A New Day

Taking a look at all of the things I've been missing

Use It: July and August 2017 Empties

Happy September!

I hope everyone had a wonderful late summer! I finally caught a break in my personal life – we took a much needed vacation to Iceland and then I spent a few days in my second home of Washington, D.C. I am really bad about using my PTO, but made it an absolute priority lately. I finally feel that I have reclaimed some control in my life. I also just booked my next vacation. ūüôā

So here we goooo! This was a fairly productive couple months, so I’ll be breaking everything down by type: skin care, makeup, body, hair and lifestyle/other. Sample reviews are posted to my Instagram (@lvp8779) as they are used.

SKINCARE

Avène Gentle Gel Cleanser Рthis might be the most perfect, gentle cleanser out there. This has no scent and removes dirt and oil without stripping moisture from my skin. I love using this with a konjac sponge first thing in the morning. One of my friends brought this back from Europe for me and I have yet to find it in the US. She is headed back in September and it is definitely on my wish list. Available at Boots for approximately $12-$15 (US) for 6.76oz.

Avène Thermal Spring Water Рas I mentioned in my summer favorites post, I really love facial mists Рtoner, spring water.. you name it, I want it. This has been my overall favorite РI like to use after the gym or on really warm mornings. It is a hydrating mist that calms my angry skin. I have already repurchased the giant size of this! Available at Blue Mercury for $9 for 1.76oz.

Guerlain Orchidee Imperiale Cleansing Foam – this stuff is sooo good. I reviewed another mini before and I still love it. This removes any traces of eye makeup and leaves my skin feeling soft, hydrated and refreshed. I love everything in this skincare line! The full-size is 4.2oz and runs about $105 (YIKES!). I would seriously consider the splurge…

Le M√©tier de Beaut√© Rejuvenating Anti-Aging Night Cr√®me¬† – Oh. Em. Gee. This… Wow. Let me be very clear that I didn’t purchase this – this was sent from the lovely folks at LMDB a while back through a conversation on Instagram. And you know why I didn’t purchase? Because this bad boy is $350. That freaks me out a little.. ok, a lot. This night cr√®me is amazing. This is loaded with retinol and Coenzyme Q10 that repairs and refreshes skin. This was incredibly hydrating and left my skin feeling like I just had a facial. Is it worth it? Yes. Will I purchase? I don’t knowwww… Halp. Available at Neiman’s for $350 for 1oz. Yes. ONE OUNCE.

Skyn Iceland The Antidote Cooling Daily Lotion – I actually started this before we went to Iceland, sorry this was not a travel purchase! This is a really nice gel moisturizer – it worked so well during the summer months. It provided great hydration without leaving my skin greasy. I would definitely consider repurchasing. Full size available at Ulta for $45 for 1.76oz.

MAKEUP

bareMinerals Touch Up Veil in Translucent – hey – remember this from my failed project pan? I have forced myself to use this off and on for an eternity. I ended up hating it… I also hate wasting things. So I sucked it up and finished it off. I did not find it to leave a great finish on my skin. Within just a couple hours, I felt really shiny. I’m not even going to look up the cost and where you can find it.

NYX Matte Blotting Paper Рanother one bites the dust. Available at Ulta for $5.99 for 100 sheets.

Urban Decay All Nighter Makeup Setting Spray Рlook, I had another little one stashed away! I do like this, but as I mentioned last time, I really prefer the MAC Fix+. I will probably not repurchase. Full size available at Ulta for $15 for 1oz.

BODY

Ahava Mineral Body Lotion – I’ve missed having this in my routine! It was nice to find a mini to take on all of my travels the last couple months. I love the way this smells and how my skin feels after using it. I will repurchase and repurchase as long as they continue to make it! Full size available at Blue Mercury for $29 for 8.5oz.

LUSH Whoosh Shower Jelly – I have used several of these – this is such a fun product. Lush makes some great stuff, but this is by far one of my favorites. I love this bright, citrus scent and how can you not love the jello-like texture? I will purchase this over and over again. Available at Lush for $8.95 for 3.5oz.

HAIR

Amika Perk Up Dry Shampoo – I’ve gone through several of these minis now and every time I can do nothing but rave about it. It absorbs oil quickly, doesn’t leave a white cast and smells so good. I will definitely splurge on the full size at some point!¬†Available at Sephora or birchbox.com for $10 for 1oz.

Fekkai Technician Color Care Shampoo – I’ve said this before and I will say it again..¬† I love Fekkai products, but I don‚Äôt love the price. This is cleanses so well and is incredibly gentle on color treated hair. I do have a full-size of this that I will break into soon! Available at Target for $4.99 for 2oz.

LIFESTYLE/OTHER

Bath and Body Works PocketBac in Perfect Beach Day Рcan this be a permanent scent? This smells like sunscreen and pina coladas. Yes, please. Available for $1.75 for 1oz.

Julep Nail Color in Julep Рthis is another crème polish that lasts 4-5 days. This was a beautiful color Рthe actual Julep brand shade that was released in 2015. The issue I have with Julep polishes it that there seems to always be quite a bit left in the bottle. It is very difficult to finish based on the design and as it gets down to the bottom portion, it gets really clumpy. There are so many polishes out there, that I will probably not repurchase any of the Julep shades when I finally finish them all off. Available at Julep for $14 for 0.27oz.

Total products used 2017:

Skincare: 22

Body: 12

Hair: 14

Makeup/face: 18

other: 7

Nails: 8

Samples: 16

Sheet masks: 1

Month total: $463.68   (approximately)

Year total: $1,475.48

And can we agree to not talk about my spending? If I went off the rails earlier this year, then I don’t know what you call my Nordstrom sale experience or my adventures at the VIB Rouge holiday preview. Shh.. don’t tell!

So there you have it! I promise to get back to regular blogging soon!

What did you use up the last couple months? Any favorites?

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Use It: April 2017 Empties

Hello again, everyone!

What a crazy, crazy month! I know – it is so boring to say that… but this month flew by.¬† We are nearing the¬†end of construction in our bathroom FINALLY. Throughout the construction, I have been using¬†really minimal version of my daily routine… for what seems like forever at this point. But it has really helped me focus on using up a few things – deluxe samples, full size.. the whole deal.

So here we goooo! This was¬†a fairly productive month, so I’ll be breaking¬†everything¬†down by type: skin care, makeup,¬†body, hair and lifestyle/other. Sample reviews are posted to my Instagram (@lvp8779) as they are used.

