November 8, 2016

Empty Empty Empty: September & October!

Hey everybody! It's Election Day in the US. If you haven't already voted, please get out and vote today! Personally, I can't wait for this absurd, prolonged nightmare to be over, but the suspense is killer!

In other news, I've got a brand new batch of empty beauty care and makeup refuse to review for you today! If you're new here (welcome!), I typically post these empties reviews every two months. I think I've got some good stuff to share this time: lots of skincare (of course!) as well as hair care and a few makeup items. Let's get to it!

As always, everything is organized into categories-

Hair Care!

L'Oreal EverStrong Thickening Shampoo/ Rosemary ($9.49, Amazon)

This SLS-free shampoo tends to be my drugstore fallback when I'm not sure what else to try. I'm not in love with it, but I don't hate it either. It smells lovely to me! Sort of an herbal/ floral combo, but it's not too strong or cloying. The consistency is sort of a rich texture in between a cream and liquid. It distributes nicely throughout the hair, and for a sulfate-free shampoo, the lather is also really nice- almost luxurious.

My hair is nicely cleansed and looks pretty good the day-of shampooing, and there definitely is a noticeable difference in thickness! It does feel like I have slightly more hair when using this, although not sure if it's just coating my strands with waxes or something.

However, second day hair is not as nice. I think the oil rebound is pronounced with this particular shampoo, for me. Also, I think it does tend to dry out and/or irritate my scalp. Probably TMI, but I just notice itchiness as soon as my hair is naturally dried post-shower. Not the worst offender ever for me, and (maybe?) not severe enough to prevent me from repurchasing, but worth mentioning for people with sensitive skin or scalps.

Dear Beauté by Kracie Himawari Oil In Conditioner - Volume & Repair ($10.45, Amazon)

This is actually a refill pouch of a Japanese conditioner that I obtained at a local Asian market for ~$13 on sale, I think. Linked above is a slightly different refill variety, the "Rich & Repair," as I couldn't seem to find this version anywhere online other than eBay. The full size of this product is 500mL, which is about 17 oz; the refill pouch I have here is just under 14oz. It took me almost four months to use up- a little goes a long way!

This is not a silicone-free conditioner, but I've been gravitating to silicones this year since my hair is much longer than normal, and I really need them to protect and condition my lengths. I love this conditioner! It's a mid-to-heavy weight, white product that distributes nicely through the hair. It doesn't have as much slip as you'd expect, but it didn't have too little either, and I'm able to comb through my long hair with a wide-toothed comb. I'd guess the generous amounts of oils in this product probably inhibit the slip a little bit when everything is wet.

The main oil here is Sunflower Seed Oil, but a lot of the moisturizing seems to come from several kinds of silicones, including Dimethicone (4th ingredient), Trimethicone, and Amodimethicone. There's also fragrance in this conditioner, and it's quite strong! However, I find it a very pleasant, floral scent that, while strong, seems quite natural- not cloying at all. The fragrance does linger in your hair, and I personally like that! But, I do think this conditioner has more intense, present fragrance than most, so it's worth a mention if you have sensitivity.

One questionable ingredient here is Paraffin, and while I understand that a lot of the liquid paraffin formulations don't build up in hair, and are normally used to keep products incorporated (not separated), it's a bit suspect since this conditioner is billed as volumizing. Hmmm... (I didn't notice any separating at all in this pouch, which is impressive for something containing 10% oil!) One other interesting ingredient here is Lactic Acid, which is an AHA exfoliant, and can aid in smoothing dry scaly hair. As I understand it, Lactic Acid can also be used to adjust pH of a product, or can also be used as a type of humectant, so ultimately I'm not sure why it's here (probably the pH thing). Either way, I'm not opposed to AHAs in my hair products- they're a great skin care ingredient!

Overall, this conditioner smells great, leaves my hair soft, manageable, and shinier than normal, and is just a pleasure to use! I do have to use semi-regular apple cider vinegar rinses to mitigate potential build up from the heavy silicone-load; but, while my hair is this long, it's totally worth it. I'd definitely recommend this conditioner to people with wavy, curly, or textured hair! Will repurchase! 

DevaCurl Welcome to Moisture Town One Condition Decadence [deluxe sample] ($22/ 12oz,

Sadly, this silicone-free moisturizing condition is no longer called "Welcome to Moisture Town," a name I find offbeat and funny, and now just goes by "One Condition Decadence" ("for super curly hair.") The version I tried is just a deluxe 1.5oz sample, but it wasn't billed for the super curly hair type, which I do not have. (Mine's like type 2A.) I would think that super curly hair might benefit from some silicones, but what do I know?

