Monday, July 6, 2015

Empties Update: July 2015

 I never used to save my empties. I may have mentioned it in a past post, but I hated the idea of hoarding empty bottles for long periods of time. I'm kind of a clean-freak, and I'd much rather throw them away as soon as they're empty and save space. I started realizing that there's no better way to get a good opinion of a product than to actually use it all! I finally decided to suck it up, save an old PopSugar box and fill it with my empties. It slides under my bed out of sight so I don't have to stress about it, and all is well. It's amazing how quickly it fills up, though! I cannot tell you how insane I feel sometimes when I open up the empties box and think, "Have I really used all of this?" I rarely think about how many products I'm actually using day-to-day, but it's really astounding when it's all laid out in front of me!

As always, I broke down the empties into sections to help keep it more organized. This time, I've numbered all the products in each section so you can skip by any you're not interested in, or have an easier time finding specific products you're interested in hearing my thoughts about. Let's dive in- there's a lot to cover!

 1. Benton: Snail Bee High Content Essence X2
I always feel like I have to preface anything I say about Benton with a disclaimer that many people have sworn off the brand due to contamination/mold issues etc. I did not get into Benton until after the entire blow up of issues- so while I didn't suffer from any reactions myself, I definitely always feel a little uneasy when I use products like this Essence considering it was the main culprit in the past. Having said that, I had quite a few bottles of this and I cautiously went through them all. I luckily had no reactions, but what I did notice is that my skin is still doing just fine long after I ran out of my last bottle.
It's not a bad essence by any means, but I definitely don't think that it is as amazing as everyone made it out to be when it was first being praised. I would highly recommend to anyone who is looking for a very close alternative to check out the Tosowoong Snail Natural Pure Essence. There's no bee venom, but it has a very similar texture and application to the Benton and has kept my skin looking fantastic since the Benton ran out.

2. The Yeon: Jeju Hallabong Peeling Toner
The Yeon has started to become quite the popular brand thanks to Memebox introducing many of us Westerners to it's charms. Many of their products are citrus-scented and are gentle on the skin. This Peeling Toner has quite a strong citrus scent- almost too strong for my liking. And I'll be honest: the only reason why I used this toner is because my Mizon AHA/BHA Toner has been nowhere to be found, lately. This one didn't do anything remarkable to my skin. It kept it in good shape and I didn't have any irritation or breakouts, but I didn't notice it working any magic. I also really dislike the lotion-bottle-flip-top because it's incredibly hard to not dump too much of this out. It also leaked quite a bit. I feel like I wasted a lot more product than I would have liked. Not a bad toner, just not one I would repurchase.

3. Mizon: Mojito Pore Punch Toner
I started using this toner as soon as my Mizon AHA/BHA Toner ran out, as I figured one that focused on shrinking my pores would be a good choice. I don't think this really smells like Mojito- there's no mint/cool scent to it. It's more of a light citrusy scent, which I'm totally fine with. Even though the bottle is small, it actually lasted me quite awhile, and I was surprisingly impressed with this. It does contain alcohol, which a lot of people immediately turn away from, however my skin doesn't seem to react too negatively toward it if it's in small amounts. If anything, I feel like my skin looked it's best while I was using this toner. This is one I would definitely pick up again in my next haul if I can't find my AHA/BHA toner soon.

4. Skinfood: Black Sugar Perfect First Serum
 First Serums, First Essences and Boosters are essentially the same thing. They go on the skin immediately after cleansing to replenish lost moisture that was stripped away as well as to prepare the skin for all the products you're about to apply. I've been trying a handful of "first" essences/serums etc and I happened across this one during my last TesterKorea shop. Admittedly the only reason I purchased it was because it had a cool bottle and because it came with a large package of fancy cotton pads. Here's the thing about this product: outside of pretty packaging, it's yet another "booster" with unremarkable results. I honestly didn't notice a single difference in my skin while using it. I didn't break out or have any irritation, but as soon as I ran out of this and began using something else, I didn't think, "oh no my skin is falling apart without that skinfood booster I need to get more immediately!" It's inexpensive, so if I was in need of a booster/starting essence and didn't have a whole lot of cash, I may consider repurchasing it, but it's not a product I would highly recommend at this point.

