Sunday, 13 December 2015

I Can Now Wear Sunscreen Everyday: Clinique's Even Better Dark Spot Defense SPF 50/PA ++++

Two thumbs up for Clinique's Even Better Dark Spot Defense SPF 50/PA ++++ in Sheer Tint.

I've been looking for a really, really good sunscreen. La Roche-Posay's Anthelios XL Melt In Cream isn't bad but recently, it's started to irritate the tops of my cheeks and I've gotten real impatient waiting for the white cast to go away before I can put my base make up on.

It's gotten to the point where I've regularly opted going out without sunscreen.
And yes that's a huge deal if you're living in Australia aka sunburnt country. Not to mention that I am as pale as a sheet of paper.

I got a deluxe sample of Clinique's Even Better Dark Spot Defense SPF 45/PA ++++ when I was shopping for my Dramatically Different Moisturising Lotion +. The BA said that it was their latest release and that a lot of people were loving the formula. It sat in the bottom of my samples box at home for a long time because I'm not a fan of Clinique's sunscreens. I really didn't like their Derma White City Block Anti-Pollution SPF 40/PA +++.

Funnily enough, I started using the sample a few months ago and it turns out that it's fantastic! I loved it so much that I asked for a full size to be sent over to me from Hong Kong. Unfortunately, you can't buy the sunscreen in Australia. I don't think this is an Asian exclusive either because apparently you can get this in some European countries.

At the time of purchase, Hong Kong was already selling the updated version with SPF 50/PA ++++, which is the product that I'll be reviewing today.

The sunscreen protects against UVA (aging) and UVB (burns) and is non-chemical. Clinique says that it has a patent-pending Invisible Screen™ technology that makes the sunscreen look and feel almost invisible and natural on all skin tones. 

The tube's nozzle dispenser is done really well - literally no wastage/leakage. You do need to shake the bottle before use and there is a ball that rolls around when you do so.

On most days, I use this on top of my moisturiser and before my base make up. If I'm just off to the gym, then I'll put on a layer of Dr Jart's Ceramidin Liquid and then the sunscreen.

There are so many things I like about this sunscreen! First of all, the sunscreen is runny and lightweight, so it's easier for me to wear the daily required amount of sunscreen. It's lighter than the original version. It's definitely not heavy and doesn't make you feel like you're wearing a mask.

It also doesn't leave a white cast! The old Sheer Tint shade in the SPF 45/PA ++++ version looked a little orange on my skin but once applied, it'd just disappear. The new SPF 50 ++++ is a lighter shade and it blends in just as easily. It leaves my skin looking dewy and slightly shiny in a non-oily way. It's not very high in coverage but it does make my skin look brightened. Either way, I do go in with a cushion compact or foundation afterward for more polished look.

If you have the chance, this sunscreen is absolutely worth trying. I used to hate wearing sunscreen since it took forever to sink in and that white cast always made things difficult. With this new sunscreen, I actually look forward to putting it on in the morning!

Which sunscreen are you using now?

Friday, 27 November 2015

The Mother of Cushion Compacts: IOPE Air Cushion XP in C21

The IOPE Air Cushion was a total gamechanger when it was first released and it has since inspired cushion compacts from other Korean and Western brands. The IOPE Air Cushion XP in C21 was my very first cushion product and I looked all over Hong Kong to purchase one last year. I ended up buying it online straight from AmorePacific (parent company) because I am terribly scared of accidentally purchasing a non-genuine product (you never know right?).

I remember being so super duper desperate to try it because I heard it gave your flawless, yet natural looking skin. Being in my mid-20s, I'm starting to see some dullness in my skin despite all the skincare products I use. I have a hunch it's due to my late nights and lots of stress ahah.

IOPE's Air Cushion XP comes in two versions - Natural and Cover. Natural is supposed to be sheer and Cover is higher in coverage. I decided to go with Cover because Natural is very, very sheer and more for those who have absolutely flawless skin, in which you, you don't even need foundation/BB cream! The Cushion also comes in a whopping 2 shades - 21 and 23. Being on the lighter side, I opted for 21 and hoped like mad that it would suit me. 

One of the cushion's strong points is its moisturising abilities. Once applied, my skin does look moisturised and dewier than any of the other cushions I've tried. But I do have to be careful that I don't apply too much because I can end up looking greasy. The first few times I've used the cushion, my fringe actually stuck to my forehead and temples because of how sticky it was. That's never happened to me with other cushions!

The coverage is similar to the Laneige BB Cushion. It lessens the redness of my acne scars and is pretty good on the undereye situation. My dark circles are crazy so I do need to use a corrector and concealer on top.

The shade C21 doesn't actually match my skintone until I'm at my absolute darkest. 

Normally, it's a tad too beige for my neutral colouring. However, around the 2 hour mark, the beige-ness seems to die down a little and I'm good until the afternoon when it starts to get slightly cakey/streaky. It's nothing crazy but it's not something that's happened with my other cushions.

Nonetheless, I still use this cushion because I'm not into letting my beauty products go to waste! I've found that it's okay when I use less. I don't apply until I get that absolutely flawless coverage which is totally achievable with this cushion. I stop patting when my skintone just looks even and with some redness on my cheeks peeking through. Anything more doesn't look too good on me.

When I had nothing to compare the IOPE cushion to, I thought it was the bee's knees. It did give me a brightened and smooth finish - my skin looked really good. But having tried some other cushions, I know there are better options and I won't be repurchasing this. It's not awful but it just doesn't suit me all that well.

I love a dewy finish but this one is just so dewy and glowy that it's too easy to mistake it for oily if I use too much. Possibly, this could be resolved with a bit of loose powder on top but I don't actually use powder because I find it too drying for my already dry face.

