Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Decanting and Rebottling in the name of Beauty and Decadence

One day I decided to indulge in body oil and picked up the least decadent kind available: this Neutrogena. It's not terrible but it is FAR from the best. My body isn't very dry, but this oil definitely fails to deliver on the moisturizing front. It's best used in conjunction with a moisturizer on top.

I've been trying to finish this bottle as it's starting to reach that point when you just get sick of seeing it take up room in the bathroom cabinet. But combined with the unattractive packaging and less than stellar quality, I often ignore it and reach for a body butter instead.

I could toss it, yes, but you know that it's a last resort option for me and I am determined to see a product to the very end where possible. So, with that resolve, I decided to psychologically trick myself into finishing this. I can't do anything about the quality of the content, but I can give it better packaging.

I mean, it's an oil. It always make me feel decadent to slowly warm the oil in hand and massage it into the skin. I'm sorry if this makes me a snob, but seeing NEUTROGENA kind of kills the buzz.

Now, doesn't that look much better? It's a small change that will aid my perception to better live with the consequence of a bad decision. Not everyone's up for this sort of thing but I can't bear to toss a perfectly good subpar product and so I carry on.

Have you decanted or rebottled products? How did it turn out?

P.S. My netbook keyboard is destroyed after I spilled brandy all over it the other night. I'm blogging via an iTouch and it's a huge hassle. I'll try to push out posts as much as possible but it will be rather spare for a while. Also, sorry but I won't be able to comment on any blogs either, as it will take a zillion years on this device. If you want to chat, the best place is Twitter! I am still reading and keeping up with everyone's posts, though. It's still such a joy whenever I see a new post pop up on the blog feed. :)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

This Winter Night

There are two ways to enjoy the long winter nights: either pretend I don't live here where it's cold or embrace all the great things about the season with snow. Tonight I am...

...lighting as many candles as I want...

...taking a luxurious hot shower with L'Occitane Almond Shower Oil...

...pouring another glass of red wine...

...sniffing my dozens of unopened perfume samples...

...keeping warm in my fluffy socks...

...indulging in a wintery pale manicure...

...and engaging in mental discourse with five great minds on the topic of winter.

What are you doing tonight?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Dior Nirvana

Nirvana was but a distant dream. It was the first polish I went running for as soon as the Dior Rock Your Nails collection hit the Canadian stores. It was also the first shade to sell out, as I couldn't find it anywhere. I came home with Underground and Blue Label instead.

When I can't get a product I really want, sometimes I feel just plain relief. This beauty addiction is a hard master and I am but an exhausted slave! And after a while, I forget about the product and move on with my life -- and other new products. Now, I can't say that I thought of Nirvana constantly or even regularly, but whenever I caught a reference to the shade or the collection, I'd feel a tiny hole in my shoebox full of nail polish where Nirvana surely belonged.

Lucky for me, the shade wasn't that popular in Asia? I saw it in abundance at both Singapore malls and Tokyo duty-frees. I don't have a lot of teals, and this one sits perfectly balanced between green and blue. It should be gorgeous on every skin tone. It's a Dior creme, which pretty much guarantees its classic status and secures my love for eternity.

I received another round of compliments on my nails, and one was from a 60 year-old male insolvency lawyer in the elevator. He held out his fingers in front of me and did a little wave. I just about fell over laughing. Little moments like that make my day.

However, I'm sad to report that there's been some major tip wear after only three days in. The first sign of tip wear began on the second day. I don't know if it was my application skill (still don't know how to "cap" the tips) or if Asian formulation is different/worse. It's not to the point that anyone's even going to notice, but I noticed and it's bothering me. I still don't regret getting it, but it's slightly disappointing.

How do you react when you encounter a product you missed out on the first time around?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


The following are mostly pictures of the many goodies that I'm currently enjoying, thanks to the generosity of others and my own pre-holiday insanity.

