Showing posts with label skincare. Show all posts
Showing posts with label skincare. Show all posts

June 8, 2014

Tiniest Skincare Product, Ever!

Today I share with you a groundbreaking discovery (thanks to my friend Tracy!).

I've really never seen anything like it. Suisai, the drugstore skincare line of Japanese beauty giant Kanebo, has these tiny face wash capsules called Suisai Beauty Clear Powder. And yes, photographed is the full size, not a sample! They come in a packs of 15 or 32 tiny capsules, each filled with white powder which turns into a foamy, milky face wash when mixed with water. One capsule goes a long way - I'd say about 2-4 washes.

 I was skeptical at first. A powder as a face wash... could it be just a gimmick? But this definitely proved to be worth the craze (I had no idea these were so popular in Asia until I did some research!). For starters, the powder foams up really, really well, turning into this foamy, almost marshmallow-like milky face wash that removes excess sebum/oil but still leaves skin feeling moisturized. Also, the foamy texture lightly exfoliates skin without the traditional harsh gritty particles. The product contains soy-based enzymes to remove dead skin cells, cleans out clogged pores and reduces the appearance of whiteheads and blackheads. I like that the scent is clean and classic - like an old school soap bar type of smell. Overall it's like the classic, soapy foamy cleanse, version 2.0.

And what's the point of tiny packaging? Smaller, individually sized packaging keeps the product fresh; a concept that has become popular among Japanese brands like Fancl. Due to its exfoliating properties, I prefer to use this 2-3 times a week rather than daily - so that means a fresh new capsule every week. The tiny and powder form packaging also makes these perfect for traveling. And let's face it, tiny products are the cutest!

After Tracy's capsule I knew I had to get more of these. Thanks to Google I've found that they're available at Sasa.

Would you give these teeny tinies a try?

January 23, 2014

Roundup | Facial Oils

If a few years ago someone told me I'd be slathering oil onto my sensitive, blemish-prone skin, I'd tell him to bug off. But whatever the blogosphere recommends, I always get sucked in. I love the idea of face oils as a relatively natural skincare option that's packed full of vitamins and good stuff - sort of like a daily health supplement for your skin. But although I've found some amazing face oils, I still approach them with caution - I've learned that there's a very fine line between a perfect face oil and a pore-clogging nightmare.

Melvita Argan Oil was my first ever face oil (my full review). Being a face oil newbie, I was cautious with this one - using just a drop or two mixed with my night time moisturizer. Doing so added just the right amount of extra nourishment that I needed during the winter time. As I've become more comfortable with the idea of using a facial oil lately, I tried applying this oil straight up alone onto my skin... bad idea. It broke me out. Too much to handle I guess. Goes to show that oils are tricky, tricky little things.

During a recent shopping trip, the Melvita sales associate recommended the Melvita Avocado Oil, a finer oil that works well for the eye area. Unfortunately I got tiny milia around our eyes after using this. To get a second opinion, I had my mother try this out as well (she has normal skin and can use almost anything without getting break outs), but she also ended up with little clogged pores around the eyes. I also don't really appreciate the smell... I know it's natural and all, but it smells somewhat stale to me. Not a fan of this one.

The Antipodes Divine Face Oil is the newest addition to my skincare routine. I've been applying about four drops straight onto my skin in place of my night time moisturizer. The consistency is "oily" enough that it leaves me feel pampered and nourished, but light enough to sink into skin without clogging my pores. I normally wake up to a slightly shiny face, but on nights I apply this oil, my skin the next morning is perfectly matte and well moisturized. Love!

The Liz Earle Superskin Concentrate (my full review) is a lovely blend of pure plant oils that delivers similar positive results as the Antipodes Divine Face Oil. An extra bonus with this one is that it has lavender and chamomile that gives the most relaxing scent for a good night's sleep. I also noticed that my skin looks slightly plumper the next day - could this be a good wrinkle-prevention product? *crosses fingers*

Last but not least, the Caudalie Divine Oil which I've been raving quite a bit about here on the blog and on Twitter lately! It's so moisturizing and sinks into skin quicker than any oil I've tried. I like that it's packed full of antioxidants, and therefore provides extra anti-aging benefits. And as it's appropriately named, this oil smells divine. It's a lovely scent derived from natural ingredients which I love, though may be a bit too strong for some.

My favorites among the bunch are the Antipodes Divine Face Oil and the Liz Earle Superskin Concentrate. Both are packed full of good ingredients that provide all-round nourishment to the skin. The Caudalie Divine Oil wins as my favorite body oil, but I can see it being amazing as a face oil for those with drier/mature skin. But then again, facial oils perform so differently on everyone - do your research, read some reviews, then test out a few to find your perfect one. 

What's your favorite facial oil?

January 22, 2014

Kate Somerville Detox Daily Cleanser

I redeemed the Kate Somerville Detox Daily Cleanser as part of Sephora's Beauty Insider 500-point perk late last year and finally started giving it a try lately. The cleanser aims at oily or acne-prone skin, and contains Phytic Acid to help fade acne scars and reduce inflammation. I had high hopes for it because so far everything I've tried from Kate Somerville has been nothing but amazing, but unfortunately this one did not work for me.

My first impression was how runny the face wash is - it's a bright yellow liquid that is hard to control when dispensing from Kate Somerville's well-known air tight packaging. I always end up squeezing out way too much, and as I twist the tube tight, more product gets oozed out and wasted.