I also don't think the shade is a great match for me and I don't like how it gets cakey and streaky towards the end of the day.

How is everyone doing?! Long time no talk!

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Here It Is: Laneige BB Cushion SPF 50+ PA+++ in #14

I posted 'Should You Buy a Cushion Foundation/BB Cream' back in March and now I'm finally going to review one of the cushions that I've been using a lot this past year. It's the Laneige's BB Cushion SPF 50+ PA+++ in #14 and, surprisingly, it's been one of my favourite cushions for the warmer and Autumn months.

I'm really liking cushion BB creams and foundations because they give a clean, natural and youthful finish. They're portable, easy to use and the sponge applicator is a real star that I've been pairing with my concealer and liquid foundations.

But on to Laneige!

Usually, the BB Cushion casing is white with silver on the side but I was gifted with a limited edition compact. Laneige was doing a crossover with pushBUTTON, a Korean fashion label, and I got this awesome case with dogs (the green bits!) on it.
BB Cushions are crazy powerhouses. Most claim to have multiple functions and Laneige's offering is not any different. This cushion is said to have 6 benefits including:
  • brightening 
  • sun protection
  • hydration
  • water resistant
  • a natural coverage 
  • cooling sensation upon application

The version I have has been upgraded from Laneige's initial BB cushion and 3 notable ingredients have been added to increase the cushion's effectiveness in brightening and hydrating the skin.

MelacrusherTM technology
This patented technology helps to break down and remove melanin which causes skin discolouration. Formulated with green tea extracts and Niacinamide (Vitamin B3), this assists in brightening, evening out and making the skin more radiant. 
Bead Tree Extract
This protects the skin from harmful external environmental and filter pollutants such as cigarette smoke from penetrating the skin. This will help prevent skin pigmentation and reverse any dullness on the face.

Natural Mineral Water
The water comes from South Korea's Jeju Island and is said to be absorbed into the skin faster than other mineral waters. This will give the skin immediate hydration.

I think all of that is great but, when it comes to cosmetics, I'm more interested in how they perform on my actual skin. 

I always see bloggers describing foundations as giving a 'natural finish' to base products that I've always felt to be anything but. So I'm careful with the way I describe products, considering my 'natural' may not come out 'natural' for you. But trust me, yhis BB Cushion makes you look like you're wearing nothing at all and that your skin tone seriously looks that even and healthy. 

I think the sponge applicator is what is helping the finish look so natural. I've tried it on other liquid foundations and they finish much better than using my fingers or a Real Techniques Buffing Brush. My concealer is actually looking more natural thanks to it, so it must be the sponge applicator. It's a pain to wash but I love it.

I've never used BB creams before so I'm not sure how cushions and creams compare. But compared to a liquid foundation, the cushion is great for those days when you want to go for that 'no make up' look. In terms of coverage, this is very buildable after the first application and it is possible for you to build it up to a slightly medium coverage. Otherwise, I'd say that it covers better than a YSL Touche Eclat Foundation but it's not to the extent of a NARS Sheer Glow Foundation.
A quick summary of the key ingredients in the new Laneige BB Cushion:
1. Melacrusher Technology – Effectively breaks down and removes the melanin veil that causes dullness of skin. Formulated with truffle yeast, green tea extracts and Niacinamide (Vitamin B3), Melacrusher Technology renders an extremely brighter, radiant, and even-toned complexion.
2. Bead Tree Extract – Acts as an anti-pollution whitening component that protects the skin from the harmful external environment and filters pollutants, such as cigarette smoke, to supply oxygen. It suppresses the generation of pollution antennas from external pollution to prevent skin pigmentation and turn lacklustre skin into a glowing one.
3. Natural Mineral Water – Rich in minerals collected from the green region of Jeju Island, this active mineral water is absorbed into the skin faster compared to general mineral water for skin’s immediate hydration from the inside out and for better moisturization.
- See more at:
A quick summary of the key ingredients in the new Laneige BB Cushion:
1. Melacrusher Technology – Effectively breaks down and removes the melanin veil that causes dullness of skin. Formulated with truffle yeast, green tea extracts and Niacinamide (Vitamin B3), Melacrusher Technology renders an extremely brighter, radiant, and even-toned complexion.
2. Bead Tree Extract – Acts as an anti-pollution whitening component that protects the skin from the harmful external environment and filters pollutants, such as cigarette smoke, to supply oxygen. It suppresses the generation of pollution antennas from external pollution to prevent skin pigmentation and turn lacklustre skin into a glowing one.
3. Natural Mineral Water – Rich in minerals collected from the green region of Jeju Island, this active mineral water is absorbed into the skin faster compared to general mineral water for skin’s immediate hydration from the inside out and for better moisturization.
- See more at:

What this means is that, if you have blemishes, then it will cover them slightly but don't expect them to disappear.

I have some pimple scarring that is starting to fade but, with the cushion on, you can still see them. However, because my skin tone looks more even with the cushion on, they kind of fade into the background and I look more 'put together'.

I don't like to retouch a few hours later because I found that it can look cakey. That's one of the biggest cons because cushions in general don't last very long. This one lasts about 4-5 hours and then it starts breaking down. But I don't really mind it because, when it starts to wear off, it still just looks like my own skin. I also don't wear powder with any of my base products because my skin looks drier with it.

Having said this all of this, when it's an important occassion, I will opt for a liquid foundation that lasts the day.

The (not so good/clear!) swatch above is #14 Pink Beige, which I've been told is pinker and not a colour that people commonly purchase. I own the yellower shades #13 True Beige and #21 Natural Beige, but they've been too light and a bit too dark respectively. I am quite fair and there is a tendency for fairer skintones to be more neutral or to have some pink in the mix. This is why I was given #14 by a friend to try. 

