The Empties | Fall 2022

Recently, I had a comment (which I love, don’t be afraid to reply to any of my posts) about my earlier curly-wavy hair product posts, asking if I was still doing them. I certainly am and even when I’m not actively posting about hair products, I’m compiling lists and thoughts. However, I wanted to get my reviews of the products I finished out of the way first (and the bag of clutter out of my life additionally); I find these posts particularly valuable as a consumer because it gives longer-term feedback about products that were valued enough to be finished. These certainly will invariably include a selection of hair products that I finished, many of which would be put in the favourites category:

Curlsmith Super Slip Pre-Biotic Primer ($37.99 CDN | 355 mL)

This was/is a slippery pre-shampoo detangler, rich in fermented rice water, some bond building ingredients — totally not advertised — and prebiotics to help with scalp flora and microbiome. By this, I mean that is protects against drying, tangling, friction-inducing effect of shampoo. This slippery product works well but is not crucial for me, because I can use a conditioner in its place to detangle and protect against shampooing. Luckily these days, my scalp health doesn’t necessitate using something with these microbiome-supporting ingredients.

Curlsmith Multi-Tasking Conditioner ($35.99 CDN | 237 mL)

This is a great lightweight conditioner in its own right but it’s my favourite leave in conditioner because of how light but moisturizing it is, the slip it provides and the bit of protein it contains (protein really boosts the uniformity of my waves and curls on my head). It serves as a great base for brush styling on my incredibly tangly hair, lending smoothness to the finished style without weight in combination with my hold products. It contains castor seed oil, babassu kernel oil, jojoba seed oil, murumuru seed butter and shea butter without any heaviness and pumpkin seed extract, hydrolyzed hemp sed and hydrolyzed rice protein for strength and structure. When I started using it last winter, I noticed it was particularly amazing in dry winter weather in the tangly fragile underlay of my hair that’s constantly being aggressed by scarves, coats and precipitation.

Curlsmith Post-Biotic Calming Conditioner ($37.99 CDN | 355 mL)

This was a nice lightweight conditioner without silicones or a lot of butters and oils (but it does contain shea butter and castor oil halfway down the ingredient list), enriched with menthyl lactate for that soothing cooling sensation, tea tree oil and peppermint oil and humectant plant extracts, The essential oils and menthol derivative weren’t irritating on my eczema prone scalp but I found the conditioner a little light for my hair needs. The slip was moderate, but I think I benefit from some more oils and butters. My favourite way to use this conditioner was probably as a co-wash, and I didn’t mind using it in any way. It’s not for me but it’s a great lightweight conditioner for those who struggle with build-up and are looking for something featherweight.

Ouidad Vitalcurl+ Tress Effects Styling Gel ($31-36 CDN | 250 mL)

This gel sits between medium to strong hold for me — but keep in mind I have high porosity hair that seems to absorb the hold of products so it might be stronger for some — that’s quite moisturizing without being heavy in the slightest but lacks a lot of humidity resistance. By this, I mean that in my humid climate, I find it frizzes and loses definition in muggy summer weather. It contains barely any protein, some film-forming humectants, film-forming polymers and a variety of plant oils. It performs much better in cooler weather on my finer high porosity hair and humid environment, not that I wouldn’t use again, but there are other Ouidad gels I prefer.

AG Haircare Curl Fresh Definer ($28 CDN | 178 mL)

This sleek tube houses a cream-gel that’s marketed more as a cream but offers light-medium hold on its own (and adds some hold when you put a gel on top), adding volume, grit and some curl enhancement. It has a rather strong scent of cake batter, combined with essential oils and is not uber moisturizing (thanks to the somewhat drying but pattern-enhancing magnesium sulfate), but regardless, it’s a potent but lightweight styler. I don’t find this to be the most clump-enhancing cream but it definitely tightens up some of my pattern, adding volume, texture, hold and control. I would definitely consider repurchasing after I use up some of the creams and curl enhancers currently in my stash.

Curlsmith Curl Defining Styling Souffle ($52-$55.99 CDN | 473 mL)

This gel gives me the closest thing to my soul hair that can be achieved through natural means (and if I play my cards right can even beat curling iron curls), which should not shock any regular readers because I’ve talked about this many times before in empties posts and favourites posts. It’s very moisturizing, — especially for being a gel — light to medium in weight but has flexible medium-strong hold; it gives me clumpy bouncy ringlets that lasts through sweaty workouts and humidity for days when styled correctly, without feeling or looking product-y in the hair. It contains lots of humectants, film-forming humectants and sealing oils. It contains irish moss and flaxseed extract to really enhance my 2c-ish waves and curls.

Curlsmith Bouncy Strength Volume Foam ($34.99 CDN | 222 mL)

Despite the fact that I love every other product in the Strength Recipe line, my first foray into mousse/foam in years has not been love at first use. Unfortunately, I find that when I use this in any amount on my wet hair, it destroys my curl clumps. My theory is that the grit it adds tends to do this in my unique hair. It can work for me, used in moderation in my roots, for some lift especially at the crown where my hair likes to fall limp when left to its own devices. It contains a few proteins in the first few ingredients on the list and a bunch of extracts that I normally love, but I think the gritty texture it adds tends to break apart ringlets in my wet hair, without adding any hold or curl enhancement. The good news is that it’s actually a great refreshing product on dry or damp hair after detangling on day 3-4 hair; it’s just not a day one all-over hair product for me. I do want to experiment with more products of this type, especially for refreshing and some help at the crown/back of my hair that is much looser than the front of my hair.

ESPA Soothing Bath Oil ($46.75 CDN | 100 mL)

My eczema usually does not get along with essential oils at all but I actually really enjoyed using this essential oil based bath oil. The scent was super calming and spa-like with sandalwood, myrrh and rose and the oil really helped to combat the transepidermal water loss from soaking in a tub full of water, leaving my skin with a little bit of moisture afterwards. I was lucky enough to snag this in a Fab Fit Fun sale and would probably repurchase at a discount again.

Aveeno Creamy Moisturizing Oil ($14.99 CDN | 354 mL)

Throughout the humid summer, I happily was using this as a body moisturizer daily after bathing. It was good for combatting my dry itchy legs when my eczema was not flared up — it’s an entirely different story now unfortunately –, and actually locking moisture into the skin. It’s described as an oil but in my experience, it’s more of a oil-based moisturizer (as the sesame seed oil, sweet almond oil and oat kernel oil is blended with glycerin, dimethicone and oat kernel flour) or a body oil-moisturizer hybrid. It has a subtle calming scent — that is synthetic and generally not irritating — and is lighter weight than a traditional cream. It wouldn’t be enough for me on it’s own for my eczema-affected areas but I’m tempted to pick it up again.

Drunk Elephant Slaai Makeup-Melting Butter Cleanser ($45 CDN | 110g)

I love using cleansing balms in general because of how soothing and nourishing they are and the ease that they dissolve makeup and sunscreen with, and I really enjoyed using this essential oil free balm cleanser. It’s also fragrance-free, just smelling of the sweet almond oils and the other rich oils that the formula contains. In terms of balm cleansers, it’s very rich and dry-skin friendly. It really annihilates makeup, even of the waterproof or sweat-resistant variety, and emulsifies with water, leaving the skin with a nourishing film unless followed with another cleanser. It’s concentrated, but expensive, yet repurchase worthy.

Clinique Turnaround Revitalizing Lotion ($53 CDN | 200 mL)

Completely unbeknownst to me, Clinique has had this Asian-style essence-toner in their repertoire for years and I didn’t even know it was a thing, and it’s good. It has a water-light kind of jelly texture and features saccharomyces lysate extract, centella asiatica, caffeine, bifida ferment lysate, acetyl glucosamine, lactobacillus ferment, caffeine and sodium hyaluronate, to help soothe, brighten and hydrate the skin with a wide variety of humectants. It left me with plump skin that was calm and even and contains the probiotic ingredients that intrigue me. I tend to prefer richer toners and essences with more oil content but I enjoyed this.

Dr Ceuracle Vegan Kombucha Tea Essence ($42.90 CDN | 150 mL)

Speaking of milky essence-toners, this one is my absolute favourite. In the summer, I finished my second bottle and I miss it tremendously, especially as the weather is getting warmer and my skin is getting drier. I’ve been trying to hold off on repurchasing, making myself finish what I’ve currently got on rotation first but it’s a losing battle. Regardless, it’s a beautiful milky essence-toner, especially for dry sensitive skin, looking for some barrier support. It’s fragrance free, contains tea extract, saccharomyces ferment, green tea, sunflower oil, sodium hyaluronate and centella asiatica and absolutely nothing irritating. When I use this, my skin is calmer, dewy and plump and generally less angry.

Paula’s Choice Defense Essential Glow Daily Moisturizer SPF 30 ($33 US | 60 mL)

Paula’s Choice has definitely moved from being a fairly affordable brand, just a little more expensive than your traditional or quintessential ‘drugstore’ brands to more of a midrange or premium drugstore brand. However, there are still a good number of their products that I find to be a good value for money; their well formulated sunscreens are some of these products. This one is a mineral sunscreen that is moisturizing, luminizing and doesn’t accentuate dry patches and texture like most mineral sunscreens do. Basically, it overcomes many of the cosmetic shortcomings of mineral sunscreens and it’s great for dry, sensitive skin. It has a grey-tinge that translates to a slightly blurring finish without a white-tinge for those with fair to medium skin. The dewy and luminous finish is not ideal for those trying to achieve a matte look or those on the oilier side of things. I have and would buy again.

What products have you finished?

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