OCC Lip Tars in Fleshworld, Dash, and Vintage

A few years ago, Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics, or OCC was the biggest gorilla in the zoo when it came to weird and wonderful lip colors. ‘Member Technopagan? I ‘member!


About a year after this pic was taken, I wanted to wear this lipstick to an OG “technopagan” show (Psychic TV), but it had completely separated by then. Ugh.

Now that we have the NYX Liquid Suedes, new Kat Von D Everlasting shades, Bite Beauty’s latest seasonal offerings, etc., is OCC still standing its ground? I’d say so. The brand’s color selection is a product of great care and inventiveness–I don’t only mean trendy macabre shades like Indrid and St Sebastian, but also more work-friendly options. Besides, the OCC finishes, whether metallic or creamy, remain highly attractive. Many other brands only offer unorthodox colors in liquid-to-matte formulas, which are not everybody’s cup of tea due to their dryness.

Of course, OCC lipsticks are called lip tars for a reason–they’re pigmented to a fault, quite messy, and need a lipliner (I use Urban Decay’s clear pencil, Ozone.) In this blog post about the Shoegazer lip tar I describe the formula and application in painstaking detail. Shoegazer was my first lip tar in “Ready-to-wear” gloss-style packaging, which offers an improvement over the original squeezy tubes–looks like it makes the product less likely to separate. A few months ago, OCC had a big sale, and I grabbed three more tars. From left: the new-ish shades Fleshworld and Dash, and the classic Vintage.

3 lip tars


Aka: We salute you, Twin Peaks dorks.

Fleshworld is what I was talking about when I mentioned the weirder lip tars that are still on the safe-for-work side. OCC describes this shade as “plum-toned rust”–what does that even mean? I would say that Fleshworld is warm reddish color as if seen through thin purplish film. Since I don’t have anything similar, I decided to swatch Fleshworld between my rustiest lipstick (Smashbox’s Out Loud–another new favorite) and my plummiest lipstick (the popular Urban Decay Rapture). The Rapture swatch is much wider, as I had to draw it with a rounded bullet instead of a dainty doefoot applicator.


L-R: Smashbox Out Loud, OCC Fleshworld, Urban Decay Rapture.

Selfie time. The wings were drawn with Cyprus Umber, the dark brown eyeshadow from Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance.



Since I started wearing lip tars, I’d been wanting one in a “nude” color, one that would go well with any eye look imaginable. I found it with Dash, a beigey-rosy mauve. It’s like a friendlier sister to Bite Beauty Thistle, which looks impossibly cool but too cadaverous for office wear.  I feel that in my “everyday creamy nude” department, Dash is going to replace Urban Decay Naked, which has a terrible uneven formula (at least the old Revolution version does.)


L-R: Bite Beauty Thistle, OCC Dash, Urban Decay Naked.

Here’s a recent look with Dash, where I also used three matte eyeshadows from my new Viseart Petit Pro palette, and a plummy blush, NARS Sin.



Vintage is part of the core OCC lineup, and I’d been wanting to purchase it for quite a while.  I like deep reds… in theory. For some reason, most of the lipsticks I try in this category, such as NARS Cruella or ColourPop Bichette, turn out to be flattering, but too… demure? That’s not my usual choice, as I prefer bold power looks. Thankfully, Vintage is as powerful as a deep red can be: the finish is glossy and juicy, and the shade can only be described as “blood of thy enemies.”


L-R: NARS Cruella, ColourPop Bichette, OCC Vintage.

For the look below, I went kind of punk and combined Vintage with a messy, fuzzy liner/shadow look. I used the Essence gel eyeliner plus the black eyeshadow (Licorice) from the Too Faced Semi-Sweet palette.


NYX Liquid Suede Lipstick in Jet Set

This post is going to be uncharacteristically short… just want to boast about my badass new lipstick, NYX Liquid Suede in Jet Set.


Some people are sceptical about blue, green, or grey lipsticks, because they’re “corpsey”… But Jet Set is as full of vitality as a blue can be. It’s such a warm, flowery color that feels no less flattering and classic than a true red does. Jet Set makes me want to strut around, listen to Lou Reed’s This Magic Moment, and feel like a beautiful lady.

