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These are the musings of a skincare junkie + writer + brand guru with 25+ years of product wisdom put into action to demystify skin care. 

You can change your skin’s destiny.™


I never finish anything. Ask anyone who knows me and they’ll tell you more often than not, I’m ready to leave the restaurant without finishing a glass of wine. Chug it? Please. How gauche.

Everything in life is temporary. Everything has its moment. The same goes for most skincare products. Unless I’m completely wowed by a serum, moisturizer or cleanser, I tend to get bored with it and move on to something else. Oh, don’t worry. By no means do I throw anything out — it all goes to my friends and family.

I’m constantly testing new products — but there are OG products that I do always go back to. Like my favorite Hyualronic Acid serum from Dr. Dennis Gross. IMO his Hyaluronic Marine Hydration Booster is the best Hyaluronic Acid serum I’ve ever used. And, I would never want to be without my favorite SPF for the eye area — the SkinCeuticals Physical Eye UV Defense SPF 50. (Psst…I reviewed both on my recent blog article about my AM regimen here.)

My OG skin care from Dr. Gross and Skinceuticals.

My OG skin care from Dr. Gross and Skinceuticals.

So when a Skincarma follower suggested — quite enthusiastically, I might add — that I write an entire blog article about my product empties, I thought oh, how would I ever do that when I never finish anything? Turns out I actually do! It just takes me a long, long time. Like 3-4 months. So, while I called this blog, My April Empties, it’s really more like My January - February - March - April Empties.

But what does it say about a product to simply declare it empty and used up? I thought it would be cool for each to go back and look at what I said about them initially, write what I think about each now, after using it up, and whether or not I’ll miss it.

With that, here are eight products that I (finally) finished.

Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer Physical Daily Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30


What I said about it: I have to admit, I didn’t love this formula at first. But it really grew on me! It was a texture thing. I honestly haven’t experienced a texture like it before. It reminds me of those snail secretion lotions. It’s not a sunscreen cream, it’s not an SPF lotion, it’s a SUN SLIME! For real. But look, the biggest issue I should be having with a mineral sunscreen is too much of a white cast. There’s ZERO white cast with the Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer Physical Daily Defense SPF 30. Once you get past the slimy thing, you realize you’ve got your hands on a superb skincare formula. I wouldn’t expect anything less from Drunk Elephant. What makes it so stellar? The outrageous number of antioxidants! I’m a huge proponent of the power pair of sunscreen + antioxidants at the heart of an AM regimen. Both should be classified as the leading forms of anti-aging skincare. In addition to 20% Zinc Oxide, Umbra Sheer is infused with a potent antioxidant complex of astaxanthin-rich Chondrus Crispus Extract (red algae), Grape Juice Extract, Sunflower Shoot Extract and both vitamins C and E. There are also numerous non-fragrant plant oils like jojoba and sunflower seed, and even Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract that nourish and comfort skin. Of course, what’s not in it is as important as what’s in it! ZERO fragrant essential oils. ZERO denatured alcohol. And, again, ZERO white cast. I love Drunk Elephant formulas and this one has my heart now too.


What I think now: I really grew to love this stuff and stopped noticing it was so slimy. Again, all that matters is that it works well — and that it doesn’t leave a white cast. The tube is also large at 3 oz / 90 ml so I can be forgiven for taking like six months to use it up!

Will I miss it?: Not too much.


Stubborn Cosmetics Custom Moisturizer

What I said about it: I’m a Leo — it’s all about me. And that goes for my skin care! So naturally I was really intrigued by the concept of a truly customized moisturizer, made specifically for my skin type, concerns and climate in which I live (bone-chillingly cold NYC). One of the most intriguing offerings from niche skincare brand Stubborn Cosmetics is their Custom Moisturizer. It’s truly customized and yes, it was made just for me! How? Well, Stubborn presents you with what they call the “Stubborn Skin Quiz,” which comprises a series of questions that gauge a number of important factors: age, skin type, levels of stress and sensitivity, personal skin concerns, environment, and even the amount of sleep you get each night. The quiz takes about five minutes. A week later, I received a genius moisturizer that blew me away. Why is it genius? Well, my Stubborn Custom Moisturizer is the perfect blend of good-for-skin non-fragrant plant oils, antioxidant botanical extracts and vitamins, peptides and humectants. My skin loves all of it! In fact, there isn’t a single ingredient in my personal moisturizer that I would remove. That, my friends, is genius. Read all about Stubborn Cosmetics on today’s new Skincarma blog — and be sure to catch my video review on my YouTube channel.

What I think now: I’m still a Leo and it’s still all about me. This stuff was great for my skin during the cold winter months. I want to go back, retake the quiz, and order a custom moisturizer for warmer spring skin.

Will I miss it?: Yes, it’s just so delish.


SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Antioxidant Serum

What I said about it: If this iconic antioxidant serum doesn’t give you a bad case of FOMO, I want to know why. The SkinCeuticals C E FERULIC serum was the first dedicated antioxidant treatment I ever used.


Back when I was working at Kiehl’s, I remember when they first started selling SkinCeuticals in the L’Oreal company store. I was able to get it with my employee discount and it was still expensive at $100. Retailing for $165, C E FERULIC is likely the most luxurious antioxidant serum on the market. I’m not going to say it’s the best antioxidant treatment out there because I’m not a chemist. But I do know it’s very, very well-formulated. And if you’re going to spend $165 for a single skincare product, you should at least feel confident you’re not being scammed. Which is something you certainly can’t feel spending $175 on a jar of La Mer. C E FERULIC is formulated with 15% L-ascorbic acid, a highly potent form of pure power brightening vitamin C; 1% alpha tocopherol, a pure form of vitamin E that neutralizes free radicals and replenishes skin lipids; and 0.5% ferulic acid, a powerful plant-based antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals and enhances the antioxidant benefits and stability of vitamins C and E. Glycerin and sodium hyaluronate round it out. Is it worth the money? Kinda, maybe, sorta?! I mean you can’t go wrong with this one in your skincare arsenal. Oh, it’s also patented: U.S. Patent No. 7,179,841.

What I think now: This one is a true OG. I’ve been using it off and on for 15 years and don’t intend to stop now. Wish I still got that discount, though!

Will I miss it?: Duh, it’s the OG!


Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic + Retinol Triple Correction Eye Serum 


What I said about it: Yeah, I’m on a Retinol kick lately. Hey, there are certainly far more dangerous obsessions. Like coconut cupcakes and a vape loaded with Sour Tangie. That’s a deadly combo! I talk a lot about protecting the eye area well — something I don’t think most people do well enough. That means using sunscreen and potent antioxidants in the eye area. Because the skin around the eyes is so thin and delicate, it needs more protection and doesn’t tolerate protective ingredients well. Sunscreen often migrates into the eyes and potent antioxidants can irritate the skin, leaving tiny red bumps. The Ferulic + Retinol Triple Correction Eye Serum from Dr. Dennis Gross is a next level protective and corrective eye treatment that doesn’t irritate the eye area as it may be expected to. And this stuff is potent. In addition to Retinol and a high-level of natural antioxidant Ferulic Acid, it also contains several AHAs in the form of Glycolic and Mandelic Acid to boost its anti-aging properties. As the fourth ingredient, Centella Asiatica Extract acts as the needed cushion against irritation. Licorice Root Extract and Ubiquinone deliver a potent skin-brightening benefit while a multitude of plant extracts power the antioxidant potency. Caffeine helps to depuff and waken eyes. Ferulic + Retinol Triple Correction Eye Serum is super silky and has a slightly gooey texture that keeps it in place. It easily absorbs around the entire eye area, including eye lids.

What I think now: I can’t say it enough, treat your eye area properly — with antioxidants, moisture and sunscreen. You’ll be so relieved when you hit 50 (if you haven’t already!) and only your friends look their age.

Will I miss it?: No, because I won’t have to. It’s already been replaced.



IOPE Derma Gentle Cica Cream

What I said about it: I heart IOPE and their soothing skincare powered by plant science. I first discovered the K-Beauty brand about a year ago. If you’ve watched my IGTV videos, you’ve probably seen me talking about the IOPE Bio-Essence Intensive toning essence and Bio-Cellulose sheet mask — both infused with super nourishing fermented yeast. One of their most sought-after products in Korea is the Derma Gentle Cica Cream and its innovative, irritation complex of Madecassoside, Panthenol, and Cypress Tree Extract that soothes and repairs sensitive skin, damaged skin, and reactive skin. At times when my skin is acting up, I’ve used the Derma Gentle Cica Cream as a layering treatment under my moisturizer. By morning, I’m all good again.


What I think now: I do love IOPE! This was my first IOPE product and I’ve tried probably a dozen or so since. Great cream for sensitive, sensitized, irritated, even sun-burnt skin.

Will I miss it?: Not too much — after all, a Cica cream is a Cica cream.

KPS Essentials Renu Face Cream

What I said about it: One of fave things about the Skincarma page is discovering new brands, and especially brands with well-formulated skin care. What makes a good moisturizer? It’s gotta be packed with nourishing and replenishing non-fragrant plant oils and devoid of the fragrant oils that can irritate skin. (I talk more about moisturizers on this week’s new Skincarma blog — SKINCARE 101 : My PM Anti-Aging Skincare Routine.)


