Best of 2020

Products I could not stop Buying This Year

As a consumer on a budget, with stupidly finicky, problematic skin – dehydrated, acne prone, probably starting to age soon as I progress through my thirties – there are not that many products out there that I love enough to keep buying them. Let’s keep it short then – here are my top products that I kept repurchasing this year!


  • Neutrogena Deep Clean Cleansing Lotion: If you read my post on adult acne / my Korean dermatologist’s visit (Visiting a Korean dermatologist for Adult Acne), you might have noticed that my doctor recommended refraining from mechanical stressors as well as stripping cleansers and over exfoliation. Indeed, he recommended a cleansing lotion, as opposed to a cleansing oil. I trialled several cleansing lotions and this Neutrogena offering came out on top. Fragrance free, spreads easily, cleanses gently yet thoroughly, with skin feeling soft, soothed and refreshed. [not pictured]
  • Uriage Xemose Syndet cleanser: This is the cleanser of my dreams. Soothing yet thorough; briefly reviewed here: First impressions: Uriage Xemose Cleanser & Cream | If your skin likes to Freak Out, do consider this Bland Duo. I know I will.
  • Some by Mi 30 Day Miracle Toner: This is an acid toner that brightens skin, hydrates, fights and prevents acne. I cannot say enough good things about this toner. I thought it gimmicky at first due to the silly name but man oh man, what a powerhouse.
  • Hada Labo Gokujyun Premium lotion: This is the product that I credit for looking relatively line free. Keeps skin plump, hydrated and takes 5-10 years off your age by giving you baby skin. An absolute miracle worker. More detailed review here: Review: Hada Labo Gokujyun Premium Hydrating Lotion a.k.a. My HG hyaluronic acid skin saviour
  • Illiyoon Ato lotion: Technically a body lotion, you can use this on the face, too, which is how I used it. It’s non-sticky, absorbs quickly, light yet nourishing and deeply hydrating. Superior value for money and one of the best moisturisers I have ever used in my entire life. Review: Illiyoon – Ceramide Ato Lotion & Concentrate Cream (Gift Set) | Korean Skincare Products that Work
  • klairs Soft Airy UV Essence: This is a chemical sunscreen, which my skin seems to tolerate a lot better than physical ones. It feels like a light lotiony moisturiser going on, cooling – great in summer especially, ZERO white cast, hydrating, soothing, and appears to smooth out skin texture. An absolute superstar of a sunscreen. I strayed a couple of times this year and always ended up coming back to this one.
  • Trilogy Rosehip Oil: This is how I imagine a good retinol is supposed to work (I have yet to find a good drugstore retinol, by the way): It smooths out fine lines and acne scars, leaving you with glowy, youthful, healed up skin that looks rested and baby bottom plump. Other brands or variations won’t do. It has to be Trilogy’s 100 % rosehip oil or nothing. Review: Battle of the Rosehip Oils (Trilogy, Aromatica, Life-Flo)
  • Dr Jart+ Brightening Solution sheet mask: Sheet masks are like fast food to me. I crave them constantly, yet feel disappointed once I am done consuming/using them. The only one where I see real results in terms of brightening, soothing, redness reduction and healing is the Brightening Solution sheet mask offering, whose praises I previously sung over here: Honest Review: Dr.Jart+ Dermask Brightening Solution (sheet mask) – The Skin Saviour that I always Come Back To


  • Heroine Make – Long and Curl Mascara in black: This mascara stays on and on, never flakes or crumbles, for fluffy, natural looking lashes. A separate eye makeup remover is a must.
  • Heroine Make – Smooth Liquid Eyeliner in black: The eyeliner from the same brand is a winner, too. Super black pigment, great staying power, razor sharp brush nib that makes getting your eyeliner flicks right nice and easy. I have used liquid eyeliners daily since I was 15, so believe me when I say that I do not recommend liquid eyeliners easily, and yet I love this one.
  • Dr Jart+ BB cream in 001: I keep trying other foundations and BB creams and always come back to this one. Great colour match, full coverage yet looks natural, hides imperfections, adds a youthful lit-from-within-glow, blurs fine lines and small scars like no other. Have to stop raving now. (Reviewed in full here Review: Dr Jart+ Dermakeup Rejuvenating Beauty Balm in 001 Light (Silver Label))
  • Eyecrown Aurora Fixer: This is a clear eye brow gel. The hold of this one is pretty strong but not crunchy. This didn’t irritate my facial skin as many eye brow products tend to do. I also love the very subtle holographic flecks of shimmer dispersed in this gel that are not visible, yet manage to lend your brows some depth and definition. You can use this on naked as well as pencilled in brows.

