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bite-sized reviews

1. Astrida Naturals African black soap - TOO DRYING! Bought to use on my face, dried it out; started using on my hands, dried them out too. Won’t buy again.

2. DressGreen rosemary peppermint shampoo bar - Gets hair CLEAN! I also don’t need to use conditioner afterwards, which is totally unprecedented for my traditionally knotty curls.

3. Sycamore Boutique “Winterblend” shea butter skin cream - Light enough for the face, moisturizing enough for the body. Sinks in quickly and provides long-lasting moisture. YES! Only problem: it smells kind of weird.

4. DressGreen Green Thumb hand salve - A little goes a long way. Cleared up the rough, dry spots on my hands that were caused by the aforementioned African black soap. Even my gnarly-handed mom loved it.

5. DressGreen cucumber ginseng eye cream - Very hydrating. Sometimes irritates my eyes a little bit, but probably wouldn’t if I avoided the lids altogether. Probably wouldn’t buy again (but then again, all the eye creams I’ve tried have irritated my eyes).

6. DressGreen shaving soap - Smoothest shave ever! I’m not a fan of the matcha scent, but Damian is. If I get my own, it’ll be the spearmint tangerine one.

I have to amend what I wrote earlier in my review of Lush Ultrabland cleanser.

I initially wasn’t that into it because, when applied and removed as Lush recommends, it leaves a gross greasy film on my face.

However, having had a bit of experience with the Oil Cleansing Method, I decided to use a similar methodology with Ultrabland to see if that would make it work better for me.

Instead of just removing it with a damp cotton pad, I now massage it into my face for about a minute, then steam my face with a hot washcloth a couple times, and then wipe it off.


Also, tonight, I massaged Ultrabland into my face and then left it on for 10-15 minutes while I sat in the bath, before steaming and removing. My face was so soft that I didn’t even need to use moisturizer. It’s now hours later and my face still feels perfect.

So, yeah, just wanted to say that I’m an Ultrabland convert. I’ll be using it as my nighttime cleanser, at least until the summer comes and my skin switches back to being oily.

review: Lush Ultrabland facial cleanser

Ultrabland is an oil-based facial cleanser, much like an old-fashioned cold cream. Its ingredients include almond oil, rosewater, beeswax, and honey.

1. This shit works really well as an eye makeup remover. I massage it into my eyelid and the surrounding area for about 30 seconds and then wipe it off with a damp cotton pad. Works like a charm!
2. When used in the above manner, it leaves behind a little bit of oil which makes my eye area feel nicely hydrated, like I’d just used a fancy eye cream.

1. Ultrabland leaves a greasy residue, even after using as directed (rub on a small amount, then remove with a damp cotton pad). I used coconut oil as my moisturizer for years, but even so, I don’t like this residue. It doesn’t seem to sink into my dry-combination skin, and it doesn’t even feel particularly moisturizing - just greasy and gross.

I won’t be using Ultrabland as my facial cleanser, though I’ll probably keep using it as a makeup remover, because it sucks to buy a product you can’t use! I imagine this would be a nice cleanser for someone with dry or maturing skin, or someone who was accustomed to cleansing with oils.

my top 10 beauty essentials, currently

1. Lush Angels on Bare Skin facial cleanser
I needed a cleanser that was scrubby, but not drying. After spending much time poring over the Lush website, I chose this one. It has a soft clay-like texture and comes in a little plastic tub. The ground almonds exfoliate, while the clay soaks up excess oil. It has a lovely herbal smell and cleanses my combination-to-dry skin very well.

2. Lush Celestial moisturizer
Celestial is a whipped moisturizer full of skin-nourishing ingredients, like almond oil and cocoa butter. All you need is a little pea-sized amount, spread over a damp face, to do the trick. It has saved my dried-out winter skin!

3. L’Oreal Lineur Intense liquid eyeliner w/ brush tip
Best liquid eyeliner ever. I’ve been using this stuff almost every day since I was in the eighth grade - I think I’ve gone through about 5 bottles at this point. It’s smooth, creamy, and goes on really black. The only downside is that it’s not waterproof, so I’ve cried it off a few times. If I think I’m going to be crying, I use a different liner.

4. Unrefined coconut oil
That picture isn’t the brand I use, as I think the kind I use is just the “house brand” of my local health food shop. Most virgin coconut oils are pretty similar though. I use this oil as an eye cream and a lip balm now, but I’ve used it as a facial moisturizer off-and-on for years and it works very well for that. It certainly takes some adjusting to get used to the feeling of oil on your skin, but once you accept that it’s not clogging your pores and it’s actually doing a lot of good, it just feels nice. I used to put some on after washing at night and then just wipe off the excess in the morning.

5. Lush Mask of Magnaminty face mask
I stopped buying this mask because it was a little out of my price range, but I haven’t been able to find one I like as much. I use Queen Helene’s Mint Julep Masque these days, and I’ve tried various other clay masks in the past, but they just don’t have the scrubbiness/exfoliation factor that MoM does.

6. MAC Russian Red matte lipstick
Will there ever be a better matte red lipstick? I severely doubt it.

7. Colgate Total toothpaste
This is the toothpaste I use on my teeth, yes, but I also use a little bit on acne spots when they come up. It works surprisingly well for this purpose.

8. Vanilla mint Chapstick
I bought this on a whim and it has such a nice scent, and is very moisturizing. My other favorite lip balms are berry-flavored Blistex and anything by Burt’s Bees.

9. MAC Liquidlast liquid liner in Herizon Blue
My mom bought this for me at the MAC counter when she saw me staring at it like a hungry wolf. I am so glad she did. About half my clothes are royal blue, so it’s obviously necessary for me to own an eyeliner to match. This stuff is ridiculously waterproof and very brightly colored - the perfect complement to any of my crazy blue-from-head-to-toe outfits, or just as a little accent on a simple outfit.

10. Garnier Fresh eye makeup remover
I’m on my second bottle of this. It’s formulated for sensitive eyes, meaning it has the same pH balance as tears and never stings or reddens. I put some on a cotton ball, hold it against my eyelid for a few moments, and then wipe away all my makeup.

minor skin ramblings

I’m sad to report that my attempts at trying out different face soaps have not been successful thus far, so I’ve returned to my mainstay, good old DivaWash - it doesn’t strip my skin of moisture, so I get soft skin without even needing to moisturize.

I tried going back to Lush Coalface, which I used for years and swore by when I was about 13-16. I guess my skin was pretty different back then, because now Coalface makes me break out, and I absolutely have to apply a moisturizer afterward (FYI, the only moisturizer I use, which cures all my skin problems, is virgin coconut oil, bought by the jar at a health food store). I still have quite a large bar of Coalface left; not sure what I’m gonna do with it now.

I also tried out African black soap, which makes a lovely shampoo and body wash but just doesn’t agree with my face. It’s too drying, despite containing shea butter.

I still have some more options I’d like to try. I seem to remember Lush Fresh Farmacy being a nice cleanser (I had a sample once). I found another Etsy seller who claims that her African black soap is heavier on the shea butter than most. And since I know coconut oil agrees with my skin, I might spring for a soap where coconut oil features heavily.

Yeah, I know, that was a super boring blog post. Oh well.