Sunday, 14 December 2014

Innisfree It's Real Squeeze Masks and Capsule Recipe Pack

I'm a big advocate of face masks and I honestly believe that every skin type can benefit from some type of mask. For my dry skin, I've always been more into hydrating sheet masks. I always look for masks that promise hydration, hydration and hydration! When I test out a new face mask, I might pick up other ones like brightening, pore refinement and anti-aging but I'll only repurchase the most hydrating ones. 

It's been awhile since I've posted up a review on some face masks I've got in my stash. So I thought I'd do a write up on Innisfree's It's Real Squeeze Masks and Capsule Recipe Packs

 Strawberry - Brightening
Tea Tree - Purifying
Green Tea - Moisturising
Pomengranate - Wrinkle care

I used to use Innisfree's It's Real face masks and I particularly loved their adlay one. It was really calming and made my skin look clearer.  The actual make of the cloth mask was surprisingly good quality when considering how inexpensive they are. Their price is similar to that of My Beauty Diary's but I've always preferred Innisfree's offerings. 

It's since been replaced by the It's Real Squeeze Masks and they got rid of the adlay mask (wrong move Innisfree!). I randomly selected the strawberry, tea tree, green tea and pomegranate to try. Unfortunately, none of them are as moisturising as the adlay one but I still think they're decent for their price. 

I've used better brightening, purifying, moisturising and anti-aging face masks but they're twice the price. Each faired equally, doing what it promised. The brightening strawberry and anti-aging pomegranate mask left my skin clearer and more nourished respectively but there weren't any dramatic changes. I don't ever expect that a single application is going to give me anything more than a high dose of moisture, let alone any radical brightening or anti-aging effect!

The serum/liquid on the mask is light and watery, and so the skin doesn't feel sticky once you remove the mask. This makes these a great option for prepping the skin before putting on make up.

The only, and biggest, con is that there's alcohol in them and it's actually the third ingredient. The masks never irritated my skin but I'm having to think twice with whether I want to repurchase these. 

 Canola Honey - Moisturising
Aloe - Soothing

The Capsule Recipe Packs are liquid jelly masks that you can use 2-3 times. This is my first time using them so I wasn't sure what to expect. I'm not huge on masks that don't include an actual sheet mask to cover my face. But I've been seeing these for ages now and decided to give them a go. 

The canola honey feels like thinned out honey and just seems to sit on the surface of my skin. It's not as nourishing as I hoped. It also gave me an allergic reaction around my eyes, so it's a no-no for me. I imagine that I could have used the pot another 2 times but it's just sitting in my fridge now and I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it. Might treat my feet!

The aloe vera had little green particles mixed in the jelly and I'm going to assume that it's aloe. This one is better than the honey - I really liked how cooling it felt on my skin and it did leave my face brighter. It didn't seem to do much in terms of hydration though. 

But I just think the whole putting the jelly onto my skin and having to wash it off again, just isn't as convenient as a sheet mask. So it's unlikely I'd repurchase these.

Do you make time for face masks?
Which are you favourites? 


Saturday, 6 December 2014

SUNDAY READS : Life Update & 3 Things To Do Before the End of 2014

You may have guessed but I've been spending the large majority of 2014 in Hong Kong!


Aside from some pressing issues at hand, I'm here to find myself, to do what I've always wanted to do, to get some life experience, to meet new people, to do things that I've never done or even have heard of know, the usual Gen Y reasons for going overseas for an extended period of time. 

I can't say that staying Hong Kong has been a complete culture shock, considering that it's my second home really. I've been lucky enough to have travelled back and forth from Sydney and Hong Kong my entire life. Travelling to Hong Kong has become somewhat of a yearly pilgrimage since I was born. 

But to travel somewhere and to live somewhere other than your home country is actually two different things. 

All of a sudden, it's not so cute to not know how to read Chinese and it's not a great idea to blow a couple of hundred on afternoon tea as a last hurrah. My taxi expenses every year in Hong Kong would scare anyone and everyone. They're just so damn convenient - wave an arm and they zoom right to you. But nowadays, I find myself walking everywhere. I live on top of a mountain - literally and so it's a trek to get up and down. 

Life is a whole lot quieter but I don't think we should ever underestimate what the power of silence can do to us. It forces you to turn inwards and to examine yourself and the world around you. And that's a beautiful skill to cultivate. 

It's the last month of the year and time is running out to tie up loose ends! I feel like I've taken ten steps forward this year but also ten steps back. AHAH.

But here are still three things I want to achieve by the end of this year!
via Vuible

1. Be upfront with others about my goals 
I've never been really upfront about what I want to do in the longterm. Since I was 10, the default answer to what I want to be when I grow up was always a lawyer - preferably a barrister. And sure, that was true for brief periods in my life. I went through some of the motions and found out that, that's not how I want to live my life.

I've always dreamed of a more artistic life - days filled with creative freedom. But that's hard to put into words when the acceptable answer is something more professional and stable. Admittedly, I'm gutless. AHAH.

But this month, I want to be able to tell the truth whenever I am asked where I will go from here. I want to be upfront, even if it shocks the person asking. Even if it isn't too their taste or view of life.

I'm old enough to know that not everyone needs to enjoy the same cup of tea.

2. Have difficult conversations
One of my bad habits is that I have a tendency to avoid conflict. Even as a last resort, I think of ways to minimise the damage. By extension, I tend to avoid difficult conversations.

