Mini reviews of empties

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As usual, my empties post is several months behind. These are the things I finished before I left California at the beginning of September. I always like writing up my empties as a way to post short reviews of products I've tested thoroughly, or as a way to amend previous reviews. As usual, if I've written about something here before, I'll just link you to the previous post to avoid repetition, unless I've changed my mind in the meantime.


First, the most exciting category: makeup! Exciting because I rarely finish makeup. Less exciting than the photo seems, because a few of these weren't empty--they're just discards for one reason or another. It's not cheating! Actually, I'd only categorize three of the products in the photo as actually empty. It's still not cheating!

Beginning at the top left:

Lancôme Hypnose Drama mascara (mini): I actually remember very little about this mascara, so it must have been ok but nothing special. As with most mascaras from the L'Oréal family, it flaked more than I would like. I've had many mini Lancôme mascaras over the years and never felt the urge to actually buy a full-sized tube. I used this until it dried up.

Stila Stay All Day Liquid Liner: Reviewed here. Not a big fan of this one, because the tip gets floppy and frays long before it ever dries up. I used it to label swatches on my arm for the last year, and it finally started to actually dry. This is a real empty!

No7 Loose Powder: Reviewed here. Another true empty! I can't decide if I want to replace this or get another jar of the Laura Mercier powder. They are very similar, but the LM powder is slightly warmer/yellower and suits my complexion better. I could get 15% off when Sephora's Beauty Insider sale comes around on the 16th, but that's not exactly a big incentive. I wonder if Nordstrom will have a competing deal.

ULTA Maximum Lashes mascara: I got this as a GWP, and put it in my work bag for emergencies, because I didn't want to risk using its terrifying wand on a daily basis. Look at this thing! It's a menace. Not empty, but I wasn't going to bother taking it with me when I moved.

Kat Von D Liquid Lipstick in Lovesick and Tarte Liquid Lipstick in Birthday Suit (minis): Swatched here. The former came in a Sephora Play! bag, and the latter was part of last year's Sephora birthday gift. They both looked awful on me and were too old to bother giving away to someone else.

Be A Bombshell blush is Sweet Cheeks: Swatched here. I got this in an Ipsy bag a million years ago, and actually liked the bright, pigmented pink quite a lot. Unfortunately it shattered when I moved from Texas to California last winter (surprisingly the only thing to break!), and when I tried to repress it, it turned into a powdery mess. It would have just fallen apart during the subsequent move, so I let it go.

Essence Stay With Me gloss in Choose Me!: Reviewed here. Long discontinued. You can tell how old that shit was by the review date. I did still like it, but it started to smell funky, so time to toss. I can never finish glosses! In fact, I really shouldn't buy them, because I don't wear them nearly enough, but I always get sucked into picking up just one more. Just one more.

Revlon Balm Stain in Smitten: Reviewed here. Again, the review reveals how ancient this lipstick was, and how little I pay attention to makeup expiration guidelines. In fact, there was nothing wrong with this lipstick, except that every time I put it on, I thought, "blech!" Just not my color. So why did I hold on to it for so many years!? Anyway, it's gone now. Look at me, letting go.

Next up, skincare:


Beginning at the top left:

Dr. Jart Cicapair Tiger Grass Cream (sample generously provided by Mimi from Makeup Withdrawal): This moisturizer was effective and really soothing. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I've been comtemplating buying a tube ever since last spring. It's so expensive, though! I don't know. I might try the much more affordable La Roche Posay Cicaplast Baume instead. Has anyone tried them both to compare?

Aquaphor Advanced Therapy Ointment (mini): This stuff was/is a lifesaver for irritated skin. If you follow me on Instagram, you know I complained from spring until early fall that my eyelids were itchy and scaly. I still haven't figured out what caused it (despite declaring prematurely multiple times that I had identified the culprit), but a combination of hydrocortisone cream (used sparingly) and Aquaphor seem to have wiped it out. Or it's a coincidence. Still, if I feel a twinge of unpleasantness around my eyes these days, I revert to using just Aquaphor in that area, and they seem to be fine. I'm using a regular-size tube now, which should last me about the next seven years.

e.l.f. Hydrating Water Essence: Reviewed here. I still love it, and I missed it in my routine after I ran out. I'm now on my second bottle.

bü SPF 30 and SPF 50 sunscreen sprays: These are nearly the same as the Kinesys sunscreens (reviewed here) that I love (and made by some of the people who previously ran Kinesys, I believe), but they may be easier to find in Canada. I got these bottles at London Drugs last year.

Paula's Choice Makeup Remover: I actually rarely use makeup remover. I don't like to use oily products near my eyes, and I find that my eye makeup comes off well enough with regular cleansing. I mainly used this up cleaning swatches off of my arms. I think it might be discontinued now.

Stratia Liquid Gold (sample generously provided by Mimi from Makeup Withdrawal): Ok, so I wasn't as blown away by this stuff as I'd expected. It was a decent, if slightly greasy, moisturizer, and it did make my face a little orange, even if I only used a small amount. Maybe it's better for dry skin? Or you ned to use it long term to fall in love with it? Help me out, here. And to be perfectly honest, I know that people love Stratia, but I am as cautious about them as about any other indie beauty line, especially after the recent incident with the moldy cleansers.

Boscia Charcoal Pore Pudding (mini): I used this as the clay mask step in Fifty Snails' pore shrinking mask routine, which I try to do every weekend. It worked very well for that purpose, but it has an unpleasantly intense floral fragrance, and it's very expensive, so I'm happy to go back to my Freeman Avocado and Oatmeal mask (reviewed here) for the future. This small jar was enough for probably a dozen masks, though.

Manyo Factory Ultra Moist Rebirth Ampole (foil, also from Mimi): It's a hydrating essence, and it hydrated, though it's hard to really judge products from such a small sample.

Cerave Healing Ointment (mini): An excellent alternative to Aquaphor, with slightly different ingredients, but a similar function. I found this on the lip balm rack in CVS, and naturally assumed it was lip balm, but it does not work well on my lips. It was very nice around my irritated eyes, however. Aquaphor is cheaper, though.

Paula's Choice Resist Brightening Essence" As I've said before, and should know well by now, my skin doesn't seem to need "brightening." I don't know why I bought this! It didn't seem to do much, and wasn't hydrating enough to serve as a moisturizing essence like the e.l.f. stuff. I used it up my mixing a few drops into raw honey for a mask. It thinned the honey a bit and made it easier to spread, and it's not like the extra ingredients do any harm.

Tokyomilk Dark lip balm in Absinthe: These balms are my favorite for bedtime. I used to get chapped lips all the time, but if I apply this before bed, I almost never do anymore. My favorite scent so far has been La Vie En Rose. I didn't love Absinthe (almost smelled like fake apple to me), and I'm not loving the Cherry Bourbon I'm using now, either. But the scents are innocuous enough that I don't mind, since the balm itself works so well for me. The biggest complaint people seem to have about these is how hard the tins are to open. The trick is to twist the lid off rather than trying to lift it or pry it. Sometimes it takes a while to loosen up, so for a couple of weeks you might have to stick a nail in the crack to pop it up a little, and then twist. It's not ideal, but I've had no real trouble with them once I figured that out.

The Ordinary Azelaic Acid: Reviewed here. It works great for my skin, and I have bought multiple additional tubes by now. See review for details.

Jack Black Lip Balm in Mango and Mandarin: My favorite daytime lip balm! After I cut open the tube, there were at least two weeks worth of balm still inside.

Oh my god, there's still more.


Paula's Choice 2% BHA Gel: For whatever reason, this didn't work nearly as well for my skin as the 2% BHA liquid. I used it mixed with lotion as an aftershave on my legs, and it did help prevent irritation and ingrown hairs that way.

Acure Brightening Facial Scrub: A fairly rough sugar scrub with an odd, herbal smell. Use gently.

The Ordinary Vit C Suspension: Reviewed here. I didn't finish this, because I didn't need it.

Freeman masks: Reviewed here, here, and here. The only one I would repurchase is the Charcoal & Black Sugar, but even it I didn't finish. It was just very old, and I didn't want to pack it and take it with me. Freeman masks are very economical--cheap for an enormous amount of product. Recommended if you like getting your money's worth, but if you are fixated on emptying things, they might frustrate you.


Last, and least, hair shit.

The Dry Bar Prep Rally (mini) made my hair soft and shiny, but it's overpriced. I've gone through many cans of Batiste dry shampoo now (reviewed here), and this isn't my last. The SexyHair Spray & Play hairspray did the thing it's supposed to do (but I rarely use hairspray, so I'm not much of a connoisseur).

That's my garbage for this installment! I already have another collection started, of course. Any favorites here? Are you making a special effort to finish products lately?

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