The colour isn't a perfect match but I actually don't mind because the pink is very flattering on me. It suits me better than #13 but it still slightly too light for the summer months. It's perfect when the weather starts to cool and I start to get paler and paler. 

Surprisingly, the cushion stays put on my face during the warmer months and is moisturising for the early winter months. At the height of winter, I need to moisturise pretty well otherwise any dryness will be emphasised because the cushion sits so closely on the skin.

Like most BB Cushions (with the exception of Innisfree, I think!), this one comes with a refill and a brand new sponge applicator is included. If I use the cushion everyday, it will last me around 7 weeks. But if not, it could last me around double that.

I really, really recommend this cushion. I think this would be perfect on normal and dry skin types. I'd imagine that combination skin types might not like the dewy look and would like something more matte. However, it's not the most hygiene cosmetic product, especially if you retouch around midday.

The biggest issue people will face is trying to find the right shade. I have a couple of cushions from a range of brands and I'm the happiest with this #14.

My advice is try as many cushions in person as possible. Believe me, #13 in one brand is not the same as #13 in another. Trust me. Read about the different finishes out there because, no, not all BB cushions are the same. There are subtle differences that will make a difference!

What are you thoughts on cushion BB creams/foundation?

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Rose Addiction Cont'd: L'Occitane Shea Butter Rose Hand Cream

I mean, it's very possible that I've taken this rose-scented beauty items addiction a bit too far, especially when I'm forking out $10+ for a travel sized hand cream...

But this is L'Occitane's Shea Butter Rose Hand Cream we're talking about. Surely, I can be forgiven! Alongside Hyaluronic Acid and Ceramide, Shea Butter is one of my favourite skincare ingredients. It's intensely hydrating and perfect for when your skin feels tight, parched and stretched. 

There are several things that I love about this hand cream. Firstly, the texture is a thick balm which coats your hands in moisture and softens the look of cracked knuckles and fingers. The thicker textures does mean that you have to take some time to massage it into your hands, otherwise there can be some oily residue. But, because the cream is so rich, the massage actually feels really nice and it's definitely not a hassle to spend a minute to really enjoy the moment!

Of course, I love the rose scent - it's the best smelling one out of all my rose beauty products. It smells just like roses without being overly sweet or bright. Once out of the tube, it can feel a bit too strong but it dissipates as time goes on, leaving behind a very pleasant lingering scent.

When I first got my hand creams, I put some on before I went driving and the scent was stuck to the steering wheel for a full day. It made the car smell amazing!

What are your favourite beauty ingredients? 

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

My Holy Grail: Foreo Luna Cleansing Device


About 6 months ago, I jumped on the cleansing device bandwagon. People have been using the Clarisonic for years but I never got into it because even the sensitive brush head was a bit too much for my thin and fragile skin. I also didn't like the whole having to purchase a new $50+ brush head every 3 months.

So I was so excited when I found out about the Foreo Luna because you don't have to replace the brush head at all! But at the time, no one stocked it in a physical store and I always like to touch and feel products before purchasing. So I held off until Joyce Beauty in Hong Kong brought them in stores. I literally flocked to the Admiralty store where the sales assistant tested the device on the back of my hand and I was sold after 1 minute.

I didn't end up buying it from Hong Kong because no one could tell me precisely where the Luna is made. One SA told me that it was made in America. Another said it was designed in Sweden. A Sales Manager said that it was made in Europe...somewhere. I mean, admittedly, I went in store a few days after they'd started to stock the device but you'd think that they would have received adequate product knowledge/training to tell you where it's made.

At one point, I asked them straight out whether it was made in China and they all said no before reassuring me that it was EITHER an American or European product.


More about that later. Yes, there is a part 2.

Hong Kong doesn't have the best consumer guarantees (you want a refund? at most places, there's no such thing...), especially when compared to the Australian Consumer Law. That's why I decided to purchase mine online at David Jones. It came within 2-3 business days of ordering and it was very nicely presented.

I purchased the Foreo Luna in Normal/Sensitive.

The company says that the Luna offers deep cleansing via T-Sonic technology, with the device delivering up to 8 000 pulsations per minute. This is channeled through silicone touch points which unclogs 99.5% of dirt and oil, and 98.5% of make up residue. These are huge claims!
The Luna can also be used for anti-aging as lower frequency pulsations coming off the back's silicone waves can smooth the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Even bigger claims!

The front pulsates for 2 minutes before switching off and when you press the middle button again, the back of it starts vibrate. It has multiple speed settings which you can adjust to suit your skin type. I like to use it on the lowest or second lowest.

The device is waterproof and one USB charge will see you up to 450 uses. I've had this for almost a year and I haven't charged it at all. 

Foreo says that if you use the device for 3 days, you'll see clearer and more healthy skin. Now, I think I'm pretty good at cleansing my face... but apparently not because after one use, I noticed a dramatic difference in my skin's texture. 

It was smoother, softer and brighter. I have these tiny milia-style bumps above my chin and directly below my bottom lip. They're not visually noticeable but they bug me on a whole different level. After I used the Foreo once, I noticed that they were much smaller and some had disappeared. It was crazy! The whiteheads and blackheads that I couldn't quite remove with Innisfree's Super Volcanic Pore Clay Mask either disappeared or came to the surface, and with a few more goes of the Foreo, removed themselves. I was really, really surprised!

I used it once a day religiously for about two weeks and my skin really looked a cleaner and brighter than any amount of exfoliation. My pores also looked smaller. The results were actually quite dramatic. Skincare products absorbed better and foundation seemed to settle on my face easier. I was recommending anyone and everyone to buy one for themselves at the time.

