My AM and PM skincare routine, winter 2018

Posted on February 06, 2018 under Lists

It’s been quite some time since I shared what skincare I’m using, so I thought I’d do a bit of a skincare update. I’m still working my way through the backlog of gratis from my days working in cosmetics; as a result, there are some items in this post that aren’t utter favourites. But I think lukewarm to negative reviews are very useful, so why not include them?

As always, my skin is normal to dry, leaning dryer at this time of year. (Actually, most of my face has settled down from the transition in seasons – it’s only my nose that is still parched.) I usually only break out hormonally, and I do have fairly persistent hyperpigmentation which follows blemishes long after they die. I focus on hydration and acid toning in my skincare. I probably do my full skincare routine about 95% of the time. I never go to bed without washing my face and slapping on some night cream or an oil, but I can’t think of the last time I skipped a step – maybe in somewhere in the Christmas madness.

Here’s what my skin looks like without makeup. These pictures were taken at the end of January, when I was recovering from a stress breakout. (80% healed now, I’d say.)

I sometimes have closed comedones on my forehead and I get the occasionally random zit there, but it’s usually clear. It’s hard to tell in this picture but at this time a rare blemish was in the final stages of healing.

It can be hard to tell the difference between freckles and hyperpigmentation, but there are a few healing blemishes around the centre of my face here, which is rare for me. The ones on the left side of my chin are more standard – I always have either an active breakout or hyperpigmentation there. Despite the fact that my most recent breakout was larger than normal, this is pretty much the best my skin will be: by the time the hyperpigmentation starts to fade, a new zit will find a home on my face. Skincare really helps mitigate the length and scope of my breakouts, but, like 99% of people on this planet, my skin will never be totally blemish-free.

By the way, usually my zits aren’t too bad, but I do have the really bad habit of picking them, and sometimes they’re monsters to begin with, and the combination sometimes results in disasters.

I also occasionally have a bit of blotchy redness at the bottom of my cheeks. This tends to be more pronounced in hotter weather, so it’s not very noticeable right now at all. I don’t generally have very sensitive skin, but some skincare also exacerbates this redness.

Finally, I think it’s essential to note that, while skincare is a really great tool to address various concerns, a lot of “good skin” is genetic. I’ve never had particularly problematic skin; even at the peak of my teenage breakouts (age 14-15) I was doing okay. I hope it’s obvious that I’m not saying this to brag, just to be realistic about the results my skincare routine can actually achieve.

Gratis received through work will be marked with an asterisk, as always.

AM Routine

In the morning, I like to keep things pretty simple – I prefer not to rush through my morning routine but also like to maximize on my sleep, so there’s a delicate balancing act! If my face feels quite dry I don’t bother washing it; if not, I use a light cream or gel cleanser. Currently I’m using the Avène 3-in-1 makeup remover*, which does an okay job at gentle cleansing but which I do find leaves a sticky residue if I don’t wash it off vigilantly. My favourite cleanser for this purpose is the Marcelle Ultra Gentle Cleansing Gel. It’s gentle but efficient and doesn’t strip the skin or leave a residue. And it’s only $12.95! I’ll go back to it when I finish the Avène.

Unlike every other surface of my body, my undereyes are not horribly dry, so in the morning I’ve been really enjoying the Biotherm Homme Aquapower Eye Depuffer*. It’s a light, cooling gel that is perfect first thing in the morning when I’m trying to do my makeup despite the fact that it’s pitch black.

Lately I’ve been starting my skincare with The Ordinary EUK 134 0.1%, which is an antioxidant with an oily texture. I love using antioxidants if I’m going outside – living in a city I’m exposed to lots of free radicals in the forms of pollution, car exhaust, etc. For this time of year the oily texture of the EUK has been working quite well for me, but I’m not sure if I’ll love it so much in the summer. I find it layers well under other products but I’ll have to see if it’s too heavy in the warmer months, when my skin is pretty much normal.

