Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Maybelline Master Precise Liquid Eyeliner

I seriously think pen liners are a great idea! They're good if you don't have steady hands and they generally have quite fine tips, making it easy to tightline. But they dry out so easily and the amount of pigmentation you get on your eyelids really depends on how easy the liquid can flow out of the pen.
Dry pen liners annoy the living daylights out of me! So much so that I haven't bought one in years!

But I'm really liking that thin eyeliner look lately and so I've been looking for something that will help me achieve it. I picked up Maybelline's Master Precise Liquid Eyeliner awhile ago after learning about it's 0.05mm ultra fine tip. I chose Blackest Black because I still prefer an intense line that will highlight my eye.

I absolutely love how thin this liner is! It's calligraphy-style tip is super easy to work with and it helps me get right onto my lashline. Unlike, Face of Australia's Liquid Eyeliner, the Precise Liner is a little less flexible but still easy to control. I find that I actually prefer this tip because I can thicken the line by pressing it down flat against my lashline. The FOA eyeliner was a bit too fine for something like this.

This is already my second time purchasing the Master Precise liner because I really like how thin the tip is. My first one actually dried out about a week after I started using it. When I first got it, the colour was a really nice black. Not the most intense I've come across but good enough for a daily or work look. It was a prim and proper kind of black, but that certainly wore off quickly. 

It annoyed me like crazy and I vowed to never get another one.

That didn't last long because, a few weeks afterwards, I went and got another one. I talked myself into the idea that maybe it was just bad luck and that perhaps I picked up one that had been on the shelf for awhile. 

Much to my dismay, the above photo was taken after the second time I used the liner. The level of pigmentation is absolutely appalling for a brand new product.

*pulls hair out*

Sure, you can get a darker colour if you go over the line a few times (try 5-6 times) but then it actually gets thicker and then what's the point, really? I get a very similar result with my pencils and other liquid liners.

I've seriously tried everything to make this work. I've stored it tip up, tip down, laying on its side... I've even tried putting it in a cup of hot water with the tip facing upwards. This actually helped a little but I only got enough colour intensity for one eyelid.

So, no, it does not give a continuous flow. It doesn't wear all day, stain or smudge and is easy to remove because I can hardly get anything onto my lids.  

Never again, Maybelline, never again!

I've heard that the Japanese pen liners are really good - the colour intensity is impressive and that the actual tip is quite fine. But I'm not sure whether I'm willing to pick up another pen liner!

Do you use pen liners? Do your ones tend to dry up quickly as well? 

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Essential's Damage Care Hair Cuticle Treatment Water

As you may know from my introduction sidebar, a good day is essentially good skin and good hair. While the skin bit is dependent on way too many factors (right about now, it's all dependent on the weather!), good hair has been relatively easy thanks to Kao Essential's Damage Care line of hair products. This Japanese line of hair products are seriously top notch. I really enjoy using their shampoo and conditioner because it makes my hair softer and more manageable. I've also being using their Damage Care Rich Premier Intensive Hair Mask since 2012 as a top-up treatment. 

So when I saw the Essential's Damage Care Hair Cuticle Treatment Water Mist in Hong Kong, I knew I had to have it. Admittedly, I wasn't really sure what it was since I've never used or even heard of treatment water before. It didn't help that pretty much all the writing on the spray's back is in Chinese and my reading skills are that of a kindergarten (or less...most likely less). But a sales assistant told me it's a basically a spray that hydrates and revitalises damaged hair.

I Googled around for how this treatment water works. It is listed as a non-rinse hair treatment that leaves hair smooth, straight and easy to handle. Benefits include: 
  • Instantly nourished and replenished hair leaving it moist and easy to handle
  • A virtual veil being formed on the hair to protect it against damage left behind from heart styling tools
  • Has anti-UV ingredients that minimises sun damage
  • Leaves the hair with a fruity and floral scent
I thought the product sounded really promising! I ionically straighten my hair once a year because I have unruly waves and I straighten out regrowth every other day after I wash my hair. I think my hair actually goes through quite a battering since I'm not huge on using heat protecting products. I tried Tresemme's Heat Tamer Protective Spray and it seriously just made my hair really stiff and straw-like. I didn't like it at all! So I was really looking forward to using this before I put a straightener to my hair. 