This has become a product that I can't live without! I use this 1-2 times a week in place of exfoliation. I find that this is especially good after using my cleansing oils as it's great at removing any oil/milk left behind. I'll use it in the morning as well if I need to extra presentable that day. I also use it on the sides of my neck on days when I wake up super puffy. I find that the pulsations helps lymphatic draining. It's actually a very obvious process - right before my eyes, my cheeks and eyes just debloat!

Some people notice breakouts when they start using cleaning devices and I did too. But I'm prepared to say that it was due to my poor diet and lack of sleep. The Foreo also didn't stop me from getting pimples because, again, my diet and lifestyle was pretty chaotic last year.  

The back has the anti-aging silicone waves that can be used as a face massager. I've really taken to face massaging and I use this for nights when I can't be bothered using my hands to massage in serum/essence/left behind sheet mask liquid into my face. It works just as well as my hands but the pulsations on my face feels so much more relaxing!

I'll also use the back on the sides of my neck and underneath my jaw because I've always had a double chin (hereditary, unfortunately!). It doesn't help that I bloat easily and that area always feels like it's heavy with who knows what. The anti-aging side definitely helps to decrease the amount of fluid in there.

So onto Part 2 of 'Where is the Foreo Luna actually made'!

Before I purchased the Luna, I actually emailed the company directly to ask where it was made. To my surprise, I received what felt like an automated response about how the company is working on expanding their production facilities in the USA and that a very limited number of products are actually assembled in the USA. 

I wasn't very satisfied with that response, so I contacted them again, explaining that I had received many different versions of where the Luna is made from sale assistants and that this has made me cautious of purchasing the Luna. A reply back stated that Foreo is currently manufactured in Suzhou in China. 

To this day, I'm not sure why I wasn't given this information straight from the beginning. 

Sure, I agree that there are customer segments who feel uneasy when told that a potential purchase is manufactured in China. I admit that sometimes I am a part of that group, depending on what the product is. But what makes me even more uneasy is the fact that both sale assistants and company weren't able to volunteer that information about the manufacturing location from the onset. 

Having said all of that, I highly recommend the Foreo Luna. It does deliver amazing results and it feels great on the skin as well. My face is looking brighter, cleaner and much more even now. A few of my friends have also bought the Luna and they love how its a cleanser and facial massager.

The price of the Luna might seem higher than other cleaning devices on the market but you don't have to replace anything with this. I also find that it's a whole lot less abrasive on skin when compared to brush cleaners. 

Are you using cleansing devices?

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Base Make Up: The Foundation & Concealer Edition

(L-R) Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation, NARS Sheer Glow Foundation, YSL Touche Eclat Foundation, Skinfood Salmon Dark Circle Foundation, YSL Anti-Cernes Multi Action Concealer and Maybelline's Instant Age Rewind Dark Circle Eraser

So on top of using BB Cushions, I've been sampling and trying to finish up some base make up products lately. I think I'm getting closer towards finding my perfect liquid foundation but it seems that I'm still on the hunt for HD under-eye concealer.  Concealers have always been hard for me considering that I have dark brown eye circles against the backdrop of pale skin. Nothing seems to really work!

But anyway, onwards we go to some mini reviews on a plethora of base products that I've been using recently. 

1. Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation in Sand 
I was given a generous sample of this foundation to use at home and I'm close to buying this...but am holding off just in case there's something better. I think this pretty much sums up my feelings towards the foundation. It's great but there's nothing that makes me think that I need it straight away.

Sand, a light neutral colour that seems to lean towards beige, is the perfect colour for me during the warmer months. I honestly don't think I've ever been matched up with a better shade. The colour matches my neck and the formula doesn't seem to oxidise much, if at all. The foundation looks like second skin and seems to hide light redness pretty well. I find that it's a light-medium coverage foundation.

Bobbi Brown just announced the launch of its Intensive Skin Serum Foundation which I'm guessing is aimed at drier skin types. I'm totally excited about it and a part of me wants to impulsively buy it. But I'm going to hold it together until I hear some reviews on it. LOL.

2. NARS Sheer Glow Foundation in Deauville and Mont Blanc
Everyone seems to rave about this foundation!

Can I just say that there doesn't seem to be anything sheer or glowy about this foundation?! In fact, to me, it provides medium coverage and a slightly matte finish. It's also heavier than what I'm used to but I find that I don't mind it that much. It covers imperfections very well - redness and pores can be blurred nicely.

I find that, because I'm used to lighter coverage, I'm happy using only a smidge to cover my face. I'd imagine that if I were to purchase this, it would last me a long time.

However, the reason why I can't pick this up is because there isn't a shade for me. There isn't even two shades I can mix to get the perfect colour. I was initially recommended Deauville, which is described as a neutral balance between pinks and yellows, but I found it to be too yellow. It made my skin look dull and, over time, it would turn gray. I was then told to try Mont Blanc, a light pink toned shade, and I found that, that was a little too pale for me in summer. For winter, Mont Blanc is actually pretty good with bronzer/blush.

On the 'might purchase' list. 

3. YSL Touche Eclat Foundation in BR30
I actually own this in B20 and, at one point, I thought that it was a decent foundation. I loved that radiant glow it gave my skin but it didn't offer much coverage. Then my skin condition changed. I have some acne scarring and underdeveloped zits/pimples.

I went to the counter to get rematched and was given a sample pot of BR30. The SA said that B30 would be too yellow for me and that BR30 would be better. I tried it at home and it was just way too dark!

I've tried mixing this with my B20 but I can't seem to get the right shade for myself. So it's a no to purchasing a new bottle.

Having said that, I think this is a good foundation for those with already good skin. 

4. Skinfood Salmon Dark Circle Concealer in # 2
On to the concealers! I've always wanted to try this because it's enriched with salmon oil, making the texture more emollient. I really hoped that it'd be moisturising on the under-eye.