5. The Face Shop: Chia Seed Water 100 Essence 
Here's another "starting essence" or "booster" product that I tried out within the past couple of months. I received this in the bag that Sarah from Bits and Boxes curated with Beauteque, and I immediately started using it. It has a watery-gel-like consistency and little to no scent. While I did actually find this product made my skin look and feel softer and smoother with continued use, I also noticed that I went through it incredibly quickly. Since it's not exactly an inexpensive product compared to other options out there, I most likely wouldn't purchase it again. One thing I do love about it is the pump-top applicator. I even washed this bottle out and have it set aside for any difficult-to-dispense products I have in the future!

6. Skindeco: Power Serum
This serum showed up in a past Memebox, and I recall many bloggers raving about the quality ingredients and benefits for acne-prone skin. I bumped this up to the top of my to-use list because it seemed like it was going to be amazing. If there was a product that would take the crown for "unremarkable" this would be it. While I did use the entire bottle of this serum, I can honestly say it did absolutely nothing to my skin. I even stopped using it for 2 weeks just to see if I would miss it. I didn't. I'm not sure how this stuff would work on someone that has different skin than I do, but I honestly didn't think it was even worth it to use. I just kept on doing it because I hate wasting product! I had high hopes for this one in particular, so it was sort of a letdown to not see any results.

7. Mizon: Hyaluronic Ultra Suboon Cream
This is one of those products I never expected to really care about that much. I have more creams than any other type of skincare product in my stash, but since this one was a small tube I decided to use it up and see what I thought. I seriously LOVE this stuff. It's really great for oily skin because not only does it moisturize, but it absorbs so well and leaves little to no residue on the skin once it's applied. I noticed that when I woke up the morning after applying this cream, my skin looked calm, even-toned and moisturized without looking greasy. While I do have quite a few creams to go through before I buy more, this one would be at the top of my repurchase list for sure.

8. Missha Super Aqua Cell Renew Snail Cream
This cream has been one of my favorites for awhile for a number of reasons. First off, it smells great. Second, it's a gel-cream so it works on many different skin types and doesn't over-moisturize. Third, it doesn't break me out and makes my skin feel smooth and soft. I do have a few gripes with this product though now that I've finished off what I believe to be my 3rd jar. Firstly, it's freakin expensive for a cream. I have tried products that are 1/4th the price of this and do just as nice of a job. What's even more annoying is that this jar is one of those "thick-walled" containers where it looks way bigger than it actually is. I blew through this product in about a month, while other creams that come in jars tend to last me at least twice as long. I think at this point I might be done repurchasing this, however I still highly recommend it to anyone with oily/combo skin that needs a good moisturizer that doesn't overdo it.
 1. MyPu: Black Pearl and Gold Velvet Gel Eye Patches
I find it a bit difficult to review eye gels- mostly because I'm kind of obsessed with them. As long as they don't slide down my face, I'm usually a happy camper. While they can get a little expensive at times, I wear a pair of eye gels every morning without fail. As soon as I wake up, I wipe my face clean with a cleansing wipe, apply fresh lip balm and stick on some eye gels. I have a very erratic sleeping schedule and that can make my eyes look tired and puffy when I wake up, so a good eye gel patch is necessary in my morning routine! I really enjoyed these particular patches, although I can't say I noticed an insane improvement to my under-eye area after using the entire container. They did slide around if I didn't wipe the excess essence off first, but they stayed in place as long as wiped them a bit. They were soothing and definitely de-puffed, however the results were temporary. I also found that these were such an odd shape for my eye that I had to wear them backwards, but all-in-all I'd probably buy them again if they were on sale somewhere because I'm addicted to eye gels!

2. Penguin Luxury Soo Anti-Wrinkle Eye Mask
I got this eye mask in a Mask Genie pouch and it was just too cute not to use! This is one of those eye masks that encircles your entire eye area. It felt nice and soothing, although as with most of these kinds of eye masks, I felt that it didn't get close enough to my eye area to hit my problem spots: outer corner of my eyes (crows feet) and directly under my eyes (puffiness and dark circles). It felt nice/cooling on my skin and looked pretty dang cute when I was wearing it, but since I didn't love the fit, I feel like it was more of a novelty than anything. It's definitely soothing and relaxing for around the eye area but I am not getting any younger so I'm looking for RESULTS when it comes to eye masks!