I also thought that it'd be nice to use this in between washes before I styled my hair in the mornings.

As much as I wanted to love this treatment water, it really didn't do much for my hair.

I have tried using this before I run my straightener through my hair and it didn't seem to do much. Luckily, it doesn't make my hair stringy or parched but, at the same time, it didn't make it feel softer or smoother.

I have also used this when I have wanted a bit of hydration a day after I've washed my hair. It only makes my hair a tiny bit softer and shinier but the effects don't last long. My hair quickly drinks it and it's back to it's normal state. I initially thought that this was because I didn't use enough and so I started spraying it very liberally, only to find that the results are the same. Considering how good the lines is, I expected results that would last for more than one day.

It comes with a spray nozzle and I must have completely forgotten how much I hate sprays when I bought it. Because, for me, they are a pain to use. I have enough hair for two heads (my hair stylist always has a good whinge whenever I see him) and it is extremely difficult to distribute product through it. 

A spray doesn't really help with this. I either have to be very, very generous or I have to spray it into my hand to smooth over my hair. The latter is quite difficult because this is just like water and it slips through my hand very easily.  

One of the more positive things about the treatment is that it definitely doesn't weigh my hair down. Just like water, it clings lightly to strands before it sinks in. My hair doesn't feel sticky or look flat immediately after a few sprays.

It also smells beautiful, just like the rest of the Damage Care line. It is a gorgeous combination of fruits and flowers that I can't pinpoint! But I love it! Sadly, the scent also fades quite quickly.

From what I understand, this is only available in Hong Kong and Japan. But I don't think I can recommend this to anyone. Unfortunately, it really didn't do much for my hair. It didn't give my hair any lasting nourishment and my ends still look pretty much the same. I much prefer using hair oil, which makes my hair softer than anything else I've tried!
What type of hair treatments do you use? Any HG products you'd like to share?

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Sunday Reads #2: A Gratitude Project

via Society6

For a very long time, I was critical about everything. I have perfectionist tendencies and that means that I prone to analyse and see things in a negative light. There are times when everything seems 'good but not good enough'. I expect a lot from myself and from others. When I don't fulfill my own narrow idea of 'success', I can end up being quite negative. It's definitely not helpful but, at one point, I talked myself into believing that my ability to critically analyse and to push the envelope for more was a valuable strength. I thought that being able to stand up and tell a room 'hold on a second, I think we can do better than this' was something that I should be proud of. Indeed, for a very long time, I was rewarded because of this capability and I thoroughly enjoyed the accolades.

But being a perfectionist is exhausting, particularly if it lends itself to stress and overall unhappiness. It puts you on this treadmill of thinking that things aren't 'good enough', so you plan out to do better. But the irony is that you always find that 'better' still doesn't look 'good enough' and hence the cycle starts again.

A month ago, I spoke to a friend who was going through something similar and we decided that enough was enough. We both understood that what we were doing was no longer cutting it for us. We might be producing good results for others but it was at the expense of own wellbeing.

I suggested we do a Gratitude Project, where instead of finding faults in every moment, we would reprogram ourselves to see the positives in our daily activities. Initially, for a period of two weeks, I said that we should hold each other accountable by messaging 5 moments in which we were grateful for by the end of each night. 

For the first few days, I wasn't very good at remembering that I needed to report my 5 good moments to my friend. Even when I did remember, I always seemed to struggle after listing 2-3 moments that I was really grateful for. At this point, I thought it was absolutely absurd - whether that was my perfectionist/competitive side making a protest or not, I don't think I'm game enough to find out! But I thought it was crazy that out of 24 hours, I couldn't even come up with five good moments. 