The face wash has a refreshing citrusy scent that appeals to most, and the product lathers up well under water. What bugged me most was I felt some sort of residue was left on my skin even after a thorough rinse. Perhaps it was Kate Somerville's attempt to not strip skin dry, but it was done in a bad way. It felt more like there was a film of product left on my skin. And sure enough, after about 2-3 days of using this, my skin started breaking out... 3-4 little sore, red spots.

Whenever my skin breaks out after trying something new, I always find it hard to say for sure whether or not the product is the culprit. Afterall, it could very much be related to recent stress or bad eating... I like to give the product the benefit of the doubt. But it seemed quite obvious when I stopped using this face wash, and the breakout fiesta immediately stopped. Plus considering I did not really enjoy the experience of using the product, packaging and all, I feel alright parting with it.

Have you tried Kate Somerville's cleansers?

January 14, 2014

Caudalie Divine Oil (& Asia Flagship Store!)

My friends and I went for brunch at a newly opened and slightly out-of-the-way restaurant this past weekend. What I did not expect was that our little brunch excursion would lead me to stumble upon Caudalie's newly opened Asia flagship store here in Hong Kong. I had read about the opening previously, but had no idea how to actually get to the store, so coming across the store unexpectedly had me literally jumping up and down. Caudalie is one of my favorite skincare brands, and ever since moving back to Hong Kong I no longer had easy access to their products, so seeing my favorite Caudalie skincare all around me just made me so happy!

I passed on my usual favorites (the Beauty Elixir, S.O.S. Serum and S.O.S. Eye Cream to name a few) since I'm well stocked up in the facial skincare department for now, but instead decided to try out the Caudalie Divine Oil. I went with the smallest 15 mL bottle to test it out before committing to the bigger sizes. I'm impressed that even this tiny bottle comes with Caudalie's well-made spray nozzle.

Although almost every brand has come out with their own version of a body oil lately, I find that many are simply feel-good-but-does-nothing products. But the Divine Oil has proven to be truly worth the hype - this is good stuff! The product is a blend of grape, hibiscus, sesame and argan oil together with the Caudalie patented anti-oxidant Polyphenols. It is marketed as a good all-over oil for the body, face and hair. As I have blemish-prone skin, I only plan to use this on my hair and body. However my mom has been trying this on her face and happily reports back that her expression lines look less visible - props to Caudalie, as my mom is not easy to impress!

The first night I came home with this, the skin on my right leg was feeling irritated from the horrible winter dryness (is that TMI? Sounds a bit nasty I know). I sprayed 2 pumps of the Divine Oil just onto the dry patch and went to bed. Fast forward 12 hours till late morning the next day, I could still feel the significant difference in skin texture between my right leg (which I had applied the oil) and left. What impresses me is that it only felt greasy for a second before sinking in, yet the moisture and softness lasted so long. After just 2 days of applying the Divine Oil onto my dry skin, the previously itchy, red and patching skin was now soft, smooth and soothed. I also think that it's apppropriately named, because the Divine Oil smells truly divine - the scent reminds me of a luxe blend of garden flowers and sunny resort getaways.

Love love love the Divine Oil. It's the lightest yet most nourishing oil that I've ever tried. I'm definitely going back for the full size once my tiny bottle runs out.

Have you jumped on the face and body oil bandwagon?

Caudalie Asia flagship store address: 3 Gough Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong 

December 22, 2013

12 Days of Blogmas | Princess Body Care

I'm titling this "princess body care" because I've recently been hooked to 3 amazing, but I'll be honest, not quite necessary skincare products.

I discovered SpaRitual earlier this year. They are an organic body and nail care brand with an array of vegan nail polishes and high quality body products. I am in love with their hand stuff, specifically, the SpaRitual Handprint Hand Serum. I've never heard of a hand serum until now and really thought it'd be some sort of gimmick. But Handprint impressed me with how quickly the product sinks into my hands. It contains Swiss apple stem cells which slow down aging of the hands. A person's hands reflect their age the most, so good hand anti-aging is actually much needed, although I've never really put any much thought into it till now.

Also by SpaRitual, their Cuti-Cocktail Nail & Cuticle Oil. This stuff is the winter product for hands. No more dry crackly cuticles, no more scaly skin. It instantly perfects and softens cuticles. And although it's an oil, it sinks in so quickly and smells like candy - in a natural, vegan sort of way. I've been feeling all fancy every night applying the serum and cuticle oil. So, so fancy!

Last but not least, I am slightly obsessed with Benefit's Bathina, a body oil spray. Cute packaging aside, thumbs up to Benefit for coming up with a handy dandy spray bottle that makes moisturizing after a shower so quick and easy for us lazy girls. And the best part which really sold me is that it smells like Benefit's perfume Maybe Baby, which was actually my first ever perfume back as a teenager, and also my all time favorite scent. I was so sad when I found out Benefit had discontinued it a few years ago, but seems like Maybe Baby is back again, together with Bathina, the same scent in a body oil version. If you have not smelled the Maybe Baby scent, please do so next time you're pass by a Benefit counter, it was love at first sniff for me!

4 days till Christmas!

December 9, 2013

StriVectin-SD Eye Concentrate

The StriVectin Eye Concentrate has been on my wishlist for a while now, and recently discovering that it made Ruth from AModelRecommends' Top 10 sealed the deal for me. A powerful eye concentrate that claims to reduce lines, and most importantly, dark circles, this definitely has my name written all over it.