3. Avec Moi: Shea Butter Special Foot Mask
 I love foot masks that are moisturizing rather than peeling because you can get great results without having to deal with shedding skin for a week straight. While peeling masks are necessary occasionally, it's good to have some of these moisturizing booties on hand for upkeep. This particular foot mask worked relatively well. I have definitely tried better ones in the past that had more impressive long-term results, but my feet felt soft and smooth after using this one as well. Unfortunately, I found my feet were already feeling rough again after just a couple of days. Mostly likely wouldn't repurchase this considering how many other options are out there.

4. Purederm: Green Tea Cleansing Wipes
These were the cleansing wipes that started my obsession with cleansing wipes! There are just those days where I'm way too lazy to double cleanse at the sink and pat my face dry. I sad is that? Sometimes once I'm in bed, you couldn't pay me enough to get back out again. Since I do most of my skincare in bed in front of my laptop, I have makeup removing towelettes AND cleansing towelettes on my nightstand and use one of each to remove my makeup and then cleanse my face. It was actually pretty difficult to find cleansing wipes that had a pH under 6, however the Purederm wipes fit that bill! The Green Tea ones were the first ones I tried and I enjoyed them, however I found that weirdly enough, they are the least saturated of the Purederm wipes I've tested, so I haven't repurchased the Green Tea ones in particular.

5. Purederm Tea Tree & Q-10 Cleansing Wipes
After finding out that the Purederm wipes had an acceptable pH, I decided to buy a variety of them from Forever21. They're super cheap AND they're gentle on my skin! I have tried the Tea Tree, Q-10 and the Peptide wipes (not pictured) and have since repurchased multiple packages of the Q-10 and Peptide varieties. The Tea Tree scent was just a bit too strong for me. I honestly don't notice a difference between them in terms of cleansing, or any added bonuses due to ingredients etc, but I personally like the scent of the Peptide and Q-10 wipes. They come in packs of 30, cost under $3, have a pH under 6, are saturated well enough where I can cleanse my face well, and are readily available from Forever21. Honestly, you can't go wrong with these!

 1. L'Oreal Oleo Therapy Shampoo and Conditioner
I had some high hopes for this duo because they're affordable, sulfate-free haircare. It's not very often I come across a sulfate-free drugstore brand that also still foams up enough for my liking. While this shampoo does foam up relatively well, I honestly didn't see a major difference in my hair after using these samples. I also think my hair felt a bit oily and heavy after using this for more than a few days. I think this could be a great option for people with thicker or possibly damaged hair, but for my fine, thinning hair it wasn't a good match.

2. Nioxin Shampoo and Conditioner
I could probably do an entirely separate review on the Nioxin shampoo and conditioner, however it's been over a month since I stuck these in my empties box so my memory is a bit hazy on the details. What I will say is that the shampoo in particular feels incredibly "cooling" on the scalp. So much so that at first it felt like my scalp was numb. Both products have a minty-scent to them, which is actually quite refreshing! At first, I didn't really think these products were doing much for me, however toward the end of the bottles I finally started to notice that my hair was falling out less in the shower and there was a noticeable thickness to my tresses that I hadn't noticed before. Nioxin does claim that it takes about a month or so to start noticing the results, and these bottles lasted me about that long when used sparingly almost on a daily basis. I haven't repurchased to see if it would continue to work because it's insanely expensive (for me, at least) and I've been on the hunt to see if I can find a less-expensive alternative. If not, I just might grab more Nioxin to see it's long-term effects on my hair.

3. Whish Shave Cream in "Almond"
I've mentioned this product many times in the past, but it's still my favorite shave cream. I've noticed that the Whish shave creams get mixed reviews- people either love them or hate them. The negative reviews say that the cream is too thick and clogs the drain, but honestly I've never had that issue. You really only need a small amount to create a thin layer on the skin, and I find that it works well at helping avoid nicks and cuts. My skin feels moisturized and soft when I use this shave cream, and my favorite part: it smells ah-may-zing. I LOVE the smell of sweet almond and this stuff just mixes with the steam in my shower and makes me feel euphoric! I even have the matching body lotion so I can slather myself in it when I get out of the shower. It's sooo good!

