April 1, 2015

Empty, Empty, Empty: January, February, & March

Welcome to April! Can you believe it? I cannot.

You might notice that I've skipped another 2-month Empties post, but with traveling and all of the swatching I did with the ILNP Holo Ultra Chrome Flakies and Spring collections, I needed to postpone the empties review. Another 3-month round-up it is!  It will be a relief to ditch all this beauty garbage afterwards!

I've broken the empty products into general categories, and we'll start with skincare first!


Now Solutions Sweet Almond Oil
This has been my primary carrier oil for the Oil Cleansing Method (OCM) for the last six months, at least. I like almond oil a lot for the face! I feel like it's moisturizing enough, but not too heavy for my skin, and does a good job removing makeup around the eyes and on the skin. Sometimes I even use this as a straight facial moisturizer as well, applying at night. Almond oil is supposed to be great for the scalp too! Almond oil is a thicker, more moisturizing oil, and can be comedogenic for some people, so that's something to think about.

More recently, I've been using this as a facial cleanser without adding Castor oil- so it technically hasn't been "carrying" anything. I just find that even the smallest dilutions of Castor oil can be too drying for my skin in Winter. I'd repurchase this, but I'm going to be trying Jojoba oil for this purpose next, which is lighter and supposed to be even better at removing makeup.

CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion
This was originally a back-up bottle for me, as it's a product I haven't used in a long time- so a bit of a throwback! But, I used to LOVE this stuff. It's such a great drugstore moisturizer. I'm not sure why I ever stopped using it, to be honest. My skin loves it, and always looks nicer in the morning after using it the previous night. The formula is on the thinner side, but not runny, and sinks in pretty well. It doesn't feel heavy, but is somehow able to moisturize my super dry/ dehydrated skin very well. It also has Hyaluronic Acid which has proven benefits for all skin types, so I'm thrilled this product contains it.

I'm already working on a second bottle of this!

Hey! Pinkgo Girl Triple HA Seaweed Collagen Moisturizing Sheet Mask
My first sheet mask ever! I've been intimidated by these, so it's taken me a long time to try them, but I finally picked up a ten-pack of this kind on Amazon.  It was....an experience. I will say that these really are meant for Asian facial features, which I do not have. The cut-outs for the eyes, nose, and mouth really didn't want to align with my own, which was pretty humorous. Once it had a moment to lay on my skin and attach itself, it wasn't a huge problem or anything, and I'm sure I'll get better at applying them now that I know what to expect. Definitely weird, though, and I wouldn't be comfortable trying to use one on a plane or anything like some women do.

This mask also has Hyaluronic Acid, as well as Hydrolyzed Collagen, which is supposed to plump skin "to reduce the appearance of fine lines and pore size. Help to achieve a soft and even complexion." Don't know if it does all that, but sounds nice.

Afterward, I noticed that my skin felt very smooth and did seem to be extra moisturized, which carried over into the next day. Other than that, no major results, but I have nine more of them to try before I can reach a full verdict!

And, um, if anyone can tell me what the hell is going on on the front of the packaging, please do! 


Lypsyl Silky Swedish Beeswax Lip Balm 
Okay, this is one of my favorite, tried-and-true, cheaper drugstore lip balms. It's not too waxy, and feels very nice and moisturizing, and I think it can heal chapped lips if you use it consistently. I like it way better than anything Burt's Bees makes for the lips! It smells vaguely minty. Also, the package design is so cute! It's oval, so fits the shape of your lips very well, and the slider to push up the product is an adorable little bee! Will definitely repurchase.

Burt's Bees Honey Lip Balm
Speaking of Burt's Bees! This came in a gift set that someone got me. For the lips, it's just "meh," for me, although it does have a nice honey scent. It's just a waxier texture, and doesn't seem to penetrate my actual skin to moisturize. I'm sure it might protect against future moisture loss, but that's not all I need in a lip balm, personally.

Strangely enough- and don't judge me- I used up the majority of the product in this tube by applying it to my cuticles! It's kind of great for that, especially on the go. The waxiness helps it stick around longer, and cuticle care items in tube packaging like this are so convenient.

Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balm- Lemon & Chamomile
Hey, it took me forever to use up this guy, which in a way justifies the near-$8 pricetag! I've spoken about Jack Black lip balms before, and they really are great. A lot of times, when a product is popular across beauty blogs, Youtube, or Instagram, you have to wonder if it's all hyped group think. With this product, I really don't think so! It's just super moisturizing, and perfect for extra sunny or windy days when your lips will be exposed to harsh elements. Also great as an overnight treatment! (It's chock full of Lanolin, which is probably why it works so well!)