ByKilian sampler set, thanks to Makeup Morsels:

Illamasqua Cream Blush in Betray, thanks to Larie:


Chocomania, The Body Shop's limited edition release, just in time for Valentine's Day

A lot more blush! Thanks to Tracy and her blog sale and her big heart:

My first Rescue Beauty Lounge Nail Polish in Piu Mosso as well as some delicious perfume samples, thanks to Carrie:

Pour La Victoire flats I rejected pre-holiday but caved to later:

My pre-ban order from Solstice Scents, fueled by Larie's review:

And at last, some CB I Hate Perfume samples I ordered before Christmas. I've been dying to try this stuff for YEARS.

Will try to review some of these items soon. Right now I'm enjoying my second glass of red wine and reluctantly thinking about the to-do list for tomorrow. What have you enjoying lately?

Monday, January 23, 2012

When you really love a product... you get it in every shape and size available.

Compulsive purchases is one thing, but when combined with the heart of an archivist or a collector, it can lead to a conundrum I face regularly: collecting the same product in every size and form available with the all-encompassing reason "Just in case."

Just in case what? Well, a lot of things. Just in case I travel. Just in case I need it at work. Just in case I need a backup. Just in case the item/brand discontinues. JUST IN CASE I'M NUTS.

First, it starts with practical things, like a travel version of your favourite cleanser. Before leaving for Southeast Asia in December, I tried my damnest not to give into the urge to buy the smallest size of my beloved Purity cleanser. Smallest size being CDN$12, it was actually easy to do. Luckily, Sephora had a mini size up for a 100 points redemption so I snagged it without having to pay.

Some might wonder why I don't just buy the empty bottle travel kit and decant the products into them?

I try. But every time I use a travel-friendly bottle, the bottle never makes it back home or never gets emptied, and I dislike having to buy empty bottles all over again. The anal side of me likes having a nicely labelled bottle that looks just like the original product, so that I don't have to think twice about whether I'm holding a shampoo or lotion in my hand. And let's face it: I like the brand names and labels. It's a major part of why I splurge when I had no intention of doing so.

I got into the habit of buying travel size of my favourite products mostly because of perfumes. There sits a gorgeous bottle on your dresser or vanity, and you spray it in the morning and leave the house, trailing the most evocative and delicious scent everywhere you go... until at about 1pm when it hits you that the scent of eau de hamburger lunch is clinging to you more than the loveliness that was so carefully misted in the morning.

I own about five or six atomizers to decant and tote my "favourite" perfumes in a trave-friendly method, but there are those days when I feel lazy and simply must have the travel-size option of my other dozen favourite perfumes.

Tocca Stella in solid form and original bottle

Philosophy Pure Grace in mini and regular sizes

Nanette Lepore Shanghai Butterfly in original bottle and rollerball

And I don't know about you, but I've never finished a perfume bottle before. The extra bottles mean that it will take me forever to finish a perfume. (By forever, I mean never.) Decanting may be a hassle, but at least I could see the content of the perfume bottle diminishing, visually confirming my love and reliance on it.

I knew the "every size option" problem was serious when I encountered this in my makeup stash:

The mini size of the Urban Decay Primer Potion came from the Naked Palette I ended up getting rid of, so I didn't exactly buy it (though, technically, I did -- sigh). The original size in the original bottle was the original purchase. It's now with my sister in the Philippines and I hope she doesn't bring it back with her. The professional size... well, that was going to be a gift to a friend who loves UDPP but I ended up giving her something else. Instead of returning this giant tube, I kept it by telling myself -- you guessed it -- "Just in case."

Now, I think it's definitely okay for some people to have travel size options and backups of dearly loved products. But for me, a proven philanderer of all beauty products, just in case must stop being a reason to pick up something and add more to my bursting stash of makeup. As of today, I will stop listening to that greedy little voice and focus on dealing with the mountains of things that are already in my possession.

Do you like to collect products in all the different sizes, too? Tell me I'm not the only nut out there. What has been your experience with the just in case rationale?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Progress! My 10th empties post and 2011 total.

It has been a month and a half since my last empties post. I think the delay is on account of two things: holiday madness (during which I gained a whole lot of new things to play with and wasn't at home to use up the old stuff) and the fact that I finished so many jumbo-sized items last time, that this round was bound to happen slower than usual.

First, these aren't empties but things I gave away to my sisters. The below are some items I took to the Philippines and left behind. I don't need these sun protection products for the next 4-5 months and my sister needs them while living and travelling in Southeast Asia.

I also left her with the half-finished bottle of Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat. I know people say it gets goopy and weird halfway through, but I actually found mine to be in good working order. I'm going to bet that my sister isn't going to use it at all, or maybe just once or twice at most. But I didn't feel like wrapping up and lugging back half-finished bottles.

May she have better luck with the Shiseido sunscreen which I am guessing is responsible for the breakouts last summer. She happens to be a fan of Shiseido and we have completely different skin types, so hopefully no breakouts for her.

Once I came home, I gave my other sister the Pure Beauty Exfoliating Face Scrub which annoys the heck out of me with its super ultra fine buffing beads. I also gave her the unused Dior Serum de Rouge in #470 that came in the Dior Tailleur Bar set. I like the Serum de Rouge formula, but the shade is way too pink for my liking. It's perfect for my fairer-skinned baby sis, though!

And now, the actual empties! The first three got finished in Boracay. God, I wish I was back there right now.

Aveeno Sunscreen Lotion SPF 55 - Briefly mentioned here. I've decided that I really like this sunscreen lotion. I prefer lotion to sprays and this Aveeno formula is creamy and absorbs nicely into the skin without having to rub too much. I experienced zero irritation and absolutely no burns while chilling a few degrees close to the equator. This may become my go-to drugstore sunscreen from now on.

L'Occitane Lait de Roses Body Milk (sample) - The texture is runny, since it's a "milk", but I was surprised by how well it moisturized. The smell is one of the better rose-scented products I've used in the past. It's not old lady and it's not too strong. After a full day on the beach and showering with a bar of soap, applying this body milk felt decadent and indulgent.

Another Body Shop Tea Tree Cleansing Wipes. I went through these like air during the summer, but ever since my face got dried out by the Clinique toner in late November, these wipes have been stinging and uncomfortable. I've resolved to stop buying wet wipes unless absolutely necessary, so you won't see these around here again.

The next four products died in Singapore.

EcoTools Travel Brush - I really like EcoTools and should get more of their brushes. This travel brush lasted a good five or more years, but I may have shampooed this a little too vigorously before leaving on vacation and the whole thing fell apart on my last day abroad. Brushes don't usually show up in empties posts but in this case, I can definitely say that I finished a brush

Philosophy Purity Made Simple One-Step Facial Cleanser (travel size) - My go-to makeup remover and cleanser. This was a 100 points perk at Sephora and was exactly the amount I needed for a two-week trip. I'm nearing the end of a jumbo size Purity at the moment and contemplating whether I should keep on buying Purity. Love it but kind of pricey.

Burt's Bees Tomato Toner for Oily Skin (travel size) - I never bothered to show this on the blog but I got it on a whim before I became serious about looking for toners without scent and alcohol. It's an older product that I think isn't sold anymore, and thank goodness because it was kind of awful. It stung my face badly and had that "natural but unpleasantly natural" smell that I hated all throughout. I used the decanted amount I took on the trip but dumped the remainder of the full bottle. It's not even going to make it into the empties post, it's so terrible.

Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer (sample size) - Regular readers should know how much I adore this primer. I wanted to see how well it would hold up in the heat of the tropics and it performed adequately. I'm almost finished with the full size bottle and contemplating whether its hefty price tag is worth the splurge. On the deck is the Shu Uemura BB Under Base Mousse I picked up at the Tokyo duty-free. I guess we shall see in a month or so.

The rest are recent empties.

Bath & Body Works Japanese Cherry Blossom Bath & Shower Gel - I'm not a fan of this scent but my sister left me the half-finished bottle before she left for the Philippines and I obediently finished it to the last drop. It does the job, if a bit too well -- I feel like it's stripping of moisture -- and I doubt that I'll ever buy this one.

Frederic Fekkai Glossing Conditioner - Reviewed here. Another "meh" product sold at a horrendous price. Not buying again, ever.

Dr. Dennis Gross Extra Strength Alpha Beta Peel (sample) - The last of my two sample packets from Sephora. I reviewed it briefly here. My feelings about it haven't changed, especially now that I'm seeing such great results from regular use of the Clarisonic Mia. Not purchasing.

Bare Escentials On the Spot Liquid-Filled Cotton Swabs - These are like a secret no one seems to know about. BE had them long before Almay came out with them and I had two packs that never really got used because I just use regular eye makeup removers at home. But these are fabulous for travel and I love breaking the tip to see the liquid flow down into the cotton swab. I'm also surprised that the price has remained steady at USD$5/CDN$6. I'm going to refrain from buying any but will scoop one up when travel plans loom on the horizon. (You can buy them at Sephora online here.)

Guerlain Terracotta Skin in Brunette (sample) - Review forthcoming.

Bonne Belle Lip Smacker 100% Natural Pink Guava - Ranted about it WAAAY back when here and still hung on to it! Hate it and see no need to suffer with a $1 lip balm that doesn't balm well. Toss!

PureDerm Green Tea Essence Mask - Sheet masks are all the rage but I'm not into them. I think they're great for dry skin types who could use a boost of moisture from the masks but have yet to come across one that works on an oily face. I just look like Hannibal Lector and get impatient with these sitting on my face for 20 minutes because I want to eat or drink something as soon as they go on. See?


And now for the unloved items being tossed. Six lipsticks and two glosses must go!

MAC Cremesheen in Modesty - Seemed like a good pink nude at the time but it's pink that clashes with the yellow in my skin tone and then it had to melt and bend in the strangest way, making it impossible for me to work with it. It's going in a separate bag for B2MAC.

Then we have:
  • LORAC Cream Lipstick in Soul Sista
  • Cargo Plan Love in Sam
  • L'Oreal Colour Riche in Sunwash
  • Clinique High Impact SPF 15 in Go Fig

I had a habit of picking brownish lipsticks that I thought were slightly deeper than MLBB shades. They actually make me look dated and unhealthy. The Cargo smelled pretty bad when I opened the cap so that had to go. The Lorac is a lovely creamy texture so it's a shame but I never reach for it. I've learned my lesson: no more brown lipsticks.

This one here was a tiny gift with purchase and I don't even know the shade name. But it's a despicable shade of pink with gold shimmer that looks AWFUL on me. I don't know why I kept it this long.

And these two... they sort of floated back and forth between my sister and I for so many years that although they apply just fine, I feel icky knowing that they're about five years old at least and need to be buried. Or burned.

Clinique Raspberry Glace
Lancome Bonfire

And finally, Voluspa French Bourbon Vanille Candle. It's creamy but not sweet -- and musky, too, without being overwhelming. It has 80-hour burn time and those 80 hours are divine. It's a great winter scent that makes your home feel cozy and sophisticated at the same time. Good thing I got two of them for 30% off at Indigo!

Today's total:
  • 7 lip products tossed
  • 1 candle finished (doesn't count as a "product")
  • 6 full-size finished
  • 7 travel/sample-size finished


I counted up all the previous empties, and the year-end total, including today's, are as follows:
  • Jumbo size - 6
  • Full size - 47
  • Travel/sample size - 17
  • Tossed - 21
Going by my rule of (1 jumbo = 2 regular size) and (5 travel/sample = 1 regular size), I've emptied the equivalent of 62.4 products since June when I started keeping track of empties. That's an astounding number to me. That means we finish about a 100 products in a given year, give or take a few dozens depending on your beauty routines. Something to think about and chew on as we move toward making better choices in the new year!

Did you keep track of your year-end empties? How many products did you finish in 2011?