Empties August 25/19: Biossance Squalane+Tea Tree Cleansing Gel, ELF Bounce Back Jelly Cleanser, and Essence Eyebrow Designer Pencil


  1. Biossance Squalane+Tea Tree Cleansing Gel
    Rating: High-end Hero

    My skin right now is probably the worst it has been in my life, or at least the worst it’s been since the really awful breakouts of my teenage years. I can’t vouch for whether or not this will help with acne as literally nothing is helping with my acne at the moment due to a chronic hormonal condition I am working on getting sorted out, but it did give a nice cleanse and minimized a bit of oil. I really like Biossance’s squalane-strong products. The only potential beef I’ve got with the product is the tea tree oil, as tea tree can be an irritant to so many folks. However, it’s not like they tried to sneak it into the formulation, it’s right there front and centre in the name of the product and prominently featured in the product description online. Though it didn’t help with my breakouts, I did enjoy it’s gel consistency and gentle foam, so I am going to mark it as a high-end hero.
  2. ELF Cosmetics Bounce Back Jelly Cleanser
    Rating: Bargain Beaut
    This cleanser comes highly recommended from a number of skincare Youtubers I follow, including Gothamista. This is a non-foaming gel cleanser that I really enjoyed as a first cleanse to remove makeup. I found it to be fairly gentle, and enjoyed the strong coconut smell. For less than $10, I really can’t complain about it. The only red flag I noticed with my very limited knowledge in the ingredients list was the parfum. So, if you’ve got sensitivities to fragrance, just be mindful of that.
  3. Essence Eyebrow Designer Pencil in Dark Brown
    Rating: Bargain Beaut
    I love most products that I’ve tried from Essence, and I wasn’t disappointed by this one. It retails for less than $3 Canadian, so even if you don’t end up liking this purchase, you’re still only out less than the price of a cup of coffee. It’s a soft pencil, had decent staying power, and I enjoyed the way it looked. The dark brown shade wasn’t too warm-toned, which is often the case with brow products. I think it is slightly less environmentally damaging as it is a wooden pencil that you sharpen, so the only waste is the small plastic cap and the thin plastic wrap it comes packaged in. Though not perfect or zero-waste, I imagine it is slightly less damaging than the plastic twist-tubes many brow products come in. The brush on the cap was the right balance of firm and soft, and I did end up using it a fair bit to smooth out and blend the brows after pencilling them in.

EMPTIES: Essence brow products


I recently finished the @essencemakeup Superlast 24 H Eyebrow Pomade Pencil (Waterproof) and their Make Me Brow Gel Mascara in Soft Browny Brows.

I loved both products, and think that overall as a brand Essence gives you fairly good quality for your dollar. The Pomade Pencil was like a thin, waxy crayon that could be blended out but also helped hold brow hairs in place and withheld excessive sweating for the most part. The gel mascara was a tad too light for me, and I do have it in the darker shade that is a bit more appropriate for my colouring, but still excellent. Holds brows in place while giving a bit of a tint to make them appear a bit darker and fuller.

If you’re looking for an affordable brow duo, this is my favourite! And apparently everyone else’s favourite, too–I usually have to go to multiple Shoppers or Superstores to find them in stock.

e.l.f. Oil Control Primer Mist

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I wanted to share this oily skin hack because it doesn’t cost half a month’s rent and it’s worked really well for me. Props to e.l.f. for stepping up their skincare and makeup game this past year or so! I’ve been buying more and more of their products as of late, and picked up this mist during their Black Friday sale.

There are a couple of different ways I’ve used it:

  1. After my sunscreen on days where I don’t want to wear makeup, but don’t want to feel self conscious about the amount of oil pooling on my face.
  2. As a primer on days where I don’t want to wear a whole lot of makeup, usually underneath a mineral powder.
  3. As a setting spray on both minimal and maximum makeup days.

It’s cheap, it works, it doesn’t dry out your skin, it doesn’t smell like chemical sludge, and it dries down nicely. The only downside is that it gives off a spray and not a mist, therefore making your face quite damp at first, but if you hold the bottle far enough away from your face you should be fine. 10/10 would recommend because honestly this works better than the $30-$50 setting sprays and priming sprays I’ve purchased from luxury brands! Save the extra $30 bucks and buy yourself a pizza.

Drugstore-priced lip palettes: ELF Cosmetics

I’m so intrigued by ELF Cosmetics because you never know what you’re going to get. Sometimes I’ll spend two dollars on a mascara and it’ll be absolute garbage, but sometimes I’ll spend a few bucks on a product and it will become my new go-to. ELF’s lip palettes fall somewhere in between for me. Though they’re not always the first thing I reach for, I do think they are pretty handy!


The Runway Ready Lip Palette, Runway Ready Lip Palette 2, and Iris Beilin Mis Amores Lip Palette are all $8.00 CAD and can be ordered from the ELF website. Each palette is roughly 6-7.5g of product and features a black compact case with a mirror, six lip shades, and a brush. Out of all of these, the Iris Beilin palette is my favourite simply because of the shade selection it includes. The orangey/tangerine shade  (second swatch from the right) is by far my most used and looks absolutely adorable.

The texture of these lip shades falls somewhere between lipstick and a lip gloss. They are fairly sheer and sticky, but can be layered to be slightly more opaque. Because they are so sticky they will transfer somewhat, but not too horribly. I found that after about three or four hours of drinking water and snacking in class that I wanted to touch them up.

I think that these have the potential to be a lighter look on their own, but also to be layered on top of more matte, opaque lipsticks for a bit of sheen and colour tint. The fact that the compact is small and thin, and the brush is small and actually works, makes it more ideal for travel or tucking into a backpack or purse than say the ABH Lip Palette which is massive and heavy. I haven’t tried mixing shades in these palettes, but I imagine that it would work just fine based on the texture and sheerness.

My least favourite of the lot is the Runway Ready 2 Palette. I always try and convince myself that I will wear pink, but I just never feel the urge.

In closing, if you want a sheer to medium opaqueness, want something you can travel with, don’t mind transfer or gloss consistency, and want something versatile and affordable, I would recommend these!

E.L.F. Cosmetics

E.L.F. Cosmetics seems to slide under the radar, but for being such an affordable drugstore brand it is still usable and of decent quality. In this past year even I have noticed a lot of improvements as they branch out with their product line and venture more so into skincare.


Their packaging doesn’t look flimsy or cheap like some drugstore, and even high-end, brands do. They keep it sleek and simple with the all black plastic packaging, mirrors, and the E.L.F. logo. If you’re into the minimalist look, it looks quite lovely on a vanity.

The blush and contour palettes are my most used E.L.F. items. I use the E.L.F. blush palette even more than my Becca blush palette. You definitely need to go in with a light hand to avoid a very bold blush look, but the colours are very true to what they look like in the pan and they aren’t overly difficult to blend.


I don’t really have much to say about the E.L.F. finishing powder. It gets the job done! Their colour correcting powder is entirely useless unfortunately. I really ought to throw mine out, but I always feel so guilty throwing out unfinished products. The E.L.F. eyeshadows have a little place in my heart, because an E.L.F. palette I got from my friend and another I later bought myself were what really got me into makeup in my first year of university when I had no idea of how to even approach anything more than mascara and foundation powders. I don’t have any complaints about any of the eyeshadows I’ve tried from their brand. Yes, they are not going to be the same as Modern Renaissance and other high-end “holy grail” palettes that are 5x the price, but you still get workable shadows in cute colours for what you pay for. The only downside I can really see is that you have to build some colours up, particularly matte colours, and that the glitter in shimmer shades may be larger than what you might find in other palettes. Still, even with larger glitter, it’s nothing gaudy or ridiculous.


These lip palettes are my favourite addition to the E.L.F. line in recent years! They’ve got good pigment and have a glossy-ish finish. They don’t last as long as my ABH lip palette, but they also don’t dry out my lips as fast as my ABH lip palette does. Another perk of these palettes is that they are small and include a lip brush, making it easy to tuck the palette into your bag for touchups throughout the day.

I love that KathleenLights is so into E.L.F. cosmetics and that she has so many affordable drugstore tutorials. I feel that Kathleen and other similar Youtubers make affordable makeup seem more glamorous and make the beauty side of Youtube more accessible for folks of different incomes. In summary, the brand as a whole gets the job done and is absolutely adorable. There are a few dud products within the brand, but as long as you read reviews and the ingredients list, you can’t go wrong.