100 empties challenge part 3 – all about regret purchases 

If you are like me who like to venture out and try different beauty products, you are bound to run into things that might work great for someone else but simply become an disappointing dud for you. In today’s post I will share 7 recent empties that did not work for me and I can probably only count these as 4 empties given that I didn’t really use up all (yep that tells you how much I dislike some of these) and some ae deluxe samples. 

  • 100 empties challenge update: so far 11 are gone, 88 to go! 

About the challenge: in order to motivate myself to prioritize using up beauty products that I already have instead of purchasing new things to try out, I need to be on a low-buy/(no-buy already failed…) mode until I finish up 100 empties. 

Caveat: travel size products count as either half or 1/3 depending on the size. 

  • Hair 

Schwarzkopf dry shampoo – oh my the smell is so overwhelmingly strong and artificial that I had to simply get rid of it after 2 uses and I’m not even extremely sensitive to smell. Definitely a regret buy.

John Frieda 7 day volume treatment 

This is not a bad product. I just have issues with its too-good-to-be-true claim to give your hair volume 7 days in a row. Please can you not treat us as believe-it-all stupid consumers? Plus I am too lazy to always reach for an additional hair treatment product when showering. I can see some results from using this so for those who doesn’t mind some extra work, I think you can get some use out of it. Simply a regret purchase for myself. 

  • Skin treatment 

Liz Earle brightening treatment mask It’s a UK brand that’s on the affordable size that has great reviews in general. However this mask simply doesn’t agree with my skin type. It irritated my skin and even caused some breakouts yikes and it also smelled so artificial! Please no cheap fragrance smell in skincare products! Definitely a dud for me.


First aid beauty radiance pads

I liked this at first but then maybe because there are travel packs and are not fully sealed, the pads are drier and feel a bit harsh on the skin and I didn’t really see an obvious result from using these. Do not like them. 

  • Cleansers

Second Sunday Riley cleansing type of product I’ve tried and I am disappointed by both (the other being the blue moon cleansing balm).  The texture is a bit odd and yes I did shake it before using as instructed. I started to fall in love with gel cleansers in the summer time and had high hopes for this cleanser. But it’s not a pleasant experience using it and the smell is overwhelming (this time not fragrance just some artificial herbal smell). I also don’t feel this cleansed my face well at night as a second cleanse.

Caudalie micellar water

I think I have less of an issue with the water itself but more with the packaging. Due to the big opening, I used up half of a bottle at one use as I was used to thoughtful packaging opening from my favorite micellar water brand Bioderma. So I only used half of a bottle and it’s just okay anyways. 


Grande primer Eyelash primer 

White eyelash primers are just a hassle for me. I don’t wear too dramatic of a look and a good volumizing and lengthening mascara is usually good enough for me. This also dried out quite fast.  


Hope you enjoyed reading this post and I had helped you dodge a few duds 🙂

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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

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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.

3 skincare products that give you a perfect summer GLOW

Who doesn’t like a glow in the summer time? Did you know that you don’t always need a blinding highlighter to get a glow, but instead can achieve a natural with-in-glow from some simple skincare products? Well I didn’t really believe that until a few weeks ago when I started using these 3 skincare products. They are:

Olay Pro X Spot Fading Treatment ($31, 1.3 oz)

Olay Pro X Spot Fading Treatment Review

I bought this a while ago when I was getting a few different pigmentation treatment products to try out, and this was one of the more affordable choices. I started using it about 5-6 weeks ago in the morning. While I didn’t really notice significant improvement to skin as it was supposed to be tackling, my skin was so glowy even after applying layers of matte sunscreen, primer and foundation. For a while I thought it was my skincare regime that was working miraculously and got so excited. Later when I realized it was actually from this serum, I had mixed feelings as you can imagine. For one, I know my skin isn’t really glowing from within. On the other side, I’ve found a great summer morning serum that adds natural sheen (not shimmer, not glitter) all over your face and it doesn’t ball up under make up. I’ve since repurchased another bottle so I have it at hand for the entire summer.

Mario Badescu Vitamin C Serum ($45, 1 oz)

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This is still from an affordable brand, but it’s a pricier product within the brand. Vitamin c products come in so many different forms, some are powder (i.e. Clinique), some are dissolved in solution with sillicone so has a slippery texture (i.e. Ole Henriksen Truth Serum), some are of a stickier formula (i.e. Drunk Elephant c-firma). This serum from Mario Badescu is more of a liquid serum, very runny, not sticky at all, but does take 30-40 seconds to get absorbed into the skin. It might feel a bit oily for those with combination skin, but after it is absorbed, it dries down and can be worn day and night (recommended for night use). When I was using it as my first step of skincare routine in the morning, my face gave a pretty glow, and it lasted quite a few hours. When I applied it at night, I can still see the improvement to my skin tone the next morning when I wake up. It’s a decent product and it should work for every skin type except for those with very oily skin.

Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask ($58, 1 oz)

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This is the most expensive product out of the three, but since it’a mask and you are only supposed to use it a few times a week at most, a jar can last you a long time, so I still think it’s worth it. I was hooked to it when I was using a sample size jar for the first time. Tata Harper skincare products have a spa smell and feel. It felt like a thick layer of gel with pleasant smell, and I didn’t think it would give me any immediate results and I was so WRONG. After washing it off after 15-20 minutes, I can see some immediate improvement to my nose, t zone area and a glow all over my face, which lasts about 20 hours. The last time a mask was able to achieve a visible result was from Sisley and it was way more expensive than Tata Harper. It’s interesting how both brands that I reacted so well to rely mostly on botanic ingredients and I used to think these ingredients are only pleasant to use but are not powerful enough to treat skin symptoms. I am glad I’m proved wrong and natural ingredients with the right formula can be very effective!

Do you have any skincare products that you love to use in the summer time? Please share in comments as I’d love to learn!

The Ordinary 7% Glycolic acid is back in stock

If you’ve not yet heard of the Ordinary brand (under Deciem), where have you been in the past few months 🙂 If you have, you’re probably aware that one of their best sellers the 7% Glycolic acid toning solution (which is considered a dupe for Pixi Glow Tonic or other more high-end acid toners) has been out of stock for months everywhere. I’ve been wanting to try it out and just placed an order on the official site. You can read more about it and place an order when you are ready before it goest out of stock again here.

June 2017 Skincare empties – high-end & drugstore 

If you are interested to see what I think about these skincare items and whether I will repurchase, please keep reading 🙂

My skin: combination & acne prone with concerns around aging and enlarged pores. 

First up are two facial mists from Mario Badescu and Tarte.

This is the second time I’m trying out the Mario Badescu rose water facial toner. I didn’t like it the first time as I feel it didn’t do much to my skin and the sprayer is not great. I’ve come around to like it better this time. I started spraying it onto cotton pads and then applying all over the face after cleansing and it’s a good toner (esp. for the price) as the final step of my cleansing routine. 

  • Repurchase? Maybe/Likely

I didn’t like Tarte rainforest of the sea mist. It has a very strong citrus scent that’s too much for my taste. The sprayer squirts our large drops of water which makes it an unpleasant experience if you plan to directly spray it onto the face.

  • Repurchase? No 

Next are a few cleansing products including the Bioderma micellar cleansing water, Shuumuera cleansing oil and First Aid Beauty radiance face pads



The pink version of Bioderma micellar water (catered towards sensitive skin) is my favorite micellar water at the moment. It removes face makeup instantly without leaving any film on your skin or overdrying it. I tried the Garnier micellar water in the past which is supposed to be a dupe for this and I don’t think it’s an exact dupe in terms of how your skin feels afterwards although the Garnier one on its own is pretty good as well for the price. 

  • Repurchase? Yes, already did

The cleansing oil from Shuumuera is good but I’m trying out two other cleansing oils so will not be repurchasing in the short term. I don’t like the First Aid Beauty pads as much as I thought I would.  It’s supposed to exfoliate your skin and make it glow. I don’t think the results are convincing enough while they stung my face a little bit. 

  • Repurchase? No

Next up are three face serums including two vitamin C ones. Unfortunately I will not be repurchasing any of these. The Truth Serum from Ole Henriksen used to be a favorite of mine but I didn’t have much experience with vitamin C products back then. Now I start to develop my own taste for vitamin C ingredients and formula and this serum feels too silicone heavy, and is not potent enough.

  • Repurchase? No.

Next up are two trial size products from SKII and Elizabeth Arden


The SkII facial treatment essence continues to be a holy grail product for my skin type as it really helps balance out the PH level and reduces the chance of breakout. 

  • Repurchase? Yes, already did

The Elizabeth Arden prevage line is an expensive anti-aging line under the Brand that’s particularly popular in Asia. While this moisturizer with SPF did help with brightening the skin, it’s a bit too heavy for the summer time, and the strong fragrance is a turn off for me.

  • Repurchase? No

Lastly are two new opens from Shisedo & Missha. You will see them in my next empties post 🙂

Recent beauty empties (high-end & drugstore) – skincare & makeup 

How is it possible that it’s already June?! Well I guess the empties sort of help me track time. Here are the products I’ve used up recently with mini reviews.

