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I’m fairly fond of Drunk Elephant (past mentions). However, I have not tried their sunscreens or soaps. Nor do I plan to. When DE dropped the new Beste jelly cleanser, I thought eh… why not. My experience was consistent with many lackluster reviews, I was not impressed. My skin is normal (I used to think it was combination). In general, I wash my face at least twice a day and do a double cleanse at least once a day. I tried this cleanser on dry skin, wet skin, as an only cleanser, and as a second cleanser.

  • Texture: A little goes a long way, but it felt slippery and stripped my skin of moisture despite having Marula oil and glycerin. Maybe it works better for oilier skin. It does foam up.
  • Packaging: People were extremely upset at the packaging. The bottom lid is concave, you turn it for the center opening to open and squeeze the tube to dispense cleanser. You turn it back and hear a click for it to lock in place. My bottle never leaked but others complained about it leaking. Also, if you leave it in any wet surface in an upright position, that can’t be hygienic. The tube comes in a cardboard box which has an internal black/white print, which leads a gray line on the right side of the tube.
  • Pricing: Drunk Elephant is by no means a wallet-friendly brand. This cleanser is $34 for 5 oz.

Compared with the other jelly cleansers you see here, or my favorite non-jelly second cleanser (Cerave Foaming Facial Cleanser), this cleanser is not worth keeping and already returned to Sephora.

Reviews of the other two cleansers. Both have hyaluronic acid, which is hydrating.

  • Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser. Thicker texture. I like it on wet skin. Nice packaging and it comes with stickers for customization. It has a smell – like a mild floral scent of a plastic toy from childhood – but it’s actually from rosewater. This is probably the only Glossier product I like aside from the lip balms. It’s slightly pricier than the next cleanser, but since it’s a thicker cleanser, you will have to use more to properly cleanse. I like trying new cleansers so most likely won’t rebuy. Referral link: 10% off first purchase.
  • Lagom Cellup Gel to Water cleanser. Lagom is a Korean brand. Gel = jelly. This cleanser is great — if you wanted a jelly cleanser in concept, this is the one to try. It does not strip at all. In fact, I think it’s super moisturizing*. I love how the gel dissolves into a watery consistency once you swipe it. Similar to the Beste, a little bit goes a long way. I would have be impressed if DE formulated a product like this. (*You will never get enough moisture from a cleanser — you still need actual moisturizer.) It’s also a large tube — at 7.44 fl oz for $17, the cost per oz is almost 1/3 of the Beste cleanser. Find it at Target and Peach & Lily (referral link: $10 off $50 for first purchase). This bottle is lasting me for a while since I rotate cleansers regularly. If I had to decide right now whether I would rebuy one day, I would say yes.

Happy Cleansing!

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I saved a lot of shopping for Q416 sales…

1. Atopalm

Atopalm is a Korean drugstore brand that was created by a doctor. Its star ingredient, MLE, is designed to repair the skin barrier and perfect for those with sensitive skin conditions or looking for clean moisture. I started using this line in December and I love the products I’ve tried — Moisturizing Skin Revitalizing Complex, Intense Moisturizing Cream, Moisturizing Eye Repair Serum, and Daytime Undermakeup Moisture Cream. I don’t wear these together but will apply a layer or two depending on the weather. It dries quickly, has a smooth texture, isn’t heavy or greasy, and layers beautifully under sunscreen.

  • Great for? Sensitive skin, skin barrier repair, and intense lightweight moisture with some anti-aging benefits.
  • How much? I got everything for 40% off in November. It was <$30 for most items, with the daytime cream being $12.
  • Where to buy? There are multiple outlets online (including Dermstore, Target, Peach & Lily), but I recommend purchasing from the Atopalm USA website, which has by far the best prices (30-40% off promotions).
  • Rebuy? Yes, and I like the complex and eye serum the most since it’s in a convenient airless pump container and they also contain anti-aging ingredients.

2. Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Cream, Lippe, and Babyfacial

Drunk Elephant introduced a new airless pump for their Lala Retro cream in December which made this much more enticing. Otherwise, I have to pause my routine to wash my hands with soap and dry them to stick my fingers into the tub. I got a deluxe sample of it and it was indeed very lightweight and moisturizing. I use a number of actives at night and I like to top ’em off with a heavy dose of moisture in the form of cream and/or oil. This has both.

  • Great for? Dry skin and cold weather. It has oils in it so I find the moisture to be more intense than a single Atopalm product. If you’re sensitive to oils, best to spot test first. I also find that DE products play very nicely with each other — this is especially the case for the Lala and the marula oil.
  • How much? $60 for 1.69 oz. I got it from Dermstore with a 25% off coupon.
  • Where to buy? The normal DE stockists: Sephora, Lock & Mane (via Amazon), DermstoreDrunk Elephant (20% off for new customers, referral link). Given the recent packaging change, just make sure you’re getting the new airless packaging.
  • Rebuy? Yes, I really like airless packaging and the grease-less feel.

Lippe is a simple lip balm. I got it through a set. It’s quite small (0.13 oz) but packs a punch — multiple antioxidant oils (marula, avocado, mongogo, and cranberry), shea butter, and peptides, sea fern algae for moisture.

  • Great for? Dry lips and maintaining good lips
  • How much? $22 for 0.13 oz. I got it from Dermstore in a value set with a 30% off coupon.
  • Where to buy? The normal DE stockists: Sephora, Lock & Mane (via Amazon), DermstoreDrunk Elephant (20% off for new customers, referral link).
  • Rebuy? Maybe. It’s a solid lip balm, but I also have a huge stockpile of lip balms.

TLC Sukari Babyfacial is DE’s newest product. It’s exclusive to the US and as of writing, exclusive to Sephora but will also be sold at DE and Dermstore. It did well enough that it sold out at Sephora for a bit. It’s $80 and 1.69 oz so the biggest complaint you’ll hear about is the price. The Babyfacial is an at-home peel. I probably used more pumps than I cared to but it’s cheaper than going to a facialist for a peel. I don’t get facials regularly (less than annually), so that’s how I justify the money I spend on the numerous masks and skincare.

Despite having fairly resilient skin, I felt some tingling. I followed instructions and washed it off after 20 minutes and slathered marula oil on top. It also comes with a travel size marula oil. I experienced no redness. My skin was indeed baby soft. I will most likely use this once a week (on the weekend) for the first month or so. Since the product is so new, there are no reviews of long term use yet. If you try this, make sure your skin is dry (active ingredients penetrate wet skin much deeper and can cause harm) and space out any other AHA/retinol products so they are not back to back. June 2017 Update: Most likely using once every 3 weeks or so. With summer rolling around, I find my skin to be more sensitive given the increased sun exposure. I would avoid it in general if you know your sun exposure is or will be high!

  • Great for? Skin that isn’t too sensitive. Futurederm has a great review and explains why the chickpea flour may not be the best for those with dry skin.
  • How much? $80 for 1.69 oz
  • Where to buy? For now, Sephora, Dermstore at a future date, and Drunk Elephant (20% off for new customers, referral link).
  • Rebuy? Most likely. I love baby soft skin and hope some sun spots will fade. However there are so many other darn tempting products out there and I have only one face.

3. Tatcha The Essence

The essence step comes after the cleansing and toner. I previously used the Cremorlab essence but kind of stopped this step. Aside from hydration, I didn’t see a difference. When Tatcha started to market its new product, I was intrigued but wasn’t planning to spend $95 on a bottle of essence. But then they released its Lucky Bag promo and I gave in. (For the record, you had to spend $100 to get a Lucky Bag worth over $100. I got a full sized bottle of the Deep Hydration serum and a travel sized exfoliant cleanser in my Lucky Bag, worth over $100 as advertised.)

As expected from Tatcha, the packaging is gorgeous. I splash some essence on my face after cleansing and gently patting my face dry. The essence looks, feels, and smells like water, however it has a trio of superfoods (green tea, rice, algae) that produces lactic acid through natural fermentation. If you read up on Tatcha’s site, they describe the essence as soaking through layers of your skin so your subsequent steps can penetrate deeper and perform more effectively. After using this for a few weeks, I can say that Essence works really well to boost my other products and feels like a skin softener. Since it is a booster, the overall effect on your skin is dependent on the other products you use. Similarly, your skin is only as good as the worst product that you use. In the morning, I apply my DE Vitamin C day serum on my wet, essence soaked skin. I don’t always have time to wait for it to dry and the day serum is harmless. In the evening, if I’m putting on actives, I have to make sure the essence layer is dried or else the active may penetrate too deeply and damage the skin.

