If you have to buy it, get the best deal!
When the new month starts, I toss everything I finished the previous month. I give a mini review of each item. Items I love are usually repurchased, so some of them appear in the Empties Series a lot. If I like or am indifferent to an item, I will not rush out to repurchase, but I would be willing to use or try it again. Items that are not for me may not always be empty. Generally, I finish them but do not use them again in the future. If they’re really awful and new samples find their way to me, I give them to someone else unopened. For items I really love, I do a separate product spotlight to discuss them in more detail.
Cetaphil Daily Advance Lotion- This is a wonderfully hydrating lotion. It is moderately thick, almost fragrance free, not greasy, and rubs in nicely.
Patchology hydrate FlashMasque Facial Sheet- This is the perfect mask for winter. It is heavily lubricated and left my skin feeling soft. I was sad to wash it off the next morning, because my skin was still soft when I woke up.
Julep It’s Fun to Exfoliate- I’ve experimented with so many sponges of the years, including the one I finished last month that was not for me. This is perfect. It helps with lather, so I use less soap. Between uses, it dries out. To let it completely dry out, I’ve been alternating liquid and bar soaps (I also have another reason for that, which you will soon see). By the second day, it is completely dry.
Macadamia Natural Oil Deep Repair Masque- This mask worked wonderfully well. My hair was softer, less frizzy, and deeply conditioned. I absolutely loved it, but I cannot even make it a FabuFind. It has a sister product that was even better.
Le Couvent Des Minimes Gardener’s Hand Healer- This smells like fresh lemons plucked right out of the garden. It is wonderful that the gardener’s hands get the formula. The thick cream penetrates deeply to moisturize a long time. While I never skip applications between hand washes, I would feel less inclined to reapply when using this than when using something else. I feel like it goes deep enough to withstand some of the washing.
Lancome Genifique- This is my all time favorite serum. It is an activating serum, so it helps others boost or works fine on its own. My skin glows when I use it, so I see it working.
Clarisonic Sensitive Brush Head- My skin has been a mess most of the year. As a picker, I have open skin at times, and the Clarisonic is a little rough on it. While my skin was a mess, I took a long break from the Clarisonic. Now that it is doing better, I’ve started using it again. Even though this specific brush was not used many times, I used it a bit back in January and February. Using it again to get the third month did not seem worth it, so I chucked it and opened a new one. That means this is technically a February empty I tossed in November. It was not long ago where I preferred the Deep Pore Brush to the Sensitive brush. I read that the Deep Pore Brush is too rough on sensitive skin. My skin is sensitive, so I will stick to the softer brushes.
Schick Hydro Silk Disposable Razor Blade- When it comes to tools, I usually forget to take pictures. This razor gives a close shave and rarely cuts me. The moisturizing serum probably helps but pairing this with Whish Shave Cream is the best.
Les Couvent Des Minimes Hiker’s Foot Healer- This is not the thickest foot cream around, but it is moderately thick. It moisturizes like it’s much thicker though.
Ren Hydra-Calm Cleansing Milk- I have a love/hate relationship with any cleanser that does not lather. My skin craves that squeaky clean feeling. Even though I never felt squeaky clean, I always felt incredibly soft. This passed the toner test. After using a milky cleaner, I like to use a toner to see how well it removed everything. My cotton pad came up clean almost every time.
Rituals Foaming Shower Gel Sensation Hamman Delight- I really only used one of the two bottles pictured. The first bottle exploded. Okay, it did not explode, but it looked like an explosion. When I went to put away a new body gel from my November Birchbox, this was fine. A few days later, I went to retrieve a soap from the overflowing soap bucket. That is when I noticed the entire can emptied itself into the bucket. I cleaned the soap off items I could. Some containers did not survive the explosion. The addition caused a shift that must have pressed the nozzle down. There is a lid on the nozzle, but the shift or pressure must have removed it.
As I cleaned the bucket and the other soaps as best I could, I admired the smell. This smells unbelievably good. To prevent the second bottle from exploding, I put it in the shower for immediate use. A single pump cleans a lot, because the foaming continues after it exits the bottle. Mixing it with a little water creates a beautiful lather. My skin felt clean and smelled incredible. The only thing that keeps this from being a FabuFind is I cannot store the temperamental bottle long. If I get any more of these in the future, they will go right into the shower. That keeps older items waiting even longer meaning, I sadly will not purchase this any time soon.
DevaCurl No Poo- It cleansed my hair very well. My hair was soft and manageable, but it was more frizzy than it is with Wen keeping this from being perfect.