SKIN CARE

Balance Me Tinted Wonder Eye Cream – in theory, this is great. It is a hydrating, light reflecting moisturizer that diminishes under eye circles. It’s an all-natural product, chock full of hyaluronic acid and light reflecting particles… Ok – what is the down side?? It actually did nothing for my skin – it was all smoke and mirrors. The tint was just a bit too dark for my skin tone and it didn’t actually have any long-term brightening effect. I didn’t finish all of this and wasn’t really interested in purchasing. Available on Birchbox.com for 0.34oz.

Kate Somerville Hydrating Firming Mist – did not firm, was not overly hydrating. I didn’t really enjoy this. Bummer. But for those KS die-hards, you can purchase the full-size at Sephora for $48 for 4oz.

Murad Renewing Cleansing Cream – this was a very dense, creamy cleanser. It was a bit harsh for my eyes, so had to use a different cleanser. I would recommend as a follow up to an oil or balm cleanser, but did not find it thorough enough to remove everything on the first try. This would be much better for mature or dry skin. This was not my favorite Murad product and I would probably not purchase. Full-size available at Ulta or Sephora for $38 for 6.75oz.

 

 

Perricone MD Photo Plasma Broad Spectrum SPF 30 – this was a great moisturizer – it was hydrating during the cold months and light enough for the summer months. I loved the high SPF and found it really took great care of my skin. I would definitely repurchase. Available at Sephora for $75 for 2 oz.

Vichy Liftactiv Supreme – this was received through an Influenster box a while back – I received this and a serum, which I ultimately went and purchased a full-size of! This was an excellent moisturizer and a great introduction into the brand. I definitely want to explore more and would definitely consider purchasing. Full size is available at Ulta for $42 for 1.7oz.

Vichy 3 in 1 One Step Cleansing Micellar Solution – another Vichy freebie! This one was a gift from the company through an Instagram contest. Seriously – I was thrilled! This is a really great formula – very gentle and removes makeup so quickly and easily. I actually have a backup of this, but down the road I would definitely repurchase. Full-size available at Ulta for $14.50 for 6.8oz.

MAKEUP

 

 

Buxom Vanity Lash Mascara Рthis is a really flimsy wand. I get that Buxom wants to offer options as far as the wand, but I cannot get behind this one. This bent so much during application that I cannot actually speak to the formula of the mascara because I cannot apply it well. I think Buxom has a lot of great products Рthis is just not one of them. Full-size available at Sephora for $20 for 0.37oz.

BODY

 

 

Aveda Hand Relief Night Renewal Serum – this was a great addition to my daily hand treatment. I used this day and night and liked the additional boost it gave with my regular hand cream. This was really great during the winter months. Would definitely repurchase. Available at Aveda for $35 for 1oz.

Kiehl’s Cr√®me de Corps – still not a fan. Am I the only one who does not love this? I think I’m in the minority. I used this at night on my hands.. whatever. Available at Kiehl’s for $11 for 2.5oz.

HAIR

Aloxxi Firm Hold Hairpray – this is a very firm hold at first, but then starts to break down after a couple hours. I’m not a big hairspray user so… I received this through Birchbox and I can’t find this version on the website anymore. It’s not worth hunting down.

 

 

Cricket Static Free Fast Flo Brush (1.5in)¬†– I’ve had this brush for like 6 years and it is completely falling apart. It no longer eliminates static and the brush tips have started falling off. But I love it and have already replaced it! Available at Ulta for $7.49

Klorane Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk (x2) – I’m pretty sure I reviewed this before and I was not impressed. It says it’s for¬†normal hair, but I¬†think this is more for fine hair – I have lots of hair and this just gets lost. I don’t feel like this works beyond a few hours for me. Full size available on Birchbox for $20 for 3.2oz.

LIFESTYLE/Other

 

 

Deborah Lippmann Nail Color in Lady is a Tramp Рcan I just point out that I used a whole bottle of Deborah Lippman polish? These are 0.5oz bottles so this is quite a feat! This is a crème pink-toned red that was semi-opaque. I needed 2-3 coats to assure there was no streaking or thinner spots. I would definitely like to try out more shades Рthis formula is fantastic! Available at Nordstrom for $18.

Julep Cr√®me Color in Vicki – hot, hot pink! Whoa! This is an¬†obnoxious, but¬†great spring/summer color. Sadly, this bottle broke down and got really clumpy. I couldn’t salvage it! I couldn’t find this on the website, but there are some other really similar colors and sooo many others available for $14 at Julep.com.

Saint Augustine and Suds Tonka Whiskey Leather Candle – this is so good. Oh man. Can I bottle this and wear it? I love this combination – it is amazing. I bought several of these so there will be no running out! More scents available seasonally at Saintaugustineandsuds.com for $12.

Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat – this dries super fast and makes any shade look super glossy. I’ve gone through a few of these now and I think it’s definitely reached permanent status in my stash. Available at Ulta for $9.95.

Total products used 2017:

Skincare: 15

Body: 7

Hair: 11

Makeup/face: 5

other: 5

Nails: 5

Samples: 5

Sheet masks: 1

Month total: $242.44   (approximately)

Year total: $580.19

In keeping with the past few months of tracking my low-buy behavior, I will sadly share my inevitable derailment. Thanks Sephora VIB sale… Also, there is so much amazing new stuff out that I threw up my hands and totally caved:

VIB Sale:

Drybar Detox Dry Shampoo – FULL SIZE! $23 for 3.5oz

Tom Ford Neroli Portofino EDP 1oz – $145

Deduct 15% and a $10 Shopkick gift card… I also used a $100 gift card from work. This¬†ended up costing¬†about $40 total out of pocket.

Ulta trip… not with 20% off… oops…

Monthly Brow Bar visit – $21 -but¬†I don’t count this in my monthly low-buy tracking!

Benefit Cheek Parade – $58.00 for 5 full size cheek colors!

Cotton balls – $1.99 I don’t count this either!

Cricket Static Free Fast Flo Brush – $5.39 on sale!

NYX Blotting Tissue – buy one get one 50% – $3.99 each

Seche Vite Fast Dry Top Coat – $9.95

Tony Moly Fresh Cleansing Tissue – $8.50 (5x points!)

