Empties: September 2017 to January 2018

Posted on January 30, 2018 under Empties

My last empties post was at the end of the summer, before I moved to Glasgow – it’s been awhile! But after months of diligently using stuff, I have finally collected enough garbage to share with you.

Anything marked with an asterisk was received as gratis through work. There are no press samples featured in this post.

Skincare

Biotherm Blue Therapy Serum-In-Oil*: I’m very sad to see this go, because it was an absolutely lovely, nourishing serum step. However, at $78, I will not be replenishing my supply. I will say, though, this truly is a “serum-in-oil” – it feels oily and is incredibly rich and hydrating, but it sinks into the skin easily and doesn’t feel heavy like some oils tend to do even on my dry skin. I would buy this with Optimum points if I were in a particularly indulgent mood.

Biotherm Life Plankton Sensitive Emulsion*: This is an overpriced moisturizer. It was absolutely fine as a pre-makeup step, but for $55 I don’t want “absolutely fine”.

Jouviance Glyco Laser 5% Soft Peel Night Cream*: My skin loves glycolic acid, and a 5% concentration worked really well for nightly use. This cream was great over the spring and summer months – it wasn’t too heavy but gave me enough hydration. It was fortuitous that I ran out of it as the cooler weather started to settle in, because it wouldn’t have been enough for winter.

Caudalie Vinosource Moisturizing Sorbet: This moisturizer layers nicely under makeup but isn’t as hydrating as I would have wanted. It also smelled really weird, and not in a good way. It was convenient to have on hand for travelling, but hahaha $48 for a 40mL tube of an okay moisturizer.

The Ordinary 100% Plant-Derived Squalane: I like having an oil on hand for my hair, body, and face, and this one didn’t disappoint. It worked well for all three purposes and I liked it a bit more than The Ordinary’s Argan Oil, which was a tiny bit heavy on my face. I have repurchased this and use it whenever my face needs some serious help in the hydration department!

Nuxe Rêve de Miel Lip Balm: I have sung this lip balm’s praises enough times, I think. This is the second pot I’ve finished; of course, I’m already enthusiastically working my way through a third. I got my mom hooked on this stuff, too. It’s on the pricier side ($17 CAD), but a pot lasts me upwards of a year and it’s legit the best thing for my dry lips.

Nivea Hydro Care Lip Balm: I’m pretty sure I got this in my stocking when I was, like, 15, and recently started using it on a regular basis. Anyway, this is actually a really nice stick lip balm. I switched to Vaseline in a stick after I used this one up, and this one gives longer-lasting and generally richer hydration. When I finish the disappointing Vaseline I’ll probably go back to good ol’ Nivea.

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5: Photographed separately and on a different background because I finished it while in Toronto for Christmas and don’t understand the meaning of the word “consistency”. I use this as a hydrating serum step and I love it; this is the third bottle I’ve finished.

Hair

John Frieda Sheer Blonde Tone-Correcting Shampoo x3: I have been around the block when it comes to purple shampoos, and my favourite is Light Blue Shade. Since I can’t get that here in the UK, I have come back to a longtime favourite. The obvious downside is that I go through a 250mL tube quickly, as you may have surmised from the fact that there are three empty tubes featured in this post. But my hair has been suitably ashy, and the price is right. John Frieda is one of the rare brands that is much cheaper here in the UK; normal price is £6.95, but I always buy my shampoo when it’s on sale for £3.95. That’s about $6 CAD, down from the ~$14 it goes for in Canada. (By the way, the bottle in the second picture is the old packaging, because I still had a tube of it kicking around back in Toronto.)

Batiste Dry Shampoo – Blush: I don’t love this particular floral scent, but my friends and I have come to the conclusion that for some reason the Blush Batiste works better than the regular one. Batiste will always be a go-to dry shampoo staple for me because it works and you can find it nice and cheap at Winners. (I mean, not that the $10 price tag at the drugstore is terrible, either.)

Makeup

Remind me not to photograph black tubes on a dark background again…

Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Concealer in Fair: This is my second shot at this concealer. The first time I used the pink illuminating shade and found it made my undereyes look ashy. This time I went for Fair, which was a great shade for me. It’s a pretty good undereye concealer, but it doesn’t blow my mind.

