Sunday, April 1, 2018

Creating A Skincare Routine That Works For You

I'm currently perched up on the sofa, after watching a really intense Liam Neeson movie (The Commuter, if you were wondering). Now a bit of down time while Can't Pay Take It Away plays in the background....

But it also gives me time to share a topic that I've been meaning to write for quite some time, ever since I penned my Winter Skincare post and landing back in London with pretty irritated and post-holiday breakout skin. I shared my 'transformation' (if you can even call it that) on Instagram and about three people messaged me to asked me what kind of products I've been using.

So three people was all it took for me to share with you you my true, unphotoshopped and unfiltered skin in these progress photos:

As a veteran in acne and combination skin, I've gone through an endless search for the One True Product that will save my skin, after a year stint of Roaccutane (my lips are now perennially dry) and stripping back to the basics – I've come to terms of how my skin behaves, particularly during hormonal changes and when I experience stress.

After years of reading trendy articles on Refinery29 and other blog posts claiming products that seemed to change someone else's lives except my own, so I sat down and decided to think about creating a skincare routine that works for me.

You'll see that Week 0 I started with very sore bumps, inflamed skin and the like. Not what I would call amazing. So I tried to incorporate a routine over the next three weeks to calm down the redness, and the final photo was taken last Friday where my scars are still obvious but much better compared to when I started in February.


There is no miracle for achieving flawless skin. I think I've learnt that the hard way. Even though it's hard to accept because your skin is screaming and your self-worth is plummeting, there's no magic in the world if you're not willing to work and understand your own body.

I swear by making my twice daily skincare routine as a ritual, in which I completely focus on nourishing my skin with the intention of healing it. Setting aside time in the mornings and evenings to create a space undistracted by time, or idle thoughts can be a form of self-care, quiet contemplation and enjoyment.

If you're the sort of person that gives less thought into skincare because you're okay with it or that you're blessed with amazing skin, so be it. But no matter the definition you have created, stick with that mindset.

I found that concentrating on what I put on my face everyday is something I continue to look forward to, and understanding how my skin reacts to emotions (I'm horrible at dealing with anxiety and stress), external aggressors (pollutions) and temperature.

Being conscious and dedicating time to skincare meant I knew I was in control of what was going into my skin, and mindful of the ingredients that work (or not) for me personally.


Incoming cheesy quote - like most things in life, you can't have it all.

For so long, I was overwhelmed with the claims for each product I owned and hoping for a perfect solution. Now I start with one thing I want to work on, before moving on to the next.

For me, my main concerns are dehydration, acne and scarring. My immediate concern is dehydrated skin as that's usually what affects my skin, leading to a compromised skin barrier, and more acne-prone skin. You see the loop?

Once I decided that hydration was something I wanted to tackle, I based my routine around products that my skin likes and know will work well to more targeted concerns like soothing, firming or brightening.

For frequent spritzing, my favourites right now are the Caudalie Grape Water and the 107 Rose Vinegar Water Toner. The Caudalie comes in a giant cannister, handy for days at the home desk, it's 100% grape water and fragrance free as well. The 107 toner has rose water and vinegar, both to moisturise acts as a anti-bacterial ingredient.

Some of my thicker toners include the Missha FTE Intensive and Hada Labo Gokujyun Hyaluronic Lotion which I use in the first step of my skincare routine. It achieves what I want, which is to hydrate and no more. I don't want to irritate my skin at the beginning of the routine, so something simple and effective works best for me.

The Yadah Anti-T Toner is a newbie to my routine but is already well-loved during my hormonal acne period; it boasts a 7-free system with Black Raspberry extract mainly as an inflammatory ingredient.

Five may seem a large number, but knowing when and where to fit these products around my routine helped me improved my skin slowly.


It's easy to get distracted by new products and flashy ingredient lists which may or may not work with your skin (we've all been there) but being consistency is key and being strict with your routine once you've got it set out.

Products only started to show results after 4-6 weeks (in my experience), as a full skin cycle takes about 6 weeks anyway. Which is why I always get slightly skeptical when a brand / influencer claims immediate results after one week or so.

My experience took me about 5 weeks to see any sort of results and I'm living proof that products do work, they just take time. It's disheartening to wake up to see that giant cyst still there (trust me, I know) but it will get better.