But in December, I'm going in the deep end and will put myself in the centre of these discussions. I'm going to ask for feedback that will probably hurt my feelings. Similarly, I'm going to fairly give others my piece of mind.

3. Do something I usually wouldn't do
Whenever I do something 'out of my comfort zone', I feel like it's really still within my comfort zone. AHAH. 

So even if it's one tiny thing, I want to truly step out of my comfort zone. Just one tiny thing.

What are you final goals for 2014? 

Monday, 10 November 2014

Nuxe Rêve de Miel Ultra-Nourishing Lip Balm Jar and Lip Moisturising Stick

I don't think Nuxe Reve De Miel lip balms need much of an introduction, considering that it is one of those products that is highly praised by the beauty community. Generally, people tend to rave about how moisturising the Ultra-Nourishing Lip Balm. 

My lips are on the drier side, with visible lines when they're at their worst. My favourite lip care product is YSL's Top Secrets Re-Plumping Concentrate Lip & Contour Shaper because it makes my lips plump and smooth. It's become one of those essential products which I can't see myself doing without. But the shaper costs an arm and leg (we're talking $64AU)! So I'm definitely on the hunt for alternatives that will hydrate and plump my lips. 

The Ultra-Nourishing Lip Balm is one of Nuxe's best sellers and has at least 78% natural ingredients. Honey, beeswax, sunflower, musk rose, almond oil, shea butter and grapefruit essence is included so that dry and chapped lips can be nourished, repaired, soothed and protected. There's also no parabens or petroleum in this mixture.

I love the look and feel of the jar! 15ml of product (the size of an average eye cream) is housed in a frosted jar and actually looks quite pretty on my dressing or night table! 


The balm's texture is actually very much like a paste. It's thick and has gritty particles which is apparently crystallised honey. Once on the lips, the particles can range from invisible to slightly visible if you come up close. I've noticed that this usually happens when the balm has hardened over in the cold weather. It does go away with time but I have a feeling that it's because I've ingested it! Perhaps the answer is to warm up the paste but the more I rub the balm into lips, the more I feel like I'm going through the motions with a lip exfoliator.

Most of the time, this lip balm does make my lips feel hydrated for a good few hours. In warmer weather, this balm is soft, buttery and very easy to apply. My lips feel soft and look plump. Not YSL shaper plump but my lips do look like they've got a decent amount of moisture in them! If I hadn't used the shaper first, I would be extremely impressed with this balm!

When it's cold, the paste freezes over and is harder to work with. The particles become obvious like tiny biscuit crumbs. If I don't roll it enough on my lips enough to heat it up, my lips end up looking drier than they really are and the whole area looks parched and stretched.

I like to apply this as part of my daily make up routine. But it works great as an overnight treatment too. In comparison to Vaseline, this one works much better! My lips turn a healthy pink in the morning and forms a great base for the day's lipgloss. I don't use this often overnight because I sleep on my belly and I don't like it smearing onto my pillowcase! Ahah =)

I'm enjoying this lip balm. I love it when it's a soft, creamy paste because it does make my lips look very soft and hydrated. I just wish they'd get rid of the grains! I can deal with the hardened-over paste but the gritty texture is a big no-no for me. 

There's printing within the box and I found a code as well. Not sure what it means - Google isn't bring up much in English but I've got a strong feeling that it's some discount code.

Anyone have any clues? The code is blurred out in case it is a shopping code! AHAH!

I'll reach for my Lip Moisturising Stick when the Balm is starting to wear off during the day. It's supposed to be the more portable version of the Balm but, for me, they're two different creatures. I actually used this before the jar and really liked the formula. It applies smoothly and does not leaving the lips feeling sticky or glossy. Once again, this is better when it's warmed up and softer, as it glides on even more smoothly. 

At first, despite having to reapply it often, I liked using it because it smells very, very nice. The scent is slightly more citrusy/lemony and I caught myself popping the cap off just to sniff it! But when compared to the jar version, it's honestly not as nourishing. 

This stays in my handbag and is used in conjunction with the jar. With the Balm as the base, this Stick helps to just lengthen the amount of moisture that's already there. 

Which lip balm do you wear underneath your lipsticks?
Which rave products do you enjoy using?


Sunday, 2 November 2014

SUNDAY READS: Favourites from my Tea Collection

My idea of relaxing involves a good read and tea. Whilst I'm still dreaming of the day I'll have my own personal library (it'll happen!), it's lucky that we have plenty of teas to choose from at home. 

Quite literally, two levels of our fridge and kitchen pantry is filled with teas that mum has collected over the years. She can't go a day without a cup of tea and so she's managed to hoard an impressive stash of canisters and old coffee jars filled with Chinese black, green and oolong teas.

Everyone in the house enjoys tea, except for dad. We have a tendency to prefer tea as it is, and rarely drink mixes or fruit blends. I love the fresh and pure taste of a good tea and am always on the lookout for something that meets this standard. I've started to branch out beyond mum's teas and have begun my own tea collection. 

I thought I'd share a couple of my favourites! 

1. Bi Luo Chun - the 'most aromatic green tea'
Bi Luo Chun is one of China's most famous green teas. It used to be enjoyed in the Imperial Court and is liked for its fresh aromatic taste. The tea does not go through a fermentation process, which just means that it's able to retain its natural antioxidants and vitamins. It is often rolled into tight spirals which unravel once in hot water. It's quite a sight if you've never seen this happen!

