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.
Gold Bond Ultimate Healing Aloe Lotion- Moisturizing for a medium density formula. The more I use this, the less greasy I think it feels. PINCHme originally introduced me to a sample of this product, but I love it more each time I purchase it.
Aussie 3 Minute Miracle Moist- I won this from Allure Free Stuff. This is a very affordable deep conditioner that does a wonderful job. My hair does look less frizzy and feel softer when I use this, so I believe it is a wonderful drugstore product. Sam’s Club had a great deal on a 3-pack of these recently, so I will not need any more for a while.
Ole Henriksen Power Bright- I received this from Sephora and Ole Henriksen in exchange for my honest review. It is a 3-step system that includes: Truth Sugar Glow Polishing Mask, Truth 25% Vitamin C Concentrate, and Pure Truth™ Melting Cleanser. The steps work to bring smooth, bright skin. After some user error with the first application, I had a beautiful result on the second. This is a great product and the Melting Cleanser is a product I would purchase separately.
h2o+ Sea Salt Skin Smoother- This is incredible. It scrubs without being too gentle or too rough. There is oil in it that leaves my skin feeling soft. I do not even add a separate body cream on days I use this all over, and my skin still feels hydrated.
Incoco Coconut Nail Art Nail Polish Strips- These were relatively easy to apply and lasted on my fingers an impressive nine days. They looked incredible for the first four days, started peeling a bit around day 5, and really moved from the base by day seven. The tips did not budge until the 9th day though, so it just looked like grow-out until that point. Cleanup was very sticky, and it took a long time to get all the stickiness off my hands. The tradeoff is worth it considering these are the best nail stickers I’ve tried.
Ole Henriksen African Red Tea Foaming Cleanser- This is everything I want in a cleanser. It foams incredibly well, cleanses deeply, and rinses squeaky clean. My skin does not feel tight or dry, because it does not strip the moisture out of my skin. I love the way it smells, too.
Go Smile Double Action Whitening System- This is the only whitener I’ve used that actually works on tooth colored fillings and relatively pain-free. It does not hurt my gums or my overly sensitive teeth. The actual whitening is mild, but noticeable.
Jack Black Industrial Strength Hand Healer- It moisturizes without a greasy feeling. The smell is not as manly as I feared. I would not buy it, but I will use it when my husband gets it.
Oral B Pro Glide Floss- This is still a FabuFind. Like the name indicates, it glides through teeth. It has never gotten stuck in my teeth like cheaper glosses do. Some glosses taste like you’re feasting on a candle or a bad mint candy. This one has almost no taste at all.
Number 4™ Clarifying Shampoo- This smells nice (not the best but good for a clarifying shampoo). It lathers well and rinses extremely clean. I notice it clears build up without stripping my natural hair oil or causing overly frizzy hair. If the clarifying shampoos I purchased recently do not work out, this is the one I will purchase.
By Terry Baume de Rose- It’s not a surprise that this will be a FabuFind, because I dedicated an entire article to how much I love this product. This is my favorite lip balm of all time (which I will compare to a lot of other lip balms in an article publishing next month). There is nothing I do not love about this product. The packaging is beautiful, and I like that it is in a jar. It helps me get every last drop out (which I appreciate on a product this expensive). When applying a lip balm from a jar, it is also easy to remember to put excess product on my cuticles. This works better on my cuticles than most products designed to help them. I love the beautiful pale pink sheen this creates. It is not as matte as a regular balm or as shiny as a gloss. This is beautifully dewy. The formula is comfortable, moisturizing, does not taste bad on my lips, and I love that it has SPF. It smells like faint roses, so the scent is not overpowering.
Rituals Ginkgo’s Secret Hand Balm- I have yet to smell anything from this line that did not remind me a being in an ethereal garden. Everything smells heavenly and so different. This is no different. It is a really rich formula, so I loved using this in winter. After thinking I lost it sometime back in March or April, I discovered it again in July and finished it up. Things can run but they cannot hide forever (unless they are a sunscreen spray I have not seen in almost a year that will probably expire before I find it). If this was not $17 for 2.5oz, I would certainly buy it. That’s a little extreme for a hand cream, even though I now want to run through a Ginkgo Garden for some great smelling, deeply moisturizing treatments.
CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser Bar- My son wanted to buy this on a trip to Target when his CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser was not in stock. Thinking this would be like every other bar soap that leaves a film on my skin, I refused to buy it. I told him I would order his liquid cleanser online when we got home. Then, my husband received it in a Target Beauty Box. After using a different bar soap on half my body and this on the other half, I noticed this is better. I liked it so much that I showered again using only this. There is no doubt in my mind that this bar soap does not leave a film on my skin. Both times I moisturized right after, so I cannot say if this is more moisturizing than another soap. That is a determination for someone who does not slather in lotion afterward, but I hate skipping even for the sake of reviews. Sorry! This is still a bar soap, so I will not buy it for myself (I just prefer liquids). When I buy this for my son, I will occasionally use it though.
Advil Rapid Release Formula- This is not a beauty product, and I take over the counter pills often for frequent headaches. I am only sharing this one, because I received it as a free sample from Target. It deserves a review. The gels work a little faster than the other products from this brand, so they are the ones I purchase. If I have a headache, I typically prefer Excedrin. These are nice to have on hand for muscle aches and other pains.
Ulta Moisture Cleanse Hand Soap Sparkling Lemon- I love these hand soaps, and can equate them to my current Pokémon craze. It would be nice to “catch” them all. This scent is not a strong and a little more pleasant than the Eucalyptus Mint from last month. This leaves my skin feeling extremely clean, and I love the lather. There were two times 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.