Clarins Truly Waterproof Mascara: My favourite mascara – it makes my lashes look super long and defined without any clumps. I don’t mind that it’s waterproof; biphase remover takes it off easily. I despise spending money on mascara and bought this with Optimum points so I could wear it to my friends’ wedding. (Good thing; I cried!) I’ll need another good excuse to buy another tube, as much as I love it – $27 ain’t cheap.

L’Oreal Brow Artist Plumper in Transparent: This truly is my favourite brow gel. The hold is great, and it never looks wet or crispy on my brows. However, I think $14 for a drugstore brow gel is pushing it, so I only buy it when it’s on sale for $8.99. Right now I’m using Essence because I ran out of this stuff and it wasn’t on sale and I was feeling very cheap. I miss it, though. God, don’t you hate getting hooked on a product that’s unnecessarily expensive? I mean… it’s clear brow gel, the most boring product on Earth. I don’t want to spend more than $5 on it!

Nails

Witchcraft Be Strong Protein Hardener: I’ve had peely nails for about three years now, and this base coat really helps keep them in good shape. Since I used this up I discontinued use since I can’t find it in the UK, and I find my nails are actually in really good shape. I speculate that it’s because I’m no longer working with my hands so much, but it could be coincidental. Either way, I strongly recommend this if you struggle with peeling nails!

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat: I fell in love with this top coat back in the summer of 2014, and after trying a few others I have ultimately come back to this one. I like it better than the ever-popular Seche Vite! Now that I’m not working retail my nail polish lasts a lot longer, and I can get through an entire week with no chips when I use this top coat.

Beauty UK Nail Polish in Black: I bought this nail polish when I studied abroad in Glasgow, and now that I am back in Glasgow it has become a gloopy mess. Full circle! There’s nothing special about this nail polish either way. Knowing myself I assume this was cheap and that’s why I bought it over all the other black nail polishes out there, and if that’s the case then I think it’s a good budget buy.

Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure in Barracuda: This baby blue is one of my favourite nail polish colours ever, but the last time I used it it was so gloopy that I had to remove it immediately. I’m not sure if I’ll replace it because Barry M Sugar Apple is so similar that it’s hard to justify.

Lancôme glitter polish: I stole this from my mom’s nail polish stash in high school. (I would apologize, but she hardly ever wears nail polish, let alone glitter, and she probably got it for free because I can’t see her spending $30 on nail glitter.) It’s a really pretty fine white gold glitter that applies evenly, and it has been a staple of my Christmas manicures for many years now. But it’s pretty much completely dry, and the bottle has been caught in the crossfires of a few mishaps, so it’s time to say goodbye.

I don’t normally have so many nail empties, but I’m happy to thin out the herd even more. I’ve been getting increasingly stressed with the concept of owning a lot of things, so the more I use up the better. I’m not sure when my next empties post will be or how many products it will contain, but stay tuned, I guess.

Some skincare bits and bobs

Posted on March 09, 2017 under Lists

I’ve been doing a relatively good job at curtailing my makeup collecting habits, but I think I might have transferred these tendencies onto skincare. To be fair, I get a lot of skincare products for free through work, but I also purchase a lot of them myself. Skincare never used to be my bag; when I first got into makeup, all I did was use a St. Ives body lotion on my face (I know) and take off my makeup with a Garnier oil cleanser. Now, though, I have a multi-step skincare routine and a stable of products which I rotate through. I thought I’d share some of my favourites today, though this post is by no means an exhaustive look at what I own in the way of skincare.

For the record, my skin is normal to dry and currently at its driest. My biggest skin concerns besides hydration are a general dullness as well as stubborn post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

I absolutely adore washing my face at the end of the day. It just feels so satisfying. I never go to bed with makeup on, no matter the circumstances. I genuinely think I’ve at least removed my makeup if not thoroughly washed my face every single day in the past year.

