Friday, January 23, 2015

pH and your skin

Recently, I've been stalking the Asian Beauty Reddit, and it's such a great resource for Korean and Japanese cosmetics and Asian skincare in general! I was looking at reviews for my The Face Shop Rice Water Bright Cleansing Foam when I came across a discussion on the relationship between skin and cleanser pH levels.

Apparently, the pH of your skin is slightly acidic, around 4.5 to 5.5, which creates what is called an acid mantle. This layer provides a barrier between your skin and outside contaminants, and if broken down, can lead to dryness, overexposure to acne-causing bacteria, and other unpleasant things. This is of course, an over simplified version, and I'll be providing links at the end of the post that have excellent and thorough explanations of the science behind this.

I noticed that the Cleansing Foam was drying out my skin, which was why I was looking at reviews to see what others thought of it. Lo and behold, the pH level of this cleanser is a whooping 8. This is much too alkaline--the cleanser was breaking down the acid mantle of my skin and causing the dryness. What's more, before this cleanser, I had been using the Senka Perfect Whip by Shiseido for the past 3 years, and I found out that this had a pH level of 8 also! Most bar soaps have a similar and even higher pH level to thoroughly cleanse off oils and dirt, but this is much too harsh for your skin.

You can imagine my dismay. I have a full bottle of both cleansers that are now useless to me! Now I'm in the market for a cleanser that is similar to skin's pH level. Luckily the Asian Beauty Reddit has a list of cleansers and their pH level, which I'll definitely be taking advantage of! I'll probably end up getting one by Hada Labo, since that's what I'm using for my toner and moisturizer currently (both are great!).

Do you have cleanser recommendations?

More resources:

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

hourglass ambient lighting blush palette review

I picked up the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush Palette as a Christmas treat for myself after hearing all the hype--and I wasn't disappointed.



How gorgeous is this packaging?


The blushes inside are even more gorgeous! The marbling is to die for.


Sorry for the fuzzy swatch picture and the little freckles on my arm, but you get the idea. From left to right: Luminous Flush (bright pink coral), Incandescent Electra (pale baby pink), and Mood Exposure (rich plummy red). These blushes are infused with Hourglass's Ambient Lighting Powders, which makes all the difference in this case. It gives the blush dimension and a little bit of a sheen, so it doesn't lay flat on your skin. All the blushes will look different depending on the ratio of lighting powder to pigment in your specific blush, so yours may not look like mine!

The color payoff is quite subtle; it's hard to over do it with this blush. You can use a denser brush with these if you want more color. I use a fluffy brush and it gives your skin a lovely touch of color that's very natural and easy to wear. The powder is very soft and finely milled, so application is smooth and never patchy.

I've been loving Mood Exposure, especially for the winter, but the combination of the three is great too! I use Luminous Flush on the apples, Mood Exposure toward my hairline, and then dust Incandescent Electra on the high points of my cheeks. I can't quite use Incandescent Electra as a blush, but it makes for a lovely highlighter, or blush/highlighter combo if I'm not up to wearing blush that day. It wears quite long on my combo skin; about 6 hours, before I see fading.

I hate talking about this because the palette is limited edition and already sold out on Sephora, but you can buy the individual pans of blush still! I would skip this if you like more pigmented blushes, but if you're in the market for a nice, subtle blush that will give you a bit of a glow, definitely look into these.

Product: Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blushes
Price: $58 (palette); $35 (individual)

Friday, January 16, 2015

mini korean beauty haul

I was undaunted by my foray into the facial oil world, but decided to go a different route to get more moisture into my skin! I heard a lot of good things about this Mizon Snail Intensive Repair Ampoule. An ampoule is kind of like a serum, except more concentrated and liquidy, which is supposed to help your skin absorb and react better to the ingredients.


I was also in the market for an eye cream, and also heard great things about this Mizon Snail Repair Eye Cream. My eye concerns are mainly darkness and EXTREME puffiness. I've gone through many an eye cream to no avail...so I'm not super hopeful, but fingers crossed!

