Drunk Elephant's Shaba Complex Eye Serum is an example of an eye serum done right. We were impressed by its blend of antioxidants, cell-communicating, reparative, and anti-irritant ingredients. We were also very pleased to see Drunk Elephant left out the fragrance, making this an ideal choice for those with sensitive skin, too!
Shaba Complex Eye Serum steered clear of jar packaging—a rarity for eye creams. Housed in a hard plastic bottle with an injection-style tip, you dispense product via its push-button pump at the opposite end of the tube. Its needle tip allows you to disperse precise amounts of the cream, so whether you need a tiny dot or more, you won't have any issue dispensing exactly what you need.
A richer-cream formula, this is ideal for those seeking extra moisture for their eye area, but it leaves a non-greasy finish, striking a balance that allows you to use in both your morning and evening routine. Drunk Elephant added a blend of emollients along with lesser but likely helpful amounts of mango butter and non-fragrant plant oil. This formula is a good example of combining natural and synthetic ingredients to create a great texture.
When used in the AM, under sunscreen, this worked well under makeup and didn't result in smudged mascara or liner. However, we wouldn't recommend this on your eyelids during the daytime, unless you have exceptionally dry skin in this area, as it's moisturizing enough to make short work of your eyeshadow.
In terms of beneficial ingredients, Shaba Complex Eye Serum contains an anti-aging blend of multiple peptides, niacinamide, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory agents. Among them is black tea ferment, which both human and animal research demonstrates skin lightening, antibacterial and, of course, antioxidant effects (Toxicological Research, 2014 and Pharmacognosy Research, 2011).
Also notable, hesperidin methyl chalcone, which has animal research demonstrating its function as a potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and UV protective agent, along with its ability to repair a damaged skin barrier (Journal of Photochemistry & Photobiology, 2015 and 2011).
We couldn't come up with a single "con" to note. It's true that for cost, this is on the pricier side. However, it's a very good formula—whether it's worth the splurge is more of a personal choice. Shaba Complex Eye Serum is an excellent choice to treat dry to very dry skin, fine lines, dark circles (caused by sun exposure, not genetic factors), and inflammation.
Of course, if your eye area is the same skin type as the rest of your face, your well-formulated facial moisturizer may be all that you need. See More Info for those additional details.
Why You May Not Need an Eye Cream: There is much you can do to improve signs of aging around your eyes, but this doesn't have to include using an eye-area product. Any product loaded with antioxidants, emollients, skin-repairing and anti-inflammatory ingredients will work wonders when used around the eye area. Those ingredients don't have to come from a product labeled as an eye cream or gel or serum or balm—they can come from any well-formulated moisturizer or serum.
Most eye-area products aren't necessary because so many are poorly formulated, contain nothing special for the eye area, or come in packaging that won't keep key ingredients stable. Just because the product is labeled as a special eye-area treatment doesn't mean it's good for the eye area or any part of the face; in fact, many can actually make matters worse.
You would be shocked how many eye-area products lack even the most basic ingredients to help skin. For example, most eye-area products don't contain sunscreen. During the day, that is a serious problem if you aren't wearing it under a broad-spectrum sunscreen rated SPF 30+ as it leaves the skin around your eyes vulnerable to sun damage—and that absolutely will make dark circles, puffiness, and wrinkles worse. Of course, for nighttime use, eye-area products without sun protection are just fine.
Whatever product you put around your eye area, regardless of what it is labeled, must be well formulated and appropriate for the skin type you have around your eyes. You may prefer using a specially labelled eye cream, but you may also do just as well applying your regular facial moisturizer and/or serum around your eyes.
Drunk Elephant At-A-Glance
Drunk Elephant, based out of Los Angeles, California, was started in 2012 by former skincare executive Tiffany Masterson. As their website describes, Masterson developed the brand out of a desire to create natural-themed formulas that were truly effective. Beyond effectiveness, Masterson wanted leave out what wasn’t effective—primarily fragrance. We concur, because fragrance isn't skincare.
We were pleasantly surprised by this stance, as in our experience, the inclusion of an abundance of fragrance is where many natural-themed brands seem to go wrong—along with using too few beneficial ingredients or formulas. Fragrance, whether from essential oils or synthetic perfumes, is never helpful for skin because over the long term, it can cause damage that holds any skin type back from being its healthy best.
As for the brand’s unconventional name, “Drunk Elephant” is in reference to anecdotes that African wildlife, including elephants, partake on the fallen, fermented fruit of the marula tree—an indulgence that leads to intoxication. We don’t know how true that is, and it's not really related to skincare, but the brand’s name is certainly different.
Drunk Elephant avoids using ingredients like non-mineral sunscreen actives, silicones, and parabens, even though countless studies have indicated these ingredients are safe (Journal of the Academy of Dermatology, 2013 and Skin Therapy Letters, 2013). Regardless, we’re just happy that the line has made it a focal point to use what research has been shown improves skin concerns like sun damage, breakouts and signs of aging, and leave out everything else. They’re also using some novel yet potentially exciting ingredients in many of their formulas.
Drunk Elephant line is a small line, but tends to make each product count, or at least puts an unconventional twist on the norm. Overall, we came away impressed with most of its products and (usually) smart packaging.
Many of the formulas include the ingredient marula oil, which is an ingredient the brand favors due to the fact it contains an array of beneficial fatty acids, calming agents, and antioxidants (Journal of Food Lipids, 2004 and Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 2014). It's a good ingredient, but there are many excellent non-fragrant plant oils, including coconut, jojoba, sunflower, and more, of which have similar benefits, meaning marula oil isn't the best out there, just one good oil among many.
Though the price tags are absolutely on the higher end, if you decide to to splurge on some key items, this is a good line to do so!
For more information, visit the brand at www.drunkelephant.com.
Strengths: A solid, though limited array of well-crafted skincare formulas; commitment to fragrance-free products.
Weaknesses:Their products are on the pricey side; limited options for those struggling with acne and discolorations.
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