Q1 2018 Empties

You know the drill. Here are the things I emptied and now get to throw away:

Disclaimer: All products purchased by me unless indicated next to the product name. This post does contain affiliate links. Purchasing an item through an affiliate link does not add any cost to the customer but does help support this site’s upkeep.

January Empties



Swanicoco 1st EssencePR SampleReviewed Here – Available on Beauty Tap and KoreaDepart
Good for hydration and elasticity. Not so great for glow. Already have a backup.

Olivarrier Emollient Extra Comfort CreamReviewed Here – Available on RoseRoseShop –
Fragrance free, sensitive skin friendly, but moisturizing power is too low, especially given the richer/thicker texture. Will not repurchase.

Niva Sun Protect Plus SPF 50 PA++++ – Discontinued –
Gorgeous, creamy sunscreen that includes Chemical X Physical UV filters, has no white cast, and is resistant to sweat and sebum. Would repurchase except this is discontinued.

Avene Mineral Mist – Available in various sizes on Amazon and Dermstore
Pressurized mists are my jam right now. This Avene one is decent, but Evian’s 18oz spray with its ultra fine droplets, perfect misting density, and ideal spray ratio just can’t be beat. Will not repurchase.

Dr Roebuck’s Ultimate Hydrating SerumPR Gift – Available from Dr Roebuck
Serums fall into two categories. Those with breadth that do a little of everything and those with depth that do a lot of one very specific things. Not a bad product, but this definitely falls in the former whereas my typical preference is for serums in the latter. Also, a tad too sticky for my taste. Will not repurchase.

Swanicoco Highest Moisturizing Butter Edition Swan CreamPR GiftReviewed Here – Available on Beauty Tap and Koreadepart
Dense, non greasy cream – like a heavy blanket for skin. Lovely for winter. Maybe repurchase.

Milk Makeup Urban Defense MaskReviewed Here –  Possibly Discontinued –
This is a cleansing mask with a gel-oil texture that takes off makeup and emulsifies cleanly. I enjoyed using this on my face but also in my hair. Wish the fragrance was more mild (or non existent). Will not repurchase.

My gateway drug into Copper Peptides, which have been the most impactful ingredient for my skin after retinoids. I no longer purchase Deciem products because of questionable treatment of employees amongst other reasons. Luckily, Skin Biology makes a copper peptide serum that I find to be equally effective as CAIS and is half the cost (NIOD is $3 per ml, Skin Biology Super GHK-Cu is $1.54 per ml).

The Ordinary Resveratrol 3% + Ferulic Acid 3%
Like all The Ordinary products, the cosmetic elegance of this serum is non-existent. However, my skin seems to respond well to ferulic acid. I no longer purchase Deciem products because of questionable treatment of employees amongst other reasons, but I will be on the hunt for more ferulic acid products to use.

Hada Labo Premium Gyokujyun Lotion – Available on Amazon and Yesstyle
The OG Hada Labo lotion was the very first Asian beauty product I tried and was a staple in my routine for a long, long time. The premium version is even better. I finished one refill bag and have 3 more in my stash. On my skin, it hydrates and plumps. I also like adding a few drops to hair conditioner which I swear improves hair bounciness and shine. Will repurchase.

Holy Snails Drunken Shark – Other flavors available on Holy Snails
Great, light weight hydrating step. Will not repurchase this particular flavor, but Spooky Shark is on my wishlist.

Shu Uemura Ultimate8 Cleansing Oil (Travel Size) – Full Size Available on Shu Uemura
Not my favorite cleansing oil, but a very good cleansing oil nonetheless. I mostly use this for travel (I use the full size bottle to refill) since it takes very little oil to get my face completely clean. Will not repurchase.

Curology – .017% Tretinoin, 4% Azelaic Acid, .25% Zinc Pyrithione – Reviewed Here
Good old Curology! My prescription has not changed at all in the past 2 years. I still use this about 2-3 times a week to keep my acne in check.

February Empties


Stratia Liquid Gold – Available on Stratia
My moisture barrier has been in pretty good shape since eliminating exfoliants from my routine (I can do retinoids or exfoliants, but not both at the same time and I chose retinoids). Even so, Liquid Gold stands out because it feels so nourishing. If my skin feels devoid of water, oil, or just general TLC, I can count of LG to step up and being to fill that void. Despite its creamy texture, I consider it a serum because its functional ingredients are so concentrated. Will repurchase.

Kuramoto Bijin Komeyu Rice Bram OilReviewed Here – Available on Rakuten or Amazon
I have gone through multiple bottles of this oil. Gorgeous, mid-weight texture that provides richness but also soothes my skin. Have a backup already.

