Drunk Elephant’s Controversy: Why Did the Popular Skincare Company Lose Its Cult Following?

Lizzy Rosenberg - Author

Aug. 11 2022, Published 4:30 p.m. ET

Some brands seemingly blow up out of nowhere, land in hot water for one thing or another, and effectively disappear — and Drunk Elephant is one of them. The skincare brand, which debuted in 2012, has been touted by big names in the skincare world such as "skinfluencer" Hyram Yarbro and Vogue's Beauty Commerce Editor, Kiana Murden. But it's since dropped off the map, because of various controversies.

But if you aren't aware of what happened, here is the Drunk Elephant controversy, explained.

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Though Hyram Yarbro used to love Drunk Elephant, he made a video on why he no longer uses it.

Back in 2019, Yarbro posted a YouTube video titled “No More Drunk Elephant,” which has since garnered thousands of views. One of the biggest problems he has with the brand, he says, is how they treat their customers.

"There have been many issues and complaints in the past with Drunk Elephant's customer service and the way they respond and interact with customers over the phone or on chat rooms or in-person," he stated in the video.

Yarbro details how customers reported side effects of irritation, but the brand refused to take accountability, accusing them of lying.

He said many others reported their comments being deleted from the brand's Instagram posts, if they weren't 100 percent positive. Some were even reportedly blocked for disagreeing with the brand's philosophy. Though Yarbro hadn't experienced anything like this firsthand, he reportedly received a rude, public response to a question he had about an ingredient.

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And finally, Yarbro said he no longer uses Drunk Elephant because how the company treats influencers. He mentioned one in particular, Caroline Hirons, who was skeptical about a retinol cream in one of the brand's lines. A representative from the brand reportedly came out saying Hirons doesn't understand beauty products or skincare, and making highly insulting comments about her credentials.

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Another was removed from the brand's PR list because after reposting a comment from a follower about the company's customer service.

Watch the full video below, for his take on the company.

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Drunk Elephant also faced controversy during the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests.

But the controversy didn't stop at how Drunk Elephant treats its customers and influencers — like Glossier or Reformation, it's yet another popular company that also faced backlash during the surge of Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, when Drunk Elephant's true colors were shown.

Per Small Town Beauty Addict, Drunk Elephant had posted a black square, and claimed to be donating money to various organizations. But when companies started revealing the diversity statistics of their teams, the company didn't do so.

Customers started reaching out via Instagram asking the company to post about it, but they found their comments kept getting deleted. Eventually, Drunk Elephant released a statement that its customers didn't feel great about.

"We feel very strongly that making a 'human inventory' of our team and then using that information for marketing purposes is an incredible ethical violation of our employees right to privacy. It is just not something we would ever do or feel right about doing," the brand stated.

This seemed like a roundabout way of avoiding conflict, likely because Drunk Elephant's teams probably aren't very diverse — though we hope the company has taken its loss of followers as a sign to improve these issues, and to do better as a brand.

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