First up is the Caudalie Premier Cru Eye cream. If I rank all the eye products I’ve tried in the past five years, it is definitely up there in top three with its anti-aging tesults and although it’s by no means a cheap product, it’s still more affordable than my other two holy grail eye creams. You can see my recent blog post here where I shared more detailed thoughts around it.

  • Repurchase? 👍

Caudalie Premier Cru Eye Cream Review

Next up is another high-end European brand Natura Bisse. I’ve tried a few products from this brand and none disappointed. This tolerance toner is so pleasant to use with its extremely high quality sprayer (best I’ve used in the market) that produces the finest mist all over the face. It smells herbal but not overwhelming. I was blown away when I first tried it but as I got less impressed overtime as I didn’t notice other results beyond the pleasant feeling after applying it and the hefty $50 tag is not particularly inviting.

  • Repurchase? Maybe. I plan to reuse the bottle just for that amazing nozzle but will not repurchase it this year.

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Next up is an eye makeup remover from Loreal that’s not available in the US, and it’s a shame as it’s probably 5 times better than the regular Loreal makeup remover you can get at CVS here. It’s sold in Asia, Australia and a lot of other markets. It’s great but not amazing and given its not sold here, I’m in no rush to repurchase it.

  • Repurchase? Not in the US

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In comparison, the bottle below is the Loreal remover sold in the US and it’s a regret purchase together with the Sephora makeup remover as they are not as effective in removing makeup.

Then here comes the unavoidable batch of meh products from trying out new things and I will not be repurchasing them.

  • Clinique pepstart moisturizer – this is a bit tacky
  • Erno Laszlo eye cream – it’s not bad but it’s not as good as my favorite eye creams
  • Clarins extra firming cream (I used up both the day version and the night version) – the scent is too strong and no skincare product should smell like fragrance to me so it’s a big turn-off for me. The day cream also doesn’t sit well under makeup and balled up on me a few times.
  • Rimmel eyeshadow stick & Revlon lipstick: nothing special
  • Maybelline big lash mascara: it can be clumpy when you apply a second coat and if I was looking for more lengthening result I need more than one coat. Will not repurchase this. There are so many better options out there.

Lastly, here is a candle that I initially liked but end up decluttering as the smell is just too strong and overly sweet for my taste. img_2498

April 2017 favorites & empties 

Today I wanted to share some of my recent empties and favorites including some of my all-time favorites.

First up is the NUXE lip balm in a jar. This is the most nourishing lip balm I’ve ever used. I started using it when multiple lip balms did not work on my traumatized severely chapped lips from wearing a raved up NYX lingerie liquid lipstick (that’s a horrible liquid lipstick for my lips and I probably will stay away from NYX for a while). It’s significantly better than the hyped up Glossier dotcom lipbalm (another regret) as it provides hours of hydration and wears well under liquid lipsticks or lip pencils.

  • Repurchase? 👍


Next up is a hyped up dry shampoo that actually lives up to my expectation. It’s the Livingproof perfect day dry shampoo. This is the best dry shampoo I’ve used (I’ve tried at least 9-10 dry shampoos). The scent is not overwhelming. It makes my roots feeling clean for at least 8 hours. The white cast disappears quite quickly as you comb through your hair after you spray it. It’s just such a pleasure to use! When I’m feeling extra fancy, I will pair it with the R+Co volume spray and Caudalie hair oil. I love it so much that I’ve started exploring other Livingproof hair products. I now understand why it’s most popular hair brand in the East Coast now.

Repurchase? 👍🏼



Next up is the Burt’s Bee body lotion. I don’t like it. It takes a lot of effort to sink into the skin and with its moderate hydration results, it’s not worth the effort or time. The scent is also nothing impressive, more artificial than natural despite its claim on using mostly natural ingredients.

Repurchase? No


A $2 brow pencil from ELF and it is great! I don’t even remember when and where I picked it up but I’m so glad I did. It’s extremely easy to work with as it’s pigmented, soft and smooth. The packaging is not great as it tends to fall apart gradually but it’s okay as the pencil doesn’t last more than 3 months for me. The only downside you need to be aware of is that the color might not be as long lasting so I usually pair it with a clear brow gel and then I have great natural looking brows for an entire day!

Repurchase? 👍


Lastly, here are a few empties that I’ve used up more than once, which are among my staples. I usually rotate them through my routine instead of using these consistently so I can still find room to try new products. If you are interested to see reviews of individual products, follow me on Instagram where I post reviews on a regular basis: skincarejunkie_03