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Post in Skincare Aware

Help! Drunk Elephant is killing my skin!

During the spring sale, I purchased ALL of DE’s products. Most of which I’ve used on and off in the past, and a few new to me (A-Passioni and Protini serum). I started using on Friday with Babyfacial and since then have used a serum/hydration/moisturizer smoothie (from the DE website) in the am and pm each day. My skin felt a bit wrecked after Babyfacial, but it calmed with marula oil and some F-balm water facial. But it keeps getting worse! Everything I put on my face stings! My normal, clear skin is now red and blotchy, dry and peeling. 😭 I only used the retinol once. I’ve been using Umbra Sheer daily over the products, but I’m worried it’s not enough or that I got an expired tube (there’s no exp date on the package which is abnormal for SPF). Anyone have this experience or have advice for dealing with this? I’ve also emailed DE but I’m hoping for some quick feedback on healing my damaged skin if anyone else has had this experience. 


Re: Help! Drunk Elephant is killing my skin!

@smkmshops My husband actually complains every time I use the DE baby facial.  It turns my face bright red and he thinks it's akin to getting some kind of cosmetic procedure done so he goes on rants about plastic surgery.  XD  I don't find F-bomb particularly useful or helpful.  You do know you're only supposed to use the baby facial like once a week, right?  I just want to make sure you're not using that every day -- maybe I misread your post but it seems like you might be?

Re: Help! Drunk Elephant is killing my skin!

@smkmshops  I'm sorry you're going through this! I've had a similar experience, so I feel your pain—literally. 😞 To heal your broken skin barrier, scale your routine waaaay back to basics: 


1. Gentle cleanser - Are you using one of DE's cleansers? Was your skin already familiar with it before you added the retinol and AHA peel? If you find you can't gently massage your usual cleanser your face without pain, try this: 

Last time my skin barrier was painfully broken, I massaged The INKEY List Oat Makeup Removing Cleansing Balm 5 oz/ 150 mL on my damp face, let it sit for 5-10 minutes as a soothing oat mask, and then gently massaged one of my usual hydrating cleansers (CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser Bar or Paula's Choice Optimal Results Hydrating Cleanser) right over it. Then I rinsed everything off at once. I'd never have been able to wash my face at all without that oat cleansing balm. 

The only maybe possibly similar product I can think of right now isn't a balm, but it's oat-based: Aveeno Calm + Restore Oat Gel Facial Cleanser. Should be able to find it at your local Target or drugstores. 

2. Petrolatum-based balm as a moisturizer - Apply a thin layer while your skin's damp. Contrary to Drunk Elephant's claims, petrolatum is not evil. It's the most occlusive skincare ingredient available, making it a fantastic moisturizer for dry skin and a wonderful protector of damaged skin. CeraVe Healing Ointment's a great option, as it contains ceramides. If you're not sensitive to lanolin, Aquaphor Ointment also works. You can even use plain ol' Vaseline or another brand of petroleum jelly, though you may find that texture too greasy. 


3. Broad spectrum sunscreen each day, at least SPF 30 - You'll still need to protect your skin from sun damage, and make sure you apply the generous amount required for adequate protection. You can use DE's sunscreen or, of course, try a different one. 



Do not touch Babyfacial, A-Passioni, any other AHA or BHA product, any other retinoid product, any vitamin C product, etc. until your skin's fully healed. Resist the urge to exfoliate away any dry flaky skin you see. Healing can take a month, and your skin might still be painful for some of that time. But stick to that super simple skincare routine and your skin will thank you later. 


What might've caused this to happen (I'm not a dermatologist so I can't diagnose your skin; I can only mention some common causes of this problem): 

Over-exfoliation: How frequently did you use Babyfacial? You may have overused it. It's very easy to break your skin barrier with AHA exfoliants. I know DE recommends leaving Babyfacial on for 20 minutes, but that seems too long for a 25% AHA peel; 10 minutes or less is safer. At least they do recommend using it just once a week. But they also recommend using Framboos daily or every other day, which is excessive for that AHA exfoliant. 🤦‍♀️ Anyway, overdoing AHAs is one of the main causes of broken skin barriers. 

Too many new-to-you active ingredients introduced at once: It's best to introduce new products to your face one at a time over the course of several weeks, rather than using them all on the same day or in the same week. For instance, AHA and retinol are best introduced one at a time: give your skin several weeks to get used to one of those ingredients, and then slowly introduce the other ingredient. 

"Retinization": Retinol and other retinoids can cause excessive drying and flaking within the first month of use. This might not be the sole cause of your broken barrier, though: vitamin A is unfortunately irritating, but it shouldn't cause painful burning. For future reference, if you return to using retinol (once your skin's healed): try applying A-Passioni over a moisturizer at night. A moisturizer can buffer retinol's side effects and won't stop retinol from doing its job (as long as the moisturizer's not a petrolatum-based balm). 

Hope your skin recovers well! If in doubt, see a dermatologist. 🙂 

Re: Help! Drunk Elephant is killing my skin!

This is SO helpful. Thank you! I even have most of the things you mentioned—INKY cleansing oat balm was a new product that I picked up during the sale (I’ve been using INKY products prior to reintroducing Drunk Elephant to my routine). And I have Aquaphor and some CeraVe. Whew! I’m hopeful that I can get back to normal and take it slower with the DE products eventually. I only used Babyfacial once, but I did leave it on for the full 20 min. I might return the Babyfacial as I’m worried it’s too much for my skin. Then once I’m healed I’ll stick to the lower potency TLC Framboos and introduce Protini serum and A Passioni  at longer intervals—not all over one weekend! Thanks again! 

Re: Help! Drunk Elephant is killing my skin!

@smkmshops Before using baby facial, I went through a full size of Herbivore Prism AHA + BHA Exfoliating Glow Facial 1.7 oz/ 50 mL, using it once a week. It was much more gentle, and helped my skin get used to the type of chemical exfoliation baby facial provides. As others have mentioned, I started baby facial using it only for 5-10 minutes for the first few weeks, and then increased the time depending on how my skin reacted. I always follow up baby facial with a hydrating and nourishing sheet mask for 10-20 minutes to soothe my skin after such an intense exfoliation. 

Re: Help! Drunk Elephant is killing my skin!

@smkmshops And if it burns when using baby facial rinse it off immediately. My skin is used to leave of exfoliants at higher percentage but baby facial ales my skin burn. I can’t do 20 minutes and I apply it mixed with Marisa oil. Once I finish up mine I’m not repurchasing. Paulas Choice came out with a similar mask and I am able to tolerate it much better without pain. No skin care should hurt ever. 

Re: Help! Drunk Elephant is killing my skin!

@smkmshops As someone who love Babyfacial, I suggest you slow down the usage. Going for the full 20 minutes on your first usage if your skin isn’t used to strong peel will cause issues. I would re-start (in at least a few weeks) at lower time durations. Re-start with 5 minutes, then if you can handle, then increase the time the following week. 

I think you’re already going in this direction (taking things more slowly). I’ve found the DE exfoliation products to work well and don’t want this first exposure of yours to cause you to give up on them.

Re: Help! Drunk Elephant is killing my skin!

@smkmshops If your skin isn't used to retinols, the APassioni may have been too much for your skin, especially if it was already a bit dry from the Babyfacial.  Using both in such a short time period (you started on Friday and I'm assuming you used the A Passioni before Tuesday, today).

I found the APassioni to be too drying on my skin (it would peel and flake as well) even when I only used it once a week.  And I use tretinoin regularly, APassioni was more drying in my opinion.   I would suggest stopping both the BabyFacial and APassioni until your skin improves.  Then use the A Passioni once or twice a week only for a month or two, then up to two or three times a week for another 6 weeks.  

The stinging you're experiencing is likely due to the damage of too much exfoliation.  Keep up with the moisturizing and hydrating products.  

SPF in Drunk Elephant is Zinc Oxide, an SPF that doesn't really expire, while some of the other ingredients can degrade it should still offer protection even if it's not the freshest.  It's great that it's good for both UVA and UVB rays, but it's only an SPF 30, I'd suggest using a higher SPF, and at least making sure that you're using enough of the sunscreen (about a 1/4 teaspoon) per application.  Remember to re-apply as well.  Your skin is so much more photosensitive when it's being exfoliated like this, especially right now when it's damaged. 

Re: Help! Drunk Elephant is killing my skin!

@missjeanie Thank you! Yeah, I think I dove in to the new routine too fast. I’m going to pull back and focus on moisture and cleansing with very gentle products. And thanks for the tip on zinc oxide; I assumed it expired like other sunscreen. 

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