For moisturizer I’ve been using La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra*. I’m a longtime fan of LRP’s Toleriane Riche, which is a thicker cream great for dry, sensitive skin. However, Toleriane Ultra is thinner and layers better with other skincare and makeup. It isn’t as fluid as some moisturizers and does deliver enough hydration for my day-to-day needs – it helps that I pack on a lot of hydration in my nighttime routine so that I can use lighter products under my makeup.

Sunscreen is Vichy Ideal Soleil SPF50* – I find this one and the LRP Anthelios fluid basically interchangeable. Both are lightweight, non-greasy facial sunscreens that layer well. When I run out, I’m interested in trying some Japanese sunscreens since I hear great things about them and they seem to be a bit more cost-effective than Vichy or LRP.

And that’s it for my morning routine – I don’t use actives or do too much product layering.

PM Routine

My nighttime skincare routine is one of my favourite rituals, and washing my face is the best part. There’s something so satisfying about taking off broken down, hours-old makeup. I always really like the way my skin looks when I’m freshly-cleansed, too. My cleansing routine could be described as “extra”, but I like to be really thorough and make sure my face is spotless. I’ve been a devoted user of oil cleansers for about five years now; I find they’re great at breaking down makeup, and they do my dry skin a big favour. Currently I’m using the Biotherm Total Renew Oil Cleanser*. It has a very pleasant texture – not greasy, and without any residue. Though it’s effective and nice to use, I think it’s too expensive for what it is. The Body Shop Camomile Silky Cleansing Oil is half the price (and as we all know The Body Shop constantly has deals) and I like that it emulsifies more.

I find that no cleanser ever gets all my makeup off, even if my skin looks bare to the naked eye. I always do a second pass with a gentle gel cleanser, so the Avène cleanser comes into play here. On no-makeup days (which are pretty frequent, actually; I’m only on campus three days a week and don’t normally put on makeup to run errands) I just use the Avène cleanser.

I will always love the La Roche-Posay Respectissime Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover, which gets absolutely everything off without any tugging or rubbing. It’s as good as Lancôme Bi-Facil and half the price.

I follow all of that up with some micellar water; these days I’m using La Roche-Posay Ultra Micellar Water*. This one and Bioderma Sensibio are tied for my favourite. I know most people use micellar water as a first step to remove makeup, but I prefer to use it at the very end. When using an oil-based eye makeup remover it’s essential to remove the residue to avoid milia, and a micellar solution helps balance the pH of the skin prior to acid steps.

Which, of course, brings me to the second-best part of my skincare routine. I use a chemical exfoliant every day; I know that’s too much for a lot of people, but my skin tolerates it well. Generally, I get on best with AHAs. Right now I’m using the Vichy Idealia Peeling*, which is glycolic acid. It’s great, but now that we have The Ordinary there’s no reason to spend $40 on an AHA. I’ve gone through an entire bottle of The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2%, which my skin really liked. I’ve also tried The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution, which is cheap as chips and just as effective as the expensive stuff. Occasionally I use The Ordinary Advanced Retinoid 2% (now discontinued) instead of an acid. I always leave my acids on my face for 20-30 minutes before moving on to other steps, because acids require a specific pH to work properly and layering other products negates the effects.

For my eyes, I’ve been layering The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + ECGC and Bioderma Sensibio Eye*. As I’ve mentioned, I’m not convinced that the Caffeine Solution actually does anything for dark circles, but I’ll use it up since it’s not like it hurts. The Bioderma eye cream is a very thin gel-cream hybrid that adds a little moisture and not much else. It’s nothing special, really.

To give my skin the moisture it needs, I use The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 as a serum step. This is my fourth bottle; it’s so inexpensive and it really does make a huge difference in my skin. My night cream these days is Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask, which is an incredibly rich cream that I swear by in the winter. This is my second winter using it and I haven’t had any nose flakes since before I discovered it. About once a week, if my skin is especially dry, I use The Ordinary 100% Plant-Derived Squalane. Of all the oils I’ve tried I like squalane the best – it delivers moisture but isn’t too greasy. It’s also nice on my arms and legs and on the fried, burnt ends of my hair. (Just kidding, I haven’t bleached my hair in 11 months and it’s so much healthier!)