So, what’s going on with the KPS Essentials Renū Face Cream? It’s loaded with the kinds of plant oils skin loves because they’re compatible with the skin, and thus recognized by our skin. In fact, the next four ingredients after water are Argan Nut Oil, Olive Fruit Oil, Coconut Oil, and Jojoba Seed Oil. All of these amazing oils give the Renū Face Cream it’s buttery rich color and texture. The formula is actually 95.5% organic, too. Anything more than that and a formula becomes unstable and needs to be refrigerated. I don’t like to store my skin care in the refrigerator. But I do like and appreciate how well-formulated this cream is. KPS claims its proprietary “DermaNū Technology works with your skin's natural ability to moisturize and hydrate, add volume and collagen while fighting signs of aging.” I don’t know if that would pan out exactly; I just know a great formula when I see one. It’s thick, rich and comforting. Better for me at night, my skin feels and looks healthy and rested in the morning.

What I think now: I used this right into the warmer months and it was never too much for my skin despite all those replenishing plant oils. Hey, it was formulated by a rocket scientist. He knows his stuff! If you want to know more, check out my full blog review of KPS Essentials here.

Will I miss it?: Hell yeah!


Forest Rhapsody Green Nectar Marine Hydrator


What I said about it: Okay, I have something cool to share. Over the last 2 weeks, life has been turned upside down with my move to Brooklyn. My entire routine seemed to disappear as I began packing up my life on the other side of the Hudson River. My structured skincare routine fell apart as I emptied out and packed my medicine cabinet and my skincare backstock — the treasure trove of products I go to when I’m either running low or waiting to try something new. I wasn’t thinking straight and found myself in a crisis when I ran out of my two daily Hyaluronic Acid serums — the Dr. Dennis Gross Hyaluronic Marine Hydration Booster and The Ordinary’s Marine Hyaluronics. Everything was sealed up and I wasn’t about to go crazy reopening boxes to find Hyaluronic Acid serums! But I had to do something. The thought of my skin dehydrating in the stress of the move was giving me more even stress. I suddenly came across an unpacked product — one I had recently received from natural indie brand Forest Rhapsody Skincare. I’d played around with it for a few days and even talked about it on my IGTV. (Yeah, check it out on my channel!)


For real, their Green Nectar Marine Hydrator was a life saver! It’s formulated with an awesome blend of plant-based humectants including natural Hyaluronic Acid, Aloe Vera Leaf Juice, and Glycerin. Marine extracts from chlorella and sea kelp help hydrate skin as tried-and-true Calendula Flower Extract soothes skin stress — which I had plenty of. The magical Green Nectar elixir has this extraordinary texture that made using the product one of the few enjoyable moments during these super stressful days. And, of course it saved my skin health until I could get settled in. Thank you, Forest Rhapsody!

What I think now: What an intriguing formula. I never figured out what makes it create this delicate foaming effect that disappears instantly into the skin. Such a cool brand, though. Come to think of it, I need to write up a full blog article on Forest Rhapsody.

Will I miss it?: Yes, oh yes.

Forest Rhapsody’s intriguing masks.

Forest Rhapsody’s intriguing masks.

Manyo Factory Galactomyces Niacin Special Treatment Essence

What I said about it: I love discovering new, totally obscure brands and products on IG! This one came outta nowhere. The Manyo Factory Galactomyces Niacin Special Treatment Essence looks like it was developed in a lab, they slapped a label on it, and shipped it straight to me. But while I got sucked in by the clinical packaging, I went for it because I love the formulation itself. Of course, packaging is nonsense with no relevance to the health of our skin. (Those all-pink selfies have to stop.) The Galactomyces Niacin essence is simply an excellent formula.


First, WTF are Galactomyces? Well, galactomyces is extracted from yeast through the fermentation process. As I discuss on this week’s blog, skin loves fermented ingredients. During the fermentation process, toxins are destroyed, leaving only pure, good-for-skin extracts that are more skin-compatible and actually pro-skin health. According to Manyo, their yeast extract contains vitamins as well as skin-loving calcium, iron, zinc, iodine and folic acid. Galactomyces is the first ingredient in a very tightly formulated serum, comprising just 7 ingredients in all. Second is super-brightener Niacinamide, or vitamin B3. The formula contains a natural preservative system that, while it delivers an anti-inflammatory benefit that can treat skin conditions like blemishes and atopic dermatitis, has the potential to irritate sensitive skin. I have experienced no sensitivity, though I don’t tend toward sensitive skin. In fact, my skin is in perfect “normal” balance. I love this serum. What a great find!

What I think now: This stuff was like savoring a fine wine — that I’d never finish! It took me an entire 37 weeks to get to that final pump. I only know that because 37 weeks ago is when I first posted about it. Good stuff, though!

Will I miss it?: I should but I don’t.


That’s it, guys! I hope this was interesting. Loved the empties idea. Sorry, I forgot who suggested it or they’d get a big shout-out. Let me know if you think there’s something you’d like to see me write about!

