September 5, 2016

Empty Empty Empty: July & August!


Hey everybody! Can you believe it's already time for another product empties! The empties bowl^ is looking rather abundant, but, secretly, it's all the sheetmasks in the bottom bumping everything up!

I know it's not Tuesday, but I wanted to send this post out into the world before too many more days of the new month elapsed! As per usual, everything is organized into categories. Strap yourselves in- this is a long one!

Let's get started! First up-

Hair Care!

Team Naturals Super Cleanse Shampoo with Argan Oil ($13.99, teamnaturals.com)

Hello, one more sulfate-free shampoo I didn't love! This product was shockingly watery! It's actually super difficult to hold in your hand without wasting a bunch...there's just no way to transfer such a watery product from your cupped hands to your head gracefully. So weird. So, I ended up just squirting it directly from the bottle onto my head.

Furthermore, I found the product, although entirely too liquidy, very difficult to distribute in the hair! It was hard to spread out evenly, and difficult to produce any kind of lather that felt like it was cleaning hair and scalp. For all the aforementioned reasons, I found I had to use a lot of product each time, and I probably depleted this shampoo in about four uses. Just...what?!

Even after all of that, my hair was OK- nothing amazing. The cleanliness didn't last into the second day, and overall this shampoo was just extraordinarily effortful to use! Blah!



Garnier Whole Blends (Honey Treasures) Repairing Shampoo ($5.47, walmart.com)

This isn't SLS-free, but rarely I do like to do more of a "clarifying" shampoo using something with sulfates. I enjoyed this shampoo! It has a rich lather that's not too drying, and left my hair nicely clean without completely stripping my scalp as most other harsher shampoos do. Second day hair wasn't as nice, and I found that the oil rebound was increased in comparison to SLS-free shampoos. Also, this smells delicious! Such honey! Mmmmm! Might repurchase just to have something with sulfates on hand...

Garnier Whole Blends (Honey Treasures) Repairing Conditioner ($3.47, walmart.com)

Here is the matching conditioner, and I'm not sure why the label is upside down! These came in a previous Target beauty box, by the way. I liked this conditioner too. It was quite thick (actually a little difficult to get out of this sample bottle), and was easy to distribute and comb through wet hair. It felt very moisturizing and protecting, although it should be noted that this does have silicones (which are probably good after something with SLS.) This conditioner also smells deliciously like honey! These honestly are great just for the scent alone!


Fekkai Brilliant Glossing Shampoo ($15.10, Amazon)

This is supposed to have "shine release complex" which is just marketing gibberish, however I did find that it left my clean, fluffy hair very shiny! Usually with a sulfate-containing shampoo like this, my hair is very fluffy, maybe even with fly-aways, and the shine is a bit lacking due to overcleansing. Not so with this shampoo. It does contain olive oil, so maybe that has something to do with it. The scent was nice: light and floral. (It also has parabens, which would be concerning for some people.) Interestingly, there's also salicylic acid (BHA)...which is added for exfoliating properties, maybe? I'm not sure.

This sample satchet was good for two uses. I don't think I'd repurchase due to price and the fact that it's got SLS (they really do irritate my scalp, face, and body skin with prolonged, regular use!), but it's certainly a nice option for people in the market for this type of shampoo!

Fekkai Brilliant Glossing Conditioner ($16, Amazon)

This is the matching conditioner. It's also silicone-heavy, and the fragrance is quite strong, smelling a bit like a department store perfume counter. (The only way I can describe it.) Texture-wise, it's sort of mid-weight, and distributes and detangles easily. I used this on my lengths only, and it seemed very moisturizing! I'm not sure if it would build up in the hair with more prolonged use, but for just two hair washes, it was quite nice. I still wouldn't purchase because silicone-heavy conditioners aren't really my jam, but I know there are people out there who might enjoy this conditioner!



