July 4, 2016

Empty Empty Empty: May & June!


Hey everyone! Happy 4th if you are in the US! Woohoo!

It's time for another product empties! In this post, I'll be sharing items that I managed to polish off in the months of May and June. I've got to preface this by saying that many (perhaps the majority) of these products were open and in use long before May, and they just all happened to be used up at once. Still, it's a lot!

I've got all kinds of stuff to review, so make yourself a nice drink and enjoy!


Hair Care!

As I Am Coconut CoWash Cleansing Conditioner ($12.31, Amazon)

It took me forever to finish this tub of cleansing conditioner, but I didn't really use it consistently at all. I do like it! It's very nourishing and makes my hair quite shiny and my scalp happy. But, for my fine hair type, it's not ideal as a cleansing conditioner. I'm not looking for squeaky clean, but my second day hair is just not acceptable when using this product alone (even forgoing a separate conditioner). Which, you know, would be a bonus: a one-step hair washing routine! Who wouldn't love that? If I were to wash my hair every day, this might be great, and I wouldn't need a separate conditioner (or many other products at all), but I'm just not all about that. If you have thicker or curlier hair than I do, this might be great for you!

I don't love the tub packaging- I find it little cumbersome, but I understand why they designed it this way. Because this product contains so many nice oils, it can separate a little inside the tub. One swirl of the finger and everything is reincorporated- really not a big deal. However, I still find tub hair products kind of a hassle in the shower.

I do love the scent: fresh and coconut-y, maybe slightly floral too, but it's quite pleasant!


Not Your Mother's Beach Babe Moisturizing Shampoo ($16.92/ 2 pack, Amazon)

I like the way this smelled (beachy and slightly coconut-y), but pretty much nothing else about it. I've loved a lot of Not Your Mother's hair products, so this let me down.

For one thing, it's really not, in my opinion, moisturizing at all! In fact, this has a very generous lather which feels dry as you're manipulating it about your hair. I don't even know how to explain it. But, when I rinse the shampoo out, my wet hair is so impossibly tangled and just feels like straw...like dry straw- while it's wet. (And I have fine hair!) Not cool! This is another shampoo that makes me have to go overboard on the conditioner and leave-ins in order to bring my hair back to a normal state. Bleagh. Disappointed!



Broo Thickening Shampoo ($7.49, Target)

This is the first shampoo I've tried from Broo, and I do like it! It's an amber-colored, translucent, liquidy type of shampoo that smells like citrus-y beer. (More citrus than beer.) The scent, apparently, is completely naturally derived from the ingredients, and not a separate fragrance, which is nice! There are no sulfates, parabens, phthalates, silicones, dyes, or fake fragrances. All good things.

In the shower, this product is pretty nice to use! It lathers very well for a sulfate-free shampoo, and the lather is dense and rich as opposed to being light and fluffy or "dry," if you know what I mean. When rinsed out, hair is not left like a pile of dry, tangled straw, which I find a lot of sulfate-free shampoos do. I still require conditioner after this shampoo, but it's not nearly as tangling as others I've tried. And, amazingly enough, this shampoo does seem to thicken my hair slightly- at least for the first day after washing. I have fine, thin hair- and not a lot of it- and I really feel a difference when I use this compared to other shampoos! There's just a little more thickness to my ponytail! Now, is it coating my hair with waxes? Who knows?!

A downside: I do feel like this shampoo doesn't get my hair super squeaky clean. First day hair is quite nice- very shiny and healthy- but second day hair is a little flat and weighed down- more than I'd ideally like it to be. That, for me, is the only drawback to this particular shampoo, but it's definitely one I'd consider purchasing again for all its other nice properties.


Broo Thickening Conditioner ($7.49, Target)

This is the matching conditioner to the above shampoo. I've previously reviewed a different Broo conditioner that I loved. I feel the opposite about this product unfortunately!

As with all Broo products I've tried, the scent is very nice. The positives end there, though. The biggest problem I have is that the amount of slip this conditioner has is really negligible. I can't even comb through my wet hair with a wide-tooth comb in the shower- even if I use an entire handful of product. This is a huge problem because hair is vulnerable to mechanical damage when wet, and it's not like I have thick or very textured hair anyway! When rinsed out, I have to absolutely apply a leave-in conditioner or detangler before I can even begin to part my hair or comb through it.

I think a lot of the thickening action I was experiencing was coming from the shampoo, not this conditioner, as I experienced similar results when foregoing this conditioner for something else. All in all, this is just one of the least slippy, worst conditioners I've used, and if you have thick or textured hair absolutely stay away!



It's a 10 Potion 10 Miracle Styling Potion ($16.31, Amazon)

This is a multipurpose hair serum that's supposedly good for wet or dry hair. I've only used it on wet hair post-shower, and I really like it! My hair is very fine, but wavy (like type 2A), so it's very hard to find something that will tame little fly-aways and consolidate/ define waves without weighing my hair down too much or looking wet. This does the job pretty well for me in all departments!

It's a light, slippery, white cream that distributes easily and really helps detangle hair. I mostly put this on my lengths only, but it depends on what conditioner was used in the shower, really. I also rely on this product to act as a heat-protectant when using hot tools in my hair. (I typically air-dry the night before, and then style with a hot air brush the next morning.)

It smells pretty nice too! Hard to describe though: it's not just floral, fruity, or fresh....maybe a combination? Either way, it's a very light, unobtrusive fragrance that just smells clean when in your hair. 

This product can build up in my hair after a while since it contains silicones (Dimethicone is the second ingredient). If you use a shampoo with sulfates, you probably won't experience that, but I only go SLS-free since my scalp is sensitive and my hair is colored. So, every once in a while, I'll do an apple cider vinegar rinse, and that seems to do the trick. Overall, I like this a lot, and while it's pricey, this tube lasted an entire year. Would repurchase!


