Throwback Thursday: Nelly Furtado – Try

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Full disclosure; I’m not a fan of Nelly Furtado (musically speaking, don’t have anything against her personally) and really loathed the song that made her famous, I’m Like A Bird. But, since the winter of 2004 was still a time when MTV played music videos (at least in Italy), I came across her video for her second single from her second album called Try.

The video was directed by Sophie Muller who just happened to be one of my favourite music video directors (she’s directed a lot of videos for Garbage, No Doubt, Gwen Stefani, The Kills, Mika’s amazing Grace Kelly, Hole’s Doll Parts, and a bunch of other awesome bands). In other words, in typical Sophie Muller fashion, this video is simply stunning.

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Now, I don’t know if Muller was inspired by the 2003 film Cold Mountain for the colonial vibes of the video (Nelly Furtado is seen decked out in a traditional Portuguese dress as she faces various hardships), but it did seem to have the same wintery pioneer rural life aspect of the movie.

But apart from the stunning video, what really drew me in were the lyrics. There’s something fatally tragic in the lyric, “Then I see you standing there/Wanting more from me/And all I can do is try.” Nelly stated that apparently it was a song about true love (although it’s very dark to me) and for me, it seemed more like a song about wishing you could please someone you love, but also knowing that you’re incapable of doing so for a myriad of reasons.

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Revisiting this song kinda took me back to that winter of 2004, which felt very dark and lonely. There were so many things in my life what I was uncertain about, and love was one of those uncertainties. Sure, I was in love with someone back then, but if you’ve read My Bad Romance series, you kinda get the drift of how most of my loves have played out (Spoiler alert: unhappy endings). The strange thing about music and scents is that they can take you back to places at times that you had purposely pushed back in the forgotten zone of your brain. And let’s just say, there’s a reason why your brain had pushed those memories back.

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But the song is still tragically beautiful, as is the video, and even fifteen years later I fell in love with it all over again. For the record, I never became a fan of Nelly Furtado’s music, but I can admit that this one was a little masterpiece.

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Book Review: The Dead Girls Club by Damien Angelica Walters

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Red Lady, Red Lady, Show us your face….

Release Date: December 10, 2019

Pre-Order on Amazon

Publisher: Penguin Random House

Price: $26.99 (hardcover)

Plot Summary:

In 1991, Heather Cole and her friends were members of the Dead Girls Club. Obsessed with the macabre, the girls exchanged stories about serial killers and imaginary monsters, like the Red Lady, the spirit of a vengeful witch killed centuries before. Heather knew the stories were just that until her best friend Becca began insisting the Red Lady was real–and she could prove it.

That belief got Becca killed.

It’s been nearly thirty years, but Heather has never told anyone what really happened that night–that Becca was right and the Red Lady was real. She’s done her best to put that fateful summer, Becca, and the Red Lady, behind her. Until a familiar necklace arrives in the mail, a necklace Heather hasn’t seen since the night Becca died.

The night Heather killed her.

Now, someone else knows what she did…and they’re determined to make Heather pay.

Grade: A-

Review:

I’ll be honest, when I read the first chapter, I wasn’t too intrigued although it opened with a very disturbing admission, that the protagonist Heather had killed her best friend when she was a tween. It wasn’t until the following chapter reverted to the THEN portion of the story that I was hooked. The novel is sectioned in alternating chapters with a chapter in the present and the following chapter in the past. By far, the THEN chapters are way more interesting because it shows Heather as a twelve-year-old, and being best friends with Becca, and also with Rachel and Gia, whom like her and Becca also enjoy a fascination for the macabre. The girls are intrigued by deaths and serial killers so much that they decide to create the Dead Girls Club. A club made to share scary stories or true crime stories. The girls usually got together for these meetings at the basement of an abandoned house.

That summer though, Becca becomes obsessed with telling the story of the Red Lady, a witch who was killed in an atrocious manner. At first, the girls are intrigued by the stories, especially Heather, but she begins to resent the stories when she notices how it has begun to affect Becca. Because Becca is convinced that the Red Lady is real and the only one who can save her from her alcoholic, abusive mother.

In the present time, Heather receives a pendant that Becca was wearing the night of her death in the mail, which causes her to spiral in paranoia. Did somebody see her kill Becca? Is the Red Lady after her?

This book is so deliciously twisty that you find yourself questioning what’s real and what isn’t. I wouldn’t necessarily call Heather an unreliable narrator but more it’s an exploration of devout friendship and how often stories in our youth can begin to feel real if we allow ourselves to believe in them.