I like to let the Bi Luo Chun brew until its leaves are half unravelled in my teapot. The water first turns green and then a yellow-ish colour. This is indicative of its flavours being released!

In comparison to Japanese green teas, Chinese green teas tend to be milder and sweeter. This Bi Luo Chun is light, fresh and very smooth on the palate. It has a sweet jasmine aftertaste that makes me come back for more. Like most Chinese green teas, it can get a tiny bit bitter if the tea/water ratio isn't carefully handled. I'm no expert, so I operate on a trial and error basis!
Bi Luo Chun is really refreshing and so I think it's especially good for yum cha or a Chinese dinner. I also like drinking this in the morning because the flavour is clean and very, very fragrant. It's a lovely wake up call! My brother likes this chilled in the summer and will drink it throughout the day.

 2. Irish Breakfast - the 'strong like a coffee' tea
I love Irish Breakfast and am always gifting this to my friends who rely on coffee to make it through their day. For me, this black tea is stronger than coffee if I brew two teaspoons in a small teapot. I'll drink 3-4 cups and I'll be up on night. I take this first thing in the morning and it powers me through the night!

This is because it has a higher caffeine level than other green or white teas, making it stronger than most. Whilst it has a lesser amount of caffeine than that in a coffee, for me, it's stronger than a latte with one sugar. I drank this practically everyday last year when I had to stay up a lot!

As my friend describes it, Irish Breakfast is 'like English Breakfast but not'. I find Irish Breakfast to be more full-bodied, richer and maltier. It's more of a hearty, savoury tea that goes well with a big breakfast or even a high tea. I especially love this with scones and ribbon sandwiches!

3. Rose Tea - 'my favourite fragrance in a cup' tea
It actually took me awhile to find some rosebuds that didn't look or taste artificial. Rose buds are very popular in Hong Kong and they're easy to find in Chinese heralist stores. But they tend to stock the kind that smell and taste like they've been artificially dealt with. 

I still have a few tins of them left over and they're lovely for foot baths, but not great for drinking. 

For me, the rose buds pictured have just the right amount of colouring and they taste very natural. It's not a strong or overpowering tea, instead it gives a more gentler taste on the palate.

I started drinking rose tea because it's supposed to relax and calm. I love roses, so drinking rose tea is just the cherry on top. I'm not surprised that it calms me because so does a rose latte and some rose jam! I just really like the flavour and, therefore, whenever it is brewed, it's my cue to sit back and just be in the moment.

I like mine hot but this can be drunk chilled. I just find that cold rose water tastes bland and needs some honey or Lu Han Guo water to bring out its flavour.   

4. Chamomile Tea - the 'keep calm and breathe' tea
Research suggests that chamomile tea can help alleviate insomnia, boost your immune system, calm nerves and soothe menstrual camps. Whether it's a placebo effort or not, I find it working for me in the area of stress relief. 

I just love the smell of it when it's freshly brewed. The whole kitchen smells floral and just plain calming. The taste is subtle and slightly sweet. I've been drinking this a lot lately because I'm really liking the flavour.

This is great towards the end of the day, when I'm trying to get the last few cups of water into my system. I generally scoop 2 teaspoons into a teapot and drink it until it starts to lose its flavour and colour. The chamomile itself also turns pulpy and then I toss it out.

Are you a tea drinker? What types of teas do you like? 

Friday, 24 October 2014

Dr Jart Ceramidin Light Cream Set

I've always envied people with dewy skin - Korean girls especially. Most of them seem to have this airbrushed, baby smooth skin and, whilst there's undoubtedly a plethora of make up to achieve that look, my interest seems to lie in their skincare routines.

The idea is that I have dehydrated skin and Korea has a much cooler and drier climate in comparison to Sydney or Hong Kong. So I imagine that their moisturisers would suit my skin type.

One line of Korean skincare products that I've come into contact with is Dr Jart's Ceramidin collection. This line is designed to stop water from being evaporated from the skin. This is done by forming a protective shield over it, with the aim of replenishing the skin and making it look healthy and thoroughly moisturised. 

I actually learnt about the Ceramidin collection through a YouTube video where KPop artists Son Dam Bi and SPICA were raving about the products' hydrating abilities. One of the SPICA girls mixed Dr Jart's Ceramidin Cream with a BB Cream to make a tinted moisturiser (or a dewy foundation, really).

The premise of Ceramidin products is to replenish our body's ceramide supply. So before anything else, we have to understand what exactly this is. 
Ceramides are liqids that are naturally found in our skin. It's actually the binding or 'glue' that holds surface skin cells together and is responsible for healthy, glowing skin. But as we age, the amount of ceramide in our body decreases as production slows down. This makes our skin barrier thinner.

Hyaluronic acid can help with attracting moisture but the story goes that it'll just escape if your skin barrier is weak. That's why you need ceramide to hold the water in. 

Dry, irritated and sensitive skin often lack ceramides. So I was very keen on trying the Ceramidin line. Dr Jart says that their products uses time-release microcapsule ceramides which can deeply penetrate and replenish damaged skin. Over time, this will strengthen the skin barrier and enhance the skin's own moisturising ability.

Are we all excited by now?!

Before this Ceramidin Light Cream set, I used their cream in a squeezy tube and, while the packaging wasn't to my liking, I really enjoyed the actual product. I decided to give this Light Cream set a go since it came with the Liquid and this is often touted as the star product. I didn't expect too much of the Light Cream because anything light is often used as a moisture sealant for me. They're rarely enough for my thirsty skin.

