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Beauty, Makeup, Reviews, Skincare

Empties #5


everythingcaila_empties_5Time for another round of empties reviews! Some of these have been mentioned multiple times before, so I’ll try to be brief 🙂

Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Tingle Conditioner | Super cheap, light conditioner with a pleasant scent (if you love tea tree, like I do). If you have really thick, coarse hair, this might not be the best for you, but my hair is pretty fine and thin, so it works great for me. I’ve gone through multiple bottles of this, and I’ve already purchased another one.

Trader Joe’s Ultra Moisturizing Hand Cream | This was a really thick hand cream, and it was great during the dry winter months, but I found it very heavily scented, and it made me queasy at times. I thought it had a wonderful texture, but I won’t be repurchasing it because of the scent.

Shea Radiance Black Soap Body Cleanser | This came in one of my Vegan Cuts boxes. I thought it was a decent body wash, but it didn’t blow me away. It had a slightly off-putting yellowy brown color and a minty, almost medicinal scent. I would not purchase the full size.

Seche Vite Top Coat | Seche Vite makes what is probably the most popular top coat in the world. It dries completely rock hard and super shiny within five minutes. The only downside is that it gets thick and gloopy if you don’t use it up quickly enough, and I had to throw this one out when it was only about half empty. I did repurchase it.

Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion | This bottle lasted me forever! I always prefer unscented body lotions in a pump bottle, so this was perfect for me. Unfortunately, Aveeno is owned by Johnson & Johnson, who still support animal testing. Boo! I’ll be researching cruelty-free alternatives.

Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Shine Shampoo | I think this has been in my last two empties posts. I really like this shampoo – it lathers and cleans my hair nicely, and I would repurchase it, but my husband doesn’t like the scent, so I’ve been trying other shampoos lately.

Kose Softymo Deep Cleansing Oil | I used this oil cleanser as a first step in my skincare routine for several months. It was excellent at removing makeup, including waterproof mascara, so I happily used up the entire bottle. When I finished it up, I wanted to try something without mineral oil, so I did not repurchase it.

Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Frizz-Free Curl Mousse | This is my second or third bottle of this mousse, and I really like it! For a while, I wasn’t sure if it gave as much definition as my old favorite, the Herbal Essences Totally Twisted Mousse, but after using that one again, I do prefer the Shea Moisture Mousse. I’m actually almost done with another bottle of this, and I will probably repurchase it.

Original BeautyBlender | Ah, the beautyblender. I convinced myself that I would never spend $20 on a tiny little sponge, but I’m so glad I finally gave in. I don’t use anything else to apply base makeup now. After this one got really beat up, I wanted to try out the Real Techniques Complexion Sponge again to see if it was really as good as I remember, and it’s soooo not. I repurchased the beautyblender asap!

Trader Joe’s Lavender Salt Scrub | I love this stuff. Always have, always will. I’ll be picking it up the next time I see it at TJ’s.

Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Shine Conditioner | Strangely, I did not like this conditioner as much as the other two Coconut & Hibiscus products in this empties post. It was a decent conditioner, but my hate for the packaging overshadowed any love I could have had for it. When the product because about 2/3 empty, the pump completely stops working. So annoying! Shea Moisture really needs to change the packaging for their conditioners.

Neutrogena Clear Pore Cleanser/Mask | I repurchased this cleanser for longer than I wanted to because it’s difficult to find cleansers with benzoyl peroxide. Eventually, I knew I had to stop repurchasing it because it’s not cruelty-free. I haven’t found anything else with benzoyl peroxide to replace it, and my skin is actually doing really well. I’ve changed up my skincare a lot recently, so I may do an updated routine post soon.

Phew! That was a lot of products, and I already have more piling up! Hope you’re having a great week!



Beauty, Skincare

Two Eye Masks: Petitfée Black Pearl & Gold Hydrogel Eye Patches & Kracie Hadabisei Eye Zone Intensive Wrinkle Care Pack



eyemask2I consider my under-eyes to be a “problem area”. I have pretty extreme dark circles and “troughs”, and I feel like they make me look a lot older than I really am. I’m trying to accept that they’re genetic, and I probably won’t be able to improve their appearance. The most I can do is slow the aging process, and I recently tried out two Asian eye masks to do just that.

