Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Winter 2016 Empties

I normally do videos for my empties because I think it's a more engaging format, slash, it makes it easier for me to briefly describe how I feel about some of the products. However, this winter's empties was a bit of a disappointment for me. I didn't finish much, and most of what I did finish is either a staple or solidly in the "meh" category.

That said, I know for a fact that the spring 2017 empties will be far more interesting. There's a handful of makeup in my organizer that won't last me more than a month, and I'm on a mission to finish up as many deluxe samples and foil packets as I can this year. So bear with me with this one!

As per usual, I did my best to calculate the standard value of each item according to a Google search, rounding down to the nearest five cents. For anything sample sized, I included the cost of the full size product as well. If my math is off, please correct me!

Body Care

Man, talk about a category full of "meh." The only product in this batch that I really love is the Haus of Gloi Pumpkin Butter ($10 each), a staple of mine for many years. "Aether" is their term for "unscented"; I also finished a tub of The Horseman, which is a musk, apple, and leather scent. It's nice, but incredibly subtle.

The Elta MD Moisture-Rich Body Creme ($6.25; full size = $25) was a moderately moisturizer, gentle cream that spread easily and lasted a long time. However, it had a vague plastic-y scent that I disliked, and it didn't moisturize my lizard skin enough for me to be tempted to buy a full size.

Everything else was a complete nay-nay for me. I know a lot of people like using the Heritage Rosewater and Glycerin spray ($10) as a facial toner, but I found it really sticky. I used it as a lightweight body spray instead. I was recommended the Gold Bond Ultimate Restoring CoQ10 lotion ($5) by a stranger in Wal-Mart, and I probably should've kept searching for the Vanicream I was originally wanting. This was sticky on my skin and had a terrible smell. Similarly, the Aveda Stress Fix Body Creme sample ($2.50; full size = $50) only lasted for one use, which shocks me given the cost of a full size. Also, it reeks of medicinal lavender. The Glytone Exfoliating Body Wash ($4.75; full size = $32) didn't feel like a very cleansing wash, slash, stripped my skin. I've heard people describe the fragrance as "fresh laundry," but it smelt of crushed aspirin to me.

Hair Care and Fragrance

I don't have the best hair, so I try not to overload it with products. I finished a bottle of the Aussie 3 Minute Miracle ($3), which I've used off-and-on for years. It's not moisturizing enough for my super-dry, frizzy, curly hair as a mask, but it makes a great conditioner. If any of you has a recommendation for a conditioner I should try next, please pass it on down! I also finished two more cans of my staple Not Your Mother's Clean Freak Unscented Dry Shampoo ($5 each). I should take out stock in that company, I go through these so much! As a reminder, this is a dry shampoo that will add a bit of texture and bulk to your hair, which is great for fine hair like mine, not so great for people with thicker, coarser locks.

There are also two 3 milliliter fragrance vials here: Thierry Mugler Alien Essence Absolue ($10; full size = $100) and L'Instant de Guerlain Eau de Noel Iris Millesime ($5.70?; full size L'Instant = $95). The Guerlain fragrance has been discontinued, so I had to guesstimate the sample's value based on current L'Instant offerings. It was a beautiful iris, amber, and honey scent that was very womanly and soft without being "old" or powdery. That said, I don't think it suited me much--I'm not an especially feminine or chic person. The Thierry Mugler fragrance is my favorite Alien flanker, with a lot of creamy vanilla complimenting a jasmine-and-amber base, but I have so many vanilla scents right that I'm loath to buy a full bottle. (If you do want to buy this one, though, it's easy to get it cheap at places like Fragrancenet and eBay.)


As always, I managed to kill a slew of sample mascaras! Quick tangent: I can't even remember the last time I bought a full-sized mascara. It's just so easy to get samples that last me 2-3 months every time I order something else. And mascara samples are often half the size of a full tube, so they're very generous!

The one mascara I didn't finish and therefore won't add to my "total value of used products" is Lancome Hypnose Drama. I used it twice and promptly tossed it in the bin in disgust. It's horribly wet and clumpy, and it made my lashes look spidery. Nooooo.

The mascaras I finished and liked, but would not repurchase, were the Marc Jacobs O! Mega Lash ($20.80; full size = $26) and Makeup Forever Excessive Lash ($13.50; full size = $25). The Marc Jacobs mascara is very "meh" to me; it gives decent volume and a little length, but it tends to make my lashes look dry and it flakes too much for my tastes. I really enjoyed the Makeup Forever Excessive Lash, which has a thin wand that lets you get right in to the roots of your lashes and provides loads of volume. Makeup Forever mascaras seem to dry out really quickly, though. MAC In Extreme Dimension 3D Black Lash ($2???) had a rubberized brush, but wasn't pokey. It provided length and separation. It was a nice mascara, but didn't provide the look I normally go for.

