December monthly beauty empties – skincare, makeup & haircare

I wanted to continue with empties posts as one of my goals for 2019 is to buy less, so that I am buying with intention and will use mostly only the products I love. I also decluttered my relatively small makeup collection and donated a few new meh type of makeup products to the Beauty Bus Foundation. The new Mari Kondo Netflix show is on my list to help live a life that’s more fulfilling and less crowded.

Here are the monthly empties.

I used these travel size products on my trip.

  • Shisedo urban sunscreen SPF40 for Face & Body: I don’t love it because of the somewhat chemical scent. The other Shisedo sunscreen SPF42 that comes in a bottle for the face is great though.
  • Dior Show mascara: it’s volumizing but can be clumpy if you are not careful.
  • Clinique eye lip makeup remover: It’s effective and non-irritating to the eyes. Will consider repurchasing. 
  • Caudalie creme sorbet: I used to love it for summer time but I think I’ve outgrown it. It’s just okay.
  • Malin + Gomez Grapefruit Cleanser: a very gentle gel cleanser for the morning. I am not a fan of the somewhat artificial grapefruit scent despite the brand’s claim to use mostly natural ingredients. Will not be repurchasing.
  • SKII RNA eye cream: it’s moisturizing but not revolutionary.
  • Kiehl’s midnight recovery eye cream: I don’t like the Kiehl’s midnight recovery serum/oil but I’m surprised that I really like the eye cream. It’s extremely moisturizing but at the same time gets absorbed easily and quickly around the eyes. Will consider repurchasing.


  • 3 hair products: I won’t be repurchasing any of these though. The Loreal Ever Strong Shampoo is a let down as I thought it will be something that can help with texture and volume, but it didn’t and it might have caused some itchiness with my scalp.
  • First aid beauty radiance pads are not a favorite either. They are a bit irritating while not effective.
  • Paula’s choice 2% AHA lotion is very strong and might make your skin flake if you use it consistently for a few days, but it’s effective at treating breakouts.
  • The Charlotte Tilbury magic cream sample is moisturizing but nothing amazing.
  • I’m still on the fence with the Hourglass mineral primer. As an expensive cult favorite primer, I like it but I don’t know if I love it.
  • The ordinary caffeine eye serum is my favorite Ordinary item as it’s effective at treating puffiness with my upper eyelids in the morning.
  • Supergoop lip balm with SPF is nice and I’ve already repurchased it.
  • The Biossance Squalane + Probiotic Gel Moisturizer is a delightful surprise. I loved how lightweight yet hydrating the cream feels and its clean ingredients are a plus. I will consider repurchasing it and use it as a day cream.
  • Shisedo ultimune power infusing concentrate serum is a staple in my collection and I have one more back-up bottle in my collection. It’s nothing magical but a pleasant lightweight serum that wears nicely under any cream and makeup during the day. I also like its light green tea scent. I probably will always keep one bottle in my collection if I don’t know what to use during the day.
  • Lamer regenerating serum has a nice texture but I didn’t see dramatic results from the small sample so not sure yet how I feel about it.


Two more hair products that are both from the brand Not Your Mother’s.

I have another 1 or 2 bottles of the Not Your Mother’s blow dry accelerator. They are effective and I will continue repurchasing it but also wanted to try some new alternatives. The Dove blow dry spray I’m trying out now leaves traces in my hair and I don’t like it.

The Not Your Mother’s dry shampoo is only effective for maybe a few hours and then the hair will fall flat and I am getting rid of it after trying to make it work for a few weeks.

The vanilla shower oil is nice but I won’t be loyal to this brand. It’s the first shower oil I tried though and I will repurchase more shower oil for cold weather as it is more hydrating than a regular body wash gel.

I also included some new opens of makeup and skincare.