Sephora Collection Pomegranate Face Mask- This mask is for anti fatigue and energizing and while I doubt it literally means it does either of those things, it does what I want a mask to do, moisturize. Masks are so relaxing and unless I have a bad reaction or they do not give the moisture I want, there will probably almost always fall in my love category. Some people do bubble baths to relax, and I put on a sheet mask. If I try this again and notice any fatigue reduction or energizing, I will bump this up to a FabuFind.
Julep It’s Fun to Exfoliate- 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. By the second day, it is completely dry. This perfect sponge was already labeled a FabuFind.
Blue Stop Max Massage Gel for Body Aches- This thin, blue gel is still a FabuFind. It works about as well as my Elemis gel, which is a lot more expensive. I will probably buy a full size and alternate this with the Elemis to see which one works better. It is a topical analgesic that soothes and penetrates deeply. The formula has a special mixture of Cetylated Fatty Acids, Emu Oil, MSM, Glucosamine, Aloe Vera, and Menthol. It is safe for daily use for rapid relief of muscle and joint soreness, and it delivers fast and effective relief for overall body aches. I really appreciate it after a tough workout.
Willing to Try Again
Asprey London Purple Water Conditioner- I like the smell. My hair looks decent post use. It is a little on the thin side, and I do not feel it conditions as well as a thicker conditioner does. Although I do not feel the need to buy it, I will gladly use samples when we stay at the Ritz Carlton again.
Sunday Riley Good Genes- This is a well-reviewed serum, but it did not live up to my expectations. The smell is awful, and it takes forever to fade. Imagine walking into a healthy foods juice bar and smelling all the vegetables blending together, and that is close to what this smells like. I did notice a slight improvement in moisture, so I would not completely write this off. If this anti-aging serum works, it takes longer than this 0.25oz sample to see the results. Although I do not expect serums to work overnight, I expect to see something by the end of a deluxe sample.
benefit Bad Gal Mascara- After hating They’re Real (the most popular mascara on the planet), a benefit rep explained that wet formulas are not great for hooded eyes. She suggested this and said I would love it. I did not. It was not terrible, because it does stay on my lashes for the most part, unlike They’re Real which always transferred to my face. The problem is it did not do much in the way of defining or volumizing, although it does better than the Neutrogena one I tried recently.
Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Fresh Cut Split End Mender- This is technically a decent sized sample. I need so little for the ends of my hair that 0.33oz lasted over a month. The problem is it takes longer than a month to notice if a split end mender is actually working. It is possible this works and it is possible it doesn’t. Unless I get a bigger sample, I will never know. This smells great and has a thick creamy feel, so I want to believe it is working.
Mario Badescu Hyaluronic Eye Cream- In Get Free Samples Volume One, I mention how I received this freebie. Although your freebies would be based on your skin concerns, this option is still available to anyone who has not redeemed it. That said, I am not certain this is the perfect eye cream for someone with really dry under eye skin. When I used this, my skin still felt a little tight. This feels almost like glycerin and takes a while to seep into the skin. It should lock in skin’s own moisture, but my skin does not have a lot of moisture. At the 10x points event for Ulta last year, I picked up a second sample of this. I may keep it to use as a serum under a thicker cream or give it away. There is still time to decide.
Institute Swiss Omni Resorts Chamomile Shampoo- The shampoo did not lather as well as I would have liked or rinsed as clean as I would have hoped. It did not seem to add or take away frizz, so I will use this during and after stays at the Omni. I would not seek this product out.
Institute Swiss Omni Resorts Aloe and Honey Conditioner- The conditioner is on the thin side, and I typically like a thicker conditioner to coat my hair. It did not seem to add or take away frizz, so I will use this during and after stays at the Omni. I would not seek this product out.
Not For Me
DERMAdoctor Brazilian Bombshell- I love Shrinking Beauty from this brand, so I had high expectations for this product. Not only did this sunscreen seem to do nothing to smooth skin, but it did not even protect my skin from the sun. My skin burned! This does not smell good either, so my husband thought it went bad. The expiration date was June 2016, and I finished this within the first few days of July. Unless it went bad way before its expiration date, there is no excuse for it smelling bad and not protecting me from the sun, even if I can forgive it not smoothing my skin.
Josie Maran Argan Lip Treatment in Heaven- I’ve tried a lot of lip balms (and actually am writing a comparison series I will publish sometime next month), and this is one of the worst ever. Its only saving grace keeping it from the very bottom is it does not taste bad. There is nothing worse than a bad tasting lip balm, because it is impossible to keep lip products away from your taste buds. This has a very faint pale pink color that looks like a nude lip balm on my lips. The first time I used this in June 2014, it did not do much. My lips did not feel moisturized, and the formula faded quickly. While this was still somewhat fresh, my bottom lip cracked, an actual crack with blood and everything. That’s never happened while I had a lip balm on before. After a month, I worked up the courage to try it again. No joke, my bottom lip cracked again.
That use was in July of 2014, and I have not been brave enough to try it a third time. So, I tossed a lip balm only used twice. It may not have been a bad product, but the bad luck I experienced with it means it is not for me. Unless I have an allergic reaction or REALLY hate something, I try to finish it. Not finishing something speaks volumes on just how much I hate it. Josie Maran does not even make this anymore, so I wonder if anyone else hated it as much as I did.
Lush Ultra Bland Facial Cleanser- This makeup remover is a thick emollient that always left my skin feeling soft no matter which cleanser I used with this. I love a squeaky clean feeling, so I always used this as step one of a double cleanse. Even though my skin felt soft and moisturized, I seemed to get new acne almost every time I used this. Something in it clogs my pores. Although I forced myself to finish this, I would not use it again.