Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial

The Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari BabyFacial is an at-home chemical peel containing 25% AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) and 2% BHA (beta hydroxy acid).

Buy Babyfacial here

The babyfacial is the most discussed product from the line. It is the top-selling product at Sephora and won nine awards. Because it has a ‘whopping’ 25% AHA and 2% BHA blend (more about that later) it is not available in the United Kingdom and Canada. This is what also adds to the allure.

What does Drunk Elephant Baby facial do?

What T.L.C. Sukari BabyFacial is an at-home facial. I am a fan of facials and spend around 90 minutes getting pampered every six weeks. Usually, when I go to get a facial, the aesthetician will do a treatment with exfoliation, peels, masks and intense moisturisation. Can one product replace this? Unlikely, but I do like the idea to keep my skin soft and refreshed between facials.

Official Product Description

On the official Drunk Elephant site they explain that the Babyfacial is a:

“Babyfacial™ is a pro-quality AHA/BHA “facial” that resurfaces to reveal greater clarity, improved skin texture and tone, and more youthful radiance. Think of it as an extra nudge for stubborn, dull skin (in other words, it’ll knock your cells off).”

Because of the high percentage of acids, a slight tingling sensation may be experienced.

About the ‘pro-quality’: they suggest that this facial is similar to a chemical peel at a salon or spa. Yet, over-the-counter products and products used by aestheticians are different. At a salon, an entry-level peel could be something like 20% Glycolic Acid and 10% Lactic Acid. Or something more intense: 40% Glycolic Acid, 27% Vitamin C and 10% Citric Acid. Both are higher percentages than allowed by the FDA or Cosmetics Regulation in the EU. These peels would have little to no downtime (which is why the “lunchtime peel” is so popular). There are more heavy-duty peels where your skin would, well, peel off.

The following statements are made regarding the product. It:

  • effectively yet gently exfoliates the pore lining
  • dramatically smooths texture
  • minimizes the look of pores, fine lines and wrinkles
  • improves skin’s elastic feel

I can’t speak about the claims as I haven’t been able to test this product yet, but from the research, I have done based on the ingredients, this product packs a punch – or rather, knocks your cells off. What puzzles me is using the words ‘pore-lining’. As a consumer, I have no idea what that means but it does sound fancy. A quick search on Google didn’t help clarify either. I think here they should have said ‘effectively yet gently exfoliates dead skin cells’.

Babyfacial illustration bathroom scene

Tiffany’s Reasons for Creating

In this YouTube video Tiffany Masterson explains that she had been to one too many facialists. She had deep exfoliating treatments that lead to irritation, redness, peeling and breakouts. Her answer was to create a treatment that still tingles but leaves you with soft clear skin. Skin that stays that way.

I an interview with WWD, published in Januaey 2017 she said: “The Babyfacial contains fruit enzymes from pomegranate to pumpkin and is packed with “lots of different acids” — namely a 25 percent strength alphahydroxy blend largely made of glycolic acid. Masterson, who often looks to food and wellness industries for inspiration, put garbanzo bean flower into the mask to give it the feel of a clay mask but without the drying effect. She said she also selected garbanzo beans for the formula because of their cleansing effect, noting that they’ve been used for centuries by brides in India to cleanse and brighten the skin before they get married.”

What’s in the name?

Drunk Elephant Babyfacial - Pyrus Malus Fruit ExtractI like to analyse the names of DE products as they are more exciting than other brands. With all of their products, it usually contains a unique (trademarked) name + what the product is (so a cream or a serum). Sometimes DE spells the explanation of the name out on their site, and sometimes I must guess myself. I’d also love to hear your suggestions!

The entire name ‘T.L.C. Sukari BabyFacial’ is trademarked. In breaking down the name, this would be my suggestion:

  • T.L.C stands for tartaric, lactic and citric acids (which is as also present in DE ‘s Happi Scalp™ Scrub and Framboos™ Glycolic Night Serum)
  • sukari means “refreshed” in Japanese
  • babyfacial is a facial that would result in ‘baby soft skin’

What’s not mentioned is the Glycolic Acid which is one of the main AHAs. I assume that’s because T.L.C also stands for ‘tender loving care’ which is easier to market.

TL;DR the blend of acids will help refresh your skin, revealing softer skin.

How do you use Drunk Elephant TLC Sukari Babyfacial?

