Empties: April to June 2019

Posted on July 10, 2019 under Empties

I have accumulated a lot of empties over the past three months, especially in the realm of skincare. (Not surprising, since I’m way more into skincare than makeup these days, my routine is far more complex than it ever has been, and I work in the industry.) So let’s get right into it without wasting any words!

Bath and Body

A-Derma Exomega Emollient Balm: A great soothing, hydrating body cream, but I just can’t keep up this habit when I go through a $30+ bottle in two months!

The Body Shop Body Butter – Coconut: The last of my winter stockpile. I’m sure I’ll buy another three next fall.

The Chemistry Brand HA3 Hand Hydrator: To this day one of the only hand creams I can tolerate. It sinks in quickly, it hydrates really well, and it smells great. Plus it’s only $9 a tube, which feels very reasonable.

Old Spice Bearglove Deodorant: I’m a huge fan of Old Spice deodorant. It lasts way longer than standard women’s deodorant and it works really well for me. I’ve been using various Old Spice scents for around six years now. A stick lasts me around two years and I buy them on sale, which works out to be very cost-effective. Bearglove is a bit of a sweeter scent with apple and citrus, which I really enjoyed. I’ve moved on to the ingeniously-named Fresh scent, which is a little more traditionally masculine. (That’s cool with me; the idea of scents as gendered is fake and made up and I just wear what I like and want to smell like.)

Hair

Function of Beauty Shampoo: This is probably the most extravagantly overpriced thing I have ever bought in the name of beauty. NO. This was not awful, it was just… a shampoo… and a $40 custom shampoo should be more than just a shampoo.

HIF Anti-Frizz Support and HIF Intensive Detox: I’m pretty sure these have both been discontinued, which is fine because they’re not that great. I didn’t mind Intensive Detox as a super minty, scalp-tingling clarifying shampoo that’s not too stripping, but Anti-Frizz Support is nothing special. I’m all for metal packaging as a better alternative to plastic, but metal tubes are impractical for several reasons and I did not enjoy trying to wring product out of these damn tubes.

Skincare

Marcelle Ultra Gentle Cleansing Gel: A staple since 2016! It works, it’s gentle, it’s cheap. What’s not to love?

The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser: This was okay – it’s definitely gentle and doesn’t strip the skin, but I don’t find it’s terribly effective at removing makeup compared to other cleansers. It’s also pretty small; I ran through this in a little under a month. At $7.90 for 50ml, it’s not really a better deal than Hylamide’s oil cleanser, which is $19 for 120ml.

Marcelle Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover: This did not work nearly as well as my La Roche-Posay eye makeup remover, and it irritated my eyes despite claiming to be super gentle. It’s cheaper, but not by so much that it’s not worth it to pony up the extra $4.50 for the LRP, which remains the gold standard in my eyes. (Or for my eyes?)

Bioderma Hydrabio H2O Micellar Water: I think I slightly prefer Sensibio (the original formula with the pink cap), but I have so many of these on backup it’s not funny and I’m happy to slowly (SLOWLY) use them up.

Bioderma Sensibo H20 Micellar Water (mini): Nothing much to say. It’s Bioderma. I like it and I’ll keep using it. I pretty much always have a bottle this size for travel.

Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask to Quench Skin’s Thirst: I do not want to spend a single winter without this product. In the three winters I’ve now used it, I have not experienced the extreme dryness and flakiness I became used to. Anything that keeps my nose from flaking in the dead of January is a winner in my books. This isn’t the cheapest product, but it lasts me all winter, so I’m down to buy it year after year.

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra Intense Soothing Care: I really enjoy this lightweight but nourishing daytime moisturizer, though I didn’t repurchase it this time around because $34 is a little steep. I always come back to it when I need something I know I can trust!

La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Baume B5: I vastly prefer the texture of the thin LRP Cicaplast Gel, but the Baume is undeniably a powerhouse for intense hydration and healing the skin. I was profoundly afflicted by a dry patch on the side of my nose for about four months last spring and summer, and the only thing that would make it go away even temporarily was this product. I also used it to heal my most recent tattoo, and I thought it did a really good job. I’d still probably go back to the Gel next time simply because I like that it’s clear, which doesn’t compromise the colour of tattoos. The Baume leaves such a thick white cast that it’s not the prettiest option!