DevaCurl One Condition- I only used this and No Poo together, so I cannot say which product gets more credit for my super soft hair. If I ever get bigger samples, I will separate them to see how they work apart.
h2o+ Targeted Care Hand Wash- I could soak in this scent. My husband is not a fan of most h2o+ scents, but even he likes this one. The lather is great, and I cannot think of anything not wonderful about this. It seems it’s discontinued, because I cannot find it for sale anywhere, even on the h2o+ direct site, which is where I got it. This was actually finished last month, but I did not find it until after I took the pictures for the previous month and presented the other bottle.
Macadamia Professional Nourishing Moisture Masque- My hair was instantly softer, less frizzy, shinier, more manageable, and moisturized after one use. This is so incredible I wish I had more. I have too many hair masks to justify purchasing it.
Murad Invisiblur Perfecting Shield- This has a silicone soft feel, and seems to just fill into the skin nicely. I like it as a makeup primer, but it can work great without it. It smooths out the skin and provides SPF.
DERMAdoctor KP Duty Lotion- I have very dry skin and eczema. Because I do not have KP, I am unsure how it does there. As a dry skin moisturizer, it works extremely well. It made my arms feel a lot softer and smoother, but I ran out before I could fully do my legs.
Amore Pacific Rejuvenating Cream- My skin was tight and peeling when I sampled this. Although it did not help much with the peeling (the sample was too small), it felt less tight and dry. I hope to get a bigger sample of this.
The Body Shop Tea Tree Facial Wash- This cleansed well without leaving my skin dry. I loved that, but I used it while my skin was peeling and want to try it again when my skin is in better shape.
SkinCeuticals Phyto Corrective Gel- I really loved this when I started using it and thought it would probably make FabuFind status. It seemed to lighten my dark spot. Over time, it stopped working. While I am sure it did other great things for my skin, my dark spot started getting darker, and not lighter.
Dermalogica Dynamic Skin Recovery- This has an almost medicated smell. It is a moderately thick cream that moisturizes as if it was much thicker.
Gold Bond Ultimate Healing Aloe- Moisturizing for a medium density formula. The slight greasiness prevents this from being a FabuFind, but the price helps it be something I love and will purchase. This was originally given to me by PINCHme, but I purchased this myself from Target. It is a great purchase for $0.97.
h2o+ Targeted Care Hand and Nail Cream- It is creamy, has a smell I enjoy that is not overpowering, and I like the price tag. This is actually a sample size, so it was free. That’s the best price tag of all.
Essentielle Beauty Peppermint Cream- This is a light weight cream that moisturizes deeply. It smells like Peppermint, which is so refreshing.
Essentielle Beauty Gingerbread Cream- This smells incredible. It really smells like Gingerbread, so it reminds me of Christmas. It is a light weight cream that moisturizes deeply.
Lancome Absolue L’Extrait Eye Cream– I love and curse the day I decided to try this sample. Why you ask? It retails for $260 for a 0.5oz jar. That is $520 an ounce. While I adored the sample, I doubt I will ever pay that price. Neiman Marcus and SAKS Fifth Avenue have thankfully provided me with a couple of samples. It really seems to make my eyes look brighter and lines look reduced. Love the effect!
Nivea Soft Moisturizing Cream- This is a relatively thick cream, but it works into the skin like a much thinner one. It’s very moisturizing.
skinfix Ultra Rich Body Butter- This is thick as far as creams go, but it is thin for a body butter. It still moisturizes very well.
Willing to Try Again
Mustela Facial Cleansing Cloths- I purchased three of these for my boys who were always getting their faces dirty while we were out. After I purchased them, they magically stopped getting dirty most of the time. That made me remove them from my purse. They added unneeded weight, so I put them away. When I ran out of wipes, I saw them and thought they would expire soon. I decided to use them as makeup removers. They are not the best at removing makeup, but they do remove enough that I feel good in using the other two packages and not using them again (at least on myself).
Dove Advanced Care Deodorant Beauty Finish- This surprisingly worked well. I use prescription strength deodorant and others seem to pale in comparison. It left me smelling clean and reduced sweat. The only reason I would not buy it is I feel cleaner and dryer with prescription strength, but this is proof you can go back to regular (if you have to).
Chi Infra-Treatment- This came with my blow dryer over two years ago. I used my blow dryer three times in two years. It is such a great investment. That joke is for my husband (if he ever reads this). I read these things have a three year shelf life that reduces to two when opened. That meant I had to finish it before March 2016, two years after I opened it. May 2016 would have been three years after I bought it. Yes, you math experts will notice it took me 10 months from purchasing my blow dryer before I used it for the first time. Yay me!
The three times I used this with my blow dryer, it worked great. It is an expensive blow dryer, and I never used the blow dryer without this. That means I am unsure how much credit the blow dryer gets and how much credit this gets. I can say that I used this three times in almost 2 years, which means I have no business repurchasing this. To finish the bottle, I used it as a conditioner when I air-dried my hair. It did not work as well as regular conditioner, but it was better than nothing.