Petitfée Black Pearl & Gold Hydrogel Eye Patches

Petitfée Black Pearl & Gold Hydrogel Eye PatchIngredients: Water, Glycerin, Calcium chloride, Butylene Glycol, Ceratonia Siliqua Gum, Xanthan Gum, Carrageenan, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Mineral Oil, Alcohol, Synthetic fluorphlogopite, Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxides, Peat Water, Sodium Hyaluronate, Cucumis Sativus Fruit Extract, Rosa Centifolia Flower Water, Chamaecyparis Obtusa Water, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Gold 0.0001%, Pearl Extract 0.01%, Betaine, Allantoin, Disodium EDTA, Triethanolamine, Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Houttuynia Cordata Extract, Artemisia Vulgaris Extract, Citrus Junos Fruit Extract, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol, Ethyl Hexanediol, Citrus Grandis Seed Extract, Bambusa Textilis Stem Extract, Pinus Palustris Leaf Extract, Chlorphenesin, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Ethylparaben, Butylparaben, Isobutylparaben, Fragrance

The black pearl and gold powder are supposed to improve circulation around the eyes and give a brightened, glowy effect. The various extracts are supposed to rejuvenate the skin. After using these several times, I can say they had no effect other than being slightly moisturizing immediately after use. I stopped using these after 7-8 nights because I felt that the skin around my eyes looked even drier in the morning than before I had started using these. Some other things to note: these have a very heavy floral fragrance. If you keep these in the fridge, they are especially refreshing. I found that the eye patches themselves were quite slippery and tended to droop down my face, so I had to constantly adjust them, and the essence got all over my entire face.

When I looked these up on CosDNA, I was surprised by the ingredient list. It contains five different parabens for preservatives, yet the packaging says these are only good for two months after opening.

Would I recommend these? Definitely not. I’m not sure why these were so ineffective, even for moisturization. Maybe it’s the alcohol that’s pretty high on the ingredient list or the heavy fragrance?

Kracie Hadabisei Eye Zone Intensive Wrinkle Care Pack

Kracie Hadabisei Eye Zone Intensive Wrinkle Care PackIngredients: Water, DPG, glycerin, ethanol, PEG-75, palmitate, Royal Jelly extract, hyaluronic acid, lemon, maltitol, peg-60 hydrogenated castor oil, polysorbate 20, methyl gluceth-20, sodium citrate, xanthan gum, BG, citric acid, phenoxyethanol, methylparaben

These were the second of the two eye masks I tried, and I admit I had much higher hopes for these because they actually contain retinol and hyaluronic acid, and they are unscented. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to test these out over a longer period because after one use, I woke up with tiny whiteheads under my eyes the next morning, ugh. I think I gave these three chances, but each time, I woke up with the same tiny white pimples. As for the fit of these eye patches, I honestly preferred the PetitfĂ©e hydrogel ones. These fit much better under my eyes at first, but after a couple minutes, it felt like they almost shrunk onto my skin, and when I needed to adjust the placement, they tugged a lot.

I’m not sure why these broke me out. The CosDNA analysis shows that corn oil is a potential acne trigger, so that’s my only guess. Would I recommend these? They do have great reviews everywhere I’ve seen, and they are pretty affordable*, at around $11 for 30 pairs. If these hadn’t broken me out, I would definitely have liked to try them out for a full month.

I’m disappointed that my first two eye masks were both duds. I would love your recommendations on other eye masks or eye creams, I’ll try anything!

*affiliate link

Beauty, Skincare

Aromatica Rose Absolute First Serum

aromatica rose absolute first serumFor Christmas, my husband surprised me with a box full of goodies from Peach and Lily, a Korean beauty store in Queens. Out of all the products, the Rose Absolute First Serum from Aromatica interested me the most. First of all, I love anything rose-scented, and secondly, it’s organic and cruelty-free – not super common in Korean brands, from my research. I’ve been using this for a good three months, and I’m ready to share my thoughts. Let’s get into it:


Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Propanediol, Glycerin, Niacinamide, Betaine, Rosa Damascena Bud Extract, Polyglyceryl-10 Laurate, Polyglyceryl-10 Myristate, Panthenol, Phenethyl Alcohol, Sodium Carbomer, Levulinic Acid, Sodium Levulinate, Glyceryl Caprylate, Allantoin, Malva Sylvestris(mallow) Extract, Mentha Piperita(peppermint) Leaf Extract, Primula Veris Extract, Alchemilla Vulgaris Extract, Veronica Officinalis Extract, Melissa Officinalis Leaf Extract, Achillea Millefolium Extract, Rosa Damascena Flower Oil, Adenosine

According to CosDNA, there are no acne triggers or irritants, and the ingredients are all a 1-3 (out of 9, 9 being the worst) for long-term safety. I can attest to this being super gentle and non-irritating.