The first problem with the concealer is that the shade doesn't properly conceal my eyebags. It just makes them look ashy. I know I need a corrector for my brown eyebags, so the product isn't entirely to blame. But the second problem is that it's a very light coverage concealer despite it being in a cream form. It's quite oily and shiny on the skin and, because of that, it tends to slip and slide. It disappears very quickly and you have to reapply quite often.

It is pretty moisturising compared to other cream and liquid concealers I've used but too bad that it tends to move around. I think this can be rectified by powdering the under-eye area afterward but that usually emphasises my lines, so I always skip this step.

5. YSL Anti-Cernes Multi Action Concealer in #2 Nude Beige 
Can you believe a YSL SA recommended this concealer stick for the under-eye area? And can you believe that I believed her and bought it?

Initially, she suggested the Touche Eclat but I scoffed because that I already owned it and know that the pen is a brightener not a concealer.

The stick is dry but very pigmented. I'd imagine that this is better for concealing spots.

The colour is too dark for me now as well. It was okay when I picked it up but I guess if I was totally desperate, I could always used it as a subtle cream contour. 

6. Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Dark Circles Eraser in Brightener
I have this in Light, which is a yellow toned concealer and, funnily enough, does a decent job of correcting my dark circles. It's not fool-proof but it's a lot better than other shades that are matched to my skin tone.

The Eraser creases after a period of time but, at least, the texture is smooth and creamy. I twist the pen and will put product on the back of my hand before applying it with my fourth finger.

For some reason beyond me, I thought that the Brightener shade would help my dark circles and so I paid full price for me (yes, let me whinge because I never pay/enjoy paying full price for drugstore brands. Why would you when there are always sales?!). 

When my eyebags aren't that bad and I've had enough sleep, the Brightener looks pretty good on me. It's kind of like what I expected my Touche Eclat in #1 to do. This shade is also pinker than the Touche Eclat which means it doesn't wash me out too much.

Which base products are you loving or hating at the moment? 

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Sunday Reads: Reverse Culture Shock

I'm back in Sydney from an extended stay in Hong Kong and I am relieved to be back.

I loved Hong Kong and shed many, many tears leaving that sleepless city. But I truly did miss Sydney. I missed the fresh air, fresh seafood, strong coffees that actually need a stick of sugar...

I missed being able to drive!

I didn't think I'd miss this place that much because I have travelled back and forth between Sydney and Hong Kong quite frequently. It usually doesn't take me long to adapt to either cities but this time it was totally different. Dare I say that I had reverse culture shock when I got back to Sydney?

So strange because I was born and raised here. I mean, this is my first home. Alas, I had a great deal of trouble getting back into the Sydney routine.

Here's a short list of blunders that I encountered.

1. LANGUAGE/ACCENT: Getting used to the Australian accent
For whatever reason, I always lose my accent when I leave Australia. In Hong Kong, the dominant English accents are British, followed by American. So, whenever I'm there, my accent deviates between American and British. The way I pronounce my vowels turns into a bit of a drawn out drawl, whereas my Australian accent is less pretentious snappier.

I didn't get to meet up with a lot of Australians while I was over in Hong Kong and  when I did, we spoke Cantonese with each other. So I went by not hearing the Australian accent for a very, very long time.

But the moment I got to my boarding gate on the way home, the Australian accent was everywhere and it was so incredibly... jarring. It was the oddest sound! I kept going, 'Ahhh do I really sound like that?!'

Since coming back, I've been going through this weird transition period where I get tongue tied speaking in English. It's so incredibly embarrassing because I always get asked whether I can speak English (do I really look that fob?! LOL). I've become really good at Cantonese and even Mandarin, so much so that I started thinking in Chinese! So my brain worked twice as hard, having to form the sentence in my head and then translating it back into verbal English.

2. DRIVING: Car sickness
I never drove in Hong Kong because you honestly don't have to. Public transport over there is so convenient and well organised. CityRail is primitive compared to the MTR. Buses aren't always on time but they're double decker and they go literally everywhere. There's also minibuses that can take you through 1-2 suburbs at the time.

Admittedly, whenever I found myself in a car, it was always for a 10-15 minute ride and at about 10-40km/h. There's way too many people on the road and the traffic is pretty intense in Hong Kong.

So coming back home and having to drive at 70km/h made me a bit queasy. It gave me some weird palpitations - especially when I went over jagged road. Pretty sure this is road sickness?

3. PLASTIC BAGS: 50 cents a piece
There's a plastic bag levy in Hong Kong. About 3 000 or so retail stores including supermarkets don't offer you plastic bags with your purchases. It costs 50 cents to purchase one. From April onwards, with some exceptions, all stores will be banned from giving out plastic bags. You can still purchase one for 50 cents.

When I came back and purchased some groceries from Coles and the girl asked if I needed a bag, I seriously was so taken back that I honestly almost cried in relief.

I promise I don't abuse the use of plastic bags!

4. SPEAKING: the need to slow down
In Hong Kong, things go a million times faster than any other city I've been to. They really take the phrase 'time is money' very, very literally. Hence, everyone is mindful of your time and they expect you to be aware of theirs. People tend to think and act very quickly and the best place to see this all in action is in a Cha Chaan Teng or Hong Kong-style cafe.

(My favourite is the Australian Diary Company in Jordan, Kowloon! They served THE best scrambled eggs, hands down!).

Customers are sat on communal tables and either make an order immediately without looking at the menu or will use a millisecond to scan it before ordering. It was intimidating at first because the staff as always lingering around with notepads waiting for you to place an order and they can never understand why you need that extra second to weigh up your calories options.

