Christmas Tag

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I was initially going to write another beauty review today, but after reading Stella’s Christmas Tag from her awesome blog called Simply Stella, I simply couldn’t resist doing it as well. Despite how stressful the holidays can get, with the shopping and holiday parties, I love the feeling of Christmas. I love walking by the beautiful window displays, checking out the Christmas lights, and feeling the sense of warmth Christmas gives to a cold and dark winter, especially where I live, where it is literally dark by 4 pm. Whether you enjoy Christmas or not, I hope you enjoy this tag.

What is your favourite Christmas film?

It would have to be Love Actually! The film brought together such a brilliant ensemble of actors and was funny, insightful, honest, and heartwarming all at the same time. There are so many scenes from this movie that continue to live vividly in my head till this day. From the confession of love using simple messages displayed on poster board to a young boy chasing his first love through an airport, there are too many memorable scenes to count.

Have you ever had a white Christmas?

I live in a part of the world where we often see snow in the winter, so I can’t remember exactly how many times this actually happened on Christmas day. However, I thought I would share some snow-related memories. My favourites include building a mermaid-shaped snow sculpture with my uncles and just sitting at home watching the snow fall gently to the ground. Of course, there are always the not-so-good memories too, like having to walk home for an hour due to all traffic comeing to a standstill due to the snow.

Where do you usually spend your holidays?

Either then trying to maximize on all the deals during the holidays, I like to just stay at home as well. It is nice to spend time just to relax and not think about work.

What is your favourite Christmas song?

For more traditional songs, I love “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire).” The thought of sitting in front of open fire seems so cosy during the winter months despite that fact that I don’t even remember the last time I’ve seen a fire. I also will always love “Last Christmas” by George Michael.

Do you open Christmas presents on Christmas Eve?

I’ve tried to despite my family’s disapproval. Haha.

Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer?

Let’s see. Dasher. Dancer. Prancer. Vixen. Comet. Cupid. Donner. Blitzen.

Yes, apparently, I can! Oh, and of course, Rudolph!

What holiday traditions are you looking forward to?

Our family is pretty standard when it comes to holiday traditions. My dad puts up Christmas lights and my mom brings out all the other decorations, including many Santa toys that sing and dance. My dad always has to get a “real” Christmas tree and we always open presents on Christmas morning.

Is your Christmas tree real or fake?

My dad’s has to be real, but now that I live in a condo that doesn’t allow real trees, I have a fake one.

Do you like giving gifts or receiving gifts?

I want to sound generous and say I love giving gifts, but I think finding the perfect gift for someone else is so stressful! I much prefer to receive them.

What is the best Christmas gift you have received?

Gosh, what does it mean to be the “best?” I can remember many gifts that I thought were thoughtful and meaningful to me. However, I think the Christmas gifts I received when I was younger during my family trips to Los Angeles were the most magical. My uncles showered us with presents under the Christmas tree. To us, they were truly like Santa Claus.

What would be your dream places to visit for the holidays?

I think the holidays should be spent with close family and friends. So my dream place would be anywhere I could spend time with them. Of course, Paris is always a good idea.

Are you a pro-present wrapper?

I would say “kind of” even though I’ve tried to be more environmentally-friendly the last few years. I don’t know if I am pro but I do use double-sided tape and like to fold everything neatly and precisely.

What made you realize the truth about Santa?

Honestly, I don’t ever remember truly believing in Santa Claus. Although, I have a terrible memory, so it is hard to say for sure.

Do you make new year resolutions?

I don’t ever really. I’m not sure why. I guess, I just tend to continually make new goals for myself throughout the year. You never really know when a goal will be achieved and when it is time to make a new one. Therefore, I tend not to put such a concrete time frame on resolutions.

What makes the holidays special to you?

I think it is just all the small details. The advent calendar I look forward to buying each year. Seeing the city aglow with Christmas lights. Feeling the warmth of the love shared between people despite the cold and dark winter. The sense of something magical in the air. I just can’t imagine if there was no Christmas. It would just be too depressing.

Wishing you a wonderful holidays!

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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?

 

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.

Current Skincare Routine

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It has been a few months since I’ve shared my skincare routine. I thought it was time to update you on some new products I have been trying. There are a few items that continue to be my standbys, like the Shiseido Eye and Lip Contour Regenerating Cream, which I feel like if I am stop using all my crow’s feet will start appearing. However, for the most part, I have been trying out some new products, including some Korean cult favourites, like the Missha Time Revolution The First Treatment Essence.

