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!


Serums
:

  • 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.

Cleanser:

  • Peter Thomas Roth anti-aging gel cleanser

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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.

Body:

  • The Body Shop almond milk & honey shower cream

IMG_6052

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.

Lips:

  • 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.

Eyes

  • Olay pro retinol eye treatment

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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.

Makeup

  • 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.

Sunscreens

  • 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.

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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 🙂 

September loves – candle, nail polish, concealer

The first item is a surprise as I thought I already de-cluttered it last time. It’s the Urban Decay Naked concealer, which accentuated my lines and faded in uneven dry patches a few hours after I applied it. I jokingly named it “instant aging concealer” and put it away in the de-clutter box. Last week I found it lying in the corner of a vacant travel makeup bag I stored away and decided to give it a go again during my trip so that I can throw it away on the road if I still don’t like it.

Urban Decay naked concealer.jpg

Well this time I decided to not risk it either under my eyes or around my nose & chin. Instead, I used it to clean up my brows. I trimmed my brows into specific shapes, which leaves some darker pigmentation around the brows (not actual hair residue but just shadows, you probably understand it if you have thicker brows that you trim down on a regular basis). I applied it to conceal those areas around my brows, and it worked perfectly! It is a medium-to-high coverage concealer and is thick yet smooth so it blends into my foundation nicely. I don’t know how different the skin near my brows is from my under-eye or the rest of the face, but I didn’t see dry, uneven patches this time around mid-day although it fades a little bit throughout the day. If you have similar issues with some supposedly good concealers, maybe give it a go in some other areas around your face?

bath and body works stress relief candle.jpg

I never liked bath and body works products as they smell artificial and overwhelmingly scented to me whenever I walk by their store. But then I read somewhere that they have some classic scents that stand out and are so popular that people overseas will pay ridiculous shipping fees to get these from the US. I had to try it especially when I walked into a promotion for 3-wick candles. I was looking for the candle in the scent of Stress Relief. The candle is of a cream color in a green jar, which looks clean, fresh and gives out such a pleasant note of eucalyptus mint and sweetness.  The candle smells nice without being lit and can fill an entire small-to-medium-sized room with soothing, refreshing, forest-type of scent when it is lit. As long as you don’t expect a candle to make all your problems and stress go away, I’d say this is a great buy.

 

The last item is a nail polish that looks so pretty for fall if you don’t go for a berry/plum shade as everyone else. It’s the Cornwall Gardens Sweet Almonds Nail Polish Powered by Matcha by Nails Inc. I don’t get it why Nails Inc doesn’t get as much hype as other expensive nail polishes as they are so much better than brands like Butter London and Zoya. The color glides on so smoothly and I don’t necessarily need a second coat. Why I love it more than other nail polishes is that it’s very easy to apply, keeps a subtle sheen layer on my nails for days unlike some other polishes that tend to turn dull and greyish after 1-2 days of wear. They are not super long-lasting if you don’t apply a top coat but I really love the color and the tone, and have been reaching out to it constantly in the past few weeks.

Hope you might find this helpful. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

Summer skincare and beauty empties 

Heatwave is coming to the East coast and I’ve been more diligent with my skincare routine, using more lotion, more facial masks, more after-suncare treatment. I’m proud to say so far, so good! I’m not mad at my skin condition at all despite all the humidity and sun. So I wanted to share some recent skincare and beauty empties with you with mini reviews as usual 🙂 Hope you will find it helpful.

nexcare acne absorbing cover

  • On the right are my latest 2 favorite affordable sheet masks from Japan and Korea. They are particularly comforting after a day outside in the sun as they provide a deeply hydrating experience.
  • On top of the picture is Nexcare acne absorbing cover. I bought it from Amazon and it is very effective to treat those red big bumps on your face. I usually use it at night and those big bumps will shrink by half the next morning. I already purchased another box.
  • The Estée Lauder micro essence and Clarins foaming cleanser are staples for summer travel as they help stabilize your skin.
  • I also took one more photo of the Caudalie eye cream sachet sample as I’m considering buying the full size now. It’s very effective at treating fine/dry lines under the eyes. It’s pretty thick so you will need to take some time to dab it into your eyes.


  • On the left is the OGX coconut oil mist. It is my first bottle and I was very impressed. It helps control breakage and frizz at the hair end yet I’d weightless on your hair despite being an oil mist. It smells very coconutty which I like for summer and I’ve repurchased another OGX mist.
  • The GNC Aloe Vera gel in the middle is helpful for after sun care. I usually apply it all over my legs and arms after being in the sun for a few hours. It immediately cools you down and soothes your skin.
  • I used the Marlowe body butter as a hand cream and it feels smooth and nice.

bareminerals powder
Except for the Sephora brush cleanser wipes, the rest of the products here part of a makeup purge.

  • The two japonesque makeup brushes are so stiff. I never reach for them.
  • The Urban Decay naked skin concealer looks cakey on my face almost every time when I use it under my eyes or in my chin area. Despite all the hype, it’s just not for me.
  • The BareMinerals powder is good but I need to get rid of it as it’s been 18 months and the case is broken.

That’s it. Thanks for reading! Let’s connect on Instagram too: HealthyGlow_Ing