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.
Travel and Sample Sized Empties
Go Smile Double Action Whitening System- This is still a FabuFind. It is the only whitener I’ve used that actually works on tooth colored fillings and relatively pain-free. My gums and overly sensitive teeth rarely hurt anywhere I use this. The actual whitening is mild, but noticeable.
Gold Bond Ultimate Healing Aloe Lotion- This is still a FabuFind. It is the only drugstore lotion I’ve bought for my hands lately. Most lotions are not moisturizing enough for my hands, so I usually prefer hand creams. One pump keeps my hands feeling moisturized until the next wash. I apply lotion or hand cream after every hand washing, because even the best creams usually cannot withstand a hand washing. The cream can feel a little greasy until it settles into the skin, but it feels more silky than greasy when my skin is really dry.
Ulta Beauty Smoothie Berrylicious- I actually like this scent more than the Yum Yum Yumberry I selected as a FabuFind, but it is still not as great as my favorite scent, Dragonfruit Frappe. Exploring the different scents is a lot of fun to me, so I will continue to try new ones. After I’ve tried them all, I will only purchase Dragonfruit Frappe or whichever scent I like best at the end of my exploration. This is a soap, bubble bath, and shampoo, but I’ve only used it as a soap. As a soap, it has an incredible lather, makes my skin smell great, rinses clean, and is somewhat moisturizing.
CeraVe Moisturizing Cream- The more I use this the more I love it. My boys really love this, too, and they seem to get less eczema flare-ups when this is their primary moisturizer. That is why I keep buying this for their body cream and find myself using it as well. I’m ready to promote this to FabuFind status. It is not as thick as Eucerin, so it is a lot easier to work into the skin. This moisturizing cream is still moderately thick, and it penetrates deeply.
Julep Charcoal Body Konjac Sponge- This is still a FabuFind, but I also named this one of my top 10 of 2015. It is the best body sponge I’ve ever used, because it provides gentle exfoliation in a comfortable way. The shape is perfect, and I like the size. I love the way this lathers and how it dries out in between uses. Germs and bacteria have a hard time thriving, so I can use it longer than 3 weeks average sponges last for. The sponge usually stays in shape for around 2 months (give or take depending on the products used with it).
Biore Deep Cleansing Charcoal Pore Strip- This strip tingles a lot more than the regular version from this brand. I’m not sure if that is good or bad, but it seems like this removes stuff from my pores a little better. My skin is sensitive, so I need to wash my face before and after using this strip.
Sephora Express Nail Polish Remover- Sephora does not sell this nail polish remover anymore, and it’s a shame. I love this, because it is one of the few cheap(ish) polish removers that does not dry out my nails. It does not leave them feeling desperate for moisture or white and malnourished. Once I use other removers in my stash, I will try some of the newer options in the Sephora Collection.
NARS Pro Prime Smudgeproof Eyeshadow Base- This is my all-time favorite eyeshadow primer. If shadows do not go on nicely and stay crease-free with this, they are probably not going to work with anything else. There are some shadows that are beyond help, so this is not a miracle worker. It works more than 95% of the time though. The whitish primer blends in mostly clear, so it does not lay down a color base. Those without overly greasy lids (like mine) may prefer one that adds a bit more pigment to even out the eyelid tone.
Benefit Big Easy- This is a past FabuFind that I’d like to somewhat downgrade but not fully demote. The more I used this the more limitations I noticed. It still works beautifully during normal weather that it not too hot or too cold, so I still love this in the spring and fall. During the summer, it slides off unless I set it. Not setting it is the main reason I named it a FabuFind, because it resembles BB cream with more coverage. My skin is dry, so I always recommend setting it for people with oily skin. In the winter, it highlights dry patches more than more luminous formulas. I will still reach for this in nice weather when I want something as easy to apply as BB cream with slightly more coverage.
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.
It Cosmetics No. 50 Serum Anti-aging Collagen Veil Primer- This is the best primer I’ve used so far, but I will stop short of naming it a FabuFind. I cannot promote products when I hate the packaging. The pump stops working when there is still a lot of product in the container. Waste on wonderful products is the worst, so I use the pump to scoop out as much product as I can. Maneuvering the pump inside the container is difficult, so there is still a lot of waste when I toss this. It creates a beautiful base, feels silky on my skin, and helps my makeup stay on longer. If getting the product out was not so difficult, I would keep repurchasing it. Hopefully, It Cosmetics redesigns the pump.
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, so I still have one left (if I can find where I put it).