2Sol Bifida Power Ampoule – Available on SweetCorea
Simply formulated bifida product. Despite similar ingredients this did not give me the elasticity improvements I got from the Swanicoco essence. Will not repurchase

LJH (Formerly Leejiham now Leegeehaam) Vita Propolis AmpouleReviewed Here – Available on Amazon, Ebay, Target, or SweetCorea –
Boosts glow, but overall effects are subtle IMO. Will not repurchase.

Matsuyama Cleansing GelReviewed here – Available on Amazon JapanAmazon US, Ebay –
Functional, unscented cleanser with vaseline-like gel-to-oil texture. Maybe repurchase after I use up more of the first cleansers in my stash.

Vichy Mineral 89 – Deluxe Sample – Full Size Available on Target, Dermstore, and Amazon
Received this as a freebie with a mist order and really liked this! It hydrates like any other hyaluronic acid serum but sinks in so cleanly. I don’t need a bottle now (given I have 3 refills of the Hada Labo Premium lotion) but I might revisit this in summer when being able to sink in cleanly is very important.

March Empties


Dr Jart Ceramidin Cream – New Version Available on KoreaDepart and SweetCorea
I consider this the gold standard of moisturizers – the texture is second to none. This has sense be reformulated. Will repurchase when the next cold season rolls around.

Matsuyama Hydrating TonerReviewed Here –  Available on Amazon Japan and Amazon US –
Another reformulated empty. Love this formula but will not repurchase because I prefer the lite version.

Kuramoto Bijin Komeyu Rice Bram OilReviewed Here – Available on Rakuten or Amazon
If you can’t tell, I’m a big fan of this oil. Have a backup already.

Xiva Misao Fermentation Cleansing Serum – Available on Rakuten and Ippin –
Good ingredients. Stings my eyes. Have backups but will not repurchase.

Stratia Velvet Cleansing Milk – Available on Stratia
The gentlest, soothingest second cleanser. Indispensible during winter and/or when my skin acts up. Will repurchase.

Mebika Toner – Reviewed Here – Available on Amazon JP –
Probably the best value ceramide toner out there. Effects are nearly identical to the Matsuyama Light Toner. Might repurchase, especially if the reformulated Matsuyama Light Toner doesn’t stack up.

Pestle & Mortar Superstar – Available on Amazon and Skinstore (get 25% off your first order using code YUN-RGK) –
Effective and non-irritating retinoid housed in the loveliest blend of nourishing face oils. I absolutely love this serum. Will repurchase during winter when my skin requires a gentler retinoid option.

Rafra Balm Orange Green Tea – Limited Edition –
Cleansing balm that smells good enough to eat. Heats up upon contact with skin. This is very effective at removing makeup and sunscreen, but I like to save this to use as a skin treat instead of an everyday cleanser. This is a limited edition flavor but I have backups.

Manyo Factory Lactobacillus Bifida MistReviewed Here – Available on Koreadepart and Beautytap. –
Hydrating, mildly glow boosting. A tad sticky so will not repurchase.

Secret A I Am Watermelon Soothing Gel – Available on HKC Plaza
This is pretty much watermelon jolly ranchers flavored aloe gel. Will not repurchase.

Josie Maran Argan Daily Moisturizer SPF 47 – Deluxe Sample – Full size available on Sephora
This came with last year’s Sephora Sun Safety Kit. The white cast is tolerable, but this sunscreen literally never dries. Whenever I take a call, it leaves a smear of sunscreen residue on my phone screen. Will not repurchase.

Murad Invisiblur Perfecting Shield Broad Spectrum SPF 30 PA+++ – Deluxe Sample – Full size Available on Sephora
Definitely invisible. Feels like a more luxe version of Glossier’s Invisible Shield. I dislike super siliconey/balmy textures, which this has, but that’s a preference thing. Will not repurchase.

19 thoughts on “Q1 2018 Empties

    • V. Rex says:

      There’s no replacement that I know of unfortunately, but for some reason it’s come back in stock on amazon (and rakuten, and kirei station) like this week so maybe it was undiscontinued? I’ve ordered a few backups, just in case!

      Liked by 1 person

    • V. Rex says:

      Mostly as a morning cleanser. It does remove makeup effectively but because it stings my eyes using it as a first cleanser is not ideal since I wear eye makeup most of the time. There’s a kind of generic, sweetish, herbal scent but it’s not very distinct.


  1. kpaint says:

    JFC, I had no idea about what’s going on at Deciem. Thanks for the heads-up. I’ve used tons of TO products, hated most of them, hate the user experience at the online store, and strongly dislike the packaging, but have a deep and abiding love for their Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion (and also love the price.) I even gave it out as xmas gifts last year. What to do, what to do…


    • V. Rex says:

      I’m with you on hating most of their products. For me, their azelaic acid an resveratrol + ferulic acid serum are the items I’m going to have to do some legwork to find a replacement for. Have you tried Indeed Lab’s Retinol Reface? I haven’t tried it but it contains 1.9% hydroxypinacolone retinonate and 0.1% encapsulated retinol so the active ingredient content should be similar!


  2. Thomasina says:

    Photos of empties are soooooo satisfying! It’s, like, installation art.
    Q: Tell me about copper peptides!!! Do you have a post up on how this ingredient has helped your skin? (Am also a severely, oft-flaky (I know…) dry-skinned (part-)Asian girl.)
    Also, have you tried the La Roche-Posay aerosol water mist? I ask bc I just started using mine – I liked & used the Avene, but the spray mechanism began to clog & it quit misting evenly – I checked reviews & the Net and found this is a known issue. I’m hoping the LRP will work for me AND not clog (I always kept the cap on while not in use, too). Just thought I’d mention it, hope this isn’t the case for you! x


    • V. Rex says:

      The best way to explain what copper peptides do for me is in a given month, there’s a typical range for what a good skin day looks/feels like and what a bad skin day looks/feels like for me. After integrating copper peptides, my good skin days haven’t changed much, but my bad skin days are less bad and my average skin day is better than what it used to be. Does that make sense??
      I haven’t tried LRP’s aerosol but it’s now on my list. Evian is my favorite by far. Vichy’s is ok but the spray strength is a little too strong. I’ll have to remember to avoid Avene since clogging sounds no bueno.


  3. BeautyandtheCat | Angela & Renee says:

    Woot, I’m so glad I have alternatives to the few Deciem stuphs I like, which consists of CAIS…and maybe Granactive Retinoids 2% Emulsion. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ The products just lack cosmetic elegance or joy or both, so it’s not a huge loss for me.

    I’d really like to try the Premium Hada Labo! Maybe will try next winter. -Angela


    • kpaint says:

      What’s your alternative to Granactive Retinoids 2%? I’ve used all kinds of retinoids over the past 15 years and it’s my hands-down HG 😦


      • V. Rex says:

        Most retinoids that contain HPR are expensive. The two I’ve seen that are more on the affordable side are Indeed Lab’s Retinol Resurface and Mad Hippie Vit A Serum. Have you tried either of those?


      • BeautyandtheCat | Angela & Renee says:

        I’ve actually only used the retinoid on my neck and haven’t noticed much difference in lines and smoothness, although I’m hoping it has long-term effects. For a non-prescription product, I like Sunday Riley Luna (but the smell takes getting used to). Pestle & Mortar Superstar Retinol Night Oil is another option if you like a heavier, oilier consistency. They both use hydroxypinacolone retinoate, the retinoid in Granactive Retinoid. Unfortunately, neither oil has retinol, which is also in The Ordinary’s formula, and both are $$$$$. ☹️


    • V. Rex says:

      Ditto! There are a few Deciem products I like but 70% of what I’ve bought from them have ended up in the trash, even before this recent debacle so it’s not a huge sacrifice to forego buying anymore!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Katrina says:

    Thanks for the link on the Copper Peptide alternative! Not only is it more affordable, but I won’t feel so guilty giving my money to them instead. Would also like to know how it helped your skin, please!


    • V. Rex says:

      You’re welcome! In addition to the Super GHK-Cu Serum (which is 1% Copper Peptide) I also have their 7% GHK-Cu solution which I’ve been adding to toners, which has been fun to play around with.
      The best way to explain what copper peptides do for me is in a given month, there’s a typical range for what a good skin day looks/feels like and what a bad skin day looks/feels like for me. After integrating copper peptides, my good skin days haven’t changed much, but my bad skin days are a lot fewer so the range has narrowed if that makes sense!


  5. arvensis says:

    SR Skincare also make a (VERY affordable) copper peptide serum! In some ways I feel like SR was doing The Ordinary before The Ordinary- cheap acids and serums, simple formulas and “sensible” image, big in the UK.


  6. Orla says:

    I have dry, sensitive and acne prone skin and am looking for a good moisturiser. I have been considering both Liquid Gold and Ceramidin, would you say they are similar? Or do they perform different functions in your routine?


    • V. Rex says:

      They are similar but not the same. Liquid gold is a much more concentrated ceramide product. If your moisture barrier is damaged, I suspect you will see faster improvements from LG. Dr Jart Ceramidin Cream is a richer moisturizer. Which is more appropriate will depend on whether you want more of a treatment or more of a moisturizer!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s