Empties: February to May 2018

Posted on June 20, 2018 under Empties

My empties posts are always at irregular intervals because that’s how using products up actually works in reality. Sometimes I’ll use up eight thousand products in the span of a month and sometimes three months will pass with my only empties being, like, a lip balm and brow gel. This post features a four-month accumulation because things were slow on the empties front around here; after my last empties post, I was left with a bunch of close-to-full products.

But I had a very convenient alibi for an empties post when it came to leaving the UK – although I’m getting this up nearly a month after returning home.

No press samples in this batch. Things I received for free through work are marked with an asterisk.

Skincare

A-Derma Soothing Foaming Gel*: This is a decent cleansing gel, though it’s nothing special. I prefer more hydrating cleansers, anyway.

Vichy Idélia Peeling*: I liked this! My skin responds well to glycolic acid and this was no exception. However, if Deciem can survive their CEO’s long-term public meltdown, the glycolic from The Ordinary is like $7 and just as good.

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5: Speaking of The Ordinary! I’ve honestly lost count of how many bottles of this I’ve gone through. It’s just such an effective, low-cost serum. Will keep using.

Origins Drink Up! Overnight Intensive Mask: You can see that I’ve done a number on this tube in an attempt to get out every last drop. This is my favourite night cream for winter time, and I can say that for the second year in a row the dreaded nose flakies have failed to make an appearance thanks to this rich moisturizer. A tube conveniently lasts me November through March, which is the perfect amount of time.

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra Intense Soothing Care*: This is a really great daytime moisturizer. It’s rich enough to really hydrate dry skin, but thin enough to sit well under makeup. I’m working through some other things right now, but I’d happily go back to this. I went through a few tubes of the thicker, richer Toleriane Ultra, but I think this one is better-suited to daytime use.

Vaseline Lip Therapy + SPF 15: This was a decent lip balm that certainly got me through a dry winter. Nivea works better for me, though.

A forgotten empty, photographed later:

Bioderma Sensibio Eye Contour Gel*: A nice thin eye cream that delivers a medium amount of moisture. My undereyes have become quite dry lately, which I’m chalking up to age, so maybe I will buy another tube.

And while on vacation I used up a mini 100mL bottle of Bioderma Sensibio H2O which I forgot to photograph. The original Bioderma remains one of my favourite micellar solutions, alongside La Roche-Posay.

Hair

John Frieda Sheer Blonde Tone Correcting Shampoo: Oh wow, more of these? I can’t help it – it’s a good blonde shampoo and I would always buy it when Superdrug had it for £3.95. That’s a bargain!

John Frieda Sheer Blonde Go Blonder Lightening Shampoo (mini) x2: Went through two of these while travelling, only managed to photograph one. I’ve been using this shampoo on and off for over three years, so these travel minis are a no-brainer.

John Frieda Sheer Blonde Go Blonder Lightening Conditioner (mini): A solid conditioner, another tried and true product that rotates in and out of my haircare routine with regularity.

Toni and Guy Damage Repair Mask: I’ve used up a lot of deep conditioner in four years as a blonde, so I feel confident in saying that this one was average. I want to say it weighed my hair down a bit, but now that my hair is actually reasonably healthy it gets greasier a lot faster, so it’s hard to say accurately.

A straggler, photographed later:

Toni and Guy Instant Refresh Dry Shampoo: This dry shampoo worked well, but not as well as Batiste. It also had a very strong smell which I did not enjoy. The only reason I bought it was because I was one second away from fully succumbing to jetlag and could not for the life of me find the Batiste in the Superdrug I was in. You know that when I step off a plane my first priority is Batiste.

Bath and Body

A-Derma Exomega Emollient Balm*: I absolutely love this product. Despite the name “balm”, it’s not a super thick lotion, yet it delivers a lot of moisture, which is absolutely necessary for someone with KP. This can also be used on the face, so it’s a true multitasker. It’s right up there with La Roche-Posay Lipikar Baume AP+.