My final step is always Nuxe Rêve de Miel Lip Balm, which truly is the most nourishing, effective lip treatment I’ve found. It does have a pretty thick, waxy texture, so it’s a nighttime-exclusive kind of product for me.

And… that is it! I would guess that this is a pretty extensive routine compared to the average, but it doesn’t take me all that long and it addresses all my skin concerns. I hate being away from all my skincare products – that’s the worst part about travelling for me. Anyway – there’s a (far too detailed) breakdown of what I’m currently using.

Top 17 of 2017

Posted on December 22, 2017 under Favourites

One day the year will probably become so advanced that I will no longer be able to do these gimmicky little roundups. If I still have a blog in 2032 I probably will not have 32 products to share with you. I figure I’ll just keep doing this until I no longer have enough products to flesh out the list, and then I will make something new up.

Anyway, here’s what I discovered and loved in 2017. This time I’m doing it in chronological order instead of by category, because I like to shake things up. As always, these are products that I personally discovered in 2017. Most of them were not released this year! I’ll link to full reviews where possible.

Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting Powder in Light

The hype is real: this is a soft, blendable, natural contour shade that is perfect for fair skintones. It’s not so cool as to look ashy but not so warm as to look muddy. This is an everyday product for me and absolutely a staple over the past year.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance Palette

This has to be my favourite purchase of 2017. I lusted after it for half a year and it still managed to exceed my expectations. The shadows are wonderful quality, I genuinely use and love every shade, and I can get such a variety of beautiful looks out of it. This is my favourite palette, for sure.

(By the way, I took the pictures for this post quite a long time ago, but since then I’ve actually hit pan on Cyprus Umber.)

Lancôme Grandiôse Eyeliner in Ceruluean and Fuchsia*

Though these come with a hefty price tag, the vibrancy of the colours and the long-wearing formula of the liner makes me love them. I don’t have anything like these colours in my collection and I think they’re so fun and unexpected.

Buxom Plumpline Lip Liner in Hush Hush and Covert Affair*

Despite the strange marketing of these chubby, sharpenable pencils as lip liners, I think these are great matte lipsticks. They apply easily and smoothly, last well, and aren’t too drying. Somehow I can apply them over flaky lips and still like the result. Hush Hush is my go-to neutral and I can’t get enough of the burnt orange Covert Affair.

I have a hard time getting Covert Affair to photograph as orange as it is!

Hush Hush, from all the way back when I had red hair.

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5

I’ve now gone through three bottles of this and I plan to keep going forever! This product has replaced all my other hydrating serums for a fraction of the cost. It’s great stuff, and at $6.80 CAD you really can’t go wrong.

Magic Collection Oval Brush

This $10 Artis knockoff has become my absolute favourite foundation brush. Its density is unparalleled by any other brush in my collection, and it buffs foundation seamlessly into the skin. Plus, its bristles are super soft, making foundation application as pleasant as possible.

Olaplex Step 3

I am staunchly pro-drugstore when it comes to hair products, but Olaplex was the only thing that worked on my supremely bleach-damaged hair when I went back to blonde in March. I’ve been using it weekly since then and it’s kept my hair in great condition. I mean, I did three years’ worth of bleach damage before I ever used Olaplex, but my hair is soft and smooth and actually looks and feels like hair instead of straw. Olaplex is the best thing I’ve ever done for my hair!

ELF Small Stipple Brush

This is such a great multi-purpose brush. It’s great for applying cream products to the cheeks, and it’s become my new go-to for contouring because it gives me more control and allows me to build the product up slowly for a more subtle effect. I have a lot of time for ELF brushes, and this is one of my favourites.

Milani Eyeshadow Primer

After years of loyalty, my NARS eyeshadow primer just stopped performing very well. Disheartened, I picked up a tube of the Milani Eyeshadow Primer on emilynoel83’s recommendation, thinking that if it didn’t work out it was only nine bucks down the drain. Well, colour me pleased: this primer holds onto eyeshadow amazingly well. I use it every single day and I know that nothing will come off my eyelids until I want it to.