I’ve been on the micellar solution train for three years now and I’ve cycled through a lot of them. I tend to just use whatever I get through work. I only started using everyone’s holy grail micellar water, Bioderma Sensibio H20, midway through last year. I originally had a 250mL bottle that I got from work, and then I purchased the big boy when I ran out of that. Bioderma is tied with the La Roche-Posay micellar solution for my favourite. I find both gentle and effective. A lot of other micellars strip my skin noticeably, but these two don’t. Bioderma gives me better value ounce per ounce, so I’ll probably stick to it. I like using a micellar solution to remove my makeup quickly and as a final step after a thorough cleansing to remove any leftover residue. I don’t use it as an eye makeup remover, though; I prefer a bi-phase formula since I wear waterproof eyeliner and sometimes mascara.

As I mentioned, even before I had anything resembling a skincare routine I used an oil cleanser. I’m still on board with that! I find oils break down my makeup super well and leave my skin feeling nourished. This is my third bottle of The Body Shop Camomile Silky Cleanser, so clearly I love it.

An oil is a bit heavy for a spot of casual face washing, so in the mornings I use Marcelle Ultra Gentle Gel Cleanser. I mentioned this product in my 2016 favourites and I’m mentioning it here again because it’s that good. It’s an extremely gentle, non-stripping, but thorough cleanser which leaves my skin feeling 100% clean and smooth. It also removes makeup really well, though I do usually prefer an oil cleanser for that. Plus, it costs $12.95 at the drugstore. I feel like I should own stock in Marcelle based on how many bottles of this cleanser I’ve sold and how many of my customers keep coming back for it. It’s the best!

I’ve been [beauty blogger voice] uhb-sessed with acids for some time now. AHAs do wonders for my dry, hyperpigmentation-prone skin! I started with the NeoStrata Purifying Solution in the summer, which boasts 8% glycolic acid. There was a stretch of several months where I used it literally every single day, without fail. In the fall, I added The Ordinary 10% Lactic Acid into my routine, and usually rotate between these two. AHAs really help brighten my skin and reduce the longevity of my hyperpigmentation (which, as I’ve mentioned several times on my blog, is extremely stubborn – some spots will last six months).

Not an AHA, but I’ve been so totally reliant on The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 since the beginning of this year. This winter is really sucking the moisture out of my skin, and I use hyaluronic acid as my serum step every night and sometimes during the day to really give me that extra boost of hydration. I’ve noticed a big difference in my skin since I started using it. I have a bunch of products from The Ordinary (I’m lucky enough to live within walking distance of a Deciem store), but this one is probably my favourite. I haven’t had any of the dreaded nose flakes in months now, and any fellow dry-skinned people out there know how real that problem is in winter!

At night, I tend to rotate between two creams. First, I’m still loving my Origins Drink Up! Overnight Mask. I use this most nights and I always wake up with plump, soft skin. If I have the time, I like to put on a layer of this, let it sink in, and then add another right before I go to bed for maximum hydration. Sometimes I skip using one of my liquid AHAs and use the Jouviance Glyco Laser 5 Soft Peel Night Cream. I got this as gratis from my store’s Jouviance rep, and at first I was a little wary about using it as my only night cream. The texture isn’t too thick, and I thought that the 5% glycolic acid might make it a bit too drying to use on its own. But it totally works as a night cream, and it’s good for lazy nights (or travel) because it combines my moisturizer and acid steps. My skin always feels incredibly smooth after I use this. I recently brought it on my trip to Montreal and used it four nights straight, and it didn’t dry my skin out at all. In fact, every morning I woke up feeling hydrated and smooth – it totally counteracted the ill effects of long nights out partying.

Finally, one treatment product which I’ve been loving: La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo+. The Effaclar line is meant for oily, acne-prone skin, but the Duo+ is extremely popular as a salicylic acid-, zinc-, and niacinamide-based spot treatment. Those with very oily and acne-prone skin can use this all over their faces as a lightweight, purifying moisturizer. Because I’m dry and don’t really have acne besides the regular hormonal zits here and there, I use it as a spot treatment. It’s a lightweight gel formulation which layers well with other products, and it’s extremely effective at drying out active blemishes and nipping baby zits in the bud. I would never want to use something like this all over my face (I do much better with AHAs than BHAs!), but used sparingly where needed it works like a charm.