A big thank you to one of my besties Crystal (hello!) for passing hers onto me. She didn't find this moisturizing enough, and decided to let me have hers. Surprisingly this was quite perfectly moisturizing enough for me, and I really like how it quickly absorbs into the skin leaving a buttery soft finish. Only goes to show that everyone has really different and specific skincare preferences - try it before you form an opinion!

With that being said, I am sad that I did not see any improvements in my dark circles. I do not have fine lines (yet!) but I am hoping that it's at least serving as some sort of preventive treatment for me. But for now, to me it's just a great moisturizing eye cream for winter - and therefore doesn't really justify the hefty price tag (around USD$65). Disappointed that this didn't work it's magic on me!

Have you tried StriVectin?

December 6, 2013

Samples, Samples, Samples: First Impressions

I'm so bad with using up samples... they end up scattered in random makeup bags/cabinets, forgotten. So here's 5 that I deliberately took a snap of and made it a mission to use them up. Here's what I thought of them!

One 'N Only Argan Oil (for hair)
I would suggest using this as an overnight treatment, as it did leave my hair slightly greasy after application, but nourished and silky the next morning. P.S. I wish there was less coloring/fragrance in it though.
Would I purchase the full size? No

Clarins Double Serum
Moisturizing but lightweight, this reminds me a bit of the Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair, but less sticky. Obviously a small packet of this didn't yield much results, but the first impression seems promising.
Would I purchase the full size? Not anytime soon, but maybe a few years down the road.

Melvita Rose Extraordinary Water
The only one variation of my favorite Melvita Extraordinary Waters that I have yet to buy a full size of, this one proved to also be a winner. With rose water and hyaluronic acid, the Rose Extraordinary Water is both anti-aging and moisturizing. I will probably switch to the Rose after I use up my Narcissus Extraordinary Water, especially for the drier winter months.
Would I purchase the full size? Yes!

Melvita Naturalift Youthful Skin Cream
According to the Melvita website this is the "ONLY certified organic moisturiser to win an AWARD in the new Anti-Ageing Beauty Bible in the Anti-Ageing Miracle Cream category." I enjoyed the emulsion like consistency - really moisturizing but not greasy. I liked using it together with the Body Shop Facial Massager I mentioned in my last post.
Would I purchase the full size? I'm iffy about trying out new face creams, but definitely a good chance!

Amore Pacific Moisture Bound Rejuvenating Eye Treatment Gel
I loved the lightweight gel-cream consistency, great for those who cannot take overly heavy eye creams. However the big turnoff for me was how heavily scented it is. That tiny pea size amount I applied on my eyes smelled like a strong floral perfume.
Would I purchase the full size? Nooooo.

October 16, 2013

Cleansing Routine (feat. Clinique Take The Day Off)

The double cleanse is one of those things that had never previously crossed my mind, until the online beauty community taught me a thing or two about a good ol' second cleanse. Recently it's become a "how-did-I-go-about-without-it-my-whole-life-till-now?" type of ritual.

What got me started with double cleansing is the popular Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm. I finally caved and got sucked into one of the oh-so-hyped cleansing balms! I've been wanting to try one for a while now and finally settled on this one because 1. it's Caroline Hirons approved, 2. it's easily found in the US and Hong Kong, 3. it's reasonably priced, and 4. it's free of essential oils that many other cleansing balms have, which can cause some to break out (and I highly believe I'm one of those people).

I absolutely enjoy using this cleansing balm. It goes on buttery smooth and sort of doubles up as a face massage. I see my makeup melt off and am left with a clean canvas for my usual Neutrogena face wash that I used as my second cleanse (more on that below). The only thing I'd highlight is that unlike many reviews that say you need the tiniest amount each time, I have made a huge dent after only a little over a week of using this.

Fragrance free, essential oil free, it really is a no-fuss, good-for-all type of cleansing product. I definitely recommend it.

Neutrogena products hugely vary across countries, so I've been hesitant to mention Neutrogena products that I specifically buy here in Hong Kong. But for your reference, I've been using this Neutrogena Deep Clean Facial Cleanser for years now. It serves as my second cleanse following the Clinique Take The Day Off. Simple, does the job, smells like baby powder. A no-frills face wash for normal to oily skin.

October 7, 2013

New Melvita Purchases (+new packaging!)

I'm so happy that Melvita is readily available in Hong Kong - they need to start expanding in the US! I stopped by today after lunch to pick up some things I needed and check out all their new stuff. It's been an exciting year for Melvita as they celebrate their 30th anniversary, lots of new products and packaging!

My most exciting purchase was the Melvita Nectar de Roses BB cream SPF 15, part of their newest product line extension launched just last month. No chemical sunscreen, mineral based, oil control, and of course, organic... it ticks all my BB cream boxes. Can't wait to try this out!

After a few months of using solely the Orange Blossom version, I've finally repurchased the Narcissus Extraordinary Water (my original review here). Although I don't find that it brightens skin as it claims (but again, I don't think toners actually reap significant skincare benefits), I love that it's of a thinner, lighter consistency than the Orange Blossom Extraordinary Water, which is my all-time favorite toner. Definitely does the job of further cleansing the skin, refreshing, and preparing it for moisturizer. I like wiping this thinner Narcissus water across my skin using a cotton pad (as an extra cleanse) at night.

