Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum review

Drunk Elephant C-Firma

Right before the premiere of launching sales in the UK, via CultBeauty and SpaceNK, I found someone on Swedish eBay wanting to get rid of an almost half used Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum. I didn’t even blink when I made the order. Though, the second after, I started to think more rationally. Did I just purchase a vitamin C serum second hand? I wonder how long she’s had it open? What if it had turned orange already?! What if it’s not effective anymore? But it was about a quarter of the full-size price, so I let myself be surprised. Luckily, the product arrived looking quite fresh and so my testing began!


What it is

The Drunk Elephant C-Firma is a vitamin C serum containg 15% l-ascorbic acid, 0.5% ferulic acid and 1% vitamin E, plus a bunch of good-for-your-skin ingredients to further plump, smooth, support and protect your skin from environmental stress factors. Is uniquely formulated with pumpkin ferment and pomegranate extracts which enzymatically dissolves dead surface skin cells revealing smoother texture. According to the brand, the result is a noticeably diminished appearance of photodamage, replaced by incredible radiance and luminosity. Sounds good, right?

Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum review


The product arrived and the serum looked more or less transparent in color still. Hard to say how much product was exactly left as I didn’t want to butcher the packaging (and I actually didn’t know you could open it until after I finished it!). I went straight to using it, not wasting more time before it may start oxidizing.

My first thought was how much smoother and softer my skin became just within a few days of using it. After a week, I saw much less blackheads than usual and my skin shined with the classic “vitamin C glow”.

One thing this and most vitamin C serums promises is the brightening of pigment. To be completely honest, I did not notice my red spots from post-inflamed blemishes fade much faster with this (PIH or PIE). But perhaps it’s too much to expect within 2 months of use? While L-ascorbic acid is supposed to be the best product for this, I personally have not found this to be true with my skin in particular – nor with this or with the PC C15 Booster. So my reasoning for using vitamin C is more for the antioxidant and protective effect it offers.
Nonetheless, my mother who rarely sees me did compliment on my resent skin texture and appearance. So I guess my strict simple routine, including this serum, is doing its job at something.

Formula & Application

The formula is, however, a bit iffy to work with. It’s much more viscous than my liking and leaves a quite sticky feeling on the skin. With moisturizer on top, much of the stickiness subsides though. But I’m unsure people with oily skin will like it much? Not only is the texture on the thicker side, but it also sinks in really fast. This makes it feel like more product is needed to be used in order to apply it more evenly.

I personally wish Drunk Elephant wasn’t so afraid of silicones (condemning them as one of the “suspicious 6”), as they would help create a much spreadable product that would feel nicer on the skin. Instead, the texture and feel of this product suffer thanks to the founder’s unfounded disbelief of a certain ingredient.
If your skin is slightly damp, it will spread like a breeze though! However, from what I’ve read, vitamin C should be applied on completely dry skin, as the dampness can affect the pH and effectiveness of the vitamin C? So it becomes a dilemma: do I apply it on dry skin but use more product or do I use less by applying it on slightly damp skin, but may lose effectiveness in the process?

With that said, about two full pumps was enough to cover my whole face and half of my neck. Yet, the experience is that I could’ve done with less if the texture wasn’t so dry to work with. And even with two pumps, it felt difficult to apply! I wanted to take more, but knowing the price on it made me stop at two.

The about half emptied bottle lasted me around 2 months and turned orange within that time. I wasn’t always consistent, but much better than usual. Though the serum turned orange I did not experience any negative or a lesser effect. Weeks after finishing it my skin didn’t revolt to an uneven mess but stayed relatively smooth. Still, it was definitely missed in my routine. My skin didn’t have that extra boost of glow and smoothness that it used to have with it.

Quick Summery

Things I experienced and overall liked:

  • Softer and plump skin
  • More even textured skin
  • Brighter and illuminating complexion
  • Less blackheads and smaller pores
  • No adverse effects as the serum started and even when it did turn orange

Things I disliked:

  • Viscous texture, making the serum difficult to spread and having to be quick with your hands.
  • Takes a long time to sink in leaving the skin somewhat sticky

Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum review

Oxidiation & Effectiveness

The jury on its effectiveness after a few months, despite the packaging, may be out for discussion. I personally feel more confident using this product past 3 months even though it’s oranged a bit than I would with a serum that comes with a pipette. And the result has also spoken for themselves, as I have not experienced any bad effects as I have done with the C15 Booster from Paula’s Choice.

