Recent Purchases (a.k.a. What I am Into Lately)

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Instead of doing a straight-on haul, I thought I would sort my purchases into 3 categories of items I’ve been loving. I have been on a budget lately, so I have been particularly discerning as with what I buy. Usually, my criteria for buying items the last few months is whether I really need them, and to be honest, whether I could get a good blogpost out of it. I know “need” is a very subjective term, but I usually have a one in and one out policy with my beauty collection. Therefore, if I have just used out face wash, I will usually prioritize getting that first. Of course, it doesn’t always happen though, because I somehow have 5 eyeliners in my collection right now.

Briogeo

I know this is not a beauty category, but I have been in love with Briogeo’s Scalp Revival Line. I have already reviewed their Charcoal + Tea Tree Scalp Treatment in a previous blogpost, and discussed how much it calmed my itchy scalp. One of my favourite aspects of this line is that most of the ingredients are naturally-derived. They also have a shampoo in this line, so I decided to give it a try. The dry shampoo is on my wish list next.

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Usually, I would be terrified of trying an exfoliating shampoo because they are usually too harsh for my scalp. However, since I loved their treatment so much, it gave me confidence to try this shampoo. To use, you scoop the somewhat grainy cream out of a tub and then massage it into the scalp. The charcoal helps to draw impurities and the vegetable-derived micro-exfoliators help to remove dead skin and built-up. Coconut oil also helps to moisturize the scalp.

First Impressions: It is quite messy to dig your fingers in a pot and it takes getting used to the texture because it really doesn’t foam up. However, the exfoliation is so gentle, I don’t feel any scratching at all. Somehow, after washing though, my scalp feels cleansed without feeling stripped and I feel like my hair has a little more volume than usual.

Facial Oil

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Now that we are moving into the winter months, I feel I need to really up my moisturizing game. I thought I would try out facial oils again, which I haven’t touched for a long time. Not because they broke me out or anything, but they usually smell quite strong. The last facial oil I used was from Ole Henriksen and it was lovely, but I just had a hard time tolerating the scent of the rosehip oil which was a main ingredient. Yet, I loved the thought of a facial oil because there is usually less preservatives and has more natural ingredients. So I decided to get the Fresh Seaberry Moisturzing Face Oil during the last Sephora sale because it had really good reviews and I preferred the scent a little bit more than the Ole Henriksen one. It is full of omega-rich fruit oils, like from seaberries, cranberry seeds, and camellia seeds. It is not only super moisturizing, but also has anti-aging benefits. When I tested it in Sephora, it seemed to absorb quickly into the skin, without leaving an oily feeling. Can’t wait to try it properly and give a review.

Clinique Eyeliners

 

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Clinique is a brand that is often overlooked in social media perhaps due to its non-flashy nature as a brand. I like that pricing tends to be on the lower side when it comes to luxury or department store type luxury beauty brands. I have been a long-time lover of their Quickliner For Eyes since my university years. It doesn’t require sharpening, has awesome glide and pigmentation, and stays put almost all day After trying tons of eyeliners since then, I still always have one in my makeup collection because it is just so reliable. At one time, I think I even had it in a variety of colours. Forward to today, I decided to finally branch out and try their Cream Shaper for Eyes. I am guessing this is their version of a gel pencil. It is definitely more smudgeable. These pencils have a creamy consistency and also have a hint of shimmer. However, they are supposed to still last on the eyelids. Can’t wait to test them out and hopefully not hate sharpening it because most gel eyeliners get stuck and built up inside pencil sharpeners.

What have you been into lately?

 

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Current Japanese Eyebrow Products Review

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I’d like to say that I had a particular use for each of the brow products I review below, but honestly, I just like to switch up things daily for variety’s sake. I mean, maybe with certain more smokier eye looks, I prefer a darker and more pronounced brow. In that case, I would use the SANA New Born W Brow EX. Vice versa, when I want a more natural look, I would often use the Shu Uemura Hard Formula eyebrow pencil.  All I know is that I love to do my brows and filling them in each morning brings me great joy. It wasn’t always like this though. In fact, I never used to fill in my brows because I assumed that since I was blessed with pretty full brows, I didn’t have to. However, since I have started to shape and fill them, I have really noticed how made-up brows can polish and complete a makeup look.