And of course, Melvita's Argan Oil - how I've missed you! While I was in LA I tried the Josie Maran version but it really did not compare. For some reason, although both claim to be 100% pure Argan Oil, the Josie Maran one broke me out. The Melvita one, on the other hand, absorbs quickly and doesn't clog my pores. It's also great for repairing skin damage - adding a drop or two of this with my night time moisturizer helps calm healing blemishes. My original review here.

Last but not least, a quick comparison of the new packaging. Gone are the bland light blue paper labels - the new liquid product bottles are thinner, taller, and has clear, water-proof labels. I definitely find the new packaging more aesthetically pleasing.

The Argan Oil packaging is pretty much the same except for a new pump. Hopefully this one gives better control than the old one!

I'm also very excited because I've gotten my mom into their products too now. She's going to try out their Avocado Oil which is geared for the eye area. We're anxious to see how well it works!

P.S. If you're in Hong Kong, Melvita stores are doing a rare discount deal for their 30th Anniversary. If you're Hong Kong ID card number has both "3" and "0" in it, you get 15% off. If you have 1 of the 2 digits, you get 10% off. Not sure when the deal ends but definitely a good chance to snag some Melvita goodies - normally even VIP members never get discounts!

October 3, 2013

Things I Love: September

September has been unusually exciting this year as I traveled back to Hong Kong. As much as I love LA, if I had to choose between the 2 I would call Hong Kong home. Home sweet home :) I also got to visit my boyfriend in Singapore, which was definitely the highlight of my month.

Beauty wise I've been enjoying 2 travel size perfumes that I brought with me. I finally got my hands on the Chloe Eau De Parfum and the Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue, 2 fragrances that have been on my wishlist since college. The Chloe one was part of a Chloe perfume rollerball trio I picked up during a Sephora sale (3 rollerballs for $25, score!), and averaging $8 for the rollerball sounded too perfect to pass up. I gave the other 2 stronger, more mature Chloe scents in the trio to my aunt. The Dolce & Gabbana scent was a Sephora Insider 100-point perk. Chloe Eau de Parfum is a sweet floral scent (great for date nights), and Light Blue is a light, fresh day time scent that reminds me of summer. I love them both equally and have been wearing them a lot this month.

I've been wanting to try La Roche-Posay skincare products for a long time now, but have always been confused by their non-descriptive product names. Their products such as Effaclar Duo and Effaclar K have been raved about a lot among the beauty community, yet I have never been able to figure out which product does what. After some research and the help of a sales associate at Mannings (a Hong Kong drugstore chain), I picked up Effaclar K Anti-Relapse - a serum that refines skin texture and prevents repeated clogging of pores. It contains Lipo Hydroxy Acid (LHA) that micro-exfoliates the skin, as well as Salicylic Acid and Retinol Linoleate to combat excess oiliness. My skin does seem "happier" since I've been applying this on my T-zone morning and night. Not much oil control, but less clogged pores as promised. It goes on light and smooth. I definitely recommend giving this a try if you have oily skin or pore-related struggles.

I've also been reaching for Bobbi Brown eyeshadows a lot this month. I received this tiny eyeshadow palette as part of some gift-with-purchase about a year ago, featuring 8 of their best selling permanent shades. My favorite this month has been Bobbi Brown's eyeshadow in "Hot Stone" (top row, 3rd shade from the left in the palette photographed above), a gorgeous grey-toned brown with plummy undertones. It's the perfect smokey contour shade for brown eyes.

My current bag obsession is the Ann Taylor Boutique Crossbody Bag. It's somewhat inspired by the Celine Trio in that it has stacked compartments - only 2 instead of 3 though. I love the pretty tassle zipper detail, the soft leather, and the fact that the crossbody strap can be detached to transform the bag into a clutch. I'm also so impressed that it holds a ton, like a LOT. I used it during my travels and it fit everything from my wallet to camera, lip products to sunglasses. I got it in the black (because I'm boring), but it also comes in a gorgeous forest green, blue, and bright red. The bag is selling out fast, with only the black and blue shades still available online.

Finally, on a more random note, I highly recommend you check out this video of a panda, especially if you are in need of a good laugh (or a boost of cuddliness). Music wise, I've been listening to this song by The 1975 on repeat. It's just perfect.

Hello October, I cannot be more happy that I'm back in Hong Kong enjoying the cooler weather, fall in full swing, and of course, the anticipation building up to Christmas. Who's counting down with me? :)

September 10, 2013

Dr Sebagh Deep Exfoliating Mask

Despite the popularity of chemical peels or exfoliants in recent years, I've been hesitant to try them. To me, this is serious stuff. These are chemicals/natural acids that are medically proven to renew skin - and the idea of having somewhat of an at-home chemical peel sounds a little bit intimidating to me. So when I was approached to try out the Dr Sebagh Deep Exfoliating Mask (link!), it was definitely a leap of faith.

Upon research, I learned that Dr Sebagh is a cosmetic surgeon to the stars, with a skincare line focusing on anti-aging and complexion enhancing. My first impression of his product was the no-frills, medical-feel packaging. Very La Roche Posay or Murad-like. I've been really enjoying these doctor/scientific based skincare products lately (case in point, this serum), so this one felt like it was already off to a good start.

The star ingredients in this mask is Lactic Acid (18% of it!), which dissolves dead skin cells and moisturizes the skin underneath; and Azelaic Acid, which repairs damaged or harmed skin cells, giving skin a youthful radiance. After a bad skin week, I finally decided to whip this out and see if it works the magic it claims. Because of its powerful ingredients, it is highly recommended that you do a patch test before slathering this all over your face. The box suggested a patch test behind the ear, but I simply dabbed a bit on my chin. So far so good, no bad reaction. I also immediately noticed the lovely peach/mango-like scent which reminds me of poolside cocktails.