The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion: I’m heartbroken that this product is no longer sold in Canada – it might just be my favourite TO product of all time. You’d better believe I stocked up on a bunch of these when I heard the pharmaceutical regulations were changing! (Seriously, I have another bottle on the go and four backups.)

The Ordinary Buffet + Copper Peptides 1%: I’ve been trying a bunch of products that promote healing and overall skin health in the hopes that they’ll address my post-inflammatory erythema. Copper is a great healing ingredient and I think this did help, but I probably won’t repurchase this product since I’m not benefiting from the other two peptides in it. (Matrixyl and Argireline are strictly corrective, not preventative, and I really don’t have any lines yet!) At $28.90, this is the most expensive product in The Ordinary lineup, and it seems silly to keep buying it when 2/3 of the active ingredients aren’t doing anything for me. I’ve moved on to the NIOD Modulating Glucosides, which is even better for the PIE and only $0.10 more.

NIOD Multi-Molecular Hyaluronic Complex (30ml and 15ml): Well, clearly I really like this super lightweight hyaluronic acid serum. It’s not cheap, but it’s leagues above The Ordinary version both in terms of efficacy and texture. (It has five times the types of HA molecules as well as ten times the concentration of HA!)

NIOD Modulating Glucosides: This serum for sensitivity has worked wonders in calming post-inflammatory erythema and healing my breakouts much faster than nature intended. What started out as a fairly boring product that I took a flyer on has quickly become a staple in my routine.

NIOD Survival 30: This is the best facial sunscreen I’ve ever tried and I am very sad that it’s been out of stock for months now. My old staple from La Roche-Posay simply doesn’t cut it now that I know how amazing Survival 30 is.

StriVectin Advanced Retinol Eye Cream: This was a random piece of gratis from my old job. I didn’t notice any huge changes thanks to the retinol, but I guess at this point I’m really just hoping that I’m helping my skin produce collagen for the future. It was decently hydrating, but I wouldn’t pay $90 or whatever it costs.

IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Undereye Eye Cream (sample): I liked this for lots of hydration under my eyes. Obviously I couldn’t use it long enough to see any long-term results, but I’d have to say it’s, you know, an expensive hydrating eye cream. I already have one of those from the fall Sephora sale when I decided I had to have the Kiehl’s eye cream (which I do love, despite the ridiculous price).

Nuxe Rêve de Miel Ultra-Nourishing Lip Balm: I’ve lost track. This is the only lip balm that matters. This pot is the old formula, but I like the new one just as much. (For those keeping count, the new formula is a little less waxy and slightly more spreadable, but it’s still super hydrating.)

Makeup

MUFE Ultra HD Invisible Cover Foundation – Y215: This foundation used to be my go-to, but it doesn’t work as beautifully with my skin anymore. I find it a bit harder to make it look natural and seamless on my skin these days. I’m back to my IT CC Cream because I really just missed it the entire time I was working through the MUFE.

Glossier Lash Slick: This ended up growing on me, but I also kind of hated it. Let me explain – I ended up really getting behind the natural look, and I loved that it did not smudge at all. It was easy to remove completely with nothing but warm water, which is always a bonus. However, I think the fibres irritated my eyes. I have never been prone to eye sensitivity, but I cannot even tell you how many times over the past few months my eyes bothered me! That’s really decreased since I switched mascaras, so I will not be repurchasing Lash Slick.

L’Oréal Brow Stylist Boost and Set Volumizing Brow Mascara: My go-to brow gel. $16 is pretty steep for something you buy from the drugstore that you don’t even see on my face, but you know I keep my eyes peeled for a sale.

NYX Epic Ink Eyeliner: I rescind my love for this product! I thought my first pen was so great that I even included it on my best of 2018 list, but the second pen is garbage. Three times now I have applied it only to have it bleed all over my eyes to the point where I have to remove my makeup and start again. You know what they say – fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me, fool me three times, I am an idiot and I really needed to throw this eyeliner out five months ago. Anyway, I’ve moved on to the long-named Physician’s Formula one that everyone raves about, which I’m not completely sure about yet.