  • The Charlotte Tilbury pillowtalk lipstick color is a bit too light for me.
  • The Benefit Porefessional primer is still an old reliable goodie.
  • The micro brow pencil rekindles my love for these type of brow products and I’ve purchased a few Ulta ones and a few from Sephora and Anastasia. They are better at shaping my brows than a brow definer type of thicker pencils.
  • I also opened a lighter shade of the Too Faced peach perfect matte foundation. It’s a great matte oil control type of foundation for combination to oil skin. I will consider repurchasing it but I’m not close in using up even the first tube as I don’t apply a thick layer of foundation.
  • Tatcha one-step cleansing oil is an old favorite and I’m rediscovering it and falling in love with it again. It’s not too thick but also potent enough to remove all makeup while not leaving a film on the skin. I will consider repurchasing it. 
  • I’ve also opened the Tatcha mist but the pretty packaging is the main draw for me.
  • I’ve also opened a Paula’s Choice Niacinamide booster. It’s like a water/lotion and you can add it to your moisturizer but I just apply it directly to my face. Not yet sure how I feel about it.
  • Sarah Chapman Overnight Facial is a holy grail oil. It contains vitamin A so is anti-aging and my face is glowy the next morning whenever I use it at night. I will repurchase it for cold weather.
  • Origins check & balances cleanser & the Estee Lauder foam cleanser are similar in terms of how they leave your skin feel clean & non-drying afterwards, and are great second-cleanse night cleanser to use with Foreo. I will consider repurchasing these but I’m leaning towards the Estee Lauder one.
  • Timeless Q10 serum is just okay. I’ve only used this and the CEF serum from Timeless and the CEF one is much more effective.
  • Tata Harper resurfacing mask is another staple in my collection as it’s a quick 10-minute morning wash-off mask and will leave your skin radiant for the entire day. At the moment, I’m alternating between this and the REN radiance renewal mask which also has a similar result on the skin.
  • Fresh Black Tea cream is just okay. I’m interested in trying out the Black Tea mask though.
  • The No.7 serum feels a bit too heavy on my skin and the Palladio concealer came dry and unusable.

Beauty Empties – Skincare, Makeup & Hair products

Bobbi Brown eye lip makeup remover

Bobbi Brown eye lip makeup remover

I forgot how amazing this eye lip makeup remover is until I rediscovered it recently. It dissolves waterproof mascara, eyeliner and eyeshadows quickly and easily without irritating the eyes (I have sensitive eyes).

Will I repurchase? Yes!


Urban Decay Allnighter Makeup Setting Spray

My 5th or 6th bottle. Best long lasting makeup setting spray I’ve tried.

Will I repurchase? Yes! I have 2 back-ups although I just opened a Morphe setting spray to try it out.

Sunday Riley Good Genes

Skincare misc. empties

  • Sunday Riley Good Genes: visible results to improve my skin texture.

Will I repurchase? Yes! I already used up 2 full size bottles and have purchased two back-ups.

  • Caudalie vinopure skin perfecting serum: helps improve skin texture but flakes under makeup so can only be used at night.

Will I repurchase? Maybe.

  • Clinique moisture surge hydrating supercharge concentrate: very hydrating but flakes under makeup so can only be used at night.

Will I repurchase? Unlikely as I don’t need a product that can only provide hydration.

  • Origins Megamushroom lotion: I don’t think it did much to my skin despite the fact that I heard it helped with some people’s acne-prone skin.

Will I repurchase? Unlikely. I don’t like spending money on products that don’t have visible results on my skin.

  • Exuviance peel pads: feels rough on the skin.

Will I repurchase? No.


Psssst! Dry Shampoo

Will I repurchase? No. It doesn’t do much to help with excessive oil. I am tired of using it so throwing it away after 2-3 months,


Tom’s Deodorant & Elf lip makeup remover

I should have got rid of Tom’s deodorant a long time ago as it is not effective. I don’t sweat much but still found this product to be just meh. I don’t think it works for people who are prone to sweat and smell.

Elf lip makeup remover is okay. I don’t think it removes lip stains or long lasting liquid lipsticks but it’s not a bad experience using it. I used it up just for the sake of using it up.

Will I repurchase? No to both.