FIRST CLEANSE

In the morning, I usually just wash my face with water. I find that my cheeks are quite sensitive and can’t really tolerate an AM and PM cleansing routine. At night time, I have been using the Aritaum Poyan Makeup Remover to remove my eye makeup. This is another solid and economical (under $10 USD) Korean dual-phase eye makeup remover. It does a great job of removing all my eye makeup and doesn’t leave a greasy residue. It removes even hardcore waterproof eyeliner and mascara. My only gripe is that I don’t really enjoy the smell, which has the aroma of baby powder to me.

After bidding a sad goodbye to my Heimish All Clean Balm, I started using the Make P:rem Black Cleansing Water. I alternated it with the Garnier All-in- 1 Micellar Water in the Waterproof Version  just in case I got a bad reaction from it. For me, the Garnier one has been a great alternative to Bioderma, and so economical too. The waterproof version is a bit oiler for me, but it does such a good job of removing all my face makeup without drying it out. As for the Make P:rem Black Cleansing Water, I find it to be a solid micellar water so far. It does a good job of removing my face makeup. Compared to the Garnier one though, it leaves my skin kind of tacky afterwards, which I hope is the peat moss working its magic and keeping my skin moisturized. It hasn’t dried out my skin so far, so I am happy.

SECOND CLEANSE

For the second cleanse, I have been using the Boscia Charcoal Jelly Ball Cleanser. It is such a fun product to unbox and use. After you pierce the outer coating that covers the jelly ball, you can wet the product and just massage it into your damp skin or foam it up in your hands before applying it to your face. I am sorry this whole post will consist of me talking about how I dislike scent in skincare, but I really don’t enjoy the scent of charcoal in this product. Now on to what I enjoy about this cleanser. First and foremost, I love the experience of using it and massaging it on my face. It doesn’t really foam that much when applied directly on the face compared to lathering it in the hands. Initially, I thought it would be drying, but instead, it has left my skin cleansed and balanced. It hasn’t left my dry cheeks red or sensitive at all.

ESSENCE

I couldn’t resist getting this product since many reviews point to the Missha Time Revolution The First Treatment Essence Intensive Moist as a cheaper dupe for the infamous SK-II Facial Treatment Essence. This is supposed to be the updated version, which contains 90% of the fermented yeast extract (Saccharomyces Ferment Filtrate) derived from purple barley. SK-II also uses fermented yeast as their star ingredient, Pitera (Galactomyces Ferment Filtrate), but it is derived from sake. I am not sure if this slight differences alters the effectiveness of the product. Missha claims their essence will moisturize, smooth skin texture, and reinforce the condition of your skin. It also contains more ingredients than SK-II, like Niacinamide. Overall, I think I prefer the scent of the Missha one more, as it is pretty much scentless. However, after about three weeks of use, I haven’t notice much of a difference yet in my skin. I think I will have to report back after a few weeks again.

SERUM

I have been scared of using any actives, like AHAs, for a long time because I was so terrified of getting a bad reaction. However, since joining Instagram, and following many skincare fanatics, I learned that many of them used them daily in their routines. So I decided to finally jump on the bandwagon and give them a shot. Coincidently, my sister had a bottle of Vitamin C serum that didn’t work for her, so I decided to give it a try. Not wanting to be totally reckless, I did a patch test on my neck for a week, and it was totally fine. Since then, I have been using this one fromWishtrend Pure Vitamin C 21.5% Advanced Serum nightly.

You can read about the benefits of Vitamin C all over the internet. Basically, it is an excellent anti-aging ingredient that firms, brightens, and evens out your skin tone. It does quickly oxidize when exposed to air, so Wishtrend recommends you keep this in the fridge. It is a bit of annoyance to go to walk to fridge every night, but it is totally worth it. I have been using this for a couple of months and it has totally softened the lines on my forehead, and made my complexion brighter. My only problem with Vitamin C is that it made me break out on my cheeks, which never happens to me. Therefore, I think if you have sensitive areas on your face, it is important to do a patch test or use a lower dosage instead.

TONER

I know using toner in this part of my routine is kind of late. However, this toner is so viscous that I like to use it at this point in my routine. Lately, I have been using the Dermastic Essential Toner from ID.AZ. I loved their foaming face wash, so I decided to try their toner. ID.AZ is line produced from a famous Korean skincare clinic. This toner is full of botanical ingredients that leave your skin hydrated and soothed for the next step. I really have been enjoying this toner as it leaves my skin plump and glowy. It is a bit sticky after I use it probably due to the botanical ingredients. It almost has the same feel as many of the other toners from Korean brands like Whamisa and VANT, which I all enjoy.

