As my dresser drawer is full again, it’s time for another Empties.
I’ve finished off another Emma Hardie Moringa Cleansing Balm. I love it, no need to rehash. But a word to the wise: get this from Cult Beauty. I’m about halfway through my last tub of the supersize 200ml version, and I tried to order another but it’s currently out of stock. A couple weeks ago, Caroline Hirons had a 25% discount code for the Emma Hardie website, and the code worked even with shipping to Barbados. However, the only shipping available is express (~$55) and the duties + VAT were ~$80, so my total for a single item was >$250!!! Meanwhile, it’s £65 on Cult Beauty, they’ll remove the UK VAT at checkout, and because it’s over £40, the standard shipping is free.
I decided to try out some Asian cleansing balms, to see if anything could displace my holy grail Clinique TTDO. 1st up was the Heimish All Clean Balm. This is a solid oil, which melts very easily, emulsifies just as easily and rinses clean. It removes sunscreen and makeup very well, but the makeup removal is not as good as TTDO. I use a washcloth for extra help though, which works fine. It doesn’t strip my skin, neither does it leave a residue. It has a floral scent, and actually contains some of the same essential oils/extracts as the Moringa Balm, so if you’re sensitive to those avoid this too. This is currently US$17 for 120ml on Yesstyle, and lasted me about 2 months with almost daily use.
I like the packaging of this a lot. It has a flip top but it can also be unscrewed, but I did find the flip top doesn’t seal well after you open it for the 1st time. The best part is the removable lid, which does actually seal the product better. It also has a spatula, which I actually use (that’s rare for me). Pictures below are of the one I’m currently using.
After this, I tried the Banila CO Clean It Zero Original Cleansing Balm. This was a disappointment for several reasons. First was the scent, I’m not sure it’s from the many flower leaf extracts or the “fragrance” on the INCI, but I didn’t like it. It’s another solid oil, and it does melt and emulsify easily without leaving a residue, but it doesn’t clean that well. I tried removing Fenty foundation and this left traces on my face, even after using a wash cloth. To top it off, I find it’s stripping too, as my face was dry after using it, worse if I had to double cleanse. So this was relegated to removing sunscreen, and I deliberately used a lot to get rid of it quicker.
I mentioned the packaging of the All Clean so I could compare the two; this has a standard screw top, but the removable lid is a flimsy piece of plastic, and the notch for the spatula doesn’t actually hold it in place!
This is available on Yesstyle for ~US$17 for the 100ml tub, and there are 3 other versions to choose from, but I went with the Original as that had the better reviews. After this, any version is a hard pass from me.
For most of the year I’ve been using this: Etude House Soon Jung pH 6.5 Whip Cleanser. The Soon Jung line from Etude House is formulated for sensitive skin, with natural ingredients and most are fragrance-free. This is actually a foaming cleanser, which is where the ‘whip’ in the name comes from, but unlike most foams this is absolutely not stripping, most of it comes from the pump action bottle. It’s formulated at pH 6.5, so slightly acidic to suit your skin’s natural pH.
I tried the 70ml sample first, and now I’m on my 3rd regular size bottle. I use it mostly during the day or at night as a single cleanse, once I haven’t worn sunscreen or makeup, and 1 pump is enough for face and neck. It’s also a good 2nd cleanse after a balm (use about half pump). So far, it’s been lasting a month, since the rest of the family likes it too and it’s been going fast, but when I was the only one it lasted about 2 months. It’s currently ~US$8 for 70ml and ~US$12 for the 150ml bottle on Yesstyle. I like this so much, I’m considering not repurchasing the Moringa Balm and using this as my permanent morning cleanse, and you know I adore Moringa Balm!
I have reviewed all of these already here, in case you missed it. In summary: don’t waste your money on SK-II.
Olay Regenerist already has a review here, it’s another favourite of mine, the end.
The Melano CC Vitamin C Essence I classify as a serum despite its name. This was highly recommended, and I can see why – it’s awesome. It comes in this tiny tube, with a ridiculously small needle-nosed tip, but that ensures that the product doesn’t oxidise. Trust me, I keep this on my dressing table, and even when I was scared because all my bottles were hot during the heatwave, this was the only product I didn’t worry about. It has never oxidised, the serum is still clear, and it hasn’t gone into the fridge once. It feels oily, but there’s no oil in the formula, and it absorbs well. The needle nose ensures only 1 drop is dispensed at a time, so you can literally spot treat any dark marks, but I just slather a few drops all over my face. After a few weeks, my skin was brighter and dark marks were fading. I also gave this to my sister and a friend of hers, who both reported the same thing.
Melano CC has 2 different vitamin C derivatives in the formula: 3-O-ethyl ascorbic acid (EAA), and ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate (ATI). EAA is a great ingredient – it’s very similar to the gold standard L-ascorbic acid (LAA) but it’s stable to light and air; it is both hydrophilic and lipophilic (it likes both water and oil), so it can penetrate the lipid barrier of your skin to work in the dermis; and it can produce the same results as LAA in smoothing skin texture, boosting radiance and clearing hyperpigmentation by improving collagen production and breaking down/inhibiting production of melanin. ATI is also very stable, also lipophilic so it penetrates easily, and works well to do all the above stuff in your skin. One note here: I can’t figure out if ATI is the same thing as tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, which is another lipid soluble vitamin C derivative. This and this seem to suggest they are, so keep that in mind when looking at INCI lists.
Despite this only having 20ml of product, it lasts fairly long, and I’m about halfway through my 2nd tube now (2nd tube is in the pictures). It’s available on Yesstyle now for ~US$11, but you can also find it on Amazon, just watch out for the fakes!
I really bought the Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel for my brother. He actually likes Clinique stuff, and recently even asked me to repurchase the Anti-Blemish line I previously used. Me being the loving big sister I am, told him he could “go town and buy it himself”. Anyway, back in December when I was in St. Maarten, the pickings for skincare and makeup were slim, and I only found TWO stores(!!) amongst the approximately 2 million jewellery stores on Front Street. I chose this because he doesn’t like anything heavy, but he’s always in very cold A/C and his skin gets dry. Of course, I still had to try it myself, and it is as light as advertised. It’s hydrating, with a nice texture, and no fragrance. I can’t remember how much I paid for it, but considering St. Maarten has everything duty free, it probably wasn’t much more than the US$28 it retails for on Clinique’s website or Sephora. I’m pretty sure Cave Shepherd has it, but it’s probably tripled in price. I would repurchase, or try the new jelly version.
The Laneige Water Sleeping Mask is, despite the name, not a mask. It’s a watery gel, which promises to moisturise and revitalise your skin as if you had 8 hours sleep. You can read their claims about Moisture Wrap™, Sleep-Tox™ and SleepScent™ on their website linked above, but the important part is – it works. The INCI has glycerin, trehalose and sodium hyaluronate (the salt version of hyarluronic acid) high in the list, as well as another vitamin C derivative called ascorbyl glucoside. There is alcohol and fragrance too, but they’re at the end of the list.
Despite Laneige recommending using at night only 2-3 times per week, I use this anytime, day or night. I’ve used it alone, with just a toner, or over/mixed with the Melano CC – it just works. Highly recommended, oily skin would probably love it, dry skin would need a toner/essence underneath or cover with an oil. I bought these 2 samples, and immediately ordered the full-size after trying it. Full-size is currently ~US$20 on Yesstyle, and US$25 on Sephora.
Unlike my last empties post, this time I’ve been working more morning shifts, so more sunscreen was used (clearly). Anessa is still the holy grail, but I noticed when I started using the Crystal Retinal, my skin was irritated after using it. Luckily, the Canmake Mermaid Skin UV Gel is a trusty backup, I just had to make sure I wasn’t sweating. Unfortunately, it’s currently out of stock on Yesstyle, so I might have to take a chance on Amazon or eBay to get more. They have 2 different versions now, a clear and a white version, get the clear (transparent).
Do you have a favourite product you think I should try? Let me know in the comments, or find me on my Instagram!