The only issue I have with Jet Set is that the formula is quite thin. After I first applied the lipstick and started taking selfies in semi-bright sunlight, the camera revealed some sheer patches. I put some color on my usual lip brush (the pointy concealer brush from the EcoTools clutch set) and pressed it onto the paler areas.

I know that the current convention is to wear bold lipsticks with a “bare eye” and highlighted face, which is my choice when I’m in a hurry. However, I really hate being in a hurry and prefer taking my sweet time doing eye makeup, as I truly enjoy the process. So far, I’ve only worn Jet Set once, and my eye look wasn’t that special–just fuzzy black liner. Next time, I’m going to pair this lipstick with a shimmery or metallic reddish brown shadow.

NYX has other incredible colors in its Liquid Suede line, such as Amethyst and Alien that were (along with Jet Set) covered beautifully by Viola Holmgren. I have one other Liquid Suede, a brown called Vintage, which I reviewed on this blog a couple of weeks ago.


FOTD: Zoeva Alloy

Beauty subreddit r/muacjdiscussion has a FOTD thread once a week, where users review all the products they are wearing on that day. I decided to steal this idea for a post about one of my favorite looks, which centers around Alloy, the dirty plum/brown eyeshadow from the Zoeva Mixed Metals palette. Here is the face…


…and here is my left eye in the angelic late afternoon sunlight.



Zoeva Alloy (lid) belongs to one of my favorite eyeshadow categories: complex, rich medium darks. Such eyeshadows are like my black, baggy maxi skirt I brought from Japan: wearing them makes me feel stylish and intensely comfortable at the same time. In the pic below, Alloy is swatched against Zoeva Delicate Acidity and Rouge Bunny Rouge Delicate Hummingbird. Delicate Acidity is more purple than Alloy, and the RBR is cooler (in tone!!) than both of them.


Since I am reviewing ALL the products in this look, I need to mention that the eyeshadows were applied on top of the Lorac Behind the Scenes primer. I need that stuff for my oily, hooded lids. Behind the Scenes is just your average primer that gets kudos for not drying too fast and blending out without trace. I’m not too attached to this primer and will try a new one when Behind the Scenes bites the dust.

Back to the eyeshadows. In my outer crease, I used Lorac Unconditional, the workhorse rosy mauve from the Unzipped palette. In the outer corner, we have Unbridled, the juicy reddish purple from the same set. Unzipped has been my staple palette since 2014–I still can’t get enough of those Naked 3 vibes that were popular back then, “gotta grab ALL THE ROSY!” Such tones are perfect for green eyes, after all. I love Lorac Unzipped so much that I’ve worn it twice for my most important annual work event.

Unbridled wasn’t dark enough for this look, which is why I also deepened the outer corners with NARS Subra, swirling it in tiny, soft circles. Described as “black orchid” on the NARS site, it’s an extremely dark, lush shimmering burgundy. Subra is available as a single eyeshadow, but I own it as part of the limited edition Steven Klein palette from 2015. The color selection in that palette is really basic, so I wouldn’t be upset for missing it, unless you’re a Steven Klein fan.


After I did my eyeshadows, I poked between my lashes with the Kat Von D Ink Liner in Trooper–one of the longest-lasting eyeliners that I know of. My mascara here is Essence I Love Extreme, a recent $5 discovery that made me forsake any mascaras priced higher than ten bucks. I Love Extreme is volumizing without being gunky, and creates a finish that is both fluttery and spidery in a cute way.

Here is my eye makeup all piled up on my hysband’s nice computer chair:



If you’re at all aware of Western beauty culture right now, you know that the current alpha and omega of makeup is Brows. I… don’t fuss over brows much. As was common with my generation (now in our 30s), I plucked them extremely thin in my youth, so parts of my brows will never grow back. (No regrets. I LOVED my thin brows to death.) Virgin “boy brows” will never be attainable for me, but I’m satisfied with just darkening what I have. For this look, I used Anastasia Beverly Hills Dipbrow in Dark Brown: a thick but malleable paste that’s intensely pigmented and long-lasting.