I honestly wish that we had gotten more chapters from the past or that we could’ve gotten a whole book about the Red Lady (the story was simply very fascinating as it was horrific). I suggest this novel to anyone who loves thrillers with a dash of supernatural spookiness into the mix.

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*Thank you so much to NetGalley and Penguin Random House for the digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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Lionel Richie: Hello Tour Review

When I was proposed to go see Lionel Richie, I knew that I had to seize this opportunity to see a living legend perform live. For the younger generation he may be known for being the father of Nicole & Sofia Richie and recently as judge of American Idol, but for the older generation, the four-time Grammy Ward Winner was the soundtrack of their dancing youth and makeout sessions.

I don’t watch American Idol, so I only know Richie for his music, but the performance at the Santa Barbara Bowl proved that he not only can sing but is a mighty funny showman too (he could’ve had a whole other career in stand-up comedy, the man is hilarious!). At 70, Richie still commands the stage and can work the crow like very few performers can.

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With iconic hits like Penny Lover, Say You, Say Me, and Easy, the crowd couldn’t help but relive happy memories linked to those songs. By the time he belted out Dancing on the Ceiling and Stuck On, the audience was heated up to dance like it was 1977. And if you ever wondered if women in their sixties and seventies can still bust out some crazy moves, then let me assure you that they can and then some!

By the time the evening came to a close, I knew that the king of glittery jackets would be back for an encore, when the only song he hadn’t sung from his Greatest Hits was All Night Long. And sure enough, the charming crooner returned to give the crow just what they had been waiting for. And for one night, we all felt that we could’ve danced all night if given the chance.

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Launching: Nox Girl Cosmetics!

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Shades Ophelia & Juliet pictured above.

My love of beauty products is no big secret if you follow my blog and look at the many beauty product reviews I have written, or if you know me personally and see the staggering amount of cosmetics I’ve accumulated over the years. And since I cannot beat my cosmetics addiction, I’ve decided that the next best thing would be to join them. How you may ask? By launching my very own line of cosmetics!

This idea came to me a few years ago but I had trouble executing it right away for various reasons (funding, finding the right lab, etc.). Recently, I found a lab in Canada that will make my products in the way that I envisioned them to be, high quality, cruelty-free, and vegan.

Why vegan?

Well, the main difference between vegan and traditional makeup is the use of animal by-products which are never used in vegan cosmetics. A common side effect and bonus to vegan products is that they are often gentler and safer all around, not only leaving out animal products but also toxic chemicals, parabens, gluten-containing products, and heavy metals.

I know there’s a ton of beauty brands out on the market and there’s a new one coming out of the woodworks every day, so you may wonder, what makes Nox Girl Cosmetics stand out? First of all, all my items will be LIMITED EDITION, meaning that every few months I will be selling a certain number of cosmetics that will encompass a theme. And since my other great love right next to cosmetics is books, each limited edition products will be inspired by literary characters.

For my launch, I decided to go with a classic, Shakespearean heroines. The ones I selected were some of my faves, and creating liquid lipsticks inspired by them was so much fun!

So without further ado, allow me to present you the amazing shades:

 

Tamora (taken from Titus Queen of the Goths) $20

Tamora is a berry-purple matte shade. The character is strong and bold and you can let your inner queen shine through with this imperious shade.

 

Ophelia (taken from Hamlet) $20

Critics believe that Ophelia is weak because she goes mad and drowns herself in a brook, but the truth is, she’s not afraid to stand up against the patriarchy, letting her brother know that he shouldn’t chide her to be chaste when he isn’t and how she hates the double standard that exists.

This shade is a pale peach with mandarin hues. Ophelia is sweet, but she’s no pushover, and if in the end, she cracks, it’s the patriarchal society and crazy boyfriend that are to blame, not her. That’s why this colour is both light but bold. Your lips will be sure to stand out in the crowd.

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Swatches of Ophelia & Juliet 

 

Juliet (taken from Romeo & Juliet) $20

Juliet is a rose pink shade. The character of Juliet is a hopeless romantic (who isn’t at the age of 14?) and I wanted this shade to reflect the excitement and intensity of first love.

 

Titania (taken from Midsummer Night’s Dream) $23

She’s Queen of the faeries, and what better way to celebrate this beautiful creature than to create a shade of nude-glittery lipgloss? It’s the perfect lightweight non-sticky lip gloss formula that will have you unleashing some serious faery vibes.

 

Lady Macbeth (taken from Macbeth) $20

It’s due to Lady Macbeth’s brutal ambition to become Queen, that leads Macbeth to murder the current king while he’s visiting his home. And although she’s viewed as a villain, no one can negate how badass and progressive she is for her time. What better way to celebrate her boldness than to imagine her wearing this blood-red shade? Choose this crimson lipstick if you want to channel a true leader (albeit a ruthless one).