That said, this conditioner is fairly good for something silicone free. After my hair dries completely, the lengths look pretty darn good- although I do also use an oil/ silicone leave-in. It smells nice: a very subtle and understated floral/ fresh scent which almost goes unnoticed. A couple good noticeable ingredients are olive oil and hops extract. Hops supposedly reduces hair fall and can soothe inflammation.

The major downfall of this conditioner for me is that it doesn't provide enough slip to wet hair when you're distributing the product and combing down through the lengths. I have to use a huge portion- like a palm-sized amount- to get adequate coverage from crown to the longest layers a few inches below my shoulders. Detangling wet hair can be damaging if the product doesn't have adequate slip, so that alone will prevent me from repurchasing this conditioner. Maybe this would work for someone with much shorter hair though? It is quite expensive, too!


Banila Co. Clean It Zero ($16, Memebox)

This is a fairly famous (in the Asian Beauty community) cleansing balm, and is actually the first of its texture that I've tried. Long story short, I've really loved this product! A lot. It's gentle, easy to use, and removes all face makeup without leaving a residue or making skin feel stripped. (I have not used it on my eyes.) However, it does break down a super stubborn eyebrow product I use (Blinc Eyebrow Mousse) that other cleansing oils have struggled with!

In the jar, it's a semi-solid: a light-feeling balm; but, when warmed on the skin, it becomes a normal oil consistency. That makes it very easy to distribute right where you want it. This is a nice advantage over straight cleansing oils which are always liquidy and can be a bit messy at first. There's fragrance, but it's very light (almost unnoticeable for me), and mostly just smells soapy. I'm never concerned about fragrance in something that stays on the skin for so little time. The main cleansing agent in this balm is mineral oil, and although some people may want to avoid mineral oil, it's actually got a lot of skincare advantages . (Check out this study: A review on the extensive skin benefits of mineral oil.)

Overall, for me, this just works exactly like I want it to. I apply it with dry fingers to dry skin, massaging gently. I let it sit for 30 seconds, during which time I'll take my eye makeup off with jojoba oil. Next, I'll use a damp, mechanical facial brush to massage the skin, which emulsifies the product while rinsing it off. My skin feels fresh and clean afterward, but not stripped! Price-wise, this is slightly spendy, I think, but it's so nice that maybe the price point is justified! Plus, the packaging is sleek, and feels luxurious even though it's plastic. I'm definitely thinking about repurchasing!

Estee Lauder Take It Away Makeup Remover Lotion [deluxe sample] ($28, Amazon)

This is also a deluxe sample that came as a point-perk (with the product below if I recall correctly). I liked it enough to use up the 1oz tube, but I don't think it's anything special. To be honest, it feels just like any other medium-to-thin lotion, all which would help dissolve makeup. It does emulsify ever so slightly, but I wasn't even sure it did at first because the effect is so subtle.

I only wear sunscreen and mineral or powder base makeup, so it did an OK job of removing everything for me. I did feel like sometimes it left (that's the wrong word!) on my skin post-cleanse. (This is greatly reduced if you use any type of facial brush.) However, that didn't lead to any unwanted side effects, so is probably something you just have to get used to. For that reason, this is probably most appropriate for dry or dehydrated skin types. It definitely doesn't strip all oil and moisture from your skin, and overall I felt it was fairly gentle.

I did not use it on my eyes because it contains a strong fragrance, and that's a recipe for disaster for me. So, I don't know how it would dissolve waterproof eye makeup. I don't like fragrance in skincare in general, but in a cleanser that stays on your skin so briefly, it's not a huge deal to me. However, it is a strong floral-esque scent that just seems unnecessarily potent. So, yeah, overall, this is not great- especially for the price! There are many other makeup removing balms and lotions out there that are better!

Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Eye Synchronized Complex II [deluxe sample] ($58 /.5oz, Sephora)

This is a deluxe sample that came with a couple other Estee Lauder samples as a Sephora point-perk, I think. It's really lovely! The consistency is somewhere between a gel and a balm, but doesn't feel sticky or greasy. It's clear, and smooths under and around the eye so nicely. It seems very hydrating, and definitely smooths and fills the appearance of fine lines under the eye. For that reason, I've loved this as a day-time eye cream, which I don't normally apply, honestly. The undereye area stays moisturized and supple, but doesn't look shiny or visibly like there's product there.

Since using this consistently, I feel like I've seen some small improvement in my under eye area in terms of how noticeable fine lines are, but that's probably just due to the area being more actively rehydrated, (I think). Either way, this product is super nice, although not sure I could ever splurge for the full price! 

Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel ($26/ 4.2oz, Amazon)

This tube is only the 1.7oz version, not the full size pump bottle linked above. Still, it took me about three-four months to use up as a light daytime moisturizer. I use it after chemical sunscreen and before mineral makeup. It's just OK. It's certainly gentle and agreeable to my skin. I appreciate that it's fragrance-free.