Lush Ocean Salt- This is one of the most talked about Lush products. The hype let me down. I found it too rough for my face. If I moistened my face first, I was able to tolerate it. Salt formulas work better on dry or nearly dry skin, so wetting my face did not give it as much exfoliation as I liked. On my body, I can tolerate this wet or dry. No matter which way I used it, I did not feel it scrubbed as well or left my skin as soft as my beloved Bliss Scrub. It smells incredible though. I wish my Bliss smelled this good.
Julep Night Shift- It is a deeply moisturizing night-time mask. My skin drank this up. I am not as good as others at telling the source of my acne. This was one of my most acne plagued years. Most of this year, I used this mask. I am willing to try it again down the road to see if it has nothing to do with my acne. After finishing this and switching up a few items, my skin is doing better though. It is a little more dry than usual, so I miss the moisture.
h2o+ Sea Marine Revitalizing Shampoo- It lathers nicely and smells great. I am not certain it does a lot for my frizzy hair, but it does not seem to make it worse either.
Schick Quattro Disposable Razor Blade- This works well, but I seem to get a closer shave with my Hydro Silk. I am just finishing off the blades I have of this, and I will stop using it.
CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser- My 8-year old adored this sample and insisted I buy it for him. I liked it. This has a nice lather and leaves my skin squeaky clean. Especially through winter, I am trying to use more hydrating cleansers, so I will not use this again for a while.
Peter Thomas Roth Massaging Bar for Bath- This was a victim of the Rituals explosion. I’ve used it in the past and will use the bar in the future. It is currently waiting in a bucket inside my shower, because its container is ruined, and I could not put it back in the soap bucket. This bar from the Hilton is a typical soap. It leaves a slight film on my skin. I’d use it again, but I would not buy it.
Bath and Body Works Verbena Moisture-Rich Cleansing Bar- This was a victim of the Rituals explosion. I’ve used it in the past and will use the bar in the future. It is currently waiting in a bucket inside my shower, because its container is ruined, and I could not put it back in the soap bucket. This smells great and actually leaves less of a film on my skin than most bar soaps. The problem is it still leaves a film, so I would not buy this. I will take these home when we stay at Legoland Hotel, because we love it there and will be staying there as often as possible.
Earth Therapeutics Tea Tree Oil Cooling Foot Scrub- I never noticed the cooling effect. It had zero lather. The scrub did not seem to do much. Foot scrubs usually penetrate better, so I feel them working. This did not seem to do much at all. Putting it in the Not For Me category seems harsh, because it did exfoliate. That is the main purpose.
DryBar Bay Breeze Hydrating Shot- This was my third shot, and I am still not noticing a difference. My hair looks the same before and after. I have one more to go, but I will move this into the Not For Me category if I do not notice a difference after that. It should not take 5 uses to see what it does.
Bliss High Intensity Hand Cream- This is a deeply moisturizing hand cream that is not greasy and feels wonderful. It smells awful though, so I will never buy it. I can endure the smell to use items I receive in kits, like this.
Soap and Paper Factory Farmacie Hand Cream in Candula- This is a rich cream that smells incredible and moisturizes very well. Unlike L’Occitane aluminum dispensers, this rips as it wears down. That wastes valuable product, exposes it to air, and risks cutting yourself. It would be a love based on formula alone, but the container would prevent me from buying it. If another one makes its way to me in a kit, I will gladly use it (carefully to avoid cuts).
Erno Laszlo Hydraphel Intensive Night Cream- I sampled an incredible night cream from this brand a while back, but I cannot remember the name of it. This is not it. While this is a thick cream, it does not penetrate well. It may be too rich. My facial oils penetrate most creams, but the Tarte Maracuja oil I am using could not even get through this one. In order to get full benefits, I had to apply the oil before the cream.
Essentielle Beauty Chocolate Cream- This is a light weight cream that moisturizes deeply. It smelled bad, but it did arrive separated. That made me wonder if the smell meant it went bad or I just did not care for it. I used it anyway. Within about 15 minutes, I could no longer smell it. The separation did not look particularly bad either. Megan reformulated, so I would be willing to try the new version of this.
Philosophy Renewed Hope in a Jar- I tried this before and decided to give it another chance. It felt a little more moisturizing, but I will give my deluxe sample of this away. It is not moisturizing enough on dry skin.
Laura Mercier Flawless Skin Face Polish- This was a little more rough than I generally prefer my face scrubs. It smelled great and exfoliated well.
Jurlique Purely Bright Radiance Serum- The sample was too small for me to see if it did anything special. I know I am not allergic to it, so I’d love to try it again.
