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 spotlight ones I’ve finished and others I have yet to finish, so I can discuss them in more detail.
CeraVe Moisturizing Cream- This is a moisturizing cream that penetrates deeply and rubs in smoothly, because it is not as thick as some others. If I am looking for intense moisture, I will stick with Eucerin, but I will use this when I want something that moisturizes very well and works into the skin quickly.
Dial Spring Water Antibacterial Body Wash- I use this on my hands only in the shower. The smell is nice, and I like the price. There are certain times where nothing short of antibacterial will work for my hands. This or any other antibacterial will never touch any other part of my body.
The Face Shop Konjac Cleansing Sponge- While not my favorite Konjac sponge, I really love this as well. It is soft (when soaked) and exfoliates gently. It hardens if I skip a day like my Julep ones. The only thing that keeps this from being a FabuFind is the circular shape is not idea for parts of my face where circles do not easily fit. I also wish it softened a little faster. If I wet it at the beginning of my shower, it is still semi-hard by the end when I need it.
Juara Coconut Illipe Hand & Nail Balm- I really love the consistency of this. It feels silky and smells great. My hands maintained the silky soft feeling until the next wash.
h2o+ Targeted Care softening mint Foot Rub- This is still a FabuFind. It is very soothing on tired feet. When your feet are not overly tired, you may not notice the mint at work. I prefer something a little thicker for moisturizing, but this is my go to (within foot creams) for relaxation.
L’Oreal Revitalift Volume Filler Serum- I received this from SheSpeaks in exchange for a review. By the time I had to publish the review, I gave it 3 stars. From the beginning, I could tell it was temporarily filling in lines. When I used it, they looked less deep. If I skipped a day, they returned. My problem was I kept getting a slight tingling making me think I was allergic. After a full-blown allergic reaction, I gave this product a break for a while. Turns out, this was not the culprit. Once I started using this again with other products, the tingling stopped. It temporarily fills lines, so I would give this 4 stars today. This falls short of 5 stars or FabuFind status, but barely on both accounts. For the price, this is an excellent temporary line filler.
Soap & Glory The Righteous Butter Body Butter- This is a moderately thick cream that does moisturize. I love the scent. My husband really dislikes the scent on this more than he dislikes the h2o+ hand cream I love so much. Since there are better moisturizers on the market, I will limit how often I buy this lovely scent.
Sephora Collection Hair Ties- I love everything about these hair ties when they’re new. They fit beautifully on my wrist without sucking the life out of it or falling off. Whether on my hair or my wrist, I like that they look somewhat fashionable. It does not look like I am wearing a boring hair tie. A new one wraps around my hair perfectly. In 3 twists, it keeps everything in pace without being too tight or too loose. As time wears on, these stretch out and get to this awkward phase where I cannot wear them on my wrist or my hair. Thankfully, they are cheap (especially since I always wait for a sale to stock up), so it does not cost much to replace them. Most last at least 6 months or so (longer if used less often).
L. Erickson Grab & Go Ponytail Holder- This is a tighter ponytail holder, so it takes a while to break new ones in. For the first few weeks, they leave marks on my wrist and feel too tight in my hair. Neither are unbearable, so I am able to push through to the comfortable stage which lasts a long time. It does not look anywhere near as pretty on my first as the Sephora Hair ties, but it is my preferred tie for a bun. My hair does not fall (other than the weird short pieces). I was lucky enough to get 3 of these from Birchbox last June and this is the first one I’ve had to toss.
L’Occitane Shea Hand Cream- This is still a FabuFind. It is deeply moisturizing, not greasy, and smells decent. If the smell was a little nicer, it would probably be my favorite ever, because I love the way it feels on my hands.
Egyptian Magic- This is still a FabuFind and the product I loved enough to dedicate an article to. I received this mini in my June 2014 Birchbox. It really is the best sample I’ve ever received in a subscription box. We travel with this mini and after refilling and using all of it for our June 2016 trip, I decided to toss the container instead of refilling it again. In retrospect, I should have just washed it and used it again, because my portable containers are clear. Having this in a solid white jar helped the product stay in its natural state. It is not as solid in the clear container I moved the travel amount into when we got home. If you ever get your hand on this container, do not toss it.
AHAVA Mineral Body Lotion- This is a medium density lotion, but it moisturizes extremely well. The scent is not my favorite, but it luckily fades.
