Product review: ELF Studio Concealer Pencil & Brush

Product review: ELF Studio Concealer Pencil & Brush

Happy hump day everyone! For me, this is actually day two of a much-needed vacation. This is my last break for a few months, since the madness of the holidays has already begun, so I’m trying to build up my reserve of scheduled posts once again! Today I wanted to share a review of a concealer that I bought this summer. What makes this concealer different is that it’s a) a pencil, like an eyeliner and b) it’s specifically formulated for covering breakouts! Best of all, it’s vegan-friendly and bargain-priced…so read on to see what I thought of it!

The product: ELF Studio Concealer Pencil & Brush; in three shades; $3 at eyeslipsface.com

The claims: Salicylic acid and tea tree oil treat blemishes; the brush helps blend the concealer on the skin to create a flawless finish.

Ingredients: Salicylic Acid 2%, Synthetic Beeswax, Microcrystalline Wax, Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Paraffinium Liquidum (Mineral Oil), Bis-Diglyceryl Polyacyladipate-2, Isopropyl Myristate,, Petrolatum, Mica, Melaleuca Altenifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil BHT, Benzyl Alcohol, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone, Iron Oxides (CI 77491 CI 77492 CI 77499), Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891).

I tried it: This is a unique way to deliver concealer: it’s in a chubby pencil that can be sharpened like an eyeliner crayon (there’s a sharpener on the lid); on one end of the pencil is a super-soft synthetic brush that blends the concealer once it’s on the skin. I’ve tried acne concealers before and have either disliked the liquid formula or found that they lacked staying power, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from this.

Surprisingly, this has a nice opaque coverage and the brush feels much nicer than what you would expect on a bargain makeup product. It blends well and can be built up for more coverage. The wear time is impressive too: I can get several hours without fading or budging.

I do feel that the combo of salicylic acid and tea tree oil helps to diminish the severity of breakouts. It’s nice to have these ingredients in the concealer rather than trying to layer a regular concealer over a spot treatment, since this typically results in the concealer sliding away.

My final thoughts: This is such a steal! Lately I’ve been dealing with those awful stress-related breakouts around the mouth and chin, and this has been a lifesaver–it covers everything up so I don’t feel so self-conscious, but doesn’t further irritate my skin or cause any dryness in the surrounding area. If you struggle with occasional breakouts and want a quick and lightweight way to hide them, I would definitely recommend buying this pencil!

Vegan pumpkin cranberry chocolate chip cookies! (recipe)

Vegan pumpkin cranberry chocolate chip cookies! (recipe)

It’s not autumn without a healthy dose of pumpkin recipes! The other day Alyssa (who blogs over here) posted on Facebook that she was whipping up a batch of pumpkin cookies, and of course we all clamored for the recipe! It got me browsing around looking at different pumpkin cookie recipes, pumpkin drink recipes, and all other manner of pumpkin-flavored things in between.

Well, going back to the cookies: after looking at a few different recipes and tinkering with some vegan substitutions, here’s what I baked up today! These cookies are not only vegan, they’re easy to make and super-delicious.

You’ll need:

  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (or break up a vegan chocolate bar into small chunks)
  • 1 cup dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix the pumpkin and oil together in a mixing bowl. In a separate small bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and other dry ingredients, except for the chocolate chips and cranberries. Add to the larger bowl and blend well. Add in the chocolate chips and cranberries, using more or less to taste. (I like tons and tons in my cookies, but you might use less or even omit one or the other.)

Drop in even spoonfuls onto cookie sheets and bake for 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Makes two dozen cookies.

Product review: Eat Green Tea edible tea leaves

Product review: Eat Green Tea edible tea leaves

I received one or more of the products mentioned below for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

I have a very busy lifestyle and am used to gulping coffee or energy drinks to stay alert throughout the day (and into the night!). The trouble, of course, with chugging down coffee and energy drinks is that the caffeine boost is usually short-lived and all of that caffeine and sugar coursing through your body can leave you feeling pretty jittery and wired. Too much caffeine makes my heart pound, too much sugar makes me feel sick to my stomach, and then when I want to go to sleep I have trouble drifting off because I’m still so wired. I think anyone bolting from one obligation to the next fueled solely by Starbucks and Monster Energy can relate to this dilemma!

Enter Eat Green Tea. When the company sent me my sample package I was very skeptical that such a small thing could keep me on my feet all day. However, after trying it out for a week, my opinion has changed–I’m totally hooked! This product mixes easily into a smoothie or oatmeal for breakfast, but you could also sprinkle it over salad, into a sandwich, in soup, into pasta sauce, etc. It has a bit of a grainy texture that reminds me of adding oregano or other spices to a dish, so it’s easy to disguise–and there’s no unpleasant taste, unlike some other energy supplements that I’ve sampled in the past. I’m sure in the grand scheme of things taste & texture should be secondary to how well the product works, but personally, if something tastes off-putting I won’t use it, no matter how well it works!

According to the Eat Green Tea website, one serving of this edible tea is supposed to deliver 100x the antioxidant power of simply drinking a cup of tea, which offers everything from increased energy to fat burning, improving heart health, and repairing skin damage. Obviously I haven’t been using it long enough to say if it will help me lose weight or improve my skin, but it definitely delivers on the promise of an energy boost! It makes me feel much more energetic and alert, both physically and mentally, and it doesn’t have the accompanying jitters of too much caffeine or sugar. It’s also a sustained energy boost, versus a quick spike, so I still feel the effects after several hours instead of reaching for another cup of coffee. My heart isn’t pounding and I don’t feel like I’m going to crash in an hour, but when I’m ready to sleep at the end of the day, I can lie down and go right to sleep without the post-buzz jitters keeping me awake.

