With Paris as the romantic backdrop to Drunk Elephant’s annual House of Drunk, we exclusively spoke to founder, Tiffany Masterson on the story behind the brand, what real beauty means to her and why she chose Paris as this year’s destination.
What was the idea that started the Drunk Elephant brand?
TM: It was my skin! I started researching ingredients because I started off with selling a little bar cleanser. People used to tell me they were breaking out and they just didn’t know why. I got super curious so on my own I made a chart—I made an Excel spreadsheet and with each product I’d come across, I’d insert the ingredients into each cell of the sheet. I’d look up and study each ingredient and would figure out what role they played in the product. Was it a preservative, antioxidant, thickener, pH adjuster, vitamin C, emollient. And I just started forming this picture of my head around this idea that some of the ingredients in there are all for skin and some weren’t.
I didn’t want to use silicones, I didn’t want the drying alcohols, the essential oils, SLS—it’s too much for our skin. It strips it—so that’s where my philosophy started coming together. I looked on the market and there was nothing I could find that didn’t contain any of these six categories of ingredients and delivered products that have only ingredients that are there for the benefit of the skin.
What are the must-haves in your skincare routine?
TM: Well, the philosophy is the first must-have in my skin care routine, which is avoiding the six ingredients (essential oils, SLS. fragrances/dyes, alcohol, silicone, chemical screens) that create triggers and issues in our skin. So to avoid the suspicious six is truly the philosophy—that’s a must-have before anything else in the world. The second must-have is cleansing only once daily.
(Cleansing) only once a day? Why is this so?
TM: I only cleanse at night. We have an acid mantle on our skin and it’s responsible for that dewy, gorgeous, youthful, healthy glow of our complexion. We have the tendency as consumers to wash that off. We over-cleanse. But we have an acid mantle that’s built in, that’s how we’re born—our skin knows what it’s doing. We’re questioning our skin when we take that off. So we should leave that on as it protects against bacteria and helps to combat pollution. So that’s a must have in my routine: to only cleanse at night. And then third is sunscreen. wear sunscreen every day no matter what—even if you’re inside.
What does real beauty mean to you?
TM: What is real beauty for me, and where can you find it? Inside. It’s real. It’s being kind.
I think when you have that phenomenon where you’re like, “that person is just so attractive and I can’t put my finger on it.” It’s an energy. It’s a vibe. It’s being honest. It’s being kind. It’s being thoughtful and humble. And I think that, with Drunk Elephant, it’s a happy brand. And I have tried to hire everyone with those same values, not cocky, not aggressive, not competitive, humble, thoughtful, helpful, kind. And I do think that’s what makes somebody beautiful.
How was the House of Drunk and why Paris?
TM: So great. Well, Paris is Paris, right? But there’s lots of reasons for Paris. It’s gorgeous. It’s our brand launching all over the EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa). Not to mention it’s a gorgeous city, and there’s lots of fun for people to come here to experience along with the House of Drunk, which is so great.
And our partnership with Sephora has also been critical to the brand’s growth and health. I mean, seriously, they launched me. And they’re an important global partner for me. So that’s also a great thing.
It feels surreal to me. I mean, life at home, with my children, doing laundry and cooking dinner. That’s my priority. But, I mean, I love the brand obviously. Occasionally, I’ll go, “Is this real? Is this actually happening to me?” I am so grateful that people actually will come out and show up to this stuff, and that they love the brand, and the brand’s helped them. It sounds kind of corny, but it’s true. I look and I’m like, “Wow, this is crazy.” That’s how I felt. It’s hard to believe.
What’s the inspiration behind the fun colours of Drunk Elephant?
TM: Well, I wanted something like that on my counter. It’s happy. There’s clicking and there’s twisting and it’s a very tactile, sensorial, and visual experience. It’s stimulating for any age, and meant for anybody—as long as it helps people with their skin. We don’t care who you are, where you came from, how old you are, anything like that. If you have skin, we have something for you—from baby on up to a hundred.
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Do you have any women that inspire you?
TM: My mom inspires me. She never wore foundation and she always took care of her skin. But she also had some skin issues too, which further inspired me because she never truly found a solution whilst we were growing up. I remember my mum having all these beauty products, and her freaking out about blemishes as well.
We’ve seen Drunk Elephant go from skincare, body care and now hair care—will we see any DE make-up in the future?
TM: I know skin. Scalp is skin. Body is skin. Face is skin. So, I don’t know about that. I don’t even wear foundation. I don’t think that because you’ve been successful in one lane, you should just jump to the next one. Because the last time I checked, people are doing colour cosmetics really well.
Now we have dabbled in colour with the D-Bronzi and O-Bloos, but those are skin-products first and serums that I made that are anti-pollution and rich in antioxidants to improve skin. And that’s all that is. They happen to be great formulations, but they’re skin-first. So no, I don’t know about make-up. Someone asked me last night about supplements too, but for now, I think I’ll stay in my lane and continue improving in this arena because that’s what I know.
If you could describe Drunk Elephant in one sentence what would it be?
TM: I think that it is a hopeful philosophy for people who have never been able to find a solution or who just want to maintain healthy skin.
Where do you envision Drunk Elephant to be in the next five years?
TM: I hope that it’s still helping people with their skin and on a larger world stage. I hope that the philosophy’s clear— it’s an ingredient elimination philosophy to reset skin to its healthiest, most balanced state. That’s it. Skin is skin. Skin knows what to do if you let it. And so an ingredient elimination philosophy to reset skin to its healthiest and happiest state, is I think what we do. And using the finest ingredients available at the most sophisticated formulations that we can create. So I think that’s all… Anybody can use an ingredient, but it’s how they deliver it that makes the difference.
To shop and learn more about Drunk Elephant, head over to the Sephora website or any Sephora stores