Beauty · Body Care · Empties · Fragrance · Hair Care · Holy Grail Graveyard · Skin Care · Vintage Post

September Empties with Mini Reviews!

September Empties!
September Empties!

How was everyone’s September? New schools? New jobs? September was a hugely busy month for me, full of workshops and interviews, and next month will be even busier as I am to be starting a new job with long hours. I think I will only be able to post on weekends, sadly. I did manage to get through some items this month however! I will go through them one by one as numbered in the photo below, left to right, and add in some mini reviews and applicable links to previous reviews and the like.



1) Coppertone SPF 60 Continuous Spray Waterproof Sunscreen

Not that anyone should need any extra reasons to wear sunscreen at all times, but I am allergic to the sun. A few minutes of unprotected sun exposure and I’m stuck with an itchy hives reaction that can last for weeks (this is known as Polymorphic Light Eruption). So I keep my face, hands, and any other exposed skin covered at all times. I grabbed this one as not only was it on sale, but I liked the idea of a waterproof formula to make sure it sticks on during a potentially sweaty summer day when I am unable to reapply. The product was an easy to use spray on. It did leave a sticky feeling however, presumably from whatever ingredient in it makes it waterproof. I didn’t mind this until I noticed every speck of dirt and dust I walked past stuck to my skin and was hard to wash off! The scent was also somewhat strong to me, something typically beachy with a splash of light floral and a side of chemicals. If you’ve smelled Jennifer Aniston’s first fragrance, which supposedly was also intended to be beachy, it smells like that. Due to the stickyness and scent, I would not rebuy. I did like the spray on aspect, but I think I will stick to cream formulas thought winter. Will not rebuy.

2) Maybelline Full ‘n Soft Waterproof Mascara in Very Black

This, for reasons that entirely escape me, has been discontinued in Canada. I believe it is still available in the US. This has been my HG mascara for for twelve or thirteen years maybe. It builds well to great volume and length, doesn’t flake (until the tube gets a bit old and dried up), leaves my lashes soft and pliable with no spiky, spidery lash attributes, and is in fact waterproof. Not too hard to wash off. I am down to one last stashed away tube, after that there’s no more here to be found in Canada. I will miss it! If there are any US readers who would like to enable my Full ‘n Soft addiction I would be more than receptive to the idea! I would rebuy but it doesn’t exist here.

3) Bath & Body Works White Citrus Shower Gel

A zesty, sparkling citrus scent with notes of ginger and water lily. A slight musky base. I liked this enough to use as a shower gel and diluted in my foamy hand soap dispensers as detailed in this post. It was nice and refreshing. I don’t think I liked it enough to rebuy. I think this would make a great scent for a laundry detergent or a room spray or candle.

4) Pantene Sheer Volume Weightless Shampoo Sample

This shampoo has an interesting texture in that it is more of a thick, gel like formula and not at all liquid. It didn’t pour out. I used this by squeezing out little jelly blobs. I liked this far more than I usually like Pantene products, probably because the formula was so, so different. I did a good job, and my hair didn’t feel limp afterwards when dry. Even the scent is better than usual Pantene offerings, reminds me more of something Fructis might make. Worth noting is that sodium laurel sulfate is it’s primary surfactant, which some people can have sensitivities to. I’m usually ok with it if I don’t use it too many days in a row, otherwise my scalp gets itchy. I would consider buying this if I found it at a great price and needed shampoo at the time.

5) Pantene Sheer Volume Weightless Conditioner Sample

Like it’s shampoo counterpart, this formula was completely different than Pantene’s other conditioner offerings. In fact, the formula reminded me a lot of Tres Emme’s, which is my go to every day conditioner and has been for years. This did the job well and smelled pretty good. I would consider buying if it were at a great price and I needed conditioner at the time, but I can’t see it ever being any better or cheaper than my $4 a liter Tres Emme. But good job an this new shampoo/conditioner, Pantene.

6) John Frieda Sheer Blonde Go Blonder Lightening Shampoo Sample

I didn’t notice any lightening. The formula didn’t lather well, and had a strange chemical undertone to the scent. Would not buy. Seemed almost indistinguishable, aside from the colour from it’s purple tone correcting counterpart I reviewed in my last empties post. Says it’s ammonia and peroxide free. How is this intended to lighten?

7) Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti Wrinkle Cream

Also known as Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti Wrinkle Cream Night depending on where you buy it from. This is a retinol treatment I have used for a year now and do not intend on stopping, unless I upgrade to a higher dose of retinol. There is still a couple of uses left in this tube, but I felt it would be an important addition to my empties post to demonstrate how long this little 40ml tube lasts. My last empty tube made an appearance in my debut empties post back in May, so I get at least four months worth of use out of one tube. I buy this when it’s on sale for about $16-17 Canadian, so I get my retinol treatments and results for less then $5 a month. Amazing. I’ve done a very in depth full review as well if you’d like to check it out. I will rebuy this until they stop making it, which I hope is never.