4. Nourish Organic Coconut and Argan Body Lotion
This is a weird product. I got a small sample in my Ipsy bag well over a year ago and I actually really enjoyed the scent as well as how quickly the lotion absorbed, yet also made my skin feel incredibly moisturized. It seems that some people thought the scent smelled like the product had gone bad. Some even said it smelled like pepper and others said it just smelled "gross." I remember there were some seriously varying and strange reviews on this back when it was sent out through Ipsy. I picked up a full size tube of it at Target and I personally think it has a nice coconut/argan scent. Having said that, since picking up the full size tube of this, I have discovered a plethora of lotions that I prefer over this one, so I never ended up using all of it. I'd say 3/4ths of the tube is gone, however since it's an all-natural lotion I found that it started to separate over time and became more of a hassle to use than it was worth, so into the empties box it went!

5. Hesol Rim: Hair Thickening Treatment
A very lovely lady from the forums over at makeuptalk had sent me a surprise package not too long ago, and one of the products included was this thickening hair treatment. She knew my struggles with thinning hair and had heard good things about this product and thought I'd like to try it (how sweet is she, seriously?) This mist is essentially something you spray onto the roots of your hair/scalp and toussle it around a bit. It has a really unique and enjoyable scent- a little herby, a little "hair salon-y"- and even though the bottle is on the small side, it lasted me quite awhile! I didn't notice much of a difference at first, but after a couple of weeks I truly saw that my hair had more body and volume. I know this product used to be available online through a couple different stores, however it's quite expensive (when I've seen it available) so I'm not sure if I would drop money on a repurchase, but if I ever see it for a reasonable price I am scooping up multiple bottles!

6. C. Booth: Honey Almond Bath and Body Wash
I expected to love this product because I live for Almond scented products and I've had good luck with c. Booth products in the past. Unfortunately this may have been one of the most lackluster body washes I've ever used in my life. The scent was barely detectable, and I needed almost 3 times as much product as I normally use in order to get any sort of lathering or suds. Even if I'm using a sulfate free body wash, I can get more suds than I did with this one. What's worse, is that even after using this wash along with a loofah, my skin still felt like it wasn't clean. Almost like it left a residue of some sort. I ended up using it all after a small handful of showers because I needed to pour out a large amount each time, but honestly this is probably the worst body wash I've ever used and I don' t really expect a whole lot from them in you know it's gotta be bad.

7. John Frieda: 7 Day Volume Hair Treatment
This was a product that I received in a less-than-exciting New Beauty Test Tube, but since I would pretty much try anything on my hair to thicken it up a bit, I thought I'd give it a shot. I noticed that this product tends to get mixed reviews online. People either really like it, or feel like it did nothing for their hair. Since this was a small sample, I used less in my hair than it suggests to make it last longer. After the second or third use I really did notice my hair felt thicker! I'll tell you right now it doesn't last 7 days like the claims, but I used this every 3-4 days in my hair after conditioning and that kept my hair feeling thicker pretty consistently. This is something I'm planning on repurchasing to see how it works if I use a larger amount as they instructions suggest. We'll see!

8. It's a 10: Miracle Leave-In Lite
I've been a big fan of the Beauty Protector Leave-In spray for well over a year now. I love how nice it smells and how it makes my hair feel. Since Birchbox got me addicted to that leave-in, it's not a shock that they also got me addicted to this one. I got this sample-sized version in a past Birchbox and it took me awhile to actually use it. Now that I have, I've already repurchased a full size bottle. I absolutely love the scent of this, and since it's the "lite" version, it doesn't weigh my thin hair down or leave any buildup on my scalp. Not only does this protect my hair from heat styling, but it also seems to seal any split ends I might have. It does a great job detangling my hair making it incredibly easy to brush. I actually think I prefer this one over the Beauty Protector, which is saying something considering how long I've loved that stuff!