To supercharge my hydration, I look out for skin nourishing ingredients: bee propolis (also anti-inflammatory), ceramides, omega 3 and 6s and anything that will help boost my skin moisture. Three products that I trust in my routine are the Skin Food Royal Honey Propolis Enrich serum, my beloved Alkimi Cinco oil and when needed, the ever-great Blossom Jeju Pink Camellia booster serum (mini version).

I've since run out of my Cinco oil and switched to a different oil for now, but the remainder of my routine remains the same.

It's embarrassing to say, but it feels liberating to be in control of what goes into my system everyday, knowing that I've looked into the products I'm using and being okay with new products that don't because it's all part of the process.


Although it took me a long time to find and note the ingredients that work for me personally, it might be easier for you. The skincare industry has come a long way, and there's a lot of resource out there to read up on and learn which might be the right ingredients for you. 

I was very frustrated because nothing seemed to work for me for so long - hyaluronic acid which everyone adore just didn't give me the results I wanted, it didn't make my skin worst but it didn't improve it either. The same with Niacinamide and Alpha Arbutin, both of which was to soothe and brighten acne scarring. 

I was at my wits' ends... until I found Centella Asiatica. I began to notice a difference when I used sheet masks with centella as its main ingredient and my skin always looked less red and even healed faster in some cases. It's anti-oxidant properties are meant to calm irritated skin, which is frequent in my case.

So I decided to try out Innisfree's Bija Cica balm, packed with other bioative compounds of centella: madecassoside and asiatic acid, meant for sensitive skin. And wow I was amazed at how my skin reacted so positively to it, it didn't flare up more, and I was able to keep working on hydrating my skin to prevent acne breakouts. 

I also know that essential oils don't react greatly to my skin so finding a good moisturiser which ticked those boxes took me a while. But I've found a new love, in the form of the cult favourite Belif True Cream Aqua Bomb.

Although it has 'cream' in its name, it's actually a gel-like formula and glides onto my post-serum and oil skin amazingly. It's a bit of an understatement to say I'm addicted to this. I started this in mid-February and am already two-thirds into it! 


If anything, the biggest lesson to making your routine work is patience.

I won't lie, being persistent while your skin hurts like hell isn't easy but there will be light at the end of the tunnel. I actually surprised myself to see that my skin had actually improved, because you tend to be your own critic, especially when you look at your skin every damn day.

I can't say to have completely healed my skin 100%, but I'm happy I have found a routine that works for me and am always looking for ways to keep improving. I'm trying to include more de-stressing activities in my life which I know contributes to my skin health - making sure I drink enough water, sleep, taking time out to be present.

I hope this has been somewhat helpful - I certainly was lost when I started on my skincare journey, so it's comforting to know that someone out there might feel the same way.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

How I'm Getting Ready for Spring At Home

Talking about spring seems to be a bit comical right now, given The Great Snowstorm which just passed last week. I spent the week working from home, completely content in my bubble of underfloor heating and humidifier... not even the lure of wintery Instagram photos could drag me out.

But I'm gearing up for flower season again, and being able to wear jeans with normal shoes. Ever since moving into my new place, I've been too busy finding my own personal space to have done anything with the dull, bare walls. It's time I've brought it up a notch!

The dawn of spring seems to evoke a sense of optimism in everyone it seems, and I guess I will play along to it as well. In an attempt to brighten up my home space, I wanted to create something that I wouldn't hate after a week because I thought it looked great on someone's Instragram feed.


I spent three weeks back in Malaysia which meant ample access to my favourite store, Daiso (think Poundland but Japanese and 100000x better) and picked up this nifty wire rack to add some photos and eventually hang up on a blank wall in the living room. It only set me back £1, which I'm extremely pleased about.

Printiki also offered to print some of my most memorable 2017 travel photos and they came out great, so now I can reminisce and think about all that delicious food that went through my stomach. Ain't nothing better in life, my friends. I decided to overcome my hoarder sensibilities and finally use my pretty stationery for decorating the board, including washi tape and some string, loads of stickers and clips.