Gilchrist and Soames Bath Bar Aloe Cream- This was a victim of the Rituals explosion. I’ve used it in the past and will use the bar in the future. It is currently waiting in a bucket inside my shower, because its container is ruined, and I could not put it back in the soap bucket. Run of the mill bar soap. Skin smells and feels clean, but the bar soap film remains. That film is not a deal breaker to me, but it is not a feeling I actively seek either. I’d use the soap again, but I would not purchase it.
Gilchrist and Soames Facial Bar Aloe Cream- This was a victim of the Rituals explosion. I’ve used it in the past and will use the bar in the future. It is currently waiting in a bucket inside my shower, because its container is ruined, and I could not put it back in the soap bucket. Run of the mill bar soap. Skin smells and feels clean, but the bar soap film remains. That film is not a deal breaker to me, but it is not a feeling I actively seek either. I’d use the soap again, but I would not purchase it.
Molton Brown Pure Milk Soap- This was a victim of the Rituals explosion. I’ve used it in the past and will use the bar in the future. It is currently waiting in a bucket inside my shower, because its container is ruined, and I could not put it back in the soap bucket. My husband went on a business trip in June to Miami. Although he did not take me with him, he did bring me back some of the Molton Brown ammenities provided by the Fontainebleau. I do appreciate that they use real Molton Brown products and not cheap, watered down versions outsourced to an outside company as most hotels do. Regardless, this soap still leaves a slight film on my skin like every other bar soap I’ve tried. My husband claims bar soaps rinse clean, so his skin feels better. It is odd we have different experiences, but I guess we all dislike products others love and vice versa.
h2o+ Sea Salt Soap- This was a victim of the Rituals explosion. I’ve used it in the past and will use the bar in the future. It is currently waiting in a bucket inside my shower, because its container is ruined, and I could not put it back in the soap bucket. This soap, I pick up from Disney resorts, smells nice. It leaves a slight film on my skin as most bar soaps do.
Therapeutics Calm Hair and Body Bath Soap- My husband brought this back from a recent business trip where he stayed at Comfort Suites. I wanted to try it, so I opened this just before the explosion that took other soaps. It leaves a slight film on my skin as most bar soaps do.
Rituals Facial Bar Mandarin Bliss Mandarin and Yuzu- This Radisson offering is okay at best. It leaves a film and smells all right.
Ursa Major Fantastic Face Wash- My husband and I each received a sample of this in recent Birchboxes. He loved it, but his skin is different from mine. It leathers nicely and leaves my skin clean. As it is for oily skin (my profile lists combination skin, because it is not dry in the T-Zone), it does not provide enough moisture for me. Before giving my sample over, I tried his (this one a couple of times). Once we finished this, he started mine. This sample is a sign that many samples I get are not gender specific. He still thinks all of mine are girl samples and refuses to try them.
Not For Me
Ruffian Dressing Room Perfumed Nail Lacquer Remover Towelette- This is a large remover towelette. It is seriously bigger than my hand. I have three big complaints with this. The large black remover towelette leaves black lint all over my finger nails. When I remove polish, I do not want to wash my hands again to remove the lint. Even when I did, some lingered. My second complaint is it dries out before I can finish the job. Why offer such a big towelette if it goes mostly untouched! If you scrub too hard, it will also tear.
de-luxe creme de-luxe luxury body creme vanilla citrus- This incredibly thin body creme smelled odd, like play-doh. It felt sticky. About an hour after applying it, my skin felt dry and itchy. That usually happens when it is too dry. I started reading the bottle and noticed two series of numbers. Both looked like dates. If they were dates, this lotion expired. I contacted Beauty.com who sold this to me in January 2015. They were never able to confirm whether those numbers were expiation dates, manufacture dates, or something else. The numbers were from later months in 2010. Yuck. After trying unsuccessfully to track down de-luxe, I called Beauty.com again. They refunded what I paid for this, and I tossed it. While I am unsure if this expired, I know it is certainly not a good lotion at all. Even if the numbers are not a date, I have no desire to use this.
Shine Mandarin and Mint Soap- These four soaps were victims of the Rituals explosion. I’ve used it in the past and will use the bar in the future. They are currently waiting in a bucket inside my shower, because their container is ruined, and I could not put them back in the soap bucket. The good news is these are the last of my Shine soaps. On my next Sheraton stay, I will not take any of these home with me (unless I take them for someone else). This is not as awful as the other shine products, but it leaves a film on my skin like all bar soaps. It is not super moisturizing either.
Julep One-Step Remover Polish Pad- This is terrible. One side of each pad does not really work at all. They’re small. If you’re wearing a dark color, you will need at least 3 to remove your polish. Even then, you will need a Q-Tip to clean up. I’ve used nail wipes where one or two cleans everything with no Q-Tips needed. I will never buy these again, but I will use them if they come in one of Julep’s awesome kits. While I use up those remaining in my stash, I am only using them to remove swatched polishes only applied to my tips. Even then, I am still having a lot of trouble.