The beauty world may view her as an innovator but Tiffany Masterson, founder and Chief Creative Officer at Drunk Elephant, describes herself as “creative, inquisitive and definitely curious.” She’s also very eager to help people solve whatever skincare woes they’re dealing with.

The Houston-based entrepreneur founded Drunk Elephant in 2012 after noticing a gap in the skincare market. Masterson was battling several skin issues and had difficulty finding simple products with effective ingredients. Eventually, she set out to create a skincare line that eliminated “the suspicious six,” she says. Essential oils, drying alcohols, silicones, chemical sunscreens, fragrances/dyes and SLS were all off the table. “There wasn’t really a brand out there that didn’t contain at least one of these categories, and my skin transformed when I quit using those six ingredients,” she says. “It’s still my philosophy.”

While a number of brands have successfully adopted the clean beauty approach, Drunk Elephant’s latest claim to fame is its lineup of skincare-meets-makeup products. Take the brand’s D-Bronzi, B-Goldi and O-Bloos drops, which are designed to be mixed or “cocktailed” with any moisturizer or serum to add a subtle flush of colour.

Ahead, Masterson dishes on her routine, the do’s and don’ts of skincare cocktailing, and the beauty trends she just can’t get behind.

Something that’s special about Drunk Elephant is the idea of “skincare cocktailing.” Can you tell us about this concept?

“A lot of experts say to layer skincare and to wait. That’s the only way that products work. That’s not true of Drunk Elephant. I know the formulation so intimately that I know they can be mixed. They’re all bioavailable products, meaning all the ingredients I chose are lightweight molecules that can absorb in the skin. We don’t use heavy oils, waxes or silicones. It’s likely the silicones that make layering [necessary]. [With us], the pH levels are all good, so mixing retinol and vitamin C is all good. T.L.C. [Framboos Glycolic Night Serum] and retinol at night, that’s fine. All of it is safe.”

What’s your favourite skincare cocktail?

“I’ve used the Protini Serum and T.L.C. Serum [together] for years. This Protini Lactic Acid is great, and I’m using retinol with it every night right now. I use the Miracle Butter for a little bit of extra love and I [add] the F-Balm for hydration. At night I mix it all together, go to bed and my skin is really great [the next day]. The morning routine is C-Firma, B-Hydra, A-Gloei and the Protini Cream.”

Protini Powerpeptide Resurfacing Serum with Lactic Acid, Drunk Elephant

Price: $111


Are there any mixtures that you avoid?

“The only mixture I avoid is Umbra with other products. Because it’s sunscreen.”

Drunk Elephant is known for its skincare-meets-makeup products. What’s the story behind them?

“I mean, it’s my life. With D-Bronzi, I remember I was researching ingredients in my little office and I remember looking at antioxidants and one of them was cocoa extract…I was like, it’s different from dye. It’s just colour. It’s minerals. So I thought, ‘Why can’t we just make this a bronzer? I would love to have a bronzer.’ So it was a serum first, with bronzer added in.”

What are your tips for application?

“I mix D-Bronzi, B-Goldi and O-Bloos together with a pump of Protini or a pump of Marula oil at night. In the morning, I mix these with C-Firma or B Hydra, whatever I’m using that day, and then put my sunscreen on.”

B-Goldi Bright Illuminating Drops with 5% Niacinamide, Drunk Elephant

Price: $51.50


What’s one skincare trend you can’t get behind?

“Double cleansing. I cannot get behind over-cleansing. I’m not into skincare tools that make your products absorb faster. I think if you exfoliate your skin and get rid of the dead skin cells and use bioavailable products that have ingredients that can get into your skin you don’t need all that business. Eye patches, I don’t understand them. Maybe it’s like a ritual? No one has been able to tell me why it’s a thing. Clay – I cannot get behind clay. There is a little bit of clay in our bar, but it’s a cleansing agent. But leaving it on your face to zap all the oil? I think that’s crazy.”

The skincare market evolves so quickly and the demands keep changing. How do you survive?

“I think [it’s about] continuing to study, knowing you don’t know it all, and holding ourselves accountable. What makes people happy when they get results and feel good about their skin and the way it looks. Also, the colours make [people] happy.”

What are your top skincare tips?

“Cleanse your face only at night, use high percentages of great ingredients and use ingredients that your skin can actually absorb. Give your skin just what it needs, because it only takes one ingredient to ruin a formulation. And it only takes one bad formulation to ruin a routine.”