It's very lightweight- meant for combination to oily skin, and so really won't re-hydrate your skin if it's dry. For most parts of my face during the day that's fine, but I have drier places like my forehead where this really didn't cut it as a moisturizer. I feel like it sinks into the skin pretty well, and also feels pretty silky. Overall, I'm not really sure this did much at all for my skin other than maybe maintain current daily hydration levels. I probably won't repurchase, but I didn't loathe it!

Shiseido Senka Aging Care UV Sunscreen SPF50+ PA++++  ($8.25, Amazon)

If you've been following my empties for any amount of time, you probably know that this is my favorite sunscreen! I've reviewed it a couple of times.  It's still the best I've tried, and I suggest any one without sensitivities to chemical sunscreens try it! It sets down to this powdery-silky-matte skin texture, and does a great job of protecting against sunburn and sun damage! With consistent use (along with  a few other skin care products) I've seen a huge reduction in dark spots- especially new sun-related hyperpigmentation! My skin is very fair, so this is a top concern for me (aside from melanoma- also a very serious concern!) Overall, this is probably the most important product in my skin care regimen!

Murad Invisiblur Perfecting Shield Broad Spectrum SPF 30 | PA+++ ($65/ 1oz, Sephora)

This is a tiny sample sachet that was good for just one use on the face. The name of this product is pretty much perfect because it's a sunscreen that looks, feels, and acts just like a silicone-based smoothing primer. (In fact, the second ingredient is Dimethicone.) If you've used the Smashbox Photo Finish primer, it feels much like that.

It's a clear, very silky-feeling gel that spread over the skin so smoothly. In fact, I think it spread so easily that I'd be concerned you'd maybe not use enough for adequate SPF protection, but I don't know. It makes the skin feel very silky, soft, and smooth- I think there are moisturizing ingredients in there as well. I didn't end up putting makeup over it since it was the weekend, but I'd imagine based on how my skin felt, that it would provide the same smooth base that a good silicone primer would.

The downside is that there is fragrance in this sunscreen product, and it does linger on the skin (bad!). This can be inflammatory and irritating, and I'd personally never use a sunscreen product with fragrance (that sits on your face for good chunks of time) long term. I did experience flushing and redness later in the day, and so had to cleanse my skin prematurely to get this off! Ack! The fragrance is pleasant to me, but I don't want it on my skin, damnit! I feel like Murad has a reputation as a nice skincare brand, so I was surprised and disappointed by the fragrance, to be honest!  For that reason alone (aside from the serious smoothing/ adequate SPF balance issue) I wouldn't purchase this product! Plus, it's just expensive!


Still riding the sheetmasking train! My goal is to use a sheet mask around three times per week, and I didn't quite hit that mark this time (averaged about 2). There are so many flavors to try, and it's just such a nice step to take, especially after a long day (or night!), or after using a bunch of actives. And, there's some pleasant simplicity about the process too. I'm way more likely to use a sheet mask than a traditional cream-type of mask that you have to apply and then rinse off.
Pure Smile Royal Jelly Essence Mask ($3.90,

(I haven't been able to source these Pure Smile masks online for the same price that I can get them at a local Asian market for ~$1.47.)

This is a basic cotton mask that is very saturated. It was messily folded inside the packet, and I found this individual mask a bit tricky to unfold. Luckily, the material is not too delicate or tear-prone. The first this I noticed upon applying this mask was the heavy fragrance! Major disappointment! It's kind of a perfume-y floral scent, and is way too strong- it doesn't make me feel good about letting this marinate on my skin for half an hour, ya know? Also, although no essence got in my eyes, I swear I could feel my eyes get slightly irritated from being close to something so fragranced.

As far as fit goes, it's pretty nice. It has the pesky eyeflaps which I don't love, but otherwise is good for me. For some, the forehead could be a little small, I think; I have to hike the mask up slightly to get good coverage there. 

The mask was very cooling, though, and I wore it for about 35 minutes before most parts of it were too dry. When removed, my skin was soft, supple, and plumped with hydration! The extra essence sitting on my skin didn't feel tacky or sticky, and actually patted in nicely. Overall, very pleased with the results, despite the fragrance!

Freeset (Soo Ae) Donkey Milk Skin Gel Mask Pack- Aqua ($16.50/ 10 pack, Amazon)

I also review this version of the Freeset hydrogels nearly every empties post of late. I find these very deeply hydrating and calming. They also fit well, wear for a long time, and my skin always looks happier in the morning. Love! When my skin is feeling in need of moisture and something calming or to soothe inflammation, I gravitate toward my favorite flavor of this mask- v

Freeset (Soo Ae) Donkey Milk Skin Gel Mask Pack- Healing (x3) ($2, Memebox)

Lately, this mask is the first thing to hit my Empties Bowl each time I clear it out and begin again accumulating beauty care trash! (I reviewed it last time, as well.) That says something about my love for these Freeset hydrogels! They just fit well, soothe skin, hydrate well, and skin improvements are seen into the next day. (And, there's no overpowering fragrance, haha!) I still have a few of the Healing versions left, which I find very calming and anti-inflammatory, and several of the hydrating Aqua masks. But, when I run out, I'll be getting more! Definitely recommend this one!

Leaders 7 Wonders Caribbean Coconut Calming Mask (x3) ($6, Ulta)

I've reviewed these masks before, here.  My memory may not be serving me correctly, but I don't think the fit of one of these individual masks was quite as good as the others. So maybe they're just not super consistent. It wasn't a bad fit. Just some nitpicky things like the nose piece being a bit too long, the bridge between mouth and nose being too long and skinny, and the forehead may be slightly too small for some. One of these masks had eye holes that weren't wide enough or far enough apart- I needed more room on the outside edge. On the other mask, the eye holes were just fine. So, hmmm... Despite how it might fit for your personal face topography, it'll adhere well just due to the nature of biocellulose masks. This is a mask I can talk and drink in without risk of it falling off the bottom of my face!

This mask comes with a backing on each side, and you're supposed to peel one side, apply to face, and then peel off the other side. For me, it's easier to carefully peel both sides and then position. I just feel like the action of peeling the second side while it's already on your face screws up the alignment, and is pretty finicky. Your mileage may vary! I still think this mask smells oddly soapy- not like coconut at all. It's not a strong scent, and I couldn't detect it while wearing the mask.

I was able to wear this biocellulose mask for about 30 minutes before it became too dry and a bit tight-feeling in certain places. (I really think it depends on the humidity of your environment as well as the starting state of your skin as far as wear-time goes.) Upon removal, there was still a bit of essence left on the skin, but it was more slippy-feeling than tacky, and does eventually absorb. My skin felt very soothed, and looked plumped with hydration and maybe slightly less red. I still layered a night time moisturizer on top, but if for some reason you were to do this mask in the AM, it would likely provide enough hydration for the day!

Another incidental thing which you maybe can't tell from the photo is that the actual outer pouch packaging is very large compared to other sheet masks, and will take up a lot of real estate wherever you store them. That did annoy me slightly.

So, I like this mask- it has an overall pleasant wearing experience, especially for shorter masking sessions. However, they are definitely not worth the individual price Ulta is asking! (Maybe they'll come up on again though?) 

DewyTree Bee Venom Blemish Mask Sheet ($3, Memebox)

This mask is intended to calm irritated skin and clear blemishes while also moisturizing. The bee venom (8th ingredient) is intended to soothe and stimulate skin cell regeneration. This mask also has other nice ingredients like Sodium Hyaluronate, as well as several fruit and flower extracts and oils.

The mask sheet is your typical cotton sheet, and it's extremely saturated, but doesn't drip down the face. There's not a whole lot left in the packet- it mostly comes out with the mask. Speaking of the packet, I really appreciate how compact it is- very easy to store! The fit is a little weird, but not uncomfortable. The eye holes are very wide, the nose is way too long (and would go into my nostril if I inhaled too sharply- lol!), and the bridge between nose and mouth is a very thin strip. The mask overlaps my hairline just slightly, and overhangs the chin slightly, but does seem to adhere OK down there.

Since this mask was so saturated with essence, it adhered very nicely to the face. I wore it post-shower and after BHA application, and it felt very soothing and rehydrating! About fifteen minutes into wear, I began to feel a very mild tingling sensation- I think maybe due to the Grapefruit Peel oil or Bitter Orange Flower Oil? I'm not sure. It wasn't uncomfortable, just very noticeable. It was almost like when you put something very menthol-heavy on your lips. This mask does instruct to remove after 20-25 minutes, so I removed it after about 30, which is way sooner than it would've dried out. (It was still very moist, but I was concerned about whatever exfoliating effects the tingling indicated.) My skin was very moisturized, plump, and did actually look pretty luminous! The extra essence slowly absorbed over the course of the next twenty minutes. I didn't really notice major differences the next morning.

ACWELL Honey Wrinkle Mask ($1, Memebox)

In the previous Empties, I reviewed a different ACWELL mask: the Water Moisture Mask. I thought that mask was decent for moisturizing, but not extraordinary or amazing. This honey wrinkle version doesn't seem quite as fragranced- there's a slight honey scent mixed with something lightly floral.

The fit of this mask is pretty nice aside from being too wide overall. However, it really does not adhere for me on the chin and jaw. It seems like the sheet (which feels like thicker cotton, but the package actually calls it eucalyptus...) is just too heavy to stick properly. This time, I folded the eye flaps inward and down to provide an extra layer of moisture under my eyes. Maybe that's what they're for after all? I'm still not sure, but they did annoy me less that way!