Since I have slightly sensitive skin, I avoided my cheeks and only used this on my T-zone. Soon after applying the gel-like orange concoction, I felt a slight warmth and tingle, nothing too bad. I rinsed it off after the suggested minimum of 5 minutes, and surprisingly did not notice any of the redness that the box mentioned is a common reaction to the product. I didn't see much big difference immediately, but the next morning, my skin looked noticeably brighter than before (I actually felt like it even looked a teeny bit lighter too). The pores on my nose and chin also seemed slightly less visible. I felt like I had that clean glowy look you get after a relaxing spa day.

I'm very impressed that despite the strong ingredients in this, it did not strip my skin dry or overly irritate my face. I'm actually really surprised how well this worked on me - given the fact that my skin tends to over-react to almost anything out of the ordinary (chemical sunscreen, I'm looking at you)... But for those with really sensitive skin, Dr Sebagh also came out with a milder version of this - not as powerful, but rather a toned down version of the original.

This has become my once-a-week go-to for a nice deep clean. Being my first experience with chemical exfoliators, this one is a winner in my book. And so the obsession with chemical exfoliants begins...!

***This post contains products that were sent to me as PR samples***

August 31, 2013

Murad Rapid Age Spot and Pigment Lightening Serum

Although LA sunshine has been abundantly bright and cheery this summer, my skin has not been loving it as much as I have. I've mentioned before on my blog that my skin does not tan nicely (bronze goddess girls - lucky you). Instead I end up with sunburns on my shoulders, and brown spots on my cheeks. I'll admit that it's probably the typical Asian in me that really much prefers fairer skin on myself... I find that my skin tans a muddy, unappealing dull tone.

So for the past few months, I've been keeping an eye out for brightening/sun protection products. I also wanted something to get rid of the few little brown spots on my cheeks. A friend of mine who is an esthetician recommended I try the Murad Rapid Age Spot and Pigment Lightening Serum (link!). The hero ingredient in this is 2% Hydroquinone, a proven skin lightener. Serious stuff.

Murad suggests applying this as a face serum before your moisturizer, but I was a bit hesitant on applying a slightly stronger skin lightener all over. Instead I've been only applying this to my cheek bone area as a patch treatment. The first week I tried this, I felt a slightly warm sensation and noticed the applied area on my cheeks looked pinkish - like a blush application gone wrong. I've kind of expected my skin to react to it, since my skin reacts to everything, drama queen. It was nothing severe, and about a week later my skin adapted to it. No reaction since then.

With this product the results are pretty black and white - brown spots here or not? I've been using this for over a month now, and yes they are still here, but visibly lighter than before. Good enough for me, as long as I know they're fading away and no new spots start showing up.

If you're new to Murad like me, Murad's skincare ranges from aging to brightening to acne solutions. The ingredient Hydroquinone works on age spots, freckles, as well as acne scarring. So if you have pigmentation for any reason, this serum could be your lifesaver. Murad also has another serum version in their acne solution line that contains the same 2% Hydroquinone; so essentially the 2 serums are very similar, with slight tweaking of the ingredient mix to cater to different skin types (the acne version has willow bark and tea tree extract to soothe inflamed skin). For me, I prefer the brightening version as it contains ascorbic acid (a.k.a. Vitamin C), which is known to brighten and even out skin tone.


This serum retails for a whooping $60. For those who're interested, I found a coupon code online "60SAVE15" which worked for me on the Murad website - so I only paid $45 for this :) score.

Also, a little of this goes a long, long way. I've already been using this for over a month now, but it still looks like a full bottle (see first picture in this post). Even if you were to use this all over the face, I'm guessing this will probably last you 6 months, at least.

It's been a great first impression with Murad - I'm hoping to try their Essential-C Day Moisture Broad Spectrum SPF 30 PA+++ next - Vitamin C and Broad Spectrum SPF concoctions always suck me in!

August 8, 2013

The Miracle Water

Rumor has it that the prime time to start using the SK-II Facial Treatment Essense, a.k.a. "Miracle Water," is in our mid-twenties. It might totally just be a marketing thing, but since I just blew out my birthday candles back in June, I decided to whip out my deluxe sample size that my mother had passed on to me. I've kept it in my medicine cabinet and waited until my birthday to start trying this out!

The star ingredient here is Pitera - a Japanese scientist back in the 70s noticed that workers at a sake brewery had silky smooth, youthful hands. He discovered that pitera created as a byproduct of the yeast fermentation process was the miracle ingredient to beautiful, clear skin. Since then SK-II developed an entire skincare line with the miracle ingredient. This facial treatment essence, in particular, is the spotlight of the entire line, with over 90% of pitera.

This essence is supposed to be a do-it-all - it's supposed to improve your skin texture, addressing any issues you have. I've been using this essence as my night time serum for about 3 weeks now. I specifically used the larger pores on the side of my nose as a benchmark, and did notice that they do seem slightly less visible than before. But apart from that, I didn't see any significant change in my skin. 