365 Foaming Hand Soap Citrus Grapefruit- The only thing that keeps this from being a FabuFind is the inconsistency and potential product waste. Sometimes, one pump is enough and does a thorough job foaming (as it should according to the product name) and cleansing. Other times, it takes 2-3 pumps to get the same effect. While I am unsure why this happens, I am not okay with it. Unless a soap is very cheap, it is unacceptable to use multiple pumps for one hand wash. The pump on this bottle broke with almost half of the refill left to go. Instead of buying a new pump for this scent, my husband switched scents again. That meant we had to finish this bottle with a broken pump. He purchased a refill for the current scent, so I hope that pump makes it.
Carol’s Daughter Ecstasy Bath & Body Oil- I had delusions of grandeur that I could talk my husband into massaging this into my skin the first time I purchased it. Even though that never happened, I’ve repurchased this a couple of times. It moisturizes beautifully and gives my skin an incredible glow. The glow fades in a few hours as it sinks into the skin, but it looks great while it lasts. This product stayed with me all summer, and I will repurchase this (probably next summer).
Gold Bond Softening Foot Cream- This is a very rich cream, so it works extremely well. My feet always feel wonderful, and I really love the light almost citrus scent. I probably work in way more than I should, because my skin absorbs it.
Secret Clinical Strength Smooth Solid Light & Fresh- I bought the wrong 3-pack of deodorant from Sam’s Club by accident, so I still have 1 left. Thankfully, I do love this, but I do not love it as much as the Invisible Solid, which is a FabuFind. This does everything I expect from deodorant but it is a little more messy than the Invisible Solid.
Simple ultra-light gel moisturizer- My skin is too dry for gel moisturizers, so I never used this on myself. I usually do not share products I never use, but this one came inside the Birchbox CEW Mass Appeal Box from 2015. This worked extremely well on my boys. It is very gentle and provides all the moisture their skin needed. When I used this on my younger son, he never experienced a dry eczema patch on his face. He has experienced them with other moisturizers.
Pantene Expert Intense Hydration Shampoo- I received this in the June Target Beauty Box, and it arrived leaking. Thankfully, Target shipped it in a plastic bag, so it did not mess up any of the other products. If it did not arrive leaking, I would not have tried it so soon, so I am almost glad it did. This works with my hair even better than the version I received in an Influenster Voxbox. It leaves my hair squeaky clean, feeling soft, smelling great, and with less frizz than usual.
Gold Bond Healing Hand Cream- This is thicker and more moisturizing than the lotion, which I also love. It is more expensive per ounce, so I prefer to use the lotion when my hands are not as dry. When my hands are really dry, I reach for this drugstore cream that rivals many of the prestige ones I love.
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.
Real Chemistry Luminous 3-Minute Peel- This is still a FabuFind. It peels my skin quickly and efficiently. You can see and feel the skin coming off, so it is not at all like a peel where you’re unsure. After using this, I do not see dry patches at least for a few days.
Sephora Collection Colorful Blush 05 Sweet On You- I really like the color, and I find the blush very pigmented. This also lasts on my cheeks for more than 3 hours, which puts it near the top of powder blushes (from any brands). If I did not use this while I was sick (had a formal wedding where I needed makeup), I would have finished it. There are germs in it, so I cannot keep it any longer.
Make Up For Ever HD Microfinish Powder- I usually do not use a finishing powder, because my skin is dry and setting powder is enough. Using too much powder on dry skin is not ideal. This actually works well enough on my dry skin as a setting powder, so I was able to use this sample when I did not want to place germs (had to attend a formal wedding while sick) inside my regular powders. There was no flashback, so I must have applied it sparingly. I cannot see myself purchasing a finishing powder (unless I use it as a setting powder).
Willing to Try Again
innisfree skin solution mask wrinkle care- I did not notice any improvement in my wrinkles, but the moisture this added to my skin felt great. My skin did not react to it, so I’d be willing to try this again to see if there are any long-term benefits.
Julep Dry Clean Invisible Dry Shampoo- There are five things I look for in a dry shampoo, and I have yet to find one that hits all five. I want: a great scent, oil reduction, volume, no residue, and soft hair. This smells nice (like a light hairspray), does not reduce much oil, does not create much volume, does not leave a residue, and leaves my hair feeling soft. It hits 3 of my 5 desires. If I received another one in a kit, I’d use it. My goal is to find one that hits all five, so I would not purchase this again.
Sephora Collection Pearl Mask- I noticed some minor brightening, but it was not as much as I’ve seen with other products. This definitely adds moisture to my skin, which is the main thing I look for in a mask. My skin did not react to it, so I’d be willing to try this again to see if there are any long-term benefits.
TonyMoly Avocado Mask Sheet Nutrition- I am allergic to avocado, so I was not brave enough to try this myself. Sometimes I do find with avocado products and other times I do not, so I never know what I am going to get. My husband used this, and his skin definitely felt softer. His skin is not as dry as mine, but he did not even apply a face cream after removing this.