I wore this mask for about 40 minutes just because I lost track of time, and by then it was quite dried out in most areas. My skin was supple and hydrated upon removal, and the extra essence felt slightly...syrupy? Not sticky exactly..maybe a little tacky. It did take a little while for the extra essence to absorb- just like the previous ACWELL mask. So, I feel this is a nice honey mask, but not my favorite I've ever tried.

Soo Ae Red Ginseng Collagen Essence Mask (x2) ($15/ 5 count, Target)

Soo Ae tends to be one of my absolute favorite mask brands (probably #1, actually!), and I've reviewed this one before.

This is a thicker cotton type of sheet with a subtle textured pattern that adheres well to the skin. It's very well saturated with essence too. For me, the fit was quite good in all respects. The strip between nose and mouth is on the thicker side, so you will get some of that strong ginseng scent in your nose, just FYI!

This mask is very calming! I wore it when I felt like my skin was a little dehydrated and my face was slightly flushed. It feels soothing, and when you remove it (after about ~45 minutes for me), it looks calmer in every way! I had basically no redness, and the skin was supple and plumped. It just seemed much happier than pre-masking. Overall, I love this mask, will buy more, and definitely recommend them if you don't mind the way ginseng smells!

Botanic Farm Sea Mustard Mask ($10 / 5-piece variety set, Memebox)

This is the first Botanic Farm mask I've tried, and it's just OK. The seamustard extract is supposedly for moisturization and "good anti-wrinkle effect." I believe I came by this mask individually on Memebox, but they currently only carry it as part of a 5-piece variety set for troubled skin, linked above.

This is your typical cotton sheet mask, and it's nicely saturated, although there's not too much left in the packet. The fit was fairly good for me. The eye holes could've used a centimeter extra width on each side, and the bridge between nose and mouth was very wide (vertically), but otherwise, was a nice fit. I wore this mask while in the bath, so as a result of the very humid environment, it wore for almost an hour without drying entirely. It didn't have any noticeable scent, to me.

My skin looked moisturized when I removed it, but nothing dramatically different. In the morning, I did notice a few tiny allergic bumps that were so small I almost missed them. This just means there's something in this mask that I'm sensitive to, and I'm not sure what. Nothing else in my skincare routine was different in any way, so it was absolutely this mask! I won't be repurchasing, but your mileage may vary!

Tosowoong Pure Green Tea Mask ($2, Memebox)

I've reviewed a couple other versions of the Tososwoong Pure masks before: the Pure Deep Sea Water Mask and the Pure Snail Mask. This was not as heavily fragranced as the Snail version, but it still does have a very noticeable perfume counter floral-esque scent that I could honestly do without. However, it was much less noticeable during wear than the Snail mask.

The fit is the same as other masks from the Pure line: on the wide side (overlaps hairline), but the mouth hole and eye holes are nice for me. I do feel like it also clings well to the skin and is nicely saturated, with just enough essence left in the packet to apply to the neck and chest.  I wore this one for about 35 minutes and took it off slightly before it was totally dry in order to eat dinner.

My skin felt refreshed afterward, but the real difference was in the morning when I did notice whitening results on a couple of hyperpigmentation spots that had been bothering me for a couple of weeks! Also, it calmed a couple of acne spots threatening to develop beneath the skin. They went away by the next day, never to actually develop! Very pleased! Despite its fragrance, this is a green tea mask I'd repurchase!

Hey! Pinkgo Girl Marine Hydration Mask ($12.30/ 10-pack, Amazon)

This mask was lovely for my skin! (I've still yet to be disappointed by a Hey! Pinkgo Girl sheet mask.) I used this mask in an evening skincare routine on a night when I'd done Vitamin C, BHA, and then AHA consecutively. That can be a lot of actives at once for my skin, so I definitely needed an extra moisturizing step! This mask was just the perfect thing!

These masks are very thin sheets made of apple-fiber pulp that conform and cling to the contours of the face so well! The sheet is also super saturated, and there was about a teaspoon left in the packet. It didn't drip down my face, though! It felt very cooling and soothing to wear, and all around was comfortable, although a little wide at the temples- not a big deal. That night, I wore this mask for about an hour, which was maybe too long, and my skin had absorbed everything, leaving the inner weave of the mask material entirely naked. It was pretty stuck to my face, but honestly felt kind of satisfying to peel off slowly!

My skin looked great afterward- better than it had in a long time, actually! The results carried into the next day as well. My skin just felt happier, looked brighter and less inflamed! I'd have to try this side-by-side with Hey! Pinkgo Girl's Triple Hyaluronic Acid Seaweed Collagen mask to see which I like better, but from past experience, I'd say both are comparable- and very nice! Would repurchase!

Body Care!

Bath & Body Works Twisted Peppermint Shower Gel ($12.50,

I didn't care for this, to be honest. It lathers generously, but I found it to be extra drying on my skin. There are tons of sulfates in it, and the fragrance is listed even ahead of the moisturizing ingredients (aloe leaf juice & shea butter, mostly). Speaking of the fragrance, it's super pungent and does technically smell like peppermint. However, it's a very saccharine, chemical-tinged peppermint that strongly reminds me of the dentist- not a nice holiday peppermint. Just, no, not for me. I'm glad this is gone, and I'm still not a fan of Bath and Body Works body care stuff in general, but your mileage may vary!

HEMPZ Age Defying Renewing Herbal Body Wash ($19/ 8.5oz, Ulta)

Just a tiny sample sachet that was good for (barely) one use. This was nice as far as body washes go, I think. It has a medium lather in a puff, and I can tell there are nice oils (mostly the hemp seed oil) in it. It's not too drying, but I still needed a separate moisturizer post-shower. The scent is mostly soapy with maybe a slight herbal note. (No, it doesn't smell like cannabis!) I think that in terms of ingredients, it's on the gentler side, so is probably OK for sensitive skin. It seems to get around the bad sulfates by using things like Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate and Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate. Fragrance is a bit high up in the ingredients list at #6, but it's not super strong-smelling, so I found that strange.

I guess the big downfall to this body wash is the price! Holy cow! I mean, really? For me, twenty bucks for 8.5 oz of body wash is just way spendy. I won't purchase!

Mediheal Paraffin Foot Mask ($2, Memebox)

Guys, I've got some busted heels just because I'm on my feet all day! Eeek! So, I picked up this product to see if it could truly exfoliate and moisturize nicely. This mask contains a plastic pouch with the liquid essence ingredients inside for each foot. They come connected with perforations which, after you separate, become the entry points for your feet. That's kind of clever packaging! There's an outer plastic shell for each foot pouch and an inner sort of weave/ material. There's not a ton of essence in each pouch- they're not sloshing around- but, once you put your foot in, there is indeed enough liquid to coat all the important surfaces.

This mask has got Urea, which is a nice humectant, as well as other moisturizing/ hydrating ingredients like Dimethicone, Mineral Oil, Shea Butter, and Olive Oil. The exfoliating ingredients seem to be fruit extracts and Salicylic Acid, as far as I can tell. There are also a bunch of ingredients I don't recognize, so who knows! Surprisingly paraffin is very much near the bottom of the ingredients list.

You're supposed to wear this mask for 20 minutes and then pat in the remaining essence (don't rinse off). I wore them for closer to 45 minutes to maximize exfoliating benefits, but who knows if it made a difference. My feet were very soft afterwards, although I was initially unsure how much exfoliation had taken place. If you use Baby Foot or its true clones, your feet begin to slough off a lot of dead skin a few days after the treatment. That did not happen with this foot mask, and I was overall disappointed with the results! Wouldn't recommend unless you want temporarily softer feet for ~48 hours. Meh.

Nail/ Hand Care!

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

This cuticle oil pen also comes from the Mythical & Magical collection release. The fragrance in this one is described as a "fresh, sweetened plum sprinkled with orange zest, cloudberry, vanilla, and sugared milk." It smells mostly fruity, and definitely has an edible aspect. I can detect the citrus note if I pay attention! Like other DD cuticle oils I've tried, this is very fragrant, but I think it carries across the room less than some of the others.

These oils feel slippery and nicely hydrating, and the pen applicator is so nice because you can localize the product right where you need it most. For me, that's along the two outer sides of the cuticle and underneath the nail. I don't find them too greasy, and I use them at the keyboard all the time. Overall, these pens are super nice, especially if you're into fragrance!

Jack Black Industrial Strength hand Healer ($15, Amazon)

I'd heard a lot about this hand creme, so had to try it eventually! Long story short, I think it's nice? Definitely not a ground-breaking miracle! (And may not be worth the higher price tag for that reason.)

It's a medium weight, slightly whipped consistency that is more like a lotion than a creme. It's nice to rub into hands, and does seem to sink in and/or evaporate quickly, so is nice to use during the day without fear of being greasy.  It makes the skin feel very silky initially, and just overall better hydrated later on. I'm not sure it lives up to its name as a "healer;" it'll definitely prevent further moisture loss, but I'm not sure it can heal already super dry or chapped skin. I definitely need something heavier, more balm-like, for my cuticles and the callused areas of my inner palms.

This hand lotion does have some nice oils like Macadamia Seed and Sunflower Seed, and also has Sodium Hyaluronate, which I appreciate, further down the ingredients list. It's fragrance-free which is nice (but not necessary for a hand creme for me personally). It does have sort of a natural scent that's not entirely pleasant- kind of like a chemical sunscreen in a way? It does dissipate a few minutes post-application. Overall, it's a nice hand creme, and I did see some nice moisturization, but I don't think I'd ever pay full price again!

[press sample] Zoya Remove + Polish Remover ($9.99 / 8oz,

I've been using some inferior nail polish removers lately (whatever's cheapest on Amazon!), and when I went back to Remove +, the difference was very palpable! It just dissolves polish faster- even microglitters, for instance, and makes the whole process a lot less annoying. This does contain moisturizing ingredients, but I'd still recommend rinsing hands directly after use since there's some amount of acetone also.

Additionally, I love the pump bottle, although I tend to actually use a third party one just because it's shorter and can stand up inside a particular desk drawer. The Zoya pump bottle is awesome if you don't have one, though!  Overall, this remover lives up to the hype for me, although I think the price is slightly painful!


Redhead Revolution Gingerlash Readhead Mascara in "Honest Auburn" ($19,

I discovered this brand during a Google search for "brown mascara," I think. Let my first say, I'm in love with this color! It is truly a deep, very red-toned brown, AKA auburn, that just looks so natural and sets off blue eyes and my hair coloring perfectly!  I have a picture of this (layered over primer) on my lashes here.

I've never found another mascara shade like this, ever. Most "brown" mascaras are just brown enough to be...not black, and you can't really tell they're brown at all, once they are on your lashes. Not so with this, and it's just so refreshing, especially for daytime looks or warm-toned eyeshadow looks in general! (This shade would actually be perfect as an eyebrow mousse too if the formula were different!)

The downside of this mascara for me is that the formula is super dry right out of the tube. It's just hard to get adequate coverage on your lashes, and multiple coats tend to clump up and flake. I've had more success layering it over a white (or any lash primer) base. It's not unusable, but when it's this dry to start with, it won't improve, and I definitely can't achieve my "best" lashes with it. And, actually, this tube is not finished- it just became too dry to continue using after just a few tries.

That said, Readhead Revolution's customer service is absolutely fabulous from my limited experience! I'd gotten this mascara in a package bundle with their two other red shades, and all seemed dry, so I contacted them asking for a refund. Not only did they apologize and instantly issue the refund, but they rushed out three new mascaras to replace the dry ones! That was totally unnecessary, and I was extremely impressed! Full disclosure, though, I found the replacements also dry, unfortunately- although maybe not to the same extent as the first three. So, these are just very dry mascaras. I can't recommend them for that reason, especially because of the high asking price. This makes me sad, as the colors really are wonderful for hard to find auburn tones! Redhead Revolution has a lot of other strawberry and auburn makeup products though, and I do have an eyebrow powder from them that's really nice!

Tarte Lights, Camera, Flashes Statement Mascara in "Black" [deluxe sample] ($23, Sephora)

I'm not super impressed with this mascara. I've also tried Tarte's Lights, Camera, Lashes mascara, and liked that one more. This has an oversized wand with synthetic bristles that are quite long, and have stabbed me in the eye more than once. The formula isn't super wet or anything, but I like it slightly more as it begins to dry out. As far as application goes, I find this mascara decently separating, but it's hard to get to the base of the lashes because of the long, stabby bristles. It's also hard to get into the corner lashes. So, I don't get a ton of length from this. The second coat begins to get a little clumpy and can even make lashes look shorter on me.

This mascara is also difficult to remove for a non-waterproof formula! Even with straight oil, it takes some soaking and work! So, overall, this just doesn't do much for my lashes, personally. It's not the worst mascara I've ever used, and the packaging is pretty, but for me it's just "blah." Won't purchase!

Lancome CILS Booster XL Super-Enhancing Mascara Base [deluxe sample] ($25.50, Sephora)

This is one of the more well-known higher-end lash primers. A few months ago, I reviewed one of its competitors, the Dior Diorshow Maximizer Lash Primer. Long story short, both are great, but I slightly prefer the Dior. That said, CILS Booster is pretty great, and is also a few dollars cheaper for the full size.

This primer has a more slender, traditional, spiral-style wand. I feel like it's good for getting into the corner lashes, and it also helps add a bit of lift and curl. The formula is a white cream, neither too liquidy or dry. It also has a whipped texture. It does dry clear if you only use the lightest layer, but will look apparently white if you layer on a lot prior to regular mascara. I've tried all sorts of mascaras over this guy, and it improves all of them, at least for me! I especially like it with wetter mascaras that have problems with lift or separation. Using this as a base first really gets you separated lift (with increased volume!), which you can then darken up with one (or two) layers of mascara.

So, overall, I really like this primer! Biggest differences between CILS Booster and the Dior: the Dior has a larger, synthetic bristled wand, the formula is a bit drier, and for me personally, I tend to get slightly more lengthening and flared out curl at the corners of the eyes.

