Never have I ever: What happened when I used a chemical exfoliant on my scalp

never-have-i-ever:-what-happened-when-i-used-a-chemical-exfoliant-on-my-scalp

I am no stranger to Drunk Elephant.

I’d go as far to declare myself a low-key fan, especially after meeting founder Tiffany Masterson when the brand first arrived in Singapore. Like cult beauty brands Glossier and Sunday Riley,  Drunk Elephant changed the skincare game with its clean yet powerful formulations, and bright, modern packaging.

Now, Masterson is charging the brand ahead into haircare and bodycare. “Skin is skin—and whether we call it the scalp or the eye area or the legs, it can only function at its healthiest when it’s treated with smart, nourishing, skin-compatible ingredient,” she said in a statement. For the purpose of this review (and for better skin and hair obviously), we tried it all over a course of four weeks. Here’s what we think.

Developed with Masterson’s longtime friend and Hollywood hairstylist Chris McMillan, the haircare line is made up of four products: A scalp scrub, shampoo, conditioner, and detangling spray. All of them contain a blend of amino acids, which builds and strengthens hair.

Drunk Elephant T.L.C Scalp Scrub


This ranks the highest on our list. Unlike face scrubs which can be too abrasive, scalp scrubs are advocated as regular exfoliation removes product buildup. Drunk Elephant tackles this two ways. Firstly, via its cellulose acetate beads. These act as the medium to carry the formula, lifting the dead skin cells and grime off your scalp and to be washed off. Unlike polyethylene beads of traditional scrubs, these are renewable and biodegradable.

But what takes this scrub notches above is its inclusion of chemical exfoliants. It contains the patented 10% T.L.C. Framboos AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) blend made up of glycolic, tartaric, lactic, and citric acids to break down dead skin cells. The acne-fighting BHA (beta hydroxy acid) of salicylic acid in the formula works magic on oily scalps, washing away excess sebum, and penetrating deep into pores to cut through layers of oil.

Image: Drunk Elephant

For someone with a scalp prone to frequent oiliness and flakiness, this is a godsend. But here’s the catch: It contains plant oils (marula, baobab, and baobao) which can be counterproductive for anyone with a dandruff problem. The yeast that causes dandruff can feast on the saturated fatty acids found in these oils.

To counter this, I’ve learnt that what I use for my follow-up routine will determine its effects. For the first two weeks, I tried it with the other Drunk Elephant products (more on that below), and noticed how my hair felt waxy and greasy particularly at the crown. I switched to a drugstore shampoo and instantly saw a noticeable difference. My hair is no longer greasy, but instead feels smooth, dry but hydrated.

To use, apply it onto sections; its narrow applicator makes it easy to apply in concentrated areas. Massage it in and leave it on your hair for five to ten minutes. Use once or twice a week.

drunk elephant
Image: Drunk Elephant

Drunk Elephant Cocomino Glossing Shampoo


The Cocomino Glossing Shampoo has all the markers of a good scalp cleanser. It has a pH of 5.5: a level that helps hair maintain its balance and acidity. The amino acid blend, combined with sacha inch seed, Sacha Inchi Seed, marula, and argan oils, makes your scalp squeaky clean, and your hair glossy. While this does leaves my hair smooth, my oily scalp is not a fan as the excess of oils made my strands stick together. I’d recommend this for anyone with dry hair, or a normal scalp.

Drunk Elephant
Image: Drunk Elephant

Drunk Elephant Cocomino Marula Cream Conditioner


This stuff is rich. It contains glycerin, which is great for hydration. While you’re recommended to comb this through from the ends of your hair to your roots, I skip this for obvious reasons. Instead, I apply a dollop only to my ends of my hair, finger combing through my hair and waiting before rinsing. The permed curls of my ends lap up the moisture and remain bouncy even after heat styling.

Drunk Elephant
Image: Drunk Elephant

Drunk Elephant Marula Wild Tangle Spray


I’ve never been a fan of hair oils. Some leave my hair greasy, and leave a sticky residue on my hands. This one is as weightless as it promises. Use it before styling as a heat protectant, or on damp hair.

Drunk Elephant
Image: Drunk Elephant

Drunk Elephant bodycare


The brand also has a bodycare line and the three products are a delight to use. The Drunk Elephant Kamili Cream Body Cleanser lacks the foaminess of your average body wash but delicately glides across your skin, coating it in a luxurious cream. At a pH level of 5.0, it is gentle enough for the most sensitive of skin types. To follow, the Sili Body Lotion melts onto your skin with its soft texture and absorbs instantly. Finally, the Sweet Pitti Deodorant Cream is best applied when you’re working from home or on a cold day as the mild formula will not stand up to Singapore’s humid weather. We love that is free of baking soda, essential oils and aluminum-derived ingredients.

The Drunk Elephant hair and body ranges are available at Sephora