Sexy Hair HealthySexyHair Soy Tri-Wheat Leave In Conditioner ($13, Amazon)

This is a pretty nice leave-in! The spray nozzle on this deluxe sample (I can't remember where this came from- Ipsy?) is pretty good and delivers a fine mist. It has a lot of slip which makes it easy to comb through wet hair, and it doesn't weigh my fine hair down too much. That said, I do try to concentrate it just on the ends of the hair, and it can build up in my hair since I don't use SLS in my shampoos. So, I do try to use silicone-containing leave-ins like this sparingly. This is one of the more light weight ones I've tried though. The scent is light, and clean-smelling- barely noticeable. This is something I'd definitely purchase in the full size! 


Skincare!

Skinfood Black Sugar Cleansing Oil ($17.96, Amazon)

This is the first dedicated cleansing oil I've tried, and I hated it at first. I just was not emotionally prepared for the emulsifying action, and couldn't understand why you'd want an oil to do that. To top it all off, this burns my eyes like no other, so for me it definitely cannot be used to remove eye makeup.

All that said, I've completely changed my mind about this product. I decided to try it again in lieu of the standard Oil Cleansing Method on my face only- not eyes. And, yeah, I've really enjoyed it. It smells lovely: slightly lemony, but fresh and subtle, not harsh. After removing my eye makeup with jojoba oil, I apply two pumps of this to the dry skin of the rest of my face and massage gently with fingertips. To emulsify, I use a wet facial brush (a very soft mechanical one, not Clarisonic or other version), and brush in circular motions around the skin. Then, rinse. This cleansing oil is able to remove all of my makeup and sunscreen without leaving behind a residue or making my skin feel tight/ stripped. I have sensitive skin, but experience no reaction to this at all- I think it's very gentle! (Just not on the eyes, haha!)

Most people using an emulsifying oil cleanser like this would use it in tandem with a low-pH foaming cleanser to follow up and really get the skin clean, but I find I don't need that step at all. YMMV. I've been enjoying this because it doesn't require me to use steam or hot water on my skin like the traditional OCM would. Keeping heat down is really great for controlling inflammation, and I've seen a lot of reduction in redness in my skin as a result.

Overall, this is a bit pricey, but I'd definitely repurchase if I wasn't now curious about other emulsifying oil cleansers.



Wishtrend (OST) Pure Vitamin C 21.5 Advanced Serum ($17.98, (Original C20 version) Amazon)

It's hit or miss whether or not this exact version is available on Amazon since it's a Korean product, and my link is actually for the Original C20 formulation, which I've read is not much different than this one.

This is the Vitamin C serum I've been using on a daily basis for the last 2+ months! I purchased it to replace my Paula's Choice Vitamin C (reviewed here) when that went rancid. This bottle with medicine dropper-style top is 1 Fl Oz, and I was able to use basically all of it before noticing that it might be beginning to go bad. (I noticed this by a subtle change in scent at first.) There are maybe 3 day's worth left in the bottom, so I think I did pretty well with this one! An ounce seems to be a good amount for such a volatile substance. I didn't store it in the fridge like some do- just in my dark medicine cabinet, and was always sure to seal it tightly.

This is a runny liquid, and I just use 3/4 of a dropper's amount in my hands and gently spread it over rinsed, bare skin in the AM. It absorbs quickly and I don't wash it off. (I know some people do.) I apply my chemical-based sunscreen on top of this once it has fully set/ absorbed. I don't find it to be tacky or sticky, and I don't even notice it's on my skin, really. I remember the first few days I used this, I noticed a slight flush plus a dry-skin feeling prior to sunscreen and moisturizer, but my skin quickly became adjusted to it, and I feel like it's very gentle overall.

Let's talk results: I love this Vitamin C! I've seen a lot of reduction in dark spots since using this for the last couple months. My skin has a much more even tone, and any post-acne inflammation or red spot I get goes away so quickly while using this! For me, this has become an essential skin care step in my routine. It's one of those products that gives noticeable results! Prior to this Vitamin C, I used other actives that can lighten dark spots: AHA and BHA exfoliants, as well as the niacinamide in one of my night time moisturizers (CeraVe PM). I still use all of those products, but didn't notice the consistent, dramatic reduction in dark pigmentation until I started using this Vitamin C.

This is a big win for me, and I've already purchased and begun using the original C20 formulated version, just because the 21.5 wasn't available on Amazon at the time. Love!



Benton Snail Bee High Content Essence ($12.66, Amazon)

This is what I've been using as a first essence for the last few months. In my evening skincare routine, I apply it after cleansing and letting BHA sink in for fifteen minutes. It's a thinner-consistency essence, and it sinks in/ evaporates very quickly, meaning you can easily move on to the next step of your skincare- within 2 minutes or sooner.

I really like this product! I can't say I've seen super specific results using it, but I feel like it's awesome at reducing inflammation/ irritation and providing a great foundation for the rest of the moisturizing steps that I do. The pump on this bottle is great, and I typically use one pump for the face or two for face + neck. I'd definitely repurchase this essence!

Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex II (deluxe sample) ($92, Sephora)

This is medium weight serum that spreads over skin easily and completely absorbs within a few minutes. It's not too watery, so I've been layering it after my first two essences at night. It's the last step before I put on a cream moisturizer. According to Estee Lauder, this serum is supposed to "fight all key signs of visible aging." It's intended to reduce appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, lock extra moisture into the skin, as well as reduce pigmentation of dark spots (more even tone). As far as I can tell this has a few different types of peptides and anti-oxidants as its main active ingredients. It is fragrance-free.

When a product tells me it's intended to produce a more even tone, I'm immediately intrigued! One of my biggest age-related skincare concerns is preventing age/ dark spots and fading those I already have, including post-acne inflammatory pigmentation. Although I'm not particularly acne-prone, my skin will get a dark spot every single time, I guess due to its paleness? I'm not sure, but fading these darker spots is a goal! I do think this serum actually made some improvements in that department! Some dark spots I have on my jaw and chin are really less noticeable after a couple months of using this (yes, this tiny sample lasted that long!) However, I do also use Vitamin C, BHA & AHA exfoliants, and niacinamide is in a couple of my other skincare products. So, can I 100% confidently attribute the improvements only to this serum? No, but I'm pretty sure it did help!

