of revolutionary; it's the same thing that every natural brand has done. The difference is we still use synthetics, but safe, low-hazard ones. Thus we are not an all natural brand and that sets us apart. 

It was once we carefully eliminated those obvious toxins and controversial synthetics that we realized all natural brands still irritate. We had in fact removed any ingredient that could hurt our internal health, but we were still seeing issues with the external health of our skin. To have a great skincare formulation, you must consider both internal and external safety. This is done by removing the marketing ingredients that are added to scent the formulation, but instead end up irritating and sensitizing our skin. They are straight-up unnecessary and in many cases impediments to achieving an effective and safe formulation. 

Smells so good, hurts so bad

We know that irritation and inflammation are bad for skin — really, really bad. Daily assaults such as unprotected sun exposure, hot water, and applying skin-care products that contain irritating ingredients generate an aggravated response. The result? The skin's repair process becomes faulty, collagen breaks down, and the skin's surface is weakened. For those with oily skin, irritation triggers nerve endings in the pore that activate hormones which increase oil production, leading to enlarged pores.

That is reason enough to avoid products with irritating ingredients, which often come in the form of fragrance including the misnamed “essential” oils. This is what D.E. is trying to scream from the rooftops. Our goal is to change the skincare industry and the consumer perception that a product needs to have a pretty scent. Guess what? A nice smell is not a good thing to put on your face — natural or not! Scents and aromas should be saved for the body, if absolutely necessary, or for the air around you. Try candles, cookies in the oven, flowers on the table. 

At D.E., we force ourselves to isolate only the purest, finest ingredients, so that there is no need to mask them. Essential oils found in natural brands are not there for efficacy or therapeutic purposes.  Make no mistake about it: They are there to scent the product. Is that good for our skin's health? No. A resounding no. We can easily make the leap now and say, the use of fragrant essential oils on your skin will contribute to aging the skin. On board, yet?

For the overall health of your skin, anything you can do to treat it gently is the right way to go. Gentle TLC encourages normal collagen production, maintains a smooth and radiant surface, helps skin protect itself from environmental damage, reduces oil production, and makes pores smaller. We guarantee you will see potentially dramatic improvements in your skin simply by avoiding irritating products and learning to go easy. We have applied our theory to every product in the D.E. line. 

Avoid the following as a first step

  • Abrasive face scrubs or scrubbing tools (mitts, loofahs and the like)
  • Astringents and toners with alcohol and menthol
  • Water that’s very cold or very hot, and similarly, using ice or steam

Check your cabinets and every product you have today

If you find the following, I encourage you to toss it if you are truly ready to have healthy, glowing skin. Shop the collection here.

  • SD Alcohol
  • Ammonia
  • Arnica
  • Balm mint
  • Balsam
  • Benzalkonium chloride
  • Benzyl alcohol
  • Bergamot
  • Camphor
  • Cinnamon
  • Citral
  • Citronellol
  • Citrus juices and oils
  • Clove
  • Clover blossom
  • Coriander
  • Essential oils
  • Ethanol
  • Eucalyptus
  • Eugenol
  • Farnesol
  • Fennel
  • Fennel oil
  • Fir needle
  • Fragrance
  • Geraniol
  • Geranium
  • Grapefruit
  • Horsetail
  • Isoeugenol
  • Lavender
  • Lemon
  • Lemongrass
  • Lime
  • Limonene
  • Linalool
  • Marjoram
  • Melissa (lemon balm)
  • Menthol
  • Menthoxypropanediol
  • Menthyl Acetate
  • Mint
  • Oak bark
  • Orange
  • Papaya
  • Peppermint
  • Phenol
  • Sandalwood oil
  • Sodium C14-16 olefin sulfate
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate
  • Tangerine Oil
  • TEA-lauryl sulfate
  • Thyme
  • Wintergreen
  • Witch hazel
  • Ylang-ylang


Shocked yet?  Most products contain at least one of the above.  That's why I developed Drunk Elephant...because I couldn't find anything out there that did not contribute to sensitization and irritation.  It's different, to be sure.  But I'm thinking we all deserve a clean break.  Shop the collection here.


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1 Response

Morgan Maloney
Morgan Maloney

January 27, 2015

your mission is awesome. if you didn’t do it yourself I would have had to. can I work with you guys I love the whole Ora of your company! keep it up.
Morgan Maloney

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