The last thing on the list is the Etude House Waterproof Dr. Mascara Fixer for Perfect Lash. I only bought this to get free shipping, but I'm looking forward to trying it anyway. I have extremely oily lids that results in insane raccoon eyes every time I don't use my trusty Heroine Make mascara with primer. The Dr. Mascara Fixer is supposed to let you use any mascara since it tops it off with a waterproof layer. I have a bunch of mascaras that I would like to use up, but haven't yet because I become a smudgey mess when I do, so hopefully this does the trick!

I know I'm a little late to the bandwagon, but this is also my first time to use anything with snail extract in it. Am a little apprehensive, but will let you know when my order gets in sometime next week!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

winter skin woes

Winter is a season I could do without--I especially hate what it does to my skin. I have combination skin with drier cheeks and an oily T-zone, but my skin goes nuts when winter hits. I start getting dry patches and breakouts under my eyebrows, along my jawline, under my cheeks (never usually happens!), so I'm always on the look out for a good moisturizer that will hydrate those dry patches, but not aggravate the breakouts.

I got sucked into the Korean skincare craze of facial oils and purchased the Innisfree Green Tea Seed Oil after reading reviews of how incorporating a facial oil into your routine does wonders for winter skin.


A friend gifted me the Tatcha Polished Classic Rice Enzyme Powder, which I've yet to break open (I have a ton of exfoliating products that I want to finish first), but I'm super excited to try it and will review it once I do!

Back to the facial oil--I've been using it for a month now, and...I feel conflicted. It's definitely helped with the dry patches, but the breakouts are still happening. I might stop using it just to see if the breakouts stop.

As for how it feels, it feels, well, oily. It sinks into the skin pretty well, but leaves a noticeable shine to the skin that some may not be used to. I find it best to press the oil into the skin, rather than to rub it in. Some people have mentioned that it's a "dry" oil, so it doesn't leave that oily residue, but I don't find this to be the case.

Bottom line: moisturizing, yes, life-changing...no? I think you can definitely skip this.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

2014 in review

Happy 2015! My new year's eve passed by quietly and uneventfully, perhaps to offset the craziness of 2014. I've skipped the whole of 2014 in terms of blogging--that was probably a mistake since so many things happened. To prevent this post from becoming a virtual word vomit, I will confine my year in a list.

  1. My sister got engaged fall 2013, and married her fiance June 2014!
  2. I moved back to LA fall 2013 from Japan, but moved to Mountain View December 2013, because...
  3. I got a new job as a content marketer for a stationery retailer! 
  4. ...and perhaps the most exciting thing to happen to me this year--I got engaged Christmas 2013.
  5. We were married August 2014.
  6. I moved from Mountain View to San Jose with my husband.
  7. We joined a church plant in Mountain View.
Somehow it seems more manageable in list form, but at the time, it was so overwhelming planning two weddings, moving so many times in the span of a year, and starting my new job.

I'm glad 2014 is over. I know I'll look back at it with fondness and feel nostalgic, but for now, I'm grateful for the relative calmness of married life and being settled after so many moves.

I'll post some pictures soon and hopefully blog more in this upcoming year. Happy New Year everyone!

Friday, October 04, 2013

on my wishlist

Musings of a Muse posted up Benefit Cosmetic's holiday sets recently, and this caught my eye:

It's a set of bestsellers from Benefit! It's $36 and available at Sephora, Benefit, and other department stores. I think this would be a great gift for people who haven't tried Benefit before, and even for Benefit lovers like me, because they would be great for travel!

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

fall cravings: pumpkin

Not that it feels like fall yet in sunny Southern California, but with Halloween coming up, I've been seeing orange everywhere. Pumpkin spice lattes are popping up in all the coffee shops, pumpkin spice candles in the drugstores...so naturally, I've been dreaming of pumpkin pie. Last year, while I was still in Japan, I tried to make pumpkin pie myself, but...that was a disaster. Pumpkin puree doesn't exist in Japan...they have this squash called kabocha, or Japanese pumpkin, and although it is delicious, it's just not the same.

This is really old, but Smitten Kitchen never fails, so here's a link to her silky smooth pumpkin pie recipe. Love!