As far as wrinkles and fine lines, I didn't notice any difference. I only have fine lines around my eye area, and I was not concentrating this product there.

Is this worth the price? Maybe for some, but not for me! For me to shell out nearly 100 bucks for a serum it'd have to be miraculous. This is pretty good, I think- but not miraculous!



Shiseido Senka Aging Care UV Sunscreen SPF50+ PA++++  ($8.99, Amazon)

Yep, I've polished off another one of these glorious sunscreens! To be fair, these are only 1.76oz/ 50g. (most Asian facial sunscreen packaging does tend to be on the smaller side.) I might've gone through this tube faster this time, as I'm starting to be a lot more liberal with application as Summertime fully arrives here and the sun is more intense! So, I've been spreading it down the neck and decolletage area as well.

What else can I tell you about this sunscreen? Hmm, well, my favorite thing about it is the feeling of how it sets down onto the skin after application! Skin feels slightly more moisturized, but there is no visible shininess, and the skin feels matte but velvety to the touch! It's provides a perfect blank canvas for anything else you want to layer on top, be that moisturizer or primer or bb cream- whatever! And, of course, I've never gotten a burn (or hint of color) wearing this, and I've also never reapplied it (although I know you probably should) during rare times when I'm outside all day!

I'll probably try other sunscreens out of "skincare curiosity", but Shiseido Senka Aging Care is my bae!



Sheetmasks!


Once again, I've been obsessively trying out all sorts of sheetmasks! I really love them, and I think I've been averaging three a week lately. I've already got sort of a big sheetmask collection going, so you'll definitely continue to see lots of mask reviews from me in the future!


Freeset Donkey Milk Skin Gel Mask Pack - Aqua ($20.48/ 10 count, Amazon)

This is a hydrogel mask that I also reviewed in a previous empties. I really love the Freeset hydrogels, and find them very soothing and moisturizing. When you remove the mask, the essence totally absorbs into the skin, and you can continue on with your skincare routine without feeling like there's a layer of something preventing other products from accessing the skin. Yet, your skin is really plump and hydrated. These masks also fit me pretty well, and the eye-catching holographic packaging doesn't hurt either. Would definitely recommend these if you're looking for a super hydrating sheet mask!

Freeset Donkey Milk Skin Gel Mask Pack- Healing ($2, Memebox)

Here's another version of the Freeset hydrogel masks- this one is intended to heal and soothe irritated skin. This fits exactly as the others from the line I've tried, and is completely saturated with essence. It's immediately very cooling on the skin!

In addition to the Donkey Milk, the essence in this mask contains Witch Hazel extract, which is supposedly good to soothe and reduce inflammation. There's also a few other "active" ingredients like "Pearin," which is pear extract that has been patented (lol). The Pearin is supposed to provide radiance and promote elasticity and suppleness.

I wore this on a night when I was experiencing what I think is contact dermatitis irritation- little red bumps that sort of wax and wane depending on how moisturized my skin is. It's definitely not acne, and not much has changed in my skincare routine, so it's either a shampoo (mostly on forehead) that prompted the reaction or something in my diet maybe? These bumps are not that noticeable, and thankfully they're not acne- but it's frustrating not to know what's causing it!

At any rate, after I removed this mask, my skin was so much improved! (It wore for around 50 minutes before the gel dried too much and the inner weave of the mask was exposed.) The little red bumps were hardly visible at all, and weren't raised on the skin any longer. It was even hard to see them at all. So, I think this mask truly was soothing! In addition to that, my skin felt very hydrated, but not sticky or tacky, and it just looked healthy and glowy. I LOVE this mask for being able to calm down the inflammation so well! This is definitely in my top 5 sheet masks I've ever tried!



Soo Ae Propolis Collagen Essence Mask ($15/ 5 count, Target)

Unlike a previous Soo Ae mask I love, the Hanbang Snail EFG Mask, the material of this mask is on the thicker side. It's saturated enough with essence, and there is a tiny amount left in the packet, but it's not dripping with essence like it might be if the material weren't as thick. Now, it's still flexible and comfortable to wear, and like the other Soo Ae mask, it also fits nicely around the eyes and mouth (although does overhang the chin and doesn't adhere at all for me there). But, the thicker material didn't want to stick as readily to my skin. This is a mask that I'm afraid to talk in since any movement will basically eject the mask from my face- especially around the mouth and chin areas.

It felt nice and cooling on the skin, and wore for about 40 minutes before drying out too much (at which point it was basically hanging off my face). After I took it off, the essence remaining on the surface of my skin was slightly tacky, but not sticky, and was easily patted in. My skin looked amazing right after this mask came off! It looked so glowy and plump and really well-hydrated...I was actually surprised how visibly improved it was afterwards! I normally have a small amount of redness in my cheeks, especially after actives (this was worn directly after BHA + AHA), but it was completely gone...as if my skin was entirely soothed. Just really lovely! I have a couple more of these to use, so I'm very, very pleased by the initial impression of this mask! Yay, propolis! (If there's one downside of this mask, it's just the poor adherence on the lower half of the face.)


Soo Ae Red Ginseng Collage Essence Mask ($15/ 5 count, Target)

This mask is also on the thicker side, but it has a subtle textured pattern also. (I don't remember the Propolis version above having that, but I could be wrong.) Still, it's quite pliable and adheres very well to the skin.

The sheet is nicely saturated with essence, and the cut and fit is fairly ideal for me too! It overhangs the chin a bit, but still manages to adhere there. This essence does have a strong ginseng scent, which you can still smell while wearing the mask. I don't love it but doesn't bother me at all either. This mask feels cooling and very soothing on the skin.

