First Skincare Empties of 2014

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1B It took some time to finish up some skincare items from last year since I started a whole new lay-low regimen after World War III broke out on my face. I’ve been sticking to my derma’s glycolic soap, Avene Thermal Spray and a moisturizer (one featured here) for the longest time. No fancy shmancy serums or other skincare experiments for fear of worsening the onslaught. During last quarter of the year, the battle has officially ended and I felt it was time to return to my homeland a.k.a skincare county. I wanted to finish up some products so I could have an excuse to discover some new ones. If there was one lesson I learned from that battle, it was to take it easy on my skin and not be so serum-happy. I think it took its toll when I was applying too many things that probably a. weren’t compatible with one another or b. were just too many things at once. 2B

The Empties


1. Lancome Blanc Expert Ultimate Whitening Emulsion – part of the Blanc Expert range which is Asia-exclusive. I purchased this during my Lancome phase mainly to upgrade my Loyalty status and not really because I wanted/needed it. Ironically, it was one of the few products I truly enjoyed and loved from the brand.

Sure, it’s not earth-shattering and I won’t recommend you to run out and buy it (because it’s expensive for what it essentially is). But it’s a super lightweight moisturizer that sinks into the skin easily and hydrates the skin well enough. If you’ve drier skin, this may not be enough in which case you’d have to get the Super Moist version. This would be best for oily-combination skin. Repurchase? Though I liked it, I’m on the lookout for newer alternatives so I will not be repurchasing this right away.

Dark Spot Corrector

2. Lancome Blanc Expert Melanolyser – my main purchase during my Lancome phase. Got it together with the DermCrystal (which I haven’t used up yet). I would have to say this worked to an extent but I needed to use both together and continuously. They were too rich for morning use, so I only used them at night. I did notice an over-all brightening effect on the face and evening out of skintone but very minimal fading of dark marks, especially old ones. Repurchase? Nope! On the lookout for dark spot erasers.


3. Alpha-H Liquid Gold Radiance – was curious about the original Alpha-H Liquid Gold serum, but ultimately went for this because I’m a magpie to anything ‘radiant’, ‘brightening’, etc. This contains ferulic acid aside from the glycolic acid in the original Liquid Gold. This was to be used alone with no other skincare product in conjunction. I went from thrice a week to every night and it evened out my skintone pretty well. I did have more radiant skin that my mom bought one for herself, too. It also majorly helped in clearing small bumps and whiteheads.

However, since I think my skin got used to it, I feel like I need to upgrade to a product with higher glycolic acid percentage as this only had 5% (which made it okay for daily use). Also, if you have ultra-sensitive skin, use this with caution because it may lead to overexfoliation. Take note also that if you’re already regularly exfoliating and using AHAs or BHAs, the results upon using this won’t be as visible or spectacular.

4. Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid – got this as a press sample from the Paula’s Choice Philippines launch. My sister and I shared this bottle and it worked better for her than it did on me. She had major breakouts all over her face – chin, forehead, cheeks and this ultimately cleared up every single bump of it with continued usage. It didn’t fade marks easily but it smoothened her pimply, bumpy face in less than a month’s time.

On me, it was meh, most probably because I was already using an AHA product (Alpha-H above there) and that BHA never really worked well for me. We all react differently to skincare ingredients so I suggest if you find one that works for you, stick with it!

*Note: I used to read and memorize Paula Begoun’s Beautypedia where she rates all skincare and makeup products. I blindly believed her every word and then realized that she analyzes all these skincare items by ingredients alone without even trying them. That’s like saying a cake will taste bad because it contains these ingredients without even trying the cake at all.

The same ingredients at different percentages will yield different results just as the amount of sugar and vanilla extract you put in your cake mix will yield different tastes. Also, she dismisses any skincare item with silicones yet I’ve tried her Radiance Serum which contains high amounts of silicones. Tsk. But if you do follow and/or read her reviews and recommendations, I suggest to take everything with a grain of salt. Repurchase? Nope.


5. La Mer Creme de la Mer (mini version) – I won this in a giveaway from Linda and am super thankful because I would never have the guts to purchase this, especially locally (Philippine retail price is around $325 when converted and that’s not even the biggest tub yet!). Anyway, I would want to dismiss this as bollocks (to save everyone a few hundred bucks), but it did make my skin ultra soft and plump the next morning.