Sexy Hair Big Sexy Hair Blow Dry Volumizing Gel ($11.26, Amazon)

This deluxe sample size has been inhabiting my medicine cabinet for years just because I use it inconsistently- and use very little each time. I actually love it! It's, for sure, one of the most effective hair styling products I've ever tried! It actually does volumize my baby fine hair. My preferred way of using it is to just run a small amount through my damp bangs before blow drying. I can get so much lift from the roots this way, and it really does seem to thicken hair without causing other strange textural issues. One other thing I love about this product is that it gives my hair a little "grip" in the brush, which is so helpful! Normally, my fine-textured hair just slips through even boar-bristle round brushes, so this product really helps me use as much tension as I want while blow-drying. Love!

The texture is a clear, thicker gel that's not too sticky or viscous. The fragrance seems to be something herbal mixed with something floral, and I don't hate it. Maybe I don't use this enough to warrant purchasing the full size (still might, though, haha!), but I certainly loved having it around!


Klorane Dry Shampoo with oat milk- for brown to dark hair ($19, Amazon)

This is an amazing dry shampoo! I've previously used a sample size of the normal white version (also great), but this one is colored for darker hair. Any time I see a dry shampoo for dark hair, I must try it! The scent is fresh and fragrant- not too overpowering.

This basically refreshes hair so nicely, and adds volume, without drastically changing the texture of your hair! Sometimes dry shampoos can make hair visually more fresh-looking, but leave them feeling coarse, gritty, or even dirtier to the touch. Klorane does not do that! It's really amazing, and is the #1 dry shampoo I've tried. (The color is great too: no white cast.) Unfortunately, it's pricey, and not something I can afford on the regular. Also, this bottle is somewhat smaller than drugstore dry shampoos at only 3.2 oz, and ran out rather quickly for me. If this is in your price range, I'd wholeheartedly recommend it though!


Skincare!

Desert Essence 100% Pure Jojoba Oil ($9.72, Amazon)

I use jojoba oil to remove eye makeup, and it works wonderfully. This is the first time I've tried Desert Essence's jojoba oil, and it worked out just fine! Jojoba dissolves makeup really nicely- better than most other oils I've tried, and is also super gentle on my stupidly-sensitive eyes. Nothing much else to say! Would repurchase!


Wishtrend C20 (OST) Original Pure Vitamin C20 Serum ($16.20, Amazon)

I've previously reviewed the Wishtrend OST 21.5 Vitamin C Serum here. This one is extremely similar, and I only ventured to try it because the 21.5 wasn't available on Amazon at the time. I do think I prefer the newer 21.5 version, for a couple of reasons. First, this C20 version did continue to fade (and prevent!) dark spots/ hyperpigmentation for me, but not to the extent, I don't think, that the 21.5 did. Second, this one went bad sooner than the 21.5 version did, although that could always be chalked up to an older bottle having been sent to me. There's no real way to know, and Vitamin C preparations do oxidize quickly. Either way, this one started to smell "off," and even turned slightly orange before I could use the last 1/4 of the bottle's contents. I'd repurchase in a pinch, but am definitely trying to find the 21.5 version first!


Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence SPF 50+ PA++++  ($11.17, Amazon)

I'd heard so many nice things about this sunscreen that I had to try it myself. Just call it skincare curiosity! It's very nice, but doesn't quite live up to the high standard that my beloved Shiseido Senka Aging Care has set! It is a super nice, maybe more accessible, option though!

It has a liquidy, mineral-feeling texture, and doesn't smell super stongly of sunscreen. That scent that I can detect fades after it's been on the skin for a couple of minutes. It's fairly nice to apply and spread over the skin, but you have a limited time before it starts "clinging," and becomes resistant to spreading further. It's like once it has decided to start settling down- off it goes! Haha! I'm not really sure how to describe it, but basically you have a limited time to get it everywhere you need it (unlike the Shiseido).

Finish-wise, it does sink in nicely, but doesn't quite get to the matte-but-velvety-feeling skin that the Shiseido does. It's not greasy or overly shiny- just less matte. It's definitely acceptable, for me, for going makeup-less (in terms of the shininess of the finish), but I imagine this will vary with skin type.