All Ceramidin products are without sulphate, paraben and phthalates, making it a good choice for sensitive skin types. Licorice extract and potulacaa oleracea is also included to brighten and soothe inflamed skin. Panthenol is added to nourish and strengthen damaged skin. 

All products have a fresh, botanical scent to it. It's very clean and surprisingly relaxing. I've read reviews online that people really dislike the scent but I find it calming and I actually look forward to my skincare routine now.

In the set, there's a trial size of the Cermaidin Liquid and it's to be applied after your cleansing routine. In Korea, it's described as an all-in-one product - it's a toner, essence, emulsion, booster and serum depending on your needs. 

I personally use this day and night after my cleansing toner by squeezing about a 5 cent coin and patting it onto my face. As it absorbs, I'll give myself a bit of a massage by gently lifting the sides of of my skin and cheeks towards my ears, and forehead to my hair line. The liquid is very quickly absorbed and it leaves the skin feeling moisturised. In the first few days of use, I found that it really helped to even out my skintone.

Every so often, after a clay mask or if I want to give my skin some more pampering, I'll layer a moisturising serum on top and press that in with warmed hands. I've found that my foundation goes on smoother and holds much better with this trick!

I've purchased the full size version of this because I really like it!

The Ceramidin Light Cream looks like soft butter but is light and watery to the touch. I got this in the summer and wanted something that would hydrate my skin since the air-con was drying me out pretty badly. Luckily, this was just what I was looking for.

Admittedly, at first, I wrote it off because the first few uses didn't reap any benefits. I picked it up again awhile afterward and decided to use it as a sleeping mask. I put on a very generous layer for two nights straight and my skin started to soften and become more resilient. 

I then started using this day and night on top of the Liquid and right before my foundation. Despite the fact that it's a light formula, it's moisturising and it's really improved my skin. I went to get my make up done a few weeks ago and for the first time in my life, the make up artist didn't mention my dry skin. 

Errr, how much win is that?!

I've finished using the entire tub now and I think this is a great moisturiser for the warmer months but I'll be switching back to the cream version when winter comes around. I think both combination and normal skin types can benefit from the Cream and Liquid. But whether you need both products really depends on how dry your skin is. I mean, sometimes, I'll just use the Liquid and jump straight to my sunscreen.

There are definitely other ceramide skin products out there but I think this is a cheaper alternative in comparison. 

Which moisturiser are you using now? 
Do you usually switch your moisturisers according to the weather?


Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Grown Alchemist Damask Rose, Black Pepper & Sage Shampoo

I am a rose addict.

I love a small vase of fresh roses on my work table and a strong rose latte when I want to treat myself. When rose petals start to turn colour, I'll put them into a bucket for a foot spa. I've heard that it helps to calm the nerves!

I keep a box of rose buds in my cupboard and often add them to my chamomile tea because it gives it a better taste. A rose cleanser is also on my to-buy-list as they're supposedly good for soothing and softening sensitive skin.

In my last Grown Alchemist haul, I bought two rose beauty products - the Persian Rose & Argan Extract Intensive Hand Cream and Damask Rose, Black Pepper & Sage Shampoo. While the hand cream was good, it wasn't as intensive as I thought it would be. Luckily, I'm really liking their shampoo!

The best thing about the Grown Alchemist brand is that they're certified organic and their products do not contain sulphate, petrochemicals, artificial fragrances, animal derivatives, T.E.A, D.E.A., synthetic colours, silicons and parabens.

For me, it's especially important to use a sulphate-free shampoo and their one certainly fits the bill!

The formula is gentle and nutrient rich, as it's filled with micro wheat proteins, black pepper antioxidants, chamomile, bush tomato, lycopene and vitamin C. This is supposed to leave the hair nourished, stronger and tamer, without stripping it of its natural essential oils.

I rub one pump of product together in my hands to create some bubbles. Since it's sulphate-free, it does not lather like normal shampoos but I think this is workable and foams up quite well compared to other sulphate-free shampoos that I've used. I spread this across the front of my scalp and repeat the process to lather the back.

My hair feels clean, soft and manageable. I've used other sulphate-free shampoos but they have a tendency to dry out my hair, leaving it straw-like and brassy. This Grown Alchemist one is much better! I have to say in honesty that it doesn't compare to using normal shampoo. I used to love using Kao Essentials Rich Premier shampoo and conditioner, and this combination made my hair look and feel healthy. I've yet to find a sulphate-free shampoo that replicates this. 

Having said that, Grown Alchemist is the best one I've used so far in the sulphate-free category. At the very least, it cleans without drying my hair out and works pretty well with the Kao Essentials Rich Premier conditioner and hair mask.

The shampoo also has a very mild aromatic scent - I can pinpoint the rose and sage but not the black pepper. I'm used to something stronger but it turns out that a slight fragrance is just as good. I'm 3/4 through my bottle and I find the scent very soothing and calming.

This is the 300ml bottle and it comes with a pump which can be depressed and locked to stop leakages in the event that you have to travel with it. Hotel shampoos generally have sulphate in them and so I really appreciate this feature.