Ulta Nail Polish Remover – $2.49

Total – $120 (ish) – minus $3.50 coupon and $35 gift card. Actual out of pocket expense $87. Subtract Brow Bar visit= about $62

Total spent in April – just over $100 out of pocket. Not bad! My wine spending however… yikes! Good thing this is a beauty blog and not a wine blog, right?

There you have another month of empties. What did you use up this month? Any favorites?

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Use It: February 2017 Empties

Hello again, everyone!

I’ve been on a bit of a blog break – I’m in the final stages of planning a big event next weekend and we started a major bathroom renovation. I’ve just not had time to sit down and type anything.

As I was moving all of the stuff out of the bathroom,¬† I contemplated just tossing my empties box… and then I thought about waiting until March… and then I just tossed the box¬† into my guest room. Since there were so few items in this box, I figured I could sit down and type out a few notes.

As always, sample reviews are posted to my Instagram (@lvp8779) as they are used. I used up a handful of some deluxe samples. If I was able to get a good sense of the product, it is included in this post. I am going to keep a tally again this year and track the total amount of products used with a final total in December (or whenever I actually write the December empties post…)

As an added bonus, my low-buy purchases will be tacked on to the end of the post. Hopefully this will help keep me accountable for spending as little as possible this year.

Here we go:

Amika Perk Up Dry Shampoo – this is definitely one of my favorite high-end dry shampoos. It absorbs oil quickly and keeps working throughout the day. I love this! Available at Sephora or birchbox.com for $10 for 1oz.

Guerlain Orchidee Imperiale The Eye and Lip Cream – I wasn’t going to include this because it was a sample, but it lasted for a month and was so damn good. This smoothed out my under eye area and decreased the dark circles. If it wasn’t so crazy expensive, I would definitely purchase. Full size is available at Saks for $200 for 0.5oz (no joke).

Not Your Mother’s Clean Freak Refreshing Dry Shampoo – this can of dry shampoo is huge and seemed to last forever. I was really impressed – this worked better than most of the drugstore dry shampoos I have tried. I will definitely repurchase! Available at Ulta for $5.99 for 7oz.

Ole Henriksen Truth Cr√®me Advanced Hydration – this was nothing spectacular. It absorbed quickly and wasn’t greasy. It would be a good summer moisturizer, but definitely not meant for colder weather. Since they recently, rebranded I think they renamed this as the Truth Advanced‚ĄĘ Moisturizing Cr√®me. Full size available at Sephora for $48 for 1.7oz.

Spa Sister Detoxifying Bamboo Charcoal Konjac Sponge РI found this for a steal at T.J. Maxx! I really liked how well it cleaned and exfoliated my face, but the sponge size was too  big. After a while, I switched this to a body sponge and it worked so much better! I loved using this this my Julep body cleansing oil. I would definitely repurchase. Available at T.J. Maxx for $4.99.

Total products used 2017:

Skincare: 7

Body: 1

Hair: 4

Makeup/face: 0

other: 3

Nails: 0

Samples: 4

Sheet masks: 1

Month total: $45.98   (approximately)

Year total: $158.98

Things I purchased:

About 4 candles from Saint Augustine¬† and Suds. Sadly, my friend Denise had to close her storefront. However she is going to continue events, local events and her website is open 24/7 (www.saintaugustineandsuds.com). I am in love with the Tonka Whiskey Leather candles. I also managed to find another Campfire and Coffee Candle… so good.

Amount spent in February: about $50.

Have a wonderful March! I look forward to sharing final renovation photos with you soon!

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2016 Subscription Favorites and Year in Review

Hello everyone!

Here is the one you’ve been waiting for… lots of friends ask my opinion on subscription boxes – best value, variety, quality and overall fun. Because at the end of the day, subscription boxes are like little surprises every months. Gifts from you to you! ūüôā

I love writing year end reviews – it gives me a chance to take a good look at the obscene amount of products I received in my subscription boxes and determine if they are worth it and what I really loved. After sitting down and going through all of my subscriptions this year, I determined there was very little I actually really enjoyed. Maybe I’m overwhelmed with products? Or disenchanted with everything? I think it is somewhere between overabundance and not loving what I have received. I also made some big switches this year in my subscriptions, so enjoy:

How to Be a Redhead Box – April -July 2016 – what a great box! For under $20 per month, you get a mixture of body, hair, skin and makeup products specific to redheads – those by choice and by nature. So why did I quit this box after so few months? Volume, folks. This came with so many products every month that I simply couldn’t keep up… we’re talking full-size shampoo, lotions, skin treatments.. you name it. This is a small subscription service with a constant waitlist. Since I couldn’t keep up with the amount of products, I decided to hit pause and let someone else take advantage. There were a lot of mainstream brands, but they also highlighted a lot of fun indie brands.

There were 2 winners for me – Pravana Color Enhancer in Brilliant Copper and the Chella Eyebrow Pencil in Awesome Auburn. The color enhancer is pretty serious – you apply to your hair and then have to immediately scrub it off your hands to avoid staining. I’ve dyed my scalp red more than once with this.. oops. This is perfect for when my color starts to fade and my roots are starting to creep up. After leaving on for a few minutes, my color is refreshed and more vibrant. I find that I can extend my color treatments 3-4 extra weeks with this. On the flip side, the Chella brow pencil is an easy way to add more depth to my brows after a color treatment. I usually blend it with the IT Cosmetics Brow Power Universal Eyebrow Pencil for a deeper auburn hue.

Allure Beauty Boxended June 2016. I have been through a few iterations of this since joining a couple years ago. The most recent version¬†completely changed the billing structure, which was fine since I had no idea who was actually charging my credit card… For $15 per month, I received a really solid mix of mid to high-end products that included skin care, perfume, hair and makeup. Towards the end, the brands tended to be a bit repetitive (Bulgari, Pur-Lisse), but at least they weren’t repetitive drugstore brands like Ipsy tends to include. They were kind enough to send me a box back in December and it was awfully tempting to resubscribe!

The standout for me in 2016, was the DHC Deep Cleansing Oil. I’ve heard a lot of hype about this and was very excited to receive and try. A couple drops really go a long way. I use this in the first step of a double cleanse and it breaks down makeup and¬†primer, lifting it away from the skin. I do not use this on or around my eyes.. too scary!

With the end of one subscription, began another…

Sephora PLAY! – after several months on the waitlist, I finally received my first box in July! I love the monthly mix of skincare, color, hair and perfume. I think the real selling point, however is the extra 50 points you get if you shop in store that month. That’s pretty great. At $10 a month, this is an absolute winner.

