Wednesday, March 04, 2015

a hiatus

My grandfather passed away yesterday. I got a Facebook message from my cousin shortly after a short email from my father. Her message was hesitant, as though she couldn't quite find the words. She settled on, "He's just. Gone," followed by sad cat emojis. I wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry.

I will (probably) be traveling to Taiwan, so you will not see posts from me this month. Hope you are all well.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

february 2015 empties

This month flew by so quickly! I don't have many empties to share, but let's get right to it.

The Face Shop Rice Water Bright Cleansing Cream. This was a so-so makeup remover. I find that the best way to use this is to tissue it off rather than rinse, but even then you do have to follow up with another cleanser to get all the residue off. I never felt like my makeup came off completely with this--especially not waterproof makeup--so this is a skip for me. I'm currently using the Banila Co. Clean it Zero cleansing balm, which I'm loving so look out for a review of that soon!

h2O+ Deep Sleep Recovery Cream. My sister gave me a sample of this and I loved it. It's really light but very moisturizing and I wake up with supple, soft skin the next morning. It's a bit pricey so I don't think I'll run out and purchase the full size, but if I ever feel like splurging on skincare...

Biore Aqua Rich Watery Essence Sunscreen. This is the sunscreen of all sunscreens. I love how lightweight it is, how quickly it absorbs into the skin, and the SPF of 50. It also wears well under makeup! I already have 3 back up tubes of this. A definite must have, especially as we're moving into warmer weather.

msh Love Liner Mascara. This mascara smells like strawberries! The curl and length that it gives you isn't really impressive, but it's a great everyday mascara. What I liked about it is that I never needed to use a primer with it and it doesn't flake or smudge throughout the day, even on my oily lids. This is probably due to the fact that this is a tubing mascara, so you can remove it easily with warm water. So while it's oil-proof, if you're prone to crying, this is probably not the best mascara for you.

Lancome Bi-facil Eye Makeup Remover. I have several trial size bottles of these because I bought my mom and mother-in-law gifts from Lancome for my wedding. It's a good eye makeup remover; I'm not that keen on the rose smell, and I do feel like my Mandom remover gets off the Japanese mascara more easily, but I don't mind using these bottles up. I won't purchase it full size, as it is quite pricey, and my Mandom remover does the same thing for less.

Did you finish any products this month? Any standouts?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

another impulse buy: baublebar

BaubleBar had a flash sale this past weekend, and I just couldn't resist this adorable ring tree.

How cute is that? I have a super cute ring holder already in a cat shape (from Japan) and a giraffe jewelry holder from Anthropologie, but it's getting a little crazy as you can see from these pictures:


I'm thinking about just having my engagement and wedding rings on the cat and putting my other rings on the elephant!

How do you organize your jewelry?

Friday, February 20, 2015

daiso silicone makeup brush cleaner

I was browsing Daiso when I stumbled upon this Daiso egg laundry board. Doesn't it look just like those silicone brush cleaners? For $1.50, I couldn't resist. I picked it up and put it to the test.

It works like a charm. I wet the brush, pour a little bit of Daiso's makeup brush and sponge detergent onto it, then swirl it around the egg under running water, and watch the makeup melt away!

If you have a Daiso nearby, I would definitely recommend picking this up. At $1.50, you can't go wrong!

Monday, February 16, 2015

impulse buy: it cosmetics

I got a $25 discount code from It Cosmetics for filling out a survey recently, and I knew I wanted to purchase a brush from them, since I've heard so many good things about the quality about their brushes! Imagine my surprise when I was browsing their site today and found this:

Needless to say, I jumped on this--with my $25 discount, I paid roughly $10 for 7 brushes! I can't wait for these to come in and will let you know my thoughts after I've played with them.

Have you made any impulse buys recently?

Saturday, February 14, 2015

my valentine's make up look

Happy Valentine's Day everyone! This is how my Valentine's Day look turned out, based on my previous post. The only thing I ended up not using was the Revlon crayon--I went with a gradient lip instead using the Benefit Benetint. I felt like having a brighter lip instead of the pinky nude.

Hope you're all having a lovely Valentine's Day!

Products used:

1) Base: The Face Shop CC Cream in no. 2
2) Cheeks: Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick in Rose
3) Lips: Benefit Benetint
4) Eyes: Urban Decay Naked 2 Palette in Booty Call, Chopper, and Tease
5) Eyes: Heroine Make Long and Curl Mascara
6) Eyes: MSH Love Liner in Rich Black
7) Under eye: IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye Concealer
8) Brows: Lioele Auto Eyebrow #3 Gray Black

What did you wear this Valentine's Day?

Monday, February 09, 2015

valentine's day makeup

I don't usually "celebrate" Valentine's Day, but my husband surprised me by letting me know that he made reservations at a Japanese restaurant for dinner that day! Here's what I'm planning on wearing, beauty-wise:

  1. Base: The Face Shop CC Cream in no. 2
  2. Cheeks: Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick in Rose
  3. Lips: Revlon ColorBurst Lacquer Balm in Demure
  4. Eyes: Urban Decay Naked 2 Palette in Booty Call, Chopper, and Tease
  5. Eyes: Heroine Make Long and Curl Mascara
  6. Eyes: MSH Love Liner in Rich Black
  7. Under eye: IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye Concealer
I love soft and sweet makeup, so I'm keeping it simple: a bright and radiant complexion with softly defined eyes and pink lips. The CC cream has a surprising amount of coverage, and isn't too dewy, while brightening your skin. The shimmer brick gives a subtle hint of color and a lovely sheen that brings life back to your face.