My most essential makeup product at this time is Paula’s Choice Resist Super-Light Daily Defense SPF 30. The brand categorizes it as “tinted moisturizer”, however, Resist ain’t gonna cut it as a moisturizer unless you have extremely oily skin. As one dealing with combination skin issues, sensitivity, and rosacea, I use Resist as a non-irritating physical sunscreen (chemical ones burn my face), a light cover-up for redness, and, to borrow Paula’s Choice terminology, a shine stopper. So far, I haven’t yet encountered another product that performs all of these three functions as well as Resist does. It has a few problems, though, including the aforementioned dryness, a weird greyish-pinkish tint (which would probably look ashy on dark complexions), and a high cost for such a quickly-depleted product as sunscreen. Which is why I like adding Resist to my Christmas and other wishlists.

I usually top Resist with BareMinerals (the OG “glowy foundation”) and a loose powder, but when in a hurry, I prefer The Face Shop Radiance Two-Way Cake Powder in NB 23. It’s not “glowy” but quite natural, and provides some extra coverage and sun protection. Too bad I’m not going to repurchase this powder–I prefer cruelty-free brands now.

If I’m wearing anything on my cheeks, 90% of the times it’s my old, beat-up Pixi Subtly Suntouched bronzer. I just take a big fluffy powder brush and swirl it on. Subtly Suntouched adds juuuust a little bit more definition to my cheekbones, and looks good with makeup of any color.


This post is my “makeup greatest hits”: Lorac Unzipped, Dipbrow, the Paula’s Choice tinted sunscreen, and the Pixi bronzer have all made an appearance. Now, it’s turn for one of my most-worn lipsticks, Kat Von D Everlasting Liquid Lipstick in Bow N Arrow. Yes, dark(ish) eyes and beige lips–what else is new? I’ve never watched the Kardashians, but I guess that type of glamour has imprinted itself onto the subconscious of our entire generation. Bow N Arrow is not just a regular beige: on me, it takes an almost lilac tinge. The formula is humane for a liquid lipstick, compared to some bone-dry and crumbly atrocities out there.

For the most even possible application of Bow N Arrow, I put it on top of Jordana Easyliner in Rock N’ Rose. Jordana lipliners are very smooth and soft–however, the softness can sometimes lead to their downfall, as they might break on you. Nevertheless, in my experience, these liners are some of the best makeup products one could buy for $3.

And that’s it for my epic FOTD review. Here is the huge makeup pile… except for the Pixi bronzer, which I forgot to add. It seems like people always forget ONE PRODUCT when taking those photos, haha.


NYX Liquid Suede Lipstick in Vintage

Back before I was a beauty nerd, I owned a plum Revlon Street Wear lipstick, which seemed soooo cooool and adult goth and risqué. Now that I’ve got some fortitude for makeup shock value, dark shades are just another option, not a symbol of edginess. Lately, I’ve had my interest in dark lipstick rekindled thanks to insanely beautiful actress Shohreh Aghdashloo, who portrays Avasarala in The Expanse TV show.

From Tor.com

NYX’s Liquid Suede line includes cool-looking darks and medium darks such as the grey Stone Fox and the purple Amethyst. Those two have achieved a semi-iconic status among Internet beauty lovers. However, I settled on the more office-friendly Vintage, a color that I would describe as “deep brown seen through a purple screen.” The name Vintage is apt: the shade brings to mind old somber houses, dried flowers, and musty antique furniture.


So vintage, I took a photo of this lipstick on top of a treasured old family album. J/k, it’s the Juxtapoz Dark Arts book, and the artist is Travis Louie.


Some compare Vintage to 90s brown lipsticks. But I think it also fits into the mid-2010s trend for complex colors that involve brown, purple, and/or grey (thanks Auxiliary Beauty for describing this trend). Such shades are usually described using verbal contortions like “mauve-infused greige” or “antique rose mocha.” I split them into full-on zombie and sophisticated zombie, and Vintage is the latter. It definitely makes me look kind of pallid, but oh well, whatever. My Instagram name is gothleesi, and 99% of my wardrobe is black, so I’m hardly a picture of Californian wholesomeness anyway.


