Kelly Driscoll

Skincare going more than skin deep…

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Skincare Showdown! The Ordinary v.s. Drunk Elephant Marula Oil

It seems like facial oils are the hottest thing in skincare these days. Gone is the time of thinking oil was the cause of acne and clogged pores, only to be used by those poor individuals whose skin was too dry.

These days our thinking has changed and there seems to be a facial oil out there for every skin type.

One of those miracle oils that seems to be suited for every skin type is marula oil.

High-quality marula oil is extracted from the pip, or seed, of the marula tree nut. The marula tree is native to southern and western Africa.

Marula Oil Benefits:

  • Marula oil is prized for it’s high fatty acid profile of omega 6 and 9. Its fatty acid profile is about 70% oleic acid which makes it a fantastic moisturizer.
  • It’s anti-oxidant rich, high in vitamins C and E.
  • Naturally anti-microbial.
  • Fights free radical damage and environmental stressors.
  • Helps reduce redness and inflammation, fights wrinkles and fine lines and improves skin’s elasticity.
  • Has a low molecular weight which allows it to absorb quickly into the skin.
  • Is considered a carrier oil and can help other skincare layers penetrate the skin better.

So have I convinced you to add this gem to your skincare wardrobe?

Two of the most popular choices for marula oil are The Ordinary and Drunk Elephant.

So which one should you get?


The Ordinary 100% Cold Pressed Virgin Marula Oil

Processing – The Ordinary uses the cold-pressed method to extract its marula oil from the pip of the marula nut. This is good news because heating the oil can actually damage the anti-oxidants and omega fatty acids, rendering the final oil less effective. The Ordinary has taken steps to ensure its oil maintains these benefits.

Packaging – The Ordinary packages its marula oil in a dark, UV protective bottle which helps to guard the oil from direct sunlight. Marula oil is easily degraded by light and this type of bottle ensures that the oil will not spoil prematurely!

The bottle design itself is pretty standard and generic (a hallmark of the brand). The glass dropper is a bit large and can sometimes let the oil drip out, even if you aren’t pressing on the stopper.

Feel – The feel of The Ordinary marula oil is lightweight, silky and almost pillowy across the skin. The oil sinks into the skin quickly with little waiting time, leaving the skin feeling soft, moisturized and conditioned.

The Ordinary marula oil is more refined in texture and feel than most other marula oils in the price range of $10-$50.

Performance – The Ordinary states its marula can be used on the face, body and hair. I personally have used it mixed in with body lotion and hand cream with great results. It also makes an excellent cuticle and nail treatment. This can work nicely in the hair, but it’s not my favorite use of the product.

Mostly I prefer to use this oil as a last step to help seal in my skincare layers, especially during the dry and harsh mid-western winters. In this area the oil shines, as it’s very moisturizing but accepted quickly by the skin.

Marula oil is non-comedogenic, however, I would still like to note that I never broke out or experienced clogged pores while using this oil.

Price – 30ml bottle $10 on The Ordinary / $16 on Amazon *

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Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil

Processing – Drunk Elephant uses a patented extraction called unheated water process to obtain its oil from the pip of the marula nut. I’m unsure how this process differs from cold-press extraction but Drunk Elephant seems to believe the process it worth going above and beyond for. The most important thing to note here is that this process is unheated, which means the beneficial elements of the oil are being protected during extraction.

Drunk Elephant marula oil is also considered fair trade.

Packaging – Drunk Elephant is known for it’s colorful and innovative packaging and the marula oil packaging is no different. The bottle is opaque white, which serves the purpose of protecting the oil from degrading UV exposure. However, what makes this packaging unique is not what is happening on the outside but what is happening inside.

Inside of the square bottle there is a U-shaped reservoir that allows the dropper to suck up every last bit of the oil without having to awkwardly tilt and turn the bottle.

Feel – Drunk Elephant has created an oil that lives up to the luxury in its name. This oil is super thin, light as air and rapidly sinks into the skin. The phrase I think of when I use this oil is “cosmetically elegant.” And it truly is a beautifully crafted oil that is a pleasure to use.

Performance – Drunk Elephant believes in the carrier oil capabilities of marula and use it as a star ingredient for their signature cocktails. No they aren’t slinging marula martinis and singapore slingers, its *skincare* cocktails they’re interested in.

Drunk Elephant products are designed to be mixed and used together in a single application cocktail which helps supercharge your routine and save time. They have specifically designed their marula oil to be used alone or along with other Drunk Elephant products to help the penetration of the skincare cocktail.

And this works beautifully mixed with other products to create cocktails or perfectly fine on its own as a final skincare topper.

Price – 15ml – $40 on Amazon* / 30ml $72 on Amazon*

The Lightening Round:

So what’s the TL;DR breakdown of the differences?

  1. Price – The Ordinary is about $10-17 for 30ml, Drunk Elephant is $72 for 30ml.
  2. Feel – The Ordinary is a little thicker, a tad slower in absorption than Drunk Elephant.

The Final Word

If you are looking for a great value marula oil, go for The Ordinary. It performs well above it’s price category and is a wonderful multi-tasking product.

If you are looking for an elegantly formulated oil that feels like butter gliding on the skin and is fair trade, go for Drunk Elephant.

*Indicated use of affiliate links that pay a small commission to help run this blog

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