Overrall, this is a great option if you're looking for a sulphate-free shampoo. It's an all-natural product, cleans well and smells lovely. My only gripe with it is that it's on the expensive side ($22.95 for 300ml or $29.95 for 500ml). Lucky that their official website, Myers and David Jones seem to do sales on them quite frequently but it still makes me want to venture out and try other less expensive alternatives.But a cynical side of me thinks that I'll come crawling back to this one because that's what always happens. AHAH.

What's your favourite scent?

Saturday, 11 October 2014

First Impressions feat Giorgio Armani, Bobbi Brown, Aseop, Laneige & Kiehl's

So my Beauty Ban started all the way back in July and I reckon it's been a pretty big success! I've saved up a fair bit and hopefully I'll do a splurge on something non-beauty related. Who am I kidding, it'll probably end up going to food or some new skincare. 

But despite not purchasing much these past few months, I've been able to test out some products thanks to some generous SAs. I thought I'd offer my first impressions. So here goes!

I was at Giorgio Armani's beauty counter because I wanted to try their pink/salmon Master Corrector. Apparently, it's ace at correcting very dark under eye bags but every SA I spoke to tried to steer me in the direction of their orange shade. I've always thought that an orange corrective shade would be more appropriate for spots like pimples. One SA offered to apply the orange shade on me to see how it'd turn out.

She whipped out the Rejuvenating Serum after she noticed the puffiness around my eyes. She said the serum would be good for any excess fluid. Yeast extract, caffeine and tensor agents are released through the metal tip of the serum and is supposed to make the eye area brighter and smoother. 
I've used a different metal eye contour roller before and I was quite disappointed in that. The Armani one is infinitely better. The metal felt much cooler and my eyes honestly depuffed in front of me. The area looked smoother and my eye bags didn't look THAT bad. I don't know how it happened but I definitely saw the changes.

While it works just as stated, the serum is priced at $102.67. Don't think I'll be picking this up soon!

I went to the Bobbi Brown counter to ask about their corrector in Bisque for my under eye problem and I somehow ended up getting a makeover! AHAH I'm not sure how it happened because one minute I was standing there asking the SA questions about correctors and the next she was taking off my make up.
One of the products that she applied on me was the Smokey Nudes Eyeshadow Palette, which is part of their Fall Collection 2014. There's 8 shadows in total and the compact has a good mixture of mattes and metallics, making it a good essential for day and night smokey eyes. The shadows have the perfect amount of pigmentation, are soft to the touch and stays put.
I'm not a huge fan of wearing shimmers but my favourite Naked 1 shades all have some glitter in it. The best thing about this Bobbi Brown palette is that the commonly worn brown, nude and mauve gray colours are all matte - making the work appropriate smokey eye just that bit more classier.

I really like the compact. It's actually two leveled with 4 shades on each and the bottom slides and extends out to create the image above.
The only thing that's stopping me is the price.

As you may already know, I'm on the hunt for a good sulphate free shampoo since anything with the ingredient itches my hands and irritates my scalp. I'm not too familiar with the Aseop brand but a friend told me that they do a good one. I went to ask about it and to also see what other ingredients are in the formula. The SA gave me two packets of their Calming Shampoo to try at home.
I tried it that night and the shampoo irritated my hands but not my scalp. I jumped online and found that the SA was wrong, in that it does actually have sulphate in it.

Aside from the itchy hands, I didn't notice my hair feel outstandingly different from other shampoos I've tried. 

Most BB creams make my face turn ash, so I wasn't interested at all when the BB Cushion trend came around. But, I was given a small sample pot/compact of Sulwhasoo's Evenfair Perfecting Cushion in No. 23 to try and I fell in love!

Line, hook and sinker - I'm all about that BB Cushion now. 

It seriously does give you Korean actress looking skin and is so easy to use. It's also less fiddly than pouring out foundation and applying it with a brush. All you have to do is pat the BB cream in with the sponge and then you're good to go. I think the hardest thing is getting the colour right.

I tried Laneige's BB Cushion in No. 13 and 21 on my face, and I'm somewhere in between. Not as pale as a 13 and not as beige as a 21. That's one reason why I didn't pick it up. Another is because I found this to make my skin look a little bit more drier than Sulwhasoo's. Whilst this one lasted longer, it did seem to make my face look dry as time went on. It's not bad but Sulwhasoo is better in terms of moisturise. 

If I hadn't tried Sulwhasoo's first, I think I would have purchased it in No. 21.

This gentle blend of botanically based ingredients targets flaking, itchy scalps to assuage irritation while effectively cleansing hair. The ideal shampoo for those with sensitive scalps prone to irritatio - See more at:
I bought their Avocado Eye Cream and the SA kindly offered me a round of samples to try at home. I told her that I have sensitive skin, react to sulphate and would like to avoid alcohol. She smiled and went off to gather me some sachets before popping them into my bag.
This cleanser was the first thing I tried and it stung my eye area so badly! Read the ingredients and sulphate was listed second. 

Ohhh, the anger. 

I clearly need to get into the habit of reading ingredient lists before leaving stores and definitely before putting anything on my face!
This gentle blend of botanically based ingredients targets flaking, itchy scalps to assuage irritation while effectively cleansing hair. The ideal shampoo for those with sensitive scalps prone to irritatio - See more at:

Have you tried out any of these products? 
What have you been trying out lately?

Sunday, 5 October 2014

SUNDAY READS: Dr Ivan Joseph - The Skill of Self Confidence

I really enjoy watching TED talks in my downtime and I'm always recommending this one by Dr Joseph on self confidence. What I love most about it is that he positions self confidence as a skill - a learned ability that anyone can develop through practice and positive self talk. He also explains how positive reinforcement can help develop the self confidence of those around us.