The winners: hands down, is the Ouai Wave Spray¬†which I actually featured in a favorites post a few months ago. I ended up buying the full size and use it all the time. Another favorite was the Smashbox Always On Liquid Lipstick in Driver‚Äôs Seat that appeared here in a weekly lip post¬†(which will return when I get some sunlight back). And while some people might complain, I really like receiving an assortment of products from the Sephora brand line. I haven’t tried a lot of things from their line and this has really given a great look into their own products.

And a final farewell…

Birchbox – After more than 4 years, I said goodbye to my beloved Birchbox. I was really on the fence about renewing last year and I bit the bullet and renewed in December. I wish I could say that there were some amazing, stand out, new to me products… but there weren’t. The things I loved the most, were Sample Choice items that I had received previously. I’m not going to lie, the shift from reviewing for points to only points for purchase was also a deciding factor. I’m sure this hurt their bottom line, but it was a huge incentive for having the subscription.

So there you have it. Whew. That took much longer than I remember from last year! The 2017 plan is to maintain one (yes, ONE) subscription. For now, it is going to be just the Sephora PLAY! box. I have so many products that I truly do not need anything else. This box fulfills my curiosity for new releases and quality brands, while not overwhelming me with stuff I will never use.

What did you discover in 2016? What subscriptions will you keep in 2017?

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Use It: August 2016 Empties

Hello again!
August always seems like the longest month, but this one just flew! I survived my birthday month – I actually didn’t age this year… it was amazing. I don’t foresee aging any upcoming birthdays either. ūüôā

I had zero empties¬†the first couple weeks of the month and¬†just assumed I would be waiting until¬†the end of September to write this post. But mid-month, I started finishing up a bunch of products and¬†all of a sudden I had a massive pile… I don’t see this as a bad thing. I have a ton of products open,¬†not open and backups of many.¬†After¬†tossing a few things and getting their replacements, I actually made a significant dent in one¬†of my drawers. Little victories!

As usual, everything is broken down into one of the following categories: skincare, makeup, body, hair and lifestyle. Sample reviews are posted frequently to my Instagram (@lvp8779) as they are used.

SKINCARE

Boscia Konjac Cleansing Sponge – I bought this one in a pinch. It’s great, but I know there are so many cleansing sponges that do the same job for 1/4 of the price. Available at Sephora for $15.

MAKEUP

MAC Prep + Prime Highlighter in Radiant Rose Рif you read my blog regularly, you know that I just love, love, love this. This is just a perfect pink highlighter that works so well under your eyes and just as well on cheeks or forehead. I will definitely repurchase! Available online or at MAC counters or freestanding stores for $27 for 0.12oz.

Stila Lip Glaze in Mango Berry – this was a beautiful, sheer coral shade.¬†It wasn’t until half way through this when I remembered that I despise the applicator – it is so messy and you can never dispense enough so then you get too much and it gets all over the lid. Loved the color, but will not repurchase any of these again! Mango Berry is no longer available, but a similar shade called Tangerine is available at Sephora for $222 for 0.08oz.

W3ll People Expressionist Mascara – Birchbox just looooves this brand. The applicator is one of¬†the best I’ve¬†ever used – short and coated the whole lash. The formula, however is a bit of a miss. It coated the lashes, but it didn’t thicken or lengthen… it was a very natural look. I do tend to prefer a bit more drama in a mascara. Available on Birchbox.com for $22 at 0.23oz.

BODY

Kamill Aloe Hand and Nail Cream – this was a nice, lightweight lotion. It was good for spring and summer months, but just wasn’t hydrating enough for cold¬†weather months.¬†The aloe scent was a bit strong, but faded after a while. I would love to test out some of the other scents! Available at smallflower.com for $4.95 for 100ml.

Kiehl’s Superbly Efficient Antiperspirant and Deodorant Cream – yet another one… this is just the absolute best deodorant. It is unscented, dries quickly and lasts 24 hours – so great! I have gone through so many of these and am about to stock up on more. Available on kiehls.com for $19.50 for 2.5oz.

LUSH Rose Jam – this is my all-time favorite Lush product. Why isn’t this a lotion? Or a perfume? It is just SO GOOD. Not only does it smell amazing, it is hydrating as well as gentle on your skin. This is only available at certain times of the year. When you see it, grab it! Available at Lush for $9.95 for 3.3oz.

HAIR

Alterna Bamboo Style Cleanse Extend in Mango Coconut – this claims to be free of parabens, sulfates, phthalates and synthetic color.. ok so I want to know what chemical it smells like because this stinks. It might be a “natural” dry shampoo but it smells like mangoes and chemicals and I had to leave the room that I would spray it in. I originally got this in a Sephora dry shampoo kit but can no longer find it on the website… guess I wasn’t the only one who felt this way.

Davines LOVE Shampoo – I just love this shampoo. It’s deep cleansing, smoothing and smells amazing. It I actually needed to buy shampoo, this would be it. available at Birchbox.com for $25 for 5oz.

Kiehl’s Olive Fruit Oil Nourishing Shampoo – this is awful. I only used this a couple times because it left my hair feeling really heavy and oily. By the end of the day it would look horrible – super greasy and unwashed. I don’t know what hair this is meant for, but definitely not mine. Available at kiehls.com for $7 for 2.5oz.

Not Your Mother’s Knotty to Nice Conditioning Detangler – such a long name… This came in an Allure box a while ago – it was perfectly fine. I don’t frequently find much difference between detanglers – either they work or they don’t, right? I would repurchase I guess. Available at Ulta and Amazon for $6.99 for 6oz.

LIFESTYLE/OTHER

Julep Clean Slate Polish Remover Pads – I know I reviewed these at some point a long time ago. I feel like I really have to work to get the polish off with these pads. The liquid evaporates very quickly so you can only really use 1 per hand. Given the cost, I can’t see how people use these all the time. Available at Julep.com and now Ulta for $14 for 10.

Ruffian Nail Color in Rosary – this is a lovely warm, rose gold shade with a lot of shimmer. I did not like the applicator brush because it collected very little polish to apply… however, you really didn’t need much to fully cover the nail. I usually use 2 coats but 1 would be sufficient. I wouldn’t repurchase because I have a ton of nail polish and it is actually crazy expensive.. like more than twice as much as Chanel ($28 for 0.40z). I got this in a Birchbox, definitely wouldn’t shell out this much. Available on Birchbox.com for $24 for 0.17oz.