Although it’s probably because I wasn’t used to applying cream moisturizers like it, only using emulsions at most. When I had dry patches of skin, this was more than helpful. If you want a high-end, luxurious moisturizer, then this may be for you but I can recommend moisturizers just as effective without the ouchy price tag (Physiogel Intensive Cream, for one (locally) or Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream).

Repurchase? Haaale no. Although effective, it’s frikkin expensive for a bunch of seaweed (algae) juice that ultimately does the same job as my beloved Physiogel Intensive Cream or Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream. Although, I would not discount the genius marketing it employed. I mean, why wouldn’t you use it – a NASA physicist invented it! Like WHOA~*

Skincare Recos, please!

I would love to get some skincare recommendations because I’m a bit overwhelmed by the sheer amount of products I’ve listed down on my next-to-purchase skincare list. I’ve been recommended (via Twitter) some Shu Uemura, Aesop (by Carina), Laneige (by Rae) and Skinbeautiful items (by Gummy). Would definitely appreciate any more skin care items you’ve personally tried and believe worked for you – from moisturizer, dark spot erasers, brightening serums to anything!
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  1. Joane
    January 10, 2014 / 9:38 am

    Hi Shari! Glad to find a review of Alpha-H in this post. 🙂 I’ve been using a couple of their products (a cleanser and a mask) but haven’t used them long enough to say they’re exceptional. For exfoliation, I’m using Dermalogica’s Gentle Cream Exfoliant which I can say helps with preventing new pimples. I’ve suffered from cystic acne for a while and realized that exfoliating is key (although over exfoliating is bad too, as you said). I have much clearer skin now and I think it’s from regular exfoliation (not the abrasive kind). I also thought Dermalogica’s Age Smart Serum works great for spots and wrinkles. But Dermalogica products can be a bit expensive. Anyways, happy with the info you’ve shared here (I don’t think it’s long!), thanks! 🙂

  2. driving30_with_2gether
    January 10, 2014 / 10:00 am

    Lots of empties! I love that you included mini-reviews with all of these. I am still searching for great skincare products, to be honest.

  3. Raven Ang
    January 10, 2014 / 10:36 am

    I don’t really believe in branded luxury skincare items. After reading an article about how the ingredients from the la mer face cream are just regular ol ingredient I became a firm believer in just anything that works good for my skin. Be itust drudrugstore or expensive. 🙂 Great job on the empties tho!

  4. January 10, 2014 / 11:09 am

    Oh, Kiehl’s. I had a sample of the Ultra Facial Oil-Free Gel Cream and it’s so amazing and so good to my combination skin! Too bad I still have a tub of the Lush Enzymion to consume. Super kating-kati na kong bilhin yung sa Kiehl’s, hahaha.

  5. January 10, 2014 / 11:54 am

    yay i was hoping you would review the radiance version of the Alpha H ever since you mentioned it to me on my blog 🙂 it sounds so promising and i’m surprised i haven’t heard more people talk about it! maybe i’ll give that one a try after i run out of the original Alpha H. i do love their line – anything with glycolic acid is an instant winner! do let us know if you find something with a higher concentration… i always assumed the Alpha H line was already relatively concentrated in the realm of glycolic skincare. great first empties of 2014! 🙂

    rachel x

  6. January 10, 2014 / 1:50 pm

    I sooo want to try the Blanc Expert line!! Don’t know why they can’t just make it available here also! I mean, there are Asians living in this part of the world, too, you know? Ha ha.

    I didn’t see any improvement on my skin either when using Paula Choice’s BHA liquid. Didn’t do much for me but my friend swears by it so good for her I guess, lol.

    Thanks for another good review as always, Shari! 😀

  7. January 10, 2014 / 1:59 pm

    I have my hesitations about her reviews, but I do love Paula’s Choice BHAs for accordable, ph-stable exfoliation. It’s a 2x a day staple in my routine, but I tend to prefer the gel because it lasts much longer than the liquid for me

  8. January 10, 2014 / 3:51 pm

    Sounds so good!! I don’t have very oily skin anymore but I would love to buy some skincare from Estee lauder and Alpha H liquid gold! There’s so many sales online now, I’ll think I’ll get some soon!