Out of instinct, I knew that it had to be my thinking playing up. So I consciously started to examine the way I came up with my 5 moments and, without any shock or horror, I was filtering out things that I didn't believe was significant enough for me to share with my friend.

Things like having a good lunch, getting some time away from the computer, having a thoughtful conversation, helping to cook a really nice meal...

Once I got rid of my filter, I found that I had a lot more than 5 things to be grateful for at the end of each day. I started to challenge my own ideas on what was significant enough to be included in the list. This was actually one of my breakthroughs because I forced myself to view even the littlest things as something to be grateful for. I don't use the word 'force' lightly because every step of the way I was challenging my thoughts by asking 'why' I thought that way and whether it was really what I thought.

But things got easier. Everything felt easier and I felt happier. Things as trivial as having enough teabags at home, waking up with good hair and getting the right amount of honey in my greek yoghurt all became things that were worth being grateful for. For once, I felt genuinely pleased.

My messages to my friend have become this huge log of gratitude and thankfulness. And I've realised that the things I'm continually grateful for are the smaller things. It's always been those meaningful conversations, reconnecting with a friend, achieving small goals, taking time out of the day to pursue my interests...

I take greater joy in doing these things now and I'm more mentally present. I still hold standards for myself and those around me but I am becoming more flexible and tolerant. I've also noticed that I'm starting to complain less. I think it's because I'm starting to trust the notion that even if something bad happens, there is still something good I can take away from it.

But this is not to say that it's all been good. My friend and I have fallen off the bandwagon a few times and what we call 'relapsing' has been awful. It seems we still hold ourselves to high esteem and don't expect that we'll take two steps forward and then three steps back. 

However, thanks to positive thinking, I am now reminded that facing setbacks can be a good thing too. It forces you to reflect on your trigger points, those occurrences that make you susceptible to falling backwards. It helps you to learn, grow and to better next time. 

I really think that this Gratitude Project has really helped me. I'm just that little bit more positive and that's something to be grateful for. I know that there is a lot more I can do about my perfectionist tendencies. There's a lot of unlearning and reprogramming that needs to be done but I can definitely see how being grateful will help me overall. I've told a few of my friends about it and we're now doing it together as a group. I've found that even the happiest people I know also harbour some negative views on life. It seems virtually everyone can benefit from some positive thinking!

I hope this post inspires you to become more positive about your life! I'd love to extend this Gratitude Project to you. 

Challenge yourself to pin point 5 moments in your day in which you are grateful for or felt happiness for. 

Which 5 things are you most grateful for right now? 

You can do it on your own or you can do it with a friend so that you'll stay motivated. I honestly hope that this will help you as much as it's helped me feel better about myself!

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Trilogy's Organic Rosehip Oil

So who uses Rosehip Oil? I actually jumped onto the bandwagon quite late. I only started using it towards the end of last year when it became quite obvious that my hydrating serum and moisturiser STILL wasn't enough for my dehydrated skin. It was during this time that I read our skin needs both moisture and oil. It was my big AH-HA moment! It sounded so simple but I had completely overlooked the fact that skin also needs oil. So instead of looking for a new serum and moisturiser, I set out looking for a face oil.

By far, the most well known face oil on the market is rosehip oil. This oil is extracted from a rose's bud and is said to be a super all-in-one product. Research suggests rosehip oil hydrates, lightens pigmentation, fills in lines and wrinkles, evens skin tone, repairs skin cells, fades acne scars and alleviates sun-related damage. The oil itself is a rich source of fatty acids, antioxidants and vitamin A, making it a great anti-aging product.

To me, these are definitely huge claims but after reading a decent amount of positive reviews online affirming how good rosehip oil is, I went out and purchased a bottle.

I bought Trilogy's Organic Rosehip Oil which has a minimum 80% essential fatty acids such as Omega 3, 6 and 9. Clinical research on this rosehip oil found that it helps to visibly improve the appearance of scars, stretch marks, fine lines and wrinkles.