I'm glad I tried this sunscreen, but still prefer the Shiseido overall! Might repurchase!



Scinic Propolis Ampoule 95 ($17.42, Amazon)

I have come to really love propolis and honey as skincare ingredients, so was very intrigued by this essence. It's a fairly lightweight essence, but not super thin or runny. It goes onto the skin smoothly, and absorbs nicely and quickly, allowing you to move on to the next step in your skincare regimen. The packaging is really cute, I think- I love things that remind me of little apothecary bottles. When you get to the very end of the bottle, it's a bit hard to reach the remaining serum with the medicine dropper, but at that point you can just turn the bottle upside down.

As far as performance, I feel like this actually moisturizes a bit on it's own. For oily skin types, it may even be enough? At any rate, I find that it gives my skin a little hydration boost before I come in with the big guns. Propolis is also supposedly great for controlling inflammation, and this is so nice to put on right after using a cleanser and BHA. All that said, the results I've seen have been pretty subtle, and while this fits nicely into my routine and was enjoyable to use, it didn't do anything amazing for my skin. I'm sure there are other essences out there that deliver equal or better results. Might repurchase.


Mizon Original Skin Energy Hyaluronic Acid ($9.99, Amazon)

I liked this Mizon ampoule! I was mostly using it as a first essence directly after washing my face and then letting BHA sink in for twenty minutes. It's a lighter weight essence, and is very hydrating. It provides a nice foundation for whatever skincare comes next. It dries down/ absorbs rather quickly- within two minutes of application, I'd say- so it's easy to fit in an evening skincare routine as well. I definitely think the hyaluronic acid helped boost overall moisture levels in my skin, and that's definitely an ingredient I look for in skincare in general. I'm still curious about some of Mizon's other ampoules, but I'd definitely repurchase this! (Also, how lovely is the blue bottle?!)



Josie Maran Pure Argan Milk ($56, Sephora)

Based on the description, I didn't really know what kind of product to expect. An essence-weight or serum consistency, a lotion, something else? Turns out, it's a very rich, liquidy, white lotion. It spreads very easily over skin, and a little goes a long way. This is actually, for me, the perfect texture and consistency to spread down the neck and chest area. It actually made the skin there look luminous and super healthy!

On the face, it's a bit on the greasier side (although I did use way too much the first time), but does continue to sink into the skin over the course of twenty minutes or so. I noticed an initial slight flush after spreading this over my skin; but, my skin is super sensitive, and can actually just flush from mechanical pressure- what I'm saying is that it wasn't a super drastic or unusual reaction for me, and it did subside somewhat quickly. Worth a mention, though!

After this did sink into the skin more, skin looked luminous (but not too shiny) and healthy! Plump, like after a good sheetmask! It never fully absorbed perfectly, so this might be better for night time, or better for those super dry days- or set down with a finishing powder. I didn't get a chance to apply makeup over it (the sample size is pretty small), but I imagine it creates a nice smooth base. I have to say, I don't like many liquidy-type lotions typically, but I don't hate this! It's not worth $56, though, unless it has long-term effects...and I'm dubious of that!


Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream ($9.90, Amazon)

This is such an amazing drugstore moisturizer! I know it gets talked about a lot, but believe me, it's not hype! (As far as I can tell, this is the same as the version in the tub- I just prefer this tube packaging!) The actual packaging design is not glamorous, but functional, and it's what's inside that matters anyway.

This is a thick cream, and is very rich, soothing, and moisturizing. It doesn't just sit on top of the skin, but actually penetrates over time. It has no scent or added fragrance, and is overall very gentle. It is a heavier type of cream, so I think unless you have super dry skin or live in a very arid climate, it's probably going to be better suited as a night time moisturizer. That's generally when I use it, and my skin, no matter how I treat it the day before, looks improved after using this cream at night! This is a must in Winter for me, but I use it a few nights per week, just depending on how my dry/dehydrated skin is feeling, in the Summer months too.  Already repurchased!