  9. January 10, 2014 / 5:23 pm

    Hey Shari, I have tried the original Alpha H, but I won’t repurchase. My skin doesn’t like AHA that much, which makes it unreliable (ie sometimes I wake up with good skin, and sometimes I wake up with a breakout). I love Aesop as well. If you want a good lotion try Pai. They have the most gentle (yet effective) ones! I love the Caudalie brightening serum, and if you have the budget try something from Omorovicza! Their Copper Peel is one of the few rare exceptions that contain AHA and work well without breaking me out!

  10. January 10, 2014 / 6:19 pm

    Hi Ate Shari! I’ve never tried any of these before because obviously, they’re too expensive fo mah budget. Hahahaha! Plus there are great products that are cheaper in the drugstore! Hihi

  11. GummyVision
    January 11, 2014 / 4:17 am

    Absolutely fantastic job on finishing all these full size skincare items!!! woooo!!!! So sorry to hear about your breakouts…been there more times than I’d like to remember and it is NOT fun. AT ALL. But…besides my favs from skin beautiful, what about experimenting with oils or have you done that already? I’m still trying to find someone brave enough to test emu oil with me – so far I’m really liking it though loll 🙂 There’s that Renee Rouleau anti-cyst treatment, Tatcha stuff, Omorovicza?? I know Belly really likes Amore Pacific. Do you have access to SkinFood?? I tried a sample of the honey & blk tea cleanser and it seemed really nice…think the line is supposed to be more simple and natural – think Joyce has been trying some of their products. I used to be a pretty big Kate Somerville fan, and still think she has a lot of really great products. Eeeesh…so much skincare, not enough faces to try it on!!! LOL!!

    But the past year or so I’ve really tried to pare down the overall number of ingredients in my skincare. So while say, my cleanser might not the most simple ingredient list I figure it balances out with some of the single oils or other products w/ very minimal ingredients in them. Overall I think it’s been really beneficial and I’ve definitely seen an improvement in my skin. Plus, stronger products like acids I feel penetrate better when they aren’t having to compete with a ton of other ingredients. But I know I’m in the minority…so wish I was one of those that could use anything!!!

    Thank you for the mention!!!! Love you, boo!!! xoxoxo 🙂

  12. January 11, 2014 / 4:43 am

    If you’re looking for something light that moisturises well (for combination skins), I’d recommend Kiehl’s Oil-Free Moisturising Lotion or Sampar’s So Much To Dew Moisturiser. They’re both AMAZING! Light and very hydrating, won’t break you out, not too heavy.. Ahhh I love them so much.

    Curious to try the Alpha H Gold Radiance now! I was on the verge of buying the liquid gold one once but then chickened out.

  13. January 11, 2014 / 11:34 am

    I agree with some of the points that Gummy made. Especially about the number of ingredients in a product. I never really struggled with acne (that I remember) in high school, the real battle started in my 20’s and 30’s. I’ve used to try anything and everything. Nothing would work. It wasn’t until about six months ago or so that it started getting better. I don’t know where I first heard about it–it might have been on Taylor’s blog, My Lucite Dreams, or I just happened upon it. But it’s called The Clean Dirt from May Lindstrom. I started out by asking for a sample of it from Beautyhabit, and liked it so much, that i ordered the full size. A few months later, i just happened to notice, “Hey, all my acne is gone! It’s gotta be from the Dirt.” I hadn’t changed anything else. I’ve since tried a few more of her products. The woman is a magician. Truly. Her products smell amazing and though expensive initially, last forever.

    I’ve also gotten more into oils as moisturizers. I’ve really pared down my whole skincare routine, and my skin looks and feels so much better. Nothing has that artificial, chemical smell. A few oils that I’ve been using right now that are really nice are Ila and Mun. Ila is an daytime/anytime one, while the Mun is primarily for use at night as it it helps with hyperpigmentation. Kahina Giving Beauty Brightening Serum is also a nice one.

  14. January 11, 2014 / 11:31 pm

    I love paper face masks! The ones that come in single packets. Those are nice :> I’ve tried the cutesy ones from Watsons (I forgot the name) which are good but I mainly use Taiwanese/HK masks.


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