I feel like it’s a very practical purchase, too–a one-month supply costs $25 and qualifies for free shipping from Amazon (score!), whereas I can easily blow through more than that amount in a month if I’m buying energy drinks, candy, coffee on the go and sodas from the vending machine to keep me on my feet. Not to mention–this is a much healthier choice than all that sugar and chemical additives! I like that it’s organic and unprocessed, so you know you’re getting the most for your money with no hidden harmful ingredients.

Overall this has to be the best health-related product I’ve tried all summer, and I will definitely be ordering more–I am head over heels in love. If you want more information on this product or want to order your own bag, you can find Eat Green Tea via their website here or order from Amazon.com here.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Product review: Hard Candy All Lid Up Creme Eye Shadow

Product review: Hard Candy All Lid Up Creme Eye Shadow

Another product from my birthday haul! I have wanted a budgeproof teal shadow for some time now and thought I would check off two objectives by also trying out a new product: a creme shadow from Hard Candy. Read on for a full review and swatches.

The product: Hard Candy All Lid Up Creme Shadow, $5; shown here in Tidal Wave. Available at Walmart stores.

The claim: From their website: “Vibrant, long wearing crème eye shadow lights up and enhances eyes. Our groundbreaking hybrid formula has a soft cushion texture that allows it to be worn as eye shadow or eyeliner. This crease proof, stay put formula is blended luminous, multi-colored pearls that provides glamorous evening looks. Available in 10 gorgeous, vivid shades!”

Ingredients:  Isodocane, mica, polyethylene, tribehenin, isohexadecane, polysilicone-11, isobutylmethacrylate/bis-hydroxypropyl, dimethicone acrylate, copolymer, dimethicone, silica (in gold and green shades), C13-15 alkane, phenoxyethanol. May contain: titanium dioxide, iron oxides, manganese violet, ferric ferrocyanide, carmine, ferric ammonium ferrocyanide.

Ingredient notes: Hard Candy products are not tested on animals and this appears to be vegan. These products are made in the USA. This is chock full of strange chemical names, but most seem to have a fairly low toxicity.

I tried it: The packaging is a basic small plastic jar with a screw-on lid–nothing fancy. This shadow is incredibly dry, which I did not expect. I had to use a cotton swab to dig it out of the pot and apply it on the lid, and then used my fingers to blend it out. In my opinion a brush just won’t do the job. You’ll also want to use a cotton swab to shape and blend the edges of the color very quickly before it sets, because once it does, it’s budge-proof. I think the drier texture–while a total pain in the butt during application–helps it last longer with out creasing or slipping on my oily lids.

Here is the look I put together using this shadow for my main allover lid color. I used my mini Hard Candy Meteor-Eyes baked shadow in Bad Reputation on the inner corner, around the outer corner of the eye and up across the crease to soften the edges of the teal shadow, and then along the lower lash line. I used a pop of peachy shadow under my arch. I lined the upper lash line with the Milani Ultra Fine Liquid Eye Liner in Black Vinyl and lined the lower lash line with my Urban Decay 24/7 pencil in Zero. I’m wearing Hard Candy Flat to Fab black mascara in these pics, and if it’s starting to look a bit droopy–that’s because I was wearing it all night!

This shadow is pretty vibrant. It works best if you apply a thin coat and then possibly a second to build up the color, or top it with a matching powder shadow (though I don’t own any powder teals). Despite gripping your lids all day, it does remove fairly easily with waterproof eye makeup remover, and does not stain the skin. Because it’s so budgeproof, it works great as a liner.

My final thoughts: This shadow is just kind of “meh” to me. I guess I like the overall end result, and it’s hard to find cheap, vibrant vegan shadows, but I just wish the texture wasn’t so dry and difficult to apply. I think I would possibly consider purchasing more shades in the future, but I’m not rushing out for more at the moment–I’ll be looking at some other brand options first.

Recipe: cinnamon raisin bread

Recipe: cinnamon raisin bread

Today I’ve got a recipe for cinnamon raisin bread! When I was a kid my mom baked all of our bread from scratch. I was totally spoiled in the carb department. This is the recipe she passed down to me and not only is it super-easy to make, it only requires five ingredients to make the basic bread–no special bread flour, etc.–so it’s super-cheap, too. If you want to make plain bread for sandwiches or garlic toast, just go through the steps to make the bread without adding any cinnamon and raisins.

Here’s what you’ll need (makes two loaves):

  • 3 cups warm (not hot) water
  • 1 tbsp. (or one packet) yeast
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tbsp. oil
  • 8 cups flour
  • Cinnamon to taste
  • Raisins to taste (I use about three cups for two loaves! Don’t judge!)

Put the water, yeast and sugar in a large mixing bowl and allow to “work” for 10-15 minutes. Make sure your water is only warm and not boiling hot, or it can kill the yeast. Add the oil and flour and mix well; dump out onto floured countertop, knead lightly, and return to mixing bowl to rise. Cover with a clean dish towel and place in a warm corner of the kitchen (away from any drafts) to rise for 45 minutes to an hour.

Flour the counter again and put a little shortening (vegan substitute) on your hands so you won’t stick to the dough, then punch down the risen dough and dump it out on the counter to knead lightly. Add the raisins and cinnamon and work into the dough as you are kneading. Cut the dough into two sections, form into loaves, and place in greased bread pans; cover with a dish towel and allow to rise for another 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (F). Bake the loaves for 40-45 minutes. Pop them out of the pans to cool on a cooling rack so the bottoms don’t get soggy; once they’ve cooled a bit, slice up and enjoy!

Once the loaves are completely cool, you can wrap up the second one for the freezer or give it to a friend…if it lasts that long (it never does in our house!). This bread makes great toast, too!