According to a Reddit thread on DE’s response to oxidation and their own tests, their vitamin C serum kept its effectiveness above 10% even after 6 months sitting in room temperature(!) despite turning orange. Their “best before date”-marking was at one point even 12 months, but they’ve recently cut it to 6 months as to not annoy or confuse customers.
So when it comes to Drunk Elephant’s C-Firma, don’t be too quick to judge it by its color as we would do with other vitamin C serums! And definitely, don’t think that it has lost its effectiveness if you see someone else complaining about its color. But definitely, do throw it out if it starts give your skin issues from turning orange! Everyone’s skin is different.

DE vs PC

Texture-wise, I prefer the lighter and watery formula of the Paula’s Choice C15 Booster (read my short review here). However, that’s not to say that it’s better. In my opinion, the C15 Booster is too watery for my taste, but perfect if you’re gonna use it as, the name suggest, a booster – adding a few drops in your face cream. Btw, the Drunk Elephant C-Firma can be mixed in with any other DE product for a boost!
The Drunk Elephant C-Firma had the potential to be a winner as a more viscous serum is easier to spread and apply. But the C-Firma serum is just a hinge too viscous and leaves the skin somewhat sticky. My dream texture for a serum is a thicker lotion-type that’s easy to spread and sinks into a matte finish within a minute. But that may be wishful thinking…

Overall, performance-wise, I feel like the C-Firma wins in the long run.
They both pretty much do the same thing, I haven’t noticed a huge difference in the final results they give. Both make the skin brighter and smoother.
However, one drawback of the Paula’s Choice C15 booster was that with daily use I would find myself getting more blackheads! It’s ironic as vitamin C should protect against oxidation, not cause it! This issue would always start to appear as the serum aged, about as little as 1 month after opening it. Even though I stored it carefully in the fridge!

I’m not the only one to have experienced this, as I’ve seen a couple of others on Instagram mentioning this happening to them too with this particular serum. So while I like the PC C15 serum booster, and I’ve repurchased it twice, I don’t see the point in getting it anymore as I’ve now experienced something better that actually can be used in time. I have not experienced any negative skin issues with the Drunk Elephant C-Firma, despite it turning orange, not storing it in the fridge and using it past 3 months from opening it! Can you believe it?!

We also have to consider that DE’s is at 30ml, while PC’s is at 20ml. I haven’t tried the newly designed bottle of the PC booster, and I will probably not bother to check if it’s better at keeping the formula fresh. I had my bottle sitting in the fridge the whole time and it turned orange after 2 months! A less opaque packaging won’t do much. And just like everyone else, I wish PC would cut it down to 15ml making the product slightly cheaper and actually used up in time before it starts causing problems. While we’ve concluded that DE’s C-Frima holds up quite well, you can buy it at 15ml in the US – because of popular and ignorant demand of its effectiveness.
Overall, the C15 Booster is slightly cheaper counting the price per milliliter.

Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum review


I’m still contemplating if I would repurchase this or not. For the price I expected the formula to be less sticky, maybe even have less of a hot dog scent. – Did I forget to mention the scent? Oh well, it does have a particular smell, especially towards the end. When it comes to expensive products, I think most of us want two things: claims delivered and nice texture. The C-Firma only ticks the box of actually doing what it says to do. In this case, it might just be more than enough for me.

It’s definitely one of the better vitamin C serums I’ve tried, maybe even the best one. But note that I have not tried a lot of them. lol
I like that it comes in a vacuum container with bright design (which adds a splash of color to my skincare shelf!). Not many vitamin C serums come in a pump bottle.

I’ve read some reviewers getting breakouts from this serum – also why I found this serum second hand. So like always, if you can, buy the travel size first to test out. I don’t recommend you to buy vitamin C serums second hand. But if you’re desperate, like me, have the look out! I was lucky and paid about 1/4 of the price for a bottle with more than half left. I’m truly happy with my purchase, and if anything, I wish this serum actually was that cheap ;)

With that said, I can see myself coming back to this serum despite the high price. I do see it being worth it considering how stable this product is! For someone who doesn’t always fit in a vitamin C serum daily and has trouble even using up 20ml before it starts oxidizing, the Drunk Elephant’s C-Firma day serum is just what I need.

I feel like, after spending about €45 (with discount) on the Paula’s Choice C15 Booster only to use up about half of it before it started to turn yellow – giving me more blackheads instead of preventing them – then I absolutely rather spend £67 on 30ml that still shows efficiency even after 3 months and that doesn’t need refrigeration! So it’s pretty much case closed on which one I prefer.

Where To Buy
Sephora (US) | SpaceNK | CultBeauty

Do you recommend any vitamin C serum to try next?
Have you tried the C-Firma or anything else from Drunk Elephant?
Share your thoughts or questions in the comments below!
Thank you for reading!