Empties and New Products: Mini Reviews What I've Used Up and Replaced

I love watching and reading empties posts. I know some content creators find “old school” blog posts boring, repetitive, but I’m always fascinated by what people truly use up and would they recommend or repurchase. Using up products – especially makeup takes time, even if your stash is on the smaller size. One of my favorite Canadian Youtubers, ttsandra, came up with the great concept of empties & showing what’s she’s using next after finishing a product. That’s what I’m going to do today, I hope you enjoy the post – even if you’re not a big fan of empties!

*This post contains PR samples marked with an asterisk (*),
all thoughts my own and honest.

Empty products and new products haul | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog @laurantaina
Empty products and new products haul | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog @laurantaina

Cleansing Oils

I finished three cleansing oils: Whamisa Organic Flowers*, Kahina Oil Cleanser* and Origins Gentle Energy*. I think I gave Origins a lukewarm review on Instagram, but the more I used it the more I started to enjoy it. Pump is sold separately, which is slightly annoying. Even more annoying is trying to pour out oil without the pump, so I do recommend purchasing the pump. I had similar experience with Kahina (review here) - okay at first and later started to appreciate it more. I love a good medium weight cleansing oil that emulsifies and rinses clean.

Whamisa was a total disappointment, I wish I had used up this bottle quicker just to get rid of it. If 1st cleanser doesn’t remove my makeup properly, it’s not my cup of tea. I think I would repurchase Kahina, but I have a backup of THREE Balancing Cleansing Oil, which is my all-time favorite. I also want to use up some other oils I have going on: Tata Harper*, Senja Cosmetics* (not pictured, review here) and Josh Rosebrook. Tata and Senja I’m enjoying a lot, but would skip repurchasing Josh.

Empty products and new products haul | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog @laurantaina

Eyebrow Pencil

I’m was so over this Dior Brow Styler brow pencil, I’m glad it’s finished and I can move on. There was a moment of first impression love, but I won’t be repurchasing, not this or Anastasia Brow Wiz. I’m currently working my way through It Cosmetics Brow Pencil*, but I don’t think it’s “Universal” color is working for me, I also prefer a thinner pencil. Rouge Bunny Rouge’s Long-lasting Brow Liner (review here) will be my repurchased go-to pencil for travel or lazy mornings. For everyday purpose I’m still reaching for my Viseart Structure brow powder palette.

Empty products and new products haul | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog @laurantaina

Contour Color

Surratt Grisaille, ah how I already miss you. The perfectly smooth powder, buildable pigmentation and perfectly cool but not ashy undertone for my skin tone. There is some product left, but I don’t want to ruin my brushes by scratching those corners. Right now I’m enjoying my Tom Ford Terra Bronzer and Iglot x JLO Freedom System contour shade (I think this is in Cocoa, the lightest shade), but I do plan to pick up Grisaille asap.

Mascaras

I think all of these mascaras were good, but not extraordinary. Korres Drama Volume shade 02* was a very nice and natural plum-brown (featured here), which I would consider repurchasing if I ever got tired of black mascara. It Cosmetics Superhero* is a favorite of many bloggers, but to me it was too wet and I don’t like the shape of the packaging. Clinique Long-lasting Mascara is a good classic, rinses off with warm water and often on sale. Inika Long Lash* I liked (review here), but then I discovered Lily Lolo’s Natural mascara* (white tube, review here) and it won me over in an instant. Currently using up my SUQQU Eyelash Mascara* (review here), which I will most likely repurchase.

Empty products and new products haul | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog @laurantaina
Empty products and new products haul | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog @laurantaina

Moisturizers

Kora Organics* one was very nice and light-weight, I would purchase it for Summer time (read more). Henua Recharging moisturizer* and DP Vitamin Rich Repair Cream* (review here) were excellent, now I’m almost done with INARI Artic Water Cream. DP Dermaceuticals and INARI creams have become my Holy Grail moisturizers alongside with January Labs Nutrient Day Cream (sadly no longer sold on Cult Beauty!). I think I’m going to get a new bottle of INARI but first I’m testing something new, most likely Kiehl’s Calendula cream*.

SPF

Another empties.. another Innisfree Eco Safety SPF50 (read more). I’ve already repurchased this (not pictured, it’s at my boyfriend’s) and will do so until the end of time. Alga Maris SPF30* is the perfect sunscreen spray for the body (review here), I’m sharing a new tube with my boyfriend. For the face I’m currently using up Mádara Face and Body SPF30 (review here), which I will certainly repurchase. I’m also giving a go to Kiehl’s SPF50*. I rarely stay away from my physical SPFs, but Kiehl’s seems promising: light and non-irritating.

Empty products and new products haul | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog @laurantaina

Facial Oil

Max and Me I am the Light is one of my favorite oil serums or facial oils to date (one of the products I’d first purchase if I lost all my skincare). Their Enchanted oil is also wonderful (review here), perhaps better suitable for more reactive or sensitized skin. Right now I’m using my second (or third?) bottle of I am the Light.