Fresh Sugar Tinted Lip Treatment – Rosé: I loved this even though I admit it was a rather indulgent purchase. It’s like… yeah, it’s not necessary to spend that much money on a tinted lip balm that wears off in fifteen seconds, but it’s nice. Definitely a purchase for those “treat yourself” moods.

Milani Eyeshadow Primer: After many years spent devoted to the NARS eyeshadow primer, I hopped onto the Milani bandwagon two years ago. This stuff is just as reliable and it costs like $9 for a tube that lasts two years. Sign me up forever!

Miscellaneous

Quo Nail Polish Remover – Strengthening: This is a drugstore house brand nail polish remover. It’s fine. I always buy it in the Strengthening variety because I am trying to be nice to my nails. I have no idea if it makes any real difference.

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat: I’ve probably used up at least ten of these bottles over the five years it’s been in my life. It really does protect nail polish from chipping, but it gets a bit stringy and can leave bubbles on top of the nails, so I’m exploring new avenues.

Quo Blending Sponge: This cheap little blending sponge used to be great, but they changed it and now it’s not. It’s really dense, not particularly soft, and soaks up far too much product.

Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge: So much better than the Quo sponge, and also better than I remember it being back in 2014 when I originally tried it. It’s super soft and blends makeup out beautifully. I got a two-pack when I visited Ulta for the first time back in March, and I’ll probably re-up when that one gets too crusty for comfort.

The end!

Empties: September to December 2018

Posted on January 13, 2019 under Empties

Slightly belatedly, here’s the last bit of stuff I used up in 2018. Unsurpisingly, there are a lot of staples in this batch, but there’s some newer stuff too.

Bath and Body

As always, I am a shining example of refinement in my refusal to clean off gross globby residue before photographing my garbage for the internet.

A-Derma Exomega Emollient Lotion and Emollient Balm: A-Derma bodycare is always good. I prefer the Emollient Balm because I have dry lizard skin year-round; I used the Lotion up during the summer and switched to the Balm when the weather turned. The 200mL tube goes very quickly!

The Chemistry Brand Hyaluronic Body Mist: I really enjoyed this mist during the summer to quickly top up my hydration without having to commit to rubbing lotion in. It’s too bad it’s been discontinued!

Hair

Marc Anthony Nourishing Argan Oil of Morocco Extra Hydrating Shampoo with Keratin: This was my first shampoo purchase post-blonde, and I liked it. I don’t think it’s particularly better than all of the other hydrating shampoos on the market, but it worked and I enjoyed the scent and texture. It is a bit on the thicker side so if you have fine hair you might not like this.

John Frieda Sheer Blonde Hi Impact Restoring Conditioner*: This is a very standard conditioner. I used it up when I was in between conditioners I liked more. Also yes it is definitely covered in mildew because it’s been in my shower for two and a half years.

Olaplex Hair Perfector Number 3: Olaplex literally saved my hair’s life. After a certain point it didn’t particularly help anymore, but I used it as a treatment about once a week just to encourage my hair to continue getting healthier. I think it’s best as a short-term treatment to repair severely damaged hair (or, you know, as a preventative step when used in conjunction with the salon-only Number 1 and Number 2). All I can say is that my before and after pictures truly speak for themselves.

Skincare

La Roche-Posay Micellar Water Ultra: I really enjoy the LRP Micellar Waters. However, I have literally five 500mL bottles of Bioderma in my cupboard, so I won’t be repurchasing any time soon.

Avène 3-in-1 Make-up Remover: I didn’t like this – it left a major residue on my face and wasn’t particularly effective compared to my favourite gel cleanser, which is by Marcelle. Glad this was gratis from my old job, because I would not be happy to have spent money on this!

Lancôme Bi-Facil Double Action Eye Makeup Remover: Still a great product for stubborn waterproof eye makeup, still way overpriced compared to the La Roche-Posay version. Now and then a bottle of Bi-Facil will come into my life and I’ll use it because it is good, but I will certainly not be purchasing it ever again.