Here are the swatches of my complex brown-ish shades. Vintage and Kat Von D’s Lolita in particular make me go “Yeah, brown lipstick” when I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror, but on closer look they have obvious rosy (Lolita) or plummy (Vintage) vibes to them.


Finish-wise, Vintage is not too conventional. It’s somewhat like liquid to matte lipsticks… but not matte. It seems to me that the main idea behind ultramatte liquid lipsticks is to throw all the focus on the color, without the play of light that you get with more creamy lipsticks. But in practice, the ultramattes’ dry formula accentuates all lines, complicating the canvas for the pure color. Enter the Liquid Suedes, which create a smoother surface to show off the color without being too creamy and reflective. The obvious tradeoff is that the Liquid Suedes transfer more easily than their matte cousins.

The problem with the Liquid Suede formula would be familiar to anyone who has used the popular NYX Soft Matte Lip Creams. Going in, I was expecting Vintage to be viscous and gooey, à la other hypersaturated, non-matte liquid lipsticks such as OCC lip tars or ColourPop Ultra Satins. However, the Liquid Suede formula is thin. The lipstick becomes streaky the first chance it gets, and sheers out very easily, making it difficult to create a neat fade when blending out the edges with a brush. To deal with the blending issue, I would recommend coating and fluffing out the color one lip at a time, before the product dries down–the sheering out is less stark this way.


Brown or brown-ish lipsticks look so damn good with rosy eye makeup. For the look above, I used Lorac eyeshadows: Rose Gold (Pro Metal) as the main color, plus Burgundy to line the outer corners and Pink Mauve to blend (both from Pro Matte).


7 Days of Red Lipstick

With my grabby paws reaching for purple and beige lipsticks, I’d been neglecting my collection of reds. To give it justice, I decided to hold a red lipstick week and review every single one I wore. Spoiler alert, the reviews aren’t negative, in case anyone was expecting juicy rants. All of the featured items are uniformly solid in quality. Yeah, with red lipstick being the most popular makeup product besides mascara and black eyeliner, the beauty industry has figured the reds out by now.

The post covers a variety of brands, textures, packaging formats, and undertones. I wore the lipsticks and wrote the reviews on a daily basis, and the day breakdown is accurate. However, the selfie-taking endeavor was spread over several weeks, as evidenced by the wildly varying length of my bangs. Photos are hard–it is known.

It’s not just selfies that made me take my time. With this project, I had to confront the fact that I don’t know how to integrate red lipstick into a look, besides the obvious “black wing and red lip” and “no-makeup makeup with a bright accent.” This is pretty much the main reason why I’d been shunning reds, as I like my eye makeup colorful and visible from space. Working on this post gave me the opportunity to research, experiment, and think about which colors would go with red lipstick. I found an inspiration in “red on red” looks, such as those created by Chanel’s Lucia Pica (1, 2). But neutral and “no-makeup” styles were not forgotten, because why not.


These are the lipsticks I wore that week. Left to right: ColourPop Bichette, NYX Perfect Red, NARS Vesuvio, Rouge Bunny Rouge Raw Silence, Shu Uemura M OR570, Paula’s Choice Currant, TheBalm Devoted.

Here are some swatches for comparison purposes. Looks like a procession of drunk Pac-Man ghosts:

red lipstick pacman

Monday: NARS Vesuvio


The Pure Matte line by NARS is not as hyped right now as their lip crayons and Audacious lipsticks, but it’s a classic, dependable line. I would recommend the Pure Mattes to anyone who doesn’t necessarily collect makeup, but likes to treat themselves to a fancy lipstick every couple of years. Vesuvio is a supremely user-friendly product. It’s an old-school matte: not completely dry like the trendier liquid matte lipsticks, but with a soft sheen. It glides onto the lips effortlessly, and the packaging is so slight that the product easily fits into a wallet. There are 12 Pure Matte shades to choose from, and Vesuvio is the purest of the reds in the lineup.

Tuesday: TheBalm Devoted




Along with Kat Von D’s Everlasting Liquid Lipsticks, TheBalm’s Meet Matt(e) Hughes Lip Colors have one of the better liquid matte formulas I’ve tried. Not Sahara dry, not crumbly or flaky. Unlike KVD, though, TheBalm doesn’t have trendy blues and blacks and purples in its lineup. The Meet Matt(e) Hughes series is still worth checking out–going by Devoted, the brand is onto something when it comes to vivid shades. This pure red lipstick is so bright it’s practically luminous.

