#EmptiesChallenge Update 3

Yes, I am still trying to keep this up!

However, you could probably drop the “empties” term from the whole thing and just call it an “empties update” from now on. Because there really was no particular end goal in mind for this, my so-called Empties Challenge has developed into more of a general tracking and analyzing of spending habits.  So, this may be a little boring for you as a reader, but I’m basically going to lay out what my beauty spending has looked like for roughly the past three months and discuss what can be improved and what expenses lie ahead.  I’ll also match it against what I’ve used up and finished at home.

My last update was on January 29th, so I’m just going to focus on purchases and empties for February through April.

I’ve only had five complete empties for this entire time period, and they don’t amount to much: a mini Kerastase Masquintense, Davines Momo conditioner, Burt’s Bees Sensitive facial towelettes, another CoverGirl Clump Crusher mascara, and finally the Sally Hershberger keratin spray.  I am still almost out of a lot of things, like my Acure night cream, Clarins Beauty Flash Balm, UNITE 7 Seconds conditioner spray, my first Glossier Boy Brow, and my Shiseido Ultimune serum that I use at night.  My NARS concealer is still holding on for dear life, too.

It’s frustrating how slowly I manage to go through things (except the Shiseido- I manage to go through serums like water).  Part of what’s happened though is I’ve been trying to use other, lesser-used items in my possession, so that’s put some of the almost-finished ones on hold (especially in the hair department).  I’ve also been going through lots of samples like Kerastase’s Elixir Ultime conditioning mask, but I couldn’t abide the scent of it so I discarded it after one use.  Nevertheless, going through samples has slowed things down too.

This right is here is what a full, daytime skincare routine consists of for me if I’m firing on all cylinders.  Three of these items were gifted to me, two were purchases of the past few months, and one has been with me for a while and is nearly finished.  It’s just a mix of stuff I have going on, so getting through some of the bigger products without being wasteful is a challenge.


Now, let’s look at what I’ve purchased.  And I’ve kind of blown it.  Or at least, it feels that way.

February was the worst.  I bought a BeautyBlender, cleanser for the BeautyBlender, a Becca Mineral blush, and a new Lancome Teint Idole Ultra Longwear Foundation Stick.  That may not sound like much, but it adds up.  I also bought my husband a fancy new beard oil to replace the nice IPA one that my mom got him for Christmas (Go Mom, and yes, IPA beard oils exist!).

March was a little better.  I got a bang trim and a blowout (booked an assistant stylist for a much cheaper price!), but I walked out of the salon with a new Denman brush.  Now, that brush has been exactly what I’ve needed for my bangs, but it was still something like eighteen bucks.  I also purchased the Phase 2 Glossier kit on the day it debuted.  Curse you, Glossier!!!

This month in April I’ve purchased an Ole Henriksen Truth Serum Vitamin C Collagen Booster, and that’s it.  Whew.  My mom and I went out for birthday mani-pedis while she and my dad came out to visit, but I don’t really count that toward this challenge.  Beyond this, I’m declaring a full moratorium on all unnecessary expenses for three weeks (beginning with this past Monday).  The moratorium will end on Monday, May 9th, just in time for  … my dental appointment.

I’m kidding; a dental appointment isn’t exactly a frivolity.  What I’m really saving for is my birthday in the middle of May; specifically, the hair appointment I’ve been thinking of gifting myself with once I’ve saved a little.  And because it’s now about that time, I’ll be needing to book for color, and that has got me a wee bit terrified.  Justin Kamm is the only stylist that has ever colored my hair and since he’s back in CA, I’ve been researching all kinds of options in Chicagoland for weeks.  We’ll see what actually happens within the next couple months, but it’s worth it to nail down a salon out here that I can trust either way.

There aren’t a ton of Davines salons out in this area, so I’ve been looking into a couple Aveda ones since I really love and trust the brand.  Then there’s the question of Do I go big and book a high-end salon in the city?  Or is it more a thing of Trust the junior stylist that did a great job with your bangs/blowout and just say a few prayers?  The junior stylist’s prices will obviously be much more reasonable, but there’s also the fact that if it doesn’t turn out the way I’d hoped, the loss wouldn’t feel so detrimental.  It’s one thing to have a junior stylist in the next town over make some boo-boos with your hair that you can easily have corrected, and that you paid a discount price for; it’s another thing to book an expensive salon an hour away, have crazy high expectations, pay a ton of money, and then, if the worst happens, have to awkwardly try and tell these highly-reputed folks that you don’t like what they’ve done.  And then if I had to make a second trip back into the city for corrections?  Quelle horreur!  But like I said before, we’ll see what happens.

All that to say, I’m still attempting to plug away at my current stash of goods and put off appointments when I can afford to.  Even though it’s hard and purchases have cropped up here and there, it’s going to feel good to get through these next three weeks without buying anything.  Along with the hair appointment, I’m hoping to save for Alterna’s Caviar CC Cream, Laura Mercier’s Secret Brightening Powder, and perhaps a lighter fragrance for summer.  You feel the sunshine coming out from hiding in such a powerful way out here; you can’t help but want to celebrate with all five of your senses!  xo, MR


In The Market For: Drugstore Hair Masks

I’ve probably had a pretty standard experience when it comes to what I’ve been willing to spend on beauty products over the years.  In high school, I never really ventured beyond Target except for the occasional BeneFit purchase.  Those were a big deal, and pretty rare.

In college I got a little bolder, falling hard for MAC, slowly making me way through the beauty floor at Nordstrom, and frequently finding myself trapped in Sephora.  Nothing extravagant would ever really happen, but we’ll just say that the lack of pigmentation from Maybelline eyeshadow could no longer be tolerated (though a Dior palette is probably a bit excessive, and I sadly have a couple).  Fragrance purchases were upgraded from Britney Spears Fantasy to Dolce and Gabbana Light Blue (though I still don’t understand how the cool thing to do in perfume is wear these fragrances with these strange names that no one’s ever heard of; everyone’s heard of Burberry Brit or Gucci Flora, everyone knows they’re awesome, but I hardly ever read about people wearing them).

As I’ve entered in my late twenties, what I’m willing to spend on hair, skin, and makeup has probably continued to increase.  I can’t calculate specifics, but judging by what I use now compared to what I used when I was twenty three, things have probably undergone a general price increase of five to ten dollars per item.  Sometimes it’s more, especially in the skincare area.  I’ve tried to make a plan for the future so I don’t waste my time trying too many products and so I know what kind of costs are coming.  For instance, I know that in ten years or so, I’m going to begin using Estee Lauder’s famed Advanced Night Repair, and the insanely well-reviewed Skinceuticals C E Ferulic serum.  Those are two rather hefty purchases, for grown up girls only!

However, I’ve got myself on this lovely little plan right now that involves zero new beauty purchases without finishing off two beauty items I already have first.  Annoying.  And would you believe that Allure’s annual “Best of Beauty” issue landed in my lap mere minutes after finishing my post about my empties challenge?!  Just my luck.  However, I’m committing myself to this plan at least for a couple months or until I finish off a substantial amount of products.

And yet, I’m unfortunately doing this at a time when my hair is in need of a trim to dust off broken ends (it’s been twelve weeks since my last), and at a time when I would typically pick up a pricier product to prevent split ends from reoccurring since I’m officially growing it out.  Just over a week ago, I had Alterna’s Lengthening Hair and Scalp Elixir in my hand, and I bought it only to return it a half-hour later.  I just couldn’t justify the purchase, and that return was part of what prompted me to develop my new purchasing restrictions.  In addition to a new hair serum, I’d also begun thinking of investing in a full-size Kerastase Masquintense for deep conditioning … but it costs sixty bucks.  Sixty bucks.  Look- I’d pay that if my husband and I were both working, and if I knew I’d use it once a week.  But we’re not, and I won’t.  I still have a little travel size tub of this particular hair mask, and I’ll use it to get me through the next couple months.

But say you’re browsing through Walgreen’s and want to try a cheaper hair mask.  I always advocate purchasing from salons, but say you’re on a budget and still have a hankering for something new.  A lot of drugstore hair products aren’t that great and have little to offer in terms of long-term conditioning, but there are two drugstore masks that I’ve tried that at least give surprisingly wonderful temporary results.


Aussie’s 3 Minute Miracle is somewhat legendary.  The stuff just seems to work.  There are now four different types of this conditioner and let it be known that I’ve only used the “Moist” one, but I also hear good things about “Smooth”.  When I used this, my hair was always left feeling very soft, extremely easy to comb through, and rather shiny (which is not a common feature of mine).  Use too much of it on the scalp and your hair will be too flat, but your lengths will thank you for it.  I would let it airdry and my ends would feel smooth, pliable, and fresh, without their typically dry, rough texture.  I recall this leaving more noticeable results in terms of moisture and softness than Sachajuan Hair Repair, which costs thirty-three dollars compared to Aussie’s three dollars.  Yeah.  And it also smells like the beach!


So, L’Oreal’s Total Repair 5 Damage-Erasing Balm is probably the best that drugstores have to offer in terms of intensive hair therapy.  If your hair is dull, brittle, overprocessed, and crying out for God’s mercy, this is probably a decent solution if you’re not able to get a trim or a more expensive mask.  I’m super bummed because they discontinued the Moisture Rush mask from this line that I really, really loved, but this stuff is pretty great too.  It gets incredible reviews on Amazon for moisture, manageability, and extending time between trims.  Remember that nothing can actually get rid of broken or damaged ends like a cut, but if a mask like this helps you tolerate the condition of your strands for a couple weeks longer, I say go for it.  This costs about ten dollars at Target and should last you a long time because a little goes a pretty long way.

For now, I’ll work through the rest of my mini Masquintense and keep working on my empties so I can get a trim, but if any of you are in the market for a cheap-but-decently-effective mask, give one of these a shot because they work!  xo, MR