Sydney is, of course, much different. It's much slower and I had to consciously slow my speech so that people could understand me. It was actually really annoying because I've always been a quick thinker and talker - Hong Kong exacerbated that. So when I came back and people looked at me like I was way too intense, I kept thinking that I needed to get back on the plane to Hong Kong... because this was insane!

It's gotten better now but I still have a tendency to talk quicker than the most people. AHAH.

5. NIGHTLIFE: there isn't one...
Every night is late night shopping in Hong Kong. You want to go out for a shop at 9PM? Plenty of stores are still open. You want to go for supper at 1AM? There are some places that open well into the morning.

One of the negatives of Sydney is that there's no nightlife. Yes, sure. There's the Friday and Saturday night scenes but I was never really into that. I'm more into the food, culture and shopping side of it. The streets are always bustling with people well into the night in Hong Kong. People are out having dinner, shopping or just hanging out with friends.

In Sydney, you can go out for dinner, a few drinks and then you go home because all the shops are closed and there's nothing else you can do.

There's always a new hotspot in Hong Kong or a new menu to try - it's a tiny city but there's never short of something new and exciting to do.

If you could go anywhere in this world, where would you go?

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Should You Buy A Cushion Foundation/BB Cream?

With Lancome's introduction of their Miracle Cushion Foundation, it seems that finally the whole world is talking about cushion foundations!

Of course, cushion foundations have been around for quite awhile now with Korean beauty houses starting off the trend. It then spread to other Asian countries thanks to the popularity of the KDrama 'You Who Came From The Stars' (I love Cheon Song Yi!). In the drama, Cheon Song Yi uses the IOPE Air Cushion Sunblock XP SPF 50+/PA+++ and all of a sudden, every girl wanted one. 

I can only imagine that with Lancome's release, there will be more brands that come out with similar products at different price points. At one point in time, you will be asking yourself whether you want a cushion yourself! But to people who have never heard, let alone use, a cushion before, they can be slightly daunting! 

So here's my breakdown of cushions and whether they're for you.

The short answer is that it's a compact that houses your liquid BB cream/foundation and applicator in the one case. There's a sponge that is soaked in your base product and it comes with a dense puff applicator that ensures the application is light and natural looking.
They're also marketed as more than a base product. Most cushions boast anti-aging, hydrating and sun protection abilities.

2. COVERAGE: high or low? 
The large majority of cushions on the market right now are BB Cushions and their coverage is surprisingly good. They can look as light as your second-skin or built up to a close-to-medium coverage without looking cakey.

Foundation cushions have comparatively higher coverage and are very good at covering redness and acne scars.

3. HYGIENE: looks like it'll be a great place for germs
I'd be the first person to agree with you if you were to say that cushions seem like a wonderful place for germs to congregate. Unlike liquid foundations/BB creams, you can't apply the product directly onto your skin without dipping the applicator back and forth between the cushion and your face. 

That's why it's so important that you clean your applicator regularly. This in itself isn't an easy task - it's one of the biggest cons of using cushions. I use a mixture of DHC's Deep Cleansing Oil and regular soap to get mine clean. You can't be rough washing them either because they do tear easily. That's why I've bought back up sponges in case one breaks or I can't find the time to wash it.

4. THE APPLICATOR: is king. Literally. 
Having said that, the applicator is the cushion's real star. The puff makes your make up look very, very natural and second-skin like. I always thought that my Shiseido Perfect Foundation Brush was pretty amazing at giving me that barely there foundation look. But the included puff sponge is EVEN better. I use it for my concealer and my under-eye area looks a whole lot less cakey. 

There seems to be different schools in how to actually use the applicator. The liquid is meant to be pat into the skin with the puff but some people appear to like swiping it over the face. I personally prefer to pat and dab.

One cushion lasts me around 7 weeks and this was from using it every single day. I rarely reapplied it during the day because it did feel unhygienic. 7 weeks was really pushing it as well. People always say that you can flip the cushion over and there will be plenty of liquid on the bottom. I flipped me about 10 times before I absolutely gave up.

Some cushions came in a box with a refill which you can just pop into the compact (it's super easy!). The refill includes a brand new puff as well.

It's hard to say definitively that they're great for a certain skin type. Some cushions that I've tried have been great for my winter skin and others that haven't worked, perform really well during the summer.

It's probably more useful for me to say that cushions are for people who want an even and barely there make up application. Cushions are very good at giving your face that dewy, healthy glow. They're also super convenient and quick to apply - so it's a great choice for any one who is time poor.

Got any questions on cushion foundations/bb creams?
Ask away!

Monday, 16 March 2015

Unneccessary (But Utterly Addictive): Dr Jart's Most Moist Water-Act Skin Mist

I am pro-face mists. More specifically, I am pro-Avene's Thermal Spring Water mist. I know a lot of people just think of it as plain water but, if you have sensitive skin, it's one of those things you simply cannot live without. 

For a good few years there, I had a box of Avene mist in every single size just so I would never run out and would have one for every occasion. I misted everything - from itches on my hands, redness on my face, to calm allergies around my eyes, inflammation on the back of my neck... I even used it as a toner when my face was very too sensitive for anything except QV. At one point, I was convinced that it was great for setting make up. The mist just seemed great for everything!

Then my skin became less sensitive (thanks to a change in diet, Chinese medicine and herbal ointments) and I stopped reaching for my Avene mist. I kept recommending the product to other people but I actually stopped reaching for all mists.

Then Dr Jart's Most Moist Water-Act Skin Mist came along and now I'm officially back on the mist bandwagon.

Dr Jart calls this a straight out toner - something to be used after cleansing and a product that needs to be wiped off the face with cotton. I tried this a couple of times and it doesn't perform any better or worse than my Avene Gentle Toner. The Avene toner actually feels nicer and softer on the skin when swept across with a cotton pad.

