Farewell 2019!

January 5, 2020

Another year comes to a close… and with it, a fresh decade awaits.  So many feels, too little time to dwell upon them.  Instead, I’d like to round up 2019 by gathering my final batch of empties.  There are quite a few high end luxury items this season, and I also decided to bin a number of old, expired makeup.  So sit back, get a cup of coffee or glass of wine, and get ready for a good long read!

Empties post 2019


I used up lots of skincare over the past 3 months, and they are mostly high-end with a few minor exceptions.  The interesting thing is that their price tag or brand prestige don’t seem to guarantee great results on my skin.  In fact, there were a few that I decided to bin in spite of their cost.  Here is the full low-down!

Skincare: The Hits:

  1. Chanel Gentle Biphase Eye Makeup Remover – another empty!  I reckon I go through a bottle every 4-5 months, so this one should not be a stranger to you if you’ve been following my empties post.
  2. Albion Embeage Whitening Lotion* – is a very rich, luxurious lotion from one of Albion’s most expensive lines.  I find it very hydrating on my dehydrated skin, and I really enjoyed patting this into my skin after cleansing and feeling the bounce.  However, it is clearly not suited for those with oily or younger skin.
  3. La Prairie Absolute Filler Caviar Luxe* [reviewed here] – is an absolute gem, and I loved this so much it is the first cream that I have used up to the last drop in years!  Infused with potent Caviar Absolute, this recent addition to the Skin Caviar Collection targets loss of volume and restores tone and density for enhanced skin fullness and refined contours. My skin looks better rested and calmed after every night I apply this, and visibly more youthful!
  4. Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Intense Reset Concentrate* – is the latest addition to the famed ANR franchise, and it is sooo good!  It calms my skin down, reducing redness and irritated patches within an hour.  Because I’ve been traveling so much lately, my skin has been dry and stressed, so this has been great for boosting hydration.
  5. Su:m 37 Sun-Away Cooling Watery Sun Block EX* – comes with SPF50+ / PA++ sun protection which is my daily di rigour for face, neck and arms.  I loved the light watery texture, and even though the fluid is white, it did not leave a white cast on my skin.  Most importantly, it layers well under makeup, and does not cause my skin to breakout.
  6. First Aid Beauty Face Cleanser* – is a really affordable drugstore cleanser that I thoroughly enjoyed!  It is non-stripping and yet does an excellent job of cleansing all traces of dirt from the skin.  I’ve used it both in the mornings on bare skin and as a 2nd step of a double-cleansing routine, and found it did brilliantly both ways.  For its price tag, I highly recommend you to try if you have never encountered this!
  7. Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip Cleanser* – is a great gentle cleanser suitable for just about any skin type, and I have really enjoyed using it both on its own as a morning cleanser and as a 2nd step in my double-cleansing routine.  It is formulated with plant-based ingredients, and free from all manners of nasties.  Highly recommended if you have sensitive or dry skin like me!
  8. Fresh Vitamin Nectar Glow Juice*  – is a wonderful addition to the line, and is packed with skin-loving vitamins C, E, and B5, lemon and orange fruit extracts, and minerals that helps revitalize dull skin for a vibrant, healthy-looking complexion.  The light texture layers well over other skincare, and leaves my skin feeling plumper and brighter.
  9. La Mer The Illuminating Eye Gel* [reviewed here] – my favourite of 3 different eye products from La Mer, this lightweight gel-fluid keeps my eye area nicely hydrated all day, and does not irritate the sensitive skin around my eyes.  The bottle lasted me for almost an entire year of daily (AM-only) use so it really goes a long way for its price tag!
  10. Oskia Renaissance Cleansing Gel* – is a deluxe-sized sample from 1 of the Lookfantastic beauty boxes, and I actually used up 2 of them (not pictured) in the past few months.  It is a gel that melts upon contact to break down makeup, and transforms into a milk that rinses off easily with water.  I love that it does not leave an oily residue on my skin, and still removes all my makeup thoroughly!
  11. La Prairie Cellular Swiss UV Protection Veil* [reviewed here] – is another luxurious gem that I had been hoarding for far too long and only managed to rescue from expiration in time.  The tube is so generously sized it lasted me over a year of daily (AM-only) use that the print on it had completely worn off!  It comes with SPF50 / PA++++ broad spectrum protection and uses both physical and chemical blockers for optimal efficacy and best lightweight texture.  It is slightly heavier than the Su:m37 above, but does not break me out and still wears well under makeup.  I like it on my neck as it feels somewhat hydrating as well and has wonderful skincare properties.

Skincare: The Misses:

  1. Madara SOS Moisture+Radiance Hydra Mask* – is another deluxe sample from a Lookfantastic beauty box.  This mask works like an extra-rich cream that may be left on or tissued off after 15-20min.  It is supposed to soothe and hydrate stressed out skin, and lift tired complexions.  I used it recently on a short staycation and found that whilst it does feel quite luxurious in texture, it did not do much in terms of soothing irritations nor plumping my skin.
  2. Skin Inc Beauty & The Beast Get Glowin’ Serum* – was a limited edition release from 2017 which I finally put to work.  Like so many of Skin Inc’s serums, this bottle is formulated with 3 of the brand’s my Daily Dose serums – hyaluronic acid, Vitamin A & chlorella.  The drop dispenser was already broken by the time I opened this up, and it is possible the formula is already compromised.  After several uses I found my skin breaking out to this, so I decided to bin it.
  3. 3ina Makeup Fixing Spray* – is 1 of those products that straddle the makeup/skincare divide, and somehow I decided to place this here.  It contains betaine to restore hydration, and may be used before makeup to prep skin as well as throughout the day to refresh.  I actually only used it to dampen my makeup sponges for application of foundation, which it did beautifully.  But the nozzle dispenses too large a burst that I did not enjoy using over makeup.
  4. Origins Dr Weil Mega-Mushroom Skin Relief* – is a hero product of the brand and often marketed for sensitive skin relief.  I have received several bottles of this over the years and only decided to try and go through this entire bottle before making up my mind.  Unfortunately, I really struggled with this one because rather than soothing irritations, I found it stung my skin.  I did not observe any healing properties over the months I used it, and barely tolerated it long enough to finish it.
  5. Cosme Decorte Whitelogist MX* – this is a limited edition jumbo size from last Christmas.  Cosme Decorte is the luxury line under Kose, but their products have been more miss than hit for me.  This Whitelogist MX has a lovely lightweight watery texture that is easily absorbed without leaving any trace on my skin.  However, it really did not do anything in the way of overall brightening nor spot lightening.
  6. Neal’s Yard Remedies Wild Rose Beauty Balm* – I remember really liking this when I first tried it years ago [see review here], but after having tried so many other beauty balms, I now find this particular balm heavier than other comparables, and harder to remove completely.  Even with a muslin cloth, there is still a film left over my skin, which is fine if it is deep winter and you have severely dehydrated skin.  However, at this particular point in life, and living in hot humid Singapore, I found this unsuitable.
  7. Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair* – is another hero product that I’ve received numerous bottles over the years.  However, regardless of my respect for its cult-like following, I did not notice any improvements to my skin’s overall health from using this.  There are definitely more effective products in the market today, and it pales in comparison to its latest sibling (see item 4 above).  I also did not enjoy the smell of this product, and I never grew to accept it in the months that I committed to emptying this bottle.
  8. Shu Uemura Re:set Lip Remover and Conditioner* – is designed to gently remove those budge-proof lipsticks and exfoliate the lips to ensure optimally kissable lips.  However, I found this really terrible at removing lipsticks, and barely made a dent on those liquid long-lasting lipsticks.  In contrast, I always use a swipe of Chanel Gentle Biphase Eye Makeup Remover (see item 1 above) to remove all traces of lipsticks.
  9. Kanebo Illuminating Serum* – was pleasurable to use because of its light fluid texture and gentle floral scent.  However, as with most Japanese skincare, I did not find this worthy of raves.  If you have very sensitive skin, and/or already great skin to begin with, and would like something to maintain your fairness, then this is something to consider.  However, on its own, I would not recommend it for brightening.
  10. ByTerry Cellularose Detoxilyn City Essence* – is a companion to the Detoxilyn City Mask, and is intended to protect skin from pollution and other stresses of city life.  However, it is high in alcohol content, and I found it broke me out.  I really wanted to like this, and been using it on and off for years, but it is a real struggle to get through and I decided to bin it even though I am barely halfway through this bottle.

Body & Haircare:

Over Oct-Dec 2019, I alternated between trying to empty out some oldies before expiration, and also wanted to pamper myself with some new luxurious arrivals.  There are a number here that I really enjoyed, they are:

  1. Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair!* – is a deep conditioning mask that only needs 5 minutes to work, so I don’t have to sit around in the bathroom too long.  It is very nourishing for over-processed hair that is brittle and dry, and yet not too heavy that it weighs hair down.  I find my hair much less tangled after using this, and restores shine.
  2. Sabon Shower Oil* – this is a deluxe mini that was available during the festive season.  Sabon’s famed shower oils are luxurious to use, with a beautiful fragrance that lifts to fill the bathroom when showering with hot water.  Unlike its name, this is not at all oily, gives a light delicate foam when mixed with water, and cleanses my skin well without stripping it.  There are several different scents to choose from, enjoy!
  3. Molton Brown Bath & Shower Gel* – is part of a festive gift set and this Orange & Bergamot scent is so uplifting I couldn’t get enough of it!  Definitely a treat in any bathroom!
  4. Chanel Gel Douche* – was part of a new shower gel series that was launched in the summer of 2019.  Paris-Deauville is too strong for me to wear as a fragrance, but it actually worked well as a shower gel.  I loved everything about this, from the texture to the foam to the scent…. luxurious!
  5. Clarins Tonic Body Treatment Oil – was a staple during my last pregnancy, and I didn’t hesitate to pick up 3 bottles of this immediately after I found out I was expecting again!  It keeps my skin hydrated and supple, and prevent stretch marks.  Towards the end, my skin always feels so taut and itchy, so I really look forward to applying this after showering day and night.
  6. Lush Once Upon a Time Body Lotion* – is a seasonal offering that is formulated with nourishing almond and jojoba oil, and smells amazing with an apple orchard scent.
  7. Klorane Shampoo with Oat Milk* – is something that I had used myself many years ago and did not enjoy.  HOWEVER, when I used it on my 7 year old son, I really liked the gentleness of the formula!  My son has eczema and his scalp is often itchy, and this shampoo seems to suit him the best.  It does not foam up too much, so it can be a problem for those with very thick or long hair like me.  But for anyone with thin baby hair, or those who don’t need a lush foam, or have highly sensitive scalps, this is definitely one to check out!

Body & Haircare: The Not-so-Great

  1. Crabtree & Evelyn Shower Gel* – was part of a festive bauble set from Christmas 2018.  The brand has recently gone through a rebranding and everything has been repackaged.  However, I believe the formula remains the same and even their staple scents are still there.  In comparison to the other shower gels I tried, I found the scent to be weak and just generally unimpressive.
  2. The Body Shop Coconut Shower Cream* – in contrast to the Crabtree one above has a much stronger scent.  In terms of texture and use, I personally liked it.  It is here under the not-so-great simply because I wasn’t quite sure I liked the scent which was surprisingly strong.  Try it if you’re a fan of coconuts.
  3. Kerastase Reflection Bain Chromatique* – was part of a Lookfantastic beauty box, and I emptied 2 of these.  I used to be a big fan of Kerastase haircare, but over the years I found their prices to be unreasonably high and their formula to be unspectacular compared to the many other smaller brands available in Sephora.  This particular shampoo is intended to help conserve haircolors, but I did not find it particularly effective.  In any case, most other shampoos now are also designed to conserve haircolor whilst also performing other functions such as maintain perms, etc.
  4. Goldwell Rich Repair 6 Effects Serum* – is a rich cream that is meant to be applied to towel-dried hair and left on.  It is intended to repair hair structure from within as well as the outer lipid, thereby strengthening hair and increasing suppleness.  Personally, I found the texture too heavy and not suited to my usual routine of washing my hair at night before bed.  At the same time, I didn’t find it very effective at detangling my hair either, so was glad to be done with this.
  5. Kose Cosmeport Je l’aime Bright & Moist Treatment Conditioner* – is great value for money for the whole family.  It is on par with any supermarket / drugstore conditioner with a rich, smooth creamy texture and strong artificial floral scent.  To be honest I didn’t dislike this, and actually used up this giant bottle.  However, in contrast to other more niche haircare ranges out there, this is unlikely to be something I would restock.


Finally, we get to makeup.  This is a category that I was in half a mind to bin exponentially, but somehow couldn’t find the time to do the deep spring-cleaning that was on my todo list over the holidays.  What is shown here, are products that I have been working hard to empty all year.  Most of them are completely done, with the exception of 2:

  1. Tom Ford Pink Sand Cream Cheek Color* [reviewed here] – is the first cream blush that I fell in love with, and I am embarrassed to say that this particular pan has been with me since 2015.  I have been using this daily for the past year and still this is as far I managed to get.  The color is simply gorgeous, a warm-toned pink with golden shift, beautiful for everyday wear and matches practically everything.  Sadly, it is long past its expiration, and I started breaking out on my cheeks.  So with the passing of the year, it is time to finally bid goodbye.
  2. Surratt Artistique Blushes in Aureole & Grisaille* [reviewed here] – I was really caught up with pan-fever and set out to pan this at the start of 2019.  The colors and textures are perfect for daily wear, and in fact I still have not managed to find a suitable replacement for Grisaille amongst my extensive collection of bronzers and contour powders.  Again, I acquired these in 2015, and even though I like to think powders have longer longevity, these really started to break me out so it is also time to bid farewell.
  3. Bobbi Brown Perfectly Defined Long-Wear Brow Pencil* – was my favourite travel brow pencil!  The size is perfectly suited for smaller faces with thinner brows like mine, and I find the formula to be the best amongst all the other brow pencils out in the market – hard enough to create perfectly defined brows whilst still being nicely pigmented so it does not take too much effort.  I also liked the spoolie at the end for blending out the lines, it is not too scratchy.  The shade I have is Mahogany which is perfect for me!
  4. Chanel Stylo Sourcils* – in contrast was too wide for me, and there isn’t a perfect shade match for me.  I made do with Brun Claire, but it is just slightly reddish in undertone.  The spoolie also felt scratchy to me.  I should also note that this has only 0.27g of product whereas the Bobbi Brown one above has 0.33g, which made a real notable difference because final bit is too close to the container and impossible to use.
  5. Tom Ford Fiber Brow Gel* – is perfectly designed in every way, from the small brush head that fits my skinny brows well to the beautiful mahogony packaging.  The formula contains bits of fiber (hence the name) to fill in sparse areas which is great for creating the lush, full brows that Tom Ford is famous for.  My one sole gripe is that it does not hold the hairs in place well, some of my longer brow hairs tend to flop, weighed down by the extra fibers.  So, do make sure to trim evenly before using! ;P
  6. Fresh Sugar Tinted Lip Balm* – is another HG that has already appeared several times in past empties so I will not mention it again.  I have 1 in my office at all times, so expect to see this one reappear in future!

So that’s a wrap, folks!  2019 has been very gratifying in terms of binning products, great and small.  If I have to round up my top faves / must-haves, they would be undisputedly,

Note that I have not listed color makeup here because I feel that there is always something new every season, and much as I love both Tom Ford Pink Sand and the Surratt Artistique Blushes (and will likely restock them sometime) I am very sure there is a dupe somewhere in our beauty wardrobe.  Is there anything that I’ve shown over the past year that you’ve tried and fallen in love with too?  Tell me, I’d really love to know!

This post featured many products marked with (*) that were generously provided for my consideration.  Regardless, all opinions expressed here are my own honest, unbiased views.


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