100 empties part 2 – travel skincare & makeup empties 

I think I’m probably the last person on earth to know that the 100 ml restriction with travel liquid is applicable to a SINGLE item, not the total volume of all one’s items. For the longest time, I only dared bringing foil packet samples when I travel as I just couldn’t get everything adding up to below 100 ml!….

This is the first international trip I had after I learned about the actual truth with travel liquid and I was beyond excited to bring so many travel size products. I wanted to share with you what I brought on my trip and my reviews on these.

This is also my part 2 of 100 empties post series. I am on low/no buy of beauty products until I hit 100 empties. For travel size products, 3-5 count as 1 depending on size. I’ve used up 3 more items. Total as of 8/19: 8 done, 92 to go!


  • Bareminerals vital power infusion

I was pleasantly surprised by this serum as BareMinerals has only recently launched its skincare line. This serum comes out very watery and lightweight. But somehow it provides intense hydration that you can feel immediately upon application. I used it at night after the Shiseido serum below and I don’t need to use a cream afterwards.

Repurchase? Not in the near future as this is probably better suited in colder weather for my combination skin.

  • Shiseido power infusion concentrate

I’ve heard a lot of good reviews on this concentrate and I was very impressed. This is an extremely lightweight concentrate that is recommended to use prior to other treatment as more of a base serum. It gets instantly absorbed into the skin that I tend to overuse it a lot! It has a pleasant GreenTea like refreshing smell that I miss after using mostly scent free skincare products. It helped keep my sometime problematic skin at bay.

Repurchase? Yes! I will definitely be buying the full size bottle. It’s good to use as the only serum in the morning and layer with other serums at night for my combination skin.


  • Peter Thomas Roth anti-aging gel cleanser


Let’s forget about the anti-aging claim. I don’t buy it for a second that any cleanser that stays on your skin for the shortest amount of time can help with your aging concern (beauty brands can we just not try that gimmicky name again?). However, ingredients do matter so you don’t irritate your skin and the cleansing experience matters as well as it’s the first and probably one of the most enjoyable steps in one’s skincare routine. This cleanser has good ingredients, a very pleasant non-overwhelming fruity smell, is of medium weight and turns into liquid nicely upon mixing with water, so it sort of hits all the good points with a cleanser. However, I find it just a tiny bit too thick for my combination skin in summer time. I think those with normal to dry skin will like it a lot.

Repurchase? No. It’s a good product but just not the best for my skin type.


  • The Body Shop almond milk & honey shower cream


I bought this during my trip and I don’t like it. If you read my reviews above and think that I just have a low bar for scent as I like both the scent of the Shiseido serum and the PTR cleanser, you’re wrong. This scent seems to be popular judging from people’s reviews. However, this is too sweet and overwhelming for my taste. It almost feels artificial to me. As a shower cream, it’s hydrating enough, but I also don’t feel as if it helps clean my body thoroughly.

Repurchase? No and I don’t think I will buy any Body Shop shower products based on this experience.


  • Supergoop lip balm with SPF 35
  • Akar lip tint

I used the Supergoop lip balm during the day as it has SPF (yes your lips need SPF too) and the Akar lip tint at night. I like both. The Supergoop lip balm has a sunscreen like note of scent, which is sort of inevitable if you want the protection. It is a thicker gel, so it provides a decent level of hydration while it wears nicely under a liquid lipstick.

The Akar lip tint has a nice fruity scent and is insanely hydrating that lasts a few hours on your lips. It also adds a subtle healthy tint to your lips.

Repurchase? They are both good products but I don’t think I will buy any new lip products before I use up my current stash of products.


  • Olay pro retinol eye treatment


Based on my recent experience, Olay has quickly become probably the only drugstore skincare brands that doesn’t disappoint. I’ve used so many eye products including those with hefty price tags. While I still love and use these in my collection, I was very happy with adding this Olay eye cream to my morning skincare routine. This is not too heavy and layers nicely with eye makeup, and does help with treating dry, fine lines under the eyes.

