I went and got a sample of Drunk Elephant’s $72.00 Virgin Marula Oil from Sephora for the purposes of this comparison review. In this review, I’ll be comparing it to The Ordinary’s Virgin Marula Oil to determine if it’s worth the extra cost. Recall that I wrote a similar review comparing The Ordinary’s Squalane with Biossance’s Squalane and it was close; I predicted most folks would go for Biossance’s more expensive version even though I preferred The Ordinary’s, but is that the case here?
My skin type
I have oily skin and have been using facial oils for some time. I used to have a phobia of putting oil on top of oil, but there can be some really good uses for them, especially after using acids.
What it’s supposed to do
Marula Oil is full of antioxidants and is a great moisturizer for the skin. Antioxidants have anti-aging properties; you can read more about that here, on my review of The Ordinary’s Resveratrol/Ferulic Acid post. The sample of Drunk Elephant’s Marula Oil was enough to last me 4 nights.
Sclerocarya Birrea Seed Oil
“Straight from the “pip” of the marula fruit, our Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil is untouched by any chemical or fragrance, natural or synthetic and remains in its purest form.”
Sclerocarya Birrea Seed Oil
“This formula contains only cold-pressed virgin African Marula oil that is 100% unrefined.”
1 fl. oz. $72.00 / 0.5 oz $40.00
1 fl. oz. $9.90
How I use them
I only used Drunk Elephant’s Marula Oil on my face so for the purposes of this comparison that’s what my answers will be framed around. The marula oil is the last step in my skincare regimen, as these are great moisturizers.
How they feel
I can’t detect any difference in how each of the oils feel on my face. Neither feels lighter or heavier and neither have a smell to them.
The bottom line
The Ordinary says, and I quote “(one would have to be drunk to overpay for Marula)” and I have to agree with them (the shade tho). My decision was based on the following criteria:
Is it hard to make or processed differently?
Both are made from the kernel of the fruit of the Marula Tree. Drunk Elephant uses a patented process involving unheated water to extract the oil from the kernel of the fruit; The Ordinary does not detail how they get to the oil but they do claim that it’s 100% unrefined.
Did they have to travel far to acquire it (was it expensive to make)?
Sometimes, there can be a massive cost associated with where certain ingredients come from. They can cause the product to cost less or more depending on the country. The Ordinary says they get theirs from Namibia while Drunk Elephant has a statement on their website that reads: “our products are designed, tested and made in the United States,” but doesn’t specifically state where their Marula Oil comes from (at least I could not find it).
Do some of the proceeds go to a worthy cause?
The Ordinary does not claim to donate or support any worth cause and I wouldn’t expect them to since their Virgin Marula Oil costs so little (seriously, are they even making money?). Drunk Elephant curiously has “Supporter of International Elephant Foundation” under the ingredients section of their Marula Oil. This foundation lists its corporate partners on their website, but I didn’t find Drunk Elephant listed; now that’s not to say that they don’t financially support them as there are a number of reasons why they may not be listed, I just thought that was interesting that they would put that there. Maybe they just mean they support them like, hooray for elephants! Who knows? I do find it a bit misleading, if that’s the case. If not, then maybe that could be a factor in the retail price. In addition, there’s nothing else on the Drunk Elephant website or on their press pages that indicate any portion of their sales or profits are donated to this organization, so I am going to assume that their Marula is $72.00 because this is America and the founders are enthusiastic capitalists, as is definitely their right.
For me, I can’t say I have ever considered purchasing Drunk Elephant’s Marula Oil; when I see something so seemingly basic, something with one ingredient, my first thought is to find out if I can get it somewhere else cheaper, especially if the ingredients are the same. Maybe if the 1 fl. oz. version was $40, I wouldn’t feel so taken aback by the price? Some of their other products interest me, but I will always be suspicious. To sort of give them the benefit of the doubt, I can’t say I recall there being readily available marula oil on the retail market before Drunk Elephant’s. Well at least not to my knowledge as it totally wasn’t on my radar. Exclusivity certainly can contribute to the cost. But man, The Ordinary is coming for everybody!
So the answer here, people, is SAVE yourself $62.10!
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I heard that the Elephant brand one is thicker than the ordinary.
I thought they were the same 🤷🏾♀️