Drunk Elephant Babyfacial - Punica Granatum Fruit Ferment ExtractIn researching, I found that many people ask: can I use drunk elephant TLC every night? No. The babyfacial should be used as a wash-off treatment/mask. You should not leave babyfacial on overnight, nor should you use it every night. According to the official website, you can use it once a week. This mask is strong and is meant to be additional. DE recommends using T.L.C. Framboos™ Glycolic Night Serum every night instead. Because babyfacial is an intense exfoliating product (remember the 25% AHAs!), you risk over-exfoliating if you use it too often.

Steps to use babyfacial:

  1. Cleanse and dry face
  2. Apply an even layer to skin
  3. Leave on for 20 minutes
  4. Rinse and pat skin dry
  5. Follow by moisturising (they recommend their Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil)

Don’t know how much of the babyfacial to use? Three pumps according to the official introductory video. But this does seem an awful lot.

Via Instagram they often share answer questions and share advice:

Drunk Tip: If the tingle is a bit much for you, add 1 pump of #LalaButBetter to #BabyFacial, mix and apply an even layer to clean, dry skin. Leave on for 20 minutes and rinse thoroughly with lukewarm water, then pat dry. We recommend following immediately with #VirginMarulaOil for extra nourishment and a serious glow. ⁣

So following up with Virgin Marula Oil is a perfect way to end your pamper session.

Drunk Elephant TLC and Retinol

Drunk Elephant does not specify on their website whether TLC babyfacial can be used with retinol. But they do say “To get the most out of this product, we recommend starting slow and giving your other potent treatments a break.” So I would take that to mean if you’ve used the product don’t use retinol afterwards.

Drunk Elephant TLC and acne

Drunk Elephant does not state if babyfacial helps with acne on their website. (If you are a true believer you would only use DE products – anything else could irritate your skin!). The claims for the product focus on brightening and anti-ageing. If you have acne scars, this could help with fading them. The product does contain 2% salicylic acid – this has been proven an effective treatment for acne. But you can get salicylic acid treatments at the drugstore. For example, CeraVe SA Cream for Rough & Bumpy Skin is a lot cheaper and contains a high percentage of salicylic acid. However, Sephora does list both the TLC babyfacial and the Framboos night serum under ‘acne and breakout solutions’ on their website.

I would say overall, as with any form of skincare, the combination of products, and how often you use them is up to you and how your skin reacts.

How long does drunk elephant Babyfacial last?

It should last you between 4-6 months, used weekly. If I should estimate (based on the three pumps) a teaspoon of product is used. This is equivalent to 5 ml. That would then give you only 10 uses, which would last 2,5 months. I will test this when I have the product in hand.

 

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Babyfacial Ingredients

On most of their packaging DE summarizes the key ingredients and what the product will do. Regarding the babyfacial this is:

  • 25% AHA / 2% BHA
    Chickpea flour
  • It will: resurface, reveal.

On their website Drunk Elephant highlights specific ingredients and what their benefits are. This is handy! However, they don’t always specify the INCI name when explaining ingredients. For example, they say ‘gram / chickpea flour’ but this is Cicer Arietinum Seed Powder as listed on their ingredient list.

The INCI is the International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients. It makes sure each specific ingredient is labelled the same everywhere on ingredient lists.

An ingredient list is arranged in descending order. The ingredients listed first will have the highest concentration, and the last the lowest concentration. At the 1% mark ingredients can be listed randomly.

I’m only interested in active ingredients, or at least ingredients that will be beneficial for my skin. Not ingredients that help preserve the product, or that are for example ‘viscosity controlling’. Below is a list of the key ingredients, functions and any studies I could find about the ingredient. Do let me know if you have any suggestions!

For the properties, you can download the definition from the CosIng (European Cosmetic Ingredient Database) from the table below. You can find the CosIng list of functions here.

IngredientFunctionStudies
AHA blend (glycolic + tartaric, lactic, citric acids)*exfoliating, smoothing, brighteningHydroxy Acids and Retinoids in Cosmetics
Salicylic acid (BHA)exfoliant, anti-acne, soothing, preservativeEffective Over-The-Counter Acne Treatments
Cicer Arietinum Seed Powder (chickpea)abrasiven/a
Camellia Sinensis Leaf Powder (green tea)antioxidant, humectant, moisturiser, soothingGreen tea in dermatology – myths and facts
Silybum Marianum Extract (milk thistle)moisturiserNew therapeutic potentials of milk thistle (Silybum marianum)
Pyrus Malus Fruit Extract (apple)moisturisern/a
Lactobacillus Cucurbita pepo Ferment Extract (pumpkin)moisturiserFSS Pumpkin Enzyme – Manufacturer Description
Lactobacillus/Punica Granatum Fruit Ferment Extract (pomegranate)exfoliating, moisturiserFSS Pomegranate Enzyme – Manufacturer Description
Opuntia Ficus-Indica Extract (cactus)moisturiserThe optimization of phenolic compounds extraction from cactus pear (Opuntia ficus-indica) skin in a reflux system using response surface methodology
Sclerocarya Birrea Seed Oil (marula oil)emollient, humectantAre plants used for skin care in South Africa fully explored?
Niacinamideskin brightening, anti-acne, moisturizer/humectantTopical niacinamide reduces yellowing, wrinkling, red blotchiness, and hyperpigmented spots in aging facial skin
Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymermoisturizer/humectantComparative Study of the Topical Action of a Novel, Crosslinked Resilient Hyaluronic Acid on Skin Hydration and Barrier Function in a Dynamic, Three-Dimensional Human Explant Model