The mist itself is much thicker than Avene's, which, in comparison, seriously does just feel like water. The texture of this spray is closer to an essence or watery serum. I think its texture is one of its strong points.

But where this mist really excels is when used to set your make up and in between make up changes. As the final step in my make up routine, 3-4 sprays makes my skin look dewy and radiant. Of course, the dewiness disappears after the mist is absorbed (or evaporated), but it also leaves my skin feeling softer and plumper.

If I need to quickly change my make up or do some serious reapplying, then I'll spray the mist very liberally over my face, wait for it to be semi-dry before I put a tissue over my face and let it absorb whatever is there. This action doesn't take away my make up but it does away with having to reapply my skincare. It's probably those moisture oil capsules at work.

If I have to be very honest with you (and myself!), this isn't an essential skincare product. But if I were to recommend one mist, it would be this one. It may not soothe itches and sunburns, but it really does hydrate and give your face that temporary radiance or glow that makes you look healthy and awake.

And because of that, I'm completely and utterly addicted.

Do you use mists? 
Are mists all hype or are they worth the extra expenditure? 

Thursday, 5 March 2015

The Affordable Alternative: DHC Deep Cleansing Oil

Awhile back, I was at the Shu Uemura counter looking to repurchase my Shu Uemura's Cleansing Beauty Oil Premium A/I. After a year of use, I was close to finishing it and wanted to buy a back up before I was completely through. Whilst I was there, I was introduced to their Ultime8 Sublime Beauty Cleansing Oil which is supposed to be their most prestigious cleansing oil.
Long story short, the SA offered me a lot of freebies and before I knew it, I walked away a hundred and something dollars poorer...

Anyway, around the same time as my purchase, I was gifted DHC's Deep Cleansing Oil, which has long been touted as Shu oil's much more affordable alternative. To test whether this true or not, I opted to start using this DHC oil straight after my Premium A/I was through.

There's this line of thought that, for sensitive skin types, the shorter the ingredients list, the better. And it's quite rare for me to see an ingredients list as short as this Deep Cleansing Oil. Its main ingredients include olive oil, fatty acids and vitamin E from coconut oil and vegetable oil.

After reading the ingredients list, I have to admit that I did question whether this was really just olive oil in a bottle. I know quite a few people who swear by removing their make up with organic extra virgin olive oil but I've never done that before.

I just can't imagine putting something THAT oily on my face.

The bottle has a much more simple design compared to Shu's and it doesn't even lock itself in by twisting the pump. Instead, they provide you with a plastic stopper which you can insert into the pump's neck so that it won't dispense product. I find this quite handy and much more travel friendly. 

When I first used it, I scoffed thinking that this had nothing on Shu. The liquid itself is dark yellow and much thicker than what I'm used to. It even smells like olive oil, which further fuelled my initial speculation that it would be like putting olive oil on your face.

The DHC oil does remove make up but I find I have to use more product and also need to move it over my face longer. With Shu, it only takes 1 full pump (or 1.5 pumps when I'm wearing very heavy make up) and everything is dissolved quickly. I have to use a full 2 pumps to get the same results with the DHC oil. It also doesn't emulsify as quickly or as much as Shu's either. 

After I've washed everything off, my skin feels less moisturised than with Shu. But it's not a dealbreaker, by any means.

Comparisons with Shu aside, the Deep Cleansing Oil does do a good job of clearing off my make up, which consists of foundation, concealer, eyebrow pencil and blush/bronzer. I still use Clinique's Take The Day Off Make Up Remover for my eyeshadow and liquid eyeliner, and my mascara melts off my lashes with some warm water. On the days where I've been lazy, my eye make up can be removed with the DHC oil after a few gentle rubs. But I still prefer to use a dedicated eye remover. 

It doesn't leave an oily film if I wash it off properly but I've gone into the habit of using a milk cleanser straight after any cleansing oil. I've also gotten used to its thicker texture and how it gives me extra slip to move the product more thoroughly over my face.

If someone asked me to describe this oil, I would say that it's your basic oil cleanser that gets the job done. 

There isn't any fancy packaging, elaborate ingredients and extra skincare benefits. It simply cleans and it does do a good enough job for its particular price point. I would definitely recommend this for people who are either looking for a cheaper alternative or are just getting into cleansing oils. This is a good entry product to see whether your skin likes cleansing oils. 

You know what, if I hadn't used Shu previously, I would be very happy using this. 

What do you use to take off your make up? 

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Sunday Reads: A Guide To Your Early 20s (How I Failed So You Can Succeed)

I couldn't help but laugh to myself when I saw this book in Urban Outfitters, Admiralty (Hong Kong). 

I can't say that the 20s age bracket is something that I would rave about to anyone. My 20s have been characterised by many uncertainties, disappointments and lost opportunities. More experienced people tell me that, that's great that I've had these experiences earlier on because they'll ultimately make me a better person and leader later in life.

But who cares about results that will only show years from now, right?

I want instant gratification! That's what your 20s are about, right?! Fast life, baby! At least, that's how I imagined my 20s.

I'm now in my mid-20s and, to date, I haven't experienced anything instantly gratifying. 

Ironically, I saw this book immediately after celebrating my birthday at the Island Shangrila and can you just imagine me bitterly laughing to myself?!
I really wish I had a proper mentor when I turned 20. Someone who gave me practical and emotional guidance for how I needed to think and act in order to thrive in my 20s. I've learnt that your friends and parents aren't always in the best position to fulfill this role. I would have loved one of these books just so I could organise my thoughts on the social, economic and emotional changes that happen to you once you turn 20. 

Alas, I never had one. 