Hourglass Mineral Veil Primer- This is one of my favorite primers, because it fills in everything and leaves my skin with a silk effect. I actually have another I prefer, but it is harder to find travel sized samples of that one. When I see this sample available, I order it.
Philips Sonicare Toothbrush Head- This is still a FabuFind. Nothing, other than my hygienist herself, cleans my teeth as well as my Philips Sonicare toothbrush, so I will always buy these.
Pond’s Luminous Finish BB Plus Cream with SPF 15- This adjusted perfectly to my skin color, and disappeared into my skin. I could barely tell I was wearing anything. That is typically what I look for in BB cream, so this was a great one.
Willing to Try Again
Up & Up Regular Cotton Rounds- These work fine. They are nowhere near the best, but they are not the worst either. These mostly stay together, which I appreciate. I think it’s a little rough at times, but they are fine when they have less hard pieces of cotton (common in cheaper cotton). If I want to save a little, these are the best I’ve tried in the low price-point.
Up & Up makeup remover cleansing towelettes- These were not as great as I’d like. I’ve gotten into the habit of cleansing really well, even when I use “cheat products.” After using this, I notice my cotton rounds with other products still pick up product they left. The reason I’d use them again is they felt fine on my skin, and I wash thoroughly anyway. Everything these leave behind will get obliterated with my routine.
Dr. Dennis Gross Dark Spot Sun Defense- I’ve got dark spots on my face, so I wanted to love this. It goes on yellow with its medium density cream that does not smell too much like sunscreen. The problem is my skin burned. I have another one of these, so I will try it again. If I burn again, it is not for me.
Ulta Eucalyptus Mint Moisture Cleanse Hand Soap- I love everything about this other than the scent. It is not bad, but both the eucalyptus and the mint come through strongly. This leaves my skin feeling extremely clean, and I love the lather. There was one time while using this where I did not immediately moisturize, and I could tolerate it. Most washes make me want to climb the wall when I cannot moisturize upon drying.
Peter Thomas Roth Massage Bar- 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.
Simple Protecting Light Moisturizer SPF 15- This is a moderately thick cream that moisturizes well and provides a little sunscreen. The price is incredible, especially given the size. It took us a long time to use this. I did not use this often. My skin is again, so I want advanced moisturizers with lots of goodies. For my boys, this is perfect. It does not aggravate their sensitive skin and moisturizes them well (when they apply it all over). This is a really great, no frills product if all you want is moisturizer with a little SPF. I want a little more, so I will and have used this occasionally.
Peter Thomas Roth Mega Rich Shampoo- I do like this a little better than the conditioner, but it is nothing I’d buy either. The lather is on the weaker side, so I have to scrub hard to cleanse. That gives me more tangles and frizz. It is not too unsightly.
Peter Thomas Roth Mega Rich Conditioner- This conditioner, courtesy of the Hilton, is nothing special. It is a little thin as conditioners go.
Kiko Milano hand&foot stone scrub- I would not have purchased this if I knew my skin should be dry to use it. It is easier to exfoliate in the shower. While this does work on somewhat wet skin, it does work better the two times I actually used it on dry skin. Of the full-size product, I only used it as intended twice. That is why I would not buy this again. If it made it to me somehow, I would use it again. This does exfoliate decently on damp skin and well on dry skin.
L’Oreal Total Repair Extreme Reconstructing Shampoo- After using a full-sized bottle, I can say with certainty that I did not see any improvement in my hair from start to finish, so I doubt it does any reconstructing. It does cleanse well and rinse extremely clean. My hair does look less frizzy than it does with some products.
Living Proof Perfect Hair Day 5-in-1 Styling Treatment- The sample was small, so I will try this again with the deluxe sample I have. From the foil, I am not overly impressed. It definitely makes my hair look better than using nothing at all, but I am not sure it does any of the 5 things it should do very well, except adding volume. My hair does not look smooth or polished, and I need more time to see if it strengthens or conditions. I will always use a separate leave-in, so it is okay if it falls short on the conditioning as long as it does at least 2-3 of the other things it promises well.
boscia B.B. Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 27- The finish on this is nice. It melts into the skin beautifully and provides a bit more coverage than the average BB cream. There is not a heavy SPF smell or feeling. My problem is it is too dark. This is the natural finish, which is the only shade I’ve seen. While it does go on dark and come down a little, it never settles perfectly into my color leading me to believe this could not work at all on fair skin. On my light skin, it barely works.
