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.

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April 2014 Empties

I know it’s a bit early in the month for an empties post, but considering the pace at which I’ve been using up products these past few weeks, it just makes sense. This month I’m saying goodbye to a couple of old standbys and discovering some new favorites:
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Aussie Moist 3 Minute Miracle: Even if you’ve never read this blog you’ve probably heard of this drugstore dynamo. It is hands down the best conditioner I have ever used. It’s ultra nourishing, leaves hair shiny and detangled but never greasy or limp, smells great and has a drugstore price tag.

Caldrea Coconut Fig Leaf Body Lotion: A nice lightweight body lotion that absorbs quickly and with absolutely no stickiness. I recommend this lotion for warmer weather as it isn’t very heavy and leaves skin feeling smooth and soft, even on humid days.

Clinique All About Eyes Rich: This has been my go-to eye cream and I’ve recommended it to many friends and family members who are now devoted fans as well. The cream improves just about any eye issue you might be trying to fix – puffiness, dark circles, wrinkles, you name it.

???????????????????????????????Thymes Lavender Body Lotion: I slathered this deliciously scented body lotion on my hands and arms before bed. Not only did I sleep like a baby every night I did this, but I awoke with soft skin and a light lavender scent still lingering on my arms and pillow. A definite winner – adding to the “must buy” list!

Bath & Body Works Coconut Lime Verbena Volumizing Shampoo: My only complaint about this shampoo was that I wish I had a bigger bottle! It has an exotic scent that brightened my whole day, cleaned both hair and scalp exceptionally well, and left my hair so soft and light that I couldn’t stop touching it all day.

Bath & Body Works Coconut Lime Verbena Volumizing Conditioner: A decent conditioner, it shares the delightful scent of its shampoo sister and worked wonderfully as a stand-in shaving cream.

Osmia Organics Spot Treatment: This organic blemish fighter is my skincare secret weapon and I am very sad to see it go. It is made up of a blend of oils that zap blemishes, pimples and random skin bumps in a matter of days, sometimes hours. If you have any lingering spots that you can’t seem to shake, buy this now. You won’t regret it!

Blemish Blasters

Over the past few months, something unpleasant has happened to me. You see, for as long as I can remember, I’ve had pretty great skin. Sure, I’d get the occasional teenage breakout, the random hormonal pimple, but by and large I had clear, even-toned skin. I could even get lazy and not wash my face for a few nights without many consequences. But since my last birthday, I’ve been battling breakouts that I’ve never had to contend with before. Tiny little bumps showed up on my forehead; blemishes and pimples dotted my cheeks and chin.

Naturally, being a beauty blogger and wanting my pretty skin back, I’ve been testing and trying every possible solution I can get my hands on: face washes, face masks, moisturizers, serums. And I am very happy to report that I have stumbled upon a skincare regimen that has eradicated the bumps and demolished the blemishes. I may no longer be able to skip a nightly cleansing, but at least I’ve got my face back.

The products:

Murad Energizing Pomegranate Cleanser is great for cleansing combination skin.

Murad Energizing Pomegranate Cleanser is great for cleansing combination skin.


Murad Energizing Pomegranate Cleanser: This foamy face wash cleanses and tones skin and is ideal for gals with combination skin, because it isn’t overly drying. Simply washing with this cleanser noticeably reduced my forehead bumps almost instantly. Tip: I find I get a better result when I use two pumps of the cleanser rather than just one.
Osmia Organics Spot Treatment is made with eight different organic oils and zaps zits almost overnight.

Osmia Organics Spot Treatment is made with eight different organic oils and zaps zits almost overnight.


Osmia Organics Spot Treatment: I credit this tiny little power player with the most drastic improvement in my skin. Made from eight different organic oils, including lavender, lemon and evening primrose, it erases blemishes and zaps zits basically overnight. I dab it on all my trouble spots before bed – I’ve used it nightly since it arrived at my house. After my second use the size and redness of my blemishes were both drastically reduced. After one week my skin was virtually blemish-free! I still use it nightly on any new little spots that pop up, and as a preventative measure on my forehead. So far, so good!
Clean & Clear Dual Action Moisturizer keeps oil at bay and helps minimize pores.

Clean & Clear Dual Action Moisturizer keeps oil at bay and helps minimize pores.


Clean & Clear Dual Action Moisturizer: This is an old favorite that I’ve blogged about before. I returned to it recently when I realized that all of my nighttime moisturizers were too thick and heavy for my new, oiler complexion, especially now that summer has arrived. This is such a great summertime moisturizer – it provides nice light moisture, but it’s oil-free and contains salicylic acid which helps keep oil at bay and treat pimples. Another bonus: since switching to this my pores are basically invisible.