Tower of Empties: Empties, Discards, and Pretties

Last week, I mentioned in What's In My Stash: Forgotten Finds & Organization Overhaul that one of the last tasks I had on my to-do list was to tackle a giant box of empties.  I wasn't kidding; this thing is so massive it deserved its own post!  Behold the dragon, unslain:

Just imagine how big this box is, if my phone looks that tiny.  Click for huge size.
I admit I was a bit daunted, but I was determined get my office to 100% organized, so this box needed to be dealt with.  It contained a mash-up of empties tucked back in their boxes, packaging for products I'm currently using, empties orphaned from their boxes and boxes orphaned from their empties, products banished to the discard pile, and gorgeous product packaging worth keeping regardless of how I felt about the products inside.

There was also a staggering number of sheet mask boxes, which I haven't included in the photos because there would be no room for anything else.  That reminds me, I still need to inventory my sheet masks ... oh dear.  Still not at 100%  Another day, then. *shakes fist at the sky*

So without further ado, here's the Tower of Empties (at least what would fit) precariously perched in my office:

The tower of empties, discards, and prettily packaged products
It looks like so much less when it's all tidily arranged, no?  Ah wait, that's right, this is all that would fit without falling off.  Click for huge size.
Mmm, so many empties.  I've taken close-ups of each tier, and will be calling out some notable products from each.  They'll be numbered for ease of  "what the heck is that one 4 places from the left?!" identification.

In this post:

  • The "would not repeat" tier
  • The "gone but not forgotten" tier
  • The "so pretty I'm hoarding it" tier

Of course, now that I've managed to assemble this house of cards boxes and bottles in order to take photos of it, I need to pack it all away because our struggle has reduced my office to rubble.

Onward to the goods!

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The "would not repeat" tier

This category is a combination of empties and discards, some of which are perfectly fine products (hence the empties) but I would not purchase them again.

Bottom tier of empties and discards
Click for huge size!
Some of these I've reviewed, and I'll link them below:

  1. Holika Holika Soda Pore Cleansing BB Deep Cleansing Oil - I much prefer the rose-scented Cremorlab Gel Oil

  2. Elizavecca Milky Piggy Carbonated Bubble Clay Mask and the Mizon Pore Clearing Volcanic Mask - I prefer the individual use Innisfree Volcanic clay mask capsules.

  3. Mizon Snail Repairing Foam and the Shiseido Perfect Whip (both are high pH, you can see the low pH options I use here)

  4. O'slee Rosehip Hydra-White Cleansing Powder and Skin79 Smart Clear All In One Cleansing Gel , the former of which is low pH but I prefer other powder cleansers.

  5. Lioele Waterdrop Sleeping Pack and Mizon Good Night White Sleeping Mask - I'm not a fan of sleeping packs but I'm ride or die for the Sulwhasoo Overnight Vitalizing Mask.

  6. Cosrx AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner - I'm all about the Mizon AHA BHA Daily Clean Toner, as you will see later. (Soooo many empties!)

  7. MUAC and Stridex Red Box BHAs - I much prefer the Cosrx BHA Blackhead Liquid or Paula's Resist Daily Pore-Refining BHA, which is what I'm currently long-term testing.

  8. Milky Dress Vita C+ Powder - I'm testing a Paula's Choice Vit C right now, but normally I use the OST C20 Vitamin C serum.

  9. Ciracle Pimple Solution Pink Powder - I emptied this, but it wasn't as good as the Mizon Acence Blemish Out Pink Spot which I've since repurchased.

  10. Mizon Almighty Cold Cream and Mizon Acence Blemish Control Gel - both emptied but would not repurchase either.

  11. Hada Labo Gokujyun Lotion and Mizon Rice Wine White Toner - I'd rather use the Acwell Licorice pH Balancing Cleansing Toner.

  12. ElishaCoy Skin Repairing Snail Cream and ElishaCoy Skin Repairing Snail Essence, both of which were expensive disappointments.

  13. Tonymoly Latte Art Cappuccino Cream-in Scrub and the Tonymoly Prestige Snail Lip Treatment, which was disappointingly not snaily, and I'd rather use the Aritaum Ginger Sugar Overnight Lip Mask (not the scrub pictured here, but the heavy duty balm I mention below.)

The "gone but not forgotten" tier

Aww yeah, let's get into the good stuff.  The repurchases, the good-to-the-last-drops, the we-will-meet-agains, the it-was-good-when-it-lasted-even-if-I've-moved-ons.

