Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Drugstore Skincare: e.l.f. Hydrating Gel Melt Cleanser

I'm forever on the lookout for less expensive options to my favorite skincare products, especially when it comes to cleansers. For something that spends so little time on your face, you'd think it should be possible to find a decent alternative at a drugstore price point. So I happily ordered the e.l.f. Cosmetics Hydrating Gel Melt Cleanser ($10 for 40g/ 1.41 oz), hoping to save some pennies on my evening double cleanse.
Aaand... Nope. Right off the bat, when we consider the price per ounce for this cleansing balm, it turns out not to be a very cost-effective product in the least. I did actually notice the small volume before purchasing, but I was still hopeful because the ingredients seemed quite promising. It contains argan and rose oils, as well as humectant glycerin. The first ingredient is an emollient fatty acid ester (ethylhexyl palmitate), and there's no mineral oil/ liquid paraffin, or fragrance added. Sounds pretty good, no?
But in my opinion, the Hydrating Gel Melt Cleanser is the prime example that a short and sexy INCI list is not the deciding factor of a good or bad product. Because performance wise, I don't think this is an effective cleansing balm. The first downside is that it's quite difficult to spread around, and even though the gel/balm does melt down into more of an oil with the warmth of my skin, it takes quite a lot of time and product to get this evenly distributed on my dry and made-up face. But even more importantly, it doesn't emulsify enough to effectively dissolve my make-up and sunscreen. It emulsifies a little bit but if you're trying to rinse this off, it's impossible to remove all the melted impurities or get if off without a residual oily film on the face. I take it off with a warm washcloth, but even so, it takes a lot of time, energy and rubbing my skin to remove it sufficiently for my second cleanser to do its job.
And while the packaging looks quite luxe for a drugstore brand, the cleanser is so firm that I need to use a separate spatula to dig it out - plus, it sorts of tries to hide with its weight and heft how little product you're actually getting for your money. The balm itself also smells of... well, plastic. And that's just not very pleasant at the end of the day, you know what I mean?
So here are my thoughts. So far, the oil/ balm cleansers I've tried that featured more appealing ingredients lists (this e.l.f. Gel Melt Cleanser, The Body Shop Chamomile Silky Cleansing Oil, or even the NUDE Omega Cleansing Jelly, which was the best but most expensive) haven't really been ultra effective at make-up removal - which is essentialy what I am using them for. On the other hand, oil cleansers with more questionable INCI lists  (mostly featuring mineral oil as the main ingredient, like the Shu Uemura oils) have all removed more make-up much faster than their more natural counterparts. One notable exception that I thought performed fabulously was the DHC Deep Cleansing Oil (olive oil based), however it is a little pricey - I may go back to it though if I don't find anything I like better. But honestly, from this point onward, I think I'm just not going to bother inspecting ingredients lists for my first cleansers and focus on finding a really effective (and hopefully, not too expensive) and enjoyable product I can safely rely on to take off all my make-up and SPF. I am already halfway done with this e.l.f. cleanser and am in fact investigating some more popular Asian beauty oil and balm cleansers.

Do you have any skincare staples that can be found among drugstore aisles? To be honest, I've only ever really liked two drugstore skincare products: the CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser and their PM Face Lotion. Let me know what your favorites are!


  1. Hi Monika,

    I order all my Skincare from an local small company that produces manually. Gladly, this is all very reasonably priced with around 10€ for 30ml of lotion or oil. So I'm quite happy I have found out about them.
    For removing my makeup I use pure Jojobaoil that I massage into my skin and remove with warm wather and a washcloth. I can remove everything plus sunscreen but I do not wear heavy makeup. Maybe it is nevertheless an option you can try?

    LG, Anne

    1. I used to do the Oil Cleansing Method with various plant oils too, but always felt they left too much of a residue on my skin. Also, I find it hard to get my washcloths clean in the wash when coated in natural oils. But I may give that option a try some time again in the future!

  2. Girl. Pick yourself up some Pond's Cold Cream, especially if you're not scared of mineral oil anymore. I'm serious. Grandmothers were using it for a reason. Waterproof mascara melts away in a snap, and a huge tub can't be more than $10, and it lasts forever.

    1. Ari, Cold Cream doesn't emulsify though, does it? I used to have the Avene version that was recommended by a dermatologist to use as a moisturizer on my acne-prone skin that was dried out by acne treatments, and not surprisingly, it was a fail, lol. Do you also use it as an occlusive layer/ sleeping mask?

  3. I am using the ole henriksen jelly cleanser (it emulsifies alright but fogs my vision) to first cleanse right now and I have two different Mamonde balm/oil gel as backup...They both smell amazing from what I can tell.