I have some other skincare products which I’m testing at the moment, so I might do a part two to this post sometime in the future. But for now, these are the skincare products that I’ve been loving the most recently.

Empties: May to July 2016

Posted on July 12, 2016 under Empties

Wow, time flies when you decide to rewatch the entire 202-episode series of The X-Files, eh? (A side effect of this is being very into matte brown eyeshadow and mauve lipstick. Dana Scully is an inspiration in so many ways…) I was getting so caught up in government conspiracies that I almost forgot I even had a blog! Today I have for you another randomly spaced-out installment of empties.

There are no press samples included in this batch, so anything marked with an asterisk was received for free through work.

Skincare

empties-skincare

Jouviance Micellar Solution*: This was okay: it was pretty effective but maybe a bit more drying than the La Roche-Posay one, which so far is my favourite. Would not pay actual money for this, but if I got it through work again I’d use it up.

Lancôme Bi-Facil Double Action Eye Makeup Remover: This is the best eye makeup remover I’ve ever used, including in comparison to other biphase products. Lately I’ve been using Clarins Truly Waterproof mascara, which lives up to its name, and Bi-Facil can handle that. I’m very sad that this is gone because $36 for an eye makeup remover is unjustifiable. Normally I just live off the sample/GWP sizes, which I do have two of. When they’re gone I will have to have a serious conversation with myself about whether dropping 3 hours worth of wages on eye makeup remover is an option.

La Roche Posay Toleriane Riche Soothing Protecting Cream*: This is a great thick moisturizer for dry skin. I was mostly using it throughout the winter, but even in April and May it wasn’t too bad – it sinks in quite quickly, though it certainly wouldn’t be suited to oily skin. My line of work means I haven’t purchased moisturizer in two years, but theoretically I would buy this.

Reversa Eye Care Anti-Puff and Dark Circles*: This kept my undereyes moisturized but did nothing for my hereditary dark circles. I didn’t expect anything else, so I wasn’t disappointed.

Haircare

empties-hair

Standard for me: John Frieda Colour Renew Tone-Correcting Shampoo and L’Oreal Color Radiance Protecting Mask. The John Frieda blonde shampoos are continual repurchases for me because I find them effective for the price point. I do like the L’Oreal mask, still (I’m just finishing up my fifth or sixth tub of it), but I probably won’t be repurchasing now because I’ve found things that work even better.

Makeup

empties-makeup

Rimmel Stay Matte Powder: This isn’t technically empty, but at some point it becomes a quality of life thing, you know? Scraping powder from the edges of the pan is just not worth it. I have repurchased this one, because it worked well for me and I see no point in spending more than $8 on a powder.

Rimmel Lasting Finish 25 Hour Foundation: Technically I didn’t quite finish this one either – there are maybe three or four more uses in the bottle. But I left it out in the sun and now it smells like cat pee, so it must go. I did like this product, but I’m more into a lighter coverage and thinner consistency for the summer (and maybe in general). Definitely a great budget option for the four skin tones Rimmel makes products for.

Rimmel Brow This Way Eyebrow Gel in Clear: I liked this slightly better than the Essence one because it wasn’t quite so wet and sloppy, but I also felt like I used it up really quickly. Plus, it’s considerably pricier than the Essence one, and I’m just not willing to pay $7 more for less wet brow gel. So back to the Essence it is!

Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner: Standard. I have completely lost track of what number I’m on now. At least my fifth, maybe more. Since I discovered it about three years ago I have not looked back!

Miscellaneous

empties-misc

3 year old $3 eyelash curler from Walmart: I thought this was doing the trick until I got Tweezerman curlers. Now I see what I have been missing out on!

Sally Hansen Hard As Nails Xtreme Wear Nail Polish in Pacific Blue: My original bottle of Pacific Blue! I could probably add some thinner to get more wear out of this, and I just might, because I only have two backup bottles and then I will be forever without my favourite nail polish in the world. Still not ready to forgive Sally for this cruelty.

… And that is it! Hopefully you will hear something from me in fewer than 12 days, but I can’t promise anything when I still have 182 episodes left to watch.