Total products used 2016 year to date:

Skincare: 10

Body: 16

Hair: 13

Makeup/face: 20

other: 4

Nails: 8

Samples: 27

Sheet masks: 9

Month total: $184.39

Year total: $1,026.11 WHOA!

What did you finish up this month? Any favorites? Non-favorites?

Have a great September!

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Use It: July 2016 Empties

Hello again!

How on earth is it already August? What the heck… I swear I just got caught up on June.. I’ve been working on a few drafts, so will hopefully have those complete in the next few days. There has been a lot of travel and then I got sick… ugh. Excuses.

This month did not yield a ton of empties, so I will just list everything alphabetically rather than my usual categories. I contemplated just waiting until next month, but I really hate having all of these empty containers sitting around.

Aveeno Nourish + Dandruff Control – so this did nourish, but it did not control dandruff. I feel like it was actually worse after using this shampoo. It wasn’t deep cleansing or anything spectacular for that matter. Thumbs down. Available at Target for $6-$7 for 10.5oz.

Avene Hydrance Light Hydrating Cream Рthis was great for colder weather. But once the weather turned and the humidity went up, this left my face feeling really greasy. I did finish this up on my neck and décolletage and it was fine. I would consider repurchasing for the fall/winter months if I can find the version with SPF. Available at Birchbox for $32 for 1.35oz.

drybar Detox Dry Shampoo – this stuff stinks…. but it works so well! This mini version lasted almost 2 months – a little bit really went a long way. A couple sprays distributed enough dry shampoo to eliminate all of the oil from my hair and helped extend time between washing. I don’t think I could repurchase though because the smell bothers me that much – I might be one of the few people that actually dislikes all of the drybar products. Available at Sephora for $13 for 1.4oz.

e.l.f. Shine Eraser – yes… another. I think I am finally using my last pack. Again, they are fine and were being sold at closeout at Target for $0.85.

Essie Grow Stronger Base Coat – I have been using this for a while and haven’t noticed much change… I started using this when¬†my hair and nails were all messed up after some surgery a couple years ago. I don’t know that I can say it did that much repair – I think it just needed time… not this base coat. On that note, this is a decent base coat. It is a bit tacky and helps the color really adhere to the nail. I have a couple other base coats so I probably won’t repurchase right now. Available at CVS and Target for about $8.

Julep Nail Color in Farrah Рthis is a really interesting cool toned, purple-grey shade. This is the Silk Finish formulas Рin the bottle it looks super shimmery, but dries sort of matte. With a good top coat, it has a lot of depth and shimmer. I have no idea why anyone would want to wear this as a matte! This wore for 4-5 days. I would not repurchase only because I have a ton of nail polish. Available at julep.com for $14.

Kiehl’s Close Shavers Squadron Blue Eagle Shave Cream – this is the sensitive skin version, and yes it’s for men. My skin reacts so poorly to most shaving products, so I get really excited when I find something that doesn’t cause horrible razor burn. I’ve been using this for a while and just keep coming back. Dear Kiehl’s, don’t ever stop making this. I have backups of this. ūüôā¬† Available at Kiehls.com for $16 for 5oz.

Kiehl’s Cr√®me¬†de Corps –¬†I have to be honest… I don’t get the hype. It’s a perfectly fine lotion. I think there are a lot of other lotions out there at a lower price point. Kiehl’s makes a lot of really great products, but this is just ok. Much like the drybar products, I’m sure I’m in the minority on this. Available at Kiehls.com for $11 for 2.5oz.

One ‘n Only Brazilian Tech De-Frizz Wand – this is an absolute life saver in this humid weather. A couple quick swipes tames flyaways and keeps my curls from frizzing. I originally received this in an Allure box and I repurchased a couple at Sally Beauty – they are not currently on the website. I’m going to stalk these down in my local store and hoard them away! If you can find them, get them… buy one for me too. I think they ran around $6-$7.

Rusk Dry Finishing Spray Рthis was a nice, lightweight spray that helped bring my curls back on second day hair. After brushing out my hair, I would dampen it and then spray on a small amount and re-scrunch the curls. Full size is available at Birchbox for $18 for 8oz.

Total products used 2016 year to date:

Skincare: 9

Body: 13

Hair: 9

Makeup/face: 17

other: 4

Nails: 6

Samples: 24

Sheet masks: 9

Month total: $125.85

Year to date: $841.72

All samples and sheet masks have mini reviews on Instagram!

What all did you use up this past month? Any favorites?

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Use It: March and April 2016 Empties

Hello again!

Welcome to another round of empties! This is one of my favorite type of posts to write and read. It makes me really take a good look at my purchases and consider if they were worth it. It also puts in perspective how many other things I have to use up!

As always, everything is broken down into one of the following categories: skincare, makeup, body, hair and lifestyle.

SKINCARE

Lancome Bi-Facil Double Action Eye Makeup Remover – I don’t get the hype. This is a fine eye makeup remover, but it isn’t great. More often than not, I would wake up with leftover mascara and eyeliner caked under my eyes (gross). I expect a lot more for this price point and definitely would not repurchase. Available at any Lancome counter or online for $30 for 4.2oz. Nordstrom does price matching and you can purchase there for $27.

MAKEUP

Benefit Gimme Brow in Light/Medium – what a great, easy to use brow tint and filler. Benefit calls this a “volumizing fiber gel.” Just a few swipes fill in sparse areas and the formula holds unruly hairs in place. This little tube lasted 6 months, but I would say its worth it and consider repurchasing. Available at Ulta and all Benefit counters for $24 for 0.1oz.

Bite Beauty Lush Fruit¬†Lip Gloss in Currant – this is a fabulous neutral shade gloss. Bite makes wonderful lightweight glosses that aren’t sticky or clumpy. All of their products are made with natural oils and are scented like fruit.¬†I would definitely repurchase. Available at Sephora for $22.

Fresh Sugar Tinted Lip Treatment in Rose – I’ve gone through so many of these – granted, I have a stockpile of the minis… This balm is lightweight, non-greasy and provides a lovely, sheer wash of color. I will purchase a full size if I ever run out. ūüôā Available at Sephora for $24 for 0.15oz.

