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.

Nail polish declutter + inventory

Posted on June 06, 2017 under Declutter, Inventory

I’m getting to the point where I’m close enough to moving across the ocean that the metaphorical weight of all of my possessions is becoming rather burdensome. I’m itching to divest myself of material goods. I have a bin I’ve been filling up with clothes as I realize I no longer want them; there’s a makeup bag sitting on my vanity that serves the same purpose. I’m becoming rather ruthless by my standards.

I’ve actually been thinning out my nail polish since September, because it takes some time to really put your polishes to the test. I usually change my manicure once a week, so when I counted up my stash and realized I had 41 bottles of the stuff, I knew I’d have to start early.

I have never considered myself a nail polish person. I tend to purchase it on whims and never hem and haw over a $10.99 bottle of Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure the way I do over a $10.99 Maybelline lipstick.

Now, I suppose I am a nail polish person in some ways. I vividly remember sitting in the back of a grade 11 biology presentation and painting my nails out of sheer boredom. (I had a brief fever dream of becoming a paleontologist, and it took about half a biology lesson to talk me out of that one.) Since then I’ve scarcely been without painted nails; I’d estimate that since late 2010 I’ve gone maybe 15 days with bare nails. I began religiously painting my nails months before mascara ever touched my eyelashes and two and a half years before I got into makeup in any real capacity.

But I’m not the type of person who tracks new nail polish launches, knows about indie brands, can justify luxury nail polish purchases, or can name ten dupes for any given nail polish colour. I just think having colours on my nails is fun. Yet for a fairly casual nail polish wearer I think I have a lot of nail polish.

When it comes to moving, I view nail polish as one of the most frivolous things I could bring with me, a staple though it may be in my life, and so I’ve committed to decreasing my collection significantly. My goal was for everything to fit into my two acrylic nail polish holders (each of which holds 15 polishes) with no overflow. I think ideally I’d like fewer than 30 polishes, but that’s a good, practical place to start.

The mighty stash, before.

My first step was to cull everything I knew I didn’t like enough to even try on, which did not yield the most fruitful results. The second step was to test every polish I owned. This process took me a good 7 months. I used coloured dot stickers to designate each polish I tried as a for sure keeper (green), a for sure purge (red), or undecided (yellow). Once I finished this first round of testing I removed all the red dot items from my acrylic holders and found that everything fit much better, with minimal overflow.

Then I tested out all of my yellow dot items. I designated most of these polishes this way because I didn’t love them but still didn’t want to get rid of them for whatever reason. A few were given yellow stickers because I thought I had dupes for them within my collection, in which case I tried one on each hand and kept the best one.

In the end I got rid of 21 polishes. I did buy three more during this time period (with one gifted to me on top of that), but I tried to curb my nail polish buying significantly. I now have a total of 25 polishes, one base coat, and one top coat.

Here’s what I got rid of:

Stuff I just plain didn’t like: two polishes from the long-discontinued Wet N Wild Fergie collection, in Dutchess and Tonight’s Gonna Be A Good Night.

Things that are getting old: YSL Bleu Majorelle, Essie Cocktail Bling, Wet N Wild Party of Five Glitters, Orly Go Deeper, Joe Fresh Mist, Joe Fresh Oyster.

Colours I don’t like: Misslyn Rose Sublime (thought it was going to be more of a dusty mauve), Essie Bahama Mama (looks more wine than purply-berry on my nails), Sally Hansen Pucker Up (I never wear red nail polish), Essie Tart Deco (I tend to stick to cooler colours), Revlon Chroma Chameleon in Topaz, Nicole by OPI A Million Sparkles, Sally Hansen Grape Shifter, Sally Hansen Carnival.

Colours that are close to things I like better: Sally Hansen Coin Flip (I prefer a more white gold), Sally Hansen Wined Up (I only wear wine nails around the holidays), China Glaze Merry Berry (ditto). I’m also tossing my bottles of Seche Vite and Essence The Gel Nail Polish Top Coat because I like the Sally Hansen Miracle Gel top coat better than either.

Here’s a quick look at what I’m keeping – you’ll see that I really meant it when I said I like cool colours on my nails.

Revlon Parfumerie Scented Nail Enamel in Bordeaux (does kind of smell like wine); Sally Hansen Gem Crush Nail Colour in Lady Luck; Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure in Rosy Outlook.

Barry M Gelly Hi-Shine Nail Paint in Kiwi; L’Oreal Color Riche Le Vernis A L’Huile in Vert Époque; Barry M Gelly Hi-Shine Nail Paint in Sugar Apple; Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure in Barracuda; Sally Hansen Miracle Gel in Let’s Get Digital; Deborah Lippmann Mermaid’s Eyes; Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure in Sugar Fix.

Sally Hansen Hard As Nails Xtreme Wear Nail Polish in Pacific Blue (x4, because I’m a freak); Barry M Gelly Hi-Shine Nail Paint in Damson; Sally Hansen Miracle Gel in Byte Blue. YES I HAVE A PROBLEM.

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel in Midnight Mod; Orly Nail Lacquer in After Party; Essie Play Date; Sally Hansen Miracle Gel in All Chalked Up.

Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure in Gilty Party; Lancôme Nail Polish in 003; Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure in Blush Over Hue; Beauty UK Nails in Black Out; Sally Hansen Hard As Nails Xtreme Wear in White On.

And my standard base and topcoat duo: Witchcraft Be Strong, which helps prevent my nails from peeling, and Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat.

And here’s how I’m going to keep my collection under control:

  1. No more buying nail polish on a whim. The same care and research should go into buying it as I put into buying makeup.
  2. No more buying near-dupes of Sally Hansen Pacific Blue which I know will never live up to the original. You know what, I will spend $30 on a bottle from Ebay because I know it’s the only thing I will ever love!!!!
  3. No more buying Essie polishes. They have some beautiful colours and always have stunning seasonal collections, but I just never get on with them. I’ll use the ones I do have because I like the colours, but I have to stop myself from buying more no matter how alluring the colours!
  4. In that vein, buy only from lines that I know and trust. My favourite nail polish formulas are Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure, Sally Hansen Miracle Gel, and Barry M Nail Gelees. Those lines have enough colours to keep me covered and I know I love the formulas.
  5. NO MORE GLITTER POLISH! It’s always disappointing and more trouble than it’s worth in both application and removal.

Anyway, I reduced my nail polish collection by 40%, which I think is a pretty good amount. I really can’t see any clutter in what I’ve kept, aside from the fact that I own four bottles of Sally Hansen Pacific Blue, all of which are necessary.

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!