SANA New Born W Brow EX

SANA is a Japanese cosmetics brand I had only known through their skincare. I didn’t know they made makeup till I randomly picked up their New Born W Brow EX eyebrow pencil at my local Japanese beauty store. This product is unique in that it is a 3-in-one eyebrow pencil. The barrel holds a brow powder, brush, and pencil.

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The brow pencil lead is an oval shape which is great for precisely shaping your brow. I feel the pencil is as they claimed, not too hard or too soft. Secondly, when you twist the pencil, you will find a brow powder in the middle section of the barrel. It comes with a pointed sponge that grabs the powder inside the pencil every time you twist it open. The powder is perfect for applying on the front on your brow to make it look less harsh. Lastly, the spoolie at the other end works great at smoothing the hairs down and blurring the edges of the brow so it looks more natural.

VERDICT: Honestly, I had no expectations for this product when I bought it. However, I am blown away at how good it is for a drugstore product. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised since I love so many drugstore beauty products from Japan. I feel the pencil, powder, and brush really combine well together to create a pigmented, well-defined, but natural brow look. Furthermore, it lasts most of the day with a only a little bit of fading.

KISS New York Eyebrow Stamp 

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Yes, I tried the infamous eyebrow stamp and I don’t think it is totally that gimmicky once you get the hang of it. This was actually a gift from my sister-in-law who lives in Taiwan. Apparently, she told me it was super popular there. It says New York on the outside of the packaging, but the product has Japanese words on the back. I am guessing this is the Japanese version of the original one from the United States. There are two versions of this brow stamp. One stamp that gives a straighter brow and the other, a more arched brow. I have the arched one in the Dark Brown shade.

So how does it work? Well, there are two brow-shaped stamps, one for each brow, and then when you open up the bottom, there is brow powder. After you stamp the brow powder, you are supposed to somehow stamp it onto your brow accurately and precisely. Sounds totally impossible and it is definitely a bit challenging in the beginning. To be honest, I still miss stamping parts of my brow even today because not everyone’s brow will fit the shape of the stamp. However, after some practice slowing stamping the front of the brow first, and rolling it back from the end, I do end up getting the powder on the whole brow. If the stamp misses your brow, you can sweep the powder away with your fingers or a cotton swab. Then, I usually brush the front section with a spoolie to make it look a bit more natural.

VERDICT: Can you really just stamp and go? Well, you can, but it is not as fast as you might expect. I mean, it can be a bit faster than a brow pencil with some practice. The brow look it gives is pigmented and defined. I wouldn’t say it has the precision of a brow pencil though. The longevity is so-so. It will look pretty good for about 4-6 hours. By the end of an 8 hour work day though, the front and the ends of the brow have mostly disappeared. My other concern is that it is difficult to clean and since the foam stamp is so thin, it might not hold up for long term use.

Shu Uemura Hard Formula

I have been a longtime user of the classic Shu Uemura eyebrow pencil and probably will always have one in my collection. Other than having to sharpen it, it is probably still my favourite eyebrow pencil. First of all, it just lasts forever compared to other pencils. I have re-sharpened and used my pencil almost daily and it is still going strong after a year. Secondly, you can never go overboard with this pencil because it only magically releases pigmentation when it hits the oils in your eyebrow hairs. Thirdly, it claims to be smudge-proof and long-lasting and I feel it really is. Other than the sharpening hassle, the only reason you might not like this pencil is that the pigmentation is not strong enough for you. If you want “Instagram brows,” this might not be the pencil for you.

VERDICT: What can I say. It is still my favourite after all these years. I will always have one in my back up somewhere in my collection.

What are your favourite brow products? I always searching for new ones to try.

Current Favourites

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It is time again for another edition of current favourites. Like previous favourites blogposts, I am going to categorize my favourites according to the five senses inspired by Youtuber Ingrid Nilsen’s series called Sense of Self.

