Drunk Elephant's Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil doesn't come with a lot of bells and whistles. In fact, it's a straightforward product containing a single ingredient: Marula oil. The good news is that marula oil is an excellent ingredient for skin, and thanks to great packaging that will keep it stable, this easily earns our highest rating.
Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil comes in an opaque, square-shaped bottle with a dropper dispenser. That dispenser and package will help protect the oil from exposure to light and air, both of which can diminish its effectiveness. Inside the container is 100% marula oil, with no additives or fragrance.
So what's the big deal about this oil? While a single ingredient is never the solution to all skin concerns (the best skincare involves products with a host of beneficial ingredients), marula oil is a very good ingredient to incorporate into a skincare routine. Research shows it is both a rich source of beneficial fatty acids for skin, as well as antioxidants including tocopherol (vitamin E) (Journal of Food Lipids, 2004). There are even studies showing it can improve hyperpigmentation of skin. All of this means that there is a lot of value in marula oil when it comes to anti-aging. In fact, it could potentially live up to Drunk Elephant's claims that it can fight free radical damage while improving the look of wrinkles and redness, as well as improve skin elasticity (Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 2014).
When it comes to the aesthetics of this product, the oil itself is lightweight enough that it can be applied directly to skin, absorbing within a couple of minutes. This oil is best for those with dry to very dry skin, though if you have oily or combination skin with patches of dryness, this can be applied to those areas without issue. In addition to using this oil on its own, it also has a lightweight enough texture that it can be used to increase the moisturization of other products, mixing easily with moisturizers and serums (or toners and specialty treatments).
Though it isn't the least expensive facial oil option out there—Acure Organics offers an alternative for less—Drunk Elephant's Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil gets it right because it contains an excellent skincare ingredient packaged in a way that will let its beneficial components shine. It definitely gets our recommendation, whether used alone or as a moisture booster for other products!
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.
The Beautypedia and Paula’s Choice Research teams have one mission: To help you find the best products for your skin, whether they’re from Paula’s Choice or another brand. By combining efforts, we’re able to share scientific research and remain committed to the highest standards based on our decades of experience objectively reviewing thousands upon thousands of skincare and makeup formularies in all price ranges.
Beautypedia cuts through the hype to bring you product insights and recommendations you won’t find anywhere else!