Here are some highlights from the video -

'We all have this negative self-talk that goes on in our head. Guess what? There's enough people that are telling us we can't do it. That we're not good enough. Why do we want to tell ourselves that? We know for a fact that thoughts influence actions'.

'We know that our thoughts influence actions, why do we want to say that negative self-talk to ourselves? We need to get our own self-affirmations. Muhammad Ali, what was his self-affirmation? "I am the greatest!". Who else is going to tell you that? There needs to be quiet moments in your bedroom, quiet moments when you're brushing your teeth that we need to reaffirm: "I am the captain of my ship and the master of my fate!". That is my affirmation'. 

'How do you build self confidence? Get away from the people who will tear you down. There's enough of that'.

'I wrote a letter to myself, it was my own brag sheet. My own letter about the things I was proud of. Because there are moments, and we'll all experience them in our career, in our lives, in our job hunting, in our relationships; when we are not feeling good about who, and what, and where we are. And I had to bring out that letter and read it time and time again, for a period of about two weeks, to weather me through that storm. It was important. Stop the self-talk, the negative self-talk'.

'It sounds simple but we forget about it. Or as educators, or as somebody on a team, if we manage to praise the positive behaviour that we wanted to reinforce. We forget it. It sounds so simple. Catch them when they're good. We forget it. It's simple'.

'If I could give you one thing to take from this, it is: no one will believe in you unless you do... Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes. We're supposed to be different, folks. And when people look at us, believe in yourself'. 

I am not a confident person by nature and I am, in fact, full of doubt about most things. I am a highly careful and cautious person, and I was taught that confidence was interchangeable with cockiness. I think the last point is quite unfortunate because they are not synonyms.  

I came across this video during a time when I was very confused. There was a lot of noise going on around me - way too many competing opinions vying for attention and I found it hard to cut through all of that. It was even harder to trust and back myself up. This video really helped me to examine all that negative self talk that I'd been feeding myself. 

Whenever I feel overwhelmed, I always go back to this video and let it knock some sense into me.

I hope you enjoy this video as well.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Innisfree's Super Volcanic Pore Clay Mask

At the start of the year, I used a few samples of Innisfree's Original Volcanic Pore Clay Mask and, while it was too drying for my skin, it really sparked my interest in clay masks. I've started to notice that it's not all about the amount of moisture I put into my face. It's also about how rigorous my cleansing routine is and, to date, mine is pretty ordinary. 

There's the cleansing oil, sometimes a separate cleanser afterward and then a toner. Every so often, I'll do a round of exfoliation.

My pores are getting bigger and I'm getting tiny bumps underneath the skin around my nose and cheeks. They're not exactly pimples because they never break through. Without having seen a dermatologist about it, I'm guessing that it's oil build up?

Everything become infinitely more pronounced during Hong Kong's humid and terribly hot summer. My face got really congested thanks to the build up of sweat, sunscreen and pollution.

I've tried a few clay masks since the Innisfree Pore Clay Mask but they've all had this gritty texture that I'm not too keen on. Recently, I purchased Innisfree's Super Volcanic Pore Clay Mask because I'd heard that it's creamier than its predecessor and many other brands on the market. 

In fact, the Super version has double the volcanic ash in the Original, making it more effective as a detox and purification mask. Innisfree says that the product will tighten pores, remove sebum, exfoliate dead skin cells, leave a cooling effect on the skin and enhance skin tone through a deep cleanse.

You probably can't see clearly in this photo but there's actually a small seated plastic lid over the clay mask. I think it's definitely a nice touch as the clay could harden if it's continually exposed to air. At least, the plastic cover is a bit of insurance for times when you haven't screwed the lid on properly!

It would have been even nicer if they had included a small spatula on top so you don't have to use your fingers to scoop the product!

The thing that I like most about this clay mask is the fact that the product is so smooth. Application is much easier, as it just glides onto your face like a normal cream. The peculiar thing about the mask is that you can feel some particles as you do so and apparently they are volcanic pore cluster capsules, which will help draw impurities in the pores.

I like to layer a generous amount over my face, steering clear of the upper lip and eye area. I've found that it doesn't really work all that well when I skimp on the amount I use. It does leave a cooling effect on the skin and, in comparison to the Original, it doesn't tighten as much. My face also doesn't feel like it's being sucked dry.

It takes about 15 minutes for mine to harden and, as I wash it off, I'll gently roll those volcanic clusters around my face so that I'll get some exfoliation done at the same time. Two birds with one stone!
During the summer, I basically used this every second day (I haven't decided whether this is excessive or not) because the weather was incredibly humid. My skin always looks clearer, brighter and the pores around my cheeks and nose area is pretty much unnoticeable unless you come real close. It hasn't done much in terms of dislodging blackheads. Admittedly, mine look pretty deep at the moment and I'm not sure if a mask would help. 
My face doesn't feel completely devoid of hydration but it does feel squeaky clean. This always freaks me out a little so I'll either put a face mask or hydrating serum right after.
I actually really recommend this clay mask. It's quite affordable ($120HK for 100ml) and it works really well without severely drying out the skin. It also exfoliates, thanks to the volcanic clusters so this is actually a 2-in-1 product! But I don't think I'm being using it much during the colder months though. For my dry skin, it's more of an emergency measure when I'm faced with crazy temperatures and humidity.