Sheet Masks!


Compared to the last two months, you may be able to tell that I've been slacking a bit on the sheet masking! I'm not sure why that is, to be honest. I think I've just been crashing into bed earlier, probably. Looking into my sheet mask stash drawer, though, I am making steady progress, so that's good! Onto the reviews!


Tony Moly Hydrating Coconut Face Mask Sheet (2) ($7.50/ 2-pack, Sephora??? OOS)

These might be discontinued, as I can't seem to find them on the internet anywhere! I originally got them in a two-pack for $7.50 from Sephora.

I liked this mask much more than the previous Tony Moly mask (Tea Tree) I'd tried! I still think the fit is not super ideal for me personally, but the actual sheets were saturated, very soothing on the skin, and definitely improved hydration and "plumpness" levels. For me, these masks wear about 35 minutes before drying out. And, they do have a nice coconut fragrance! I'm not big into fragrance in my skin care (though it doesn't usually cause irritation)- but, if there's going to be fragrance, I'm down for some coconut!

I probably won't repurchase because there are so many hydrating masks I prefer instead, but these aren't terrible!


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

I've raved about Freeset Donkey Milk hydrogel masks several times already, and this Healing version is particularly great at soothing irritation and just generally calming skin down! For me, that means redness and inflammation mostly (I really love this mask on nights when I add AHA into my evening routine!), but I'd imagine that this particular hydrogel would be great for calming acne as well! This mask fits super well, adheres, and wears for a long time- like 45-55 minutes before drying out too much. Skin is calmed, hydrated, plumper, and just generally happier afterwards! Overall, would definitely recommend, and I'll be purchasing more!



ACWELL Water Moisture Mask ($3, Memebox)

My first ACWELL mask. It's a thicker type of cotton mask with a subtle helix-pattern texture. Other than being too wide and overlapping my hairline, the fit was quite good. The mouth and eye holes were pretty much spot on. However, this is another mask with the eyeflaps that fold down. I'm really not a fan of them, especially with masks that are fragranced- it just brings stuff unnecessarily close to the eyes! You could always cut them off, but that seems like a fiddly step.

The actual cotton was decently saturated, but not dripping, and there was about half a teaspoon of essence left in the packet which I spread down my neck. This mask felt nice and soothing while I was wearing it. Although it fit well, it did begin to dry out and fall off of the bottom half of my face just ~10 minutes into the wear time. I think this is just how thicker cotton masks work on me. The fragrance was subtle, but there: I couldn't tell you what exactly- maybe something slightly floral, and I didn't notice it after wearing the mask for a couple minutes.

After removing this mask, my skin was pretty tacky to the touch. Almost sticky, actually. It also looked shiny. The extra essence on my skin did begin to absorb more, but it was a slow process. So, I used a lighter nighttime cream moisturizer on top. Results-wise, my skin looked less red than before masking, and did seem better hydrated. Overall, I don't love this mask- I've definitely seen better results from others- but I didn't hate it either.


SNAIL  SHOWDOWN


I decided to use one of every snail mask I had in my stash in rapid succession. Snail Showdown is the result! I'll tell you my faves at the bottom after all the individual reviews!


Tosowoong Pure Snail Mask ($2, Memebox)

I think(?) this is the first Tosowoong mask I've tried! I like it! This mask was very, very saturated with essence, and was a bit messy to unfold. The fit is nice. It's quite an oval mask, and doesn't overhang the chin too much. The nose piece is a bit short, but that doesn't bother me much (we're talking like a 1/4 inch here). The bridge between nose and mouth is a bit thick, and it was tricky to keep it up above my lip. The eye holes and mouth holes were comfortable. Actually, I think the eye holes are some of the biggest I've encountered so far! Personally, I like that, as I don't need essence too close to my eyes, thank you!

This has niacinamide for skin whitening (even tone), and overall was so hydrating and calming that I do think my skin was brighter and healthier-looking! This mask wore for a long time since it was so saturated- about 50 minutes.