Marc Jacobs Velvet Noir Mascara – I received this through Influenster a few months agoand used it religiously up until a few weeks ago. I read see feedback from another blogger that she knew its time was up when it started flaking throughout the day. and flake it did. This was fantastic until then – this wand separated each lash and the formula coated evenly every time. This lasted easily 10 hours every day. But yes, at the end of its 3-month life cycle, it definitely flaked. Maybe more companies should create a built in reminder when you should toss? Overall I really liked this and would purchase again. Available at Sephora for $26.

Neutrogena Glow Sheer in Ivory to Fair – my friend Laura gave me this forever ago when she was decluttering and I didn’t love or hate it.. perhaps that’s why she passed it along also? The definition of sheer is spot on – it provided little coverage and left a nice dewy finish. It made a great weekend errand-running foundation. Sadly, this has turned and now separates upon application. I have plenty of foundation, I don’t see myself ever repurchasing. Available at Ulta, CVS and many other locations for $12.99 for 1.1 oz.

Stila Smudge Stick Eye Liner in Oscar Fish – I love the Smudge Stick formula so I’m very sad to see this go! This was a great chocolaty brown that I featured in a quick makeup recommendation post last year.¬† Will not repurchase right now, as¬†I have a few similar shades that I want to finish. Available at Sephora for $22 for 0.01oz.

BODY

The Body Shop Body Butter in Cranberry Joy – I’ve reviewed this product, as well as many other things in this scent. I love cranberry! The body butters from TBS are so great – very hydrating and the scents last all day. I will repurchase this again and again – and I probably don’t need to… I think I have backups. This seasonal scent is available starting in September for $21 for 6.7oz.

 

Saint Augustine & Suds Scrub Down – this is a great coffee scrub from my favorite local gal. They just reformulated this and want to test it out! Its hydrating and exfoliating at the same time. Visit the website to check out when the new scrub is up as well as see her gorgeous soaps!

Soap & Glory The Righteous Butter Рthis was my first Soap & Glory product and I thought it was so great Рdefinitely makes me want to try more from this brand. This little tub sat on my desk for quite a while Рa little bit went a really long way. It was very moisturizing, but not greasy and really helped my hands survive winter! Available at Ulta for $4 for the 1.69 mini or $15 for 10.1 oz.

HAIR

Biologe Color Care Shampoo – this is my favorite shampoo. I might change from time to time, but I always come back! It gets my hair incredibly clean without harming my color. I will always repurchase. Available at most salons for $13-24 (this older 16.9oz is no longer sold).

Biolage Pro-Keratin Renewal Spray Рthis is part of a shampoo and conditioner set that I finished a while ago (these sets never finish together..), so I used this in combination with my regular Biologe color treated shampoo. A few sprays left my hair smooth and shiny when used with high heat. I would consider repurchasing after I downsize some of my current products. Available wherever you can buy salon products for $23 for 6.8 oz.

Klorane Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk – I think this would be better for fine hair – it does an okay job of absorbing oil.. it is fine for about 4 hours before my hair starts to feel greasy. Will not purchase again. Available on Birchbox.com for $20 for 3.2oz.

Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Dry Shampoo – this was.. fine. It was a perfectly fine dry shampoo. It did¬†fairly decent job of absorbing oil for 5-6 hour, but after that just completely disappeared. I also felt that this was good for like 1-day, but given that I usually only wash my hair twice a week, it did nothing to extend my style or time between regular shampoo. And for such a “clean” line of products, this smelled like chemicals. Would not repurchase. Available at Sephora for $12 for 1.8oz.

LIFESTYLE

Bath and Body Works PocketBac in Vampire Blood and EEK! – yes. These are from Halloween and I love the cheesy names! I have a bunch of different scents hoarded away and will not be repurchasing any for a while. Available at Bath and Body Works for $1.75 for 1oz.

Julep Nail Color in Shari, Claudette and Margot – yes, I finished 3 nail polishes in the last couple months… Julep has so many great shades, however they are very dupable. I love the message¬†behind the brand and like supporting an all-female business, but the Julep formulas frustrate me as a whole. I can get 2-3 days before they chip even with a durable topcoat. They also get really gloopy towards the end, the exception being Margot (gold) and I was able to use every available drop. These colors were beautiful but I will not be repurchasing any of them – especially at $14 each.

Ulta Strengthening Nail Polish Remover – I’ve written about this several times. I’m not super picky about polish remover. This works fine and is cheap. I have backups. ūüôā Available at Ulta for $2.99 for 6 oz.

TOSS

Rimmel Scandal Eyes Waterproof Kohl Kajal in Black Рwhen makeup artist extraordinaire Lisa Eldridge (bow down!) recommends a product, I take that pretty seriously. Unfortunately this was an absolute fail for me. This constantly smudged onto my brow bone and under my eyes with and without primer. After a week of trying to make this work, I GIVE UP! Ugh!

Total products used 2016 year to date:

Skincare: 4

Body: 9

Hair: 5

Makeup/face: 12

other: 3

Nails: 4

Samples: 13

Sheet masks: 4

March/April total: $274.74

Year total: $593.58

All of my sample and sheet mask reviews are posted regularly on my Instagram (@lvp8779) as well as random other beauty things.. stop by and say hi!

I hope you have a wonderful May!

 

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Use It – February 2016

Hello and Happy March!

Welcome back to another installment of talking about my trash or reviewing a bunch of products – you choose how to look at it. ūüėČ I love reading these posts on many other blogs because you are getting so much more than a first impression.

Obviously February was a short month and I feel like this post kind of reflects that – especially since I’ve already started collecting some March empties!

Here we go:

e.l.f Shine Eraser – these are very basic blotting papers that I think have been discontinued. There is nothing special about these sheets – they absorb oil. I snagged a bunch of these at Target for $0.85 (you read that correctly) for 50 sheets. If I find them again, I will repurchase.

Kiehl’s Soy Milk & Honey Body Polish¬†– this smells AMAZING! It is full of Shea butter, jojoba butter an almond oil, creating a clean, soft scent with a serious exfoliant that leaves skin super soft. BUT the exfoliant is micro-beads, which is really disappointing coming from Kiehl’s. If they adhere to the new regulations on micro-beads I would repurchase in a heartbeat. Available at any Kiehl’s counter or online for $11 (2.5oz).