Middle tier of empties and repurchases
You can't see it clearly, but that left side is Mizon snail gel boxes stacked on boxes behind boxes. Click for huge size.
Look at all those repeat empties, ayyyy!  Here's some highlights:

  1. Mizon Snail Recovery Gel Cream, my first K-Beauty love.  I still keep a tube of this around at all times, but you're the highschool boyfriend I didn't have, meaning I still think of you fondly and I'll gladly bootycall you if I get a sunburn or a bug bite, or if I'm just in a nostalgic mood.  Where to get it:  Amazon | eBay | Jolse | RoseRoseShop

  2. Curology with Azelaic acid, niacinamide, and occasional tretinoin (retinol) from my teledermatologist. I've backed off using retinol over the summer to avoid photosensitization issues, so I'm back on an Azelaic acid + niacinamide mix and my pores are enjoying it in a heavy masochism sort of way.  Where to get it: See my review for details, since it's a prescription.

  3. Goodal Mild Protect Natural Filter Sun Cream SPF50+ PA+++, which has been the nicest physical-filter sunscreen I've used to date.  While it has a strong fragrance I'm not fond of, it's gentle, has high full-spectrum protection, reduced white cast, and doesn't dry out my skin.  It's sort of like really nice dairy-free ice cream; you wish you were eating the real thing, but at least it's tasty.  Where to get it:  Club Clio US | Amazon | eBay | KoreaDepart | TesterKorea | RoseRoseShop 

  4. Leejiham Tea Tree 90 Essence, which I've gone through 4 of, and although I've moved on to other products, this light, hydrating, soothing essence/serum is beloved by oily and acne-prone K-Beauty fans everywhere for a reason.  This was the cheerleader to my actives football team, except with less hormonal desperation. Where to get it:  Amazon | eBay | HKCplaza | KoreaDepart | TesterKorea

  5. Cosrx BHA Blackhead Power Liquid, and I'm on my 4th bottle.  I'm currently testing another BHA, but this BHA was my summer staple because it was so hydrating and gentle compared to other BHAs.  It's a BHA you could take home to your parents without worry. Where to get it: Amazon | eBay | Jolse | Bisou Beauty Bar | KoreaDepart | RoseRoseShop

  6. Mizon AHA BHA Daily Clean Toner.  Do you seeeeee all those empties?  I keep finding more stashed away in various corners, like hair ties and bobby pins.  I also have several backups, because this toner is always going in and out of stock and it's still my favourite cleansing/pH adjusting toner to date.  Where to get it: Amazon | eBay | TesterKorea | KoreaDepart

  7. Cremorlab T.E.N Cremor Cleansing Gel Oil which technically belongs on the top tier of this tower o' empties, because the bottle design is gorgeous.  But I've repurchased it and will continue to snatch this up, despite the price tag, until the day I find another oil cleanser that doesn't clog my skin to hell.  Many breakouts have rebelled during the search for this cleanser, and I have the scars to prove it.  Where to get it: eBay | TesterKorea | Peach & Lily | Via a Buying Service

  8. Aritaum Ginger Sugar Overnight Lip Mask, one of the best heavy duty lip conditioners I've tried.  It tackled my desert-split lips in the depths of winter without a problem, and comes in a huge tin that lasts forever.  I retired it out of "I've had this so many winters it's probably teeming with germs" concerns, but it's a stellar product and a great buy.  Where to get it: Amazon | eBay | Jolse | KoreaDepart 

  9. 3M Nexcare Acne Stickers, which are small hydrocolloid bandage circles, and they are a staple along with the Cosrx version (which are a bit more pricey) due to their amazing ability to drain the contents of a blemish, seal out external contaminants, and speed the healing process.  If you're a picker, these are a godsend for keeping your fingers off your face while nerfing blemishes for you.  Where to get it: Amazon | eBay and you can get the Cosrx ones from Amazon | eBay | Jolse | TesterKorea | KoreaDepart

  10. Mizon Acence Blemish Out Pink Spot, and I'm on my second bottle.  I tried the Ciracle one and emptied it, but this does more for me than just drying out spots.  Call forth those skin demons and bring them to justice! Where to get it: Amazon | eBay | Jolse | RoseRoseShop | TesterKorea

  11. Mizon Snail Repair Intensive Ampoule, which has 5 empties in this photo. This was one of the first ampoules I used and liked (it's around $10) and although I've long since outgrown it, it was soothing and hydrating while fitting my limited budget.  Where to get it: Amazon | eBay | Jolse | KoreaDepart | RoseRoseShop

The "so pretty I'm hoarding it" tier

Some of these I really loved, others were just a pretty face.  Ostensibly I've kept these to decant other things into them, but I've yet to get around to the flurry of cleaning and sterilizing that would be needed to make this happen.

Top tier of pretty, pretty products
Click for huge size.  Huge and shiny.
As you can see, I'm a huge fan of the Hanbang (traditional Korean herbal medicine) aesthetic; not only do Hanbang products have sexy extracts in them with promising preliminary research, they often come in magnificently ornate packaging that catalyze my inner magpie.  Jewel tones, floral motifs, and gilding?  Get in my bird's nest stash.