Vichy Teint Idéal Pure Light Face Roll-On*

This is the most beautiful, impactful wet-look highlighter. Vichy’s makeup doesn’t get any buzz online, but if this absolutely stunning liquid highlighter is anything to go by, we should be paying attention to their releases. I neglected to take a picture of this on my face, but you can see it swatched on the right below:

Stila Magnificent Metals Liquid Eyeshadow in Rose Gold Retro

As usual, I jumped on the bandwagon late, but these liquid eyeshadows deserve every bit of the hype they’ve received. They are pure glitter in a user-friendly format, and the shade Rose Gold Retro is a beautiful dream.

Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Fire and Ice

This summer I decided to jump into the world of oranges and orangey-red lipsticks, starting with the long-time classic Fire and Ice. I’ve always been iffy about these types of tones on myself, but I surprised myself by immediately falling in love with Fire and Ice. The formula is comfortable and smooth without being slippery, and the colour is divine. I’ve seen appear on different people variously as an orange-red, a coral with a definitive hint of pink, and a straight-up orange. I don’t why I like this on myself so much, because it has a healthy dose of orange and neon, which should be a very unflattering combination on me. But I lived in this lipstick this summer!

Marc Jacobs Le Marc Lip Creme in So Sofia

God, I love this lipstick so goddamn much. I have been searching for this exact colour – a super vibrant coral that flatters my complexion – for eons, and So Sofia is it. Not only is the colour beautiful and harmonious on my face, the formula is excellent. I bought this lipstick in the second half of the year and it’s already one of my favourites ever.

ColourPop Blush Brush

When I ordered this brush out of curiosity back in the summer, I didn’t expect for it to become my favourite blush brush. I merely wanted another one so that I didn’t have to clean my brushes as often. (Uh, I already clean them shamefully infrequently, so…) But the soft synthetic bristles combined with the shape and size of this brush make it absolutely perfect for applying the exact right amount of blush every single time. I’ve used it almost every day since I bought it.

ColourPop Blotted Lips in Candyfloss

I’m very into ColourPop’s sheer matte Blotted Lips – they’re a comfortable, easy way to wear colour, and they’re a staple for casual makeup days. The terracotta Candyfloss is an unexpected favourite – as with most of the lip products I’ve featured in this roundup, Candyfloss has taught me to move outside of my comfort zone and embrace colours in the orange and brown families. Though it’s a bit of an unusual colour, the sheer matte finish means Candyfloss can look fairly understated and casual.

Urban Decay Liquid Moondust in Solstice

I don’t know if I’m just looking in the wrong places, but I haven’t seen anybody talking about Urban Decay’s liquid eyeshadows. Solstice is a stunning blue-red duochrome that I positively die for. It lasts forever on my eyes too – and when it comes to liquid and cream eyeshadows on my hooded lids, that’s a feat. I’ll have to check out some of the other shadows in this line, because it looks like there’s a whole range of absolutely stunning shades.

IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ Cream in Fair*

If you asked me to describe my ideal foundation, I’d probably say “Fair with neutral-to-yellow undertones, medium coverage, finish somewhere between satin and dewy, hydrating and able to glide easily over dry patches, can be applied with brushes, a sponge, or fingers”. And that is exactly what the It Cosmetics CC Cream is! I actually tried quite a few foundations this year which I liked – Maybelline Fit Me Matte and Poreless, The Ordinary Serum and Coverage – but this one takes the cake. It looks so beautiful on my skin and is always comfortable to wear, and I love the incredibly functional packaging.

Runners up

(Because I like to cheat.)

And some runners-up for you, too: Bite Beauty Lip Pencils in 020 and 044*, ColourPop Lippie Pencil in Contempo, Lancôme Matte Shakers in Pink Power and Kiss Me Chérie*.

The Ordinary Colours Serum Foundation in 1.1N, Revlon PhotoReady Instafix Highlighter Stick in Pink Light, L’Oreal Brow Artist Plumper in Transparent.