I do not think I'll run out to purchase the full size product after this sample runs out - simply because of the hefty, hefty, ohhh-so-hefty price tag. However, this will always be the miracle water in my head. Many companies have tried to come out with a similar product, but to me this product is pretty unique and in a category of its own. I'll most probably start using it regularly after a couple years before I start seeing wrinkles (and when I have a bit more extra money to spend!). I see this essence as more of a preventative product rather than a corrective one.

Have you heard of the SK-II Facial Treatment Essence? What's your "miracle" skincare product?

July 15, 2013

Summer Skincare Favorites

If winter time is about beautiful bold makeup, dark sultry nails and alluring floral fragrances, then summer time is about kicking back with minimal makeup, lightweight fruity body mists, and good, good skin. I always tend to be less into makeup during the warmer months, and therefore naturally a lot more focused on of taking care of my skin. Good skin days mean minimal makeup days, and minimal makeup days mean natural, carefree summer days!

I didn't realize till I was snapping these pictures that I had pulled out products from specifically 2 brands - good job Neutrogena and Caudalie!

I popped into Sephora a few weeks back to replenish my favorite Caudalie S.O.S. Thirst Quenching Serum, and saw the Vinosource hydration value set that they were featuring with the serum. Along with the full size serum, the set includes a full size Caudalie Grape Water mist and a travel size Vinosource Moisturizing Sorbet for free. They say nothing comes free... well they were wrong this time.

The Caudalie Grape Water is Caudalie's version of the over-hyped Evian facial spray. It's 100% enriched grape water that refreshes, soothes and hydrates the skin. I was a bit confused as to why Caudalie would come out with another face mist when they're already doing so well with the Beauty Elixir, but upon trying it I could feel the difference. The Beauty Elixir is a lot more herbally scented, and is a more sophisticated skincare product overall. It's described as a part-toner, part-serum product that includes essential oils and active plant ingredients. In comparison, the Grape Water is much more of a quick fix, pick-me-up type of product. Something I'd chuck into my beach bag or purse on a hot sunny day out. It has barely any scent, and is more of an immediate refresher rather than a complex skincare product. 

Another stark difference is that the Grape Water can is aluminum, compared to the fancier glass bottle of the Beauty Elixir. The spray nozzle is also less fine, creating stronger, bigger water particles, so I would not recommend using the grape water as a setting spray or anything makeup-related. All in all, the Grape Water mist is not a must have, but it has definitely been a much welcomed treat for my skin this summer. Plus it was free right? How doesn't like a freebie? :)

I recently finished up my Melvita Fresh Eye-Contour Gel (which I ended up buying after trying out the sample). It was a refreshing light eye gel, but did not do much beyond that. Then while I was at the Caudalie shelf at Sephora, the "Caudalie S.O.S. Morning Eye Rescue" caught my eye. Despite its name, it is advised to be used both day and night. Although I don't see much improvement in my dark circles as it claims, I like how it's a cream but in a most lightweight possible form, making it perfectly hydrating and light for the eye area. It works great beneath my undereye concealer, which is an advantage over the Melvita eye gel. I notice that my undereye concealer has been holding up better throughout the day with less creasing too. I'm tempted to try more products from the Vinosource line - I love the idea of a hydrating line that is still lightweight and water-based!

Neutrogena is my favorite when it comes to body suncare. Their Ultra Sheer Body Mist Sunblock is the easiest way to apply highly protective SPF to the body during summer time. It's not overly greasy, easy to blend in, and has a bearable sunscreen scent (which I secretly kind of like. It reminds me of the beach!). Plus SPF 100 is pretty awesome, you really can't go wrong with this one.

I am also a long time fan of Neutrogena's sheet masks. Although these are only available in Asia, fear not! If you cannot get an Asia-based friend/family to get you some of these like I did, I've found them readily available on eBay for very reasonable prices (and maybe I'll do a giveaway of these next time I'm back in Hong Kong? *wink*). My favorite for the summer time is the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Sheet Masks - they're drenched in a cool, gel-like serum that feels both refreshing and highly hydrating. The sheets are made of stretchy cotton that fits any face shape and don't slide down your face like some sheet masks do. These are great for after a hot day out to calm the skin and deeply moisturize. I treat these like rare, hot commodity here in the US, and therefore have been using them very sparingly. But every time I do, I am left with soft supple skin that appears to be less greasy the next day. 

It's also a bonus that it smells amazing. A light floral scent that isn't overpowering and definitely helps put you into a relaxed mood before bedtime.

What are your favorite skincare products for the summer?

May 30, 2013

Summer Blush: Josie Maran Coconut Watercolor Cheek Gelee

 I've always wanted to try Josie Maran's products - natural, organic and skincare-focused, it seems to tick all the boxes for me. Since I've been running low on my Melvita Argan Oil, I decided I'd try out Josie Maran's version to compare (more to come about that in a later post!). But while I was at the Josie Maran display at Sephora, something even more appealing caught my eye...

Josie Maran's brand new line of Coconut Watercolor Cheek Gelees are gel-consistency cheek stains that contain coconut water and organic argan oil. Combining the sheer natural texture of a cream blush with the lasting power of a stain, these blushes claim to stay on for 14 hours, and hydrate while staying on. I'm all for cosmetics that do good for your skin, so like a moth to a flame I started swatching every shade onto my cheeks like a crazy lady.

I originally thought I'd go for one of the warmer hot pink shades such as Pink Paradise (which is sold out on the Sephora website, proving it to be very popular), but turns out Poppy Paradise (a bright orange-toned pink) turned out to be the brightest shade on my cheeks, which is what I was looking for. I definitely recommend swatching these in a store if you can, because the shades looks vastly different on my skin than in the pots.