CREAM

I am so on the fence about this cream from VANT. It smells great (fruity), lightweight, and sinks in quickly. Perhaps because it is so lightweight, I don’t think it will be moisturizing enough for me over the winter. I have already noticed dry patches around my forehead and nose. I mean, it has great ingredients like squalene and shea butter which help maintain moisture. Plus, once again, like many Korean beauty products, it contains many botanical ingredients. Bottom line is that it is a solid moisturizer, but might not be enough for super dry and dehydrated skin.

EYE CREAM

I have been loving the Belif Moisturizing and Firming Eye Cream! It is quite a thick consistency, but it leaves my undereye area so moisturized and plump for concealer. At nighttime, I am still devoted to my Shiseido Future Solution LX Eye and Lip Contour Regenerating Cream, which is expensive, but has kept on my fine lines at bay all these years, so I can’t give it up.

Review: Grown Alchemist Intensive Body Cream

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The last decade has been so exciting with the amount of natural and organic brands that have arisen. In fact, there are so many that I can’t keep up with all of them anymore. I have tried many of the more well-known ones, like RMS Beauty and Tata Harper, so I decided to try a brand that I haven’t heard of it. It was only later on that I found out this brand is actually quite well-established.

Brand Background

The brand I am talking about is Grown Alchemist. I really wanted to get something from the Nordstrom Natural Beauty Pop-Up shop a few months ago, and picked up this Intensive Body Cream from the brand. I think I was mainly attracted to the “Aesop” feel of the packaging. Grown Alchemist originates from Australia and focuses on using organic ingredients. Using modern technology, they create products that work naturally with our bodies. Here is a link to their philosophy page if you are interested.

Packaging

Grown Alchemist’s packaging is made with high quality ingredients that help preserve the freshness of their formulations. This body cream is housed in a non-leeching aluminum tube that helps it from being contaminated from air, sunlight, or chemicals. Of course, aluminum is also highly recyclable, which is good for the environment.

The packaging is very minimal with a san-serif typeface on a solid background. It is very reminiscent of the Aesop brand packaging. All the ingredients and background information about the product are printed directly printed on the tube, which is great especially since I often lose the outer cardboard packaging.

So do I like the packaging? To be honest, I am on the fence about it. For a body cream, I like that you can easily dispense the product on your body by just squishing the tube. You don’t have to deal with contaminating the product as with other body creams in a tub. However, the formulation of this body cream is quite fluid and often too much comes out. As with all aluminum tubes, it is also hard to get the last bit out and the tube can get pretty deformed if you do not roll it up from the bottom (a.k.a., that would be me).

Ingredients

The main ingredients in the body cream are rosa damascena, açaí, and pomegranate. All these ingredients contain antioxidants that help to moisturize, firm, and smooth the skin’s appearance. They also help to repair the appearance of damaged skin.

Formula

For a body cream, the formula is quite lightweight, almost like a lotion. The scent is lovely. I am not sure how açaí smells like, but it has a rich berry scent mixed with the pomegranate. I don’t feel it has much of a rose scent though. I wouldn’t say the scent is too strong, and it really doesn’t linger too much.

Application

I really enjoy applying this body cream. It blends in almost instantly and doesn’t leave your skin greasy at all. I was quite surprised because intensive body creams usually take a while to sink in. However, perhaps because it absorbs so quickly, it doesn’t give the usual feeling of this protective layer on top of the skin from a really moisturizing body cream. Instead, after you apply it onto a particular dry area of skin, it still feels quite textured and dry. Whereas, with some other body creams, the area feels smoother and more hydrated.

Results

I like this body cream, but I wouldn’t consider it as an intensive body cream. It is one of those body creams you want to reach for and apply because it smells great and it is not sticky or greasy. Over the summer, I used it regularly and it left my skin moisturized. However, the patches around my ankles and elbows still were quite dry despite using this daily. For those areas, I had to resort to using other heavier body creams.

VERDICT: There is a lot to love about this body cream. It smells lovely, does not feel greasy, contains organic ingredients, and the packaging is made of an easily recyclable material. However, if you are looking for something that intensively hydrates those stubborn dry patches, this isn’t it.

The Evolution of Friendship

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I see the term “BFF” tossed around a lot with teenagers. I wish I still had that blind faith that relationships will always last forever. Of course, if you are lucky, some friends will stick around for the rest of your lives. However, more likely than not, the friends you have will evolve like all relationships do. For example, the group of friends you had when you were a kid will be likely different than the ones you meet when you start working. People evolve and so do our friendships. It makes me sad sometimes when friendships end, but now I realize some people come into our lives temporarily to teach us something, and help us grow.