9. Mise En Scene: Perfect Repair Serum
I really love the conditioning treatment from this same line, so I had high hopes for this serum. I used this on the lengths of my towel-dried hair. I used it every day, and I used the entire bottle. Why? I have no idea. I honestly didn't notice a difference whether I used it or not, to be honest. I figured it couldn't hurt to throw it in the mix. There's nothing I hate more than products that literally do nothing. It didn't make my hair worse, but it didn't make anything better, either. I guess it has a nice scent so at least there's that? I don't know...nothing special for me.
1. Too Faced: Primed and Poreless Powder
 I was having some bad luck with powders for awhile. Either they didn't last long enough, or they made me look cakey and sat in all my fine lines...nothing I tried was working for me. I suddenly remembered that I had a small container of this powder that I picked up during the Christmas season and thought I'd give it a try. I'm starting to realize that loose translucent powders work the best for my skin. I love that I am able to pick up a tiny bit at a time and blend it in well enough where my pores and all my oily patches are under control, but I also don't look like a powdery mess. The Primed and Poreless powder is probably my favorite non-korean powder (see the Innisfree powder below) because it lasts a long time and does a fantastic job keeping me looking "poreless." My only gripe with this is that it's much more expensive than the Innisfree powder, which I find works just as well.

2. It's Skin: Green Tea Calming Lip & Eye Cleansing Pads
I received these in a very early Beauteque bag, and I had plans to give them away or swap them because I didn't use makeup removers that often. Since I was using an oil cleanser regularly, I almost had no need for these. I decided to hold onto them to remove swatches from my arms and hands when I was photographing for the blog, but I ended up using these to remove my eye makeup when I was too tired to double-cleanse. I haven't found an eye makeup remover that I like more than these pads to be completely honest. They were incredibly gentle, but effective. I barely had to rub or put pressure on my eye to get my stubborn mascara to come off, and each pad was very saturated to the point where I could remove all the makeup off both eyes with just one pad. These are highly recommended and something I've repurchased multiple times!

3. Benefit: Roller Lash Mascara
This is my absolute favorite mascara now. Honestly, I've read mixed reviews and I think that mascara preference is a very individual thing, but this stuff is absolutely fantastic. I have read that it's "the same formula" as Benefit's, 'They're Real' with a different brush. Regardless of claims, I haven't tried a mascara that lifts, curls and separates my lashes as well as this one. There are no clumps, and it's incredibly buildable to get the volume I want without looking spidery. I've already purchased a full size of this and will definitely continue to buy it even though it's a bit pricey. It's worth it for glorious lashes!

4. Laura Geller: Spackle Supercharged Fortified Under Makeup Primer
 I rated this primer one of my favorites in 2014 and for good reason. It doesn't "feel" like a primer in the normal sense- it blends smoothly into my skin rather than sitting on top and it also does a great job of hiding pores and making my makeup last all day long. A little really goes a long way with this. This is only a sample tube and using this almost daily it lasted me almost 4 months. While there are other primers that might hide pores a bit better, or keep my makeup in place a little longer, this one does it all. In fact I really like most of the Spackle primers I've tried from Laura Geller.

5. Marcelle: Gentle Makeup Remover
This was a sample makeup remover that I got from Birchbox that seemed a little too good to be true. It not only promises to gently remove makeup, but also claims to be good for your skin while helping with dark circles, puffiness etc. I mean, if this actually worked I would buy a lifetime supply of it. Unfortunately, it's not a very good makeup remover, in my opinion. Even though it's for sensitive skin, I did feel a very slight burning sensation around my eyes when I used this, and it actually took longer to remove my eye makeup with this product than with other removers. Not only that, I saw no improvement around my eyes regarding dark circles etc while using this, so this one was a big no-thanks for me.
6. Innisfree: No-Sebum Mineral Powder
 I'll cut right to the chase: this is my favorite setting powder right now. There are a number of reasons why, but first I want to talk about price. I talked about the Too Faced powder above, and I like it quite a bit, but a full size (.16oz) costs $30. The Innisfree powder is about .18oz and you can easily find it for between $6-$8. What I love about this powder is that I really need the tiniest amount to set my makeup and take away any oily or shininess on my skin, however it doesn't make my skin look powdery or unnatural. It has a light cooling herbal scent which is refreshing, and it keeps me oil-free for most of the day. It does come with a puff that you can use for touchups on the go, but I highly recommend using a fluffy brush to apply this as you can cover more ground with less product that way. 