What do you do for a deep clean? 
Who's into cleansing devices?

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Grown Alchemist Persian Rose & Argan Extract Intensive Hand Cream

I went through a huge Grown Alchemist phase a few months ago. It all started when a few blogs that I often browse featured their products and I fell in love with the sleekness of their packaging. I also bought into their whole botanical approach to skincare - especially after my Chinese doctor told me to use skin products that are as simple and natural as possible. 

Grown Alchemist is actually a Melbourne brand and my whole love affair with the brand also coincided with the end of my Melbourne trip where I was going 'Woooo go Melbourne!' to pretty much anything originating from that place. Ahah.

I am one of those people who will spend a lot of time researching beauty products before I make the purchase. Surprisingly, with very little research on Grown Alchemist products, I went out and bought myself their shampoo, body cream and two hand creams (I was also going through a hand cream phase!). 

For this post, I'm going to be reviewing one of the hand creams I got and that's the Persian Rose & Argan Extract Intensive Hand Cream!

One of the good things about Grown Alchemist products is that there are no Lauryl Sulphate, Glycols, Petrochemicals, Artificial Fragrance, Animal Derivatives, T.E.A, D.E.A, Synthetic Colours, Silicones, Parabens. It's important for me that there is no sulphate in my skincare as I've found that it is an irritant for my skin. I also try to avoid products with artifical fragrance because sometimes it can be a deal breaker on my face and for my nose. Where possible, I'll also look for products that are paraben-free and petrochemical-free.

The fact that Grown Alchemist makes products without these nasties also made me want to try out more of their product line. 

The intensive hand cream has bioactive ingredients such as Persian Rose, Tamanu Oil and Argan extract containing Vitamin A & Omega’s 3, 6 & 7. These are intended to deeply hydrate the hands.

I actually got this in a box set with the brand's Intensive Body Cream, so you'll see the ingredients for that underneath. 

Grown Alchemist describes this as 'a rich intensive hydrating hand cream that is instantly absorbed reviving the driest skin without leaving a greasy feel'. It's definitely true that this is one of those hand creams which you can rub into your skin and pretty much immediately start typing/going about your day. Surprisingly, the cream itself doesn't feel thick or heavy. It's actually quite light once spread out and it feels as if it's penetrated the skin. 

My hands are definitely on the dry side and the cream really does make it appear more nourished straight after application. I find that if I want my fingers to look nice and plump, I do have to use a bit more than normal so I can massage the cream in. Overall, it does make my hands softer. But I don't think it's as intensive as it's described because I have to reapply quite often to maintain results. I also don't find it hydrating enough for overnight use either. My hands in the morning only seem slightly softer. 

The cream has an old, musky rose scent which I'm not too crazy about. It actually reminds me of my old elderly neighbour's bathroom! I mean, it smells exotic and quite natural but it's not how I would have scented a rose hand cream. I'm used to it now but it was something that I had to get used to in the beginning. 

I had quite high hopes for this hand cream considering that I bought it during a time when I was looking for sulphate-free skincare. The hand cream itself is good but it's perhaps still not intensive enough for my dry hands. Considering the price ($27.95AU) and its results, I don't think I'll be repurchasing it again and will instead go on the hunt for alternatives.

Which hand cream are you using now? 
Have you used any botanical/natural skincare products? Are they any better?

Sunday, 7 September 2014

SUNDAY READS: 3 Things I've Learnt In August

The month of August has come to an end, I thought I might share with you what I've learnt in the past 31 days. A lot of things have happened in the past four weeks - I've learnt what it means to be strong, I've learnt what it means to be confident, I've learnt what it means to 'fake it till you make it'...

So many lessons were learnt and I continue to be grateful for every experience that comes my way. 

1. There will always be noise
I've finally realised that everyone has an opinion and the large majority want someone to listen to their ideas. Sometimes, people's opinions can be really useful. I met a wonderful executive coach by chance last year and, with a few words, she was able to completely change my way of thinking. She really empowered me to take a path not taken by most, so that I can be happier than most. 

But it's not everyday that you'll meet someone like that. In fact, in this past month, I've been meeting some of the most negative people I've ever come across. I've sat in front of people who hate on other people's ideas because they are 'too big/small/stupid/insignificant/outlandish/impossible/impractical'. The list goes on. 

I confess to being a pessimistic and cautious type of person. So to be surrounded by these type of people only makes me more unsure about the path I've chosen. Uncertainty has also lead to inaction. Inaction has led to more uncertainty...

It took awhile for me to actually catch on to what was happening. And it took just as long to realise that what people have been saying to me have all been opinions. They are not facts. They do not know anymore than I do about what the future holds. 

I've learnt to take things with a grain of salt. There will always be people who want to let you know their opinion. Don't only hear what you want to hear. Hear everything but also examine everything to know whether what they're saying is valuable or not. 

Obviously, if people have a point, then it's best to take note and to really question whether their concerns are well founded. 

If not, then, at the end of the day, so long as it makes sense to you and it makes you happy, cut out all the noise and do exactly what you were doing before. 

via West Willow

2. Rephrase your words. Say what is useful
I think it's always important to be aware of what your words can do to others. Even though you mean well, your words might still hurt someone. 