Truthfully, things started getting better around late last year. It was a major turning point and it's made things a whole lot better - infinitely better. It hasn't given me an extensive epiphany for how I should live out the rest of my 20s but it's made me less terrified of the future. 

Dare I say that I am actually optimistic about the future and that, no matter what, I will try to maintain this level of enthusiasm?  

There are a million and one Guides For Being In Your 20s but here is some advice that I wish I'd heard and taken in my early 20s. 

1. CAREERS: Follow your dreams but bring your head with you
This is especially for those people who dream of the road less travelled by others.

People around me always emphasise the importance of doing what you love because work takes up such a significant amount of our time. But, up until now, I've never been practical about my dream career. In the past, I loved what I loved so much that it was 'all or nothing'. That level of determination (or stubbornness) is something that I am actually proud of. Even now, I still note this as a strength and not a weakness. 

But I can recognise that my determination actually hampered my career progression, as opposed to helping it a long. I spent a lot of time waiting around for things to happen and 'waiting for my time to come'. I lost a lot of other opportunities because of this.

I also dreamt incredibly big but didn't act accordingly. I had a clear picture of where I wanted to end up but the journey towards it was poorly planned out and rarely executed with precision. I let a lot of my emotions control the way I approached my career goals.

So the advice here is to dream big but have a fairly planned out idea of how you're going to get to where you want to go. Recognise that time is of the essence, so there's not enough time for you to wait around. Be proactive. Face the setbacks head on and don't spend days and weeks wallowing in self-pity. That time can be used for preparing yourself for the next big opportunity. Give yourself checkpoints - periods of reflection where you can ask yourself whether you're doing it right, need to change courses or if it's time to move on. 

For crying out loud, don't listen to other people's negativity. There will always be someone (or at least a dozen) who will tell you that it's impossible, implausible and that you can't do XYZ. If you know in your heart that you are right, then don't worry about them.

No one knows your version of happiness - only you do.

2. FRIENDS: Quality over quantity
It's true when they say that the older you get, the less friends you have and the harder it is to meet new ones. Dad always tells to me that there's a Chinese saying that states that one can die happily if they've been able to chance upon one true friend in life. 

While it sounds a bit too melodramatic for your early 20s, I think it's important to understand that friends will drift apart. Everyone is so busy fulfilling their own life goals that it actually takes a lot more effort than before to maintain a friendship.
For me, the older I got, the less connected I felt with a lot of the friends I grew up with. Everyone was working in different industries, wanted different lifestyles and had different values. We just grew apart and that was really tough initially. For a long period, I blamed myself for not being to maintain old friendships.

But at the end of the day, when it comes to friendship, I've learnt that even if you're in a room filled with 20 'friends', you can still feel incredibly lonely and not have a good time. This is especially true when you have nothing in common and nothing to have an extended conversation about.

So don't worry, people change. So does your circle of friends.

3.  FAMILY: Your family will not be around forever
The older I get, the more I make a note to spend more time with them, be nicer to them, actually be in the moment with them...

After a few incidents, I recognised that my family will not be around forever. My parents will not be around forever and my brother and I aren't always going to live under the one roof. Mum and Dad are starting to show signs of aging, and the parents I know are changing. I'm a practical person when I need to be and, if there's a problem, I'm instantly thinking up a solution and trying to execute it. But aging isn't something I can say, 'Okay don't worry. I can fix this'.

This is the one thing in which, regardless of how intelligent you are, you can't stop from happening.

When I was in my early 20s, my family was largely prohibitive of a lot of things I wanted to do with my life. They were one of the negative sources in my life. But slowly that's changed and, alongside that, so did my view of them.

Be good to your family and take care of them. They were good to you when you were young, be good to them now that they're in their later years.

Your life only gets busier hereon in. You might not have enough time for your family now but you'll likely have even less time for them later on in life.

So schedule in time for your family, whether it be once a week or twice a month. When you're older, you won't regret this time spent with them. I promise. 

4. RELATIONSHIPS/PARTNERS: Find Someone Who Supports Your Goals
A friend of mine lived by the idea that your early 20s are a good time for you to shop around and to learn which type of guy you want to settle down with when you hit 25. 

Not going to comment on that but I thought I'd just leave that there. 

Don't waste time on the good looking, rich guys. This is true unless he is someone who understands where you want to go and is willing to support you emotionally and intellectually. At the same time, be prepared to support your partner's goals. Do not get in a relationship with someone who you aren't able to believe in and encourage.

Don't waste time on assholes who put you down. Some guys are just plain arrogant and, on the inside, know less than you do. Don't let someone like that influence your life or how you perceive yourself.

Even more importantly, don't get into a relationship because you're lonely. Learn to be comfortable living on your own. Silence can be a killer but it's always a great tool for learning about yourself and the world around you.

5. HEALTH: It starts now
Yes, your early 20s are filled with late nights out and early starts but who cares? As long as you're having fun, right?


Have a regular sleep pattern where you are able to sleep early at least 4-5 nights a week. Limit your alcohol intake. Wear your sunscreen. Do a yoga class or go out for a run. This will help take care of your physical health. I slept incredibly late for the past decade and I started wearing sunscreen only recently, and it's all showing on my skin. I look haggard and much older for my age. 

If you're having mental issues, whether that be self-esteem problems, anxiety or depression, see a doctor. The earlier you receive medical guidance, the quicker the recovery. A mental health issue is not something to hide from but something to get better from or at least learn to manage. 

I feel incredibly strongly about this because there were people around me in my their early 20s who experienced some level of distress, anxiety or depression. A lot of them blamed themselves for not being resilient enough to overcome difficulties. But the truth is, disorders like anxiety or depression, are signs that you've been strong for too long. 

Get the right help before it starts to interfere with your life.

What were some of the things you learnt in your early 20s? 
What advice do you wish you had of received?