Empties: May to September 2017

Posted on September 07, 2017 under Empties

Hello from Scotland! I landed yesterday morning and have been dealing with an uncharacteristic bout of terrible jetlag. I still feel a bit off, but I think one more sleep will set me right. I’m currently in a hotel and will be moving into my flat tomorrow afternoon. Yay! Here’s the view from my window:

Today I have some empties for you. This post outlines the results of my efforts to use up as much stuff as possible before my big move. Look, I had to use two box lids to house all of this crap!

Skincare

The Body Shop Chamomile Silky Cleansing Oil: My third bottle! I’m a huge fan of oil cleansers, and this one emulsifies my makeup really well and leaves my skin feeling soft and hydrated.

A-Derma Exomega Emollient Cleansing Oil: Got this through work. It’s my second bottle of it. It’s a little bit thicker and less runny than the Body Shop one but takes my makeup off just as well. I do wish it had a pump, though.

Bioderma Sensibio Makeup Removing Micelle Solution: One of my favourite micellar solutions for sure – it’s a classic for a reason! It doesn’t dry out my skin at all, which a lot of micellar waters do.

Vichy Pureté Thermale One Step Cleansing Micellar Solution – 100mL and 30mL bottles: I find this micellar solution too drying for my face. I used it for travel and to remove swatches. The deluxe sample size (30mL) is especially great for shorter trips.

La Roche-Posay Respectissime Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover: I’ve cracked open my third bottle after using this one up! I think it’s so great – gentle but really effective and reasonably-priced.

Lancôme Bi-Facil Double Action Eye Makeup Remover: This is one of the best eye makeup removers I’ve ever used, but the price is unjustifiable. I really like the DS sizes for travel, but otherwise I stick to the LRP – it’s just as good and half the price.

Vichy Eau Thermale: I don’t use thermal water sprays on my face, but I used this to wet my sponge when I was feeling lazy. Got this for free through work.

Lancôme Tonique Douceur: This was gratis from work. I thought it was a decently effective hydrating toner, but it’s expensive for what it is and highly fragranced. Definitely would not buy for $39.

NeoStrata Purifying Solution 8% Glycolic Acid: My second bottle. My skin likes gycolic acid a lot. I also used this occasionally on my arms and legs since I have keratosis pilaris and glycolic acid is one of the few things that seems to visibly reduce it.

The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10%: My skin really liked this and I’d totally repurchase it. I have a full glycolic acid toner I got through work that I’ll use up first, though.

The Ordinary Niacinimide 10% + Zinc 1%: I like this to help purify and control blemishes. I don’t have acne-prone skin, but I get hormonal breakouts around my chin and since adding this to my stash I’ve found the severity of those breakouts has decreased. I’m also super into Niacinimide as a great all-around beneficial skincare ingredient: this form of vitamin B3 helps to even out skin and reduce dullness, and it’s an antioxidant as well.

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5: This is my second bottle of this product; it’s replaced all other hydrating serums for me because it’s so much cheaper and just as effective. I usually use it day and night and it really boosts my skin’s hydration. It got me through a dry winter and I don’t find it too heavy for summer.

Lierac Hydragenist Moisturizing Oxygenating Replumping Serum: I didn’t enjoy this deluxe sample very much. It was super thin and oily, which made it messy to apply. The full size is $65, which seems absurd.

Lancôme Energie De Vie Smoothing and Glow-Boosting Liquid Care: My usual review of Lancôme products: nice, does what it says, but way too fragranced and completely overpriced. Got this through work.

Reversa Antioxidant Booster Serum: This is more of a light lotion than a serum. I enjoyed the texture and thought it helped keep my skin hydrated throughout the winter. It smelled like boiled hotdogs, though. I got it through work.

Vichy Aqualia Thermale Dynamic Hydration Light Cream: Nice moisturizer! Nothing amazing, but nice. Wouldn’t buy the full size.

La Roche-Posay Cicaplast: This is what I always use to heal my tattoos. It’s a lightweight gel formula that sinks in quickly and adds lots of hydration to the tattoo without dulling the colour as its sister the Cicaplast Baume B5 does. (The Baume is zinc-based, so it leaves a pretty severe white cast.) I’ve used it on three out of four tattoos so far and I’ll use it again next time!