I really enjoyed the actual wearing of this mask, and it wore for about an hour before it became too dry. When I took this mask off, my skin was just slightly tacky, and the extra essence only took about ~5 minutes to absorb once I patted it in. My skin looked hydrated and refreshed, and felt so soft and smoooooth. Also less redness! I definitely love this mask a lot...which is good because I have four more of them!



Skin79 Fresh Garden Mask- Tea Tree ($2, Memebox)

This mask definitely smells like tea tree oil, so if you're not up for that, beware! I personally don't love the smell of tea tree, but after having the mask on my face for a minute, I didn't notice the scent any more.

The mask material is a thicker cotton and it's fairly well saturated with essence. There's a bit left in the packet as well. It fit me really nicely! Actually very comfortable to wear, and just seemed appropriately sized in all aspects.

Upon removal, my skin was a bit tacky with extra essence, but it did eventually settle down and absorb. It looked refreshed and a bit brighter- definitely better hydrated. This mask did manage to calm down a cystic acne spot that was threatening to develop beneath the surface of the skin. (Ah!) I'm pleased about that, and tea tree seems to be a good ingredient to have on hand for that purpose!


Tosowoong Pure Deep Sea Water Mask ($2, Memebox)

This mask comes with no backing, but is easy to unfold as the material is also on the thicker side- yet is still flexible, adhering well. Size-wise, the mask is definitely on the wide side! It overlaps my hairline on both sides, but that's not a huge issue for me. The eye holes were a bit comically wide (although very comfortable for the same reason), and the mouth hole was also on the wider side. All that said, it fit pretty nicely- just with some overlap in places.

The sheet is generously saturated, with extra essence to spread down the neck and decolletage. There's a bit left in the packet as well. This mask has a slight, almost unnoticeable scent (I think unintentional) that reminds me of baby powder. I didn't smell it after wearing it for a minute, though.

Immediately this felt cooling and refreshing against the skin. Again, this was another mask I used on a BHA + AHA night, so my skin was in need of extra moisture! I was able to wear this for a good 50 minutes before it dried out too much, and upon removal my skin was quite tacky, but seemed supple and refreshed. In the morning, everything looked pretty nice. I don't think this is the best moisturizing mask I've ever used, but it did the job and is definitely a good option.



Benton Snail Bee High Content Mask Pack ($16.55/ 10 pack, Amazon )

I was very excited for this mask, and it let me down a tiny bit. The mask material is on the thicker side, and is one of the less-saturated masks I've experienced. The fit is totally bizarre! It's very wide, and the eye holes are small with these flaps that you have to fold down. Not a big deal unless you wear glasses like I do! The whole sheet bunched up in places, and just generally would not smooth out enough to get good adherence to the skin. Because of the poor fit, I think it dried out more quickly as well (more air in between the mask and skin), and I was only able to wear it for a little under thirty minutes.

This mask promises to do everything: cooling, skin-lifting, soothing, moisturizing, whitening, wrinkle improvement, ect. Did it do all of those things? No. It was very cooling, fairly moisturizing, and I would say it was pretty soothing as well. I didn't see any difference in the fine lines I have around my eyes and no noticeable lightening of dark spots after one use. Both times I used this mask, my skin looked very nice in the morning, so maybe this is a mask that does deliver results, but the wearing experience is less than ideal? I have mixed feelings! 



It's Skin The Fresh Mask Sheet- Honey ($13.98/ 5 pack, Amazon )

The actual sheet of this mask is huuuuge..in every way! It's very wide, and the eyeholes and mouth hole are both unnecessarily big both horizontally and vertically. It does have slits to make the mask more "adjustable," but near my temples that just made the mask tend to flap inward and not adhere well. However, the material is nice and thin, and does adhere well despite the poor fit for me.

It was very saturated with essence, with just enough left in the packet to spread on your neck and decolletage. To me, it didn't smell overtly like honey like I thought it might. It did feel refreshing and very soothing immediately as I began wearing it. This mask is supposed to be for improved elasticity and glow, but does have alcohol in the ingredients which is good to know if you think you're sensitive to that.

This mask only wore for about 35 minutes on me before the lower half was completely dried out. (Maybe due to poor fit?) Upon removal, my skin was very refreshed! It was smooth to the touch- not too tacky or sticky at all. I noticed a reduction in redness and, yes- it did look a little bit glowy! Overall, I was actually quite pleased with the results! Although it's not the most moisturizing mask ever and the fit was less than ideal, I actually might stock up on these!



DewyTree Hyaluronic Acid Nutrition Focus Mask ($3, Memebox)

I love hyaluronic acid, so I was prepared to love this mask. And I wasn't disappointed!

The mask was saturated with essence and there wasn't much of a discernible scent. The cut of the mask sheet is pretty nice! The eye holes and mouth hole all fit nicely without being overly large. This mask is another that has slits around the edges so that you can adjust the fit more. For me, these don't really work around the jaw/ chin area, and I had trouble making this mask adhere there since it's a thicker type of mask. Still, it was pleasant to wear- cooling and soothing- and it wore for about forty minutes before it dried out (mostly the bottom half of the mask where adherence was poorer).

When I took this one off, my skin was very hydrated looking and feeling, and the extra essence sitting on top of my skin was easily patted in and absorbed. My skin really felt refreshed and happy!



My Beauty Diary Imperial Bird's Nest Mask ($12.21/ 10 count, Amazon)

I've reviewed this mask in a previous empties, and I still really love the results they give! This is a very saturated mask, and there's enough essence to both slather on your neck and decolletage and use the next morning or night. This can be a negative, though; during wear, the essence can drip slightly, and I mostly experience this around the nose/ lip area.  Overall, not a big deal.

One extra thing I left out about the fit of this mask is that this is one of the few masks I've tried that does not drape below the chin- you don't have to fold it under. It's sized nicely, and pretty much just meets my chin exactly, which is more comfortable.

