May 2015 Empties

May tends to be a pretty exciting month, product-wise, because it’s the time of year when we use up our winter beauty staples and get to move on to lighter, more fun summer products. There will be plenty of those to discuss in the coming weeks, but for now let’s take a look at last month’s winners and losers:

  
Aqua Spa Relax Body Creme: I really loved this rich cream. Despite its thick texture it absorbed quickly, left no greasy residue, and kept my skin soft all day. Its lavender and chamomile aroma was quite perfumey when first applied, but it quickly diffused into a much more subtle scent that I really liked. 

Benefit Total Moisture Facial Cream: This tiny jar – from my Benefit Advent Calendar – saved my face during the last dry days of spring. When my tinted moisturizer just couldn’t provide enough moisture, I paired it with this thick-but-not-too-thick cream. It kept both dry patches and blemishes away while providing a perfect base for makeup. 

L’Oreal Volume Filler Thickening Shampoo: I found this shampoo incredibly disappointing. Since the ads for it featured Blake Lively, the queen of enviable hair, I was really hoping this shampoo would leave me with luscious locks. Instead it left my hair looking dry and dull, with no shine and a straw-like texture. 

Bliss Grapefruit & Aloe Body Butter: With its fresh citrus scent and rich texture, this body butter became my go-to hand cream throughout the winter and spring. It absorbs quickly and protects hands and cuticles for hours, even through the excessive hand washing of flu season. 

Aussie Moist 3 Minute Miracle: This deep conditioner isn’t new to this blog, and neither is my opinion of it. This is a high quality conditioner that can be used daily or as a weekly treatment. It repairs hair and leaves it silky and shiny without weighing it down. I still swear by it. 

Bliss Multi-‘face’-eted All-in-one Anti-aging Clay Mask: I decided to try this multi-tasking mask last weekend and almost instantly regretted it. It contains 10% glycolic acid, which was so harsh I had to wash it off after four minutes and still ended up with a chemical burn near my lip! Then my skin promptly broke out with several small pimples. Definitely not a fan. 

Whish Shave Cream: I recently wrote about this Birchbox find. I liked it more with every use. It really moisturized my skin and softened hair, leading to a closer-than-usual shave, less irritated skin and smooth legs that stayed that way for almost a week. 

Bath & Body Works Dark Kiss Body Lotion: This medium weight lotion featured a sort of sweet, sort of sultry scent and kept my dry patches in check through the spring. It didn’t clog pores and it gave my skin super soft all day. A perfect lotion for spring and/or fall. 

Beauty Protector Beauty Wash: This shower gel featured a sickeningly sweet scent and though it lathered up richly, it didn’t leave my skin feeling particularly clean. I’m a big fan of Beauty Protector’s hair products, but this body wash is definitely not for me. 

In other news, I finally came to the end of my body lotion stash last month! For those keeping track at home, it took me one year and five months to clean out that collection. So, now that I’m in the market for new lotions, please feel free to leave some recommendations in the comments below!

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April 2015 Empties

Things have been very busy and exciting here at For the Love of Gloss with lots of new products to test – stay tuned for reviews and recommendations in the coming weeks. Unfortunately, lots of new stuff means I didn’t use up much of the old. Here’s what I did finish off this month:
April 2015 Empties
Listerine Healthy White Sodium Fluoride Anti-Cavity Mouthrinse: I was drawn to this mouthwash for two reasons. First, it’s a gentle version of Listerine, which has always worked well but is quite painful to use. Second, it’s a whitening rinse. While I did find it to be a decent mouthwash, leaving my breath fresh and my mouth clean without the traditional burn of Listerine, I can’t say that I noticed much in terms of whitening.

Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel Original Formula: These peels make regular appearances in my empties posts, because they work well and I use them often. Read more here.

Bath & Body Works Be Enchanted Shower Gel: I’m not sure if they still make this scent; I found this bottle of body wash stuffed in the back of my soaps and shower gels bin, which is nearly empty – hooray! As with all Bath & Body Works shower gels, I found it to be quite perfume-y at first but the scent quickly faded after rinsing. These gels clean well. I don’t find them to be overly drying or all that moisturizing. A pretty average but effective body wash.

Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid: I wrote about this a few weeks back and am still loving it. I received this bottle in a past Birchbox and have since purchased a full sized replacement bottle. Now that the weather has let up a bit and my skin is not quite so crazy, I’m finding that using this every 2 or 3 days is enough to keep things in check. One of my top product picks of the year so far!

March 2015 Empties

You know how sometimes you seem to run out of every single thing you need all at the same time? That definitely happened to me this month – in the midst of an already very empty-producing month, I ran out of deodorant, body lotion, moisturizer and shampoo, all on the same day! There’s lots to review this month, so let’s get right to it:
March 2015 Empties
Johnson’s Body Care Melt Away Stress Lavender & Chamomile Lotion: I found a tube of this old favorite in my stash of body lotions and decided to bring it to my office to use as a hand cream. It did a great job of keeping my hands and cuticles soft in the colder months, and that soothing lavender and chamomile scent really did help take the edge off on some of my more stressful days. My coworkers frequently commented on how nice it smelled, too. This lotion is lightweight but moisturizing, and scented but not overly perfume-y. I’m a big fan.

Secret Invisible Solid Antiperspirant/Deodorant in Powder Fresh: I was apparently feeling nostalgic the last time I went deodorant shopping because I bought this, the same deodorant I used during my middle and high school years. In middle school, it made me feel grown up. In high school, it made me feel feminine. Now? It left me feeling rather underwhelmed. It works fine as an antiperspirant/deodorant, but I didn’t think it smelled powdery at all. Instead, it had a scent that I’d call chemical cucumber. I wouldn’t purchase it again.

Roloxin Lift Revitalizing Facial Treatment: I received this mask in my last Birchbox. It’s supposed to act sort of like instant botox, smoothing wrinkles for 24 hours. Even though I (thankfully) don’t have many wrinkles, I gave it a try. I couldn’t see that it did much to improve the fine lines that I do have, though it did leave my skin feeling silky smooth.

Vaseline Intensive Care Advanced Repair Non-Greasy Lotion: I’ve written about this body lotion multiple times. I still have nothing but good things to say about it. It kept my skin flake-free and hydrated all winter long. This is one of my favorite new discoveries of the past year – a definite winner!

Boscia Recharging Night Moisture: This is a real quality moisturizer. Fragrance free and gentle enough to use when your skin is in the midst of a full-on rebellion, I returned to it again and again. It isn’t greasy and can be used as a daytime moisturizer, but it’s also deeply moisturizing and stood up to the cold, harsh winter air when most other moisturizers could not. I will likely be repurchasing this gem.

BeeKind Body Lotion: Made with honey and organic chamomile extracts, a portion of the proceeds of this bee-friendly lotion supports honey bee and sustainable pollination research. It had a mild scent and felt great going on, but I found that not long after applying the lotion, my skin felt dry again, like I hadn’t applied any lotion at all. It supports a great cause, but I need more moisture from a body lotion.

Bumble and Bumble Thickening Shampoo & Conditioner
: I don’t typically review shampoo and conditioner together, but I used these two samples together, and I loved them. The shampoo claims to make hair look fuller and thicker, seal split ends and smooth flyaways, while the conditioner boasts a featherweight texture that creates fuller looking hair. I have to say, this duo did all of the above. My hair felt like it looked good all day after using these products, and the mirror confirmed it – smooth, silky, bouncy hair. Great products.

John Frieda Brilliant Brunette Colour Protecting Moisturising Shampoo: I wrote about the matching conditioner last month, and this shampoo wasn’t really any more appealing or effective than its counterpart. My hair looked and felt kind of dry after using it, and to make matters much worse, it caused my husband to break out in a rash around his hairline! Definitely proceed with caution if you have sensitive skin!

CoverGirl CG Smoothers BB Cream: Here’s another old favorite that’s been featured on this blog more than once. It’s my go-to winter BB because it’s both moisturizing and light enough for my pale, dry winter complexion. And with a drugstore price tag, it really can’t be beat!

Herbal Essences Tea-Lightfully Clean Refreshing Shampoo: This fresh-scented scalp clearing shampoo was another winter favorite – it soothed and de-flaked my scalp, smelled clean and fresh, and left my hair soft and clean. Another winner!

February 2015 Empties

Is anyone else feeling an overwhelming sense of relief that February is over? This winter has been so harsh, I just cannot wait for spring! At least I’ve had lots of new products to test to help me get through the cold dark days of winter. Here’s what I finished up last month:
February 2015 Empties
Nivea Essentially Enriched Daily Lotion: This is a good basic body lotion. It had a very light texture and a mild almond-infused scent. It kept my skin reasonably smooth and didn’t cause body breakouts. I wasn’t exactly wowed by this product, but it did its job!