Hair & Body

  • Yves Rocher hair vinegars (various scents): These hair vinegars remove product buildup, soften hair (even more so when used after a conditioner) and make it smell incredible. This is a product you didn’t know you needed until you try it. (Briefly reviewed here: Haircare Empties feat Biosilk, Life 40, Yves Rocher, Tsubaki, Colab)
  • Colab Dry Shampoo (various scents): These dry shampoos make my hair look and feel fresh all year round, be it during those hot, sweaty, humid summers we get here in Korea or during hat/beanie season in winter. (Quick review in the same post: Haircare Empties feat Biosilk, Life 40, Yves Rocher, Tsubaki, Colab)
  • Aveeno Daily Moisturising Lotion: Like so many, I hate moisturising below my neck, and yet it sometimes becomes necessary during winter once those shins start looking a tad flaky. This is the only body lotion I can tolerate on myself. Fragrance free, non-greasy and sinks into skin immediately, this is an absolute delight.
  • Nuxe Reve de Miel hand and nail cream: This is a light yet nourishing hand cream with the most beautiful scent, it’s almost like perfume.
  • Nivea creme: My husband is a craft beer brewer with notoriously dry, chapped hands due to having to touch water and sanitisers, and this is the only cream he’ll use – the original in the blue round tin. He goes through those bad boys like water, too.
  • Nuxe Reve de Miel potted lip balm: I purchased this years ago (at least 2 years?) and still have half a pot to go so technically, it is not a product I kept repurchasing throughout 2020, but had I emptied it, I would have. Unbelievable value for money. I use it every night before I go to sleep and wake up with soft, plump lips. I am still pining for Nivea’s potted lip balms that they had maybe some 6 years ago now, they were lush! Nuxe Reve de Miel allows me to forget Nivea’s offering.
  • Burt’s Bees stick lip balms (various flavours): When it comes to stick lip balms, Burt’s Bees – not Nivea, not Chapstick – reigns supreme, in my opinion. Grapefruit and Honey are the MVPs in their line up.

© 2020 The Empties Diaries All Rights Reserved

17 thoughts on “Best of 2020

  1. I also love Burt’s Bees stick lip balms! I never tried Dr. Jart BB cream, I wear BB cream daily so I am extremely curious to give it a try now. Thank you for sharing this!


    1. Dr Jart has 2 types here in Korea. One is called Rejuvenating BB cream, which is more geared towards drier skin that needs a glow/blurring fine lines / anti ageing, whereas their other type is called Dis-a-Pore, which is a bit more matte and blurs pores while also covering zits.

      I have used both in the past and loved Disapore in my twenties, but now that I am in my thirties, I prefer Rejuvenating.

      I think they also have a medium shade in these now. As far as I can tell, they’re both neutral toned so should work on a range of European skin tones but of course I don’t know your shade / foundation preferences.

      I keep straying but I keep coming back to Dr Jart. If you do decide to get one let me know how you fare! I’ve also heard good things about Missha’s Cho Bo Yang BB however I haven’t personally tried that one.

      What bb do you wear daily?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you so much for your feedback! I will definitely go for Dr Jart Rejuvenating BB cream, I’m in my 40’s and my skin is dry so it will be more appropriate for my skin needs. I am currently using Inika BB cream, but I also used for years Chanel CC cream and Erborian BB cream. I’m about to finish Inika’s BB cream and I’d love to replace it for Dr Jart one. See if I can get it in Spain. Thank you again for your very helpful answer!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I hope to try some of your recommendations soon … I have a long list starting with the trilogy rosehip seed oil you recommended a long time ago. I opted for the ordinary’s rosehip seed oil and retinols this year purely because of the price but I’m still very much curious about trilogy since your review 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know I’m a bit of a broken record but Trilogy’s oil is just so good, even the husband uses it daily as he has seen dramatic results – and he looks amazing. He’s in his early 40s yet could still pass for someone in his late 20s, at least in the West.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Laura, have you read the recent controversy about the dear, Klairs SPF? Seems like their SPFs are being questioned as they’re produced from the same lab or factory as the Purito sunscreen. Sales of those products are currently suspended, I just saw it on Wishtrend and reddit a few moments ago.


  4. I named the Klairs Soft Airy UV Essence as one of my favorites of 2020 as well! Along with the Keep Cool Sunscreen…I was really impressed by the easy application and lovely feel. But, it seems as those two products were a bit misleading in their SPF protection claims. Do you have any K-Beauty sunscreens that are similar in feel but live up to their claims? I have been struggling to find anything that hasn’t been wrapped up in the “drama” (including the Krave Beauty Beet Shield as of today sadly). Any recommendations would be awesome since I have been hesitant to purchase/test any new K-Beauty sunscreens until this all gets sorted. For now, I still think Korea has a ton to offer in terms of amazing SPF…but the US has been late to hear about any changes to the testing that Korea has put in place of the backlash. Right now I am using the Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen…it’s a decent product but doesn’t offer that gorgeous application and creamy/gel application.


    1. CNP has fantastic ones. The brand overall speaking can do no wrong – their stuff works, but they’re a bit more premium priced, prices are similar to Dr Jart.

      I like their tinted (Tinted Moisturising Sun) one as well as one that comes in a blue bottle (Outdoor Fluid Sun) which are both very good, cosmetically elegant formulas that I think are both chemical sunscreens.


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