Best of Beauty 2021

This year, I barely wore any makeup save for some eye makeup every now and then, though I really miss wearing a full face. Alas, as long as the mask mandates stay in place, I do not see myself going back to my pre-pandemic pancake face, but if you’re interested in which BB cream I miss wearing the most, do check it out over here. From what I have gleaned, I might be in the minority though – a lot of you are telling me that you are still rocking full coverage foundations and lipsticks. Good for you!

This year was all about skincare for me; in particular, soothing angry skin irritated by mask-wearing, and haircare, hence why I will be skipping makeup entirely in this post as nothing of what I did use stood out to me in any way.

While there are lots of returning favourites – see last year’s favourites here – I really got into skincare actives this year, such as alpha arbutin, vitamin C, and a beginner retinol. Jumping in 🏊‍♀️

Hair and Body Products

  • Yves Rocher hair vinegar (raspberry scented): Just like last year, I could not be without these puppies post conditioner. Regular conditioners have the tendency to weigh my fine pixie cut down, but this softens hair and makes you smell like a gorgeous raspberry tart. Thanks for the recommendation Angela!
  • Colab Dry Shampoo Unicorn: A gourmand, sweet scent that is described as plummy and vanillary. I don’t get either of those notes but I love these during hat season, which for me is all year round – I love them all – baseball caps, floppy straw hats, beanies, berets – and thanks to dry shampoo, my hair can still look and smell ok.
  • Nuxe Reve de Miel hand and nail cream: People always ask me what fragrance I am wearing that day when I break out a tube. So good as a daytime use handcream!
  • Nuxe Reve de Miel potted lip balm: I finally finished my old pot, then spent weeks hunting down another pot as it was temporarily unavailable in Seoul. I almost thought it had been discontinued, but it seems as though this was more related to Rona supply issues. I cannot be without a pot of these, especially in the winter, when my lips chap, crack, and bleed unless I get my paws on this.
  • Burt’s Bees stick lip balms (especially Honey, Grapefruit, and their tinted versions Zinnia, Pink Blossom): I cannot be without balm and am very picky. Burts Bees are my only choice for daytime balms.
  • L’Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream: This for me is an overnight rather than a daytime cream, as I find it far too heavy during the day. For nighttime use however this is incredible and a cult product for a reason. So nourishing and rich. Gorgeous.
  • Tsubaki Damage Hair Care Water: Sometimes, I need a leave in product for when my fine hair stands on end in the morning. This is a very lightly softening product which feels like water – like nothing on the hair – if you find yourself having a bad hair day, you run your hands moistened with some of that through your hair, pop on a dad hat, wait – and voila! You look socially acceptable once again.
  • Lush – Sikkim Girls: This perfume is pure sex. If you want the object of your desire to jump you and ravish you, this one is for you. My husband describes it as an incense-y type of scent, though I like to think of it as a spicy, oriental musk. Unisex, as far as I can tell. The company describes this as follows: ‘Sikkim Girls features sultry floral notes of frangipani, jasmine and tuberose on a sweet base of vanilla.’
  • Clean Classic – Simply Clean: The company describes this as a unisex fragrance as well, though I wholeheartedly disagree. This to me is an ultrafeminine scent for when I feel super girly, which is more often than you’d think. I know I look like a dude but my brain is surprisingly feminine. I feel… not sure how to describe it… expensive, wearing it. It is so cute yet clean and elegant and sophisticated! Here’s what the company says: ‘Inspired by crisp morning air, combined with the nostalgic coziness of cotton sheets drying in the sun gives you Simply Clean. Bergamot and Lavender create a breezy freshness, wrapped in a soft, comforting white musk. A pure and simple essence you’ll want to reach for every day.’


  • Uriage Xemose Syndet cleanser: Bloody hell, why do I love this soothing, milky gel cleanser so much?! A teeny-tiny bit goes a long way. Skin is soft and thoroughly cleansed. Perfect for all skin types, from oily to dry, but particularly great for sensitive, angry skin. Full review here.
  • Some by Mi 30 Day Miracle Toner: As mentioned in my full review, this to me is indeed a miracle toner. If you are looking to brighten skin and prevent acne breakouts at the same time, look no further than this toner. I have been using this since 2019, however am unsure as to whether I will be able to feature it in 2022 as well as the chain that carries it has closed its outlets in my area and I hate online shopping for cosmetics. I currently have another acid toner in my stash that I have high hopes for but I am doubtful as to whether it can knock off Some by Mi off its throne.
  • Hada Labo Gokujyun Premium lotion: On days when my skin is reactive and just full of anger, this is a soothing anti-aging treat chock-full of hyaluronic acid. An active without the irritation. So, so good. Skin is plump and looks as smooth as a cherub’s arse. Reviewed here.
  • Illiyoon Ato lotion: While this is being marketed as a body lotion, or as a lotion to be used on tiny little babies, I find this to be a soothing, cost-effective facial moisturiser that is light enough for summer and rich enough for winter. Magic! See my combo review of the classic ato lotion, alongside the Illiyoon concentrate, over here.
  • Uriage Xemose Lipid Replenishing Anti Irritation Cream: On days when I have massive acne flare-ups and am reluctant to put anything on my skin, this will do nicely. Skin is soothed and redness diminished. Very brief review here.
  • Banila Co Clean it Zero Cleansing Balm – Pore Clarifying: I’d been using cleansing lotions since 2020 on doctor’s advice and this was my first foray back into traditional first step cleansers. I was worried but I should not have been. Since starting to use this cleansing balm, my skin feels more refined and I imagine my pores to appear smaller – it could all be in my imagination though?! I have never used the original version so cannot tell you how differently this fares versus the original cleansing balm, but I can totally see how this little tin achieved cult status all over. Skin is gently yet thoroughly cleansed and feels fresh and soft to the touch.
  • The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA: This is great for skin brightening and reducing hyperinflammatory pigmentation post breakout. I use this all over my face and am in love with the ghostly whiteness that seems to radiate from within, though you could opt for using this as a spot treatment, like Saima does.
  • The Ordinary Retinol 0.2% in Squalane: I had a terrible experience with a retinol earlier this year, but decided to give retinols another chance in this super low concentration. I use it every other night in my nighttime routine only, as a last step, with lots of hydrating layers and sheet masking beforehand, to buffer the effects of the retinol, and have seen FANTASTIC results in the appearance of fine lines and taut looking skin over only a short time frame. Very impressed.
  • The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rosehip Oil: I’d been looking for a cheaper substitute to my beloved but pricey Trilogy Rosehip Oil and I finally found it in this beauty. I was beyond thrilled to discover this gem, as it works the same as the Trilogy oil but at a fraction of the price!
  • Missha Vita C Spot Correcting and Firming Ampoule: Once I heard Angela rave about this bad boy, I knew I had to try this vitamin C product. It is very firming and seems to help with preventing breakouts, as well as fade hyperpigmentation around my eye area, and seems to help with fading post inflammatory pigmentation and acne scarring, too. A winner on all fronts.
  • Hyggee Real Sun Cream [Perfection]: When my favourite Klairs sunscreen was demolished during Sunscreengate, I went on a hunt for my next favourite sunscreen. I searched high and low, tried cult brands like CNP and Anessa, but did not get anything whatsoever out of those… until the boss of my favourite Olive Young in Wirye recommended this (sadly, very far from my house, but this one is special) and gave me a tube as a gift with purchase. How much do I love thee…? Let me count the ways. Zero white cast, lit from within angelic satiny glow without being too glowy, soothing, helps heal breakouts, moisturising, no fragrance. Absolutely unreal. I got 2 backups after barely making a dent in my first tube. Like the product name says, this sunscreen is perfection and the formulator deserves a special prize of some sort for this beauty.
  • Rovectin Skin Essentials Activating Treatment Lotion: I got this upon reading Anthony’s review and was absolutely wowed by it. This is a hydrating bomb of goodness and while I did try going off it at some point, thinking that I already had enough brightening and hydrating products, I caved and repurchased two weeks after finishing my first. I have been repurchasing ever since as this is beautifully formulated in my opinion (some might disagree) and gives my skin such a lit from within glow look that goes away when I do not use this.
  • I’m from Mugwort mask: Just for a bit of fun – this is very cooling and soothing as a wash-off mask. It is expensive, and I love it for its fun texture and medicinal smell. This is not an absolute must if you don’t want to splash out but I loved using it this year to cool down, soothe and soften skin in a treatment step.
  • Laneige Cica Sleeping Mask: With all those skin treatments I use, you’d think my skin was perfect – but of course it is not. Cosmetics are only skin deep, and even though I try to schedule and plan ahead, try to anticipate, try to do better in life: Hormones still happen, the mask mandate is still a thing, sad things still happen, people let you down, and that’s how my cold sores and herpes returned which I thought gone for good, that’s when I get breakouts, that’s when I pick compulsively. On those nights, the Laneige sleeping mask makes an appearance. Over night, acne scars and redness are reduced, and I look at least presentable the day after, as opposed to a Freddy Krueger/Edward Scissorhands lookalike. Ugh. Why am I like this.

Final Thoughts

I had lots of fun in 2021 when it came to these lovelies. Looking forward to reading lots of blogs and discovering new products based off of other bloggers’ recommendations. Thanks for reading, wishing you a great year ahead. ❤

© 2022 The Empties Diaries All Rights Reserved

7 thoughts on “Best of Beauty 2021

  1. This was so much fun to read and thanks for mention x3 🤣 I’m glad you’re loving the Vitamin C and still enjoying the vinegar rinse! I was a bit surprised when I read Wirye because that’s very close to where I live but I’m moving soon to Gangneung. It’s my first time venturing outside of Gyeonggi since 2008. TMI 😂😂 anywho, great write up and thanks for sharing!


    1. Oh wow Gangneung! Proper countryside. Was the move corona related? I hear a lot of people moving to the country for precisely that reason though I don’t know anyone personally just yet.

      I don’t know what it is about that Olive Young in Wirye but it’s just so good! They always have amazing discounts on which I don’t see in other places, and feature lots of obscure / smaller brands. Plus, the 사장님 is so lovely and knowledgeable! I went back just to tell her how much I loved her recommendation (Hyggee sunscreen), that’s how good it was.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No, definitely not for that reason although I’m happy to be moving away from this area as it’s the most heavily hit area. I’ll have the beach in walking distance from my residence so I’m excited about that!

        I didn’t used to but I love discovering new brands these days! Glad you’re enjoying the Hyggee sunscreen! I remember telling you to get that too 😂 I tried their Vegan for the first time two days ago and the smell of alcohol nearly knocked me over. For the time being I think the Roundlab SPF is better but I’ll have to use both a little longer.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m loving your round up of skincare favs, and thank you for the shout out 😀
    I see we have 2 of the same favs: alpha-arbutin and mugwort mask, but I do also like the Laneige cica sleeping mask, banila co clean it zero balm, and rosehip seed oil. I’ve got to try some of these others you’ve mentioned too. I actually got my sister to purchase the Missha vitamin c because of Angela’s review, so good to know you like it too 😀


      1. I just can’t with the ordinary sometimes XD At the moment I’m using the Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin Drop, which feels nice and gentle but I’ll defo hop on the Missha train next.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. What an amazing selection of skincare favorites, thank you so much for sharing! I haven’t tried most of them but we share a few favorites: L’ Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream, Burt’s Bees stick lip balm and The Ordinary Retinol. These days I’m using The Inkey List Retinol because I prefer the texture and the retinol concentrationn is higher (my skin tolerantes The Inkey List Retinol serum really well) but I definitely loved using the one from The Ordinary as my first retinol.

    Of course, I’m really intrigued now to try the Missha Vita C Spot Correcting and Firming Ampoule and the Hada Labo Gokujyun Premium lotion. They sound like great products for my skin needs.

    I still haven’t had the chance to sample the Lush fragrances, with the pandemic still here it’s hard to visit any shops, but it’s one of the things I want to do once we get back to normal, hopefully soon.

    Liked by 1 person

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