Eye Cream

Tata Harper’s eye creams are painfully expensive, but this small bottle of Restorative Eye Creme* lasted me a good 6 months or so. I was devastated when I ran out of this press sample and I’m 90% sure I’ll purchase a replacement from the new reformulated line. Right now my under eye area and flakey from retinol, my first aid of choice was Kiehl’s Avocado Eye cream*. This one is a press sample, but I’ve bought and used 2-3 jars in the past. A little goes a long way with this cream and it still feels pleasantly thick and protective under the parched eye area. I sometimes use Kahina’s oil roller-ball* as well, but Tata Harper’s eye cream is certainly the best for anti-ageing.

Do you like Empties Posts? What’s the latest product that you’ve replaced?

Online Cosmetologist Consultation by SkinCity (Review)

When I first started getting into makeup and skincare, I quickly noticed how shopping can be a daunting task. Fun, but daunting. I have personally have an easy access to department stores or beauty shops, but I wish there had been someone to guide me. Getting product recommendations for specific skin concerns from a cosmetologist was not an option. This Autumn I discovered SkinCity.fi (available in Nordic countries and UK at least) - an online shop with free cosmetologist consultation. I’m very excited to review their service, I hope you enjoy today’s post.

*Products received for consideration, thoughts about the service my own and honest.

SkinCity Shop Review | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog @laurantaina

What is SkinCity?

SkinCity.fi aims to be “your skin clinic online”. They have a very curated selection of brands they carry, many higher end or clinic grade with some luxe eco beauty. What I think sets them apart is their customer service: everyone is a certified cosmetologist. That’s right – wether you phone, chat or email there is always a skincare professional who answers you. Their values are all about knowledge, quality and service.

To offer a similar experience as visiting a clinic IRL, SkinCity has developed an unique skin test where you fill a questionnaire, send a no makeup closeup of your skin and a certified cosmetologist will review your results for the best personal recommendations. This test is completely free and you can choose to purchase or skip any of the suggested products.

SkinCity Shop Review | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog @laurantaina

My Skin Test Process

Alright, so I make a customer account and chose to do the “Complete Skin Test” version with 15 questions. There is also a shorter questionnaire for a basic routine (4 questions). I chose three main concerns for my routine: hydration, firming and appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Previously I would have gone for brightening or evening out my skin tone, but lately I’ve felt more confident about my acne scars. I was able to choose one brand out of SkinCity’s selection I was interested in. I picked Medik8 as I had heard a ton about this brand, but tested only one product or so. Lastly, I submit a profile (cheek) picture of me with no makeup to give a better idea of my skin condition.

After one day or so, I got emailed my results! My cosmetologist was Riina. There were 9 skincare recommendations + 1 foundation (you can get a base makeup recommendation if you wish), the more essential products for the core routine were marked with an asterisk. I also got additional -10% off code for any SkinCity orders, which is not a ton but a great plus.

I felt like there might be problems with SkinCity’s questionnaire for people who are unsure with terminology or cannot pinpoint what they want or need. Fortunately, there is a real living cosmetologist who reads the results and answers questions and you can leave some questions unanswered. Always ask for assistance! Still, for shy or busy people I wish the questionnaire had more examples or explanations.

SkinCity Shop Review | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog @laurantaina

Testing right now: Medik8 C-Tetra+ Intense

SkinCity Shop Review | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog @laurantaina

SkinCity Customer Service Experience

After I had my results I came up with some questions regarding the foundation. Later, I also wanted to know why you could choose only one brand for your routine. First, I reached out via chat and then I even called the SkinCity office. Both times I was answered right away and the cosmetologist was very kind and knowledgeable. I felt the level of customer service was very high and left me feeling safe.

By the way, here’s the answer to couple of my questions: SkinCity believes that giving routine recommendations from one brand makes the products work together most efficiently. If you’re wanting to purchase a makeup product, you can ask the cosmetologist swatch the shades for you!

Pros and Cons of SkinCity

Pro’s!

  • very clear concept, easy to use website

  • the comprehensive skin test is relatively easy: reading and clicking

  • great customer service, quick results and personalized routine

  • no obligation to purchase

  • a great, curated selection of brands

  • if you choose to revisit the skin test, you see your old answers which is very handy

and cons…

  • terminology might be difficult for skincare newbies

  • not many inexpensive or drugstore brands

SkinCity Shop Review | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog @laurantaina

Final Thoughts

Would I recommend this service..? Big yes! I would love to “meet up” with a certified cosmetologist every time I shop for skincare, especially if I just need consultation help and still haven’t committed to a purchase. The level of customer service and efficacy was very high. With some online services I’ve felt the contact person has been somewhat faceless and nameless entity, but with SkinCity.fi it’s all very approachable. Nothing pushy, zero after quiz emails pressuring you to purchase. My first impression is very good with the products I got, but will report back how I get along with them! Expect some Medik8 reviews soon!

Would You Try Online Cosmetologist Service?

Benefits of Vitamin C in Skincare

I’ve received a lot of questions regarding my acne: how long I took Accutane, which products did I use and how to fade scars. I’ve researched and paid a lot of attention to the skincare ingredients and potency of the products I use: I want to heal my scars (they look quite faded right now) and also prevent further damage to my skin. Today I want to highlight one of my favorite skincare ingredients: Vitamin C! There has been a lot of Vitamin C talk in the beauty community lately, thanks to some best-selling products, but not all Vitamin C products are made equal. I hope this post is helpful! Enjoy!

*Medik8 serum in photos is a PR sample I’m testing out!

Benefits of Vitamin C in Skincare | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog @laurantaina

Benefits of Vitamin C in Skincare

Vitamin C is well-researched ingredient and studies show a wide range of skincare benefits when applied topically. When used in daily routine it is:

  • a great antioxidant

  • helps to fade hyperpigmentation / brown spots

  • stimulates skin’s own collagen production

  • fights against photo damage caused by the sun

  • protects against free radicals

Collagen is extremely important in skincare when it comes to (lack of a better word) “anti-ageing”: it promotes skin elasticity, making it soft, supple and smooth. Lack of collagen causes deeper wrinkles and sagging, making the skin look older. Using a potent Vitamin C product can minimize these signs of ageing for a brighter, tighter and more youthful appearance. It also reduces pigmentation by slowing down melanin production for more even and bright skin tone.

Combining Vitamin C with Vitamin E and Ferulic Acid can further protect the skin from photo damage aka exposure to sunlight (UVA and UVB). I’ve talked many times about the importance of sunscreen: read more. It’s a great idea to use a Vitamin C serum under your SPF - not instead of it!

Benefits of Vitamin C in Skincare | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog @laurantaina

Cons of Using Vitamin C in Skincare

Like with all ingredients, there is a possibility that large % of Vitamin C can be irritating to super sensitive or rosacea prone skin. If you’re new to this ingredient you can start from lower concentrations or natural sources of Vitamin C (fruit and berries in natural skincare). Patch test your serum before use and start from once per day application. Other ingredients such as Arbutin can be an alternative for fading pigmentation if Vitamin C makes your skin flare.

Formulating Vitamin C products is also tricky, as the ingredient is extremely unstable, doesn’t penetrate the skin easily without a proper pH and oxidizes quickly. It’s important to choose your product wisely and store it properly. High concentrations of potent Vitamin C serums are often rather expensive, which makes wasting them even more annoying.

How to Use a Vitamin C Serum

Because Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin its water based solutions are very unstable and need a correct pH to work (<3.5). There are waterless formulations on the market, but these are often silicone based and have somewhat gritty texture. Still worth checking out!

Like all antioxidants, Vitamin C starts to degrade when exposed to light or air: make sure to choose a dark glass or opaque packaging, preferably with an air-tight pump. Store the serum somewhere else than your humid bathroom cabinet, again preferably somewhere dark. I would avoid stocking up on Vitamin C products and instead use them up as quickly as possible. If the color starts to turn amber/tan/brown color the product has oxidized and should be discarded. Oxidized products will harm your skin by generating free radicals instead of protecting from them.

Usually adding a Vitamin C into skincare routine is beneficial for all skin types and can be used morning and night. Apply as your 1st treatment step after toning and before your moisturizer. Moisturizers with added Vitamin C may be beneficial, but serums are the most potent and efficient. Always top with an SPF in day time.

Benefits of Vitamin C in Skincare | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog @laurantaina

Above: Medik8 serum and waterless The InkeyList Vitamin C

Best Forms of Vitamin C in Skincare

L-Ascorbic Acid (or Ascorbic Acid) is the most potent - and notoriously unstable - bioavailable form of Vitamin C. It’s needed for collagen synthesis while all derivates need to be converted to Ascorbic Acid inside cells. When choosing a treatment with Ascorbic Acid: look for at least 10-15% concentration and use it up as soon as possible. Ferulic Acid and Vitamin E are excellent antioxidant companions to Vitamin C as they increase its stability. Vitamin C can also turn inactive Vitamin E back to its active antioxidant form.

Some forms of Vitamin C:

  • L-Ascorbic Acid

  • Ascorbyl Glucoside

  • Ascorbyl Palmitate

  • Aminopropyl Ascorbyl Phosphate

  • Ethyl Ascorbic Acid

  • Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate

  • Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate

The derivates are esters (oil-soluble) or salts (water-soluble), both pretty common in skincare products. They are less irritating and more stable with longer shelf life. Of course derivates are also less potent, but a noteworthy option if you find Ascorbic Acid too strong, too expensive or don’t use up your serums quickly enough. Remember that all Vitamin C products will still break down if exposed to light and air.

Do you love Vitamin C? What are your favorite products?