See you again with my empties in, well, 3 or 4 months.




I almost never finish a glass of wine. 🤷🏼‍♂️

I almost never finish a glass of wine. 🤷🏼‍♂️

The Ingredient List of the Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer Physical Daily Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30:

Zinc Oxide 20%, Water, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Pentylene Glycol, Glycerin, Steareth-2, Propanediol, Steareth-21, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Cetearyl Alcohol, Silica, Sclerocarya Birrea Seed Oil, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Chondrus Crispus Extract, Haematococcus Pluvialis Extract, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Sprout Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Juice Extract, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Raspberry Seed Oil/Tocopheryl Succinate Aminopropanediol Esters, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Tocopheryl Acetate, Tocopherol, Sea Water, Acetyl Glucosamine, Cetearyl Glucoside, Sodium Stearoyl Glutamate, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Glycine, Sucrose, Lecithin, Triethoxycaprylylsilane, Xanthan Gum, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Caprylhydroxamic Acid, Caprylyl Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin, Sodium Dehydroacetate, Iron Oxides (CI 77491).

The Ingredient List of the Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic + Retinol Triple Correction Eye Serum:

Water, Propylene Glycol, Ethoxydiglycol, Centella Asiatica Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Ferulic Acid, Retinol, Potassium Azeloyl Diglycinate, Arctostaphylos Uva Ursi Leaf Extract, Arbutin, Morus Nigra Fruit Extract, Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Extract, Quercetin, Caffeine, Ubiquinone, Sodium Hyaluronate, Salicylic Acid, Glycolic Acid, Mandelic Acid, Panthenol, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Disodium Lauriminodipropionate Tocopheryl Phosphates, Lecithin, Tetrapeptide-21, Acrylates/Carbamate Copolymer, Disodium EDTA, PVM/MA Decadiene Crosspolymer, Urea, Polysorbate 20, BHT, Potassium Hydroxide, Phenoxyethanol, Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI77499).

The Ingredient List of the SkinCeuticals C E FERULIC Combination Antioxidant Serum:

aqua / water / eau, ethoxydiglycol, ascorbic acid, glycerin, propylene glycol, laureth-23, phenoxyethanol, tocopherol, triethanolamine, ferulic acid, panthenol, sodium hyaluronate.

The Ingredient List of the IOPE Derma Gentle Cica Cream:

Water / Aqua / Eau, Propanediol, Squalane, Cetearyl Alcohol, Polyglyceryl-3 Methylglucose Distearate, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Panthenol, Di-C12-13 Alkyl Malate, Butylene Glycol, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Hydroxypropyl Starch Phosphate, Glyceryl Stearate, Allantoin, Stearic Acid, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Glyceryl Caprylate, Sorbitan Isostearate, Disodium Edta, Ethylhexylglycerin, Madecassoside, Chamaecyparis Obtusa Leaf Extract, Tocopherol.

The Ingredient List of the KPS Essentials Renu Face Cream:

Deionized Water, *Argania Spinosa (Argan) Nut Oil, *Botanically Infused Olea Europea (Olive) Fruit Oil, *Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, *Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba Seed) Oil, Steric Acid, Xylitylglucoside, Anhydroxylitol, Xylitol, C14-22 Alcohols, C12-20 Alkyl Glucoside (Plant Based Emulsifier), Sodium Hyaluronic Acid, Palmitoyl Isolucene (Plant Based Amino Acid for Collagen Growth), Co Enzyme Q10, *Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Ethyl Lauroyl Arginate HCI (Plant Based Preservative), *Proprietary Blend of Essential Oils. *Organic Ingredients.

The Ingredient List of the Forest Rhapsody Green Nectar Marine Hydrator:

Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice*, Sorbitan Oleate Decyglucoside Crosspolymer**, Glycerin, Sodium Hyaluronate, Sodium PCA, Macrocystis Pyrifera (Kelp) Extract, Chlorella Vulgaris Extract, Passiflora Incarnata Flower Extract, Plantago Major Leaf Extract, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Symphytum Officinale Leaf Extract, Punica Granatum Extract, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein Extract, Propanediol**, Xanthan Gum, Water (Aqua), Caprylhydroxamic Acid++, Glyceryl Caprylate++, Sodium Chloride, Santalum Spicatum (Sandalwood) Oil, Pelargonium Graveolens Flower Oil, Rosmarinus Officinalis Leaf Oil, Limonene+, Citronellol+, Farnesol+, Geraniol+.

The Ingredient List of the Manyo Factory Galactomyces Niacin Special Treatment Essence:

Galactomyces Ferment Filtrate (97%), Niacinamide (2%), Zanthoxylum Piperitum (Japanese Pepper) Fruit Extract, Pulsatilla Koreana (Korean Pasqueflower) Extract, Usnea Barbata (Lichen) Extract, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate.