Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum


Today, we are taking our vitamins with Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum. If you’ve been following along, you know that I have been an avid user of Skinceuticals CE Ferulic and that I have been looking for an alternative. I think I have found it! In fact, it is better for me in some important ways. Let’s start with how Drink Elephant and Skinceuticals are similar. They both:

  • contain 15% vitamin C and 1% vitamin E combined with ferulic acid to firm, brighten, and smooth skin.
  • neutralize free radicals and penetrate deeply to protect and make sunscreen more effective.
  • are formulated with a low pH, which is required for optimal performance. Many of the articles that I’ve found online state that Skinceuticals has the patent for a pH fo 2.5 to 3. Drunk Elephant’s site states their pH is 3-3.5, low enough to maximize effectiveness without violating the patent.
  • are very light oils that are absorbed quickly and work well under sunscreen/makeup.

Skinceuticals CE Ferulic is an excellent product–especially in the areas of firming and protecting against sun damage/making sunscreen more effective. (Read the Beautypedia review for more detail here). So what don’t I like? Not much. Other than the price ($162/1 oz), the the alcohol-base–it can be very drying, particularly on skin that isn’t perfectly dry before application. While I never experienced any issues on my face, the skin on my neck couldn’t tolerate it very well. I had to be very careful not to put any there–but sometimes I absent mindedly (that’s a word, right?) did.  This resulted in very dry, scaly patches on the base of my throat that took a week or two to clear up. Here is what is in it: Water, Ethoxydiglycol, L Ascorbic Acid, Propylene Glycol, Glycerin, Laureth 23, Alpha Tocopherol, Phenoxyethanol, Triethanolamine, Ferulic Acid, Panthenol, Sodium Hyaluronate.

Drunk Elephant Firma-C is better for me in the following ways:

  • Wallet – Let’s start with the practical. This has a similar approach/main ingredients and similar effect, yet it costs half as much, $80/1 oz. It also carried by Sephora, which is convenient especially if you are a VIB and buy it during sales. (I am sure that I am not alone in appreciating the slow increase of greener options at Sephora and really hope they continue to expand their offerings.)
  • Ingredients – I find this formulation to be more gentle and hydrating. It leaves my skin a bit softer–the fermented pumpkin extract exfoliating action, perhaps? Also, I have been applying it to my neck without dry patches or irritation. Here is what’s in it: Water, Ethoxydiglycol, Ascorbic Acid, Glycerin, Laureth-23, Lactobacillus/Pumpkin Ferment Extract, Sclerocarya Birrea (Marula) Seed Oil, Ferulic Acid, Sodium Hyaluronate, Algae Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Lactobacillus/Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Fruit Ferment Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Juice Extract, Phyllanthus Emblica (Indian Gooseberry) Fruit Extract, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Tocopherol, Caprylhydroxamic Acid, Acetyl Glucosamine, Hydrolyzed Quinoa, Glutamylamidoethyl Imidazole, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Tetrahydro Curcuminoids, Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer, Glycine, Sucrose, Maltodextrin, Propanediol, Caprylyl Glycol, Sodium Hydroxide, Phenoxyethanol, Xanthan gum, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Isohexadecane, Polysorbate 60.
  • Packaging – This comes with a pump, rather than a dropper bottle. It’s easier and faster to use (and I think I use less this way because one pump is just enough). I only wish there was a window to see when you’re running low.

Drunk Elephant’s mission certainly makes sense: Deliver clinically-effective, clean skincare formulated with both cutting-edge synthetic and natural ingredients; and without the ubiquitous toxins, sensitizers and irritants, such as the disruptive essential oils, that block the pathway to healthy skin. We pay close attention to pH and toxicity levels, as well as formulating with efficacious percentages of active ingredients. Our goal is to teach the consumer that “natural” doesn’t automatically mean good and that every ingredient should directly and only benefit the health of our skin or the safety of the formulation. … The line is small and carefully curated to focus on protecting and improving skin without being overly harsh. I am looking forward to exploring other offerings of theirs soon, after all the VIB sale is coming soon!

I highly recommend trying Drunk Elephant C-Firma Serum–even if you aren’t a CE Ferulic devotee looking for a greener or more economic option. I see  this is an critical step in my morning skincare routine every day–especially in spring and summer when I want my sunscreen to do its job as well as possible. But rain or shine, these ingredients offer powerful anti-aging and protection against free radicals that are important and their effects are known to work. So check it out!


16 thoughts on “Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum

    • Thanks for writing. Yes, this can be worn under makeup. You should apply to clean dry skin and wait a couple of minutes to let it sink in before next steps which for me are moisturizer and sunscreen then makeup.

  1. I just finished my skinceuticals bottle and Im in between repurchasing it or switching to DE. Now that you’ve been using it for a while, do you see the same results? Thanks!

    • Thanks for writing. I have now purchased 3 bottles of the DE. I find the same added sun protection which is the main thing I am looking for. I also find it much less drying. Hope this helps!

  2. I recently started using DE C-serum and had the same issue on my neck, resulting in red, burning patches. Does this mean I should no longer apply it to my neck? Unfortunately that is an area where I would like to see improvement. Also, if using this product in the A.M. can I still use a retinol product in the evening?

    • I’ve only noticed a little dryness on the neck if I apply on damp skin. I think somehow the water makes the serum over absorb how we it has never irritated me in the way skinceuticals did. I apply and then go over with a moisturizer a couple of minutes later. In terms of retinol, I’ve been using Sunday Riley Luna a few nights a week with no problems.

    • Sorry for the delayed response, but I use it daily. If ever I skip a day it might be because it’s really overcast or I won’t be outside and don’t need to boost it provides to my sunscreen.

  3. Hi! I saw elsewhere on the blog that you’ve also used the Mad Hippie Vitamin C serum. I’ve used and liked the MH but am considering trying the Drunk Elephant now. How would you compare the two? Thanks!

  4. I’m so glad to found your article! I’ve used the Skinceuticals for years! I’m 41 and have used it since my early 30’s sometimes veering to another product. But, always retuning to it. I truly feel it and sunscreen have made a difference in my skin. Until now, it has had no other comparable competitor. I have about a week in my bottle. How do you feel about the brightening aspect? Also, I am a little worried about the DE being too sticky for warmer weather. I like to let the Vit. C really dry before I apply moisturizer. How do you feel it compares in that aspect? I agree the price difference and pump on the plastic, light-blocking bottle are really making the DE a temptation for me as well.

    • Apologies for the delayed response and thanks for writing! I never say major brightening with either of these products, but I have a rosy complexion and I exfoliate regularly so I am not sure exactly what to look for–LOL! Even though the DE doesn’t have the dry oil (alcohol) feeling of the Skinceuticals, it absorbs quickly and doesn’t leave an oily sheen. I find it disappears into the skin. I lets a could of moments pass before moving to the next step just like you…I think if you want to try it, you should buy from a retailer with a good return policy so you can eliminate the financial risk!

  5. Thanks for the great review! I’m currently using the Skinceuticals C E ferulic, but considering switching to Drunken Elephant. You talked about the “alcohol” in the Skinceutical serum, which I did not seem to find in its ingredient list. Could you tell me which ingredient was the alcohol you were talking about? Thanks!

    • Hi Callie, I know it’s taken forever to respond. Apologies. I typically look for ingredients with “ol” at the end—most always are an form of alcohol. The alcohol is used to help absorption, but can be very drying.

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