Those of you familiar with our stance on soap might think we were drunk after seeing how we rated Drunk Elephant’s JuJu Bar, a bar cleanser! However, your eyes aren’t deceiving you—we were every bit as surprised when we encountered this brand’s complete reinvention of this long stagnant category of skincare products. Ideal for oily to combination skin, this cleanser avoids the common issues of bar formulas and is blended with a finely-milled scrub to provide a mild degree of physical exfoliation. Its innovation and overall formula earn it our highest rating.
Before we continue, we’ll explain why bar cleansers tend to be the wrong choice for keeping your skin healthy. The classic bar soap is formulated via a process that results in an alkaline (high) pH, which is irritating to naturally acidic skin. Bar cleansers also use fatty ingredients that keep it from rinsing easily, which can lead to dull-looking skin. The combined result is that such formulas are often damaging to skin over the long term, keeping your skin in a cycle of sensitivity and potentially making conditions like acne worse.
Drunk Elephant used a clever process of combining cleansing agents with wheat germ starch to create its solid shape—the result of which is a fragrance-free bar cleanser that behaves like a liquid on skin (i.e. leaving no residue and containing no irritating ingredients). For more detail on how they did it—with facts straight from the brand’s founder, Tiffany Masterson—check out our full review of their Pekee Bar cleanser.
JuJu Bar incorporates super-fine bamboo extract and clay, which gives its lather a stout texture and provides a mild degree of manual exfoliation to skin. It’s not akin to using a scrub, for example, but this blend does add a subtle boost to its cleansing abilities. Aside from the mild cleansing agents, clays and bamboo, this also includes lightweight moisturizing plant oils, all of which rinse easily.
Those characteristics make this an ideal pick for those with oily to combination skin, including the acne prone. Those with dry to very dry skin may prefer a more moisturizing formula, though this is a solid choice for anyone who wears stubborn facial makeup or sunscreen.
We should note that Drunk Elephant advises—and we agree with them—against using the JuJu Bar itself directly on skin (don’t scrub your face with the bar), as this provides a much greater degree of physical exfoliation and can be sensitizing to some.
There are few instances where a skincare product takes us completely by surprise, and Drunk Elephant’s JuJu Bar counts among them by earning our top recommendation for adding something new and impressive (perhaps for the first time ever) to the category of bar cleansers. PS: For the price, this little bar lasts longer than you might think—expect 2-3 months of life with twice daily usage.
Contains mild cleansing agents.
Finely milled clay and bamboo provide mild, manual exfoliation to skin.
Innovative formula that avoids the common skin-damaging issues of traditional bar cleansers.
Ideal for oily to combination skin.
This multi-tasking bar is designed to effectively cleanse while gently removing dead skin cells from the surface of the skin that have loosened overnight. Our healing formulation of thermal mud and bamboo powder delivers a wonderful creamy lather that dissolves unwanted oil, rinsing away pore-clogging surface debris and any impurities. It refines skin texture, brightens skin clarity and, over time, minimizes the look of pores. The JuJu Bar™ is totally fragrance- and soap-free and formulated with skin-friendly ingredients designed to calm and feed the skin while promoting moisture retention.
Sodium Coco-Sulfate, Disodium Lauryl Sulfosuccinate, Triticum Vulgare (Wheat Germ) Starch, Cetearyl Alcohol, Bambusa Vulgaris Leaf/Stem Extract, Paraffin, Sclerocarya Birrea (Marula) Kernel Oil, Heilmoor Clay, Water, Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Euterpe Oleracea Fruit Extract, Lycium Barbarum Fruit Extract.
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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