The Body Shop Coconut Body Butter x2: This is the only Body Butter I like, and I exclusively buy it in bulk during 3 for $30 sales. Because of the coconut oil, it has a thicker, semi-solid texture and it does absolute wonders on my perpetually-scaly, KP-ravaged limbs. Weirdly, the first of these tubs that I went through had the same texture as a regular Body Butter, which was a devastating blow. The second one had the texture I like, which was a lot better – but I’m still thinking they’ve reformulated to make the textures consistent across all scents, and I just ended up with an older tub. If this is the case I won’t keep buying it, since the texture was what I liked so much about it. (Okay, and it makes me smell like I live in a hut with a palm frond roof, which I love.)

L’Occitane Almond Shower Oil: You know I love this stuff. Is it absurdly expensive for something that is on my skin for like twenty seconds total? Yes! But it’s so luxurious, and I really cannot underestimate how dry my arms and legs are. They need every bit of moisture they can get.

The Body Shop Shea Butter Exfoliating Sugar Body Scrub: I am firmly a drugstore gal when it comes to body scrubs, but I picked this up during a 3 for $30 sale so I can’t be mad. It had a very interesting soufflé-like texture. Otherwise, it was a sugar scrub. It was fine, but if you pay full price for it you’re a fool. (Well, that goes for all products from The Body Shop, but especially sugar scrubs. Come on.)

Makeup

Benefit “That Gal” Primer (mini): Can we talk about the value of this mini? It contains 7.5mL of product, and the full size is a whopping 11mL. I mean. What. Strangely generous size aside, this is a pretty classic illuminating primer, though it has a thicker texture than others I’ve used and a very noticeable pink tinge. I enjoyed using it during the transition from winter to spring, when my skin decided to protest the change in seasons by being dry as a bone. Would not pay for the full size, but would probably spend Sephora points on another mini.

Marc Jacobs Le Marc Lip Crème in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (mini): I don’t know if it’s fair to feel this accomplished about using up a mini, but I do. I mean, this is only the third lipstick I’ve used up in my life, so it has to count for something! I really like the Le Marc Lip Crème formula and this was a very flattering neutral which I enjoyed wearing immensely.

Lancôme Hypnôse Mascara (mini): This used to be a favourite because it delivered volume and length without any clumps. Like, I dare you to try to make this mascara clumpy. It just doesn’t happen. Unfortunately, I have now discovered that it does not hold a curl at all, which is a dealbreaker for me. I don’t know if the mini just performs differently than the full size I had, but something is up here.

Lancôme Hypnôse Drama Mascara (mini): I don’t remember anything about this. The end.

Miscellaneous

Only one item in this category today, and a boring one at that. Tesco Beauty Nail Polish Remover was a nail polish remover. I got carded when I was buying it in September because I was also buying a knife and you’re not allowed to do that if you’re under eighteen. When the self checkout machine flagged me I totally thought it was because of the nail polish remover because I guess you can huff it or maybe make something explosive out of it. That story is not very interesting, but neither is nail polish remover.

The end! Now I’m back in Canada accumulating more empty things to show off at some random point down the line.

Empties: March to May 2017

Posted on May 12, 2017 under Empties

I seriously need to figure out a place to store my empties box that’s out of sight, because it’s kind of a bummer walking into my room to see a box of literal useless garbage.

I’ve included a category for samples once again here, but I’ll put deluxe-sized samples (that I got to use for awhile and form a real opinion on) in their respective categories.

As always, I’ll clearly indicate which products I received for free through work as well as any PR samples.

Skincare

Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask: This got me through the winter very nicely. I think the price ($32 CAD for 100mL) is pretty fair too. I bought this back in November and just finished it up on Monday, so it lasted quite awhile. Moving into warmer weather I’ll use a less intense night cream, but I’d certainly consider repurchasing once the cold weather sets in again.

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Riche Daily Soothing Nourishing Cream: I’ve gone through three tubes of this stuff now. It’s my favourite winter daytime moisturizer: it’s thick and nourishing but still sits well under makeup. I don’t have very reactive skin, but I do like that this product contains very few ingredients. I have a lot of specialized skincare products so I like a no frills moisturizer that I can layer with actives.

Clarins Daily Energizer Cream Gel: This was a sample. I had high hopes for this lightweight, gel texture moisturizer, but I found that it made whatever makeup I put on top of it pill. That’s a no-go!

