Rounding off 2018 with a load of empties

January 3, 2019

Hello 2019! Hope you all had a wonderful holiday with your family and loved ones. My son started primary school yesterday, which is a new milestone for him and a whole new change for the entire household as we all have to adapt to his new schedule. In previous years I’ve made resolutions relating to (buying less) makeup and (doing more) social media, but this year I find my interests straying in a whole new direction. I’d like to commit to living more in the moment, finding new experiences and hopefully having more memorable vacations with my son. I may be back home but my heart and mind are still tethered to that glorious week spent in the Maldives, and in case you hadn’t seen our videos yet, please do subscribe and check out Ezra’s youtube channel here (shameless plug!).

It may seem odd to kick off the year with an empties post, but there is an immense sense of achievement when I am able to properly bin a bunch of products without a sense of waste, and to memorialise them here on my blog. 2019 had seen the launch of many brands in Singapore, not all of them new in the world, but they certainly took their time. There wasn’t anything earth-shatteringly innovative that I’d seen, and personally am feeling a little tired by many brands, with the exception of Chanel which keeps growing stronger with every season. As such, I find it difficult to select “bests” or “worsts” for the year, instead I go back to my staples many of which are perennial favourites as you will find out below.

Empties vol. 09

I go through hair and body products at a regular clip, so I often start my empties post there.  Unfortunately, makeup takes me far longer, and even though I started the year with the hopes of panning some powder, that target proved elusive as I switch up my eyeshadows with every season and I’ve been putting my cream products on rotation more often in an effort to prevent them from turning bad before I can make a dent. Regardless, I still managed to empty out a good dozen of makeup products over the year, and here is the star of the lot which I plan on replacing the next time I find myself shopping for a foundation.

Makeup

  1. La Mer The Soft Fluid Long Wear Foundation [reviewed here] is my favourite foundation as it gives a soft-focus radiant finish to my face, is comfortable to wear and long-lasting to boot. I started out wearing it daily because I loved it so, and then towards the end I saved it only for special occasions. There are several other foundations that I love, but none compares to this. Of course, the fact that the shade Linen is a perfect match for me makes a huge difference as well.
  2. Cle de Peau Perfect Lash Mascara [reviewed here] is one of the best mascaras I’ve ever tried. It lengthens and defines in an elegant way without clumping nor weighing lashes down. I love that it doesn’t smudge on me, and is completely fuss-free, but the price (SGD73) makes me weep. Generally I don’t feel as strongly about mascaras as I do foundations, and at this price point there are excellent alternatives.
  3. Dior Diorshow Colour & Contour [reviewed here] was from the Spring 2016 collection, and since it is a cream formula, is technically expired and unsafe for use on eyes. However, I was quite fond of this Iris shade and had been carefully using it from time to time. Sadly though, the eyeshadow flew out of its pencil-shaped casing one day when I was opening it, landed on the floor and broke into pieces. So as fate wants it, the bin it is. This past year we’ve seen other pen-types eyeshadow products, some cream like this, others liquid. But in general, I think this particular Diorshow Colour & Contour formula is better, the pencil liner end was relatively budge-proof and the colour pairings are more to my liking. If Dior ever releases these again, I’d probably spring for one.
  4. It Cosmetics Vitality Lip Flush 4-in-1 Reviver Lipstick Stain is a lip balm that turns into a pretty lip stain according to your natural tones. I apply this as a lip treatment every morning before makeup, and it protects my lips from all the various kinds of products that I test out. Surprisingly, even with my daily swipes, this tube lasted me the entire year! Even on weekends, when I head out to the market bare-faced, this gives me a nice natural-looking pink lips without the need for lipsticks. I like the lightweight, non-greasy feel of this one, and it perfectly balances my lips’ needs for hydration.
  5. Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment is my 2nd tube this year, it is a staple and I always have 1 on my desk at work. I love that it soothes my lips and keeps them looking polished with a coat of colour. I appreciate very much that it comes with SPF15 protection, as my lips have a history of breaking out with cold sores at random and excess sun exposure is one of the triggers. It was surprising to me that there are not many lip products out there with sun protection, so ever since I discovered Fresh, I’ve always kept it on hand!

Skincare

Empties vol. 09 skincare

  1. Chanel Hydra Beauty Micro Cream [reviewed here] is hands-down my favourite moisturizer of the year! I don’t remember the last time I emptied a jar of moisturizer, so the fact that I accomplished this is a feat to crow about. The gel texture feels crisp and refreshing on the skin, and it keeps my skin well hydrated and plump all day, across all seasons. It is heavily scented as with the rest of the line, but I’ve had no problems with it despite my sensitive skin. In fact, I’m a huge fan of the entire Hydra Beauty range, so I would highly recommend it to anyone who suffers from dehydrated skin.
  2. Chanel Sublimage La Brume is an intense revitalizing mist from another of my favorite skincare ranges from Chanel. It is part of a 5-vial set and is every bit as precious as all the other Sublimage items. I initially bought it to help me with my additional travels, but loved it so much I took to spritzing the fine mist all over my face every day whenever I am feeling tired at work, or too hot after lunch. It does not affect my makeup, and it does not leave my skin feeling sticky. Instead, it cools me down, soothes my skin, rehydrates and leaves a soft glow. It is definitely a splurge, but there is no other mist that have been able to replace it in my arsenal.
  3. Estee Lauder New Dimension Neck & Chest Treatment [reviewed here] is one of the rare creams that my neck is able to tolerate without breaking out in itchy eczema. I enjoyed the silky cream and I found it helped to smooth out the many lines that I’ve developed over the years and also tone up my sagging jowl. It comes with a massaging tool but I’ve been too lazy to use it, though whenever I bother to I noticed a visible lifting effect.
  4. Tattoo The Deep Cleanse [reviewed here] was a recent find and immediately became one of my favourite cleansers. I love everything about it, from texture to scent, it is simply perfection. Despite having exfoliating beads inside and the harsh-sounding name, I found it to be very gentle on my sensitive dehydrated skin, and a pleasure to use on a daily basis. I already have several backups of this, so don’t be surprised to see this again in future empties posts. The only drawback about this product is the squeeze bottle that dispenses in giant dollops which is wasteful, and the brand logo fell out after a few squeezes. But otherwise, the product contained within is simply beautiful.
  5. Fresh Black Tea Kombucha Facial Treatment Essence [reviewed here] is the most lightweight of all the essences I’ve used / own, and to be honest I’m not fond of the smell which is somewhat vinegar-y. For my dehydrated skin, I’m also not sure if it really made a difference. I’ve also been trying to streamline my skincare routine, so watery essences in general no longer serve much of a purpose for me.
  6. La Mer Cleansing Micellar Water [reviewed here] cleanses incredibly well and yet still respectful of skin’s natural hydration barrier. I am generally not a fan of micellar water as most of them sting my skin and are not able to remove my heavy foundation completely. The reason I liked this La Mer is because it performs top-notch yet does not sting me. Having said that, I used it a couple of times to remove sunscreen and stage makeup (after his school performances) from my son’s face and he complained it stung. So, for those with extremely sensitive or irritated skin, I would recommend trying other oil or balm type of makeup removers.
  7. Cle de Peau Synactif Lotion was 1 of the products that I managed to rescue this year before they expired. This is from the brand’s prestigious range and contains exclusive ingredients to brighten, even out skin tone and hydrate skin. Thankfully, it is not as harsh as Essential Correcting Refiner [see here] which I abhorred, but I am still not a fan. The Synactif Soap [here] can be a rather stripping cleanser and I would not pair it with this Synactif Lotion as I find it insufficiently restorative. Instead, if you are looking for a lotion that helps to remove the final stubborn traces of makeup or grime after cleansing, or a lotion with gentle exfoliating action, then I will suggest you take a look at this. However, at the rich price point, I think there are many other alternatives one might consider.

Bodycare

Empties vol. 09 bodycare

Somehow as I was photographing these, I found myself arranging by colour theme rather than product segments, so there are actually 3 items here that should have been included in the previous skincare group.  They are:

  1. Bottega Verde Sol Protezione Siero Viso is an Italian brand formulated with natural ingredients. The high SPF50 drew me initially, and I also liked the pump packaging. However, this is so heavily scented that I could still smell it on my skin long after I step out of the house. It is also quite heavy in texture, so much so that I couldn’t bear to use it on my face. In the end, I applied it on my arms instead so as not to waste, but the heavy scent was appalling and I was immensely relieved when I was finally done.
  2. Tom Ford Face Protect is a permanent member of the Soleil line, and comes with broad spectrum SPF50 to protect your skin all year round. I love the simple, lightweight tube packaging which is perfect for traveling. The product itself is a lightweight cream which is just barely comfortable enough for layering with all my skincare and makeup during the hottest months. However, I found that I much preferred wearing it on my neck, opting for an even lighter more fluid type sunscreen for my face.
  3. Shu Uemura Ultime8 Sublime Cleansing Oil [reviewed here] is no stranger on this blog, and a staple in my daily routine. This particular bottle was a limited edition release from the Kye for Shu collaboration from 2016 [see here].

Back to body care proper…

  1. Clarins Body Fit is another returning staple. If you expect it to miraculously remove stubborn cellulite and fats, keep on dreaming. But now that I’ve stopped using it, I realise it does make a difference to my body shape! So, if I ever feel so inclined to shop for body shaping products again, this will certainly be the top of my list.
  2. Crabtree & Evelyn Venetian Violet Shower Gel is a recently released new scent. It is sufficiently light that it suits everyone in my household, including Ezra. Interestingly, it does not make too much foam, which some may prefer or miss depending on personal preferences. In general, I am always happy to receive and put to use Crabtree & Evelyn Shower Gels, and this was no exception.
  3. Crabtree & Evelyn Citron, Honey, Coriander Body Souffle is a very old seasonal release that I dug up and decided to put to use. The texture is more like a body cream than souffle, but the crisp scent made it more refreshing to use. I liked it for the evenings, before I go to bed in air conditioned interiors.
  4. Estee Lauder Re-Nutriv Intensive Smoothing Hand Creme is a luxurious hand cream that soothed my hands every night for over a year! My hands are prone to eczema from washing with detergent, and no other hand creams are able to soothe and protect my hands as well as this one. It absorbs like a dream too, unlike those heavy-duty commercial hand creams that feel like I had dipped my hands in wax. I absolutely love this Re-Nutriv hand cream and will repurchase soon.
  5. L’occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream is one of dozens lying in my stash and I have started putting 1 of these in every handbag and travel pouch I own just to make myself use some of them up. I never understood the mass appeal of these hand creams because they really pale in comparison to the likes of the Estee Lauder Re-Nutriv above. Of course, affordability is a huge factor, but it does nothing for my hands.

Haircare

Empties vol. 09 haircare

Finally, we are almost at the end of this post!   Just 4 hair products this time, although there were 2 others that I was hoping to have finished as well…

  1. Botanist Hair Treatment is a relatively new Japanese brand available at Sephora that is formulated with 90% natural plant-based ingredients. It comes in these huge 500ml bottles and are affordably priced to suit entire families. I also found the pump dispenser to be very convenient. As with most other mass market conditioners, I found this to be heavy on silicones.
  2. Goldwell Dual Senses Color Extra Rich Shampoo & Conditioner are the latest line extensions targeting dyed hair. Generally, I am a fan of Goldwell haircare products, and these were no exceptions. I like the gentle yet thorough shampoo that helped maintain my hair color, and the conditioner helped me detangle and kept my hair soft without weighing it down.
  3. Christophe Robin Hydrating Leave-in Mist with Aloe Vera is my 2nd encounter with the brand, but unfortunately more than half of the product spilled before I was able to put it to use. I sprayed it on my hair before blow-drying and found it great at detangling my hair. However, I found it somewhat heavy for a hair mist, leaving a tangible coating after my hair is thoroughly dry.

Looking back on my empties post, I am truly proud of the progress I had made at using up all the products that are cluttering up my home. Many of these are returning staples partly because I actually like and hence use them, and also a reflection of the continued support from the many brands and PRs that I’ve had the pleasure of working with. Along the way, I’ve also encountered some inconsistent brands and PRs, but I’ve since gone past the point of lamenting. For the coming year, I am resolved to live in the moment, enjoying what I have and holding less tightly onto the chase for more sponsorship. I still enjoy creating content though, but that may take the form of other things such as more lifestyle posts on instagram, and videos on youtube. I hope I don’t lose your friendship in this process, but trust that if and when I feel compelled to review something on this blog, it will be of interest to you. Meanwhile, if you would be so kind as to give a view/like/follow to my other channels, I would be eternally grateful!

Whatever your hopes and dreams may be for 2019, I pray that they will come true and may our good Father in heaven bless us all with great health and protect us in the days to come.

This post featured products that were generously provided for my consideration. Regardless, all opinions expressed here are my own honest, unbiased views.