8) Diorskin Forever Flawless Perfection Wear Makeup SPF 25 Sample

I don’t have the little Sephora bag that had the label on it, but I believe this was in shade #010. I went into Sephora asking for samples of foundation of longer wearing, SPF bearing formulas, and this was the winner. It is basically perfect. Coverage was impeccable, it lasted all day in humid weather, no smudging, smearing, or transferring. I found I only needed extra concealer on my dark under eye circles when I used this. The finish is skin like, and just matte enough. I would buy this, but at the atrocious price of $49 Canadian that won’t be happening. I won’t feel too bad about asking for more samples however, after what Sephora put me though, and use it on occasions I need my skin to look nicer.

Hope everyone had a wonderful and productive September! I’m looking forward to October and all the spooky stuff (and candy) it brings with it!

Beauty · Body Care · Empties · Fragrance · Hair Care · Vintage Post

May Empties and Samples Review (My First Ever!)

May Empties!
May Empties!

My first empties post! I really like reading these types as they almost always come along with a quick review of a product after it’s been used long enough to go empty, making it (presumably) a more thorough and fair assessment. By the time you finish a product, you’ve got to have something to say about it. Some of these are brand new to me, and some I’ve been using for a while.

I’ve numbered them 1-8 in the photo below for a quick write up about each.


1) Rimmel Stay Matte Liquid Mousse Foundation 100 Ivory.
This is a product that I’ve been really wanting to try for a while, as I keep seeing such rave reviews. I was lucky in that the sample shade matched me well, and I really liked the texture. The coverage was also pretty good. My only concern was that it seemed a bit thick, cakey on some areas when applied with fingers, even when blended out. As I didn’t have enough product sample to try out different application techniques, I might try this out some time in the future with a damp/dry sponge/brush  etc to see what might work better for the formula. If this foundation contained sunscreen, I’d buy it again on the merit of that and the texture/coverage alone and learn to make it work for me regardless. But it doesn’t contain sunscreen. As it stands right now I’m a bit on the fence about this one. I prefer Rimmel Lasting Finish at the moment.

2) St. Ives Green Tea Cleanser

Initially, I really liked this cleanser. It has a very light green tea scent, has the surfactant my skin agrees with most (sodium laureth sulfate), has salicylic acid and even some green tea extract. It removed makeup well. Unfortunately, I noticed that my skin seemed to get oilier faster after using this product, so I decided to find out why. Turns out this product contains a menthol derivative (menthyl lactate) which can cause mild irritation and subsequent excess oil production. It’s a real shame they added that, this would have had holy grail beauty product status for me (tough accolade to obtain) and at $3.50, twice as sad.

3) Neutrogena Oil Free Acne Stress Control 3 in 1 Hydrating Acne Treatment

This is a 2% salicylic acid treatment, and as that, it performs well. I’ve been using this for a few years now actually, and my skin is smoother. The bottle doesn’t clearly say what the 3 in 1 effect is, it might be on the box which I don’t have handy. I wouldn’t really say this is moisturizing as it is in a silicone base and dries to a silky finish (think something like a thinner, watery version of the Smashbox primer type texture). As for stress control, well I wish stress control was as easy as a skin treatment. What this product is in fact really good at is helping speed up healing and minimize redness. Apparently this is discontinued in the US. It is still available in Canada, and I’m grateful for it as there is no other afordable, widely available within Canada irritant free salicylic acid treatment. The US has another option made by Clean & Clear but I can’t find it anywhere in Canada. If Neutrogena discontinues this in Canada I’m not sure what I’ll do! I will buy this as long as they make it. If they stop making it, I may have to rethink my love of Neutrogena.

4) Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti Wrinkle Cream

This one’s not quite empty yet but close enough to add here as I’m getting to the last dregs and I’d probably throw it out before my next empty post. I did a very thorough review on this one you can find here. I will buy this one as long as Neutrogena makes it as well.

5) Aussie You Can Shine Shampoo

Had a lovely super fresh citrusy orange scent. I suppose my hair was shiny, clean. I did like it. I might buy it again if it’s on a fantastic sale. I have a lot of shampoos to get through right now though, and although this performed well it wasn’t magical, it was shampoo, so this wouldn’t be an immediate rebuy. Only concern, it’s second surfactant is sodium lauryl sulfate, which is considerably more of an irritant risk than sodium laureth sulfate (it’s first surfactant). Although it doesn’t bother me, it does bother some people, so I thought it would be worth mentioning.

6) Aussie Moist Conditioner

A somewhat iconic, well known conditioner. I liked it. Has a nice tropical coconuty scent. It performed well, as I do like a richer conditioner. My only concern is I’m suspicious it might have made my skin break out. Looking at the ingredients the only thing I think that may have done that is the jojoba oil. I guess I will know within a few weeks if it were this conditioner or not. I’d rebuy on the same stipulations as the shampoo counterpart above, on a great sale.

7) Vaseline Cocoa Butter Lip Therapy

As you can tell by the well worn label, this was with me and used often. I’m the type who always needs something on their lips. I won’t use the lip balm types that have menthol, camphor, or other irritants as I find they are the ones that cause the “addictive” rebound lip balm effect. This is basically just Vaseline in a smaller container, and I already like Vaseline for a lip protectant. Yes, I’d absolutely rebuy, but I’ve already refilled this small container with the same Vaseline Cocoa Butter scent from a larger container so there’s no need to.

8) Comptoir Sud Pacifique Vanille Abricot from Sephora

Up last we have the end of a sample of Vanille Abricot. It was nice, a bit sugary for me. The sweetness was of an intense icing sugar variety. The apricot and other fruits (papaya and jackfruit) kept it tropical and warm. I liked it, but I didn’t $85 like it. Too bad I can’t find the Vanille Almande at all, now that might be worthwhile. If I ever did buy this, it would not be at full price and it most certainly would not be from a Sephora. Or anything else from a Sephora. At the moment I’m currently battling with them to get them to honor a new, perfectly valid $50 e-giftcard awarded to me as a prize, and so far (4 phone calls and countless emails later) they are refusing to assist me, provide any goods, or provide a refund to anyone (myself or the gifter) because I am in Canada (yes, we do have Sephora here). Essentially, they have the money paid for the gift card and are not interested in assisting me beyond that point and I do have this in writing from their most recent email.  I offered a set of six perfectly reasonable, fair solutions in a politely, carefully worded email. All were declined. I am awaiting final confirmation that they will keep the cash and refuse to provide goods or refund before I make my public write up to share on my blog, their Facebook, Twitter, and any other social media I find to be relevant to the subject. I will not purchase anything from a Sephora until this is resolved satisfactorily. I will, however, continue going in for free samples, at least until I feel I’ve received about $50 USD worth. Seems fair don’t you think?

Sorry to leave my empties post on that note, but there was no way I was going to say the word Sephora without saying what was on my mind. There will be a full write up soon on what happens. Up until today I was giving Sephora the benefit of the doubt as a large, well known company to do the right thing customer service wise and so far I’ve been greatly disappointed. Still hoping for the best as I would greatly prefer to report on a positive experience. 🙂

EDIT: Please see my new post about the products (good) and service (highly questionable) from Sephora. As this post of mine is popular, I would like to use it to help word get out.

Moving on, has anyone tried any of these products? And if so, what did you think?

Have a great weekend!


Beauty · Skin Care · Vintage Post

Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream Review

Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream
Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream

I’ve been using this product for 6-7 months now, and about to start my third tube, so I feel by now clearly know and like this product well enough for a thorough review! I’m surprised I haven’t yet actually. A note first about the name, as in some areas or depending on what stock your store has, it has changed. In the US (and some retailers in Canada, but not all), this product’s name is now Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream, Night – with the same exact formula as the original. Neutrogena made up a new “original” formula with (insufficient) SPF15 for day. This new other product is in no way the same as the actual original which I am reviewing here. In some places in Canada it is still available as it is labelled in my pictures and write up as Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream (no “Night” label, no “SPF15” label). I double checked ingredients carefully to make sure this is the same, as I can see how it would cause a lot of unnecessary confusion.

About the package:

This cream comes in a pretty standard box packaging, with labels stating it contains retinol, multi vitamins and is intended to treat fine lines, winkles and age spots. The side panel suggests you use a cleanser from their line (which I haven’t tried but hear isn’t bad), their SPF 15 during the day (sorry, that formula doesn’t provide adequate sun protection, so nope), and their eye cream but I am of the school of thought that if your regular skin moisturizer/cream/wrinkle treatment is properly formulated there is no need to spend far more for far less product just to put around my eyes. A well formulated cream shouldn’t bother your eyes or skin regardless, just be careful not to put anything too close to your eye as it will migrate over night and possibly get in there, causing irritation. The back of the box has a write up about the product claims. Click for larger pictures.

Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream Side Panel
Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream Side Panel
Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream Box
Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream Box
Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream Packaging
Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream Packaging

About the tube itself:

The tube is metal of some sort, which is nice as it blocks out light keeping your retinol safe and effective. I also like this as it flattens itself out as you use it, keeping air out, which also keeps your active ingredients safe. The tube comes completely sealed, which you pierce open with the outer side of the cap that has a built in point especially for this purpose. The tube holds 40mls, which applied in a thin layer seems to last me for a couple of months. The instructions on the back say to apply a small amount to clean skin, but doesn’t say when or how often. I apply this once (sometimes twice if I’m up late and rewash my face) and only at night, as retinols can make your skin very sensitive to sun damage. It also does warn you that you may experience mild tingling or redness. I would normally say that is just your skin being irritated and to not use the product, but due to the nature of how retinol works, this side effect is common and temporary.

Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream Tube
Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream Tube
Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream Sealed
Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream Sealed

About my results:

As this was the first retinol product I had ever used, along with first moisturizer I planned on using somewhere other than around the eye area, I was a bit apprehensive due to my oily, prone to breakout skin. I decided to first try it out on some test areas to see how it would perform. For the first week or so, I placed it only on my under eye area (not too close to eye, maybe a cm down from lower lid). I did feel some mild tingling, and it was welcome as it let me know there was enough retinol in the product to have an effect. This went away quickly, and from the info I can find, your skin acclimates to retinol treatment in this way very quickly. I did not experience any dryness. After being sure that my skin wasn’t going to completely freak out, I decided to try it on a sample area on my forehead. I figured if it broke me out terribly I could try out some bangs for a while. Luckily, no breakouts! What I did experience however, was a case of the retinol uglies. I had read about them before, and then forgot. Then one day I woke up with the lines under my eyes (which normally don’t bother me) looking deeper and much older, I suddenly remembered the retinol ugies are a very real thing!

Apparently I got off easy without any dryness and irritation and the trade off was the common experience of having your lines and wrinkles looks worse first. Thankfully I knew this effect is TEMPORARY! I suffered through about a month or more of worse looking wrinkles and dull looking crappy skin (ugh, I went to interviews like this), crossing my fingers that the information I found about this was correct. Apparently this is the stage most people give up. I did not. And I’m sure glad I didn’t.

One morning I woke up – and there it was – results! My skin was softer, plumper, smoother, of more even tone, and those lines under my eyes suddenly looked more like they did about 5 or more years ago, possibly better! As an added effect, the tiny bump type of acne that I’d previously had on occasion along my cheeks especially was greatly reduced.  I have also noticed a drastic reduction in cystic type acne as well,  I can only think of two, maybe three of those since I’ve begun using this. I do still break out, but they are most certainly fewer. Also noteworthy, blackheads that were impossible for me to remove for years in certain areas had started to just disappear. I find this cream also helps bring other types of blackheads and clogged pores to the surface faster as well, and once removed/healed,  the skin is much smoother.

Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream Tube Back
Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream Tube Back

About the product/application itself:

The cream feels very lightweight. It spreads out to a thin layer smoothly. It is a pale yellow colour, which I’ve learned is the actual retinol itself, which shows as a pale yellow. I use about a pea sized dab for my whole face. There is no scent and no greasy residue. It is oil free and alcohol free. I apply this only at night as retinol causes sun sensitivity during the day and can make your wrinkles worse and skin drier. Even the back of the tube clearly recommends an SPF for daytime.  A thin layer is best, as more is not necessarily better for retinols. The picture below shows about the amount I use for my whole face, and the pale yellow shade.

Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream Pea Sized Dab
Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream Pea Sized Dab

About the ingredients:

Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream Original contains green tea, vitamin e and retinol as the ingredients intended to help your skin. Thankfully it contains no fragrance. Research has shown that the polyphenols in green tea have anti-aging benefits, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anticarcinogenic properies. Vitamin e is a well proven antioxidant and skin protecting agent. Retinol (a name for the vitamin a molecule) is a skin cell communicating ingredient and an antioxidant. Retinol actually changes how your skin cells grow by creating better, healthier cells. If you are curious about more thorough information on any of these ingredients I’d recommend you check out their respective wikipedia pages, or the ingredient dictionary on Paula’s Choice.

Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream Ingredients
Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream Ingredients

Would I recommend this? Absolutely, but with a few caveats. You must be willing to apply a thin layer every day, only at night, and refrain from complete judgement about this product for 3 months. You might get the uglies. They pass. You also must be willing to endure these uglies, which may include dryness, redness, and for me an overall look of deeper wrinkles and not so great skin tone. For some people this is only a couple of weeks, for me it was over a month. If you’re having some kind of awful allergic reaction then yes of course stop. I’d recommend you look up the ingredients if you think there is something you might react to.

I buy this at my local London Drugs (a pharmacy) on sale for about $16.49, which for this type of product is on the low end of the cost scale. Neutrogena has other retinol offerings but from my own research none have as much retinol or work as effectively as the Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream or Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream Night. I sincerely hope they don’t stop making this.

I hope everyone had a good Mother’s Day!