Sight

For the first time, my “sight” favourite is not a Youtube channel because I have actually been watching television! In the last year, I have been constantly hearing about this show called “This is Us” so I decided to give the series a try. Plus, it stars Mandy Moore, which I loved from from the movie, “A Walk to Remember,” so I thought why not? How to explain “This is Us?” The uniqueness of this show stems from the fact that they show the characters flipping back and forth between their present lives and different moments in their past. It sounds hard to follow, but it really isn’t. When you think about it, our past is often intertwined with our present and makes us the person we are today. I am only part way through Season One, but I love this show so much because as we watch them, we can connect, reflect, laugh, and cry alongside as we all figure out how to live “life.”

Smell

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When it comes to beauty product scents, unscented is my usual pick. However, once in a while, there are a few scents that I do enjoy. One of them is the scent of the Capri Blue candle I always pick up to smell whenever I go into the store, Anthropologie. The candle is housed in this beautiful opal-like finish jar with a gold lid and it smells like tropical fruits. Every time I smell it, I feel transported to some Mediterranean universe. You have go smell it the next time you go to Anthropologie! Since I didn’t think I could handle a candle burning and scenting my entire house, I decided to buy the soap version instead and I have been loving it!

Taste

I love desserts from all different cultures and one of my favourites definitely come from my Chinese culture. For the most part, Chinese desserts are less sweet then their Western counterparts. One of my favourites over the years is the Taro Coconut Milk Tapioca Dessert (西米露). It can be served hot or cold. How to explain how it tastes? It has chunks of cooked taro, with a coconut milk type soup base, combined with the texture of chewy tapioca. To me, it is the perfect dessert, so I decided to try my hand at making it. Mine turned out okay, but I still enjoyed eating it almost everyday this week. Do you have any favourite Chinese desserts?

Touch

I’m one of those annoying people that enjoy being at the perfect temperature all the time. That is why as we are heading into the winter months, I need to be warm at all the times. I have been a long time lover of Uniquo’s HEATTECH Line. They are a line of products using their patented HEATTECH fabric which keeps you super warm. Their products are usually quite thin, so you can wear them under your clothes, almost like long underwear. I notice they truly make a difference because I forgot to wear them one day at work, and I was freezing. I know this is not a new thing, but I just started wearing their Ultra HEATTECH line that keeps you even warmer! As you can guess, I was super excited. My favourite thing about this new line is that the inside is coated with what they called their “soft-brush” interior, which make them feel even cosier, if that is possible.

Hearing

I am going old school in this category. I grew up listening to mostly boy bands and Cantopop, so my knowledge in other genres of music have been quite limited till the last ten years. So when my husband bought a record player, I became interested about learning the history of music in the Western world. As I started flipping through cartons of records, I started to recognize and learn about artists that I have only heard randomly playing on the radio. As I learned more, I decided to collect the albums on Rolling Stones Best Albums of all Time list. So far, I have only found Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” and the Beatles “Abbey Road,” but it has been so much fun. I have an Anthropology major and it has been so interesting unearthing these records from years pass and imagining who and when they were played for last. Do you collect vinyl?

Review: Wishtrend Pure Vitamin C 21.5% Advanced Serum

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Actives. Acids. AHAs. Before this year, these just sounded like terrifying words to me. I don’t how I came upon thinking this way, but I guess I was scared that these potent ingredients might be too strong for my skin. In some ways, I found out this was true, but for the most part, these actives have been game-changing for my skin. This journey into actives actually began after I starting following skincare Instagram accounts. Many of them used these actives daily in their skincare routines so I figured they couldn’t be that scary. Most importantly, these actives claimed to give quick and noticeable results which was a promise I couldn’t resist.

If you Google Vitamin C, you will find a plethora of evidence of how it can brighten and tighten your skin, how it is an anti-aging superstar, and how it can boost your production of collagen. The list goes on and on. I even read somewhere that it can protect you from pre-cancerous changes in your skin! However, Vitamin C can also easily break down when exposed to light or air. I often hear about it oxidizing. Luckily, I haven’t had that happen with the Wishtrend Pure Vitamin C 21.5% Advanced Serum I am have been using the last few months.

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Background

I first discovered Wishtrend through their Youtube channel as they discussed Korean Beauty in English. I soon found out they also had a website selling a curated selection of Korean beauty, and they also created items for their own Wishtrend brand. One of their best-selling lines is from a Korean brand called Klairs. I still haven’t tried anything from Klairs yet, but hope to try their famous toner soon.