I think printed photos are such sweet mementos, especially when you can't afford expensive instax refills (sigh). I got mine printed for £10 for 30 photos (30p per piece), and if you're interested you can try it out over on Printiki and get free shipping with my code 'VPYGHAYV' too. Sharing is caring, right?

Now fingers crossed it doesn't make me look like a five-year-old made this.


I hate that my candles tunnel. Or run out of wick. Move aside and choose your best candles which won't infuriate you, that's my advice. My Coconut Milk Mango soy candle from Anthropologie have served me well and brings a not overly fruity ambience to the room which I really like. It burns well and isn't overpowering, like the finer things in life, you know?

I also think that changing up scents from musky and woody to something fresh helps reset for a new season and bid farewell to those long, and unimaginable winter nights. It would be great if I had moolah for the beautiful Diptyque limited edition Rose candle, but alas...


Spring time allows me to add more colour to my life and I *love* this print (which is actually a greeting card) from Papier (this is by the talented Jade Fisher and I am totally smitten by all her designs), and using simple frame for display and voilà, I really thinks it opens up the space more, especially as the illustration is wonderfully vibrant but laidback too. I have knick-knacks from different places to vary up the shelf, and I find smaller candles, coasters or potted plants really easy to arrange and livens up an otherwise blank slate. 

I've had to rescue my plants in from the cold this week – you'll see I'm not the best at taking care of them, oops - but I adore the idea of greenery in a space. It's a sea of green calm if you will, and dotting them around my living room and dining area has prepped me well and on my way to bidding spring aloha. 

How are you getting ready for spring? 

Thursday, February 1, 2018

My Fail-Safe Skincare Routine for a Winter Glow

winter skincare glow masks kbeauty

I have returned from the dead (somewhat)! Winter makes me incredibly uninspired because I am ill so often, so I took some time out from blogging to do Adult Life Things, and stayed away from the manic post-Christmas shopping guides.

A mini catch-up if you care: a lovely birthday trip to the V&A for the Winnie The Pooh exhibition; growing up they were my favourite stories and I picked up a sweet lil' illustration that I've since framed (you can see it in the picture) and an enamel pin which now has a pride of place on my oversized beret, binge-watched Show Me The Money 6 this entire week (#레츠기릿 #differentrnb you guys) and battling yet another illness in the form of a stomach flu.

Ironically, I'm actually in Malaysia right now but the last couple of months with winter has been hard on my skin this year, particularly when it comes it redness and irritation. It doesn't help that the pollution in London gets pretty bad!

I wanted to branch out (and because I take zero outfit shots in winter because it's way too cold ya get me?) into sharing some love for skincare... I don't talk about it much on here but I'm a big fan when it comes to discovering new products, especially with more k-beauty brands being more accessible and cool independent brands that are popping up in the UK.

winter skincare glow masks kbeauty

I have combination skin, which means I get oily quick but also have extremely dehydrated skin during winter time. I used to think that using a thicker moisturiser was the key but have learnt my lesson that gel-like formulations worked best with my skin type, with many layers of moisture locked in to get that optimal hydration.


Base layers are key to achieving the ultimate healthy glow and I start off my routine with a clean face and my Whamisa Organic Flowers Toner (£33). I was introduced to this brand ages ago but only started using it steadily last year. It has a thicker consistency which is fabulous to nourish my sensitive and dehydrated skin, smells amazing as it's full of ferments and ingredients like liquorice root and I find that this toner really helps starts off my entire routine. It's not the cheapest, but I think my skin likes being pampered, ha.

(More affordable alternative brands include Hado Labo and Innisfree!)

Serums and oils get a special shoutout when the air gets chilly and windy,  and I find sandwiching serums and oils between a toner and moisturiser is how I can still get ~dat glow~ without looking dull or grey.

winter skincare glow masks kbeautywinter skincare glow masks kbeauty

My skin *loves* ferments and I'm no stranger to probiotics in skincare (see my Aurelia shoutout from the previous year) and the Manyo Factory Bifida Essence (£32.50 or get 10% when you join the mailing list) has a perfect watery texture which isn't goopy (like some of The Ordinary products) and sinks in marvellously after a warm shower. 

Ferments are supposed to help the absorption of product and smoothen complexion and I have to say although it's been a slow process, I can definitely feel my skin getting less bumpy over the past six months since I started using it. I actually won the Manyo Factory Bifida Essence at the #fellowshipoftheskin giveaway, and I haven't looked back since!

