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?