Everyday Minerals Matte Base in 'Sunkissed Fair'
You're probably tired of seeing these, as I'm pretty consistent about using them up! Mineral bases are just so easy and non-finicky, that I can't help but wear them almost every single day, especially since I don't need or want much coverage. I used this particular shade for a long time, but felt like recently it'd been reformulated and didn't match as well.  I'm not really sure if that's true- I just noticed that after a slight package redesign 'Sunkissed Fair' didn't look quite the same, and it almost seemed like it would oxidize after a while of wear...which I didn't realize mineral bases could do?

Anyway, I kept this nearly-full as a back-up for months, and then finally pulled it out to finish it when the 'Vanilla' shade ran out. 

Everyday Minerals Jojoba Base in 'Vanilla'
This is the shade I picked up instead of 'Sunkissed Fair.' It seems to match me pretty well, and I think the the Jojoba bases give a nicer finish than the matte bases do- at least for me. They are matte without be overly, super matte. I like that! I'll probably repurchase this!

Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes Mascara- sample size
I think I got this as an 100-pt. perk from Sephora. It came in an Ipsy bag. I like it. I'm currently using the smaller size of Tarte Gifted, and those two mascaras are extremely similar, formula-wise. The brushes are different, but given the same brush, I'm not sure if I could tell them apart.

I've read that Lights, Camera, Lashes is a wet mascara formula, but for me it was on the drier side! I don't know if that's just this sample size, though. Hmmm... It did give me good results for quite a few applications. I think it's better for length than volume, since it didn't layer on itself too well without becoming spidery. These tiny sample sizes do dry out quickly though, so I found that this started flaking on me after about a couple weeks of use.

-Hand Care-

Nivea Smooth Sensation Body Lotion, 2.5 oz
I used this only as a hand cream, and it's not particularly wonderful. It has that mineral oil feel, which is nice at first, but doesn't feel deeply moisturizing or last throughout the day.  I do find that mineral oil-based lotions are nice to use before swatching, because they smooth the skin without making it look too "wet" or reflective, like a balm would. Wouldn't purchase the full size.

Burt's Bees Milk & Honey Body Lotion, 1 oz
Well, this has got to be 10 years old, I'm not even joking. I remember getting it in a gift set another lifetime ago, so I'm not sure if it can be fairly evaluated. I'd recently re-found it, and decided it needed to be used up.

It does smell like honey, but mine was a little bit separated inside of the bottle, which was mildly gross. It did a good job of lightly moisturizing though, and is definitely suitable for sporadic daytime use. Nothing extremely special, though.

Qtica Smart Spa Exotic Mango Sugar Scrub, 5oz
I love this scrub! It came free with a Zoya order...over two years ago, I think.  This is the old jar packaging, and I think now all of Qtica's smaller sized scrubs come in tubes.

It's slightly less scrubby than the KBShimmer one I will talk about in a minute, and a little more...gelatinous- although I'm not sure that's the word. It smells citrus-y and a little bit like Mangos, very pleasant! I like to use this on my hands while in the shower. If you want extreme exfoliating, you can use it dry, with no water added, to get maximum scrubbing power. If you have moist hands to start, it's a much more gentle exfoliation. I'd purchase this again if it weren't quite as spendy. (Currently a 7oz scrub is $18-eek!)

KBShimmer Raspberry Vanilla Scrub
This sample packet had just enough for one scrub application, and I have to say that I loved it! Are you surprised? Probably not! It smells delightful, and is really a pretty grainy, scrubby scrub. It got my hands very smooth. I also really appreciate that the full list of ingredients is available on these sample sizes.

I'd definitely be tempted to purchase a full size KBShimmer scrub in the future!

Soap & Glory Sugar Crush Moisture-Extreme Body Buttercream, .33oz sample sachet 
This felt thick at first, and then thin once you rubbed it in.  But, because it was just a sample packet, I don't really have a well-formed opinion. I do think that Soap & Glory is mostly pretty packaging though! (Also, holy cow the SEO product name! Yikes!)

Aquaphor Advanced Therapy Healing Ointment
Yes, I still love Aquaphor! I keep these .35oz travel tubes in various places so that my skin stands a chance against the dry Chicago Winter! I basically just use this stuff for my cuticles and I really think it makes a difference. It's also nice for an overnight treatment, and can also be put to good use for dry lips. It's basically the best.