Bioderma Sensibio Eye: This eye cream grew on me when I abandoned the pretense that it would do anything but hydrate. As a lightweight moisturizing gel, it was very nice. I don’t have super dry undereyes, so the texture was perfect for me.

Aloe Mask: I don’t know what the brand of this mask is or where you can buy it, but it was a very nice hydrating sheet mask. Nothing super special, but a nice treat.

Life Brand Moisturizing Facial Sheet Cream Mask: This sheet mask was very much soaked in a thick, white moisturizing cream rather than a lightweight serum. I’m not sure I enjoyed this. I used two of them up, but only one is pictured.

A-Derma Intense Repair Lip Balm: I forgot to include this in the flatlays, but this lip balm honestly deserves its own picture because it is that good. It’s a clear, thin consistency which makes it a great daytime option when compared to the super thick and waxy Nuxe Rêve de Miel lip balm which I love for nighttime. The catch is that A-Derma has discontinued this product because of course they have! I would have repurchased it in a heartbeat, but apparently we just can’t have nice things in the year 2017.

Hair

Batiste Dry Shampoo in Floral & Fruity Blush and Big and Bouncy XXL Volume: I haaaated the XXL Volume so much. It completely dried my (super damaged) hair out. So I guess if you have extremely oily hair this stuff will really do the trick. The Floral & Fruity Blush wasn’t my favourite scent, but it was fine.

Light Blue Shade Original Shampoo and Volumizing Shampoo: Bottle three and four of Light Blue shade done and dusted – I’ve been using this for about a year now and I love it. It’s only $10 at the drugstore, and it’s the most effective purple shampoo I’ve ever used. It’s not too drying, either, which some purple shampoos can be. I didn’t notice any difference between the Original and Volumizing versions, but I have natural volume anyway.

John Frieda Sheer Blonde Hi-Impact Restoring Shampoo*: I got this through Influenster and I ended up really liking it. I like to alternate between a purple shampoo for tone maintenance and one that’s a little more hydrating. This fit the bill for a hydrating shampoo perfectly. I’ve generally been a fan of the John Frieda blonde hair products – one of the first thing I bought here in the UK was a bottle of their tone-correcting shampoo since I can’t get Light Blue Shade here.

Matrix Biolage Conditioning Balm: This is a nice conditioner which was a hand-me-down from my mom. It’s not enough for hair that’s thoroughly bleach-damaged, but I liked to use this on my roots and a deep conditioner through the lengths. I can’t get very excited about conditioner, nor can I compel myself to spend much on it.

StriVectin All Smooth Conditioner: Sample size received through work. Way too expensive for what it is: a decent conditioner. I used it up on my trip to Kentucky in the spring.

StriVectin All Smooth Overnight Anti-Frizz Serum: Sample size received through work. I don’t know if this did anything, to be honest.

Bath & Body

L’Occitane Almond Shower Oil: I don’t care how unnecessary this expenditure is. I love this stuff too much to stop! Anyway, this mega-sized bottle of it lasted me and my mom more than a year and a half, so I’m not too mad about it.

Freeman’s Pomegranate Sugar Scrub: A staple of my empties posts.

La Roche-Posay Lipikar Fluide: I liked this okay as a lightweight body lotion, but my arms and legs are so dry that I really need something richer. They’ve discontinued this and replaced it with the Lipikar Lait, which is very similar in texture.

Avène TriXera Nutri-Fluid Lotion: Pretty similar to the Lipikar Fluide except much more watery in texture. Nice enough for the summer, but not my ideal body moisturizer.

The Body Shop Grapefruit Body Butter (mini): Meh. This is a pretty standard Body Shop body butter – it’s pretty greasy and not enough for my dry skin. The coconut one is the best one, and I will probably buy some this winter.