Repurchase? Maybe in the future. I still need to go through my other eye creams first.


  • Nars creamy concealer in Vanilla

This is the travel size tube and I was surprised how dry this has become as I probably opened this about 5 months ago. I guess that means the shelf life of this concealer is only around 6 months as I used to like it when I first tried it.

Repurchase? No. I have other concealers and if I have to try another one from Nars, it will be the round jar matte one that everyone was raving about.


  • Shiseido urban environment sun protection cream SPF 40 for face & body

Shiseido is one of my favorites brands and it makes reliable sunscreens. This one is relatively new and is not my favorite sunsccreens from the brand. It has an overwhleming typical sunscreen scent and it will leave a white cast over your face. I use this on my arms and it offers solid sun protection.

Repurchase? No.

  • Coola classic sunscreen white tea moisturizer SPF 50

Unlike the Shiseido sunscreen, this one has a much nicer scent and feels light weight and non-greasy on the face despite its claim of SPF 50. It leaves a quite unnoticeable white cast over the face, and is one of the better sunscreens I’ve tried this year. The coola brand also uses organic ingredients that are mostly extracted from plants, which is another plus.

Repurchase? Not in the near future as I have a lot of suncreens to go through in my collection and I also have found a holy grail sunscreen from Elta MD that I plan to repurchase again and again 🙂

Thanks for stopping by! Let me know what’s your favorite beauty item you usually bring with you when you travel.

2017 First Serum Review: Drunk Elephant Glycolic Night Serum vs. Sunday Riley Good Genes

These 2 serums I’m reviewing today were among the most popular skincare items in 2016, and they are the Drunk Elephant glycolic night serum & Sunday Riley Good Genes. Now that I’ve used up both, I do have a favorite and some thoughts around their performance.

P.S. I try to post mini product reviews on Instagram and here is my Instagram ID: skincarejunkie_03 

My skin type: acne-prone combination skin. A bit sensitive from time to time.

Skin concerns: acne, pores, skin texture

I already got rid of the Good Genes bottle but it was included in my older empties posts. I’ve just used up the Drunk Elephant glycolic night serum recently so here is how it looks like in case you are interested.

How did they perform on my skin and which one did I like better?

  • Ingredients & improvement to my skin texture: Both use acids (different choices) as one of the main ingredients and that’s why they are considered “treatment serums” rather than regular hydrating serums. Both are effective on me with gradual and noticeable improvements to my pores and skin texture. No loser, win-win.
  • Keep my acne-prone skin at bay: the Drunk Elephant night serum works better. The Good Genes is great when used together with Sunday Riley Luna oil but is not as miraculous when used on its own.
  • Application: I used Good Genes before Luna oil, opposite to the application order suggested by Sunday Riley and I like it better so I don’t have to wait till Luna is all absorbed before adding Good Genes. I usually use about 2 pumps each time on my face and neck. It stung me a little bit from time to time.

With Drunk Elephant, I’ve found that 1 pump works best. Anything more than that might either irritate or dry out my skin. I think they are on par in terms of application ease & feel.

  • Packaging: both bottles use pumps, which is  the recommended packaging for skincare ingredients that might lose their vibrancy when exposed to air or light. The Good Genes bottle is heavier and looks more luxury but I like the witty twist-up simple packaging from Drunk Elephant. Both are decent but I like Drunk Elephant a tiny bit better for my personal taste. No complaint here.
  • Scent: ugh I hate to be mean but Good Genes smells awful and I don’t even have a sensitive nose. It’s almost unbearable when I first applied it but it doesn’t linger on you luckily. The Drunk Elephant serum is scentless to me and I prefer that. Clear winner: Drunk Elephant!
  • Price: the Drunk Elephant night serum retails at $90 for 1 oz and Good Genes retails at $105 for 1 oz. Not only is Drunk Elephant more affordable but I also feel I need to buy Sunday Riley Luna oil together with Good Genes to maximize the results (based on my experience) so Drunk Elephant wins in this category.