I was shocked when I fell in love with the Milk Makeup Ubame mascara ($16.30; full size = $24). The wand has three little "balls" on it, which I initially thought was a Milk gimmick, but later came to love; it made it easy to hold the wand vertical to get in to corners of my eye, and it seemed to comb my lashes out. This gave me good length and volume while maintaining a fluttery look. I also had next to no flaking or smearing with this.

Two staples will be leaving my collection. I'm not a big gloss person, so I just keep a clear one around. My standby for the past few years has been Elizabeth Arden Crystal Clear ($9.45; full size = $15). It's easy to get a deluxe sample on the cheap from eBay. Sadly, my favorite peach blush, Kevyn Aucoin Creamy Moist Glow in Tansoleil ($26), went rancid. It's not surprising when you realize I've had it since graduate school, but ugh, I loved it! Don't let the tiny-looking dip fool you: I used this constantly. A little went a long way and always made me look healthy and glowy. I'm resisting the urge to repurchase it for now because I have so many other cream blushes. Because I didn't finish this one, I'll be adding just half of the value to my total.

Skin Care

Again, we're looking a a slew of staples here. I finished my go-to makeup remover, Johnson's Baby Oil ($5), and a second bottle of the La Roche Posay Toleriane Dermo-Cleanser ($23). No shocker, I went through three tubs of the Avon Nurtura Replenishing Cream ($8.50 each) that I've used for years. I am still looking for a replacement night cream, though, if anybody has recommendations; I need something super-rich, not from a multi-level marketing company, and free of ingredients like niacinamide, shea butter, caprylic triglyceride, denatured alcohol, essential oils, and fragrance! ...yes, I'm asking a lot.

The Nuxe Reve de Miel lip balm ($15) slowly became my staple over the year. There's still a bit of balm left, pressed up against the side of the jar, but because it's 98% empty and it officially expired at the end of 2016, I just replaced it.

I really enjoyed the Isehan Sunkiller Perfect Strong Moisture SPF50+ PA++++ (~$10), a Japanese face sunscreen. It's fragranced, unfortunately, but it is alcohol-free, and I was able to use it without experiencing any dryness or itching. Alas, it did not work under makeup. Also, if I wore it for more than two days in a row, I'd begin to clog. I'm currently looking for a comfortable face sunscreen that's readily available stateside, and I'm testing a few options as I type this.

TOTAL VALUE: $230.75

Next up, attempting to finish $1000 worth of products in 2017!


  1. Based on the value here I'd say you'll be able to hit $1000 worth of empties this year! You've definitely done a great job using stuff up. Too bad a lot of the products were duds, though.

    I find Lancôme mascaras really hit and miss. The original Hypnôse is one of my favourites, but some of the spinoffs (like the Drama) are really awful.

    1. No hyperbole: Hypnose Drama is one of the absolute worst mascaras I've ever used.

  2. Have you tried any of Trader Joe's in house products? I don't have the moisturizer in front of me but I think it's free of all those things. There is a rich version I have. It's not very thick but I use it over oils and serums to "lock it in" it's got a little of everything in it though, vitamin C/E, DMAE, Squalene, and a few other bigger ticket ingredients. It will break me out if I use too often, but once or twice a week is fine. I get issues with Jojoba and Squalene. My main moisturizer is Tidal currently, but it has fragrance. I use it more as a base layer, kind of like a serum, when my face is super wet and then top it with oil. It works well that way.

    1. We don't have one around here, so I haven't, but I'll look in to it! Tidal's ingredient list gives me the heebies, but I am so glad it works for you.

  3. Can't wait to hear your thoughts on solid US sunscreens. I've been trying out a lot and it's so hard to find ones that I can wear daily, that work under makeup and don't bother my eyes. I am trying to commit to wearing it everyday, but with the irritation I am experiencing, it's hard to make it feel worth it when I'm outside for under 20 minutes during daylight hours.

    1. Curious: are you using chemical or physical sunscreens? Also, have you ever tried SPF eye creams? A lot of them are designed to prevent that watering.

  4. For conditioner have you ever tied the GVP conditioning balm from Sally's? I have frizzy/wavy hair and this conditioner has excellent slip.