March 2017 new empties – skincare, hair, food, misc

I am constantly testing new skincare products and sometimes I forget how I felt about certain things in the past. That’s when empties posts come in handy. I hope they might be helpful to you too! 

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

First up are two high-end skincare products from Kate Somerville & Sulwhasoo. I have used up probably 85% of these and I’m getting rid of them as they’ve passed the 12-month expiration date since they were opened last year. I’m not in love with any of these two products. I bought the Kate Somerville d-scar scar diminishing serum to treat my acne scars (I have a soft spot for all acne treatment products as I’m suffering from adult acne from time to time). 

The main ingredient is a trademarked peptide that’s beneficial for the skin cell renewal process. However, the squeeze tube and its metal ball applicator make it hard to use on a daily basis. If you don’t remember to wipe away the cream residue on the metal ball, the next time you use it, you will see a lot of disgusting yellowish dried cream balling along the rim of the applicator.

At the $48 price tag for a 0.66 oz tube, I’d expect more thoughts into the packaging. For that reason, it did not make it into my daily skincare routine and it did not work on my acne scars when I was using it occasionally. 

A lot of people swear by the high-end Korean skincare brand Sulwhasoo. The prices in the US almost double those in Asia, which is why I only got the overnight mask that’s on the affordable side of this line to try it out. If I like it, I will buy more in Asia. For its price ($52 for a 4-oz tube), it’s not a bad product but I’ve realized that this line does not fit my skin type and I will not be purchasing any more products in the same line. 

Unlike the Kate Somerville serum, I was testing out this mask consistently. I initially used it as an overnight mask as it suggests but it made my face so greasy and shiny in the morning which I don’t like. I then used it as a regular wash-off mask and take it off after wearing it for 30-40 minutes, and it’s better. It is a very hydrating mask so it did help when my skin was experiencing dryness in a few areas occasionally in winter time. If you have dry skin, I think you will love it. But for my combination skin, this is simply too rich and I think it might have contributed to some breakouts due to the thickness of the cream. 

Next up are a few travel size skincare products and a Japanese baking soda toothpaste that I paid over $25 (hmm not sure what I was thinking on that one…).

From left to right are:

  • Clarins uv protection sunscreen – it’s a running fluid texture, and is not greasy once it skins into the skin and it wears well under makeup
  • Elizabeth Arden prevage anti-aging serum – I’ve not formed my opinion around this yet. It is supposed to be very effective to brighten your skin and even your skin tone but I feel it’s a bit too oily for my taste. I actually have the full size serum too so I will share my thoughts once I open up that one. 
  • Shisedo white Lucent serum – feels great, very lightweight, and gets absorbed by the skin quickly. 
  • Bumble & Bumble hair thickening spray – my first hair thickening spray. This actually works and the results last all day unlike the R+Co one I’m currently using. But it’s still a hair spray so you will feel it in your hair. It does its job. I might repurchase this later.
  • Japanese baking soda toothpaste – hmm it gives your mouth a slightly salty taste rather than a minty taste most of the toothpastes do, which I don’t hate. It does clean your teeth pretty well but I don’t think it’s worth the $25+ price tag. It probably is a lot cheaper to buy it in Asia though. 

Next up are some samples and the Shisedo cotton pad empty bag. Let me start with the Shisedo cotton pads – they are amazing! They are thicker and softer than any cotton pads I’ve used. Whenevet I use them, I feel I’m giving my skin the gentlest care and best treatment it deserves. While this will not be the only cotton pads I keep at home as they cost $10 per bag which I used up within 30 days, this is now a staple in my stash as I’ve not yet found a better alternative. 

I was surprisingly disappointed in the Loccitane almond body concentrate as I’ve heard nothing but great things about it. But I don’t care for its scent or feel and I will not be purchasing the full size product. 

Above are two foaming cleansers that I feel are almost identical in texture and results when I apply them over the face. I like both and I’ve purchased the full size one of the Origins checks and balances foaming cleanser since. 

Next up are some staples including my favorite snacks. A quick note on the organic shampoo I bought at Whole Foods: it’s okay. I will not be repurchasing it.

That’s it for this post. Thank you for stopping by 🙂


TJ maxx mini beauty haul and 2 August beauty boxes

The heat wave is catching up and I don’t feel like staying outside at all. I hope it cools down soon but also don’t want the summer to end. What a struggle at late summer time!

I’ve heard that TJ Maxx carries interesting beauty items in some locations so I decided to stop by one and here are what I got.