Based on the above, Drunk Elephant is a better choice for my skin and preferences. Let me know in comments what you think if you’ve tried either one or both or have any additional thoughts!

February empties -skincare, food, foundation etc.

As usual, I will share with you my thoughts on most of the empties and whether I will repurchase them or not.

  • Garnier micellar water

It’s great! The Koh Gen Do cleansing water is my favorite in the category as it’s  very effective at taking off makeup yet feeling extreme lightweight. With the Garnier one, sometimes it leaves a very thin layer of film on my face. But it does a good job of taking off all my face makeup and the price is unbeatable.

Repurchase? Already have.

  • Derma E firming cleanser 

It’s a gel cleanser that feels cooling on the face. I didn’t expect the cleanser to have any firming effect to begin with so this didn’t fail me.

Repurchase? Maybe in the summer

  • Yogi detox tea really works to help cleanse your digestion system.

Repurchase? Already have.

  • Hair, skin & nails gummies

Repurchase? Probably no although I will continue to take the vitamin pills.

  • Lancôme TIU 24 hour foundation 

This is my 2nd empty bottle. This is a medium to full coverage foundation with a matte finish. I like it better in hot weather when my skin feels more oily and needs foundation with great lasting power. It’s a bit dry in the winter as I’ve discovered lately. It probably will remain on my staple foundation list for a while. 

Repurchase? Not now, but probably in the summer.

  • After using up the Lancome foundation, I’ve opened the most expensive foundation I own and I hate to say that I really like it. It’s the silky cream foundation from a high-end/luxury Japanese brand Cle De Peau Beaute that’s sold in Saks, Neiman Marcus, etc. It’s a $120 tube (yikes).

This is also a medium to full coverage foundation with super long lasting power. It doesn’t look dry or cakey and stays put on my face for 12+ hours when used with a primer and powder. The incredible feature that sets it apart from other high-end foundations is that it somehow makes your makeup look even better and more natural after your T zone starts to get a bit oily. As its name suggests, it has a “cream-like” smoothing effect and holds everything together even with the excessive oil on the face. I actually like how my makeup looks in the afternoon more than the initial look, which almost never happens with my other foundations.

I like and use a lot of affordable makeup products, and this is probably the biggest indulgence I reward myself with 🙂

  • If you’ve read my previous empties, you know I’m a big fan of Blue Diamond almonds and I’ve finished 2 cans. They are nutritious and tasty!

Repurchase? Yes!

  • The box below the almond cans is a variety chocolate box from the high-end Japanese brand Royce. It’s a popular chocolate brand in New York and their chocolates are very creamy, not as sweet and packaged very carefully as most good Japanese brands are.

Repurchase? This variety box is a bit overpriced at $27. I probably won’t repurchase this box per se but will continue try out other Royce chocolate snacks.

  • The Exuviance mask

It was a gift with purchase from ULTA and I’m glad I didn’t pay for it. It smelled like rotten vegetables and felt dry and weird on my face. I took it off after 2 minutes as it was just too unpleasant.

Purchase? 100% NO

  • EOS hand lotion (the pink oval jar)

It was okay and smells nice. It’s no rich enough for winter time.

Repurchase? Probably not.

  • Ulta foam wedges

I bought these one-use wedges for my laze days when I run out of my beauty blenders in rotation and don’t feel washing them. I wanted to show you the dirty ones as they soak up so much products. Even when they turn yellow as in the photos, they still will not give me full coverage with my full coverage foundations.

Repurchase? NO.

Drugstore makeup gem series: Physicians Formula shimmer strip palette 

I wanted to start a series on my blog dedicated to drugstore makeup gems and the first one I wanted to feature is something pretty 🙂 I fell in love with it when I was swatching it and enjoy using it from time to time. It is the Physicians Formula shimmer strip palette. It is a multi-purpose palette that can be used as a highlighter for both the face & eyes. A few pink and golden shades also can used as lid colors.