*Read the detailed alpha-hydroxy blend examination below

A few ingredients I thought it would be interesting to highlight in more detail.

25% AHA blend

AHA stands for alpha hydroxy acid. In the babyfacial, there is a blend of glycolic + tartaric, lactic and citric acids.

Whereas the lactic and citric acids are clearly labelled on the product’s ingredient list, I couldn’t find tartaric acid. After some research, it’s my assumption that this is in the Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Juice Extract. Tartaric acid is naturally occurring in grapes and has skin peeling properties according to the manufacturer.

The glycolic acid is listed pretty high up on the ingredient list which means that it has the highest concentration. Lactic acid and citric acid are much lower down the list and will have lower concentrations. In fact, because DE states the product contains 2% salicylic acid, you know that those ingredients will also most likely be at the 2% mark or lower.

Glycolic acid in particular has the following properties. It can:

  • exfoliate dead skin cells
  • reduce (hyper)pigmentation
  • increase the skin’s firmness and thickness

Matcha (green tea leaf)

On the Drunk Elephant site, they specifically mention ‘matcha (green tea leaf)’. Matcha is very finely ground powder of green tea leaves that have been grown and processed for this purpose. The CosIng does not list ‘matcha’ as such nor do they list solely ‘Camellia Sinensis Leaf Powder’. Instead, I found a substance name, which seems to be a solution. The official description of this ingredient is “Colloidal Gold/Camellia Sinensis Leaf Powder is the dried, ground leaves of Camellia sinensis in which the plant was previously cultivated with an aqueous solution of Colloidal Gold”. Naturally, I cannot verify if this is the ingredient.

Marula Oil

Marula oil can be found in all of the DE products. Specifically, they say that it’s virgin marula oil – it’s the highest grade available. The marula seeds have been pressed to extract the oil and no heat or chemicals have been used. The oil is unrefined which means that it has not been processed to remove impurities.

Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Glycolic Acid, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Glycerin, Sodium Hydroxide, Salicylic Acid, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Camellia Oleifera Leaf Extract, Lactobacillus/Pumpkin Ferment Extract, Lactobacillus/Punica Granatum Fruit Ferment Extract, Opuntia Ficus-Indica Extract, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract, Silybum Marianum Seed Extract, Saccharomyces Cerevisiae Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Juice Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Powder, Cicer Arietinum Seed Powder, Sclerocarya Birrea Seed Oil, Passiflora Edulis Seed Oil, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer, Sodium PCA, Allantoin, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Dextrin, Polydextrose, Sorbitan Isostearate, Amylopectin, Niacinamide, Phytosphingosine, Lactic Acid, Propanediol, Citric Acid, Titanium Dioxide, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Polysorbate 60, Caprylyl Glycol, Chlorphenesin, Phenoxyethanol

Play the official Drunk Elephant introductory video below:

Awards won

  • 2017 – Allure – Best of Beauty Category: Naturals
  • 2017 – InStyle – Best Beauty Buys / Reader’s Choice Awards
  • 2018 – Essence – Best in Black Beauty – Best resurfacing Mask
  • 2018 – Teen Vogue – Acne Awards
  • 2018 – Cosmopolitan – Beauty Awards
  • 2018 – Star – People Product
  • 2018 – The Beauty Authority – New Beauty
  • 2019 – Glamour – Best Beauty Award
  • ? WWD Indie of the Year
  • ? – Into the Gloss – Top 25 Awards

References

Below you will find a list of references used for information in this post.

WWD January 2017, No. 2 

How often should you use Drunk Elephant Babyfacial?

It's recommended to use Babyfacial once a week to start with. It is is not a leave-on treatment and is meant to be washed off.

Official name: Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial™

Please click on the tags below to learn more about the individual ingredients: