There’s a bin on a shelf in my beauty closet where I hoard my empties until the bin is full. Then I take a picture of the containers before I recycle them. Usually that picture goes on my Instagram, but this time around, I felt I had more to say about the products I’ve used up than I could fit in an Insta caption, so here they are.
Affiliate links are marked with an asterisk(*). Products provided for consideration by Fifty Shades of Snail sponsors are marked with the Sample Slime and Free-Bee sticker in images and marked with double asterisks(**) when introduced.
I finish face sunscreens quickly, because I generally use Japanese sunscreens, which provide great UV protection but come in upsettingly tiny bottles. Now, thanks to shorts-and-tank-tops weather and the Paula’s Choice 10% AHA body lotion* that’s keeping my arms and legs even-toned and free of bumps, I go through body sunscreens by the gallon, too.
Neutrogena Beach Defense Sunscreen Lotion Broad Spectrum SPF 70: I reviewed this sunscreen a while back and have stuck with it as my everyday body sunscreen. It’s surprisingly usable compared to many other US drugstore sunscreens. Though it does leave a somewhat heavy-feeling residue, I appreciate its lack of white cast, its impressive staying power in wet and outdoor conditions, and its low price point enough to keep rebuying. I have two more bottles on hand, enough to get me through to jeans weather, I hope. (Amazon Prime* | Target* | Walmart)
Naruko AM+PM Real Xpert 10 Peptide Total-Defense Sunscreen SPF 50 ★★★**: The first Taiwanese sunscreen I’ve tried, my bottle of Naruko AM+PM Long Name Peptide Sunscreen reached me via Rachel from Naruko Boutique USA*. I enjoyed this combo physical/chemical sunscreen for everyday sun protection. Even without any moisturizer underneath, I didn’t find the thin, milk-type sunscreen drying at all; it settles to a moderately dewy finish without greasiness or white cast. According to Rachel and Naruko’s US website, the three-star designation is equivalent to a PA+++ rating. I do wish this sunscreen were just a little more matte, but it’s nothing a light dusting of powder can’t handle. The box prominently features a portrait of Naruko founder Niuer. That’s a bonus. (Naruko Boutique USA*)
Naruko AM+PM Real Xpert 10 Peptide Total-Defense Sunscreen SPF 50 ★★★ Active ingredients: Octylmethoxycinnamate 10%, diethylamino hydroxybenzoyl hexyl benzoate 3% Inactive ingredients: Purified water, cyclopentasiloxane, titanium dioxide, isohexadecane, glycerin, dimethicone, dimethicone crosspolymer, cetyl PEG/PPG-10/1 dimethicone, sorbitan oleate, magnesium sulfate, caprylyl glycol, ethylhexylglycerin, palmitoyl tripeptide-3, dipeptide diaminobutyroyl benzylamide diacetate, palmitoyl dipeptide-5 diamonobutyloyl hydroxythreonine, palmitoyl dipeptide-6 diaminohydroxybutyrate, acetyl tetrapeptide-15, pentapeptide-18, acetyl hexapeptide-8, oligopeptide-68, nonapeptide-1, tetradecyl aminobutyroylvalylaminobutyric urea trifluoroacetate, phenoxyethanol, iodopropynyl butylcarbamate (CosDNA)
Biore UV Perfect Bright Milk SPF 50+ PA++++: Though it has its flaws, the Bright Milk remains my favorite heavy-duty sunscreen for days when I know I’ll be out in the sun for extended periods of time or in conditions where I might need water-resistant or sweat-resistant protection. Thanks to its silicone-smooth, ultra-matte finish, it can pull double duty as a makeup primer, though its peachy-pink tint may be too light for darker complexions. It is too drying for me to wear without a good moisturizing cream underneath, but on the plus side, it plays well with just about every moisturizer I’ve tried it over, so that isn’t much of an issue except when I’m on a time crunch. I reviewed this product in my Japanese sunscreens roundup and have a couple more of the teeny bottles ready to go. (Amazon Prime*)
Cleansing Water Empties
This summer was the summer I learned to appreciate cleansing waters. I started using them regularly partly out of laziness and partly because I was terribly worried about messing up my new eyelash extensions. It’s pretty easy to go through a bottle of cleansing water when you use it as generously as I do, and to me it makes sense to use the stuff generously. Using too little makes me feel like I’m trying to remove makeup with toner, which doesn’t work that well when I want my skin to actually come out clean.
Since cleansing waters are so new to me, I’ve been tearing through different brands’ versions for the past few months to compare abilities and learn more about what to expect from them. I’m not including mini-reviews in this section, because I have a giant cleansing water megapost coming up! I did end up going back to cleansing oils for the most part, mostly because I missed the way they pull grits out of my pores, but I now understand the value of a good cleansing water in one’s beauty stash. Stay tuned for the cleansing water post. In the meantime, let’s move on to the meat of my skincare routine!
Serum and Ampoule Empties
Sunscreens and cleansers are essential to a solid skincare routine, but it’s the stuff in between that really makes your routine your own. I’m always going through different serum and ampoule products, which I use to provide whatever I think my skin needs on a day-to-day basis. Some I’ll repurchaset over and over. Others I finish and file away for future reference. (The ones I don’t finish end up in the “never again” file.)
Curology anti-aging prescription: I realized when I emptied my most recent bottle of Curology that I’ve been using the teledermatology service for a full year now! I joined Curology back when they were still called PocketDerm and have been consulting with my personal Curology provider and using (and blogging about) their topical anti-aging prescriptions continuously since then. At the beginning, my skin was really showing the Ravages of Time. A year later, I’ve seen substantial improvement to my skin, particularly around my eyes where my developing crow’s feet are nearly all gone, as well as around my mouth in my former Areas of Decreased Firmness.
My skin did go through several months of increased dryness as it adjusted to the tretinoin, and I stopped using chemical exfoliants for a while. These days, however, things have normalized to the point where I’ve added an AHA back into my routine with no issues. My current prescription, which I’ve stuck with for a few months, is 0.07% tretinoin, 5% MAP vitamin C, and 4% niacinamide. And writing this mini-review reminds me that it’s time to make sure my next refill is scheduled to ship out before the bottle I’m working on runs out. (Get your first month for free with my Curology referral link*.)
Derma Dr. Lab Hydromoist Day Gel Serum**: Feel like you’ve seen that icy white bottle with the minty accents somewhere before but can’t quite place it (or didn’t recognize it as K-beauty when you saw it)? It’s very possible! Derma Dr. Lab is one of the latest Korean brands to hit mainstream US retailers, with products recently launched at Walmart.com and in some Walmart stores as well as on Target.com*. The brand sent me several products from their Hydromoist line. The Day Gel Serum is the first I’ve finished.
I’m generally not as loyal to basic hydrating serums as I am to more specialized products, like the Sulwhasoo ginseng serum that I loved enough to repurchase earlier this month, since an effective hydrating serum isn’t nearly as difficult to nail down as, say, an effective firming serum. With that being said, the Hydromoist Day Gel Serum is a solid entry in the category. The lightweight serum delivered enough hydration to quench my skin even during its Thirsty Period, and I used it as my only skincare step on plenty of mornings without feeling tight by the end of the day. I like the fresh scent and I even used the Day Gel Serum at night! The airless pump mechanism did give me some occasional trouble by not always pumping correctly, but on the plus side, airless pumps in general are great for products that contain as many antioxidants as the extract- and ferment-heavy Hydromoist Day Gel Serum seems to. (Amazon Prime* | Walmart.com | Target.com*)
Derma Dr. Lab Hydromoist Day Gel Serum ingredients: Water, butylene glycol, dipropylene glycol, niacinamide, glycerin, betaine, dimethicone, saccharomyces ferment, inonotus obliquus (mushroom) extract, magnolia obovata bark extract, nelumbo nucifera flower extract, lactobacillus/soybean ferment extract, biosaccharide gum-1, sodium hyaluronate, ceramide 3, cholesterol, brassica campestris (rapeseed) seed oil, sodium starch octenylsuccinate, calcium pantothenate, maltodextrin, sodium ascorbyl phosphate, tocopheryl acetate, pyridoxine HCI, silica, ammonium acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP copolymer, acrylates/C10-30 alkyl acrylate crosspolymer, PEG-60 hydrogenated castor oil, arginine, disodium EDTA, ethylhexylglycerin, phenoxyethanol, chlorphenesin, fragrance (CosDNA)
Scinic Propolis 95 Ampoule: This propolis ampoule was so unimpressive to me that I can’t even remember whether I’ve reviewed it here. Google is not being helpful, either. The Propolis 95 Ampoule is inexpensive and hydrating and that was about it in my experience. No particular glow, no particular breakout-calming effects. I took it out of my routine for extended periods without noticing any difference and put it back into my routine without perceiving any benefits. When I got down to the last quarter bottle or so, I moved it to my makeup station and started mixing it in with my thicker or more matte BB creams to thin them out a little. I’m so underwhelmed that I’m not going to spend the extra five minutes making links to sellers. LJH Vita Propolis Ampoule is still my propolis holy grail, and either Tosowoong’s or Graymelin’s propolis ampoules are better basic options. It’s really a bummer, because the Propolis 95 Ampoule looked so promising on paper–all those bee ingredients, right up front! Just goes to show that an ingredients list doesn’t tell the whole story.
Scinic Propolis 95 Ampoule ingredients: Propolis extract, niacinamide, royal jelly extract, honey extract, chrysanthemum indicum extract, adansonia digitata seed extract, yeast extract, aloe barbadensis leaf extract, dipotassium glycyrrhizate, polysorbate 80, centella asiatica extract, polygonum cuspidium root extract, scutellaria baicalensis root extract, camellia sinensis leaf extract, glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice) root extract, chamomila recutita (matricaria) flower extract, rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf extract, lavandula angustifolia (lavender) extract, hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel) extract, euterpe oleracea fruit extract, carbomer, borago officinalis seed oil, prunus amygdalus dulcis (sweet almond) oil, macadamia integrifolia seed oil, helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil, brassica campestris (rapeseed) seed oil, sodium polyacrylate, dimethicone, cyclopentasiloxane, trideceth-6, PEG/PPG-18/18 dimethicone, adenosine, curcuma longa (turmeric) root extract, triethanolamine, disodium EDTA, 1,2-hexanediol, caprylyl glycol, ilicium verum (anise) fruit extract, phenoxyethanol, fragrance
Holy Snails Snow Shark: I won’t dwell on this product too much, as it isn’t actually a “product.” Whipped up by my sistersnail Chel of Holy Snails as a one-off gift (with a Gudetama sticker HA HA HA), Snow Shark is a glorious abomination, combining the brightening powers of Shark Sauce with the soothing, smoothing properties of Snowbang Essence. According to Chel, Snow Shark is devilishly tricky to brew due to the complexities of making all the extracts and active ingredients mesh properly. Anyway, I’m out of it now. I consoled myself by buying the giant Megalodon size Shark Sauce. That made me happy again.
Dr. G Revital Enhancer Ampoule EGF**: Although this mini bottle of anti-aging ampoule arrived tucked in a box of press samples, the Revital Enhancer Ampoule EGF was actually a gift from the personal stash of Janice at Club Clio and JKNLEE. I won’t say much about its effects yet, since I need to get my hands on enough of it to use for a full month at least, but I did see a lot of promise in the smooth, emollient serum. You shall hear of it again.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I invest the vast majority of my beauty budget and effort on my face. That doesn’t leave much for the rest of me, and with hair especially, I’ve spent decades bouncing back and forth from random drugstore brand to random drugstore brand without either improvement or issue. Then I got my hands on Korean haircare brand La’dor. By March I was in love. While I’ve taken a couple of breaks this year to try other products, I’ve always regretted it and come back, particularly to my two favorite La’dor products.
La’dor Tea Tree Scalp Clinic Hair Pack: My hair has always been a bit blah. Though it’s healthy because I’m too lazy to heat-style it more than once or twice a year for very special occasions, I don’t have much of it. I also shed quite a bit, and the thick individual strands mean that my hair is not just straight, but flat and lifeless. I made my peace with that a long time ago. The Tea Tree Scalp Clinic Hair Pack, however, gives my hair noticeable lift and bounce right at the roots and all the way down to the ends. I also dig far less hair out of the shower drain when I use this regularly than with any other conditioning product. I use the Tea Tree Scalp Clinic Hair Pack every other night, massaging it into my scalp and all through my hair, and repurchase it in multiples. Good thing it’s so inexpensive! Oh, and it contains snail goo. Could a hair product be any more perfect for me? (Memebox*)
La’dor Scalp Scaling Spa Hair Ampoule: For me, the Scalp Scaling Spa Hair Ampoule provides an experience and effects very similar to those of the Tea Tree Scalp Clinic Hair Pack, only more intensive. I keep a handful of these on hand and use them about once a week. Lord Fiddy recently started using and enjoying them as well to address some scalp issues. By the way, the Scalp Scaling Spa Hair Ampoules contain ginseng! (Memebox*)
Beauty products come and beauty products go. Only some are forever. What have you finished off lately, and will you be repurchasing?