The Face Shop Konjac Cleansing Puff- I have yet to try a konjac sponge I did not like. The only thing that keeps me from repurchasing this is I do not like the shape. It has a hard time reaching the areas around my eyes. Like my favorite konjac sponge, this lathers beautifully and dries up between uses. That makes it harder for bacteria to thrive.
Biore Deep Cleansing Pore Strips- I took a long break from using these when I read that they could do more harm than good. Since then, there was more research stating they are probably okay. These clean out my pores nicely. The only thing that keeps me from loving them is they make my skin itch for a while afterward. Washing my face before and after treatment helps though.
Olay Active Botanicals Moisturizing Toner- I’m not really sure this did a lot, because I’ve used toners that feel more moisturizing. It looks and feels almost like pure water with a subtle scent. My skin did not react to it, so I’d try it again to see if it does anything long-term.
Lancome Absolue Ultimate Bx Replenishing and Restructuring Serum- This serum is no longer on the market, and I never got a chance to try it while it was still available. It was slightly separated when I started it, but I used it anyway. That probably meant it was not as effective as it was when it was new. Thus, I cannot give this a proper review. I can say that this gave an immediate glow to my skin, so I can only imagine how wonderfully it worked in its prime.
Josie Maran Black Oil Mascara- I had a love/hate relationship with this mascara. It is another wet formula, which does not bode well for people with hooded eyes like mine. There is a lot of transfer to the face. The mascara on my lashes looked great in the beginning, too, but the sample got clumsy faster than other mascaras I’ve tried. On the few occasions the formula did not transfer to my face, it provided great definition (which is the number one thing I look for in mascara). Thankfully, I’ve tried other mascaras that define better, including my all-time favorite, Lancome Defincils.
Fresh Sugar Lip Serum Advanced Therapy- Of every lip product I’ve ever tried (I am still working on the lip balm comparison series), this seems to moisturize the best. It sinks into my skin, so it does not feel tacky or sticky on my lips for long at all. I put this on before I go to sleep and wake up with soft lips. The problem is I loathe the taste. When it comes to lip products, I cannot keep them out of my mouth. Bad tasting lip products are nothing I’d purchase, but I will endure the taste for the soft lips if I got another sample. My goal is to find something that works this well that tastes wonderful. So far, By Terry Baume de Rose comes the closest to perfection.
Giovanni Tea Tree Triple Treat Conditioner- This is an sub-par product courtesy of the Double Tree Hilton. It does not do much for my frizz. The formula is a little thin, so it does not moisturize my hair at all.
La Prairie Skin Caviar Luxe Cream- When it comes to super expensive creams, I judge them a lot more harshly. This moisturized nicely and felt great on my skin. If there are long-term effects, I will never know. The only thing foils of face cream do is help me decide if I am allergic, hate the scent, and if they give enough moisture. They never help me see if they’re worth a purchase. I did think this was more fragranced than I prefer (although I did not hate it). That is pretty common with these super expensive creams though. It seems like they invest half the cost into fragrance and packaging and the other half in ingredients.
Stila Eyeshadows- The formula of Stila shadows is somewhat inconsistent. There are some I love and others I really dislike. Kitten is a star, and this sample was a reminder that their matte shades are somewhat lacking.
Smashbox Eyeshadows- I’m not a huge Smashbox fan, because most items I’ve tried are not comparable to similar items in brands within its price range. This sample strip was not too bad, so I’d consider getting some Smashbox shadows. The shadows from my recent Birchbox were hit and miss, so this strip was better.
Charlotte Tilbury Scent of a Dream- This scent is described as a kind floral-chypre with psycho-active magic molecules, erotic floral extracts and confidence-boosting citrus notes. I really have no clue what that means, but it smells great. The only thing that keeps me from loving this is it fades too quickly on me. Within about 5-6 hours, I could no longer smell it. It is possible I just became accustomed to the scent, but other people could not really smell it on me either.
LivRelief Pain relief cream- My body was aching at the peak of my sickness. I applied this to my lower back, but I never noticed a difference before or after applying it. Once I try this again, I will report back on if it works or not. If it does not work a second times, I will move it into the Not For Me category.
Not For Me
Swisspers 100% Cotton Rounds- I bought a six-pack of these from Sam’s Club without ever trying them. That was a huge mistake, because they stink. They’re rough, fall apart, and leave lint behind. Whenever I make a bad investment, I try to see it through, but there is no way I will purchase these again. Future reviews will be from the same bad investment this came from. The cheap rounds from Target are slightly better if you want a cheap option.
SweetSpot On-the-Go Pipette Grapefruit Verbena- My gynecologist has warned me in the past not to use items like this, but I like trying items I receive in boxes. This was a reminder that I really need to stop trying these scented items where scents do not belong. I will not use the other two Target included in the Fresh & Fabulous Box, because this did not leave me feeling fresh or fabulous.