Makeup

Make Up For Ever Ultra HD foundtation in Y215: This is my no-brainer, no-fuss foundation that never lets me down. It applies easily with whatever method I choose (brush, sponge, fingers), it has a nice medium coverage and a natural finish, and it never makes my skin look dry. This is also one of my best shade matches. (I was previously using R210, which was too pink.) I’m trying to get through some of my other foundations right now, but I can see myself going back to this.

NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Chantilly: I loved how this brightened my undereyes in initial application, but after a few hours it looked so dry on me. I know not everything works for everyone, but I’m sad that this didn’t work for me… especially at $36.

Marcelle Ultimate Fringe Effect Mascara: I’m generally a fan of Canadian drugstore brand Marcelle, and I thought this mascara was great. If anything, it got better with age. It gave me the length and definition I so crave in mascaras and never got clumpy. It wasn’t great on the bottom lashes because it transferred, but it’s a nice little drugstore option for those in the Great White North.

Stila Stay All Day Waterpoof Eyeliner in Intense Black and Snow: Loved these. Snow was so much fun, and Intense Black is a staple in my life. I can’t even tell you how many of them I’ve gone through, but I’m probably approaching double digits now.

Clarins Waterproof Eye Pencil in Noir: This is a creamy, smooth pencil eyeliner. I used it daily to tightline. It’s not totally transfer-proof, so I wouldn’t repurchase.

Benefit Gimme Brow in Light: As much as I liked the convenience of this tinted, fiber-filled brow gel, I don’t think I could justify the price. I do really appreciate how easy this is to travel with; when I’m away I don’t always want to fuss with the pomade I usually use. There are lots of dupes on the market, though.

Tanya Burr Cosmetics Lash Glue: Even after I wore my Tanya Burr false lashes into the ground, I held onto the glue they came with. I think it’s great, and I love the brush applicator. It’s very goopy now, so it’s time for it to go.

Rimmel Exaggerate Lip Liner in Eastend Snob: I think this is the third one of these I’ve gone through – it’s such a no-fail colour, popular for a reason.

Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick in Patina (mini): I loved this dusty, mauvey pink colour, but my mini is finally all dried up. I probably won’t repurchase because I’m getting tired of liquid lipsticks.

ELF Lip Exfoliator: This brown sugar- and shea-based lip exfoliator is very convenient because it’s in stick form. Buying from ELF is a pain, though, since it’s hard to find most of their products in-store in Canada. (And the UK, for that matter…)

Miscellaneous

Quo Nail Polish Remover: This is a standard nail polish remover.

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel in Sugar Fix: I could get more mileage out of this bottle with a nail polish thinner, but I’m not a nail polish person and the fact that it’s goopy and lumpy tells me that it’s time to say goodbye. I loved this cornflower blue, and I think the Miracle Gel formula is great.

ELF Daily Brush Cleaner: I liked this just fine, but the scent is pretty strong and as Lyn pointed out, you’ll get the same results with alcohol.

Foil Samples

Vichy Pore Purifying Clay Mask: This stuff totally works. I used it once all over my face and once localized on a gnarly chin breakout. I’d never buy the full size because you can buy kaolin-based masks for a lot cheaper.

Vichy Quenching Mineral Mask: This was nice, but I can give my skin a shot of moisture for cheaper.

Vichy Double Glow Peel Mask: I didn’t love the gritty texture on this mask. Because I incorporate AHAs into my daily skincare routine, I don’t really feel the need for an AHA mask.

Smashbox Insta-Matte Lipstick Transformer: I don’t like how goopy this is; it just feels like an extra layer on my lips. If I really want to mattify a lipstick I’ll just powder it through a tissue.

Benefit They’re Real! Remover: Oh, boy, I could not resist the urge to try another part of the They’re Real! line given how much I absolutely despise both the mascara and eyeliner. This did get my waterproof eye makeup off, but because it’s a lotion it’s a weird texture to use on the eyes. I prefer a biphase remover – it’s quicker and not as messy.

By the way, I am finally letting go of my trusty empties box, because it has seen better days:

Yes, that means saying goodbye to Harry Styles…

… but I have tickets to see him in October and April so I think he’ll forgive me.