Henri Bendel EDT in Wild Fig – many moons ago, Henri Bendel carried an exquisite line of body products that mirrored some of their most popular candle scents. I have been nursing this little bottle along for years in hopes that they would return with this product. I’ve begged and pleaded with HB, but no luck. I decided to purchase the similar Jo Malone Wild Fig & Cassis. It isn’t exact, but it will do. I think the Diptyque Figuier is actually a bit closer but I am going to work with the Jo Malone for now. Given my love for fig, I might cave on the Diptyque when fall comes around.

NYX Blemish Control Blotting Papers – these claim to have salicylic acid, but I’m not sure. I also don’t have major acne problems so… there was nothing exceptional about these – I would rather pay $0.85 for the e.l.f. Shine Eraser. These are $5.99 for 100 sheets.

Philosophy Hope in a Jar for Body – what an unimpressive lotion. I used this on my hands at night and I did not find it to be over moisturizing and can’t imagine how dry the rest of my body would have felt. Thumbs down. This doesn’t seem to be available any longer – shocker.

R+Co Death Valley Dry Shampoo – I liked this dry shampoo, however I think it would be better for thinner hair. It doesn’t level a white mess and has a decent scent. This would keep the oil at bay for a few hours, but would lose it’s effectiveness mid-day. The Birchbox crew seems to love this and constantly raves about it, but I disagree and¬†will not repurchase. Available at¬†Birchbox.com for $29 (6.3oz).

Saint Augustine and Suds Himalayan Salt Scrub –¬†this was a lovely orange and (I think) bergamot salt scrub. It was infused with lots of nourishing oils that left my skin incredibly soft and hydrated. The owner of Saint Augustine and Suds is my favorite local artisan – she makes beautiful soaps and designs her packaging for each product. This isn’t currently on the website but I would definitely repurchase. Check out her fantastic website – saintaugstineandsuds.com and Instagram (@saintaugustineandsuds).

If you want to know what I think of sample size products or sheet masks, check out my Instagram account (@lvp8779).

Total products used 2016 year to date:

Skincare: 3

Body: 6

Hair: 1

Makeup/face: 5

other: 1

Samples: 8

Sheet masks: 2

Month total: $31.84

Year total: $318.84

Have a great March!

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2015 Favorites and Year in Review

Ah, another  year has come to an end. How on earth did that happen so quickly?!?

I love going back through the year on the blog, Instagram and subscription histories to put together this content. It gives me an interesting perspective on the amount of things I’ve sampled, purchased (dear God…), loved and hated. This year only provided a couple of regretful purchases (which were promptly returned) and pushed me to try a few new things. I think if there was a overall theme for 2015, it would be The Year of Luxury Products.. I fell hard for some really pricy stuff. Oops.

This post will be much like my 2014 post and share some of my Birchbox and Allure Box finds, move on to a couple brands and then my standout products.

Birchbox Discoveries:

Dr. Jart+ Dermaclear Micro Water¬†–¬†it really took me a while to figure out the whole micellar water deal. Some people can just use this to remove makeup and be done with it. No. Sorry. Not me. This probably sounds odd, but I love using this to remove my residual eye makeup in the morning. You know, when the eyeliner migrates to your crows feet over night? Hot. But I prefer this over an oily,¬†bi-facil remover or harsher cleanser.

Ok.. so out of all of my Birchbox samples, this was the real standout. I received a lot of things I liked, but just weren’t game changers I guess.

Allure Beauty Box Finds:

I was really happy with this subscription overall. There was a much better range than Birchbox as well as a detailed product booklet that gives so much great information!

Butter London Nail Lacquer in The Sweet Spot (Allure LE) – while I have 2 other polishes from this line, this was the first one I actually sampled. The color is a lovely, sort of neutral pink. Two coats provide full coverage that lasts a solid 5 days before chipping (with topcoat). I find myself using this regularly.

Erno Laszlo Sea Mud Deep Cleansing Bar Рthis has been my go-to T-zone deep cleanser for months. I use this with a regular foaming cleanser and kojnac sponge in the morning. It is heavy duty and helps unclog pores and minimize oil. Months after getting this, this little bar has shown zero signs of use.

Brands

Becca – 2015 was the year of the highlighter and Becca consistently nailed it. Unlike most people, I didn’t start with Opal or Moonstone. I picked up Blushed Copper and went all in from there and picked up some of the sample sets with Opal and Rose Gold. In addition to the highlighter, I really loved the Beach Tint Shimmer Souffle and featured it in one of my weekly favorites. I did cave and pick up Champagne Pop, which is the only other full size highlighter in my collection. There are now enough highlighters in my collection for the next decade.

Guerlain Рone of my favorite things this year was discovering this brand. Since my first visit, I have purchased and tested out a number of other products. The color is fabulous and the skincare is ridiculously good. If I could afford it, I would be using the entire Orchidée Impériale skin care line. The stand out products were the Météorites Baby Glow in Clair (in a favorites here) and the Abeille Royale РGold Eyetech Eye Sculpt Serum, featured in my December Favorites.

Omorovicza Рthis was by far, the most dangerous brand discovery of 2015. Everything I have tried is amazing and soooo dangerous for my wallet. I reviewed the Thermal Cleansing Balm here and while I love it, I did resist temptation to repurchase. In addition, I splurged on the Complexion Perfector BB SPF20 in Light and it also was featured in one of my weekly favorites posts. Last time I visited the counter, I was gifted a ton of samples, so I have had an opportunity to test out many of the other products. If price was not an issue, I would own it all.

Real Techniques – I can’t believe I was so late to the party. These brushes are fantastic! I have purchased¬†several and each one impresses me more than the last. They are great for blending and building color, easy to clean and don’t shed. I also cannot get over the price point of $5-$12 per brush!

Individual Products

Amika Perk Up Dry Shampoo¬†– SO GOOD! I haven’t had a dry shampoo really impress me in a very long time and this one blew me away. This was featured in my November Favorites.

Benefit Dallas – again, not a new product, but certainly an amazing one! I used this while doing a family member’s wedding makeup and fell in love.¬† It was so versatile and looked great on a variety of skin tones. I loved building it up for a warm glow¬†as well as using¬†with a light hand as a subtle bronzer.¬†¬†I immediately went out and bought this and it is a staple in my daily look. This was also featured in a weekly favorites in April.

Maybelline Master Conceal in 10 Fair – I picked this up on a whim after leaving my concealer at home on one of my work trips. I liked it so much that when I forgot my concealer on another trip, I picked up another (hence the “1” on the tube). This is a serious, stay all day, dark circle minimizing beast! I also discussed this previously here.