  • Great for? People who aren’t too lazy to perform multiple steps in the skincare routine. Good for all skin types.
  • How much? $95 for 5.1 oz. Tatcha has occasional promotions.
  • Where to buy? Tatcha, Sephora, or QVC. Through Feb 8, use code DMLUCKY for a Lucky Bag valued $100+ (examples).
  • Rebuy? Most likely unless a cheaper alternative presents itself.

4. Fresh Sugar Face Polish and Black Tea Instant Perfecting Mask

I’m been using Fresh lip products for years but missed the boat on their facial products until I got my soy face cleanser/rose mask birthday gift from Sephora. (I didn’t love the cleanser but liked the rose mask.) Based on research, the Black Tea Instant Perfecting Mask and Sugar Face Polish kept on coming out as the top two products I had to try. The mask is cooling and soothing — perfect after a peel (like Babyfacial or Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask) and smells like melons. I don’t use physical exfoliants often but will make an exception for the Sugar Face Polish. It will help your pores disappear. I use it after the Tatcha cleansing oil.

  • Great for? Mask is good for all skin types. Polish – stay away if you have sensitive skin.
  • How much? Mask is $92 for 3.3 oz, polish is $62 for 4.4 oz. Ouch? Yes, back to my point earlier on not getting facials. I tried using a mask brush with the mask but still prefer using my fingers due to its pudding texture. I wonder how long the mask will last with 1-2x/week use.
  • Where to buy? Nordstrom, Sephora, Neiman Marcus, or Barneys. Fresh has promos but they aren’t that great. I bought these from Nordstrom since they had a good GWP for Fresh and two other beauty gifts.
  • Rebuy? Definitely!

5. Sulwhasoo Clarifying Mask EX

I love the Overnight Vitalizing mask, which I often use as lotion in dry, cold weather. This Clarifying Mask is a gooey peel-off mask also full of Korean herbal ingredients. It is very gentle and somehow purifies without leaving your skin a dry mess. Sulwhasoo recently updated its masks to an EX version — I’m not sure how this compared to the non-EX version. I can’t tell the difference between Overnight Vitalizing EX and non-EX masks.

  • Great for? All skin types. Stay away if you hate herbal smells.
  • How much? $41 for 5 oz. Cheaper at duty-free in Asia.
  • Where to buy? Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus
  • Rebuy? Maybe. I have a lot of masks… variety is fun.

Images: Google

(Left: AHA Moment and Let’s B Clear, Right: Dermstore Skin of Dreams Trio, C-ing is Believing)

I’ve been taking advantage of the recent promotions to restock my beauty closet — both on cost-effective drugstore favorites (that the mister uses too) and on the splurges. I consider Drunk Elephant to be a midrange splurge and current holiday value sets makes the price easier to swallow. Each value set comes with deluxe samples that are the same size as what’s in The Littles set — I can’t justify paying $90 for these deluxe samples. In most cases, the set is about the same price as a single regular priced item.

My Drunk Elephant experience to date:
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The Drunk Elephant Vitamin C serum is probably my favorite non-Asian skincare purchase of late. I stopped using the Skinceuticals CE Ferulic a long time ago — though I have other serums that have a dropper-glass bottle packaging — I didn’t like the packaging re: oxidation and I couldn’t get myself to use it consistently.

  • Drunk Elephant vs. Skinceuticals: Both products have the initial hot dog smell. The Skinceuticals probably has a stronger formula but it’s twice as expensive and the oxidation. Drunk Elephant has a better price point, additional antioxidants (it has pumpkin!) and virgin Marula oil, and I love the Drunk Elephant packaging.
  • Application: Every morning, I dry my face right after I wash it, apply the Vitamin C serum, and wait a few minutes for it to dry before putting on the next layer. Depending on the mood, I might also apply it to the neck and hands. I definitely see results.

Reading about DE’s non-toxic mission, I wanted to try more products. For the skeptics, even critical Paula’s Choice’s Beautypedia gives high marks to DE. (Note: I’m not sure what’s wrong with the Beautypedia — it redirects to the PC main page. If you want to view reviews and it’s not showing up, click on the dropdown in Google and click on ‘cached’ to view the cache of the review.)
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