Life Style

Drunk Elephant’s Protini Polypeptide Cream Just Got a Major Upgrade

Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream jar and refill pod

We put Drunk Elephant’s Protini Polypeptide Cream to the test after receiving a complimentary sample from the brand. Keep reading for our full product review.

Finding the perfect moisturizer can be a long game of trial and error, especially if you have dry skin year-round. I’ve been cycling through different drugstore and high-end face creams for years, and while several have been winners, my skin gets bored after a while, which leaves me on the hunt for a new one. Drunk Elephant’s Protini Polypeptide Cream caught my eye thanks to the brand’s wide fanbase, careful ingredient consideration, and the fact that as of March 15, refillable pods will be available for both this product and the Lala Retro Whipped Cream. I was curious to see if this cream would benefit my dry skin enough to justify its price point—keep reading for my full review to find out if the product (and its packaging update) is a hit or miss.



BEST FOR: Most skin types

USES: A daily moisturizer that helps combat dryness, dullness, uneven texture, and loss of firmness and elasticity

HERO INGREDIENTS: Signal peptide complex, pygmy waterlily stem cell extract, soybean folic acid ferment extract


PRICE: $68 for full product and packaging, $60 for refills

ABOUT THE BRAND: Drunk Elephant is a skin and haircare brand focused on creating formulas with ingredients that directly benefit skin health and healthy pH levels. It successfully established itself as the fastest-growing skincare brand in Sephora’s history and is well-known worldwide, with popular products including the Protini and T.L.C. lines.

About My Skin: Sensitive and always in need of hydration

My complexion is primarily dry, but I occasionally get oily on my T-zone. Add in the fact that my skin is sensitive and can get irritated quickly, and I have to be careful about the products I apply to my skin. I tend to break out if I use more than a tiny amount of fragrances or essential oils, so I’m always looking for products that nourish and balance my skin without any ingredients that might irritate it.

My morning skincare routine includes a cleanser, eye cream, moisturizer, and SPF. Meanwhile, my nightly routine consists of a cleanser, serum, and moisturizer, plus I use tretinoin twice a week and exfoliate twice monthly. Drunk Elephant recommends applying the Protini Polypeptide Cream morning and night to clean dry skin, and I use it every morning and three nights a week.

The Feel: Lightweight and deeply hydrating

In my hand, the Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream felt rich and thick, but once applied to my face, the formula felt weightless and hydrating. Too much product can make your face feel oily, so one or two small pumps should be enough for most—you can always add more if your skin needs it. I used the cream in the moisturizer step of my skincare routine, and I found the product helped prep my skin nicely so that makeup went smoothly.

The Ingredients: Hydrating and boosting overall skin health

Drunk Elephant’s Protini Polypeptide Cream isn’t just any moisturizer; its formula improves skin health in several ways so your complexion looks radiant, repaired, and rejuvenated. In addition to key hydrators like glycerin and hyaluronic acid, the product’s hero ingredients are as follows:

  • Signal Peptide Complex: The formula’s nine peptides encourage collagen and elastin production to help give the skin a firm, plump appearance.
  • Pygmy Waterlily Stem Cell Extract: This extract reduces inflammation, hydrates, and soothes the skin while shielding it against the harmful effects of UV rays.1
  • Soybean Folic Acid Ferment Extract: Research has shown that soybean extract can visibly even skin tone, reduce signs of aging, and maintain elastic-looking skin.2 Folic acid helps improve moisture retention and alleviate skin dryness.

The Packaging: Refillable and convenient

Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream open jar and refill pod

One of the main factors I love about the Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream packaging is the inclusion of a pump. Many moisturizer tubs don’t include this, and sticking your fingers in the jar increases the risk of contamination. One pump delivers the right amount of product for many, and you can easily add another pump or two if needed.

With the old packaging, the pump was impossible to remove, so you wouldn’t know if you used all of the product—plus, it was necessary to repurchase the entire packaging every time. But finally, the brand has released Protini Polypeptide Cream refills, which allow you to reuse the jar and offer the same 1.69 oz. of product for eight dollars less. The process of swapping in a refill is super easy:

1. Remove the cap and unscrew the pump.

2. Remove the empty inner jar.

3. Insert the refill pod into the outer jar and remove the film seal.

4. Immediately screw the pump back on tightly. To avoid contamination, don’t touch the product itself or the underside of the pump.

I love that I can refill my jar instead of paying full price for a brand-new one each time. Plus, if any cream remains, I can use a spatula to scoop it out and not waste any product. I’m usually not impressed with refillable beauty products, but this one from Drunk Elephant has changed my viewpoint. These refill pods allow me to keep using this cream in my routine while saving money and the environment.

The Results: Firm, hydrated skin

Byrdie writer Karla Ayala's skin before and after applying the Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream

The first few days after using Drunk Elephant’s Protini Polypeptide Cream, I noticed that my skin felt more hydrated and plump. When I touched my face, it felt soft, and my makeup glided on better than before I started using the product. After a few weeks of use, I saw an improvement in texture, and my skin looked firmer smoother, and I felt hydrated for longer. I’m very impressed with how positively my skin reacted to this moisturizer, which helped decrease the dryness I sometimes experience due to being on tretinoin.


The Value: A bit pricey, but a little goes a long way

The Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream is a worthy investment due to its refillable packaging and exceptional formula. At $68, it’s relatively pricey for a moisturizer, but the formula is jam-packed with ingredients that improve skin texture in multiple ways, and I found the results to be worth it. A little goes a long way with this moisturizer, plus the new $60 refill pods make long-term use of the product more accessible than before.

Those who are new to Protini and not ready to commit may want to pick up the 0.5-oz. mini size for $22, so you can see whether the formula works for your skin and how long it lasts. If you have sensitive or dehydrated skin and need a fragrance-free moisturizer that’s hydrating without irritating, this gentle multitasker is a good option.


Similar Products: You’ve got options

CeraVe Moisturizing Cream with Pump: The CeraVe Moisturizing Cream ($23) uses hyaluronic acid and ceramides to hydrate the skin and restore your protective barrier. The 16-oz. tub is super affordable and great for those with sensitive skin, though it’s worth noting that it can leave a white cast and is not as profoundly hydrating as Protini, so which is better depends on your priorities.

Tata Harper Water-Lock Moisturizer: This moisturizer ($68) is silicone-free and helps prime and smooth with orange peptides, pomegranate spheres, and hyaluronic acid. The product is fragranced (mostly with natural oils and extracts), and Tata Harper also offers a refill option. At $62, the refill pods are slightly more than the ones from Drunk Elephant, but the price point is similar enough to where you should base your decision on your favorite of the two formulas.


Final Verdict

Drunk Elephant’s Protini Polypeptide Cream kept my skin glowing and moisturized throughout the day. It improved my overall skin health after continuous use. I’m a fan, and the refillable cups make keeping the product in my routine easier on my wallet and the environment.


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