These masks wear for a long time before drying- well over an hour- and upon removal, my skin is well-hydrated, bouncy, and a bit glowy too. Overall, if you don't mind the idea of swiftlet extract on your face, or the ecological implications of its harvesting, then I'd highly recommend this mask! They definitely have me interested in trying other My Beauty Diary flavors!



Leaders 7 Wonders Caribbean Coconut Calming Mask ($6, Ulta)

Sadly, this does not smell like coconut. It's definitely fragranced, but to me it smells a little like dish soap? That's very unfortunate, in my opinion, as a nice coconut scent would really have been pleasing. 

This is a bio-cellulose mask that is meant to calm, soothe, and relieve redness. The mask comes with two backings, one on each side, and the actual mask material is quite strange! Maybe I have just not tried a true bio-cellulose type of mask before, but it's almost plastic-y...very smooth. It supposedly has "Contour & Fit Technology" (lol) to provide superior adherence; and, actually, by the very nature of this mask's texture it does just that! It adheres almost like a second skin, and is in no danger of sliding off or flapping loose. Very nice! It does give kind of a serial killer vibe though, IMO. (The fit is also very, very good (for me) in all respects.) The mask is not drenched in essence but there's a little left in the packet that you can put on your neck or use next day.

The main active ingredient here is witch hazel water, not coconut, as the mask's tropical name might lead you to believe. There is coconut in the bio cellulose of the mask of course, and also Coconut fruit extract in the serum- as well as coconut oil which is farther down the ingredients list. Many of the other ingredients seem to be various botanical extracts.

This mask wore for about 30 minutes before becoming too dry, and when I removed it my skin was supple, not tacky at all, and very smooth and happy-feeling. I'd say redness was slightly reduced, but there are definitely other masks that have done a better job of this for me. I also don't think this is the most moisturizing mask in the world, although my skin felt adequately plumped and hydrated.

I purchased a 5-pack of these from hautelook.com (Nordstrom Rack), and definitely think they're not quite worth the individual price that Ulta is asking.  Nice mask, but not at that price point, in my opinion. I am more intrigued by bio-cellulose type masks now, though!



Innisfree It's Real Squeeze Mask- Pomegranate ($20.98/ bundle of 15, Amazon)


In my last empties post, I reviewed two other 'flavors' of Innisfree It's Real masks: the aloe and cucumber varieties. The It's Real Squeeze masks are a thicker type of cotton material, and the fit is fairly good- neither too long or too wide, and the mouth hole and eyes holes are adequate without being too big. It clings to the skin decently, and it's saturated, but not dripping, with essence. There isn't really much left in the packet. This pomegranate one had a subtle fruity? scent that I didn't really notice during wear.

I'm not totally sure what this mask is intended to do, but there are fruit extracts in it, so maybe brightening? Anti-oxidants? Sodium hyaluronate (the salt of Hyaluronic acid) also stands out to me as a nice humectant to hold moisture in the skin. This mask felt slightly cooling, and was overall pleasant to wear. I wore this one for 35 minutes before it dried out too much.

My skin looked very shiny upon removal and was pretty tacky to the touch even 15 minutes afterwards. It may be that these It's Real Squeeze masks don't penetrate the skin super well. It reminds me of the aloe version with which I had a similar problem. I still slapped my night time moisturizer over it, but in the morning my skin was very shiny still- almost oily, which is not normal for me. It really feels like the essence didn't absorb properly. So, yeah, I don't think I'm a huge fan of the It's Real Squeeze masks. (Still have two more flavors to try though.)



Sense of Care Animal Cutie Mask Pack in Whitening Aqua Panda ($30/ 10 pack, Vlyvly Co.)

I also reviewed this mask in the last empties post, and my feelings haven't changed much. I like the essence well enough- it's fairly moisturizing, but I dislike the actual sheet. The sheet is adorable in a terrifying way: you look like a rosy-cheeked panda. However, the fit is pretty poor- at least for me! My biggest problem is the width and length of the eye holes. They are basically not wide enough lengthwise for me, so that the corners threaten to drip essence into my eyes at any moment. This just generally makes the mask a bit of a chore to wear. Additionally, the bottom section on the chin and jaw really doesn't want to adhere well. I got a great deal on these via hautelook.com, but I won't purchase them again!


Hey! Pinkgo Girl Brightening White Yogurt Lifting Lace Mask ($12.20/ 5 pack, Amazon)

This is one of the more unique sheetmasks I've tried! It's a lace mask, so it's...lace, with a very feminine, pretty pattern. But the material is neither too delicate or thick- actually quite flexible and stretchy. The mask is very saturated, although no essence remained in the packet. Actually, while I was wearing this, essence continually (first 20 minutes) dripped down my neck and ran into my nostrils a bit (haha). Just a minor annoyance, really. I'm not sure what it smells like exactly (maybe a note of cucumber?), but I found it to be a pleasant scent. This mask made my head look like a mummy- a floral lace mummy, just FYI.

People who are super experienced with sheetmasks won't be shocked by this, but this mask has ear loops that hook over each ear in order to stretch the mask across the face and secure it. There are actually four loops: two on either side of the cheek sections, and two at the bottom where there's an extra flap that folds down to cover underneath the chin. That section then flips back and also loops onto the ears over the first set of loops...which may be providing some of the "lifting" action? It does tug on the ears a bit, especially from the chin section, but it's not too uncomfortable and you don't notice it after a few minutes. The ear attachments really do make the mask adhere perfectly and feel super secure! (Photo of mask in action (not mine), in case that verbose description was confusing!)

Immediately this mask was very cooling, and the general wear experience was pleasant. It really feels like an indulgent mask! It wore for about an hour and 20 minutes before drying out a little. That's a long time! (I could've even left it a bit longer, but it was bedtime!) Afterward, my skin did look slightly more radiant actually. It felt nicely plump and hydrated, but wasn't tacky at all to the touch. It was very soft and velvety! I kind of love this mask, and I'd definitely purchase more!