I have extremely oily eyelids, but these Japanese mascara and eyeliner simply do not budge on me! The under eye concealer by IT cosmetics is one of the most pigmented that I've used, and I only use it on special occasions. Finally, the finishing touch is a hint of pink shimmer on the lips.

What are you wearing this Valentine's Day?

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

hada labo tokyo hydrating facial cleanser review

In my search for a new cleanser, I picked up the Hada Labo Tokyo Hydrating Facial Cleanser based on reviews from the Asian Beauty subreddit. This is the American version of the famous Hada Labo line in Japan, and while I would've loved to pick up the Japanese version, I live next to a Walgreens, so off to Walgreens I went.

Here's the packaging. It's quite different from the Japanese packaging, which is less frou frou, and more blue. And white. Definitely no pink.

Ingredients list!

This is a foaming cleanser, but I find that it doesn't foam too much, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. I expected a little more foam, but considering my last cleanser was called Perfect Whip, I guess my expectations were too high?

It's a good cleanser; I like that it has no fragrance, and it cleans thoroughly without making my skin feel tight. I do miss the foam, but this cleanser supposedly has a pH level of 5.5, which is much better for your skin than the aforementioned Perfect Whip (pH level: 9). To be honest, I haven't seen much difference on my skin between using this and my previous cleanser, but science doesn't lie (hopefully?), so I'll update if anything changes!

Product: Hada Labo Tokyo Hydrating Facial Cleanser
Price: $11.99 USD (but watch for Ulta and Walgreen sales!)

Sunday, February 01, 2015

january 2015 empties

I love reading about empties, because most of the time, the reviews for those products are so much more accurate than if you've used the products for a couple of days. I finished some products this month and here are some mini reviews/thoughts for you.

  • Perfect Whip Foam Cleanser. If you read my post about pH and cleansers, then you'll know that I will not be repurchasing this cleanser. I loved it because it was affordable and my skin felt so clean, but after I found out it was destroying my acid mantle (your skin's natural barrier) with its pH level of 9. Your skin is naturally acidic (4.5-5.5 pH), so I'm on the lookout for a cleanser with a similar pH level!
  • ROC Multi-Correxion 5-in-1 Eye Cream. Also will not be repurchasing. It's fine; it's moisturizing and wears well under makeup, but it's heavily fragranced (not a fan), and I didn't see any improvement in terms of what it promised. At least my eye area didn't get worse? I confess, I'm always on the hunt for a good eye cream, so recommendations would be appreciated! I recently bought the Mizon Snail Eye Repair Cream based on rave reviews, so hopefully that one will work well.
  • Urban Decay Primer Potion. This stuff is pure magic. I have extremely oily eyelids and if I use any sort of mascara (waterproof or not), pencil or gel eyeliner, I WILL have raccoon eyes, unless I use this primer. I will definitely repurchase in the future, but I have to use up another primer first--I heard great things about the Etude House Proof 10 Eye Primer, which is supposed to be a dupe. I'll review it after I've used it for a while!
  • Nivea A Kiss of Shimmer Lip Balm. I bought this while I was at Target one day just on a whim because it had an SPF of 4 (it's really hard to find lip balms with SPF!). I don't really like the color; the shimmer was much too frosty, but it was moisturizing and did it's job. Will not repurchase.
  • Maybelline Baby Lips in Peach Kiss. Everyone loves the Baby Lips, but I'm just not a fan. It's moisturizing upon first application, but leaves my lips incredibly dry after it fades. Will not repurchase or try other colors.
  • Skin79 Hot Pink Super BB Cream. If you can get over the slight gray tone to this BB cream, I would absolutely recommend it. It's creamy, blends and wears well throughout the day, and has medium coverage that doesn't look cakey. I liked the gray tone, simply because it neutralized my yellow tones a bit and brightened my skin tone. As for the things that it promises in terms of wrinkle care, brightening, etc...didn't really results. I don't rely on BB creams for skincare, so it didn't bother me. I also tried the gold version, which is slightly more moisturizing, so if you have dry skin, I would go with that one. I would repurchase this except I have a tone of BB creams to go through, so I will wait until I finish a few. Yay for product hoarding?
What have you finished recently?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

all that glitters--bobbi brown shimmer brick in rose

I love a good blush/highlighter combo, and that's just what the Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick is! I have it here in Rose.


Sorry it's dirty; it's been well loved. 

All the colors swirled together on my finger.

From left to right: Swirled together, then individual color swatches taken in the sun.

...and in indoor light.

It was difficult to photograph the swatches, as the effect of the Shimmer Brick is to give you a illuminated, glow-from-within type of look. It gives my cheeks a lovely touch of pink, but I do use it mostly for that beautiful shimmer. I've used the individual bars as eyeshadow as well if I want to amp up the shimmer on my eyes.

It's especially beautiful to wear in the winter, as it breathes life into dull skin. It's also great for if you're not into pigmented blush, but still want a hint of color!

I can't wait for the Spring release of the Brightening Brick Collection, I'm most interested in the coral shade, which I think will be perfect for spring and summer!

Have you tried a Shimmer Brick before?

Product: Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick in Rose
Price: $44 USD

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 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, 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!