This palette stands out in 3 aspects:

  • Packaging: Cute! Just look at the little pink bow. I really adore it. Now it’s still paper packaging so don’t compare it to those $40+ high-end packaging, which is not fair. It’s steady enough to last 1-2 years and it’s light weight. The one thing I don’t like about the packaging is that it’s still a bit bulky for the amount of products in it. I don’t need the mirror on the back or the 2 poor quality brushes although they did put thought into fitting everything in a small space. I’d rather have a sleek case instead without the mirror or brushes. And I found this to be the case for a lot of Physicians Formula products. They have a thing for these added-on accessories. Maybe some people use these?


  • Formula: The first time I swatched the powders, I used the brush that came in the palette and was a bit disappointed because it appeared to be powdery. However, when I swatched it again with my fingers, it was day-and-night difference. The shades are soft, creamy, even buttery when you apply with your fingers. So I really don’t recommend using the brushes that came with the palette.
  • Color & Pigmentation: as you can see from the swatches, the shimmery colors really grab the light and they look so beautiful. The colors are also customizable with all these different shade options in similar color families. If you want something a bit different and unique, you can combine two colors to create your own pinky-golden-champagne combination shade. I did that in my swatches too. One thing I did notice is that the texture of the shades is not as fine-milled as my favorite baked highlighter from Laura Mercier. I think they still look very pretty on the cheeks but I probably wouldn’t use them as often for my eye looks.

Overall rating: 8.5/10

I consider this a must-have on my Drugstore Gem list and I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for an affordable highlighter. Thanks for stopping by!

My 7 lipsticks and lipglosses – review & swatches

I have never been crazy over lip products. I know it sounds crazy especially for someone who writes about beauty. I have relatively darker lips so a lot of lip colors don’t show up on me unless I use foundation or concealer to cover my natural lips first, which makes them dry and uncomfortable.

I also would rather much draw more attention to my eyes than my lips. I think lip products are so popular because they require almost no technique to apply and can change your look instantly if you go with a bold color.

Anyways, as someone who doesn’t own a lot of lip products, I wanted to show you every one of them that’s been opened. I either bought or received them in beauty boxes in 2016 as I usually get rid of lip products after they are over a year old. As they go on your lips and probably in the drinks and food you touch, I remind myself to pay attention to their expiration dates and formula. I guess that’s another reason I don’t like buying lip products as there is simply no way I can use up even 1/5 of these in a year if I have more than 10 in my collection, and almost half of my current collection are only in deluxe sample sizes.

Here is a snapshot of my 7 lip cuties (I have 2 more Kiko minis in my makeup bag that I will review in a separate post later).

From left to right are:

Sephora love spell -> Buxom Amsterdam -> Laura Mercier Bare Baby -> Tarte lip creme in Adorned -> Tarte lip crayon in Latergram-> Maybelline -> Pixi by petra matte Rose Naturelle


Here are the swatches, in the same order as the picture above.

You can see how I am so boring with lip colors from the swatches above. Two colors are kind of “my lip color but better” types (Buxom Amsterdam & Pixi Rose Naturelle). I also have one each for pink (Sephora love spell), coral (Maybelline) and red (Tarte Adorned lip creme), one deeper maybe nude (Tarte lip crayon in latergram) and one lighter nude gloss that is mostly translucent (Laura Mercier bare baby).

In addition, all of them have a moisturizing formula. I can’t stand putting on something that dries out your lips and excentuates your lip lines. No matter how rich the colors are, dry lips are not flattering.

Now here are my favorite four. The Pixi lipstick is great for fall as it has a rich darker red color but doesn’t look too deep or brownish when applied to my lips. They also feel very comfortable and moisturizing.

Next is the Tarte lip creme in Adorned. This is the only bright red color I own and it is a bit unique as it also has some golden shimmer mixed in the red base. I like to apply a thin layer of this to pair with a natural eye look.

Lastly, these two below are from Laura Mercier and Buxom. Both have good ingredients, look very natural, feminine and soft.

That’s it. Thank for stopping by 🙂