  • Ollie and Olivia eyeshadow brush set $6.99
  • Aroma ocean breeze candle $6.99

I tried both already. The brushes are sturdy, soft, and can pick up eye shadows nicely. No complaint here for the price point. The candle is surprisingly much better than those I used to pay a lot more to get at Sephora. The jar looks high end and the scent is pleasant and long lasting, refreshing for summer time. I’ll go back again to buy more in the future.

Aroma Natural Black Candle – Ocean Breeze Scent

  • Shisedo White Lucent Brightening Balancing Softener $29.99

I love almost all Shisedo skincare products I’ve tried and I was surprised to see some at TJ Maxx. I’ve heard good reviews of this toner but I will wait to try it out in winter time as it’s supposed to be a very good moisturizer but can be too thick and rich for summer heat.

Shisedo White Lucent Brightening Balancing Softenter

  • Korean animal face masks 3-piece $3.99

I heard some TJ Maxx stores now carry Korean facial masks so I kept an eye out for them when I was browsing the mask section. There weren’t a lot of options when it comes to brands I know of and this is the only one that has good reviews. These sheet masks are supposed to add an extra layer of hydration to the face and you can look quite funny with them on too 🙂 I’m looking forward to trying these out.

Lastly, I also picked up some genetic makeup remover wipes ($2.99 for a 60-sheet pack) with a clip-on opening as I heard these are slower to dry out. I use these wipes for my arms and legs to remove sunscreen so it will be nice if these do work out so I don’t need to buy those $7.99 packs (25-sheet pack) at Walgreens.

Lastly, I wanted to share the August beauty boxes I received  from Allure and Target. Honestly I am more happy with the $7 Target beauty box than the $15 Allure box this month. Usually the Allure box includes most high-end beauty items but this is mostly a drugstore box and I am underwhelmed by it. You can see in my previous posts what was included in the July Allure Beauty Box and June Allure Beauty Box. The Target box on the other hand has every item I can use and it’s the best Target box I’ve seen in the past few months.

  • Allure August beauty box ($15)

  • Target August beauty box ($7)

Summer Skincare Must-haves! Combination Skin Type

The past Tuesday was the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, which also marks the official beginning of summer! I love the summer season but my skin might disagree. I’ve had pretty bad breakout issues in the past few weeks with the sun exposure, oily t-zone and emotional stress. For combination to oily skin with acne concerns, I’m seeking comfort in these summer skincare products below that per my experience can help you navigate through summer with healthier skin.

Image credit:

No one dislikes hydrating toners that will give your skin a boost of youthfulness and softness. However, summer is not the right time for hydrating toners for combination and oily skin. Too much nutrition or moisturizing ingredients might actually make you breakout more.

In summer time, I tend to reach more for toners that are specifically designed for combination/oily skin types. This lightweight alcohol-free green toning lotion from Clarins is not only good at removing the last trace of cleanser or makeup residue from your face at night, but also makes you feel refreshed and balanced.  I haven’t noticed any pore reducing or skin tightening effect as it claims on the site but I trust Clarins’ plant-based formula and its alcohol- free ingredient list.


First Aid Beauty products were not my favorites despite their good ingredients as the products I tried (mostly moisturizers) felt too creamy and think on me (it could be first aid to dry skin type in the winter time!). However, these pads were great for combination skin!  On days when you are too lazy to apply toners (no judgement), just take one of the pads and wipe it all over your face after cleansing and it feels amazing! Long-term use of these pads will help improve skin texture and make some of these annoying bumps go away. One cautious note for those with extremely sensitive skin: FAB ingredient list is usually pretty gentle but these pads do contain acid which helps clear pores but it also means it can irritate your skin.

bobbie brown blotting papers

Blotting papers are such simple, generic products but these blotting papers from Bobbie Brown really stand out! The papers are weightless and absorb oil so well while it doesn’t mess up with your makeup to much as long as you are using it in a pressing motion. Besides taking away the excess oil and shine from your face, blotting paper is also a must have if you need to do some retouch during the day. Use it first before you reapply foundation or powder, otherwise there is a high chance you will see streaks of makeup on your face.

Product Image

Image credit: Nordstrom

This is hands down the best everyday sunscreen for combination to oily skin, and to be used under makeup. I’ve done a more detailed review in my May empties post and you can read it here if you are interested.

Thanks for stopping by! Let me know what your summer favorite skincare products are 🙂

Sunscreen review: CĹŤTZ, the healthier sunscreen, SPF 40

Now is really the season to stock up on sunscreen. Did you know that you have to apply an amount that equals to the size of a quarter coin of sunscreen to your face every time or you might as well skip it as insufficient protection amounts to nothing?