Life Brand Tightening Facial Sheet Mask: You guys, I am so dedicated to the empties cause that I did this face mask in Montreal and put it in a Ziploc baggie to transport back to Toronto to put into my empties box. This was an unremarkable sheet mask which was probably not worth the effort. It did make my skin feel very soft and nourished, but I didn’t notice any tightening effect. Also IT DID NOT FIT MY FACE AT ALL:

Anyway, worth $1.67 for the sheer fun of doing face masks with your friends.

La Roche-Posay Hydraphase Intense Serum: I got this through work. I’m a huge fan of La Roche-Posay skincare, but this serum missed the mark for me. I didn’t find it particularly hydrating at all and much prefer the Vichy Aqualia Thermale serum. At this point, though, I’ll forego both and stick with the next product.

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5: I repurchased a new bottle of this stuff the day it ran out. The guy at the Deciem store was like, “Have you used this product before?” and I was like “Yes and I cannot live one day without it.” This works great as a hydrating serum pre-moisturizer, and for $6.80 CAD I don’t feel bad using it liberally morning and night.

The Ordinary 100% Cold-Pressed Moroccan Argan Oil: So, more than a year ago I learned from an episode of Dragon’s Den that all argan oil comes from Morocco and Algeria. The vast majority of the work harvesting and processing argan oil is done by Berber women in this region. The Moroccan government has actually helped established women-run co-ops to produce argan oil. Amazingly, Berber women have exclusive rights to selling and producing it. So buying argan oil is a great way to support a woman-run industry! That spiel out of the way, I loved this product for my hair and body. It was a bit too heavy for my face. The 30mL bottle is not the most cost-effective way to go for a body moisturizer (even at $6.80), however. I’m currently trying out The Ordinary’s squalane on my face and hair, so I’ll have to see how that goes before I decide which one I want to repurchase.

NeoStrata Purifying Solution – 8% Glycolic Acid: This was my first true foray into the world of glycolic acid toners, and I enjoyed it. I have another bottle on the go but I think I’ll try something else when I run out of it. I did really like it and often recommend it to customers who want something a bit higher than the Pixi Glow Tonic (which is 5% glycolic), but I like to switch things up and I’m not such a huge fan of alcohol being so high up in the ingredients list on this one.

Arbonne Lip Intelligence Lip Treatment*: I did like this lip balm a lot, but at $46 I would never repurchase it. I can’t help but assume that the high cost is due to the fact that Arbonne is a multi-level marketing business. When I accepted press samples from Arbonne a year and a half ago, I wasn’t aware that it was an MLM and going forward I definitely won’t support any MLMs on my blog or in real life.

Hair

Matrix SoColor Hair Dye in 6W Light Brown: I had a very ill-fated attempt at dyeing my hair brown over the red. (I mean, it wasn’t a disaster, it just didn’t show up at all. Even on my virgin roots it just went auburn…) Anyway, that whole debacle taught me that I should be blonde until it kills me.

Wella Color Charm T-18 Lightest Ash Blonde Toner: Speaking of blonde, the colour has always been a DIY project. When I went back to blonde, it was super brassy and my usual Manic Panic toner concoction didn’t cut it. I went back to Wella T-18, which I did NOT have a horrible reaction to this time. I’ll still save this for special occasions since I don’t want to push it, but it just is the best toner for ashy, white blonde hair. And trust me, I’ve tried a lot.

StriVectin Hair All Smooth Shampoo: I got this in a little set at a StriVectin training. It was very handy for travel, which is how I used it up, but it’s nothing special. I’m not going to direct my customers to it when I can sell them John Frieda or Marc Anthony for half the price.

Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair! Deep Conditioning Mask: You know, I have been so desperate for anything that will keep my hair on my head that if this stuff was miraculous I would have shelled out the frankly ridiculous $46 CAD for the full tub. I think this was worth the 100 points I spent on it at Sephora, as it was a perfectly serviceable hair mask which kept my nasty dead hair in fairly good condition. The 30mL sample size also lasted me probably about 10 uses, and it was great to travel with. However, for forty-six goddamn dollars it had better be doing something amazing, because $46 is a fairly significant chunk which I could be using to pay my telephone bills and automo-bills. (Actually, I don’t have any automo-bills because I don’t have a car and can barely drive!) I’d probably spend points on samples of this for travel purposes, but I’ll just keep buying hair masks at the drugstore which all basically do the same thing for like $35 less. Also, the one thing that actually rescued my hair from the depths of bleach-destroyed hell after I went back to blonde was Olaplex.