Wednesday: Shu Uemura M OR570 (Gangnam Orange)


While this lipstick’s orange red color reads to me as iconic and pop arty, its texture is something I’d never encountered before. Products like the NARS Pure Mattes have some creaminess to them; the Shu Uemura’s got absolutely none. Its airy and glidey formula feels like a dimethicone primer, but for lips.

The line is called Rouge Unlimited Supreme Matte. M OR570 is not currently available on the official Shu site, but I know it popped up as one half of the “Gangnam Duo” that also included a bright pink. I imagine the combination would be incredible for color blocking.

Thursday: Rouge Bunny Rouge Raw Silence


As someone with an inordinate love for tomatoes, I am grateful to my friend who hooked me up with this juicy tomato-colored lipstick. Raw Silence is part of RBR’s Hues of Enchantment collection, which is marketed as “pigment-dense” in contrast with the brand’s ostensibly sheer line, Succulence of Dew. The two Succulence lipsticks I own (bought by the same friend!) are in fact as pigmented as Raw Silence, and the only difference is that the latter looks creamier and less glossy.

I am hard to please when it comes to creamy lipsticks. I’ve got minor beefs with some popular formulas–the discontinued Urban Decay Revolution is heavy, Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche is slippery. Raw Silence is actually one of my favorite products in this finish. On application, it feels almost like vinyl, and hugs the lips well. Like the NARS and TheBalm lipsticks above, Raw Silence is considered a true red, but I feel the color’s a bit earthier.

Friday: Paula’s Choice Currant


Currant came in a gift-with-purchase lip crayon set, which also featured a brighter red, a berry, and a shimmery topper. I have no special fuzzies towards the crayon/chubby stick format, as I don’t really care how easy it is to draw a crisp lipline. I hate defined liplines on myself, so a brush is always involved to fuzz out the edges. See the look above, where I did the outline with an eyeshadow blending brush… LIKE AN ANIMAL.

Some chubby sticks are waxy or greasy, but Currant feels velvety, like a high-quality traditional lipstick. Its finish reminds me of the red currant berries my mom used to grow in her garden: smooth, juicy, and reflective.

Saturday: ColourPop Bichette


Bichette is part of ColourPop’s original Lippie Stix collection. Man, feels like they premiered those so long ago, even though it’s only been a couple of years–ColourPop release so much stuff. So far, based on Bichette, I am pro-Lippie Stix. The formula is similar to the Paula’s Choice lip crayon: smooth and comfortable. Of all the reds I’m reviewing in this post, this one is the darkest.

Sunday: NYX Perfect Red


In this post, I reviewed three “red reds,” one orange red, and two deeper reds. Finally, here is a red that’s considered blue-toned, like MAC Ruby Woo. NYX’s Matte line is beloved by many: out of the several NYX lipstick series I’ve sampled, this one has been the closest to flawless. I’ve seen shades from the core Matte lineup, including Perfect Red, Alabama, Whipped Caviar, and Butter named as favorites by various bloggers I respect. These lipsticks are old-timey creamy mattes, similar to the NARS Pure Matte lipsticks reviewed above. The packaging is clunkier, of course, but NYX is an incomparably more budget-friendly toy. (And there’s more product in the tube, too–4.5g as opposed to NARS’ 2g.) Currently, NYX is offering 45 shades of their Matte lipstick, including out-there colors such as the stone grey Haze and the greyish dark purple Up the Bass.

Drunk Elephant Skincare: B-Hydra & Lala Retro

Earlier this week, I reviewed two products by Drunk Elephant: the Lippe lip balm and the C-Firma antioxidant serum. Now, on to the B-Hydra gel for combo/oily skin and the Lala Retro cream for dry skin, which comprise the other half of my Drunk Elephant skincare collection. A reminder about my needs: my skin is combination, sensitive, and mildly rosaceous.