Pure Smile Red Wine Essence Mask ($1.50, Imomoko)

This mask lists Vitamin- E, Collagen, Hyaluronic Acid, and Arbutin on the front, but it also has witch hazel which is very calming. There's also wine extract. This mask does smell slightly like red wine, and there is perfume/ fragrance listed so the scent may come from that and not the wine extract, not sure.

This mask is a basic cotton type of sheet mask, and it was decently saturated with no remaining essence left in the packet. The fit was decent. It is one of those masks that has eye flaps that fold down. Although the eye holes and mouth holes were decently sized and appropriately placed, I found that the mask did not want to adhere to the chin and jaw/ lower half of the face quite so well. It wore for about 25-30 minutes before drying too much, and my skin was nicely hydrated and soothed afterward without being sticky.

Overall, this is a nice refreshing and slightly hydrating mask, but nothing miraculous, in my opinion! I can find Pure Smile masks locally at Mitsuwa Asian Market, but I know some of the flavors are available sometimes on Amazon. I've never personally ordered from Imomoko (linked), but the listed price there is the same as what I paid in person.


Lip Care!

Pure Smile Choosy Lip Pack- Honey ($1.50, Imomoko)

This is like a hydrogel sheet mask/pack for your lips! It's the first one I've tried, and to be honest, I purchased it in person (Mitsuwa Asian Market) more for the novelty factor than anything else. However, as a person with chronically chapped lips, I did have some hopes for this mask!

The actual hydrogel piece is lip-shaped, although is much bigger than the actual lip area. On me, it covers much of my chin under the bottom lip, and overlaps all other edges of my lips by quite a bit. It adheres super easily and securely since it's a hydrogel, and wore for thirty minutes, although I probably could have stretched that out longer. Obviously, you can't talk or drink while wearing this lip treatment, and I felt a bit like Vanessa (Ursula) at the end of The Little Mermaid when the starfish slaps her mouth closed!

When I removed the hydrogel, it was not as thick or jelly-like as it first was, indicating that my skin and lips had indeed absorbed some of the essence. My lips (and skin around the lips) did actually feel soft, supple, and hydrated! Everything actually looked plumper and well-moisturized. I was honestly a little surprised! The next morning, my lips were very ready for exfoliation (having been softened and hydrated), and afterwards, were baby smooth again.

I suppose the true test would be to use one of these lip packs on a day when my lips were in much poorer condition than usual. I also think this lip pack could be awesome (time-permitting) to use in the AM prior to lipstick application- especially of the long-wearing matte or liquid lipstick variety! I've got one more of these lip packs to try in a different 'flavor,' but hey, I'd definitely buy more I think!


Chapstick Total Hydration Soothing Vanilla ($2.94, Wal-Mart)

I didn't completely use this up, but it melted in the heat and totally collapsed on me, so in effect, it's done.

I have mixed feelings about this lip balm. It's very soothing; it has a very oily, nourishing formulation as opposed to the waxiness of normal chapstick (maybe that's why it melted, though!).  It contains so many nice oils: sunflower seed, rosehip, argan, safflower, olive, avocado, raspberry seed, and coconut oils. It also has a couple of waxes, vitamin E, and shea butter. It's lovely to apply, and the nice vanilla scent is very enjoyable. There's no sunscreen in this, which is a downside for me in Summer.

I do think that my lips are slightly allergic to something in this balm. It all seems like very nourishing stuff, so I'm not sure what it is, but my lips needed to be exfoliated at a greater rate when using this, and in general felt a little more irritated when I wasn't actually wearing it. It's not a reaction that would prevent me from trying this Total Hydration line again, but I thought I'd mention it.


Body/ Hand Care!

Caress Fine Fragrance Body Wash in "Adore Forever" ($8.99, Amazon)

This is a sample size that came in a recent Target Beauty Box. To be honest, I don't normally use body washes because most contain sulfates, and I just find them drying and irritating. I'm perfectly OK with the run-off from my shampoo & conditioner...and good old water, thank you! Is that an overshare? Oh well!

Anyway, this supposedly has some special technology, "Fragrance Release Pearls," TM  that delivers long-lasting scent over a 12-hour period. Does it do that for me? No. (Shocker) But, it does smell kinda nice in the shower. (It really is quite heavily fragranced.) The scent is like floral with a hint of musk, maybe? I don't hate it. This body wash does lather up really nicely in a bath puff though, and for a body wash, it felt richly creamy and not too drying. I still prefer not to use one though, so I won't be purchasing the full size.


Victoria's Secret Exhilarating Body Wash in 'Love Spell' ($???)

Another body wash I received in a gift set! This is just okay. The lather is abundant, but not especially rich or moisturizing. The scent is definitely floral. It's supposed to have notes of cherry blossom, white jasmine, & peach, and while I can't pick out those things individually, the mixture is nice for using in the shower. It's not a scent I'd wear as a perfume, but just fine and not overpowering for a body wash.

Like I said before, I'm not really a fan of body washes in general- I'm just trying to use up what I have laying around! This does have sodium lauryl sulfate as the second ingredient, so it's really stripping in my opinion. Not something I'd personally use on my skin in the long term! And anyway, not sure you can get your hands on this particular product any longer except via eBay.



St. Ives Naturally Soothing Oatmeal & Shea Butter Body Lotion ($8, Amazon)

This is kind of a great general-purpose body lotion. It's not my first time using up one of these, and probably won't be the last! It's a medium texture lotion that spreads over skin easily and absorbs well but not too well like it's not doing anything. I pretty much only use this on my arms and legs post-shower, as that's about all the time I commit to body moisturizing. But, it's a very soothing lotion. My dry skin is always a bit irritated-feeling after so much contact with hot water, and this really calms things down.  The scent is really lovely too: slightly floral, slightly foody, but overall very light. Towards the very end of the bottle, the pump doesn't work, but is pretty convenient otherwise. I'd buy this again!