Schick Quattro Razor- This usually works well, although I prefer the Hydro Silk. I am extremely disappointed in this particular blade though. It was dull from the first (and last thanks for poor performance) use. After using many of these, I am sure this was a fluke. As soon as they’re gone, I will only use the Hydro Silk razors though (my plan even before I used this dud).
Supergoop! Sun-Defying Sunscreen Oil- This smells heavenly, not like sunscreen at all. It leaves my skin dewy and feeling moisturized. My problem is I burned. The sun was really hot, so I want to see if it was a bad product or bad luck. If I get another sample, I will try it again.
Coola Makeup Setting Spray- This had potential for greatness. A setting spray that adds SPF seems perfect for days where I brave wearing makeup in the heat. Like sunscreen, this burns my eyes when it gets inside. I can block my eyes, but then none of the areas that need setting spray most get it. It is important my setting spray can go over my eyes, so I may have to avoid ones with SPF. When the sample was more than half full, it also stopped spraying. That meant I only had two full uses where it sprayed. The second sample (from a different place) ended up doing the same thing. This sample has a faulty nozzle.
ACT Advanced Care Mouthwash- It burns a lot less than my usual Listerine. I am unsure if the burning means it is removing more germs or not. As such, I am unsure what I think of this. Listerine supposedly removes the most germs, but I have no clue if that’s true or if they have clever marketing people. The taste of this is fine, so I would certainly use it again. Both this and my usual mouthwash give me fresh breath.
Coola Radical Recovery After Sun Lotion- This definitely works. I apply it after a sunburn, and it seems to soothe a little. It also moisturizes to assist the sunburned skin from drying out too much. Much cheaper products do the same thing, so I am not sure this is worth it. After I use the rest of my samples, I will decide if it is worth purchasing.
h2o+ Grapefruit Bergamot Conditioner- The conditioner is probably the best item from this line if I had to pick. It is nothing I would go out of my way to purchase. I like the scent and it conditions even though it is on the thin side. Plus, I love the scent that reminds me of Disney.
LA FRESH Waterproof Makeup Remover- This seemed to do a nice job removing makeup, but I cannot remember much else about it. I need to try it again to make a better decision.
Algenist Complete Eye Renewal Balm- This was a generous sample, but I am unsure how I feel about it. I’ve read that a lot of people get allergic reactions to this, so I decided to open my foil before the deluxe. It is fine on my sensitive skin, and moisturizes well enough. Once I try the deluxe sample, I will see what else it can do.
VERB Leave-in Mist- I was only able to get 2 uses out of this, and neither of those uses were enough to make the purchase decision. It seems like it works. My hair did seem to detangle nicely, but I used this while traveling. How much of that can I accredit to this or the water at the hotel. Who knows? If I can get another sample of this, I will try it at home. Although, it is so nice to have portable products like this for trips.
Omni Resorts Bath Soap Enriched with Ginseng Extracts- I am not a huge fan of bar soap, but this one did cleanse and rinse clean. Most leave a sticky film on my skin. In order to decide if it is a great soap, I need to use it at home first with my water. The water at the Omni may be treated, but mine is not.
Eucerin Skin Calming Daily Moisturizing Cream- I am a huge Eucerin fan. This specific product is very cheap, so I use it as an add on at both Ulta and Drugstore.com when I need to get over a shipping minimum. It is a little thin compared to the rest of the Eucerin line. Short of needing something cheap to throw into an order, I would not buy this.
Not For Me
Julep One-Step Polish Remover Pad- This is not as terrible as it once was, but it is still bad. 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.
Gum Butlerweave Dental Floss- This does not glide at all. I need floss that does not get stuck in my teeth. If it gets stuck even a single time, I will never buy it. The one I use all the time never gets stuck.
Iope Bio Essence Intensive Conditioning- This was the second essence in my challenge. It looks and feels like pure water. Since everything is in a language I cannot read, maybe it is.
h2o+ Aquafirm Micro Collagen Cream- I am not sure if it is the fragrance, which is strong, or one of the ingredients, but this moisturizer gave me a light rash. It was nothing compared to some of the reactions I’ve had to products, but I am positive this was the culprit. If I skipped a day, the rash went away. It returned when this returned. That was enough trial and error to see this is not compatible with my skin.