How I use it

I apply this after letting my tretinoin sink in for 10-15 minutes. I shake out a dime-sized amount onto my fingers and gently pat onto my skin. I find that it’s more than enough for my entire face and neck. After letting it sink in for a few minutes, I follow up with CeraVe PM moisturizer.


The consistency is slightly thicker than water. I wouldn’t say that it’s a gel because it’s pretty runny, but it’s definitely thicker than a straight-up liquid. Here you can see how it looks right from the bottle, patted onto the skin for 10 seconds, and then after 30 seconds:

aromatica rose serum swatch

Straight out of the bottle

aromatica rose serum swatch

Patted onto the skin for 10 seconds

aromatica rose serum swatch

Patted onto the skin for 30 seconds

Although it’s subtle, you can see the brightening and moisturizing effect.

Other thoughts

This serum is marketed as hydrating and anti-aging, and with aloe and niacinamide being the first and fourth ingredients, I think it lives up to the claims. I’ll confess that during January and February, when I was dealing with several horrible skin issues, namely breakouts due to clindamycin and extreme dryness from tretinoin, I wasn’t sure if this was doing anything for me. Whenever I cut this out of my nighttime skincare routine, however, my skin would be extra dry in the morning, most noticeably around my mouth where I struggle the most with flaky skin. Even now that the weather is finally getting warmer and it’s not super dry, I still see more dryness in my skin on mornings after skipping this product. Niacinamide is supposed to help with red marks left behind by acne, but I can’t say that this serum helps at all with mine. For me, the main benefit is hydration, and I don’t think I can be without this in the cold, dry months.

It costs $39 for 100ml. I’ve been using it for over three months, usually twice a day, and I still have over half the bottle left. I think if I continue to use this, it would probably last me through August.

I think this is a great serum if you’re looking for something that’s gentle, soothing, and hydrating that will brighten your skin and help with anti-aging. If you want a serum to fade red marks or clear up acne, I think there are better products out there, as this one is almost too gentle.

Have any of you used the Rose Absolute First Serum? I’d love to know your thoughts!

Beauty, Skincare

Current evening skincare routine

DSC_8336Last week, I shared my morning skincare routine, and now I’ll walk you through everything I do to take care of my skin at night.

If I’m wearing makeup, the first step is always oil cleansing. I’ve been using the Aromatica Natural Coconut Cleansing Oil for about a month now, and I do like it. I’m not sure it’s worth the hefty price tag since it doesn’t work any better or worse than the other oil cleansers I’ve used that cost one fifth of what this does. After oil cleansing, I always use CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser to remove any leftover residue from the first cleanser, and to make my skin squeaky clean. I do still love and use my Clarisonic Mia, although I try to use it only once or twice a week. I cringe when I think back on all the over-exfoliation I used to put my skin through!

Once the cleansing is over with, I make sure to wait a bit until my skin is completely dry before applying my tretinoin .025% cream. Over the winter months, I find waiting any more than 10 minutes to be unbearable, even though I think waiting 15-45 minutes is recommended. I’ll usually wait about five minutes after applying the tret before moving on to the Aromatica Rose Absolute First Serum. I should confess that I haven’t used it for about a week, and I haven’t seen much of a difference. I’m not sure if this stuff actually does anything or if it’s just rose-scented aloe water. My last step is to moisturize with CeraVe PM, aka the best moisturizer of all-time…maybe. I can’t help but think back fondly on my Cosrx Ultimate Nourishing Rice Overnight Mask. I still have half a tub of it, and it’s been calling to me recently! Lastly, and I didn’t include them in the picture, but I usually slather the area around my mouth and nose with Aquaphor or the Alba Botanica Un-Petroleum to try to keep the flaky skin at bay.

Next on my skincare agenda is to find a toner and to try to FINALLY work in some of the products I got for Christmas into my routine.

Beauty, Skincare

Current morning skincare routine

amskincareThings have improved greatly since my last skincare post. The main thing I did, and I recommend this to anyone having an acne flair-up, was to pare my routine to the bare essentials. I went back to my standbys from summer, Neutrogena Clear Pore Cleanser/Mask and CeraVe PM, and used pretty much nothing else for a couple weeks. Once the new breakouts stopped and my skin was healing, I felt comfortable slowly adding back in one product at a time. Around this time, my dermatologist prescribed me Erythromycin, an antibiotic. Thankfully, this doesn’t break me out like the dreaded Clindamycin, but I’m not sure it has improved anything as of yet either. I’ll be trying the lotion version of this soon though, because the gel is extremely drying, and it balls up on my skin whenever I put products on top of it. After the antibiotic, I use Aromatica Rose Absolute First Serum. I looooove the scent of this. It’s a strong, but very natural pure rose scent. I’m not sure if this does anything for the skin other than add another layer of moisture, but I’m happily using it every day. I’ll follow this up with the CeraVe PM, and I’ve recently started using the Cosrx Aloe Soothing Sun Cream again. I was using this for a few weeks in December/January, but I thought it might be causing congestion in my forehead. I’m trying it out again now, but in case I find that it actually does break me out, I’ve repurchased the BiorĂ© UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence sunscreen. The only other product I occasionally use in the morning is the Be The Skin Non-Stimulus Face Polisher. For a few weeks, my skin would be so extremely dry in the morning, the entire area around my mouth and nose would be covered in flakes (so sexy). The Face Polisher does an excellent job of gently sloughing away dead skin and prepping it for cleansing and the rest of my routine.

The past couple months of trial and error have been frustrating, but also enlightening. I’m continuing to learn what does and doesn’t work for my skin, and it’s comforting to know that there are a few products out there that I can 100% rely on.

Beauty, Skincare

Glossier Phase 1 Set

glossier2glossier3glossier4I got myself a little birthday treat! Yes, today is my 27th birthday, and I can’t think of a better way to treat myself than to buy some skincare and makeup (and to eat pizza and cake all day) that I’ve been coveting for a while. I went back and forth for a long time about which Glossier items I wanted. Let’s be real, I want all of them, but I decided the Phase 1 set would be the best bet for getting an overall feeling for the brand’s products. I’ve used everything a couple of times now, so I thought I’d share some first/second impressions.

First, the set ($80) comes in a sturdy white box embossed with the Glossier “G”. I’ll definitely be keeping it to store bits and bobs. It also comes with a black tote, cute stickers, and two reusable zip pouches. The four items in the set are the Milky Jelly Cleanser, Priming Moisturizer, Balm Dotcom, and Perfecting Skin Tint. If you were to buy each item individually, it would come to $81, so it’s worth getting the Phase 1 Set for the box, the stickers, the pouches, and the tote. There are also a couple coupon codes for the site floating around the internet, which will give you $5-$10 off.

glossier6Milky Jelly Cleanser | This is my favorite product in the set so far. It’s the gentlest cleanser I’ve ever used, hands down. I’ve used it on wet skin like you would a normal cleanser, but since it doesn’t foam up at all, it’s a slightly weird sensation, like literally rubbing jelly on your face. The best part is that afterward, my skin didn’t feel tight at all. Even with Cerave Foaming Cleanser, which I’ve used for years and consider to be pretty gentle, I experience a slight tightness. I think I prefer using the Milky Jelly on dry skin as a first cleanse/makeup removing step. I was skeptical that it would actually work to remove mascara, but it did a surprisingly good job.

glossier5Balm Dotcom | I really like this stuff. I’ve only used it as a lip balm so far, and it works well. I’ve been looking for alternatives to Aquaphor, and so far, I think this is the best contender. While they do have similar ingredients, Balm Dotcom contains beeswax, and I can definitely tell that it feels waxier than Aquaphor.

glossier8Priming Moisturizer | I’ve only used this once, and while it was good, I’m a little scared to use it regularly as it contains an ingredient I suspect to be irritating to my skin. I know, I should have done better research before buying the set, but I figure if my skin didn’t freak out after one use, it’s safe to use maybe once or twice a week on non-consecutive days. I can say that it seems to be a pretty average moisturizer – not amazing, not horrible.

glossier7Perfecting Skin Tint | I’ve been all about lighter-coverage base makeup this winter. That being said, this is really light coverage, and it’s probably not enough for the average person who likes to cover dark circles and other skin concerns. I did know that beforehand thanks to other reviews, and I do like it. It’s a light, watery consistency that melts into the skin nicely. It’s not completely invisible though. Thanks to the flaky war zone that is my face right now, I can see it on my forehead and around my mouth if I look closely, so it is still makeup, and not a moisturizing product.

I’ve totally fallen for the “Skincare as makeup” approach that Glossier takes with its products, and their branding and marketing are some of the best out there right now. I’m a huge sucker for that kind of stuff, but I’m glad that the products are living up to the hype so far!