Is It Worth The Hype: Sunday Riley vs. Drunk Elephant


If you have read my “Is It Worth The Hype” post on Sunday Riley products, you will know that I am a huge fan of the Sunday Riley Good Genes Treatment. I’ve heard and read a lot of hype around Drunk Elephant’s T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum, so, I caved and decided to try it. If you want an in-depth comparison between the two and which one I prefer, keep reading!


Just a heads up: this post is a doozy because I want everyone to understand how the ingredients in each of the serums work and what makes the two products different.

Before I get into my review of each of the products, I want to explain what AHA and BHAs are and how they work. AHA and BHA stand for alpha hydroxy acid and beta hydroxy acid, respectively.

AHAs are water soluble (able to be dissolved by water) and are mild acids that are typically derived from nature. They include glycolic acid, lactic acid, and citric acid. AHAs work by breaking the weak bonds linking dead skin cells on the top-most layer of the epidermis (outer layer of the skin), causing a rapid shedding of the dead skin cells. These skin cells will naturally shed, but AHAs just speed up the process to produce and reveal new skin cells.

The most potent AHA is glycolic acid because it’s a smaller molecular, so it’s able to penetrate the skin more effectively. Glycolic acid can be too harsh for people with sensitive skin, so some skin products will use lactic acid instead. AHAs are also humectants, so they help your skin retain moisture to really moisturize and plump the skin.

BHAs are lipid soluble, which means they are oil-loving. Don’t let the fact that they are “oil-loving” molecules throw you off because since they are lipid soluble, they can actually penetrate the skin deeper than AHAs. BHAs are typically for people who struggle with acne or have clogged pores. The most common BHA is salicylic acid. If you ever used over-the-counter spot treatments for your acne, you have most likely used salicylic acid.

Now that I’ve gotten through the science behind using AHAs and BHAs in skincare, let’s get on to the products! I’ve been using Sunday Riley’s Good Genes for over a year now and the Drunk Elephant Glycolic Night Serum is fairly new to me, but I have been using it consistently for about 3 months.


For both Sunday Riley’s Good Genes and Drunk Elephant Glycolic Night Serum, I’m going to do a rundown of each product’s claims, ingredients, and finally my pro/con list.


Let’s start with Sunday Riley’s Good Genes All-In-One-Lactic Acid Treatment since it’s one of my favorite products.


  • Clarifies and smoothes lines
  • Exfoliates dull, pore-clogging dead skin cells to reveal smoother, fresher, younger-looking skin
  • With continued use, the appearance of hyperpigmentation and visible signs of aging are reduced to reveal a healthier-looking complexion

Main Ingredient

  • Lactic Acid – Since this is an AHA, it does help break down the weak bonds between dead skin cells, so it does help exfoliate and shed dead skin cells to reveal new skin cells.


  • Cream Consistency – this is a personal preference, but I prefer cream products over gel. For me, gel products always tend to dry out my skin rather than hydrate it
  • I see improvements in the texture and appearance of my skin within a few days of using the product
  • Once I’ve used it for ~1 month, I can see my hyperpigmentation fading. Hyperpigmentation does take a long time to completely fade, but the lactic acid definitely speeds up the process
  • Helps heals my acne scars and any active breakouts faster


  • Smells acidic – when I first used it, I thought my product had expired, but it contains lactic acid, so it smells a little acidic
  • Expensive – at $105, this is definitely not a cheap product. I use it twice a day and it will last me about 4-5 months. A little goes a long way!


Now let’s see how Drunk Elephant’s T.L.C Framboos Glycolic Night Serum compares.


  • Night serum that refines and resurfaces skin to reveal a smoother and more radiant complexion
  • Resurfaces dull and congested skin
  • Results are greater clarity, smoother, and more even-toned complexion
  • Will diminish fine lines, wrinkles, discoloration, signs of aging, and excess oiliness and appearance of pores


  • Glycolic T.L.C. Framboos Blend – this is a blend of Glycolic 12%, Tartaric, Lactic, and Citric Acid – these are all AHAs. Glycolic acid is the most potent of these acids, but all of them will help shed dead skin
  • Salicylic Acid – this is a BHA, so this will penetrate deeper into the skin and help unclog pores and will help with acne


  • No smell – even though it has glycolic, tartaric, lactic and citric acid, there is no smell
  • It dries very quickly on the skin
  • Only have to use at night
  • Packaging is very cool, the pump twists up, so it might be a little more hygienic


  • Gel-like consistency – Again, this is my own preference
  • Need to shake before using – Yes, you need to shake this product before using
  • Salicylic acid – My skin doesn’t react to salicylic acid so although this might be a great ingredient for some people, it doesn’t work on me. For acne spot treatments, I always use benzoyl peroxide
  • Can irritate my skin even more
  • I don’t see a huge difference in my skin’s texture and appearance when I use this product
  • It’s expensive – It doesn’t exceed the $100 mark, but it comes in close at $90


If you’ve made it to the end of this post, you might already know the answer to which product I think is worth the hype and which on isn’t. Drunk Elephant’s T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum is NOT WORTH THE HYPE.

I don’t think the Drunk Elephant night serum is a bad product, per se, it just doesn’t work for me as well as Sunday Riley. Skincare is very personal and customized because what works on one person may not work on the next. If you struggle with acne or clogged pores and you know that your skin reacts well to salicylic acid, the Drunk Elephant night serum might be your new best friend, but for me it just didn’t work out.

Both Sunday Riley and Drunk Elephant products can be found at Sephora. If you are interested in trying the Drunk Elephant Serum, I recommend purchasing this gift set. It’s $6 more than the full size serum, but you do get the full size serum along with two deluxe samples of their other serum products.

Have any of you tried either treatment? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below!

Stay Chic!

8 thoughts on “Is It Worth The Hype: Sunday Riley vs. Drunk Elephant

  1. I would love to one day try these products but since they are VERY expensive skincare I would have to think for a long time about making the purchase

    • I totally get it. These products are really pricey. If you want to try them out, definitely stop at your local Sephora and ask for a sample. They normally give you a generous sample that can last about a week our two and you can just test them out and see if you like them.

  2. Such a helpful post, especially your explanation about the AHAs and BHAs. I have been looking into trying some acid products, but a bit too scared. Thanks for the wonderful comparison of the two products! 🙂

    • Glad you found the post helpful! If you’re worried about how your skin will react to acid products, you can grab a sample and just test it on a small area of face just to see how your skin reacts to it before applying to your whole face. Let me know if you end up trying either product!

  3. Also, I am SHOCKED that there is salicylic acid in the Drunk Elephant serum. In my experience, glycolic and salicylic acids should never go together.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s