You Are Amazing Hello Beautiful Skin Body Lotion in 'Juicy Grapefruit' ($3.99, Target)

You Are Amazing is a Target- exclusive brand, and this 1oz sample lotion came in a recent Target Beauty Box. This is a medium-weight lotion, maybe more on the runny side, but it's actually quite good at moisturizing surfaces of skin. I mostly used it on my hands and arms, and while I wouldn't rely on it to condition nails or cuticles, it's quite nice for the back and palms of hands. It dries down/ absorbs quickly. This lotion smells more like sweet grapefruit than tangy, acidic grapefruit, and I enjoyed the fragrance just fine. I think this is a great lotion for maintaining moisture in the skin- it really seems long-lasting. I wouldn't necessarily use it to try to heal or penetrate areas with preexisting dry skin. I might repurchase this (It's affordable!), and You Are Amazing has definitely piqued my interest.


Queen Helene Cocoa Butter Creme ($8.54 /15oz, Amazon)

This took me forever to use...because it is rich. It's a thicker/ whipped-feeling cream, but smooths out over skin to feel very oil-rich. In fact, I'd say it's a bit on the greasy side, and you can either use a minimal amount, or use it at night. I don't much enjoy it as a hand creme- it's just a bit too greasy for that, but it's great for legs! This product really does work if you have very dry skin, and it's great to use post-shower.

That said, it has one major drawback for me: it smells awful. Just awful. It has a hint of cocoa butter scent, but there's also an overwhelming, strong chemical tinge that's very hard to get past. Unfortunately, I probably won't repurchase this product just due to scent alone!



The Body Shop Hemp Hand Protector ($13.65, Amazon)

I have mixed feelings about this hand creme! It's thick and very creamy, and a pleasure to use. It's so fun to use that I depleted the tube rather quickly! (The crimping is from a super awesome tube wringer I have.)

The fragrance is light and slightly herbal. I feel like this is moisturizing, but not necessarily so in the long-term. I don't feel like it can condition and heal cuticles by itself. It does keep the actual skin of the hands soft and hydrated, but needs to be reapplied throughout the day. It's great to use after the shower or washing your hands, and can be rubbed in relatively quickly. (It's a pretty non-greasy creme.)

So, overall, I like it, but I feel like The Body Shop is always a little overpriced- especially since this isn't the most moisturizing creme I've ever used. However, if you like thick cremes that disperse and absorb quickly, you might enjoy this!


Aquaphor Healing Ointment ($3.74, Amazon)

I've talked about Aquaphor so many times before, and it's still my bae. It's super nourishing for cuticles, and I've kept this massive tube in my purse for almost an entire year. It's got petrolatum, lanolin, and mineral oil, and is just excellent at soothing and healing cracked skin or dry cuticles. Honestly couldn't live without it!



[press sample]
Different Dimension Cuticle Oil Pen in 'Unicorn Horn' ($4.50, Different Dimension)

You may have seen this product before in my Different Dimension Mythical & Magical bottle shot post! This is a cuticle oil pen that holds 4.7 ml of oil. It contains oils of jojoba seed, grape seed, apricot kernel, tea tree leaf, as well as vitamin E (tocopherol) and fragrance. It feels great to apply to the cuticles, and is very conditioning if used regularly- which isn't hard, because the fun scent makes it quite addictive! This one in Unicorn Horn (cute!) smells exactly like bubblegum, basically. It's not my absolute favorite from the set of four in the Mythical & Magical release, but it's still very enjoyable!

This pen has basically been a lifesaver when I'm doing computer work. I also carry a different one in my bag for on-the-go! Overall, these are great cuticle oil pens, and I think the price is even pretty reasonable when compared to a lot of other brands' cuticle oil pens! (Different Dimension also carries 15 ml dropper bottles of their wonderful oils, as well as little sampler vials so you can try out the scent!)


Burt's Bees Hand Salve ($12.40/ 5 minis (.30z), Amazon)

I've also used Burt's Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream, which is good, but this hand salve is miles ahead of it in texture and effectiveness, in my opinion! It's soft and silky feeling as opposed to greasy, and it's a pretty heavy duty balm! It smells herbal- a little like tea tree oil to me.

Although it's described as a "hand" balm, there's no reason you can't localize it just to your cuticles. It's what I've done, and it's worked out great. This little .3oz mini tin is perfect for travel or stowing away in your pocket too. This product also came to me in a gift set, and it's been a surprise hit. I'd recommend it to anyone who likes cuticle balm!



Makeup!

L'Oreal Voluminous Butterfly Sculpt in 'Blackest Black' ($8.54, Amazon)

I thought I would give this a shot since I love its sister mascara, the original L'Oreal Voluminous Butterfly, which is really one of my top mascaras ever. Suffice it to say, this is nothing like the original Voluminous Butterfly, so I wish they'd marketed it differently. Yes, the wand has a similar flared taper, but on this brush, most of the surface area of usable wand has no bristles...it's literally just a flat surface where the mascara accumulates. In theory, I can see how that might be able to get right up in your waterline and give a lot of definition there, but in reality this system just does not perform for me.

Yes, my upper lash line is more defined than usual, but at what cost??! It's almost comically bad: the mascara is so wet (unlike the original Voluminous Butterfly), and the wand is so bizarre and unusable that my lashes become heavy and very stuck together. I basically look like I have three total eyelashes when wearing this, even when using a lash comb. I've tried layering it with other mascaras as a first step, but it's still too wet and the wand just delivers waaay too much product at the base of my lashes. I'm pretty disappointed in this mascara, to be honest! I had high hopes!


Almay One Coat Get Up & Grow Mascara in 'Black' ($12.34/ 2 pack, Amazon)

Here's another mascara I didn't like enough to finish! This isn't a new mascara by any means, but it intrigued me for a few reasons: dry formula, natural/ normal bristle hourglass brush, and Almay's formula which tends to be great for sensitive eyes. (Many drugstore mascaras, namely CoverGirl and Maybelline in particular are generally very irritating to my eyes!)

