Empties and Near-Empties, Spring 2015

(I typed “Spring 2013” at first, then spent a few seconds wondering why that didn’t look right.)

Not quite five months since my last empties post, I’ve accumulated another small collection of used-up products:

Herewith, some mini-reviews, in no particular order:

CoverGirl LashBlast Length Mascara

There’s a reason why I never write posts about mascara: I find it really boring. I don’t understand the obsession that some people have with attaining super-thick or super-long lashes. I like my mascara to look as natural and non-clumpy as possible, and I’ve been using LashBlast Length ever since Eva Chen recommended it on her Tumblr, which must have been three years ago. The formula is on the thin side, and it coats my lashes evenly and doesn’t smear or flake.

Until I find an affordable cruelty-free mascara that produces the same effect, I’ll keep buying this one–and occasionally forgetting to put it on, because I truly could not be less interested in mascara.

Milani Brow Shaping Clear Gel

I really did mean to review this, but I used it up before I got a chance to write anything about it! This is the only dedicated brow product I’ve tried so far. I bought it in November, after reflecting that my brows could use some taming but were thick and dark enough not to need a colored gel. Milani’s clear gel cost about $4.50, and it delivered pretty much what I’d expect from a product at that price point. The bristles of the applicator were too far apart, so they applied too much gel to each brow and were useless for actually combing the hairs. After blobbing on the gel, I had to go back in with a spoolie from a Revlon brow kit to remove the excess product. And because the applicator pulled out so much gel each time, I went through the tube in about five months. But the gel itself was satisfactory, holding the hairs in place without getting crunchy. Since I have that Revlon applicator, I’ll probably repurchase this product.

NARS Sheer Lipstick in Dolce Vita

Yes, a lipstick! It took me two years, but I used up a lipstick! Of course, this would be more exciting if I hadn’t mentioned using it up back in July. What happened was, I used up most of the lipstick, repurchased it, and then opened the new tube. Sometime during the winter, I remembered that I still had a nubbin of the old tube left, so I put some effort into using that up. It’s now at the point that I’d have to dig out the product with a lip brush if I wanted to keep using it, but all things considered, I’d rather not.

(Nail polish is Sephora Formula X Enigma, by the way. Review to come!)

Sephora Honey and Pomegranate Masks

My love for Sephora’s rose-scented sheet mask is well documented, and on a February visit to Sephora I decided to branch out into other flavors. Unfortunately, I used these so long ago that I remember almost nothing about them, except that the “energizing” pomegranate mask had a cooling effect that might have been refreshing if it hadn’t been -10° F outside when I used it. All sheet masks feel cool and clammy when you first put them on, but most adjust eventually to your skin temperature. Some witchery, however, ensured that the pomegranate mask felt as chilly 15 minutes after application as it had when I first stuck it to my face. I’ll keep this one in mind for the summer.

Skinfood Green Tea and Broccoli Masks

While visiting my parents in San Francisco during winter vacation, I discovered that the Korean beauty brand Skinfood had opened a store in the mall down the street from my old high school. I bought these two masks there, and…sorry, I got nothing. They were entirely unremarkable. As I recall, they moisturized my face successfully, but did little else. I need to start making notes on the sheet masks I use, or I’ll keep embarrassing myself like this.

(That picture of the green tea looks a bit suggestive, doesn’t it? Skinfood seems to have taken a leaf, or petal, from Georgia O’Keeffe’s book.)

DevaCurl Styling Cream

This lemon-lime-scented styling gel lasted for a year and a half. I find haircare almost as boring as mascara, so when I asked a stylist at my favorite hair salon what she’d recommend for fine, wavy/curly hair and she handed me this bottle, I felt like Molly Bloom considering Leopold’s proposal of marriage: “I thought well as well him as another.” And, indeed, this was a fine product. I used it on damp hair, scrunching a tiny bit into my curls for subtle definition. After using it up, I found another DevaCurl product I preferred: B’Leave-In, a lighter, runnier gel that works better with my hair texture but, alas, doesn’t smell as good. That’s right, I pulled a Molly Bloom and cheated on the Styling Cream with the haircare equivalent of Blazes Boylan. Let me note that I’ve just had a gin and tonic and I haven’t read Ulysses since college. I should stop.

Burt’s Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream, Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Lip Balm, and Carmex Lip Balm

I grouped these into one photo because they all provided moisture during our long winter. This is probably the third tin of Burt’s Bees cuticle cream that I’ve owned, but the first that I’ve come close to finishing–I lost the others, of course. I was a Carmex devotee before I discovered Palmer’s, which is the one product that actually seems to make a lasting difference for my perma-dry lips. I used up this comically large tube (peeling off the label at some point in the process), and now I’m using a tiny and far less satisfying Palmer’s tube. I need to find another gargantuan one.

And a request for advice:

I finally tried on Bite Beauty’s Cava lipstick in Sephora two days ago, and it was indeed the gray-lavender-nude I’d hoped it would be–the lipstick equivalent of NARS Lhasa, let’s say. The problem is, I’m not sure a gray-lavender-nude is right for my complexion. Here’s how it looks on:

I mean, this is an awkward Sephora selfie with less-than-ideal lighting, and I’m wearing less eye makeup than I normally would with a nude lipstick, but what do you think? Is it my perfect skin-matching nude, or does it make me look dead, or does a perfect skin-matching nude make one look dead by definition? Tough questions, all.

14 thoughts on “Empties and Near-Empties, Spring 2015

  1. Mascara really is a boring product. I don't understand people who have, like, ten open at a time. I have three open right now (one full-sized, two samples) and even that is way too much choice for me. I feel like all mascaras essentially look the same on me, with a few minor variations that most humans aren't going to notice.I think Cava looks good on you! That grey undertone gives it a slightly unnatural effect so it doesn't look like you just missed trying to find your perfect nude. It's like… a weird colour, but the most neutral weird colour ever. I don't know if that made any sense, but I like it.


  2. I'm glad I'm not the only one who generally finds mascara boring. it's pretty rare that I find one that is actually interesting or worth of attention in my opinion.


  3. Those big Palmer's tubes are the best. I have a bunch of inferior lip balms to use up before I buy another, but I should be ready for one by next winter when I need it. I also bought one of the little ones, stupidly, and it was not the same, and tasted like sunscreen. Boo.I like mascara, but I don't review it much, and I don't find other people's review very useful. It seems more individual than most products. I've read horrible reviews of some of my favorites and had highly praised mascaras flake and smear all over my face, so it seems to be mostly trial and error. I have short, blonde lashes, so wearing it definitely make a difference.


  4. I was really annoyed to find that the smaller tube smelled and tasted different! I wondered if it was just in my mind, though, so thanks for verifying that it wasn't. The worst part is that I'm 90% sure I have another big tube lying around somewhere…I agree that mascara is a very individual sort of thing. I'm also not sure why anyone would want the insane spider-leg lashes that I see in those ubiquitous Younique ads on Instagram. WHAT IS THE APPEAL?!


  5. I have two open, the other being the MUFE mascara that was given out as the Sephora birthday gift last year. It's very smudge-prone, at least on me: if I apply it to my upper lashes, they brush against my browbone and get product everywhere. Bleh.Thanks for the Cava input! I think my skin has a slightly grayish undertone naturally, and I was worried that the lipstick brought it out too much. And yes, \”neutral weird\” is the perfect description for that shade.


  6. I like the look of Cava on you- I find it's very natural, whereas on me it looks too icy cool. (All shades like that do, unfortunately.)I'd love to see it in better lighting, though.)Although I'm one of the people who fusses over her lashes a lot, I think I've done one or two mascara posts ever, one of which was a review of basically every one that I'd tried in the past three years. It's just not that interesting a product and the differences between formulas aren't that groundbreaking, even for those of us who like trying different ones.


  7. Just found your blog and I am stunned and thrilled because 1) you are an intelligent person writing a thoughtful beauty blog 2) I have some freaky unidentifiable skintone and I think not only might our undertones be very similar, we seem to like a lot of similar colors and makeup. Both of those things are rare and great!So having said that, I have Bite Cava and think it's a great nude, but it's quite white based which does make it a little corpse-like to wear sometimes. It's hit or miss with me and some days I end up wiping it off, some days I love itI do think I just found my best nude ever – Givenchy Le Rouge-A-Porter in Parme Silhouette. Check it out if you're still searching for the perfect nude. It's really lovely (not to mention the formula on these is really great).


  8. Why, thank you! I'm glad you're enjoying my blog, and it's always helpful to find a blogger with a similar skintone. I have yet to come up with an accurate description for mine: I know I'm more cool than warm, but with a slight purply-gray undertone that makes lipsticks like MAC Up the Amp look oddly natural on me. Do you find this to be the case for you, too?I'll check out Parme Silhouette on my next Sephora visit! Thanks for the tip.


  9. I'm not sure I have any lipsticks quite like Up the Amp. However, I seem to insist on wearing purple or lavender-grey lipsticks despite the fact that I can't tell whether they look great or terrible on me. I bought Bite Lavender Thistle even though I was sure it would look terrible, but actually with the right eye makeup I think it works. So far my best guess is that I have cool olive undertones, but maybe warm yellow overtones? My lips are quite mauve with a lot of grey, but my eyes are a warm brown. Cool-toned colors are certainly more to my taste, but I can't figure out a consistent pattern to which colors look good when I'm wearing them. The struggle is real.


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