September 2015 Empties

I can’t believe we’re already more than a week into October! You’ll have to forgive me for being a bit behind with reviewing last month’s empties – between a road trip to visit some good friends in their new home, several nights out to celebrate various happy occasions with friends, and a jam-packed work schedule, I’ve had a very busy couple of weeks! Luckily, the long hours and short weekends have not kept me from testing and finishing up a whole bunch of things. Let’s take a look at September’s empties:
September 2015 empties
Dickinson’s Original Witch Hazel Refreshingly Clean Cleansing Cloths: These gentle daily cleansing cloths are formulated to remove makeup and oil without over-drying or irritating sensitive skin. They combine the natural toning properties of witch hazel with soothing aloe, a blend the package says gives the cloths their “signature botanical scent.” Here is what I have to say about these face wipes: they are very effective at removing makeup and oil, and when I used them they kept my skin quite clear and even. However, I found that signature scent to be almost stomach-turning. The scent was so strong and so unpleasant that it took me months to finish up this pack of 25 cleansing cloths. I would not recommend them to anyone who is the least bit sensitive to strong smells.

Boscia Pore Purifying Black Strips: As with Boscia’s classic black mask (and pretty much every other Boscia product I’ve tested), I was very excited to give this pore strip a try. As a person whose past experiences with drugstore pore strips have been quite painful and ineffective, I was cautiously optimistic that this one would work for me. Happily, it did! I decided to test this strip one afternoon after noticing that my pores looked unusually large and grimy. Not only did this strip remove the grime and make my pores instantly less prominent, I was actually able to peel the strip from my face without crying or taking any skin with it. This is definitely the Cadillac of pore strips.

Malin + Goetz Geranium Body Wash: I’ve sampled a couple of Malin + Goetz products over the years, and I’ve really liked all of them. This body wash was no different. Though I don’t typically love floral scents, this one was mild and left a pleasant fragrance on my skin that lasted through most of the day. It also made my skin insanely soft, even without lotion. I think this would make a great gift.

Maybelline Dream Fresh BB: I’ve written about this so many times, there’s not much left to say! I finally used up my summer BB cream, and not a moment too soon; my tan has definitely abandoned me, making this beauty balm just a touch too dark for my complexion. Other than that, it’s an all-around great BB cream that provides moisture and nice light coverage for a super reasonable price.

Colgate MaxFresh with Whitening Flouride Toothpaste: A pretty basic toothpaste. I can’t say I noticed a difference in whiteness, but it did a great job of keeping my mouth feeling fresh.

Philosophy Purity Made Simple: This facial cleanser is an old favorite for good reason – it’s gentle, effective, and even smells pure and simple. I often turn to it when another product has caused irritation or the changing seasons has turned my skin into a red blotchy mess. It’s always a safe bet.

Benefit They’re Real! Remover: This waterproof eye makeup remover has a unique creamy gel formula that is designed to prevent pulling or tugging of the delicate skin around the eyes. I have to confess, I was completely caught off guard by the odd texture. It was goopy and unpleasant, and I got a ton of it in my eyes. This makeup remover is formulated to be safe for sensitive eyes and contact lens wearers, and I’ll admit that my highly sensitive eyes did not sting or burn after using it. Still, it felt gross. And with all the wonderfully effective eye makeup removers out there (like this one from MAKE), I don’t see a reason to use one that feels this bad.

Amika Perk Up Dry Shampoo: I wrote about this a little while back after receiving it in a Birchbox. It’s a nice, fresh-smelling dry shampoo that’s great for giving second day hair a little oomph. That oomph doesn’t last very long, but it’s really clean and natural looking while it lasts. A great product to throw in your purse for on-the-go touchups.

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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.

July 2014 Empties

Another month has come and gone, and other than last week’s Baby Lips slip, I’m chugging right along with my shopping ban. My shower is starting to look rather empty, which is not something I’ve been able to say in a long, long time. Here’s what I used up during the month of July:
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Oscar Blandi Balsamo di Jasmine Smoothing Conditioner: If you like the smell of jasmine, which I definitely do, there are few conditioners on earth that smell as amazing as this one. It also leaves hair shiny and soft, and really helps keep frizz at bay. My husband also really liked using it as a shaving cream – it’s apparently very easy on the skin!

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleansing Cloths: Since I just wrote about these, I won’t go into much detail here. Suffice it to say that they work well and did not last long!

Clarins Water Purify One-Step Cleanser: This is another quick and easy cleanser – just pour some on a cotton pad and swipe it across your face. I’ve returned to this refreshing waterless cleanser again and again over the years. It can be a little drying, so I’d recommend it to those with oily skin, or as a summertime cleanser for those with normal or combination skin.