7. L'Oreal: Lash Out Butterfly Mascara
 As much as I love high-end makeup, I have almost always been able to find stellar mascaras at the drugstore. Granted, my current favorite mascara is from Benefit, and costs about 3x as much as a drugstore mascara, but there are definitely others that I like a lot that I can grab when I'm low on cash. I got this L'Oreal Butterfly Mascara in a Target Beauty Box and I was very impressed with the quality. The brush is kind of weird and gimmicky- it's sort of shaped like a butterfly wing and is supposed to help your lashes get that fanned-out effect, but more often than not the weird brush shapes that these mascaras have are more trouble then they're worth. I almost exclusively use the "normal" side of the bush to apply this mascara, and with a few coats I get nicely separated lashes with no clumps, length and volume. What more could you want in a mascara, really? As I've said before, I think the makeup product with the most mixed reviews are always mascaras. They work differently for everyone and we all want something different in terms of application and results, but this a great one to try if you're standing in the drugstore overwhelmed with all the options!

8. Laura Geller Waterproof Eyeliner in "Caffe Mocha"
I've been really into brown eyeliners lately, which is weird because there was a time that you couldn't pay me to stray away from black. I find that a deep brown liner can still give a lot of definition but it softens the overall finish of an eye look. This particular liner came with a Christmas gift set that I purchased from Ulta. I found it to be really creamy and applied very easily. I also love that it's a "twist up" and not a pencil you have to sharpen. Since it is waterproof, you have a relatively small window to blend this out a bit if you want a more smokey look rather than a sharp line, but it's definitely workable. While I mentioned that it's waterproof, I did notice this liner transferring a bit on my oily, hooded lids after a few hours. This isn't unique to this liner for me, most liners I use tend to do that, so I didn't really like this any less because of it. Having said that, this is another one of those "pricier than it needs to be" items, and I can almost guarantee there's a comparable brown waterproof liner out there that is a 4th of the price.
Phew! That was a LOT of empties this time around! This post took me a couple of days to finish because I felt like I was writing 3 dozen mini reviews! I feel like the overall consensus with most of these products is that they were "OK." All too often, I find myself using products that feel nice or smell nice and don't have any adverse effects on my skin, but they don't really do anything beneficial. In order for me to rave about something it needs to bowl me over and really stand out from the other products in it's category, which most of these products didn't do.
Interestingly enough, the only product that I didn't completely empty out was the Nourish Organic Body Lotion, and that was solely because I have better lotions and this one started to separate on me and get kind of gross. I still think it's a great option for people that are looking for 100% organic or natural products. I'm not incredibly picky ingredients-wise when it come to body products. 
I think my next empties review will be much smaller than this one because I'm going to try really hard not to let them pile up for months until I can't fit anything in my empties storage! I want to be able to do slightly more in-depth reviews on products that I really liked, so hopefully can keep myself on track with these posts and bring you another one very soon!

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All thoughts and opinions in this blog post are genuine and belong to Harlot Beauty. No monetary compensation was received, although goods and/or services may have been provided and accepted for purpose of review. Post may contain affiliate or referral links.


  1. Have you tried the Missha Oil-In cleansing cloths? They are pretty amazing. I like using them when I get in late or I'm traveling as a way to avoid using/packing a messy oil. Total game-changer!

    1. I have actually heard of the Missha cloths but haven't gotten around to trying them out yet! I've been using the It's Skin Mangowhite Makeup Remover wipes and they work wonders but I am always up for trying different ones! Thanks for the tip! :)

  2. I keep eyeing that Suboon cream because it's so inexpensive! Guess I should break down and finally buy it. I agree that mascaras can be really polarizing... it's sort of funny! I really liked that L'Oreal one though. Gimmicky brush or not, it worked!

    1. The Suboon cream is really awesome! I'm pretty sure that Sarah from Bits an Boxes is a fan of it too- it's super inexpensive and so far I haven't found a cream in my stash that I like better, to be honest! It's sometimes not quite moisturizing enough in the Winter- sometimes I need a lil something extra but for Summer it's absolutely perfect.
      And I totally agree- the L'Oreal Butterfly Mascaras are awesome and super underrated!