Drunk Elephant Is Brightening up Your Shower With Hair Care That Puts the Scalp First

When Tiffany Masterson launched Drunk Elephant, the most influential skin-care brand of the decade, in 2012, there were six products: Two cleansing bars, a vitamin C serum, a chemical exfoliant, a facial oil, and a mineral-based sunscreen. In her opinion, these were the most basic things that every woman should have in her skin-care routine (and dermatologists agree). Now, she's doing the exact same thing for hair care.

Masterson teamed up with stylist Chris McMillan to launch Drunk Elephant's first four hair-care products—a shampoo, a conditioner, a scalp scrub, and a tangle spray—which she says are "the essentials everyone needs for a healthy scalp and great hair." There's the Cocomino Glossing Shampoo ($25), which is made with a coconut-based surfactant that leaves hair visibly shinier; the Cocomino Marula Cream Conditioner ($25), which has the same coconut amino blend along with marula butter and mongogo oil to soothe and moisturize strands; the Wild Marula Tangle Spray ($25), which combines marula oil, sacha inchi seed oil, and a blend of nut, fruit and tree oils to protect hair from heat and pollution damage while it smooths and detangles; and the T.L.C. Happi Scalp Scrub ($36), which uses a blend of alpha-hydroxy acids to break down dead skin cells.

As you might have noticed, many of the ingredients in Drunk Elephant's hair care line are reminiscent of the ones that have made its skin-care so beloved—and that was no accident. "It was a very seamless, obvious connection. Hair grows out of your scalp, your scalp is skin, so it all kind of made sense. A healthy scalp means healthy hair," says McMillan. "When you nourish your skin, you have better skin and you keep it healthy, and the same goes for your scalp and your hair. The scalp is the soil, the hair is the garden."

True to the Drunk Elephant ethos, all four of the brand's hair-care products are devoid of the "suspicious six:" essential oils, drying alcohols, silicones, chemical sunscreens, fragrances and dyes, and sodium lauryl sulfate. "Harsh surfactants can dry out the scalp and strip the hair, and just like the skin on the face, drying out the scalp has a rebound effect that triggers the follicle to produce even more oil," says Masterson. "Silicones, harsh surfactants, and occlusives can either damage the hair or cause build up." Essential oils (which often take the place of fragrance in hair-care products) can be sensitizing to the scalp, and Drunk Elephant's products are instead scented with sweet almond oil which gives them a delicious fragrance that doesn't linger on your hair all day.

Drunk Elephant hair care
Photo: W+G Creative

Having tried the entire line, I can attest that the true standout is the scalp scrub, which was inspired by the brand's highly-regarded Baby Facial Mask ($80). Unlike traditional scalp scrubs, which rely solely on physical exfoliants like sugar or salt to remove product buildup, this one relies on the unique combination of plant cellulose beads and chemically exfoliating acids to get the job done. "Chemical exfoliation is the most effective approach to dissolving and breaking down dead cells and other substances from skin," says Masterson. "AHAs work on the surface layers of skin, and BHA penetrates and does the same within the hair follicle. Ideally, you want combinations of both AHAs and BHA to get their maximum benefit." You place the mask onto the scalp while your hair is dry, wait 10 minutes, then do your thing in the shower. Flakes get ushered away quickly and without too much time under the spout dislodging rouge flecks of salt that get trapped between hair.

In order to ensure that the line's first four products worked on all hair types, McMillan was tasked with testing them on clients with a variety of textures. "It was my vision that these formulas remained flexible, that they could adapt to the individual and meet their changing needs, just like our skincare products," says Masterson. "That means you can mix them and tailor their usage to your needs—Just like with the face line, I want the consumer to be in control and able to learn about their skin or their hair, then use the products accordingly."

And just like with the skin-care line, this is only the beginning for Drunk Elephant hair care. "When I launched the skincare line it was with just the basic things you need...these aren’t 'nice to haves.' In my opinion, they represent a full hair-care solution. We’ll add the “nice to haves” as we go forward and hear more from our consumer." While we can't wait to try these, we're thrilled that the shower outlook just got a whole lot brighter.

Here's how to deal with overgrown hair when you can't make it in for a professional cut. And these overnight hair masks will revive dull, dry strands while you sleep. 

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