The one downside to this mask is that it is a bit more heavily fragranced than some others. It smells cloyingly floral- a bit disappointing, really! Overall, I'm not sure I'd repurchase this particular Tosowoong mask since there are other snail masks I prefer (which aren't so heavily scented), but I'm definitely, definitely going to be trying other Tosowoong sheet mask flavors!



Skin79 Fresh Garden Mask- Snail ($2, Memebox)

How cute is this packaging?! Look at the snail! *Ahem* Anyway, this is a cotton mask that is nicely saturated with essence. The fit is great for me, and really made the wearing experience pleasant! There is fragrance, but it's not in-your-face. I actually quite like it. It's a darker floral type of scent with a hint of musk or something? It almost has a faint cologne presence. Not bad, not overpowering!

This mask was especially soothing, and wore for a decent amount of time too- about 35 minutes. After removing, my skin was much less red, very plump, and felt so soft! I really felt like the texture and overall evenness of my skin was improved...maybe because it was just better hydrated? I would definitely repurchase this snail mask!



Etude House I Need You Mask- Snail ($16.70 / 10-pack, Amazon)

This is a thinner, silkier-feeling mask that is super duper saturated! There's enough essence left in the packet to use the next day or spread down the neck and chest. It's also a super nicely-fitting mask. The eye holes could be a tad bigger, but overall weren't problematic for me. The mask is not super wide like others I've tried recently, and just generally fit and adhered well. There is a fragrance, but I didn't notice it after wearing the mask for a few minutes. (It's kind of floral/something- I could do without!)  This is another very long-wearing mask, and I swear I had it on nearly an hour before I decided it was bedtime!

After letting the extra essence absorb for a couple of minutes, my skin really looked glowy! It was plump and so healthy-looking (and feeling!) The effects lasted into the next day as well. This is another snail mask I'd definitely consider repurchasing!



Soo Ae 'Hanbang' Snail EGF Mask ($18.54/ 5-pack, Amazon)

I've previously reviewed this mask, and I still think it's great! I'll still hold to my original comments about the excellent fit! The one thing that isn't perfect is the strip between nose and mouth is a bit too wide...just slightly. It doesn't technically overlap my lip, but feels like it might at any moment. Just a minor nitpick!

This mask is made of a thinner material, and is very saturated. It wears for a long time before drying out, so you can really maximize your skin-moisture absorption if you have the time for it! There's no real, discernible scent, and overall the wearing experience is quite nice!

After removing this mask, my skin is very plumped and moisturized, and the effects tend to last into the next day.



Pure Smile Snail Essence Mask ($10.99/ 8-pack, Amazon)

This is a cotton mask that's decently saturated with no discernible scent. The fit of the mask is fairly good. It's definitely wide, and overlaps my hairline, but the eye holes are decently placed, the mouth hole is wide enough without being too wide, and the nose bridge is a good size for me. It does have the weird eye hole flaps that flop down with seemingly no purpose. I suppose they're there in case you want to close your eyes for thirty minutes and actually treat your eyelids. I could live without them, but I guess they make the mask more versatile?

This mask immediately feels very cooling and soothing when you put it on. It was still very saturated after half an hour of wear, but I took it off to go to bed. My skin was very well hydrated, and redness from previous actives was pretty much non-existent. The remaining essence on my skin absorbed within the next ten minutes. My skin looked great the next morning, and all I did was seal the moisture from this mask in with Mizon Snail Repair Gel, skipping a night cream entirely! Overall, this is a really nice, affordable snail mask, and I like it better than the previous Pure Smile (Red Wine) mask I tested out!
--

Snail Showdown Results:

Overall, I think my favorite snail mask of these five is a tie between the Etude House I Need You Snail Mask and the Soo Ae Hanbang Snail EGF Mask! They are both very hydrating, but also make the skin supple and plump- and skin looks better the next day as well! (Both also fit nicely.) The Soo Ae has no fragrance, so that one maybe has a slight advantage.

