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ELF reviews

I recently placed a decent-sized order from ELF and wanted to talk about the stuff I got, mmkay?

Studio 11-piece brush set – The whole reason I placed an ELF order was that they were having a promotion where this $30 brush set was being offered for about $3 when you ordered at least $25 of other stuff. Up til now, my brush collection has consisted of a sparse group of shed-happy knockoff MAC brushes I purchased on eBay over a year ago, plus a couple of extras my mom gave me, so obviously I needed some new brushes.

This set is really wonderful and comes with just about every type of brush I need. I’ve been using the “small angled brush” for lips, the “blush brush” for contouring as well as blush, and the big fluffy “complexion brush” for powder. I’m sure the rest of them will get a lot of use too – I’m just a bit overwhelmed right now!

Essential Blending Eye Brush – I bought this separately because the 11-piece kit didn’t explicitly contain a blending brush. I’m liking it so far, though it does shed a little.

Essential 28-Piece Beach Beauty Palette in “Day” – This is a multi-media set containing 16 eyeshadows, 8 glosses, 2 bronzers, 2 blushes, and an awful little applicator. The eyeshadows are not very pigmented but perform much better when applied over a primer and my NYX Jumbo Eye Pencil in “Milk,” which acts as an adherent and makes the colors brighter and more intense. While the other products are okay, I’ve mostly been using this one for the eyeshadows. The blues and pinks will get a lot of use, methinks.

Studio Contouring Blush & Bronzing Cream – This was kind of a mistake; I didn’t fully realize that it was cream when I ordered it, and thought it was powder, because apparently I have a reading comprehension problem. Nonetheless, it’s a lovely product. I probably won’t use the blush too much because I’m not a big blush person in general (I already have a permanently rosy face!) but the contour cream is cool and blends well. I’m still figuring out how to contour properly.

Studio Eyebrow Kit – Definitely one of the best buys of the bunch! I’ve used this every day since I got it and it’s my new favorite brow product. One side is a brown wax, which you apply first, and the other side is a matching brown powder, which adheres to the wax. The overall effect is very natural. The product also comes with a tiny two-sided brush that works splendidly for applying it.

Studio Eyebrow Treat & Tame – I haven’t used this yet. I’m nervous that it’ll look weird. One side is a clear growth-enhancing eyebrow serum that you can use any time; the other side is a brown brush-on gel for enhancing brows. I have a feeling I’ll probably want to stick with powder because of the sparse spots in my brows, but we’ll see.

Mineral Eyeshadow Primer in “Sheer” – I don’t like this as much as my usual primer, Too Faced Shadow Insurance, because it doesn’t prevent my shadows from creasing for a long-ass time like the Too Faced one does. However, it does last a few hours, so that’s okay. I like the doefoot application wand, and I like that it goes on sheer.

Studio Cream Eyeliner in “Black” – I had never tried a cream liner before but I’m very impressed with this one. It comes with a little brush, is easy to apply, and stays all day.

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.

Works SO MUCH BETTER!

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.

PROS:
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.

CONS:
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.

review: Lush Ocean Salt facial scrub

I recently found some fresh Lush products at a discounted price on eBay, so I bought a couple, and Ocean Salt was one of them. It’s a scrubby cleanser featuring sea salt, vodka, and lime juice.

PROS:
1. It smells like a margarita! Delish.
2. Really excellent scrubbing action. Not too harsh, just right! (Though, a word of warning: you don’t need to scrub super hard with this product; just rub it in gentle circles and it does most of the work. That’s what she said.)
3. After scrubbing with Ocean Salt and moisturizing with Celestial, my skin felt very smooth and soft.
4. It didn’t dry me out the way I was expecting it to. (It is probably important that most people moisturize right afterward, though.)

CONS:
1. Some of the batches have swirls of blue dye in them. I’m listing this as a “con” for two reasons, whichever works for you: either you might not want to apply blue dye to your face, or you might be bummed out if you get one of the pots that doesn’t contain blue dye.
2. This would definitely be drying/irritating if I was to use it more than twice a week or so. Apparently some people use this as a daily cleanser, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

Overall, I’m quite happy with this product. As I said, I’ll limit my use to twice a week, and I’ll be sure to always moisturize afterward - I think that’s the best way to use Ocean Salt on dry-ish combination skin like mine.

review: DressGreen unDressed Mild and Moisturizing Soap

I bought this bar sort of by accident. I was looking for a mild facial cleansing bar, containing skin-soothing ingredients like coconut oil, olive oil, shea butter, and vitamin E. DressGreen makes many kinds of soaps, including ones for your face, but I accidentally bought the one made for body skin. Oh well, no big loss - I’m a bit of a handmade soap junkie so I was excited to try it out nonetheless.

PROS:
1. Beautiful packaging. DressGreen’s owner, Lauren, has a background in product design, which really shows.
2. More moisturizing than any handmade soap I’ve tried (and, as you know, I’m a Lush customer, so that’s saying something). My skin feels really happy.
3. A really lovely, subtle smell. There are no extra fragrances added to this soap (hence “undressed”), so I think the scent must come from the cocoa butter or almond oil.
4. Lathers pretty damn well for a handmade soap. My last body soap was Lush Candy Cane, which hardly lathers at all.
5. Does what soap is supposed to do, of course. I’m clean!
6. The bar is a great big size, bigger than the drugstore bars my family buys. This will last me months, I’d guess.

CONS:
1. When I first rinsed it off, my skin felt a bit tight and “squeaky clean,” which is what happens with every other soap. At first I was pretty disappointed, because I thought this meant UnDressed was just as drying as other soaps. Luckily, this effect wore off in a few minutes’ time. (I don’t use a body moisturizer - maybe I should?)
2. Like all handmade soaps, UnDressed needs to be kept out of water - it can’t be left in standing water, nor can it be left in a place where the stream of shower/bath water will hit it, as moisture significantly diminishes the shelf life of handmade soaps. Not a big deal if you’re used to this procedure (especially if you have a draining soap dish!) but maybe kind of annoying for some people.

Overall: UnDressed might be my favorite handmade soap I’ve tried. Definitely recommended to anyone who’s looking for a more natural, less irritating substitute for Ivory or Dove or what have you.

You can buy UnDressed at DressGreen’s Etsy shop or on their website.