It seems that consumers are smarter about beauty products as many brands are coming out with “healthier” version of products including sunscreen.

Today I wanted to share a quick review of the CōTZ sunscreen. I received a deluxe sample of this “healthier sunscreen” in my Allure May beauty box (see what else are in this great beauty box here). I’ve been testing it out in the past few weeks and by now I’ve used up the tube and hopefully you might find this review helpful.


Image credit: Cotz official site

Here is the product description from the CĹŤTZ website:

  • A Balanced & Natural Mineral Complex with Zinc Oxide & Titanium Dioxide that feels silky & soft and blends translucent, with a sheer matte finish.
  • Lightly tinted to instantly enhance skin radiance.
  • Non-Comedogenic, Hypo-Allergenic.
  • Superior protection against sun-accelerated fine-lines, wrinkles and dark spots has never felt this nice.

I only partially agree with its claim and here are my honest thoughts about it:

What I like about it:

  • It’s a physical, non-chemical sunscreen so there is less likelihood that it will irritate your skin.
  • It’s broad spectrum SPF 40 so offers enough protection for daily use.
  • It’s easy to take off at the end of the day.
  • Even though it looks slightly tinted out of the tube, when you apply it to the face, it’s almost translucent and does not leave a white cast on your face.

What I don’t like about it:

  • Although it claims to be non-greasy, oil free, in reality it’s quite oily and remains so after I wait for it to sink in after 2-3 minutes of application. So far it hasn’t caused any break-out on my face but I’m not a big fan of the texture. I don’t know if mineral sunscreen just doesn’t hug my skin as I have similar issue with other brands’ mineral sunscreens which are also supposed to be non-greasy.
  • It also claims to leave a matte finish on your face. On my combination skin, the oily texture makes me glow (not in the most flattering way though). I think people with dry skin might really love it for its dewy finish on their faces. If you have combination or oily skin, I’d say be cautious. At least try a sample before committing.

Overall, I don’t think it’s a bad product but it’s not my favorite. I will not repurchase it. My favorite is still the Shisedo urban environment oil-free UV protector SPF42 (you can see my mini review of this sunscreen in my earlier post here).

What’s your favorite sunscreen and what’s your skin type? I’d like to hear your thoughts.



May product empties & reviews – Eve Lom, EstĂ©e Lauder, Shisedo

Hi everyone! May was a very rough month for me and I probably will be moving soon so product empties come at a good time as I need to clean out my beauty stash. 

It’s funny that most products I’ve used up this month are in white packaging and white containers actually are used quite often in more high-end products to deliver a more luxury feel. 

So do these live up to their high-end packaging? Here are my mini reviews. 

shisedo urban environment sunscreen  
regenerate whitening toothpaste

I love this! I’ve tried 5-6 sunscreens from Shisedo and this is by far my favorite for everyday use all year along. I have sensitive, combination skin and it is truly nongreasy and does not irritate my skin at all. The SPF 42 is sufficient for daily use as its name “urban environment” suggests, and it dries down instantly on your face so it works great under makeup

It is a chemical & physical combo sunscreen so you have to apply it 15-20 minutes before you go outdoors and there are chemical ingredients that shield your skin from sun.

The one thing I’d like to point out is that as it still has physical sunscreen ingredients, it is not colorless and will make your skin tone a bit more fair but it definitely does not add a crazy white film layer to your face as some physical sunscreen does.

  • Eve Lom cleanser

It is a staple in my beauty collection and it’s a makeup remover that also exfoliates and softens your skin. You can check out my detailed review of this cleanser here

Another staple in my hair and body collection. It’s a French hair care line and this shampoo is fantastic! It removes all the buildup from your scalp including the annoying dandruff, spray residue, oil, and leaves your hair so clean yet non-drying. It’s gentle yet powerful. It also helps with hair loss if you use it consistently. 

One thing that I don’t like about it is its ingredient list as it has paraben and other preservatives and some other high-end hair products from Phyto for instance are more natural. 

  • EstĂ©e Lauder eye mask

I was not impressed. In fact my under eye area feels drier if I don’t take these off within 10 minutes. I don’t think they are bad eye mask I just haven’t been wowed by any eye mask products. If you have tried any that you like, please let me know!

  • Regenerate & Blanx whitening toothpaste 

I’ve heard great things about both brands (regenerate is sold in UK and Blanx is an Italian brand). I think these are good toothpastes but as I had to pay a lot more for these to be shipped to the US and the results are not life-changing, I don’t think I will repurchase them soon. Again I haven’t seen dramatic results from any whitening toothpastes so if you have any favorites, let me know!

Hope the reviews are helpful!