Some notable pretties include:

  1. Beauty of Joseon Cream, which remains the only cream that I'm ride or die for, but it has a troublingly impermanent supply.  I've almost emptied my 3rd 4th jar (I just can't find the other empty one), and I've got 3 backups stashed away in the event that it's discontinued for good. It always seems to reappear, thankfully! Where to get it: Amazon | eBay | Crystal Cove Beauty

  2. Mizon Mela Defense White Boosting Toner and Mela Defense White Capsule Essence, the former of which I liked enough to empty it, and the latter I was not fond of.  The bottles are very pretty, though.  I think these are discontinued, because they aren't available in any of the shops I stalk.

  3. Hankook Cosmetics The Prestige Gold Oil Essence, which was a gorgeous and mediocre product.  It was amazingly pretty but my skin isn't a fan of oils; I ended up decanting a lot of it for friends and stashing away the bottle and box because daaaaaaamn they pretty.  It doesn't seem to be available anywhere right now,

  4. Xai Cosmetics Korea Bo-in High-Moisturizing Jeong-Yoon Balancing Emulsion, which I was really hoping would work out for me, and I did like it ... I think.  I say that, because this ended up being a heavy emulsion/light cream, and it wasn't at all suited for my skin in springtime, and it would have been better for me to stash it and then open it in the fall/winter.  I don't like keeping opened skincare for longer than 3-6 months unless it's being stored in the fridge.  It was pleasant and dried down reasonably well from what I remember, but it was just way too heavy for my skin during that season.  This is available via a buying service.

  5. Sulwhasoo Gentle Cleansing Oil, which was a travel size I managed to empty despite my skin hating oil cleansers.  It comes in a pretty box, it smells like Hanbang herbs, and it had a beautifully smooth texture.  It was almost worth the clogged pores.  My skin just hates oils. Where to get it: Amazon | eBay | Nordstrom | RoseRoseShop | BonjourHK

  6. Su:m37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick, the OG low pH K-Beauty cleanser.  I've gone through 2.5 tubes of this, and while I've moved on to other cleansers, this is still one of the classics and worth recommending.  Low pH, travel-friendly, smells like roses and contains rose petals, and pretty without a crazy price tag.  Where to get it: Amazon | eBay | Mishibox | KoreaDepart

  7. Saeng Green Vidanjasoo Skin Gel, which has a gorgeous box and pretty bottle (it's the gel with suspended beads in the center of the photo) but the product was an utterly bland gel.  There was nothing wrong with it, but like the Xai Cosmetics Emulsion, I opened it in the wrong season.  It was too light for fall, and opened too long for the next summer.  *slaps self*

  8. Buyonghwa Princess Jeonghyo line. which is those lovely jars and tall emulsion bottles you see on the far right.  I purchased this set for the packaging, intending to decant things into them if I didn't like the products, and ended up on a insane research and translation journey that gives me flashbacks to this day.  I purchased via a buying service.

That's it for now; I do have half a shelf of empties and discards which have been earmarked for review (you can see them in these photos) but frankly I couldn't fit anything else onto this table without causing a domino effect-- both physically and mental-sanity-wise!

If there's anything in these photos that you are particularly curious about, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter and let me know!

Have something you'd like to share with me in general? Snap a pic and tag me on Instagram at @snowwhiteandtheasianpear because I'd love to see it!

All the best,

**Disclaimer: All products I review on my blog are 100% purchased with my own money, with a single exception of a press sample I tested & reviewed in 2015 (and have since repurchased with my own money) which swore me off of them forever.  This blog contains  both affiliate and non-affiliate links, and clicking the former before you shop means that this blog may receive a small commission to assist in this blog supporting itself.  Please see my Contact Info & Disclaimer policy for more information.


  1. OMG so much product! I just chuck all of my products inside one drawer and I already know it's packed like yours. Reading your post makes me want to go over my stash too and see what product I should let go and give away. I do see some items from your stash that I definitely do love as well!

    Joanne at Urhappybunnie

    1. You can do it! Tackle that stash, woman, I believe in you! \O/

  2. I am so envious of all your goodies! (hue hue hue)

    1. I'm glad you liked my goodies, hue hue hue

  3. I was hoping your post would answer this for me - what's the thinking/emotional motivation behind keeping empties? I tend to chuck empty containers once the products they contained are gone. Am I a heartless monster? Or is it that I have yet to find a product that I'm emotionally connected to?

    1. I'd be happy to answer with my take ;) I think the answer in this case is really simple-- there's no way I would keep all this stuff if I wasn't blogging about it! Empties are like blogging receipts, so that's why I keep them, and I've noticed that I often need to dig up old empties for photos of products I'm reviewing, especially if it's a comparable product.

      If I wasn't blogging, though, I could only see myself keeping the very pretty things that I would repurpose.

      I hope that helps!

  4. Hi, Cat!.

    I was wondering why you stopped using the Mizon BB cream?. did you eventually react to it?. I checked the ingredients list and it contains Octinoxate, so I was curious because you mentioned you were sensitive to chemical sunscreen, but that BB cream never caused you to breakout. I really want to try it but I'm concerned because it contains it and chemical sunscreen and I don't get along /: