While Drunk Elephant might get your attention with its bright packaging and funky name, it’s what’s inside that has transformed this high-end brand.
The products—famous for being all-natural and free of essential oils and fragrances—are worth their weight in gold. “I credit the popularity of the line to one simple fact: it works,” founder Tiffany Masterson told Beauty and Well-Being. (Refreshing, given that there are so many skincare products out there that flat-out don’t do squat).
“Skin is skin. The skin is an organ that functions a certain way, and it has a protective barrier that guards and maintains its function. So, our first order of business is to respect and support the barrier,” she said.
“If we feed the skin only biocompatible ingredients that can accept, understand, recognize, process and benefit from… then the skin can do what it’s supposed to do, and our skin is happy and healthy.”
There’s only one thing that keeps us from stocking our medicine cabinets full of Drunk Elephant products: the price tag. It’s totally justifiable to drop cash on amazing skincare, but it’s not a good idea to spend next month’s rent money on small tubs of consumable products.
So what’s the alternative? Copycat products commonly referred to as dupes.
Skincare Dupes to Try When You Run Out of Drunk Elephant
While Drunk Elephant products are indeed one-of-a-kind, there are dozens of products out there with ingredient lists that rival everything from the cult-favorite Protini Polypeptide Cream to the C-Firma Day Serum.
We’ve scoured the e-shelves of our favorite budget skincare brands—and enlisted the help of skin-obsessed Reddit users—to find the best wallet-friendly versions of popular Drunk Elephant products, based on the AM and PM skincare routine of the founder herself.
Dupes for Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum
Masterson starts and ends her day with Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum.
This serum is obviously meant to quench thirsty skin with the combination of active ingredients like pro-vitamin B5, pineapple ceramide, and a blend of fruits and lentils. It’s a pretty high bar to clear, but there are a few B-hydra dupes that seem to do the same.
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Multivitamin Booster
This Drunk Elephant alternative shares several ingredients with the popular serum for half the price.
It’s “perfect for everyday morning and night use as a hydrating serum,” one Reddit user wrote of the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Multivitamin Booster, adding that even the texture is similar.
“[It] gives similar results to B-Hydra at a much more reasonable price. In fact, since I use it more liberally (because it’s cheaper), sometimes I feel like I have better results.”
The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5
Made with an ultra-pure vegan form of hyaluronic acid, The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 is a decent dupe for the B-Hydra serum popular with skincare fans. However, some say the consistency is a little too thick to be a complete dupe.
The upside? All products from The Ordinary are super wallet-friendly, meaning you can try it for yourself and not be out a lot of money if you don’t like it (though, of course, always check return policies whenever you buy a skincare product).
Hada Labo Gokujyun Premium Lotion
An import from Asia, the Hada Labo Gokujyun Premium Lotion has five different weights of hyaluronic acid in it, making it super moisturizing.
“I feel like I get similar, if not better, hydration with the Hada Labo Gokujyun Premium Lotion,” one Reddit user wrote.
The only downside? It’s not widely available in the United States, but you can find it on YesStyle.
Dupes For Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum
Next up on Masterson’s AM skincare routine is Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum, an antioxidant-packed vitamin C serum (in L-ascorbic acid form) with ferulic acid and vitamin E, along with other fruit enzymes to help neutralize free radicals that can affect the skin and reduce the appearance of dark spots.
The best part? C-Firma is said to have a “reservoir effect,” meaning it stays active on the skin for up to 72 hours, even when washed. The downside? It’s $80 for a one-ounce bottle, but several options are similar for a fraction of the price.
Stratia C+C Serum
Stratia C+C Serum is one of the most budget-friendly Drunk Elephant dupes for just $25. They pack a lot into that price with a formula that features 10 percent L-ascorbic acid and 5 percent ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate. They even throw some CoQ10 in there “for good measure.”
“It uses similar airtight packaging,” one Redditor wrote. “And while the product texture consistency is a little different, it also has a high [L-ascorbic acid] percentage and has been as effective as the [Drunk Elephant] for me.”
Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum
The Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum is a solid competitor against Drunk Elephant for its vitamin C serum and its quirky name. It’s not a complete dupe for the C-Firma because it doesn’t contain L-ascorbic acid but a vitamin C derivative called sodium ascorbyl phosphate.
While L-AA might be the gold standard for vitamin C serums, sodium ascorbyl phosphate might be the better choice if you’re sensitive.
Dupes For Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream
The Protini Polypeptide Cream is one product Masterson uses both day and night to add proteins to her skin. It’s probably the most well-known Drunk Elephant product right now, thanks to its formula that contains “an unprecedented array and concentration” of amino acids, signal peptides, growth factors, and pygmy waterlily to help improve your skin’s tone, texture, and firmness.
You’ve probably guessed by now that Protini is expensive (it is), but its popularity means that skincare gurus have scoped out proper imitations that require less cash.
Acure Radically Rejuvenating Whipped Night Cream
This dupe is probably the most popular swap for Protini because it contains many of the same growth factors, along with the same moisturizing ingredients like glycerin, Cetearyl alcohol, hyaluronic acid, and marula oil.
The main difference is that Acure Radically Rejuvenating Whipped Night Cream contains antioxidants like vitamin C, ferulic acid, and turmeric. At the same time, Protini is mainly comprised of amino acids.
d’Alba Piedmont Peptide No-Sebum Repair Cream
Love K-beauty and Drunk Elephant products? You’re in luck. According to fans, the d’Alba Piedmont Peptide No-Sebum Repair Cream is a low-cost alternative to Protini that works.
“I did a side-by-side comparison of DE Protini, and d’Alba Peptide No-Serum and d’Alba wins hands down for me,” one reviewer wrote. “It is less expensive for the same amount of product but looks so bougie on my counter. The texture is beyond compare…I feel hydrated and moisturized without feeling weighed down.”
But how do they compare? The d’Alba cream contains peptides like Protini and 20 amino acids and minerals—all ingredients that work as an anti-aging product to firm the skin and improve elasticity and smooth fine lines. The Drunk Elephant dupe also includes calamine powder and BHAs to fight breakouts, soothe the skin, and slough off dead skin.
Dupes for Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil
Before adding Drunk Elephant Umbra (for sun protection), Masterson’s last step is to apply Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil. Direct from the “pip” of the marula fruit, and it’s an oil that’s extracted using a cold-press method to keep it pure. It’s said to contain more polyphenols than green tea or dark chocolate to maximize antioxidant action.
While Drunk Elephant’s version of marula oil is undoubtedly lovely, it’s also expensive for oil—and you can find quite a few similar oils for much less that are all made with pure marula and extracted using the cold-press method, including:
Dupes for Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Franboos Glycolic Night Serum and Lala Retro Whipped Cream
Masterson uses a cleanser at night and then mixes Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Cream with TLC Framboos Glycolic Night Serum to create a moisturizer and exfoliating duo. “Blend and apply… that’s it!” she told Beauty and Well-Being.
The Lala Retro Whipped Cream is a heavy-duty hydrator that replenishes skin moisture with a combination of “six rare African oils” and a plant-based ceramide complex.
It’s one way to amp up the hydration on your skin at night (or any time of day, really), but the price for 1.69 ounces of product is a bit steep. Luckily, there are a few similar moisturizers to try.
Sephora Collection Nourishing Moisturizer
Sephora Collection Nourishing Moisturizer is the beauty retailer’s answer to Lala Retro Whipped Cream is priced at a mere fraction of the price for the same amount. The secret ingredients? Mega-hydrating fats from avocado oil, marula oil, and rosehip seed oil.
“I’ve been using it for a couple of weeks now, and my skin is definitely softer and less dry than it was,” one Reddit user wrote. “For the price, it’s totally worth trying.”
First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream Intense Hydration
A little more expensive than the Sephora dupe, First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream Intense Hydration is whipped like the Lala for fast absorption. It’s so moisturizing because it contains colloidal oatmeal, an ingredient that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gives a designation as a skin protectant for irritation from skin conditions like eczema.
Burt’s Bees Brightening Moisturizing Cream
Daisy extract is the crucial ingredient in this Drunk Elephant dupe that visibly brightens the skin moisturizes.
As for Framboos dupes, there are several (sense a theme here?). Drunk Elephant TLC Framboos is a glycolic-acid-based exfoliator that contains both alpha-hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acids to brighten and improve skin tone overnight visibly. Not only that, but it also helps other products absorb better, which is why Masterson combines it with Lala.
This gentle exfoliating comes at a steep price, but similar solutions produce similar results at a lower price. A couple we found include:
- First Aid Beauty Skin Lab Resurfacing Liquid 10% AHA (comes formulated with a blend of four AHAs)
- Pixi Overnight Glow Serum
Want a more deep exfoliator? Masterson uses the TLC Sukari Babyfacial once a week to give a stronger peel-like effect that comes courtesy of the “pro-quality” AHA and BHA combination found inside.
The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution is a solid Babyfacial dupe that many prefer to the more expensive option.
Herbivore’s Blue Tansy Resurfacing Clarity Mask is similar to Babyfacial with an AHA and BHA combination made from white willow bark (which is high in salicylic acid).
Meagan Morris is the editor in chief of Celebribody. She's veteran health and wellness editor with over 15 years of experience. Her work has been featured in The Atlantic, Yahoo Health, Cosmopolitan, SELF, and Women's Health, among others. She spends most of her time writing, but her favorite part of the day is spent under a barbell doing squats.