Everyone's favourite enabler Shereen aka thewayofthesnail (HAIII) has made me a lover of Alkimi's Cinco Facial Oil (£35). Alkimi is an independent brand founded by the very amazing Natalie who formulated this wonderful bottle filled with Omega 3- and 6- fatty acids (amazing antioxidants and skin destressors), in the company of cumin seed oil (improving cell growth and skin texture), rosehip oil (heals damaged skin and great for hyperpigmentation) and many more star ingredients. I picked this up during their Black Friday offer and had 30% off, so keep an eye out for deals, I really do love massaging this in at night before bed and it absorbs so well

Pss, all these products above are cruelty-free! 

winter skincare glow masks kbeauty


winter skincare glow masks kbeauty

My #1 open secret in winter: I mask every single day. Yep, you read this right. Often it's usually a simple sheet mask which takes about 20 minutes and it helps my skin reset after a rough day with the heater blasting at work, the pollution and the city winds. My skin has seen a dramatic improvement ever since I started masking regularly, and who doesn't like waking up to glowing skin?

But having masks with targeted functions are equally important. Depending on the skin problem, I rotate different masks in my routine if I need more moisture, exfoliation, detoxing or calming down redness.

I present to you my holy trinity of masks for detoxing, moisturising and calming skin...

winter skincare glow masks kbeauty


The Laneige Water Sleeping Mask (£16) basically speaks for itself, and I can't quite believe how long it took me to get my hands on this cult favourite. It helps retain and lock in moisture, and is suitable for all skin types, which comes in a gel-like form which goes on my very last step in my night routine. The smell is non-offensive and you only a teeny bit for your entire face, and I wake up with no tightness in my face. I use this about 2 times weekly, either on days after I use my chemical exfoliators or if I need a little boost after a cold night.


Belif is truly a great skincare brand and one of my favourites. I own multiple masks from the brand but the First Aid Overnight Brightening Mask ($34 / £24) is hands-down my most coveted face mask during winter time. I LOVE THIS SO MUCH. It smells amazing, for one, as it contains a mix of lavender extract, oat kernel and beta-glucan – a tub of powerhouse to sooth and calm any irritation. The consistency is similar to Laneige, and doesn't smell overpowering either. I really dislike artificial fragrance in my skin products and this nailed it perfectly.

Fun fact: I love opening my bathroom cabinet and catching a whiff of all my Belif products, is that super weird?

The first time I used it I literally wow-ed in the mirror, because I've never used a mask which actually made my skin so soft and smooth. It's not as popular as the Belif Aqua Bomb range but this definitely takes top place in my current masking routine.


Finally, I was introduced to this wonderful brand called Bloomtown from Twitter and their founder Priyanka is the loveliest person ever, after chatting to her in a couple of tweets (ngl I am easily swayed by friendly conversation). Another wonderful independent brand to add to my collection, I was so happy to discover The Spring blue clay & indigo leaf soothing mask (£12). It comes in a glass jar (yay for the environment) and while it can be tricky spreading it out as it contains plant glycerin which makes the texture slightly elasticky, the blue clay is brilliant at binding onto toxins and drawing out everyday toxins.

Since plant glycerin is present, it doesn't dry the skin out, even though it's technically a clay mask. It also has probiotics, and fragrance-free - holler at my fellow sensitive skin peeps...

I'm basically enamored by all their products that I ended up buying an Ultimate gift set (£65) for my mumma for Christmas and she loves it too. Proud to announce that they are vegan, cruelty-free and palm-oil free too! They are fairly affordable as well so this makes me incredibly happy, as it's sometimes hard to get quality products without a price sacrifice. Not an ad, just really love their products...

winter skincare glow masks kbeauty

winter skincare glow masks kbeautywinter skincare glow masks kbeauty


I've been staying away from moisturisers with essential oils, even if they do contain great ingredients, because I think my skin just doesn't like any unnecessary oils. I discovered the Hada Labo Whitening Perfect Gel (£18, a misnomer really, it should be called brightening) by accident and ended up loving it. Just repurchased my second jar today actually...

It's a lush gel formulation with actives like Arbutin and Vitamin C (brightening scars), as well as different molecular weights of hyaluronic acids (which helps penetration of moisture and locking it in). It's a very basic product, but it works. I picked this up while in Japan last year and it's done wonders for me. 

Moisturisers without essential oils are good for sensitive and combination skin like mine, as it's less likely to provoke any sort of irritation or redness - which has often been the case with my moisturisers in the past. The fact that it also doesn't irritate any acne is amazing, because it's all about maintaining that moisture barrier am I right? 

The gel is partial-moisturiser and partial-mask, but you don't feel like it's a mask because it glides on incredibly well and dries nicely. The hyaluronic acid retains moisture as you sleep and I find that this is great for any occasion, especially when I'm a bit lazy with my skincare... 

winter skincare glow masks kbeauty

And there you have it, my secret stash of products! I was a bit nervous publishing this because it's not my 'normal' post and skincare is very personal so I was slightly hesitant... What are your favourite winter staples? I'm always on the hunt for the next big thing!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Winter Wonderland in Canada: Panorama Mountain Village

I wanted my hiatus comeback to be a big moan, and about why being an adult is so weird but I figured that would totally jeopardise the Christmas mood. Now, I'm the least Christmassy person, and the only festive thing I've done so far is paint my nails green, and that a dark milky green, if you added pine trees and milk together or something. 

I guess you all know the drill by now: been busy with work, got sick again, and still really busy even the week before the Big Holiday... I've been saving these snaps for a rainy day but that's probably never going to come and now is as good as ever to share this beautiful snowy experience with you too. Last month when I was in Canada, it was mad snowy (sorry London you ain't got nothing) we drove to beautiful British Columbia to Panorama Mountain Village for an overnight stay in one of their lodges. 

It was by no means a luxury retreat; the lodge was dated with creaky stairs, Nineties styled paintings and ridiculously chilly bathrooms. But as is family traditions (mine at least), we sat around the dining table cooking a steamboat dinner with lots of treats while night dawned. And then I fell swiftly asleep because... jetlag isn't pretty.

We awoke to snowfall the next morning! A thick and innocently white carpet, with the silent thudding of snowflakes – which is really quite a magical scene in real life.

These mountains are usually for skiing (spy the ski lifts) but none of us ski/do strenuous activities (haa) so I spent a good chunk of the morning in glee, in awe of nature, since the last time I was around snow was Winter of '10, when London's airports embarrassingly shut down because they couldn't cope with 'adverse weather conditions'.

It was awfully quiet since snow season hadn't really begun yet because there wasn't just enough snow so I'm pretty sure we were very alone in our lodge, in the middle of the mountains. Pretty surreal!

This was the view from our balcony, which was also covered in snow and it was like a scene from a cheesy Christmas flick, except in real life and looks super cool. You'll see I've taken many of the same (not sorry) shot of the lodge opposite to ours...

Then a couple walked past – hello! - with their dog and smart me was like, 'damn girl you gotta get dat shot' so I did and this will probably make its way onto my Instagram with a obnoxiously modest caption... Joking aside, it was a sweet time spending time with my cousins and grandma and having warm food. Only the best things in life for me, obviously.

I had packed this garrish orange turtleneck jumper which I knew would come in handy and it did the job... The snow started falling again after I got changed so more photo ops, and you can actually see the flecks, in my hair, everywhere!

I'd love to spend more time in Canada next time, and while it's not the first country that springs to mind when it comes to an epic adventure (or is it?), I love the look of all its National Parks, and it'd be superb if I could visit in spring. I'm going to be honest and say that I haven't been feeling the greatest lately, and my mind has been in a blurry haze and a downright mess, which could explain the absence but I'm glad I spent time being still in November, under the flurrying snow, and felt the chill in my feet while trudging through the grounds.

If only I could replicate this feeling in this crazy metropolis of whirring lights and a population addicted to smoking cigarettes, then maybe I could also have a semblance of calm. In the meantime, at least I'll have the trip as a reminder that breathing is voluntary (a friend said this the other day, and it just made so much sense).

Panaroma Mountain Village
2000 Panorama Dr, Panorama, BC V0A 1T0, Canada

Did not meant for it to get all personal, but hey, here we are... 