I expected this to be dry, but it's really super dry, guys. It flakes on me as I apply it. No good! That wouldn't be a complete deal-breaker by itself if the rest of the mascara's properties were excellent, but sadly, they're not. There's no way, at least for me, that "One Coat" does enough. It's hard to even get one coat of this mascara to spread from root to tip of your lashes. Very little comes off of the brush and you really have to work to coat your lashes and build up the mascara. During the second coat, I get significant clumping just due to the dryness of the formula. The tips of my lashes can have that little dry clump ball- if you know what I'm talking about! Not cute!

All that said, I do love the brush a lot. It's a bit oversize, but the hourglass shape is great in theory (doesn't work with the formula) to lift and curl lashes, and there's something about the length and spacing of the bristles that really grips your lashes well. The brush is a big win for me, but the actual mascara is a fail. I'd avoid this, especially if you like wetter mascaras (this coming from someone whose preference is drier formulas).


Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara (deluxe sample) ($23, Sephora)

Okay, I admit: I stayed away from this mascara for a long time just because I thought the name was obnoxious! But, I received it in the Sephora Favorites Lash Stash to Go sampler kit, and it turns out that I really love it, and I can see why that's a popular opinion! That kit came with a coupon to redeem one of the five mascaras included for the full size, and Better Than Sex was actually what I chose to get. Very excited to have a full size of it now!

It's a very volumizing formula, and is neither too wet or dry- although I would say errs on the drier side. The wand is this hourglass shape with natural bristles (my preference), and it really does help in tandem with the formula to lift and curl the lashes. I really prefer lashes that are curled by mascara/ wand rather than an eyelash curler, so it's great this one does the trick and holds them in place throughout the day.  It can get clumpy and messy if you apply too many layers too thickly, but the brush is pretty decent at separating, and I'm usually good at two coats.

One thing is that I tend to get mascara smudged on my upper eyelid during application (which is no biggie to remove with a q-tip once dry), and this mascara seems to be a bad offender in that arena, for whatever reason. For what it's worth, I'm not a mascara "wiggler." I can't do that! Instead, I like to blink down into the wand, if that makes any sense...and also sometimes rotate the bristles.

Better Than Sex doesn't irritate my eyes, and is not too hard to remove, although it doesn't dissolve away. Instead, it crumbles into little tiny flakes under the oil...which is slightly unpleasant, but not a deal-breaker by any means. I've seriously had some great lash days with this, and it's right up there as one of the best mascaras I've ever tried! Like I said, I do have a full size, but this is definitely something I'd purchase again with no qualms!



Dior Diorshow Maximizer Lash Primer (deluxe sample) ($29.50, Sephora)

I've tried many lash primers, drugstore and higher-end (including the Lancome CILS Booster XL), and this is, hands-down, my favorite I've encountered. This deluxe sample came to me as an 100-pt perk from Sephora, I believe, and I've completely used it up.

It's a white formula that dries absolutely clear, especially if you use only a light layer. I'd say the formula is on the drier side, but not too dry. The brush has synthetic/ plastic bristles but they are configured more like a natural bristle brush would be (hopefully you can see in the photo). The wand is not too oversized, but is big enough to really lift up the lashes. The particular spacing of the plastic bristles is really awesome at separating lashes. It dries down quickly, and is ready to be topped by a regular mascara.

When using this as a base primer, I can achieve much fuller lashes without significant clumping or spidery-ness. Sometimes I'll do two coats of regular mascara on top; but, a lot of the time, one coat is just perfect. It really improves the overall look, in my opinion, and wears well too. Lashes stay curled all day, and it really cuts down on flaking for those mascaras that are prone to that. I've most recently been enjoying it underneath CoverGirl The Super Sizer Mascara, although I've probably tried it with six or seven other mascaras at this point.

Since I've had this sample, the name for this product has slightly changed. (It's now called Diorshow Maximizer 3D Triple Volume Plumping Lash Primer, which is a bit overkill and redundant in my humble opinion.) As far as I can tell, the actual product inside has not changed. Overall, I LOVE this lash primer, but the price is honestly a bit scary! It's something I'd be tempted to try as a "treat yourself" goodie, maybe, but the price is a bit prohibitive. That said, it's absolutely an amazing product, and I'm continually on the lookout for it among the Sephora 100-pt perks!



Jordana Brow/ Eye Shadow Powder in 'Auburn' ($???)

Welcome to my favorite brow powder I've yet found! Unfortunately, they don't make this particular product any longer. WAH! (Isn't that always the way it goes?)

I'm proud of myself for completely using this full-size powder up, but I did love it quite a bit. It's the perfect color for deeper auburn hair (as opposed to the strawberry/ warm blonde color than most "auburn" powders actually are), and is especially nice for the first few weeks after I color my hair. As my hair fades a bit, I begin to prefer something lighter and more strawberry, but I still haven't found any other single powder that applies as smoothly as this one. Most others "skip" when applied to bare skin (even with primer), and I really have places near the tails of my brows where there is just not a lot of hair for powder to cling to. This wears all day for me, and just generally works. To be honest, it's made me very interested in trying other Jordana cosmetics!

Lately, I've been using it alongside brow mascara or colored gel, and that's been even better to add natural texture to my brows. I wish I could find this exact brow powder again (or an equivalent eye shadow)- I'd stock up!
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And, that's it, friends! 

What do you think? I wonder- have any of you tried these or similar products? Did they work out for you? I feel like this empties had a bit of everything: some things I loved, some things I though were 'meh,' and some things that fell in between! I'm very excited to clear the empties bowl in preparation for the next two month's worth of products I'll review!



*Disclosure: products in this post were provided to me as press samples for honest review, and all opinions are my own.

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