The Ordinary Marine Hyaluronics: I thought I would prefer this to the original Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 since it’s much more lightweight, but that wasn’t the case. It’s so thin and watery that I found it tricky to apply. It worked just fine, but the HA 2% is a bit more user-friendly, in my opinion.

Nuxe Rêve de Miel Ultra-Nourishing Lip Balm: Standard. This is the fourth one I’ve gone through (and I’m well into my fifth), so you know it’s serious.

StriVection Active Infusion Youth Serum: This is an overpriced serum. The pump stopped dispensing product pretty soon after I started using it, so I had to screw off the lid and tip the serum out. That’s a pretty major flaw for a $100 serum! I didn’t particularly notice any results. (I got this as gratis from my old job.)

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo: I did enjoy this salicylic acid-based spot treatment, but I’ve switched to The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% since it’s far more cost-effective.

Strivectin Multi-Action Stress Defense Hydrating Water Gel: This is an overpriced gel moisturizer. It was fine, but it was only workable because I used it during the summer. I shudder to think how flaky my skin would be in the winter if I used this! This was old gratis as well.

Makeup

NIOD Photography Fluid 12% sample x3: After going through four sample packets of this glowy primer, I ended up getting the full size. It made my 2018 favourites list, so obviously I like it. It’s definitely on the pricey side, but I love the effect it gives my skin.

The Ordinary High-Spreadability Fluid Primer: I have never found a silicone-based primer that I have felt does anything. I used this up to use it up. All I really need is a good illuminating primer!

IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ Colour Correcting Coverage Cream*: Ugh, I told myself I wasn’t going to buy another tube of this because the shade range is so terrible, but I really miss it. I absolutely love the coverage, finish, and wear of this foundation, but I do hesitate to support a brand that really lacks inclusivity. I’m on the market for a similar product that I feel a bit better buying!

The Ordinary Colours Serum Foundation in 1.1N: I liked this foundation a lot in the summer and less in the winter. I wish it was a bit more seasonally versatile, because the lightweight feel and coverage and skinlike finish were great. I’ve gone back to my MUFE Ultra HD because that one is a lot easier to work with (even in the winter). However, for $6.70 I think I got my money’s worth out of this foundation and I’m happy to have tried it.

Bourjois Radiance Reveal Concealer: I loved everything about this truly radiant, brightening concealer except the fact that the lightest shade was just a bit too dark to be workable. I ended up using it up by mixing it in with a lighter concealer, but that’s just too much work for me to continue doing daily. Luckily I now have my First Aid Beauty concealer, which is a great colour match.

Annabelle Skinny Brow Liner in Universal Taupe: I liked the waxy consistency and fine tip of this brow pencil, but the colour was a hair too warm for me. It’s nice to have a brow pencil on hand for lazy days, but ultimately I’ve been loyal to brow pomade for over five years now.

L’Oreal Brow Sylist Boost & Set Brow Gel in Clear: I never hear anyone talking about this brow gel, but I’ve been through several tubes now. It has the perfect amount of hold without making the brow hairs feel stiff or crispy. It’s a bit expensive for what it is at full price, but I try to buy it when it goes on sale for 40% off.

Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner: I went through SO MANY of these pens. I was devoted to the cause for years and years. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with this liner in my opinion. It’s just that I’ve found something much cheaper that works just as well.

NYX Epic Ink Liner: Yeah, this is my go-to liner now. It does everything the Stila does for 1/3 of the price. My only gripe is that it’s not sold at Shoppers, so I have to go to the NYX store for it. I tend to just buy one when I’m at the mall so I’m not left liner-less.

Clarins Truly Waterproof Mascara: Listen, I have never found a better mascara. This holds a curl and creates the most beautiful fluttery, defined, lengthened lashes. I am in denial that this has been discontinued.

The only proper conclusion for this post is to beg for non-smudging mascara recommendations for people with stubbornly straight eyelashes. (I’m currently trying out Glossier Lash Slick and liking but not loving it, so I’m open to suggestions!)

Top 18 of 2018

Posted on December 25, 2018 under Favourites

This will almost certainly be my last year structuring my favourites posts this way; I just don’t anticipate having nineteen favourites next year. But here are the eighteen items that brightened up my 2018. These products are presented in chronological order and encompass things I tried for the first time this year. (I cheated a little bit but it’s my blog and the rules are made entirely by me, so whatever.)

