Above you can absolutely see the mess of empties, running the gamut from sunscreen to serums. I could probably do all those empties in one sitting, but the post would just be very long. So this time, we'll just be focusing on oil cleansers and makeup removers, normal cleansers, face masks, sunscreen, lotions and toners, and moisturizers! In other words, we'll just be looking at the stuff in the photo today, which is still quite a lot.
Empties: cleanser, makeup remover, lotion, toner, sunscreen, and moisturizer
I realized that quite a few readers seem to like my empties posts (and you can see all of them here) - perhaps, it's because with all my science-y skincare reviews, some readers are curious to know what exactly remains in my stash and gets used up at the end of the day. I suppose the idea here is that if I used up something, then it must be really good! The truth is that it kind of depends - some of these empties I've had for a long, long time, and for various reasons take longer to use up, and some were very quickly made favourites or staples and get used up much faster. As we go through the products, you'll see which is which!
Oil cleanser/makeup remover empties: DHC, Biore, Fancl
Okay, so let's start with oil cleansers and makeup removers. We have the DHC Deep Cleansing Oil, the Fancl Mild Cleansing Oil, and the Biore Aqua Jelly Makeup Remover. All of these are pretty awesome, I gotta say. They all remove makeup very well, rinse off easily, and don't leave behind any oily residue on the skin, which are my three main considerations when choosing an oil-based cleanser. The main difference is in the aesthetics like texture and smell. DHC is thicker and literally smells like olive oil (because apparently that is the main ingredient in the DHC Oil Cleanser - if I recall it's mostly olive oil and emulsifiers to make it easier to wash off), while Fancl is also an oil, but with a very lightweight, watery texture. The Biore Oil Cleanser is somewhere in between - it's definitely not as watery as the Fancl, but it's somewhat thinner than DHC's version.
At the end of the day, these all work pretty well to remove makeup. In addition to the texture of the product, the difference will depend on what sort of ingredients you want in your oil cleanser. For example, DHC's cleanser is olive oil-based, while Biore's has Isopropyl Myristate as the main emollient, which could break some people out if you're sensitive to those sorts of ingredients. Meanwhile, Fancl uses a mix of Cetyl Ethylhexanoate and Ethylhexyl Palmitate. But all of these are pretty effective as makeup removers that don't dry the skin out, so I don't really have anything too bad to say about any of them.
Cleanser empties: Cetaphil
Now we have the "normal" non-oil cleanser, which is the Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser. This has been a longtime staple of mine, and I probably used up quite a number of bottles, but just never retained the empty bottle for an empties post because it was so big and bulky, and I wasn't as conscientious then about saving up empties as I am now. I did a review of the Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser, so if you want to know my thoughts on the product in more detail, you know where to go. But I generally use this as a "morning" cleanser, when my skin is already clean and I just need to remove some residual dirt and oil, because it really can't remove makeup by itself.
Sunscreen empties: Avene, Sunplay
We also have a couple of sunscreen empties! We have the Avene Very High Protection Spray with SPF 50+, as well as the Sunplay Watery Cool Body Mist Sunblock SPF 75 PA+++.
For those of you who have read my previous empties posts, you'll know the Avene Very High Protection Spray SPF50+ is a staple of mine that I regularly use up (you can see it in my empties posts from December 2015, May 2015, and March 2014. So yes, I've literally been using and rebuying this product for years. If I'm diligent about daily application of the sunscreen, I probably go thorough a bottle in about 6 months. I have to say though, although this isn't the most aesthetically pleasing sunscreen out there - it's thick and on the oily side and definitely not lightweight like a nicely-formulated Japanese sunscreen - it really works to provide sun protection even in outdoor situations, and that's why I keep using it.
I've actually reviewed the Sunplay Watery Cool Body Mist Sunblock SPF 75 PA+++ before, and I think it's a great product. I especially like how nifty it is for traveling - I always bring a spray-on sunscreen with me for my arms and legs whenever I'm going to be outdoors or traveling, and so far it's worked well. It dries clear and non-sticky, so it's really convenient to have around. I'd definitely consider rebuying this if I didn't already have other spray-on sunscreens in my stash.
Toner and lotion empties: Vichy, Hada Labo, Secret Key
Now, toners and lotions! Here we have the Vichy Normaderm Imperfection Prone Skin Lotion, the Secret Key Starting Treatment Essence (this is the Rose Edition), and the Hada Labo ES Sensitive Skin Lotion. I use them slightly differently - the Vichy one I use more as a "traditional" toner, in that I apply it on a cotton pad and swipe my face with it after cleansing, while the Secret Key and Hada Labo ones I apply more like "Asian" lotions, in that I pour them into my palm and pat them onto my face.
I've actually reviewed the Vichy Normaderm Imperfection Prone Skin Lotion before, as part fo the Vichy Normaderm range, and I did like the lotion then. I still do like it for the same reason - that it's a quick and easy way to get some salicylic acid into a skincare regime - and I've used it up! I kind of take a little longer to use up toners because I go through phases with them - some months I won't feel like using one, and then some other months I'll be super regular with toner use.
The Secret Key Starting Treatment Essence is one of those cult products if you're into niche Kbeauty brands, because it is very similar to SK-II's Facial Treatment Essence in terms of formula - and yes, I do have a blogpost SK-II dupes and similar products, just in case you're curious, and the Secret Key Starting Treatment Essence is listed as one of the products there. When I used this, I liked it pretty much as a good moisturizing, lightweight watery lotion, but it didn't super-wow me. I'm not sure if I would have preferred this over any other appropriately-formulated lotion, to be honest, but it was a good product that didn't irritate my skin or cause any breakouts.
The Hada Labo ES Sensitive Skin Lotion is also one I've reviewed before, together with the other ES Sensitive Skin products. I really did like this lotion, and it's the second time I've used it - it last appeared in my empties post from last year. I re-bought some of the products from the ES range, and generally really like the range a lot, but I'm not sure if Hada Labo is still selling it. It would be a pity if it was discontinued!
Moisturizer empties: Vichy, Laneige, The Face Shop, Alpha Hydrox, and Ujene
Lastly, we have moisturizers and night creams! We have the Laneige Water Sleeping Pack EX, which is meant as a sleeping pack for night use, but which I prefer to use as a day moisturizer. We also have the Ujene Day Cream from their Puriste Collagen line, as well as The Face Shop Chia Seed Gel Moisturizer, all of which are daytime moisturizers. I'll admit I didn't use this up all by myself though - my mum took over using the Ujene Day Cream, and my sister eventually liked the The Face Shop Chia Seed Moisturizer more than I did, so she used it. I did however, use up the Vichy Normaderm Tri-Active Anti-Imperfection Active Care and the Alpha Hydrox (now known as Alpha Skincare) Retinol ResQ all by myself though!
The Laneige Water Sleeping Pack EX basically ended up being my day moisturizer because the texture seemed suited for it - it's basically a very light gel that doesn't leave much residue. Also, there weren't any ingredients in the product that stopped me from using it during the day (no retinols, no acids, or anything like that). So I actually got more mileage out of it as a day moisturizer than a sleeping pack!
The Face Shop Chia Seed Sebum Control Moisture Cream is also a lightweight moisturizer that I like for daytime use. I found the texture to be nice, but it does have alcohol in the product (5th ingredient, just before the first preservative), so I ended up passing it to my sister who has no problem with this sort of thing, and she ended up using it all! On the bright side, it does have a good amount of chia seed extract as advertised, so that's a plus.
The Ujene Day Cream is a product I reviewed long, long ago in 2012(!) - so long ago that at that time my skincare reviews didn't have much sciencey stuff at all! If I had reviewed this more recently, I would probably have pointed out that collagen in skincare isn't very useful at all. I guess I'm definitely more informed now than last time! I used this for a bit, and then my mum took it over, and she ended up loving it more than I did.
The Vichy Normaderm Tri-Active Anti-Perfection Active Care is also a product I've reviewed before, alongside the rest of the Normaderm range. In my review, I said that it was a lightweight, aesthetically-pleasing moisturizer that was easy to use, with some skincare benefit on the side for acne-prone skin, and that's exactly why I've continued using the moisturizer until it was empty - it's easy to use, feels lightweight, and works with most other foundations, primers, sunscreens, and whatnot. It also doesn't leave a shine on skin, so if you want a more matte finish moisturizer, this is pretty good in that department too.
Lastly, the Alpha Hydrox (now known as Alpha Skincare) Retinol ResQ (now renamed Enhanced Wrinkle Repair Cream). This is strictly a night product only, because the retinol content makes skin photosensitive, and I would recommending only using products that increase skin photosensitivity in the night, when there is no sun, and also wearing sunscreen in the day if you've used this at night. I've actually used this particular tube since December 2015, which I can trace due to this tweet (embedded below):
I've never reviewed this product before, which is a pity, but it is really, really awesome and I highly recommend it to everyone! A good retinol-containing product is so hard to find because first of all, most retinol-containing products don't have enough retinol in them. They often have something like 0.0something%, which is great if you're starting to use retinol for the first time, but for someone like me, who has used retinol for awhile and has "built up" my tolerance to the ingredient, isn't sufficient. The Retinol ResQ contains 0.15% of retinol, which is one of the highest that you can buy off the shelf without a doctor's prescription.
Secondly, good retinol products are hard to find because retinol is a notoriously unstable ingredient - when exposed to air and light, it can undergo degradation, rendering it ineffective. So ideally, retinol-containing products shouldn't be in a jar - they should be in an opaque pump or tube packaging to minimize such exposure. Quite a lot of retinol products I've come across are ineffectively-packaged, but the Alpha Hydrox one is in a tube, so that's great. Lastly, a lot of the retinol products with sufficient retinol content and proper packaging are often pretty expensive, and Alpha Hydrox's Retinol ResQ is really one of the cheapest in the market. So that's why I really love this product and recommend it to everyone. It doesn't have the best texture or aesthetics - it's a little on the thick side - but I think it's one of the most value-for-money retinol creams you can buy, hands down, and is one I'll keep repurchasing unless I find something even better that is still affordable.
So, that's my round up of Part 1 of my skincare empties! Aren't you glad I split this post into two? LOL. Anyway, Part 2 will be up hopefully soon!