B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Gel


My first bottle of B-Hydra was close to done, when I found out I hadn’t been using it 100% correctly. I purchased B-Hydra for use as a standalone moisturizer, the last step in my nightly routine or prep for sunscreen in the morning. Mind you, not like it was bad in those roles. A water-based gel, B-Hydra is very refreshing and sinks in quickly. It doesn’t have silicones, a welcome change from my previous moisturizer: CALM Redness Relief by Paula’s Choice. (I’m not against ‘cones, but CALM was so silicone-heavy it felt filmy and nasty.) B-Hydra also makes good on its “illuminating” claim, breaking with the “oily skin=needs mattifying” orthodoxy. It amplifies the dimensions of the face, creating an almost statuesque finish.

One problem, though: B-Hydra didn’t give skin much of a relaxing sensation, familiar from the use of richer moisturizers. After some research, I found out that B-Hydra might work better as a hydrating add-on to other products, rather than its own thing. Now, I am mixing it with an oilier and more nourishing Drunk Elephant product, the C-Firma day serum. That combo is recommended by the brand, and I agree that the two products are truly meant to be cocktailed. C-Firma is a little oily and tacky on its own, but the blend has an airy and refreshing quality. I use it in the morning underneath my daily sunscreen. As for the nighttime routine, I’m now playing with other products, such as CeraVe PM and rosehip oil. If I go back to B-Hydra, I’m planning to layer or mix it with oilier moisturizers.

Lala Retro Whipped Cream

Such is the life of someone with combination skin: it gets crazy in all different ways. Therefore, you end up trying products for oily, normal, AND dry skin types.


Last fall, I suffered from massive allergies that bloated, irritated, and tattered the hell out of the skin around my eyes. Right after the allergies improved, my city of San Francisco got a bout of cold weather, uncharacteristic in these times of climate change. B-Hydra didn’t help me, of course; neither did the heavier creams by CeraVe and First Aid Beauty. A little sample of Lala Retro turned out to be the hero to stop the flaking. I had a $20 Sephora coupon burning a hole in my wallet, so I purchased a full size.

Most of the time, I use Lala Retro as an eye cream. I apply it all over my face whenever unsuccessful product experiments make my skin red and dry. The cream sinks in nicely, and I find its earthy, nutty scent intoxicating. I only have one issue: in keeping with the “retro” theme (I guess), Drunk Elephant originally released the cream in a classic tub. After multiple customer complaints about the less-than-sanitary packaging, the brand switched it up for an airless jar. The new container was revealed very soon after I bought my Lala Retro–daaaaamn.


And that’s it for my Drunk Elephant collection. Here are some disjointed thoughts about the brand’s offerings that I’ve sampled or am curious about.

The T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum changed my mind about glycolic acid and AHAs in general. My face had been hurt by Paula’s Choice and Andalou Naturals’ glycolic acid products, so I avoided the world of AHAs for a while. But I’m nothing if not hella curious, which is why I couldn’t resist trying the much-hyped T.L.C. Framboos. And it turned out to be very gentle! After playing with the Sephora sample for two weeks, I saw that my skin got smoother. However, I’m not sure if I will purchase the full size, as I’m pretty satisfied with my new, much cheaper AHAs by Deciem.

I pawed a tester of the Umbra sunscreen at Sephora, and I was surprised with how insanely greasy it is. The brand only recommends applying a pea-sized amount, due to Umbra’s high zinc oxide content (20%). For those of us who are used to the “1/4 teaspoon of sunscreen” orthodoxy, “pea-sized” sounds a little weird, but I’m down for trying this method with an Umbra sample in the future.

I’m also interested in checking out the Pekee and Juju bar cleansers, since they both are touted as mild. So far, none of the Drunk Elephant products I’ve tried were irritating, so I have a fair amount of goodwill towards the brand in that regard.

In general, I commend Drunk Elephant for making pretty solid skincare and paying special attention to the needs of those with sensitive skin. However, I wouldn’t call their products “miracles” worth oooh-ing and aaah-ing about. Except for maybe Lala Retro, which I think is a boon for dry, flaking skin.