Poppy Paradise adds a natural flush to my cheeks that I can barely call a blush - it's more of simply adding a bit of color to my cheeks. I love how it's so so natural that it really looks like a natural glow instead of a deliberate layer of powdered blush. But for those who like a brighter cheek, these are definitely buildable to create a more prominent color on the cheeks too. For some reason I keep picturing myself casually slabbing this onto my cheeks by the poolside at a resort, nude face, giant shades on, sipping a Pina Colada. It's so sheer I can probably get away with applying it without a mirror too actually!

These gelees have a consistency that remind me of the Body Shop lip balms (I think they're called Born Lippies these days) that I used to love as a high schooler. They are very smooth and glide onto cheeks like a dream. And yes, they did stay on for the good majority of the day for me, even on the hottest summer days here in LA. I'm impressed!

I'm pretty sure this is going to be my favorite blush of the summer. What's yours?

April 16, 2013

Review: Liz Earle Superskin Concentrate

I've been doing some double-oil action at night these days.

In between my Melvita Orange Blossom Extraordinary Water and Argan Oil (which I mix in with my daily moisturizer), I've been adding in an extra step - the Liz Earle Superskin Concentrate, which is essentially more oil. Do I neeeed 2 oil products on my face? It's debatable. But in my opinion this concentrate adds the extra ingredients and nutrition that I felt like my skincare routine was missing before, and I've become absolutely hooked.

While I was in London last month, I visited the Liz Earle counter for the very first time. The sales associate walked me through their entire skincare routine product by product, which was helpful but also made it so difficult for me to choose what to buy... everything seemed so wonderful and perfect! I finally decided to pick up their starter kit (small sizes of their range) and this Superskin Concentrate. I have yet to try to kit (it's still sitting in my medicine cabinet.. lazy lazy), but  I couldn't wait to break open the Superskin Concentrate, because you know.. you can say no to something with the word "superskin" in it?

This concentrate is made of 100% pure plant oils - argan, roship, neroli, lavender and chamomile essential oils create a smooth oil that smells as good as it feels on. It claims to soften and balance skin, and I definitely think it does work its magic for me. I wake up the next morning with calmer, even skin that no longer appears shiny or greasy. But what I love most about this is the lovely calming scent of natural lavender and chamomile. It's like aroma therapy that is perfect as a bedtime time, so by now my mind somehow recognizes it as a cue for bedtime every night.

Because this product is all natural, I think it would work with any skin type. In the past most serums I've tried either are too heavy for my skin, or do nothing at all. Instead this concentrate has no harsh chemicals or ingredients that will aggravate skin - just pure, natural oils. I love simple, no-frill skincare products like this :)

This concentrate comes in various bottle sizes. I bought the mini travel-size roll-on to try it out, but seriously think I'll have to pick up the full size after I run out.

With so much hype over Liz Earle's Cleanse & Polish, I think this concentrate has been kind of overlooked. I'm excited to try the other products in the starter kit... hopefully they'll blow me away like this one!

Side note... what happened in Boston today is beyond my understanding. In the recent years it seems like man-made tragedies like this have been happening more and more frequently... my thoughts and prayers are with those who were injured or lost their loved ones.

April 11, 2013

The Toner Twins

While I was at the Melvita store stocking up on my favorite Orange Blossom Extraordinary Water (my full review here) before moving to LA last month, the Melvita sales associate introduced me to my fave's twin sister - the Melvita Narcissus Extraordinary Water.

Melvita's line of extraordinary waters each fulfill different skincare needs - the Orange Blossom one moisturizes, and the Narcissus one brightens (the third is the Rose one, which rejuvenates). So unlike the Orange Blossom water, which is a gel-water hybrid, the Narcissus water is thinner and much more similar in consistency to other toners in the market. The sales girl suggested I use the lighter Narcissus water in the morning as a refreshing wake-me-up, and the Orange Blossom water in the evening as a more nourishing treat.

To me, toner is a feel-good step that pampers my skin and helps whatever serum or moisturizer that follows to work its magic better. So although I don't notice my skin significantly brighter since using the Narcissus water, I definitely enjoy the refreshing boost it gives me skin. Unlike the Orange Blossom water, which is viscous enough for me to directly pat on with my hands, the Narcissus water is watery and applies better with a cotton pad. The thinner consistency helps it sink in quicker, so my skin isn't slippery for long and I can quickly apply my serum, moisturizer and sunscreen (which is crucial for mornings when I'm in a rush!). Like the Orange Blossom water, the Narcissus water leaves my skin feeling soft and plump.  And as an extra bonus, it leaves a faint floral fragrance that gradually fades away, which I love.

I like to apply my Caudalie S.O.S. Hydrating Serum (my review here) after the Narcissus water, and I think the 2 work together perfectly in the morning, leaving my skin happy (if skin can have emotion) and makeup-ready.