Amika Nourishing Mask: I received this in my February Birchbox. It’s a decent deep conditioner. It made my hair smell nice and left my strands feeling super soft, but it didn’t add shine or do much for split ends, and after a couple of uses my hair was so static-y that I couldn’t stand it!

Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara: While I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s better than sex, I will say this mascara is better than most. It adds a nice thick darkness to lashes, doesn’t budge all day, never flakes, and doesn’t irritate my eyes! This is a great mascara for day or night.

John Freida Brilliant Brunette Colour Protecting Moisturising Conditioner: I received this as a Christmas gift, and didn’t realize until after a couple of uses that it was the color treated hair version and not the Liquid Shine version that I’ve always loved. Maybe this would do something for color treated hair, but it left my hair feeling dry and brittle. Not a fan.

Freeman Coffee & Chai Energizing Paper Eye Mask: I used this just this morning to soothe my puffy and overtired eyes. While it didn’t completely eliminate the puffiness and dark circles, it depuffed a little and left my eyes looking brighter. Plus, it felt really nice. I’d definitely use it again.

What are your favorite new finds for February?

December/January Empties & The End of the Shopping Ban

Well here we are, a month into 2015, which means the great shopping ban has ended. For the record, I made it approximately 17 hours into the new year before purchasing this. I’ve also purchased a few necessities, such as shampoo, conditioner and a fresh tube of Dior Lip Glow.

I’m really glad I participated in the shopping ban; I learned a lot. There are some products I will always think are worth the splurge (see Lip Glow, above), but there are many I can easily go without. Over the course of the year I managed to use up all of my shampoo, conditioner and toothpaste. I still have too many skincare products to count and a basket full of body washes and bar soap. This year, I will continue to whittle down my stockpile and track my empties – I really enjoy writing empties posts – while allowing myself to make the occasional extra cosmetic purchase. Also, I really missed my beauty subscriptions last year, which is why I’m delighted to report that my husband reactivated my Birchbox subscription as a birthday gift – I’ll be getting my first one any day now!

So, before I dive back into the world of Birchbox and start reviewing my new purchases, let’s take a look at what I used up over the past two months:
January 2015 Empties
Avon Naturals Nourishing Banana & Coconut Milk Shower Gel: I continue to be impressed with Avon shower gels. They lather up delightfully and leave my skin feeling clean and fresh, not dry. The scents are mild, and this one had a nice tropical feel, which is a great escape this time of year! Plus, they really conveniently hang upside down so you can get every last drop out of the bottle.

Osmia Organics Spot Treatment: We’ve seen this one before, the holy grail of blemish treatments. This gets used all the time in my household. It clears up blemishes pretty much overnight. I’ll be repurchasing ASAP.

Suave Professionals Volumizing Shampoo: This was the last bottle of shampoo in my stockpile. I had forgotten how high-quality Suave Professionals shampoos are. I had many good hair days thanks to this product. If you’re looking at cutting back your beauty product costs, this is an area I’d suggest you try – Suave Professional shampoos cover a range of hair concerns and really work well.

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleansing Cloths: This product might win the prize for most appearances in an empties post. Part of that is because there are only 25 cloths per package, so they don’t last long. Part of it is because it’s a great product – gentle, effective, and perfect for nights when I’m too tired to wash my face properly.

Ayres Body Butter in Midnight Tango: I loved the packaging and the light orange blossom and vanilla scent, but this body butter was kind of a dud. It had a thick texture but failed to really soften my skin, and it caused body breakouts.

Melaleuca Sun Valley White Amber Jasmine Body Wash: I used up its mate, a body lotion, in November. Like the lotion, I really enjoyed the scent, but this body wash left something to be desired. I didn’t feel overly fresh after using it. I would not repurchase.

Herbal Essences Honey, I’m Strong Strengthening Conditioner: I liked the clean, honey-infused scent of this conditioner, and it was a really good detangler, but I’m not sure how much stronger my hair was after using it. Still, it’s a quality conditioner.

November 2014 Empties

Happy December my friends! November is now behind us and you know what that means, don’t you? I’m officially in the final month of my beauty shopping ban. Hooray! Making the countdown to the end even more exciting is the surprise early Christmas gift that my family presented after our Thanksgiving feast: the Benefit Cosmetics Advent Calendar! Stay tuned for extra special posts about the goodies inside over the next few weeks. Merry Christmas to me!