For a budget option, I think the Pure Smile Snail Essence Mask is pretty great! It was very moisturizing on its own, and wasn't fragranced!
--

Lip Care!

EOS Visibly Soft Lip Balm in 'Coconut Milk' ($4.98, Amazon)

I bought this for the uber-cute packaging, and because I'm always interested in coconut things! Surprisingly, I love it, and I'm not a huge fan (anymore) of the traditional EOS balm spheres. I feel like this one is way less waxy-textured, and more oil-based, and is much more hydrating for that reason. It just feels better on the lips, and I see better long-term results. With the previous EOS balms, my lips would feel nice while wearing them, but not afterward. This Coconut Milk version seems to actually improve texture and hydration levels!

Oh yeah, and it smells/ tastes pretty nice. It's not the most coconut-y thing I've ever smelled, and sometimes I think I get a hint of strawberry? Either way, it's pleasant, and the main thing is that it's actually a useful balm!

Pure Smile Choosy Lip Mask in 'Purple Pearl' ($1.80, Imomoko)

This is the second Pure Smile lip mask I've tried/ reviewed. (Here's the other "flavor.") This is a hydrogel mask intended to moisturize your lips, specifically! This one is slightly purple-pink with an almost iridescent glimmer. Kinda pretty!

Unfortunately, the scent of this one really bothered me- a problem I did not encounter with the honey version. This one was just overpoweringly floral- cloying and almost chemical- and way too strong for something that's going to hang out directly underneath your nose for twenty minutes! (I could even taste it a bit- blah!) I feel like people sensitive to fragrance would hate this, and personally, I won't buy this scent/ flavor again.

Like the honey version, it did leave my lips plumped, hydrated, super soft, and supple. I love the results, but the fragrance ruined the wearing experience for me. I'm going to pick up some other flavors to try though!


Body/ Hand Care!

Nivea In-Shower Body Lotion- Nourishing ($5.17, walmart.com)

I had to hop on the in-shower body lotion train because it's all the rage lately! On one hand, I get it: skin does absorb moisturizer better when it's damp. On the other hand, isn't a lot of that product getting washed down the drain?

After using an entire bottle of this, I found I like it but don't love it. It does moisturize, but it's such a weird feeling to be rinsing off lotion...but not rinsing it off? It's like you're a slippery dolphin...IDK! Even if you totally rinse off and then towel dry, there is still remaining lotion on your skin, so this does work to some extent. However, for the drier skin on my body, like my legs, I found that I still needed a separate moisturizer after the shower- and I'm not trying to double my moisturizing workload here, people! It may be that some people wouldn't need a separate lotion post-shower, who knows.

I found this lotion to be sort of heavily fragranced- like something floral x fruity, and I didn't love it. It was just slightly too much scent for me! I also found that it takes a lot of product to adequately cover all desired body surfaces while the water is running....and then I'm sure a lot of it gets rinsed away.

So, I just don't know. This worked to some extent, but was not miraculous. Since I'm not trying to further complicate my shower routine, I probably won't be repurchasing. 


Tree Hut Shea Sugar Body Scrub- Mango ($6.99, drugstore.com

I've loved Tree Hut scrubs in the past, and this is no exception! It's very coarse and gritty- perfect for body exfoliation- and yet the matrix, or "goo," if you will, that the sugar is suspended in is very moisturizing. After you scrub your legs, for instance, you'll still probably want to follow up with a moisturizer after getting out of the shower, but it won't be the end of the world if you don't have time to. I just think the pairing of dense, gritty sugar particles, and super moisturizing body of the product is on point.

Oh yeah, and it smells lovely: tropical, deliciously mango.

Unfortunately, this scrub has a huge downfall, which I didn't know about prior to purchase: it has plastic microbeads, which are terrible for marine life and ecosystems. I don't remember other versions of the Tree Hut body scrubs having them (just sugar), so this took me by surprise and is totally disappointing! (Upon some reasearch, at least Tree Hut's Brazilian Nut scent is free of microbeads, but maybe you shouldn't support a company that still uses them in other products...) This is something that will absolutely prevent me from repurchasing, and I wish I'd realized in advance. Tree Hut, if you're reading this, remove the microbeads!

(By July of next year, a complete Congressional ban (H.R. 1321) on microbeads in personal care products will go into effect, so I'm assuming all companies that currently use microbeads will have to reformulate! That's nothing but good news (but sad it took actual legislature).)


Nail Care!

SuperNail Pure Acetone ($8.29, walmart.com)

This is your basic 100% acetone. I use it for cuticle clean-up with a small detail brush and to clean my stamping plates and other tools. I've also used it to soak off glitter polishes, although you really have to moisturize well after something like that! This is my second bottle of this particular brand, and I like it. Would repurchase!


Glisten & Glow HK Girl Top Coat ($7.25, color4nails)

I've reviewed this quick-dry top coat before, and it's still my go-to for swatching and just general use. I haven't found another top coat yet that marries super fast dry-down time with a nice, super-glossy finish. On me, HK Girl also wears very well, and most polishes never chip for up to a week- just minimal tip wear.

It does contain dibutyl phthalate, so may not be the safest choice, although I'm pretty comfortable because it doesn't come in direct contact with the skin, and I always polish in a well-ventilated area!

I already have a back-up waiting in the wings, but I do have my eye on the KBShimmer- Clearly On Top top coat, as I've heard it's great and very similar to HK Girl.


[press sample] Sally Hanson Big Peel Off Base Coat ($5.99, walgreens.com)

I received this as PR, but I really do like it! Most peel-off bases are essentially some dilution of PVA-type glue, so it's totally something you could DIY, but who has time for that?! This particular one works really well though. I've seen a lot of neutral-to-negative reviews, but I don't totally agree.

I've previously done an in-depth review here, but I've since polished this bottle off while swatching. (I've since found that you can greatly reduce dry time by just getting the coat as thin as possible.) It's just great to swatch a color, and then not have to use remover over and over again between colors!

This applies nicely, and the thinner the coat you can get, generally the longer it'll wear before peeling off. Of course, this is so variable; how you prep your nail beds beforehand, your natural body chemistry, your daily contact with water, ect.- will all determine the length that a peel-base stays on. (Also what products you use on top!) I wouldn't expect to wear this for longer than a couple days, if I'm honest. For a person like myself, that's perfect. I'm currently using OPI- Glitter Off, and I have to say that I prefer the Sally Hansen- would purchase (although I think the asking price is a bit high)!



[press sample] Different Dimension Cuticle Oil Pen in 'Dragon's Breath' ($4.50, differentdimension)

In the last Empties, I reviewed the 'Unicorn Horn' flavor of Different Dimension cuticle oil pen. This one, 'Dragon's Breath,' is one of my favorite scents from the set! (Read about all four scents here.) It supposedly smells like white tea, and while I personally have no idea what that smells like in real life, I do love the fragrance in oil. I will say that these oil pens are heavily fragranced, and my boyfriend was actually bothered by the scent when I used them in the same room as him! He's pretty sensitive to scents, while I am not, so your mileage may vary.

They work wonderfully to moisturize the cuticles, and I love having one in my bag wherever I go!


[press sample] Different Dimension Cuticle Oil Pen in 'Mermaid Tears' ($4.50, differentdimension)

This cuticle oil pen also comes from the same set (Mythical & Magical). The fragrance in this one is described as a "scrumptious blend of creamy vanilla, juicy orange, sweet pineapple, and maraschino cherry." It smells foody and delicious! I can definitely pick out the note of vanilla, but it's a very sweet type of vanilla! The cherry is also very present. I also like to use these oil pens when swatching; between taking off a color and before I start to apply the next, I just like to lightly go around the cuticle (and sometimes under the nail)- especially if I used remover to take off the previous polish. Overall, these pens are great (but very fragrant)!


Makeup!

NYX HD Studio Finishing Powder ($9.49, Amazon)

I love, love this finishing powder. I've actually reviewed it before. If I have the time, it's just the perfect last step. It really seems to blur the pores, and on me it really is transparent. I work outdoors at a very active job, so in the Summers I'm sweating quite a lot! This can really hold everything in place for a lot longer than other setting powders I've tried. For those super humid, hot days, I really love setting my t-zone with this super-fine milled powder. Already repurchased!

NYX Color Correcting Powder in 'Green' ($10.71, Amazon)

This is basically my everyday face makeup. (Also previously reviewed.) As I get older, I really prefer more minimal skin makeup, and I've never really liked the way anything liquid feels or looks on my skin. This green corrector has just enough coverage to tone down some of my natural redness without being visible on the skin at all, and most days it's all I wear for "coverage." Basically the only thing wrong, in my eyes, with these two powders are the insanely large sifter holes! It's easily remedied with tape, but still- a definite packaging design flaw!

I don't think I could live without it, to be honest! Also already repurchased!



Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Concealer in 'Brightener' ($7.99, drugstore.com)

I feel like I've never read or seen a bad review of this product, but dang if I couldn't make it work for me! I only managed to use up a little under half, and now it's about three years old so I'm just squicked out! (It does have that sponge tip applicator, which likely harbors bacteria!)

So this is a concealer meant to camouflage dark under eye shadows and to just generally brighten the area. It's very pink-toned which in theory would work on many people to cancel out blue or purple-toned areas. My main problem is that it just sinks into fine lines and makes me look about 80 years old! (On me, this product should be called "Age Fast-Forward"- eek!) I've tried all kinds of application methods, including applying it lower down under the eyes, all to no effect. It's just something about the formula on my skin. I look way better without this product than with it. I don't have incredibly dark under eye circles, so it's not a big deal for me personally, and I'm not too pained that it didn't work out.

I did use it a few times to conceal blemishes, which works OK for me since my skin is also pink-toned. I do prefer, normally, concealers with a more neutral tone since they cancel out redness better for me. Wouldn't repurchase, but I know many people love this product!



CoverGirl Plumpify blastPRO Mascara in 'black brown' ($8.54, walmart.com)

Overall, I've seen mostly negative reviews of this mascara, but I didn't hate it! It's nowhere near the worst drugstore mascara I've ever tried, nor near the top of the list. Somewhere in the middle. The brush is extremely large, which did initially throw me for a loop, but the learning curve was not steep. (Like a lot of CoverGirl mascaras, the paint-mascara smell is quite strong.)

I think the biggest problem with this mascara is the marketing, to be honest! It hardly volumized for me at all! I found the strange shape/ texture of the brush to be extremely separating, actually, and it gave me fairly good length with a bit of curl as well. It also builds decently without clumping too much, but definitely works better as more of a "natural" mascara. Additionally, the brush just eats up product! Very little mascara transfers from the brush onto your lashes, and so takes a bit of work to apply. It's just slower-going, and not a huge problem, although may frustrate some.

I think if CoverGirl had billed this as more of a separating or lengthening mascara, people would not have had the wrong expectations. I won't repurchase, but I'm glad to have tried it! If what you want is a more separated, natural look, and you don't mind a very oversize brush, you might like this!


Josie Maran Argan Black Oil Mascara ($14.75, Amazon)

This deluxe sample came from the Sephora Favorites Lash Stash to Go (2015), and I really didn't like it. I tried it several times but just couldn't get decent results. It didn't volumize, the separation was bad, and the formula weighed my lashes down, preventing curl. It almost has a slippery (not wet, exactly) feel as you brush through the lashes, and lashes just tended to stick together. The brush is pretty nice, and this supposedly has Argan oil to condition lashes, but I just couldn't bring myself to use it enough to see a benefit from that. Would not purchase.
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And, that's it, friends! 



What do you think?
Have you tried any of these products?
Do you have a favorite snail sheet mask not mentioned here?



*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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