P.S. Like the purple flowery background? It's my new bedding that I picked up from Target. I feel cheery and summery waking up to it every morning :)

April 8, 2013

Review: Kora Organics Tinted Day Cream

I've mentioned a good couple times on this blog (like here and here) how I have a phobia of wearing foundation - the idea of covering my face with product worries me (thick liquid makeup + sensitive skin = suffocating, clogged pores, yikes). So I'm always on the hunt for the perfect face product that stays within my comfort-zone - healthy, breathable, and as natural as possible. Most recently I had raved about the Laura Mercier Mineral Powder which has become my go-to face product for days I want to look like I am wearing face makeup. It gives a beautiful natural-looking medium coverage that leaves me looking presentable enough for any date night or important meeting I might have. For casual off-duty days however, the LM powder is still a bit too much coverage for me. I read and researched for months trying to find the perfect BB cream/tinted moisturizer-esque product that is natural enough for me to willingly slather onto my face on a regular basis. Enter the Kora Organics Tinted Day Cream.

This Tinted Cream is different from anything I've tried - it comes in only 1 shade, and it's a significantly darker than average shade. The product comes off as a chocolate milk kind of color, and definitely threw me off initially. (Miranda Kerr, you don't look thiissss tan on camera!)

Turns out the product is sheer enough to be blended out into a natural, lighter shade. I think the idea behind this is by making it darker, girls can sheer it out as needed, but ones with darker skin tones can enjoy the product as well without looking ghastly white. After watching Miranda Kerr's demonstration on how to apply this, I replicated her technique by lightly patting out the product around my face with my finger tips. I was pleasantly surprised with the lightweight, healthy finish it left me with. My skin didn't look darker, instead the undertone looked a bit warmer, if that makes sense. The product evens out my skin tone just a tad bit, conceals overall redness, leaving any blemishes still peeking through. I apply concealer afterwards wherever needed.

Some users have reviewed this product as being too dark, which I can definitely understand why. Due to its darker hue it's hard to build this up if you're naturally pale (like me), because you'll easily end up looking like you've applied foundation of the wrong shade. Kora's suggestion is for those with very pale skin to mix this with regular moisturizer to sheer it out. I did not have to do this though - lightly patting out a pea sized amount of product worked out well for me. So in a nutshell, this product is not for those who are looking for coverage by any means; think of it as a moisturizer packed with good ingredients, that provides just a slight bit of tint to even out your bare skin.

If you're one who does not like wearing foundation regularly, I would recommend looking into this product. It's a nice alternative to wearing nothing at all since it does add a nice even glow to your skin, while at the same time delivering moisturizing properties of a usual face cream (and did I mention this has SPF? Perfect!). When it comes to all-over face products, I feel much better going for organic/natural options like this one. Also I love how it says "happiness" at the back too. How endearing :)

This tinted cream, along with all other Kora Organic products, are available on their official website. Unfortunately for those outside of Australia, their website is the only source I know that sells their products. Shipping is hefty so perhaps grab a friend or two to split the cost.
(and their stuff is pricey, so I'm definitely using this sparingly!)

Side note: Thank you for all the sweet comments on my last post about feeling homesick. I'm feeling much better today after a Skype session with family last night (they passed around an iPhone at lunch, how cute!), and an uplifting Pandora song list this morning. I'm thinking of writing a post on some small things that helped me get over my homesickness, let me know if you'd be interested in reading it :)

March 1, 2013

Inflight Skincare

Hello from the plane! When you see this, I'll be en route to London to visit my brother. Air travel (especially long haul flights with hours to kill) is probably the best time to pamper your skin, and is also when your skin needs it the most. Here's what I am taking with me on the plane - it's a simple and relaxing skin pampering routine.

1. Cleanse: Bioderma Micelle Solution
A cleanser and makeup remover all in one, this is perfect for flights since you do not need to rinse this off. Simply soak a cotton pad with this, go all over your face, and your skin is clean and ready for moisturizer or serum. (Don't forget to transfer this into a smaller container for the flight!)

2. Refresh: Melvita Rose Floral Water
Double this up as both a toner and a refreshing spray. After Bioderma, spray this on as a toner. Also, spray some on every now on then throughout the flight for instant hydration. 
(I reviewed this product here)

3. Hydrate: Neutrogena Deep Hydrating Mask
Some girls may prefer a clear sleeping mask for planes, but I prefer sheet masks, because 1. you don't have to pack an extra travel-size container of product, and 2. you don't have to apply the mask on with fingers, which may not be completely clean when on the plane. A sheet mask is easy to apply, and can be thrown away right after use. When cabin lights are dimmed, no one will really notice! (except my boyfriend, who usually stares at me in amusement)
This Neutrogena mask is my all-time favorite - it instantly moisturizes and brightens. On very long flights I take two of these - one for before I doze off, and one for before we land. This makes a huge difference to how my skin looks when I get off the plane.

4. Lips: Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment
I never board a plane without lip balm... apply more often as usual to keep lips soft and moisturized. Again, I stay clear of any lip treatment I have to apply with my fingers, because planes can be dirty, which means your fingers are too.
(I reviewed this product here)

5. Moisturize: SK-II Facial Lift Emulsion
I love this milky and nourishing face emulsion to lock in the moisture of the Neutrogena mask. SK-II gives out very generous travel size samples like the bottle photographed, which are perfect for traveling. After the face mask, I apply this onto skin in circular motions, blending upwards.

6. Protect: SK-II Facial Treatment UV Protection
UV rays in the air are much stronger than on the ground, so don't skimp on your sunscreen. I raved about this one in my previous post - it can double up as a makeup base before landing too. The full size of this is travel friendly and can be taken on flights without transferring into a smaller container.

I love these "phone cord" hair ties to pull up my hair out of the way, these are designed to not leave any dents in your hair.

Stay tuned for more on the makeup I'm bringing with me on the plane :)


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