Winter Skincare Empties

February 9, 2018
Skincare I’ve used up

I haven’t meant to be silent on the blog for so long, but I recently had surgery and took for granted how unproductive I’d be while recovering at home. I thought I’d get back into it with an easygoing empties review. I go through a lot of skincare products on an ongoing basis, and I have a box full of stuff that I’ve used up over the past few months. Particularly because it’s a cold time of year, I have a lot of products for dry skin, and I’ve really had a good experience with most of them.



Clarins Anti-Pollution Cleansing Milk with Alpine Herbs ($33 for a full-sized 6.9 oz) – This was a small size that I got in a set at a Clarins outlet store, and it prompted me to buy the full size bottle from Sephora. This is expensive but heavenly for dry skin, and I’d recommend as long as you don’t have a sensitivity to fragrance.

Kiehl’s Blue Herbal Acne Treatment Cleanser ($22 for 5 oz) – This is another great cleanser that, although formulated for troubled skin, works great on sensitive and dry skin. It’s a gentle gel that doesn’t really froth and includes some salicylic acid, ginger, and frankincense. I’ve bought it a couple of times over.

Kiehl’s Rare Earth Deep Pore Daily Cleanser ($23 for 5 oz) – This was my husband’s, so I didn’t use it daily, but I did reach for it enough to get a feel. It has a creamy sort of texture with very fine oat kernel meal and Amazonian white clay to gently exfoliate skin. My husband felt it was too mild for him, but it would be a solid choice if you’d like to polish skin without tearing it up.

Kiehl’s Calendula Deep Cleansing Foaming Face Wash ($29 for 7.8 oz) – This one is more gentle than the name lets on, and I find it totally appropriate for my dry skin that’s on the sensitive side. My husband and I like to share a little bottle of this when we travel, and he’s suggested we buy a big bottle during a sale for the purpose of refilling the mini.

Muji Cleansing Oil ($15.50 for 6.76 oz) – This is another mini bottle that I like to pick up for travel at a Muji store (we have a few of them in New York). It’s a really nice cleansing oil that’s on the thicker side in terms of texture, and I use it to remove makeup before cleansing. No fragrance as far as I know.

Toners and essences

Toners and Essences

Kiehl’s Cactus Flower & Tibetan Ginseng Hydrating Mist ($27 for 4.2 oz) – I bought this on a whim, but really enjoyed it. It’s meant for dry skin but has a very lightweight texture. There’s no added fragrance, just some botanicals that make it smell like a freshly cut plant stem.

Muji Natural All-in-One Essence ($22 for 3.53 oz) – The Natural (green bottle) product range from Muji is their most expensive, but even then isn’t too pricey and this bottle lasted a plenty long time. The essence is a light gel that has a watery feel on the skin, really cooling and pleasant. I’d prefer it in warmer months since the hydration is light.

Skinfood Peach Sake Toner ($15 for 4.6 oz) – I bought a few Skinfood products when they were introduced at Ulta, and I wasn’t sure if this one would be appropriate for my drier skin type but it sounded nice. I actually think this would be a good one for just about anyone except for maybe the most delicate skin types, as the formulation is very good and it’s great from a look/feel perspective, too. It comes in a nice glass sake-like bottle and smells delicious, and furthermore, isn’t expensive.

May Coop Mini Raw Sauce Acer Maple Water ($14 for 3.53 oz) – I found this essence in the Sephora checkout line one day, and it was fairly affordable and quite nice. Light but hydrating. The Amazon listing says it’s a toner, essence, and emulsion in one. Next thing I knew, it had disappeared from the Sephora aisle and website. So, that’s a bummer.

Decorte AQMW Toning Lotion ($85 for 6.7 oz) – I got this in a Cosme Decorte New Year’s set when I visited Japan a year ago, and it took me a while to get to all of the products. This is a toning spritz that I ended up mostly using when I traveled because it’s a mini bottle, and I really liked it. It’s hydrating and smells lovely. Cosme Decorte is a department store brand and so their skincare is pricey, but I’d explore more with the aid of a discount.

Serums and treatments

Serums and Treatments

The Ordinary “Buffet” ($14.80 for 1 oz) – This is an anti-aging serum with lots of different peptides, and it has a pleasant, lightly hydrating texture. In true Ordinary fashion, it’s a very affordable option for a peptide serum, which is something that can otherwise be quite expensive when produced by a fancier brand.

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% ($5.90 for 1 oz) – Described as a “vitamin and mineral blemish formula,” this can be used in addition to actives like salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and retinoic acid to help soothe irritated skin and lighten healing acne spots. I like using niacinamide in treatments like sheet masks and serums, but somehow this one didn’t do as much for my skin as I’d hoped.

Malaya Organics Rejuvenating Face Serum ($95 for a full-sized 1 oz) – I first learned of this brand when I visited their booth in the Grand Central Holiday Market in November or December, where I had a chance to try things and speak with the founder. Not only do they have a great lineup of natural botanical products, but the founder is also educated as a perfumer and the scents she’s blended are very sophisticated and beautiful. This oil serum helped my skin substantially and I’d definitely buy a full sized version in the future (I bought a mini bottle the first time around).

Kiehl’s Calendula & Aloe Soothing Hydration Masque ($45 for 3.4 oz) – This is a mini jar I got in a calendula kit from Kiehl’s, and I wasn’t really expecting anything out of this world, but I really found that it made my skin feel more hydrated and smooth. It’s expensive at full size, but I would generally recommend in the context of a set or sale.



Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado ($29 for 0.5 oz) – This is a favorite of mine; I’ve bought it before this and will buy it again in the future. It’s under $30 for the standard half ounce, and under $50 for a full ounce, which is a lot of eye cream. I bought and used up the big jar this time. It’s a thick cream but absorbs really well, so I don’t think you have to have super dry skin in order to like it.

Kiehl’s Creme D’Elegance Repairateur ($29 for 2 oz) – This is Kiehl’s cream for very dry skin, which was appropriate for me this winter, and includes ingredients like squalane, shea butter, cocoa butter, and sesame oil. I love Kiehl’s moisturizers in general and thought this one was really great, as well, though I haven’t seen it get much attention. It’s surprisingly affordable, too.

Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream ($29.50 for 1.7 oz) – I’ve used a full size of this before, but this one is just a generous sample size that was nice for travel. It’s kind of easy for me to forget about this one because it’s the sort of basic, all-purpose moisturizer from the brand, but it’s really very good.

Too Cool For School Egg Mellow Cream ($36 for 1.76 oz) – I’ve tried samples of this from Too Cool For School before, so I was happy to see it come to Sephora, which is where I purchased the full size. I don’t see people talk about this but I really like it. It has a sort of goopy texture out of the pump bottle, but immediately feels nice and smooth on the skin. It has a subtle but sweet scent that reminds me of cake batter.

Alba Botanica Hawaiian Moisture Cream – Smoothing Jasmine and Vitamin E ($11.99 for 3 oz) – I found this at Whole Foods and thought it was really good, though it has a very strong jasmine scent. It’s an oil-rich formula I’d recommend for normal to dry skin. In general, I’ve had positive experiences with Alba Botanica moisturizers, both for the face and body. In addition to Whole Foods, you can also find this at Target, Vitacost, and Amazon.

Kiehl’s Lip Balm #1 ($9.50 for 0.5 oz) – This is a basic, unscented lip balm that I received from the Kiehl’s store as a birthday gift (they also have scented options). I didn’t like it but didn’t want to waste it. I think it protects skin but doesn’t do much hydrating. It is a pretty good value, as I think half an ounce is quite a lot of lip balm, though.

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Hydra-Firm Sleeping Cream ($38 for 1.7 oz) – I believe this was a 100-point perk from Sephora. I used it as a sleeping mask/nighttime moisturizer, and it’s smooth but doesn’t really sink in or set on the skin. There’s nothing too wrong with it, I just think there are so many better moisturizers and sleeping treatments out there and this didn’t do it for me. It doesn’t stand out in any way, be it look and feel, results, or price point.

Have you tried any of these? Do you have any cold weather favorites that you’ve found? I’d love to hear.

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