I've been on both sides this month - I've been the well intentioned one and I've also been the hurt one. I know how wronged you feel when the person you're speaking to throws back your good intentions. I also know how uncomfortable it is to hear someone offering well-meaning, but just unhelpful, advice. 

I don't think I can completely decide never to be the one who gets hurt in this equation. But I have decided that I don't want to be consciously responsible for someone else's unhappiness or stress. I think one of the best ways to approach this is by only saying what is helpful to others. 

It's not like I'm going around sugarcoating everything or straight out lying to them. It's just that I've chosen to rephrase my words. Instead of blatantly pointing out someone else's flaws, I offer suggestions by saying things like 'how awesome would it be if...'

It makes such a big difference. No only is there no negativity exchange during the conversation, but people seem so much more receptive to what I have to say. 

via PDG

3. Get your priorities right
If only I had a dollar for every time someone told me they were busy. I totally get it - You're busy. I'm busy. Everyone is damn busy, especially since we live in times where being pressed for time is equated to productivity. 

We're THAT busy that we're often forced to choose between our work, studies, partners, families, friends and interests. But sometimes I wonder if the words 'I'm busy' is an avoidance mechanism. 

I'm beginning to think that if we really wanted to do something, we would make time for it. We would diarise it and use it as motivation to get through all the mundane stuff.

I've found that if a task comes across of mind more than a few times and I don't make a firm commitment to complete it, I know that it's not something I really want to do. And then I have to ask myself some honest questions about why that is so and what I can realistically do about it.

Sometimes it's as straight forward as 'Well, even though I don't want to do it, I still have to because the consequences are unwanted or something I don't want to deal with'. Other times, it's a huge wakeup call and it calls for a rethink about what I'm doing.

Either way, I think it's important to have a look at where your priorities lie and to see whether they are aligned with what you want out of life.

Do any of these points resonate with you? What have you learnt in August? 
Always love to hear your thoughts on life!

Monday, 1 September 2014

Dry or Itchy Scalp?

Recently, the haircare market has seen the oncoming of sulphate-free shampoos. Most of the time you'll see the words 'sulphate-free' in big bold highlighted letters on shampoo bottles - so you definitely won't miss them!

But why the sudden influx of these shampoos? More importantly, what are the benefits of a sulphate-free shampoo?

It's easier to first look at what's bad about sulphate in shampoos. More often that not, the first ingredient listed on the back of shampoos is sulphate, a grease-cutting detergent that is commonly found in industrial cleaners and beauty cleansing products. In shampoos, sulphate is the element that assists in the forming of soap, helping you to get that nice lather that leaves your scalp feeling clean. 
The problem with sulphate is that it can irritate the scalp and skin. It's responsible for that burning sensation when you get shampoo in your eyes. It can also contribute to an itchy and dry scalp, which in itself can lead to or aggravate problems such as dandruff and eczema on the scalp. Bad news for sensitive skin types!

Sulphate is also said to make hair dry, dull and brittle because it can dissolve the natural oils in our hair. Colourists say that, by extension, it can make your new hair colour fade faster. Some state that, because the ingredient is so corrosive, it can damage hair follicles and make you lose hair. This is made even worse if the shampoo isn't properly rinsed out. 

There are some other research studies floating around the internet claiming that sulphate can contribute to a plethora of more serious health issues such as organ failure and cancer.
I've been using Kao Essentials Rich Premier shampoo, which has sulphate in it, for years already and   it honestly is the best shampoo I've ever used. Not only does it clean really well, it smells absolutely divine. Their conditioner is even better, keeping my hair nice and soft. Sometimes, I'll even substitute the conditioner for their Damage Care Intensive Hair Mask for a bit of pamper!

You may have heard about the dermatitis on my hands and how it's been the bane of my existence for such a long time. My hands are permanently red looking and, when it's at its worst, I'll have open wounds. 

It's just plain scary. 

I actually have dermatitis on my neck and sometimes on my scalp as well. 

I've seen a truckload of dermatologists and herbalists, and nothing has helped. Until I met my current Chinese doctor who told me to stop using shampoo with sulphate in it. 

And would you believe that its seriously helped?! Alongside a few courses of Chinese herbs and a few changes to my diet, my hands and scalp are blister free and are finally looking skin-coloured! Wooo! My neck sometimes gets itchy but I feel like it's more to do with the Hong Kong heat/humidity more than anything else. 

But why the sad face? 

It's because sulphate-free shampoos are a totally different ballgame. They don't lather like normal shampoos and so my hair doesn't feel as clean as before. When I first started using sulphate-free shampoos, I had to wash my hair twice and even then I noticed that my hair gets oiler much quicker than before. I'm assuming that this because there is no longer any sulphate present to wash away my natural oils. 

I tried to use my normal shampoo a few times and my hands started to itch again - so it's a no go for me from now on!

I continue to use the Essentials Rich Premier conditioner but have found that my hair feels less soft than before - not coarse and necessarily drier but less softer to the touch. I'm actually still on the hunt for the perfect sulphate-free shampoo. 

Having said that, I am extremely happy that the skin on my hands and neck, and scalp are healing. So I'm going to have to stick with sulphate-free shampoos. 

I really recommend anyone with a dry or itchy scalp, or redness on their neck or around their eyes to give sulphate-free shampoos a go. A few friends of mine with mild eczema on their scalp and the back of their necks made the switch and it all healed up!

What hair type are you? Oily, normal or dry? 
Have you ever used sulphate-free shampoos before?