Friendships Evolve as You Evolve

Friends you made when you were in kindergarten might be completely different than those you have now. When you made your first friend, it might just be because you both liked to play dress-up. As you got older, having common interests might be the catalyst for more friendships. However, loyalty and morals might become more important than just similar interests. I think it is absolutely normal for friendships to evolve as you become more sure of who you are as a person. It is through these breakups that we begin to find out what we genuinely want in a friend.

No One is to Blame When a Friendship Ends

As with a breakup of a romantic relationship, it is much easier to place the blame on the other person. Even if one party did something completely to undermine the relationship, it always takes two to tango. I find that for most friendships that didn’t work out, it was simply because our personalities were just too different. There is often no right or wrong in these situations, just whether it worked out or not. Moreover, everyone is shaped by everything that has happened to them in their life. Often, when we step into their shoes, it is easier to understand their perspective. Even though we might not share their viewpoint, it doesn’t mean it is not valid, it is just different.

Wishing Them Well

Friendships often don’t work out and it is awkward when you bump into them randomly.  However, even though a person may not be in my life, I choose to wish them well from afar. For sure, there is often bitterness and loathing towards certain past friends. Yet, over time, I would rather choose to relinquish the good memories that we had together then continue to think badly of them. Like I said previously, there isn’t a right or wrong when it comes to relationships. It just didn’t work out, and that is it. Of course, this takes time, but hopefully, one day, you can see that it just wasn’t meant to be.

Friend-Zoned: Beauty Products I “Like”

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I am not a big fan of “friendzoning” anybody, but I thought the term suited the beauty products I am going to talk about in this blogpost. For the most part, I bought the products below because of the hype. They are “good” products, but I just didn’t reach for them all the time. In other words, I just didn’t fall in love with them. However, they weren’t so bad that I couldn’t use them at all.

Burberry Complete Eye Palette in Nude Blush No. 12

“Pale Barley” is the shade I always hear about over and over again when people talk about Burberry’s eyeshadows. However, I wanted to try more shades so I got one of their palettes instead.  So what do I like? First off, the packaging is absolutely beautiful with the Burberry checked pattern on the lid. It also comes in a velvet pouch with some tiny brushes. The four shades are very wearable (both matte and shimmer), which is typical of Burberry’s aesthetic. In fact, the plum and rose-gold shades in this palette can almost act like neutrals. The eyeshadows themselves are also silky smooth and very blendable.

So now for the reasons why I don’t love this palette. First of all, the shadows are pretty powdery and there is quite a bit of fall-out if you are not careful. You can literally see how powdery it can get from looking at how dirty the edges of the inside of the palette become. Secondly, the way that some of the colours look in the pan do not translate once applied on the lid.  For example, the lightest shade, which is supposed to be used as a highlight, doesn’t show up one my skin at all (might be better for pale skin tones). The darkest plum shade also doesn’t show up dark enough on my lid to be considered a good liner shade.

Overall, the package is luxurious, and the textures of the shadow are good, but the colour payoff is not there for all the shades. I’m thinking the single shadows might be better. Has anyone had experience with those?

Milani Powder Blush in 05 Coral Cove

This is a blush that many love, so I’m not sure if is just this particular shade that I don’t love. I’ve heard that Milani makes some of the best drugstore blushes, so I decided to pick up one when I was in the States. The packaging of this blush is beautiful with a rose embossed right into the powder. It also contains 6 g of product, which is a lot for a blush. Not to mention, that it is under $10 USD! Super pigmented blush seem to be quite popular lately, and this is definitely one of them. You literally need to dab your brush into the powder and it is enough for one cheek. The colours are also lovely and this particular coral shade looks great on my yellow-toned skin. Lastly, I find it has pretty good longevity as it is still visible at the end of a work day.

Now, onto why I don’t love this blush. First of all, it doesn’t have the most pleasant smell, almost like plastic. Secondly, sometimes, I feel it is too pigmented. You can easily go overboard if you pick up a little too much on your brush. Thirdly, I just don’t find it blends out that well. It often looks a little patchy on my skin and doesn’t really do much to minimize pores. It is nothing major, but it just doesn’t compare to some other blushes I own.

Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed in Champagne Pop

I know a lot of people love this shade, but it is just not my favourite. I think this mostly comes down to preference. Some people like their highlights to be bright enough to beam into the sky, and others like them just be glowy and natural. I seem to fall into the second category because I find Champagne Pop too metallic. It also takes a bit of work to apply it in the morning. It is not a highlighter you can apply without a mirror because it can look like a streak of colour if you don’t blend it out properly. Plus, it doesn’t look great over textured skin or pores. However, when you do want your highlight to really pop that day, it is a great choice. It has the most beautiful golden metallic sheen. The powder is also finely milled and the packaging is gorgeous as well.

Do you have any beauty products that you have “friend-zoned”?