-Nail Care-

Studio 35 Beauty Regular Nail Polish Remover for Natural Nails
This jar-style remover worked pretty nicely for me for regular creme polishes and some shimmers. Anything chunkier, though, and it was just a pain, as you'd expect. Inside, is just a sponge with slots for your fingers, so there's no gritty spikes like the Target brand version. This does have acetone, which I prefer in a remover, since it means you don't have to let the drying stuff linger for as long on your skin and nails. Not sure if I'd repurchase- I like the Target one more, but both Targets near me have stopped carrying it. Wah!

Zoya Remove +, 2oz
I like Remove +! It's really one of the better polish removers, but I only ever end up using it if I can get these small freebies with any Zoya order.

Natrol Biotin Maximum Strength 10,000 mcg, 100 ct.
Do you want your hair and nails to grow at lightning speeds? Take this! Not exaggerating. I've cut back to taking the 10,000 mcg ones every other day or every three days now. That seems to be a sweet spot for me. I still have to file my nails back a couple times per week or they are usually pretty out of control. Biotin really does promote growth if you take it consistently- kind of miraculous!

Premier by Dead Sea Premier Buffing Block
This came a few years ago in a gift set with lotion and cuticle oil. It was a good buffing block, but you can clearly see that it's lived well beyond its glory days! Out it goes!

Swissco Glass Nail File
Like the buffing block, this has seen better days, and is no longer as "sharp" or efficient as it once was at filing nails. It was my primary glass file for a long time, though. This particular file is only one-sided though, which is a bit of a bummer. The other side is just smooth glass.

Zoya Anchor Basecoat
This is a decent base coat, but it's a little bit wasted on me since I typically don't go for manicure longevity. I usually paint my nails, on average, every three days, so I won't repurchase this for that reason. When I did use Anchor as a base and wore polish for longer, I didn't really notice better wear, to be honest. I can't compare it to Orly- Bonder, as I've never tried that. (Bad nail blogger!) I do think it's fairly protective against staining, and I have no major complaints.

NailTek Foundation II Ridge-filling Base Coat
According to the back, this base coat is supposed to strengthen the natural nail, which I definitely did not notice. I remember actually having peelies while using this instead of OPI- Nail Envy. However, it's an excellent ridge filler, and I got a lot of good use out of it for swatching chrome or matte finishes- or any other polishes that needed a really smooth base! (I don't have super noticeable nail ridges though, so YMMV.)

INM Out the Door Super Fast Drying Top Coat
Body Chemistry seems to play a large role in how quick dry top coats work for most people, but Out the Door works well for me! It's really one of my favorite top coats, and I've already reviewed it at length here. It sets the top layer or two of polish very quickly for me, and I never get sheet marks or anything like that when using this immediately before bed. It also never shrinks polish on me, which Poshe and Seche Vite do. (Yes, I wrap my tips.) However, Out the Door is not the best for nail art, since it can smear polish designs such as stamping, for instance, when you apply it. I also wish it had a glossier, shinier finish.  Will repurchase!

That's it!

Did you finish anything exciting or find new beauty product faves last month?


  1. You finished a lot of stuff these last few months! Great mini review on them all too.

  2. How does Biotin react with your skin? I was considering taking it to help grow out my nails. My hair already grows at an ungodly rate.

    I had that same buffing block! I think mine came in a nail care set that my brother got me for Christmas one year...

    I love almond oil as a body moisturizer. I've been using kukui oil. Have you tried that yet?

  3. I did! Feels good to use up products completely, man! And, thank you!

  4. That is a good question about Biotin I forgot to address, because that is definitely something to be aware of. I've taken it for about 3 years now, and never had a problem. I started on a lower dose one to be safe. I don't have acne-prone skin though, FWIW. And, your hair will grow even faster, which annoys me, because it's hard enough to maintain a bob with bangs anyway, LOL!

    That's too funny about the buffing block, because my brother got me that set one Christmas also!! Haha!

    I've never even heard of kukui...will look it up now!

  5. Biotin did nothing for me, absolutely nothing. I took it religiously for like 4 months. People swear by it but I still maintain that a pill cannot change your genetics.

  6. I am sorry to hear that! But, you probably didn't take it for long enough. Six months is the recommended time frame wherein you can begin to start seeing results. (Most of the old nail needs to grow out first.) Genetics do play a big role, I agree! But, vitamin B-7 is actually the only treatment or supplement that has (albeit weak) scientific evidence supporting nail and hair (keratin) health. This data comes from three positive separate trials (further placebo-controlled trials are needed). There is also supporting evidence from animal studies. It doesn't change your genetics, but it looks like it can aid protein synthesis. I would try again for the full six months if it doesn't bother your skin! :)

    Overview: https://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/biotin-haircuts-plus-health-advice