Herbal Essences Hello Hydration Moisturizing Conditioner: This is a decent conditioner that smells like vacation. I often use this conditioner as a shaving cream.

Maybelline Dream Fresh BB: I’ve written about this BB cream before. It’s my spring/summer favorite. It contains SPF 30, covers blemishes and withstands high heat and humidity. The tint is not quite light enough for my basically translucent skin during the winter months, which is the only reason I don’t use it year-round!

Dr. Lipp Original Nipple Balm for Lips: This teeny .1 ounce tube of balm was my surprise favorite this month. This itty bitty tube lasted me months of daily use. Not only that, but a tiny dab on my lips every night kept my lips soft and supple. I’ve found that other thick lip balms can make the skin around my mouth break out, but that hasn’t been a problem at all with this one. A new favorite, for sure!

Summer 2013 Beauty Essentials

I was lucky enough to have a long holiday weekend to celebrate Independence Day, and I could not have asked for more perfect weather. Filled with sun-filled days at the lake, evenings out with family and friends, and plenty of lazing/reading/napping, my mini-vacation marked my unofficial kickoff to the summer season.

I like to keep my summertime beauty routine fairly light and fresh – there’s nothing worse than a face full of makeup melting down your chin – but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to look polished. Here are three key products that took me from the beach to the bar – and probably will all season.

Neutrogena Ultimate Sport Sunblock Lotion SPF 30: My fiance and I tested three different sunscreens over the weekend, and this was the winner, no contest. It’s sweat-proof, waterproof and pleasantly moisturizing, without being greasy. While the other sport block we tested faded after just a couple of hours, resulting in slightly singed shoulders, this one stayed put through two dips in the lake and lasted all day. This is my number one summer must-have product this year – no sunburns allowed!

Maybelline Dream Fresh BB: I’ve blogged about this BB cream before, but it’s back in my summer lineup, and with good reason. Not only does it pack an SPF of 30 (see above – no sunburns!), it also takes the place of my morning moisturizer and concealer, all while providing more coverage than my standard tinted moisturizer. It’s ultra lightweight, and on super hot days it’s pretty much the only makeup I apply. Other than lip color, of course. Which brings me to:

Fresh Sugar Coral Tinted Lip Treatment: Unless you live under a rock you probably know or have heard about how amazing Fresh Sugar lip balms are. Silky smooth and oh-so-good for your lips, these balms have a cult following for a reason. I’ve long been a fan of the original and rose versions of the Sugar balms, but this summer I’m reaching for Coral – it’s a wonderfully smooth, highly pigmented red-orange lip tint, and it looks great with my now slightly less corpse-like summer complexion. For dinner with friends on a sweltering Friday night I swept my hair back in a messy ponytail, smoothed my skin with the above-mentioned BB cream, swiped on the tiniest bit of waterproof liner (upper outer lashes only) and mascara, and finished the look with this cheery pop of color. The result? I felt totally glamorous with almost no makeup on, and even in the humid heat it didn’t budge. And did I mention that the Sugar balm comes with SPF 15?

Those are my beauty must-haves this season – what are yours?

Nobody Puts BB in the Corner

ImageIt’s no secret that BB creams have recently taken the beauty world by storm. A long-standing favorite of makeup lovers in Asia, these do-it-all creams have swept through the western world, leaving prettier, glowier skin in their wake. 

So, what’s all the fuss about? More than a tinted moisturizer and not quite a foundation, these tinted creams also contain SPF, brighten skin, provide anti-aging benefits and hydrate, all while blurring imperfections – all in one step.

Sounds great, right? So where do you begin? These days it seems that every company has a version of their own. Luckily for you, I’ve been testing several BBs over the past few months. Here are the ones I’d recommend:

First Place: Maybelline Dream Fresh BB  – Not only did this cream get top marks for hydration, coverage and staying power, it also comes in a variety of shades and costs less than $10. Winner!

Second Place: Boscia BB Creams – I tried their original formula and their self-adjusting version. Unfortunately, they were both too dark for my fair complexion. However, these provided the smoothest, best-looking coverage of all the creams. Perfect for girls with a medium skin tone!

Third Place: Clinique Age Defense BB – This cream is the only one that came in a light enough shade to perfectly match my skin, and its coverage was great, but I found the formula quite drying. If you have oily skin, this could be the BB for you.

Honorable Mention: Dr. Jart BB Creams – I tried a couple versions of these BBs – both solid creams. I found the coverage to be extremely sheer, but the hydration and SPF levels are great.