NYX Epic Ink Eyeliner

After four years of religiously buying the Stila liquid liner, I made the switch to NYX this year. I see virtually no differences between the two liners other than the price tag. Liners have the tendency to transfer on my lids, but this one stays put all day, which is 90% of what I care about. It’s also easy to apply, and one pen lasts a long time. (I can’t give a terribly accurate gauge of how long since I go through phases with liquid liner and haven’t used it too frequently this year.) NYX products nearly always disappoint me, but their liquid liners consistently impress.

Bite Beauty Custom Lipsticks

I really like the custom matte formula that Bite offers at their Lip Labs, and of course I’m in love with the burnt orange and vibrant magenta shades I got on a bitter day in January. I genuinely really like these lipsticks, but they’re also a favourite because of how fun the custom creation experience was. Definitely one of my most memorable Christmas presents from last year!

Marc Jacobs Le Marc Lip Creme in Strawberry Girl

This is a bit of a cheat: I incldued So Sofia in last year’s roundup, so Strawberry Girl wasn’t exactly a risky purchase. (Especially since my mom bought it for me on the last day of our month-long European adventure…) Of course I love this creamy, comfortable, longwearing formula and the sleek, substantial packaging. (It has a magnetic closure, guys!) But this muted-ish coral is new to my collection, and since I have nothing else like it I feel justified in calling special attention to it. After years of avoiding anything in the peach/coral/orange family, these are now some of my favourite colours to wear, and Strawberry Girl is complex and flattering. Here it is on my face:

Zoeva Luxe Petit Crease brush

This picture sucks because my DSLR wouldn’t focus on it so I had to use my phone.

Just so everyone is aware, Danish Sephoras carry Zoeva, and it’s a wonder I bought only this brush. But it’s fantastic – soft and comfortable to use, the perfect size and shape for delicate crease work. Brushes aren’t exactly the most exciting of beauty products, but judging by how much I reach for this it would be a glaring omission to exclude it from this list!

Stila Shimmer & Glow Liquid Eyeshadows – Jezebel and Kitten

There is nothing I don’t love about these shadows. They’re ridiculously shiny, they’re easy to apply and blend out, and they seriously do not budge. These shadows make it so easy to create a stunning, high-impact look with minimal effort or skill. I have a gif swatch of them in my summer favourites post in case you want to see how excellent they are. By the way, I love the original Glitter & Glow shadows, but those are definitely prone to a bit of fallout. Not so with these, which are truly gorgeous without any of the mess.

Clinique Cheek Pop – Peach Pop and Ginger Pop

Once again, I am supremely late to the party here, but that’s only because I have believed in the supremacy of the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blushes for so long. And they are still my favourite blush formula, and I still wear Mood Exposure basically every day, but there are limited shades in that formula and this year I wanted something new. The Clinique Cheek Pops are sheer and buildable and come in a nice array of tones – though clearly I’m leaning into warm tones. Peach Pop was practically all I wore this summer, and Ginger Pop is a nice burnt orange that I’ve been loving in the cooler weather. While I’m not a huge fan of the aesthetics of clear plastic packaging, I love how compact and easy to store these babies are.

The Chemistry Brand HA3 Hand Hydrator

I am very picky about hand creams because I absolutely cannot deal with the feeling of anything sticky on my hands. If it leaves a residue, I will not use it, which is why I have spent most of my life not using hand cream. This one sinks in so quickly and does a great job of hydrating. Bonus: I love the lemongrass scent!

NIOD Photography Fluid Opacity 12%

I basically don’t believe in primer. I’ve tried a lot that do not make my makeup last any longer than it would without, and I find a lot of illuminating primers lose their impact as soon as I put foundation on. But this one genuinely makes a difference even under a layer of foundation – it’s not intense by any means, but it leaves a gorgeous natural radiance. It can also be used as a liquid highlighter, though I prefer it as a primer.

NARS Velvet Lip Pencil in Dragon Girl

Another cheat, since I already love NARS Cruella. But I lusted after Dragon Girl for years until I received it as a very generous gift from a family friend. This vibrant strawberry red is pure fun and I wish I had a chance to wear it more often. (My current workplace is neutrals-only, sadly.)