Bath & Body

Calgon Hawaiian Ginger Shea Sugar Scrub and Body Wash: The scent of this was nice, but I definitely will not repurchase because I don’t think it was too effective as a scrub. When I bought it I didn’t realize it was more of a sugar scrub suspended in a body wash, and I feel like it’s too liquidy to really grip the skin well. My mom unearthed yet another tube of the Freeman’s pomegranate scrub which I love, so I’ll be going back to that.

Old Spice Champion Deodorant: So, I bought this stick on sale for $3.99 back in September 2013 and I JUST used it up now. Men’s deodorant is SO GOOD! I also prefer the scent of this to, like, cucumber or baby powder. I did purchase another stick of Old Spice, but this time I switched it up and went with Bearglove. By the way, I buy the gel version.

Makeup & Nails

Witchcraft Be Strong: The best treatment for my peeling nails. I’m on my third bottle!

NARS Pro-Prime Smudgeproof Eyeshadow Base: My dudes, I have waxed poetic about this eyeshadow primer for a long time, but our love affair is over. They must have reformulated it – my first tube lasted me two and a half years and could get me through absolutely anything and this tube lasted a year and got me through maybe 7 hours. I picked up the Milani eyeshadow primer and that shit is so good and less than a third of the price.

Rimmel Lasting Finish by Kate Moss Lipstick in 08: The last time I finished a lipstick was two years ago, and I had to make a real effort to use this one up. This rosy neutral with a hint of brown was a go-to everyday shade for me for awhile, but I wore it constantly for 6 weeks and so now I am glad it’s gone. It’s definitely a flattering shade on me, but it’s not very exciting – yet every time I wore it to work I got so many questions on it. I once sold four tubes in one day just because people asked what it was. I won’t repurchase because my Buxom liner in Hush Hush* is basically the same colour.

Look how dead this lipstick is!!!!

Burberry Fresh Glow Luminous Fluid Base: I swear I’m always spending my Sephora points on shit I’m not that excited about, and yet I always seem to have Sephora points. And no, it’s not because I spend so much at Sephora, because I really don’t. I’m a Shoppers loyalist. Anyway, I ended up using this sample up by mixing it into foundation. I thought that gave a very nice, glowy look, but the full size is $54, and, like… no.

Foil Samples

NARSskin Total Replenishing Eye Cream: This was a very thick eye cream which would be a nice nighttime treatment for those with dry undereyes. My undereyes don’t really need much (a thin gel formula is fine), so this was a bit too much for me, and the full size is $68 hahahahaha are you kidding me NARS.

StriVectin LABS Silver Peel-Off Purifier: I kind of don’t think this really did anything! Maybe it’s just that it has more of a cumulative effect, though? It did look cool on my face, at least, but that’s not enough to make me spend $72 on the full size.

The Ab Crew Caffeine Shampoo: I got this as a sample at the Deciem store. I didn’t really like this one at all – the texture was a strange sticky gel which I don’t feel was very effective on my thick hair. I also think it’s hard to assess the efficacy of caffeine on my hair with only one use. Anyway, I don’t need my hair to “wake up” (whatever that means), I need it to not be crunchy/on the verge of death.

Hylamide HA Blur: This is billed as a “finisher”, but it can also be used as a primer. I didn’t find it did anything as a primer, but maybe I should have used it mixed in with my foundation or overtop it. MEH.

The Chemistry Brand HA3 Hand Hydrator: Another Deciem sample! It was a nice enough hand cream, but I don’t really use hand cream since my hands are like the only part of my body that aren’t dry and don’t typically need any added moisture. It smelled nice, though!

Normally I space these posts out very sporadically, but I can pretty much guarantee that the next one will be sometime in August before I move. See ya then!

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.