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Swatches of Tamora & Titania

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Midsummer Night’s Dream Eyeshadow Palette $30

Creating a palette is difficult, especially when you’re trying to create a cohesive look. When creating these shades I tried to envision what someone like Titania would wear, and that made me decide to go with various shades of green. Because nothing shouts woodland faery like these ethereal shades.

You can shop these shades for a limited time at the Nox Girl Cosmetics Shop! These shades will be available till the end of September. In October I’ll be launching new shades (I’ll give you a hint, they’re going to be inspired by famous vampires).

*There’s international shipping for all your orders!

I’m also looking for some influencers (within the U.S & Canada for now) to receive some samples for reviews. If you’re interested please contact me with your platform info (blog or Instagram account).

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Shades Tamora & Titania pictured above 

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Book Review: Here There Are Monsters by Amelinda Bérubé

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They took my sister.
I’ll take her back.

Release Date: August 6, 2019

Pre-Order on Amazon

Price: $10.99 (paperback)

Plot Summary:

Sixteen-year-old Skye is done playing the knight in shining armor for her insufferable younger sister, Deirdre. And moving across the country seems like the perfect chance to start over as someone different.

In their isolated new neighborhood, Skye manages to fit in, but Deirdre withdraws from everyone, becoming fixated on the swampy woods behind their house and building monstrous sculptures out of sticks and bones.

Then Deirdre disappears.

And when something awful comes scratching at Skye’s window in the middle of the night, claiming Skye’s the only one who can save Deirdre, Skye knows she will stop at nothing to bring her sister home.

Grade: A-

Review:

I’ve waited a week after reading this novel to decide to write a review because I wanted to wait and see if my feelings for this strange little book would remain the same or somehow change. Thing is, I walked into this book thinking that I was getting something like The Blair Witch Project (or at the very least some sort of witchcraft) since it was advertised that way, but instead what I got was a strange tale of childhood monsters and magical kingdoms that come to life in the woods and a missing girl case.

So I’m going to divide this review into two sections: Pros & Cons.

Pros:

I love the dark, atmospheric imagery woven throughout the whole story. It was mighty creepy and rocked in all its dark gothic glory.

The characters reacted to situations in realistic ways (meaning that the characters didn’t give the protagonist Skye a free pass when she shared a very dark secret about her past).

It kept me invested in the story and I really wanted to know what was going to happen next.

Cons:

It wasn’t until halfway through the book that we finally received confirmation that something supernatural was indeed happening.

All the characters were unlikeable, except for William. The protagonist Skye, not only was she unlikeable, but she was also manipulative and had a cruel streak that she justified endlessly and blamed a lot of her actions on her sister.

Dead pets and other animals.

The ending. While it was realistic, it seemed to just end leaving a lot of questions unanswered.

Overall, this was a unique story and I did enjoy it, but I don’t know if it’ll be something that a lot of people could get into unless you’re into dark tales and don’t mind the somewhat slow pacing.

*Thank you so much to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for the digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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Oceana: A Charity Worth Checking Out

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Giving back is always important, and I’m always curious to know what charities people support, as that says more about someone than anything else. My favourite charity by far is Oceana. Being someone who has always loved the ocean and all things sea-life (I learned to swim at the age of three at the beach, and no one could manage to get me out of the water whenever we’d have beach days). Basically, as a child, I really wanted to grow up to be a mermaid, cause sea life seemed way more my thing than life on land. I pretty much had the opposite feelings that Ariel did in Disney’s The Little Mermaid. The whole time she kept trying to get rid of her fins, and I kept thinking, DON’T DO IT! FEET ARE SO OVERRATED!

But I digress.

So why should you be interested in joining Oceana? For one, they helped preserve Punta de Choros in August 2010, Oceana helped convinced Chilean President Sebastian Pinera to request the relocation fo a coal-fired power plant scheduled to be constructed in a vulnerable region of Chile’s northern coast.

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Not only that, but they also have helped save sharks lives. In January 2009, the Spanish government, in cooperation with Oceana, helped advance new shark legislation that would ban and catch the threatened hammerhead and thresher sharks. Spain is one of the largest shark catching and exporting countries in the world, and by 2019, the entire European Union enacted a ban on shark finning.

Other than doing those amazing things they do for marine life, Oceana also provides ways for you to help as well, whether you contribute to donate for marine life (such as helping starving orcas) to help with beach cleaning.

Keeping oceans clean and habitable for marine life is very important and that’s why Oceana is a charity that is close to my heart.

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Review: Maybelline Snapscara in Pitch Black

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I haven’t done a beauty post in so long (and not because I’m lacking any new products, I have lots to share!) that I decided that it was long overdue for one. Since mascara is one of the beauty products that I absolutely LOVE, I wanted to share with you my latest find.

What It Is: Clump-free voluminizing mascara

What It Does: Creates volume in one sweep

Active Ingredients: Wax-Free Pigments

Verdict: I’ve always been satisfied with Maybelline mascaras and products in general, so I was really looking forward to trying out this new product cause from the ads it looked amazing and even the packaging was cuter than your usual drugstore buy. But that’s pretty much where the love stopped. And it stopped cold. The wand itself should be fool-proof to use, but I don’t know whether it’s small to larger bristles combo or the formula itself, but once you try to layer this mascara, it starts to get seriously clumpy like you’re dealing with a decade old product, rather than a brand new one, and for some reason it was also very messy (in my attempt to lengthen my lashes, it would also transfer colour over onto my lid whatever I’d wiggle the wand, which I’ve never had this problem with any other mascara before so I know that my application wasn’t to blame). And for those of you that might say, why layer if it creates a mess why can’t you go with only one layer? To put it bluntly, one layer doesn’t provide you with the lift and colour you need (or at least I want), so you’re better off sticking to any other trustier mascara, for this one is a total fluke in my book. Such a shame, because I do love the packaging. Sigh.

Price: $7.77

Where To Buy It: https://www.maybelline.com/eye-makeup/mascara/snapscara-washable-mascara/pitch-black

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Review: Kocostar Rose Lip Mask

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Sheet and face masks have been all the rage lately, and it’s no different with lips masks. In the age of Instagram and selfies, lip masks are one of the most coveted masks there are, but this lip mask is more than a mere photo prop. This mask truly leaves your lips feeling smooth and ultra-hydrated, and the best part of it all is that it smells like you’ve got a bed of roses resting upon your lips. Some say that this lip mask forces you to lie down, but it actually didn’t slip off on me, so sitting up was possible.

What It Is: Hydrating Lip Mask

What It Does: Smooth, hydrates, and plumps lips

Verdict: To say I loved this lip mask is an understatement. This lip mask was utterly amazing! Not only does this lip mask smell like you’re walking in Marie Antoinette’s rose garden, but it truly hydrated and plumped my lips in ways no other lip mask has ever done before! Another bonus is that this lip mask is free of parabens and pthalates (chemicals you probably shouldn’t have near your mouth anyhow). This mask can be used any time of day, even before a night going out, since the serum doesn’t leave your lips drenched, however, it sinks into your lips and once the mask is off, there’s no sticky residue, meaning that you can easily wear lipstick on top without wiping off any excess beforehand. Out of the many lip masks, I’ve tried, this is hands down my favourite one.

Price: $38 for 20

Where To Buy It: www.anthropologie.com

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Comic-Con L.A. – Comic Book Nerds Rejoice!

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Formerly known as Comikaze Expo, Comic-Con L.A. is a three-day event that brings comic books lovers, writers, and cosplayers alike in one place to celebrate the ever-changing and expansive world that is the comic universe.

 

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I’ve always been an avid comic book reader since the age of six, in particular of horror comics and Archie comics (so yes, I DO love Riverdale, don’t judge me).

 

This event usually brings 90,000 people to share their communal love for comics. I met a lot of people that had come all the way from Italy and the U.K. to be at this event, and many east coasters found their way to Los Angeles too.

 

Of course, everyone goes to Comic-Con for the comics, but you can’t help but also go there to see all the cosplayers or to dress up yourself. This was my first time going and I decided not dress up (or at least I semi-did by wearing a Sabrina The Teenage Witch shirt and kinda selecting the rest of the outfit and makeup based on what the character of Sabrina would wear). But I had a blast getting to see everyone else dressed up (and I’ll admit that I veered on taking photos of people that were more of the goth realm than any other subculture).

 

 

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It was also very cool to see some iconic movie props and costumes being displayed at the event. From the Ghostbusters car to the suit Winona Ryder wore in Stranger Things when her character went to the Upside Down world. But one of my absolute favourites was being able to see the armor that Gary Oldman wore in Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula.

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I also had a chance to meet the co-writers Jim Krueger and Samantha Levenshus when I was given a free copy of the new comic Neon Future (co-created by Emmy-nominated producer and global DJ sensation Steve Aoki in partnership with Impact Theory Studios). Not only were the writers kind enough to sign my copy of the comic but I had a pleasant chat with Jim Krueger who loved my Sabrina The Teenage Witch tee and we discussed our communal love for The Afterlife with Archie comic series and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina series and how much we’re looking forward to the new Archie horror series that has the Blossom twins as protagonist called 666. Taking a look at the comic Neon Future, I was delighted to see that the comic explored the idea of how it isn’t technology that brings about the evil of the world in a futuristic dystopian society, but rather it’s the human use and feelings towards that technology that brings about the downfall of man, making it thus so that the world can be taken by cyborgs. The idea is utterly compelling and I highly recommend to check it out if you have the chance!

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And lastly…I was in comic book heaven when I saw all of the retro Archie Comics that the event had to offer. Sadly, some of the very awesome retro ones from the 50’s were out of my price range (a rare Sabrina comic was up for sale for $200) but I found many from the 70’s that were in good condition and not crazily expensive. One of the most interesting crossovers was one Archie meets Batman comic that I had to get just because it was THAT out in the left field. While I was there I also picked up a horror comic too that explores the themes in the Grimms Faerytales. I would’ve loved to purchase some retro Tales from the Crypt, but alas, the price range for those were out of this world ($500!).

 

For any 80’s fans, the con also had a ton of 80’s toys (from Teddy Ruxpin to Popples) it pretty much looked like someone had cleared out their attic and brought these toys to sell, which left me wishing I could clear out my own garage of 80’s toys so that I too could slap a $100 price tag on a Cabbage Patch Kids or $50 on a Pound Puppies plush. Are there any takers?

 

Comic-Con L.A. was a truly fun experience, and if you wish to immerse yourself in comic world memorabilia and unleash your inner child, then this event is truly for you.

Photos by: David Hanger

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Empties Post – First One Ever!

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Ever since the internet went crazy with “Empties” posts, I’ve been wanting to write one for this blog. The only caveat? Being able to accumulate enough used up products to write a post about. Seems simple, right? Not when you have far too many products and keep switching from one to another, and the guilt of throwing out something you’re not crazy about seems almost wasteful. So for me, using up a product and thinking about repurchasing the same item again means that I need to have thought it was absolutely AMAZING and willing to go through the experience all over again.

So without further ado, here are a few of my empties:

Honest The Younger Eye

I wrote a full review of this product here if you wish to read more details about it. What can I say? I absolutely LOVE this eye cream! It’s everything an eye cream should be and I think it has greatly improved the skin around my eyes tenfold.

Would I repurchase: HELL YES!

Everyone Face For Every Day Tone

I included this product in my skincare routine post. This is one of my favourite toners because not only is it lightweight, but it leaves my skin feeling fresh and clean. It also has contributed to keeping my skin acne-free!

Would I repurchase: YES!

Korres Pomegranate Balancing Cream-Gel Moisturizer

Even for this, I wrote a full review of this product here, if you wish to read a more detailed description. I’m usually not a huge fan of moisturizers cause even the most lightweight ones tend to make me break out, but this one lived up to its claim of being gentle for acne-prone skin, and I fell instantly in love!

Would I repurchase: YES!

Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Eye

This cream is a restorative eye treatment for undereye skin. I like that the cream was thick and emollient, and did work in diminishing fine lines caused by fatigue. I didn’t find anything NOT to love about this cream, but at the same time, I didn’t fall in love with it as much as I did with the Honest eye cream.

Would I repurchase: Maybe

Skin & Co. Roma Truffle Therapy Eye Concentrate

I was sad to see this finish as I added this as one of my favourite eye creams that I recommend. This cream feels luxurious and incredibly hydrating. Even a year later I still love it!

Would I repurchase: YES!

Pixi Beauty Sleep Cream

This cream was just a little too much on the thin side for my liking. I’m more into creams that feel very moisturizing and this was a little on the light side, however, it DID keep my skin hydrated and didn’t cause any breakouts. If you want to read a more detailed description, check out the review here.

Would I repurchase: Maybe

Clinique Moisture Surge

I know this is the holy grail of moisturizers for many people, especially if you’ve got oily skin. I was given this cream as a sample by one of the Clinique reps at a cosmetic shop with the promise that I would love it. Well, sorry to burst anyone’s bubble but this is simply too watery for my taste. I guess the lightweightness of it is what makes it perfect for oily skin, but I kinda love thick creams.

Would I repurchase: No

Medusa’s Makeup Grapefruit Astringent

I’m a big fan of toners and this one simply smells amazing! It left my skin feeling refreshed, and kept it from becoming oily too soon.

Would I repurchase: Yes, but they have two other scents (Rose and Cucumber) and I’m curious about the cucumber version.

There’s a satisfying feeling of completion when you get to the end of a product, and I think this is why Empties Posts are so popular. Do you have similar feelings? Would you try out any of these products?

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