October/November 2015 Empties

Happy holiday season beauties! It’s been a while since I’ve been able to write a real post; I’ve been having some serious technical difficulties but they appear to finally be resolved! Since I was unable to share my empties at the end of last month, I’m combining October and November into one:
Empties
Suave Naturals Almond Verbena 2 in 1 Shampoo & Conditioner: I am obsessed with this shampoo. It’s responsible for every good hair day I had during the past two months! It was conditioning enough to be fine on its own without ever making my strands look or feel greasy. It made my hair feel light and clean and smelled lovely. I’ll definitely be buying this again.

Tocca Giulietta Nourishing Body Scrub: The fine grain of this exfoliator was gentle and left my skin feeling exceptionally soft and smooth, but I wasn’t crazy about the scent. I expected to love the pink tulip/green apple combination, but it was overly floral. I’d be interested in trying the other scents.

Suave Naturals Tropical Coconut Conditioner: A remnant from my summer beauty favorites, this is a decent conditioner that smells great and makes a wonderful shave cream.

Dior Diorshow Extase Mascara: From the gold tube to the thick, dark lashes it leaves in its wake, everything about this mascara is glam. It doesn’t flake off but it will rub off it you forget you’re wearing it. One of my favorite mascaras.

Vaseline Intensive Care Spray Moisturizer in Aloe Soothe: I wrote about this over the summer and I still love it. This is an excellent pick for anyone who is too lazy to take the time to put lotion on (I’m looking at you, Mom). The aloe version was great for summer, but it also comes in other varieties that would be perfect for cooler months!

Osmia Organics Lavender Shea Soap: This smooth bar of soap lasted months! It left my skin clean and never dry. My only complaint is that I wanted more lavender! The scent faded long before the soap was gone.

Naobay Oxygenating Cream Moisturizing: This organic moisturizer had a light texture and was surprisingly moisturizing. When the weather started to turn cool and dry, I started layering this under a tinted moisturizer for an extra boost. I’d recommend it as a gentle, effective moisturizer.

EOS Hand Cream: I didn’t love the scent but this weird, flat little tube holds a really nice little lotion! I used it as an all over body cream while traveling and it worked perfectly. This would make a great stocking stuffer.

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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!

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.

All I Want For Christmas…

???????????????????????????????Since I’ve just spent the better part of my day wrapping presents and decorating our Christmas tree with my husband, I’m pretty much full-on in the holiday spirit. And now that we are less than three weeks out from the big holiday, I thought I’d share my holiday wish list as a sort of holiday gift guide for all the beauty fiends on your list. A word of caution – you’ll probably want to pick a few of these items up for yourself, as well!

1. Birchbox Subscription: This is the number one beauty gift on my list because, as a former Birchbox subscriber, I know how much I loved it! In case you have not yet heard of (or subscribed to) Birchbox, this beauty subscription service delivers a box of personalized deluxe beauty samples to your house for $10 per month. Sometimes the samples are a small – think a packet or two of shampoo – but more often than not there’s a full sized nail polish or lipstick in your collection, and I’ve found many new favorites through this service. 3, 6 and 12 month gift subscriptions are available.

2. Fresh Sugar Ruby Romance Gift Set: This is the perfect gift for the gloss and balm lover in your life. Fresh Sugar lip balms are the best of the best, and I’m loving the ruby red shade for winter. Also, I’m dying to try that gloss.

3. Bliss Triple Oxygen Facial in a Box: Who doesn’t love a good spa day? The idea of being able to give yourself a Bliss Spa-quality facial in the comfort of your own bathroom is so tempting, and with a $12 price tag, how can you pass it up?

4. Osmia Organics Honey-Myrrh Lip Repair: For all the green beauties on your list, what could be better than the gift of all-natural lip balm in beautiful packaging? I love Osmia Organics products, and if this jar of balm is as effective as their Best Lip Balm, I need it in my life.

5. Osmia Organics Lavender Shea Soap: I really love a good, smooth bar of soap, and lavender is my favorite scent. Plus, Osmia soaps are so beautiful, you basically don’t even need to wrap them.

6. The Ciate Daily: A set of seven killer nail polishes in an adorable newspaper-inspired makeup bag? You bet this makes my list!

7. Victoria’s Secret VS Stripe Train Case: I really love train cases for stashing makeup, and I’ve always been a sucker for the pink and white stripes. Why not get the girlie girl on you list one of these? Better yet, why not fill it with the other goodies on this list and really make her Christmas?

What are you hoping to find under the tree this year?

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.

Beauty Quickie: Best Balm

Who: Osmia Organics
What: Best Lip Balm
When: My lips are cracked or extra dry
Where: In my bed
Why: This natural lip balm – containing shea butter, pumpkin seed oil, lanolin and beeswax – goes on so light and smooth that you almost don’t even notice it’s there. But swipe it onto dry, cracked lips before bed and come morning cracks will be repaired and your silky smooth kiss will be restored. The best part? It doesn’t bother the sensitive, breakout-prone skin around my mouth. This balm will be a trusted friend in the winter months ahead!