Drunk Elephant Skincare: Lippe & C-Firma

Drunk Elephant is enjoying something akin to cult status in the beauty world. It boasts photogenic packaging, instantly memorable product names, and a slew of “best skin of my life!!” reviews. The elephant in the room (hahaha PUN) is that the goodies are quite expensive. Fortunately, Sephora and Dermstore have sales and coupons sometimes, which is pretty much how I assembled my four-strong collection.


In this post, I will be covering two items: the Lippe balm and the C-Firma antioxidant serum. For context, here are my skincare concerns: mild rosacea, sensitivity, and general combination skin issues, such as oiliness in my T-zone and dryness around my eyes.

Drunk Elephant first caught my attention thanks to high ratings on Beautypedia, a site famous for bashing skincare with potentially irritating ingredients. I use its ratings as a predictor to see if a product would make my face redder than normal. (Ironically, the most aggravating products I have ever tried were two masks by Beautypedia’s house brand, Paula’s Choice–but that’s another story.) Drunk Elephant touts its gentleness to skin using the “no toxins” language, a berserk button for those who prefer nerdy skincare philosophies to hippie ones. However,  the company promotes beneficial synthetic ingredients in addition to natural stuff, and the “toxins” it avoids include natural irritants such as essential oils.

The core product in the line is the 100% Virgin Marula Oil, which ties into a story behind the brand name. The marula trees grow in Africa and their fruits indeed make elephants drunk. (The fruit are also used for the Amarula cream liqueur, which has an elephant on the bottle.) Marula oil is an ingredient in all of the currently available Drunk Elephant products. A representative told me on Instagram that the brand uses fair trade oils, however I haven’t been able to verify that claim.


Lippe Lip Balm

Lippe is the only product in my Drunk Elephant collection that I know I won’t repurchase. Lip balms as expensive as this one ($22) better be miracle workers… Lippe isn’t.


To be fair, my lips are extremely dry and prone to shriveling, and lip balms either do nothing at all or offer a short-term improvement. Lippe is a decent enough oily balm, similar in feel to Hurraw! and Yes to Coconuts. This is actually my favorite kind of lip moisturizer, but Lippe’s effect is not much different from the aforementioned under-$5 options. If one’s particular about ethically sourced ingredients, Fair Trade USA has partner companies that sell lip balms for $3. In short, even though I don’t regret purchasing Lippe, I remain unconvinced about the whole genre of fancy lip balms.

C-Firma Day Serum

Hey you! You’re losing, you’re losing, you’re losing, you’re losing your Vitamin C. 

A few years ago, I went to a cosmetic dermatologist at Kaiser Permanente for advice on a general skincare routine. She recommended retinol, resveratrol, and antioxidants, all of which I’ve been dutifully using since then.


Of the antioxidant serums I’ve tried, C-Firma is as good as any. Some use Vitamin C products to banish dark spots, but I don’t have many, and those serums are more like maintenance workers than problem-solvers for me. I view them as building blocks in a regimen for mitigating general signs of aging. So far, I can testify that since I started using antioxidants (along with retinol and resveratrol), my face didn’t slide off, I didn’t erupt in boils, and my skin has been generally looking softer and, ummmm, glowier. And yes, it’s still firm. I might be able to produce more authoritative conclusions in a few years, when I get closer to 40 (I’m 31.) Of course, if I still have this beauty hobby of mine.

I’m on my second bottle of C-Firma now. Drunk Elephant has recently reformulated the serum for a more convenient application experience, and the change is for the better. The first iteration of C-Firma was too runny, similar to Paula’s Choice C15 Super Booster, and the new formula is more viscous, feeling oily and gel-like at the same time. Lately, I’ve been mixing the serum in the morning with Drunk Elephant’s B-Hydra, a gel hydrator for oily skin. The resulting mega-serum sinks in quickly, and feels refreshing and nourishing. I consider it decent prep for my dry-ish daily sunscreen, the Paula’s Choice tinted moisturizer. Dayum, a lot of mentions of Paula’s Choice in this post dedicated to a different brand… But it is what it is. I know Paula’s Choice skincare pretty well.

Back to Drunk Elephant, this Sunday I’m planning to post about B-Hydra as well as the Lala Retro cream for dry skin. I will also include some random thoughts about the brand’s products that I’ve sampled or am curious about. Til Sunday.