PRODUCT FAILS

I don’t typically like to do negative reviews, but these are really worth mentioning:

Boscia Luminizing Black Mask РI used this several times in hopes of my experience improving. It did not. In addition to cleaning out pores, it also ripped off every tiny hair on my face. It also left my skin irritated and rashy.

Kiehl’s Iris Extract Activating Essence Treatment – this caused painful cystic acne after just a couple days of use. I stopped using it, treated the outbreak and then tried it again¬† couple weeks later. Again, within a couple days, the cystic acne returned… so it¬†was returned. I’ve never had a reaction like this to any Kiehl’s product and hope to never again.

So there you have it. What were some of your 2015 favorites?

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Use It – November and December 2015

Hello again!

I hope you all had a wonderful¬†holiday celebration¬†over the last couple weeks. I’ve been busy celebrating everything with lots of good food and wine.

I’m unsure how exactly this happened, but I didn’t finish any full-size products until the last day of November. There were a handful of samples (see following paragraph…), but little progress on actually de-stashing anything.

If you follow me on Instagram (@lvp8779), you know that I’m participating in the #sampledout challenge. While there is no way I will be sample free by 2016, I hope to make a significant dent. After several months of posting the reviews of samples on here, that unless they are a deluxe sample, the review will exist on Instagram. So be sure to check it out!

As always, everything is broken down into one of the following categories: skincare, makeup, body, hair and lifestyle.

 

SKINCARE

Av√®ne Cleansing Foam Mousse¬†– I am sad to see the end of this, however it lasted much longer than I anticipated. I discussed this a while back as part of my morning skincare routine. Since running out, I’ve been using the¬†Av√®ne gel cleanser and it just is not the same.. I will revisit this again or sure. Available at Birchbox.com for $20 for 5.29oz.

Boscia Luminizing Black Mask – OUCH! This shit hurts! I have tried this several times and it has gotten progressively worse. Last time I used this, I had to apply cooling gel afterwards. It doesn’t clean pores, but it does manage to rip out every tiny hair on my face. I do NOT get the hype.

Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Eye – this was a very generous deluxe sample that lasted nearly 2 months. This felt more like a gel¬†and really moisturized the skin around my eyes. I might consider purchasing down the road. Available at Macy’s for $58 (size unknown).

Guerlain Orchid√©e Imp√©riale¬†The Toner – Oh wow. Toner is toner, right? Wrong. This was refreshing and even a bit hydrating. It really changed my feelings on how I’ve been using toner! I have another deluxe sample but would definitely consider purchasing. Available at Saks for $135 for 4.2oz (YIKES!).

Laura Mercier Flawless Skin Repair Eye Serum¬†– first of all, I’m really surprised to get through this so quickly. I picked this up in the spring and used it twice a day for a while¬†and then it became strictly part of my morning skincare routine. I did enjoy this and found it to really help de-puff my under eye area and smooth crow’s feet.¬†While I do like this, I would not repurchase, but only because I¬†have found something I like even more. Available at select Laura Mercier counters for $83 for 0.5oz.

Shiseido Power Infusing Concentrate – this might look small, but this was a 2-3 month deluxe¬†sample. This was a great serum for the transitional months. I felt like it hydrated, but didn’t leave me feeling oily or that I had a lot of products on my face. I have an abundance of full-size serums right now so am not really in the market for another. This would definitely be a contender down the road. Available at Nordstrom and select Sephora for $65 for 1oz.

MAKEUP

NARS Concealer in Chantilly – consider me unimpressed. This somewhat covered dark circles and blemishes and regularly creased and settled in fine lines. It doesn’t inspire me to buy any of the other NARS concealers or foundations. Available at Sephora for $25 for 0.07oz.

BODY

Bath and Body Works Body Lotion and Shower Gel¬†in Mango Mandarin – I won’t say much about this since it is discontinued… Much like the¬†Dancing Waters¬†in my October Use It post, this is another scent I love and have enough stockpiled for the next 3 years.

Bliss Fat Girl Slim –¬† let’s just start with the fact that this is the worst product name EVER. That aside, it really does tighten and firm. I am sad to see this go… and it lasted a really long time. If I¬†found this on sale or a great set, I would repurchase. I am not rushing out though… available at Sephora and bliss.com for $36 for 6oz.

LUSH Sultana of Soap – this looks and smells good enough to eat.¬† This is very hydrating¬†and leaves my skin super soft.¬†I really like this – unfortunately it just doesn’t last and I have to slice it and ration so it doesn’t disintegrate. Probably would not repurchase. Available at LUSH for about $4 per oz.

HAIR

Batiste Dry Shampoo in Cool and Crisp Fresh Рsame old. Love it. Will repurchase again and again. Available at Ulta or Drugstore.com for $8-10 for 6.73oz.

Fekkai Argan Intense Fortifying Masque – I had really high expectations for this. I’ve used the color treatment masque before and found it to be nourishing and softening. This however, did not have any noticeable results. After leaving in for 5-8 minutes, I didn’t get the same feeling. This was another disappointing product. Available at Drugstore.com for $7.99 for 1.69oz.

LIFESTYLE

Smile Sciences Teeth Whitening Pen – I’m only getting rid of this because it has expired. This was included in one of last year’s quarterly Allure boxes so I used it a while ago off and on. It was very easy to use and left my teeth whiter and brighter without irritating my gums. Available on the company website for $78. If it were a more reasonable price, I would buy in a heartbeat.

TOSS

Botanical Nutrients Hair Reconstructor – remember when Bath and Body Works had their own hair care line? No? Well it wasn’t in this decade. And I haven’t¬†used it this decade either…

MAC Softsparkle Eye Pencil in Mint and¬†Olive – SO OLD… this was a limited edition liner from forever ago. I thought I could make it work after the lid broke. I was wrong. I loved the color but the formula was so dry and hard to work with even with the working lid.

So here is the grand total of products used in 2015:

Skincare: 26

Lip products: 6

Foundation: 2

Blush: 1

Eye makeup: 7

Nail products: 7

Hair products: 9

Body products: 27

Other: 14

Home: 5

Total Full-Size: 104

Toss: 22

Samples: 94

Grand Total: 220

There you have it, friends!

I hope you enjoyed my year in empties and made some progress on your own de-stashing journey!

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