Admittedly, these aren't the reasons why I specifically bought this oil from Trilogy. It's just that when I asked around, everyone I knew was using this particular one. You may already know that the market is saturated with rosehip oils and they're everywhere from drugstores, chemists to health stores. So it can be difficult to choose the right one.

I think if you look for one that is pure, organic and/or cold pressed, you should be good to go!

Mum used to use rosehip oil and she used to go on about hating the salmon smell found in most. Luckily, this definitely doesn't have any fishy smell! The scent is actually hard to describe but it definitely has a faint nutty and oily smell. It's very mild and not a huge issue.

The box suggests using 2-3 drops morning and night on its own or in conjunction with your regular moisturising products. I use this in place of my serum as I found that the two didn't seem to go too well together. The amount of drops I use varies on my skin condition. If my skin is looking okay, I'll go for 2 drops. If it's feeling dry, I'll use a more.

At first the results were pretty good. The oil does take some time to sink into my skin and so I kept this for night use only. For the first week or so, I woke up with brighter looking skin. By extension, I looked well-rested and less exhausted (which I have been for quite awhile now!). My skin took on a slightly orangey tinge which just made me look tanner. But it wasn't anything that a weekly exfoliation session couldn't get rid of. The cheeks actually had a glow and it looked like it was well moistured from within. Having said that, it didn't do much for the fine lines around and under my eyes.

After awhile, I stopped getting any noticeable results. It's as if my skin kind of got used to the oil and  I didn't wake up with that glow anymore. So I stopped using it for awhile and took up my serum again. At the time, my skin went through a pretty rough time with some really bad irritation. This certainly didn't help it. I found that it was okay on dry patches but on the parts which were inflamed, this actually aggravated the redness.

I've revisited it recently and I've been using the oil for two weeks now. Surprisingly, this time my skin actually feels smooth and softer than when I first started using it. The results have been pretty consistent and I'm really enjoying it! After I cleanse my skin, I'll use 3 drops of Hada Labo lotion and before that fully absorbs, I'll press 2-3 generous drops of oil onto my face. While that's partially sunk in, I'll put my moisturiser on. Previously, I waited for each skin care product to fully sink in before moving onto the next but I've found that this works much better for me.

While I took a break from the oil, I found a few other ways that I can use it. 

1. Rosehip Oil + Body Moisturiser
Mix your body moisturiser with 2-4 drops of rosehip oil. I mix the oil with QV, which is a water-based moisturiser, so this means I'm ticking all the boxes when it comes to 'skin needs moisture + oil'. This seriously works like a charm! I have THE most scaly legs ever - not even over exaggerating and it seriously softened the skin over night. 

2. Rosehip Oil as a Highlighter
I have a feeling that my face looked brighter and more radiant because oil will, of course, reflect light. So with this in mind, on days when I'm wearing very little make up and still looking a bit flat, I will use a tiny amount on top of my cheeks to give myself a bit of glow. It looks very natural and isn't greasy at all. The only downside is that it doesn't last very long because it just gets absorbed. 

I've done a few stage performances lately and everything from make up and hair needs to be exaggerated on stage because you're essentially being viewed from a distance. So aside from doing the oil + QV combo on my legs, I went in again and swiped oil down vertically to create the illusion of longer legs.

3. Rosehip Oil underneath a Sheet Face Mask
You can pat a few drops of oil into your skin before using a sheet face mask. This is just to boost the hydrating effects of a mask. I don't do this for all my masks but I do have a stack sitting in my drawers that I've neglected because they aren't moisturing enough for my dry skin. I will make sure the oil is full absorbed first before I put a mask on. 

Will I be buying another bottle when this is through? Definitely! I'm also looking to explore other rosehip products Trilogy. I'm very happy with it, now that I've found a way to make it work for my skin. I also love mixing it with my body moisturiser. My legs have never been so smooth!

Have you used Rosehip oil before? Which brand do you use? What are your experiences with it?

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Sunday Reads: #1 My Official Farewell to 2013

Sunday Reads is a monthly post about life. It's about a 20-something who enjoys being a flaneur. It's about personal development. It's about being female. It's about being a student. It's about the nature of work. It's about leadership. It's about relationships. It's about friendships. It's about physical and mental health. It's about staying sane. It's about being human. 

Basically, it's about everything except skincare. 

Sometimes words on a page can stick out like a sore thumb. They speak to a part of you that you thought no one could ever understand and, in a very odd way, soothes and reassures you of your experiences.

This is the feeling that I hope Sunday Reads evokes in you.

Long story short, 2013 was by far the most difficult year of my life.

I can't remember ever being so busy, run-down, distraught, frustrated and in need of a good shoulder to lean on. I was sick very much from the start of the year. Whether it was gastro, skin infections, heart palpitations, fatigue...I had them all in succession and some concurrently. The worst thing was having to push through all the sickness because life seriously does go on regardless of whether you're functioning normally or not.

2013 gave me so many amazing opportunities and it always seemed that the state of my health was forcing me to choose between going full steam ahead or foregoing a chance that might not ever come around again.

On most days, I woke up at 11AM to go do back to back project meetings. I then attended night classes for my Masters, ate on the way home, made it back by 11PM, took a shower, worked on the computer until 1-2AM and went to bed at roughly 2:30AM. I'd roll around in my bed until I fell asleep at around 4-6AM.

My phone and Macbook slept next to me and I would check emails and details throughout the night. After six months, I went absolutely insane and my breaking point was when mum came in to wake me up one day and the first words I muttered were some upcoming meeting details. It seemed that even though I was asleep, my mind was still running. 

During this time, there was no such thing as balance. I stopped exercising completely. I overate. I gained an unspeakable amount of weight and I stopped hanging out with friends. I stopped going out. I stopped doing things that I love doing. I suffered emotionally because there never seemed to be enough time for anything other than projects, projects and more projects.

In public, I am mostly a mild person. All smiles, all politeness. But it's amazing what stress and a lack of sleep can do to you. I became an absolute monster. I was more impatient than normal and quite open about it. I couldn't hide my displeasure at things. I was quick to point out flaws. I was demanding and all sorts of controlling.

I saw my dermatologist several times for really bad dermatitis and he told me that I had to stress less because my skin was flaring because of it. Usually, I can just smile and nod, and say 'I'll try'. But the first thing I blurted out was 'I can't! You don't even understand! It's not that easy! If I'm not in control, everything falls apart!'.

I was absolutely horrible and the worst thing was that, at the time, I thought I had a right to be all high and almighty. Mentally, I thought that because I was carrying so much on my shoulders, people had to be understanding of me. I had this crazy sense of entitlement and belief that people had to cater to me.

I treated my family horribly, especially my mum.

 via Society6

To be honest, 2011 and 2012 were tough years as well but they each gave me a handful of defining moments. 2011 was all about learning patience and humility, and 2012 taught me how to take a leap of faith. Looking back on 2013 and all its highs and lows, the year actually gave me an incredible insight into what I thought I wanted in a career. And while I really enjoyed the type of work I was doing, I disliked the person I became.

I think from a very young age, I was always rushing into things - guns blazing. And this has really influenced the type of person I've become. For years, everyone was telling me to slow down but I just wouldn't listen. But with the amount of times I was sick, frustrated, unhappy and tired in 2013, it became painfully obvious that what I was doing was unsustainable.

I'm slowly weaning myself off bad habits and trying to make myself relearn some new and helpful ones. For one, I am starting to see the benefits in delegating work. It sounds simple but delegating is not something that I was very used to last year. I've learnt that it's okay to leave instructions and let others complete the tasks.

I'm also learning to take better care of my body by changing my eating and sleeping habits. The changes have been slow but I think I'm getting there.

I'm positive that 2014 will end much differently and I'm sure that I'll gain even more insights as to how I can develop into a person that I'm comfortable and happy being.

I hope your 2014 will give you as much as it will give me.

How's your year been so far? I find that a simple question like this can open up a reservoir of feelings and thoughts that you may not have considered.