Claims

This serum contains 21.5 % of Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) in their formula. Since Vitamin C is quite a tricky ingredient to work with, getting the right percentage is important. I am not a skincare expert, but I do notice that one of the most famous ones from SkinCeuticals contains 15% Vitamin C, so I guess this one is on higher end. It claims to be not sticky and absorb quickly. Furthermore, they claim that the 70% Sea Buckthorn Water in the formula decreases the likelihood of irritation. To prevent oxidation, you should also keep it refrigerated.

Application

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Like Wishtrend claims, this serum is thin and watery, and absorbs quickly. It comes in a dark bottle with a dropper. It is also not sticky at all like they claim. I have had mine for a over 3 months and it is still has not oxidized. It was a bit of hassle having to walk to my fridge to use the serum, but I think the results were worth it.

Results

So what did I think? All I can is that I am converted. After using this serum for over 3 months, my skin has improved in many ways. I think the first thing I noticed is that my skin just looks more glowy. Vitamin C helps with collagen production and I found my fine lines on my forehead were definitely less prominent. I did have one problem though. It made my cheek area breakout, which never happens to me. So I had to stop using it on that area, and I never wanted to try again. I mean, I had already patch tested it on my neck for a week and it seemed fine. Therefore, if you know that certain areas of your skin are sensitive, this high concentration of Vitamin C might not be the best option for you.

VERDICT: I love the texture and application of this serum and definitely saw noticeable anti-aging benefits. However, the high percentage of Vitamin C might not be ideal for those with sensitive skin.

Work Wisdom

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Gosh, I just realized that I have been working for over 15 years. Where does time fly? I still remember graduating from university full of passion and fire for my job. I think the passion is still there, but the fire is more on the smaller side. Over the years, I have definitely stumbled, fallen, risen, and repeated this cycle many times over. All I know is that learning to work is a journey, and never-ending one at that. However, I think there are a few insights I have gained over the years that I thought I would share here. By no means are they absolute, so I would love to hear yours thoughts about how to maneuver the game of work.

Don’t Strive For Perfection Because it Doesn’t Exist

I guess the world does work in mysterious ways. I was racking my brain to explain my thoughts on perfection when this video from Hank Green (one half of the Vlogbrothers Youtube channel) showed up in my feed. In the video, Hank talks about how he believes in working on something to about 80% and then he stops and lets nature take its course. He believes that perfection simply doesn’t exist. Each person’s version of perfection can be so different and evolve and change. I feel the same way about perfection. However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t work hard at that 80%. I just think it is important to know when to stop, and as Hank Green says to just “throw the dart” and release in it in into the universe because no one can predict the outcome. For example, I can’t remember how many times I used to nit-pick a small detail until something was perfect to only find that the outcome was not what I wanted or expected.

It is Okay to Make Mistakes

We often look at mistakes as a failure. I mean, there are huge mistakes that really shouldn’t be made, but for the most part, most mistakes are a chance for growth.  I find that often the mistakes I make happen when I am working on something new. In these situations, there just so many variables at play, it is hard to not make mistakes. So it is important not to keep berating yourself and realize mistakes are natural part of growing and improving as a person. Moreover, sometimes, even though I have done something a million times, I still make mistakes once in a while. That is all a part of being human. Of course, if you keep on making the same mistake over and over again, then you might want to reflect if this job is appropriate for you.

Try Not to Gossip

I know it is practically inhuman to not gossip. I mean, we are social animals. In fact, when I asked friends and family whether they gossip at work, I was surprised at the variety of responses. For the most part, most people don’t think gossip is a good idea, but they can’t help it. I can see how there can be positive gossip, and sometimes you can help a distressed colleague with their problems. However, I think it is always good to keep gossip to a minimum, especially malicious gossip. No one likes to be talked about behind their back and gossip often promotes a negative work environment. If possible, I always think it is a better idea to approach a person directly to discuss a concern you have. More often than not, it turns out be a misunderstanding. You also always have to remember that each person comes to work with their own background and perspectives, and your job is to find a way to work collaboratively with each person the best you can.

What is your best work advice? I would love to know.