Lorac Behind The Scenes Eye Primer [deluxe sample] ($21, Amazon)

My favorite eye primer! I've reviewed this before, and I'm very loyal to it in general. I always have a few of these deluxe samples around because they often come with Lorac's palettes, and for me, primer takes a long time to use up! This goes on pretty invisibly, and just holds everything in place so well! I wouldn't say I have super oily lids, but they're not dry either- definitely somewhere in the middle. I do often work in high heat and humidity, and this primer always prevents creasing and transfer for me- and I have hooded lids with a lot of skin that folds over. So yes, I'd wholeheartedly recommend this primer!

NYX Micro Brow Pencil in "Auburn" ($9.99, Ulta)

As most eyebrow afficionados are aware, this is very dupish to the famous Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz pencil. I've used both, and don't have a clear preference, aside from the fact that this NYX Auburn shade suits me a little better than the offerings from Anastasia I've tried for redheads (or warm tones in general). ABH has an "Auburn" shade in Brow Wiz, but I'm not sure how it compares exactly to the NYX Micro Brow Auburn because I've never had both simultaneously to compare side by side. I remember liking it, but not as much as the NYX color, for some reason.

Formula-wise, I the NYX Micro Brow Pencil is significantly creamier and smoother, yet still waxy enough to help mimic actual brow hairs. Brow Wiz is stiffer and drier, which may help it last longer on skin comparatively, but I can't get it to look as natural.

While the tips of both products are basically the same size, the spoolies on the two pencils are a bit different. Brow Wiz has a spoolie that's a bit smaller, but denser. I prefer the Brow Wiz spoolie slightly, but really, both are fine. NYX is available at Target, but the two stores near me never seem to have the Auburn shade in stock, so that's an inconvenience. Price-wise, NYX Micro Brow is less than half the price of Brow Wiz, and since this is a product that tends to deplete quickly (especially if you use to fill entire brow), that's an important difference.

This pencil works great for me to fill in and darken sparser areas (mostly arch to tail), after which I brush through with the spoolie, and then apply a colored brow mascara on top to add texture. Between this product and the next reviewed below, I think it's the most natural (and still defined) look I've been able to achieve with my brows, which is saying a lot- I've tried tons of eyebrow products! Overall, I love and depend on Micro Brow, and will be repurchasing!

Blinc Eyebrow Mousse in "Auburn" ($24, Amazon)

Colored brow gels/ brow mascara are my newest brow discovery, and by far this Blinc one is the best I've tried to date. I've already repurchased it! (Sometimes Blinc comes up on how I encountered this product originally- so you may be able to snag it for cheaper if you're on the lookout!)

The formula is neither too wet or dry as you first open it, but I do prefer it after a couple weeks/ months when it dries out more. One tube has lasted me almost six months, so I can justify the price a little bit more for that reason! right?? Once you brush it onto your brows, you have about a minute or two until it begins to set. This sets a little stiffer than a lot of other brow mousses I've tried, and so can help to hold the hair in place better.. It's not super crunchy though! I try to get it on brow hair only- not the skin. It really lasts all day and, for me, is pretty waterproof, which I love. This is actually the eyebrow product that I mentioned above is resistant to removal with some, but not all, oil cleansers. So you know it stays put! I just love how this product can catch any invisible blond hairs and really bring them out! It's a way to make my nearly invisible brows look...well, visible- but still natural!

All that said, and as much as I love this product, there are a couple of cons. First, the spoolie is unnecessarily large! This brow mousse would be 100% better if the spoolie were significantly smaller! It's just too thick to get into the tail of the brow where I need color the most. At the beginning, when the formula is at its wettest, it takes a lot of practice to comb just the brow tail hairs with the spoolie, and not smudge the product on the skin! It can definitely be done, but for me there was a steep learning curve. If the brush were smaller, it'd be so much easier. Gah! (If you do get this on skin, it is quite difficult to remove once dry, so you have to attack it immediately!)

Another drawback is that this "Auburn" color is passable, but not ideal for me personally. It's definitely warm-toned, but has an almost greenish tinge, and I wish it would lean more to the strawberry or even burgundy end of things. (It's not quite the same as the color depicted on the tube there.) However, that won't stop me from repurchasing, especially with a pencil layered underneath. Finally, the third drawback is definitely the price! This is expensive, but lasts a long time for me- and the quality is there.

Overall, if you have light brows that aren't too sparse (or don't mind using this in conjunction with another product like I do), and the hair just needs darkening, I'd totally recommend this product! It's quick to apply, and makes such an incredible difference for me! Repurchased!


That's it! I feel like every review needs a TL;DR, and I'm surprised as ever at the amount of stuff I deplete in a span of two months! It's a talent!

What do you think?
Have you used any of these products before?
Have other alternative favorites?

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