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel in Malibu Peach

AHHH I cheated again! I almost exclusively buy the Miracle Gel formula because it works really well for me and there are a lot of great colours in the line. Malibu Peach is a fun, bright, modern peach that is outside of my usual comfort zone but no less great. For some reason I always get compliments when I wear this colour.

Here is a close-up to prove how bad I am at painting my nails.

Marcelle Translucent Loose Setting Powder

I am all about that loose powder life nowadays, and this one is both inexpensive, massive, and effective. Even in the dead of winter it doesn’t leave my skin looking parched – it has a gorgeous smoothing effect and sets makeup perfectly. I don’t always feel the need to powder, but when I’m using a more dewy foundation that doesn’t totally dry down I always use this. Marcelle is one of my favourite drugstore brands; they just do things right.

CoverGirl Super Sizer Mascara

The worst thing in the world happened this year, which is that Clarins discontinued their Truly Waterproof mascara, which in addition to holding a curl like no other also made my lashes long, defined, and perfectly fluttery. The reason is probably that I was the only person in the world who bought it, so it makes sense from a business perspective while still remaining personally devastating. I’m not going to say this CoverGirl mascara is as good: it’s a lot more volumizing than the Clarins, so it forfeits some of the effortless flutteriness. But it makes my lashes look good, and, crucially, it holds a curl better than basically any of the high end mascaras I’ve tried recently. I’m happy to keep using this mascara because the results are great and the price tag is right. (I got it on sale for $6.99, you guys. The Clarins was $28.)

Bite Amuse Bouche Lipstick in Verbena

I obviously took this photo with a potato.

As I mentioned, I tragically have to wear neutral makeup to work, so it’s always nice to find a neutral lipstick that’s still interesting. Verbena is just that: it’s described on Sephora as a “rose terracotta”, which is the perfect description of this layered, hard-to-pinpoint shade. I’ve never been one for nude lips, and I definitely prefer my neutrals more on the rosy brown side, so this is right up my alley. The hint of orange makes it interesting, but it’s still perfectly appropriate for work.

There is no light in Toronto at this time of year, but this picture is basically colour accurate.

Drybar 100 Proof Hair Oil

I have upped my haircare game and I now use one product daily, which is this hair oil. It makes my hair smooth and shiny and adds some hydration, since I now blow it dry a few times a week. A little goes a long way, so although this is not a cheap item, it’ll last me forever. (I also bought it during the Sephora sale, because I’m smart like that.)

First Aid Beauty Hello FAB Bendy Avocado Concealer

The hype about this concealer is so real: somehow it looks completely natural but still covers and brightens undereye circles amazingly. It’s comfortable on the skin, it’s pretty crease-resistant, and it wears well throughout the day. I’m kind of mad that I like it this much because it’s $28, but shit. This stuff is great.

NIOD Survival 30

$30 for 30ml of sunscreen is clearly expensive. But dammit if this isn’t the best facial sunscreen I’ve tried so far. I’ve used Vichy, I’ve used La Roche-Posay, I’ve used Avène, and this is the least-greasy, most-layerable of all. It doesn’t feel, smell, or look like sunscreen. I also love that it’s packed full of antioxidants for broad protection from free radical damage. The pump delivery system is great, too.

Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment With Avocado

What a luxurious, rich, truly hydrating eye cream. I can’t find fault with this product, other than its $39 price tag. The 15ml tub will last a long time since very little product makes a big impact, which is the only way I can justify this purchase. That said, while I truly love it, I will certainly be on the lookout for cheaper dupes.

Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment

Bougie and overpriced? Of course. But these tinted lip balms are absolutely stunning: they soothe and hydrate while giving the lips the illusion of fullness and a gorgeous hint of colour. I balk at spending a lot on something with minimal visual impact, but my lips thank me every time I apply one of these so I guess I can’t really be too upset.

2018 was not actually a huge year of makeup discovery for me, mostly because I reined in my spending quite a bit. The majority of my beauty spending was on old staples, but I did discover some new products that I’ve happily incorporated into my daily routine.