'Suspicious Six': The skin care philosophy behind Drunk Elephant

Ingredients the cult skin care founder avoids

August 16 2020

Clean beauty brand Drunk Elephant is the brainchild of founder Tiffany Masterson and one of the most-talked-about newcomers in recent years.

Born from Materson's passion to share her skin care philosophy, Drunk Elephant's range champions biocompatible ingredients and avoids what she calls 'the suspicious six'.


iocompatible ingredients refer to anything that the skin can absorb, process and benefit from without any irritation, congestion or disruption.

Reiterating the importance of her skin-friendly formulas to Popsugar, Materson says, “we are committed to using only ingredients that either directly benefit the health of the skin or support the integrity of our formulations, regardless of whether they are synthetic or natural”. 

Let's talk about the acid mantle. What is it, and why should we care about it? ⁣ ⁣ The acid mantle is made up of sebum and sweat. It sits right under the microbiome, and its health is critical for skin to function at its optimum. Think of that as a built-in "toner" that holds the appropriate pH level on the surface of your skin and acts as skin's first line of defense. It's responsible for keeping bad substances out (pollution, dirt, harmful bacteria), and it's maintained by an acidic balance of lipids and other substances that keep it pliable and smooth.⁣ ⁣ It does a great job if you let it. ⁣ ⁣ This is the reason you'll hear us say that toner isn't necessary. We also encourage skipping your morning cleanse. You might be thinking, "Wait...what?" but overcleansing can strip skin of the natural oils it needs to thrive. Our 🌙 products contain barrier-supportive ingredients you want to keep on your skin-healthy lipids, antioxidants, and soothing agents. A quick rinse in the morning leaves those good-for-skin substances in place. ⁣ ⁣ 📸: @skin_fluenced

'The suspicious six' she refers to are actually six categories of ingredients, which Materson believes “are at the root of most skin issues people struggle with, like inflammation, congestion and sensitisation, and all that they bring with them”. 

These include: 

1. Essential oils 


3. Fragrance/dyes 

4. Drying alcohols 

5. Silicones 

6. Chemical screens

Out of all six, you'll never find a single one in any Drunk Elephant product. In fact, while the funky neon-lid bottles are the stars of every bathroom cabinet 'shelfie', the bells and whistles stop at the packaging.

"I'm opposed to anything that doesn't have a clear and direct benefit to the health of our skin or the safety and efficacy of the formulation," says Materson. "Inflammation and its resulting irritation lead to excess production of oil, larger pores, acne breakouts, collagen breakdown and ultimately, premature ageing. Nobody wants that". 

Main image credit: @drunkelephant

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