A short but memorable trip is always a delight isn't it? It feels weird to be back here writing again, but I suppose I have to start somewhere! What have I missed so far? How's everyone's Christmas prep shaping up? 

(Prop to my mama for taking the photos of me, she did such a great job!)

Friday, November 17, 2017

Adieu #TheBlogRace

Hello from Seattle, Washington State (!), and betrayed by my body, where I'm also nursing a sinus infection. Our drive took 12 hours from Canada, and it sure as hell was a long ride... Blogging on the go is also incredibly tough when you keep sneezing and battling the cold chills.

[All the photos in this post were taken today (!), with the last bits of autumn colour and some shots of the city, aren't you lucky]

Nonetheless, if you've been following along (and I'm sure most of you have), I've been posting material relating to #TheBlogRace for the last couple of months. A fun project initiated by Vix and Laila and brought me and the others through many proverbial highs, and this is our final entry!


With trepidation we started with Instagram, and it's always refreshing to know that behind pixels on a screen, is someone with their own stories. I guess we don't usually stop and pause to think, that there may be more beyond blogger unboxings, PR gifts, amazing photos.

I remember thinking how refreshing it was to hear from Luke about being deaf and staying positive, and Chloe's dyslexia story  and now kicking ass, basically on her way soon to her PhD! It reminded me that life is life is life, and not about avocados and brunch, though it sometimes can be... Everyone was enthusiastic, and it was fun being part of something where everyone had something of their own to contribute.


It wasn't for me, at least. I'm proud of the fact that I'm a creative person by nature,  but this honestly pushed me to have fun while doing crazy fun stuff. One of my favourite posts to write was the Mooncake Festival story growing up, and this mishmash video of my week which brought a little excitement in my otherwise pretty mundane work week.

Talent doesn't translate into creative magic, and made me think about how much extra time and thought goes into a successful curated piece on social media. And for this I will always be thankful that I was able to do that, without which I probably wouldn't go the extra mile because 'I don't have enough time' or 'it looks too hard!'

I remember Jordan's magical Red Riding Hood and interpretation of autumn, and those enchanting photos which spoke to her determination and hard work in all things blogging, something I probably couldn't replicate, ha. Beth's writing was soulful and frank from the very start, and Sophie's #MeToo post struck a very strong chord with me and I'm just so proud to have known these people.


Every week, I was equal excitement and slightly worried. Mainly because I was working long hours, and I was brainstorming all these ideas and hoping I had enough time to make it work. Getting home in a cab at 10pm were the bad days, and I didn't have time to do anything else.

But when I did finally pull through, it was something I was happy to call my own. Experimenting with new mediums, thinking of new ways to convey meaning (which I will always find exciting) was something wonderful, and something that I will walk away feeling thankful for.

Our little group on Twitter was filled with gifs (probably from me, I love gifs) and cheering on for each other one, having those messages ping each day was like being in a sorority, almost. Not like I would know what being in sorority feels like...

In the end, I feel like it's not so much about the competition than the chances that we had to talk to each other, us people with real problems and woes. I've grown to admire Taj whose cultural voice is so powerful with her words equally so, and getting to know about her life and vivid imagination is such a joy. Becky gave me all the colourful feels, and Katie's journey with Ostoma was a real eye-opener. And to the rest of you all, I think it's fair to forgive me in my ill state to say that you guys have been awesome and deserve all the equal shout-outs and love. 


And what's a classic #TheBlogRace post without some thank-you notes?

Vix and Laila, you get a gif in my lame hotel room cause you're both super cool. Thank you for including me in this pet project, and giving me a good excuse to get creative and go wild with ideas. And mostly, thanks for this cool bunch of people with their quirks and jokes that I've been having so much fun with – I loved learning about the other Racers, but also you two who have been with us and writing with us.

I learnt how to be humble and kind, and there is a space for everyone's voice in this chaotic blogging community.

I gained so many new people in my life, all of whom I hope to meet IRL!

I found out that we're ordinary peeps with brilliant minds, and more fun than I was expecting ;)

Most of all, thank you for reading these often inane words, which may seem like they don't reach anyone in an internet void. To an unending journey!

Catch up on all #TheBlogRace action here if you've been missing it. I hope your week is less ill-ridden than mine!

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