November was a fairly uneventful month in terms of empties, with several old favorites in the mix. Let’s take a look:
November 2014 Empties
Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleansing Cloths: Okay, I know I’ve written about these several times, but I have to praise them again. As the weather turned wintery here over the past few weeks, my skin has gone a little crazy. That is, until I started using these wipes as my nightly cleanser, followed by my favorite winter moisturizer (Philosophy Miracle Worker). My skin is looking great these days!

Simple Cleansing Facial Wipes: Back in the day these were a favorite face wipe of mine. Now, not so much. I don’t know if it has to do with my age or the season or what, but these made me break out horribly this time around. They didn’t do my husband’s skin any favors, either. Sadly, I will not be purchasing these again.

Melaleuca Sun Valley White Amber Jasmine Body Crème: I found this cream a bit too heavy for all-over use – it clogged the pores on my arms – but it’s a great hand cream and it smells amazing. It reminds me of a slightly more mysterious version of Victoria’s Secret’s Strawberries & Champagne scent.

Korres Guava Body Butter: This body butter can be a little bit oily, but in the super dry winter months it can’t be beat in terms of deeply moisturizing skin, especially hands and elbows.

Osmia Organics Best Lip Balm: My new favorite lip balm. You can read more about it here.

Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel Original Formula: A longtime skincare favorite, and one of my top picks for #skincaresunday. You can read more here.

October 2014 Empties

I worked my way through lots of little samples last month, nearing the end of some of my beauty stashes! I actually used the last conditioner that I had when I started the ban almost a year ago, which means I was able to buy a bottle of new conditioner! I’m on my final bottle of shampoo as well, and I continue to work my way through body lotions. Happily, I found some real winners last month:
October 2014 Empties
Vaseline Total Moisture Clean Feeling Lotion: I’ve been a fan of Vaseline lotions over the years – they typically absorb quickly and leave skin soft and smooth. This lotion did that, but with side of clogged pores! Not a fan of body breakouts; I will not be repurchasing this one.

Fekkai Glossing Shampoo: Fekkai Glossing Cream was my first hair product love, and this shampoo is just as good! Not only did it leave my hair soft and shiny, it also gave it a good amount of bounce! As a devoted volumizing shampoo fan, I found this quite impressive for a shine enhancing shampoo.

Fekkai Glossing Conditioner: Like its counterpart, I found this conditioner delightful. Soft, shiny, not-weighed-down hair in a bottle.

Johnson’s Baby Shampoo: I’m not sure how this made its way into my stash, but I used it up. I like the scent – it smells like apples to me – and it cleaned my hair, but I didn’t feel like it did anything to clean my scalp. I’ll leave this one to the babies.

The Naked Bee Moisturizing Hand & Body Lotion: This 70% organic lotion is a surprising treat. The lotion is not very thick but it worked miracles on my cuticles. It’s a nice, gentle lotion, but those sensitive to scents beware – the orange blossom scent is quite strong.

L’Occitane Amande Shower Oil: I can’t tell you how long this little bottle sat in my shower before I decided to give it a try, but I instantly wished I had done so sooner. The rich almond scent and silky lather make it a joy to use and it left my skin feeling clean and soft. Winner!

Maybelline Dream Fresh BB: This is not a new product for me, and it did not let me down. It’s so easy to use, adding polish and smoothing skin in one quick step. I maintain that this is the best BB cream value on the market.

Alterna Bamboo Volume Abundant Volume Shampoo: This shampoo has kind of a sexy, masculine scent, and it adds nice volume.

Alterna Bamboo Volume Abundant Volume Conditioner
: It shares the sexy scent of its shampoo sister, but it wasn’t as moisturizing as I like my conditioner to be and it didn’t do much to add shine.

Shu Uemura Cleansing Oil Shampoo: This may have been my favorite find of the month. I’m always skeptical of oils – they can either add silky shine or a pile of grease. This shampoo fell in the first category. Not only did it leave my hair feeling super clean and unbelievably soft and healthy, it also cleansed and moisturized my scalp without adding grease – a major find as we head into the dry winter months!

Dove Deep Moisture Nourishing Body Wash: A solid body wash – you can read my review and experience with the #oneshowerchallenge here.