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Saturday, June 9, 2018

Why Are We So Unhappy in Our Twenties?

rouje green wrap dress

I'm a hot mess right now: sweating out my in my feverish state, my sickness probably culminated from an unfortunate change in weather and the stress from a deadline yesterday. Last week I posted on Instagram that I was reading a fantastic long read about the psychology of happiness and it made me realise that so many of us in our twenties (or beyond), while probably more successful than we think, are so vastly unhappy with our lives. 

Of course, it doesn't help that the curated online lives are so often a jarring fantasy in reprimanding us that what we've achieved is never enough. The fact that we're so hard-pressed on anchoring (another fantastic concept but a great book called Nudge) our happiness to another person makes us lose sense of intrinsic joy – money plays a huge factor sure, but apparently "once our basic needs are met, the relationship between money and happiness becomes purely theoretical". 

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Time versus money

I found this quite hard to digest, because who doesn't want the access associated with greater purchasing power?

Then it occured to me that my daily anxiety of never being a good enough person largely stems from the fact that I "never have enough time" to do what I want.

Scenarios:

"If I had more time, I could paint, relax, unwind"
"If I wasn't so busy with dealing with work all the time, I would be out on the rooftop having a drink"
"If I was rich, I wouldn't have to do all these chores myself"

And so it feels like many of my problems with feeling joy depended on how valuable I considered my time to be. Clearly we all hate wasting time doing things that are unnecessarily bureaucratic:  paperwork, admin, waiting for buses that never come...

We feel like we could be doing so much more whilst enduring the initial useless act that needs to be done first. Everything and all of it seems like a big waste of time.

rouje green wrap dress

rouje green wrap dress

The problem with Time and being busy all the time

We're so obsessed with Time. 

Or at least I am. I used to set a timer for individual tasks I had to do and get weirdly panicky when I didn't get as far as I wanted to and it would end up in a vicious cycle of bitterly regretting not doing enough... 

Then there's the cultural perceptions of what being busy means. I work with a lot of US colleagues, and they equate time to being busy and productive. Any time spent not doing work means missed opportunities and dare I say, laziness?! And it doesn't stop, because being young also means you're not supposed to not be busy, and always be creative and on the ball all the damn time.

I was listening to a podcast where they interviewed a hugely successful 28-year-old CEO; I'm 27 and I like flowers.... How would you feel? To which I then spent about 20 minutes feeling inadequate and thinking I was wasting my youth not being some sort of magical feminist woman-boss in my twenties. 


rouje green wrap dress

Creating a form of Happiness 

Was it my own fault I was feeling inadequate and not making my first million? Probably. 

Looking back, I was probably focusing on what I couldn't have that I became so unhappy most of my early twenties, and not on what I did have. Sure I'm not a genius entrepreneur (though that does make me sad), but I am great at being creative, being weird and fortunate enough to be where I am right now. 

I used to wallow in guilt a lot, and when that started to affect my health greatly, I realised it wasn't going to work out. Everyone tells me 'think of the positive!' and I refused - because I refused to believe that ~positive juju~ could change anything. 

I laugh at how naïve I was then, because it works. It didn't change my entire life, but creating a form of happiness that doesn't rely on anger or bitterness made me realise how light and freeing it could be, without the terrible burden that feels incredibly tiring.  

I'd never realise it was actually a simple act of realising that making a version of your own happiness doesn't mean erasing your worries, or anxieties, it just meant (for me) picturing them in ways I could face them without feeling terrified. 

rouje green wrap dress

(Dress - Vero Moda 
Necklaces - Pandora Shine and Missoma)

rouje green wrap dress

Do you think we're unhappy? And why?

Monday, May 28, 2018

A Spring Catch Up


Wow, hello! I'd never thought I would be easing back into blogging and writing anything down here in a while, yet here I am.... It's been a good two months, many things have happened, including a trip to the hospital which wasn't fun at all. I was also in a bad health phase, losing a terrible amount of weight for my size, so I've been lying low with social media, taking time to relax and do more things I enjoy.

But our big, happy news was something I wanted to share, even though we kept it under wraps until I decided to talk about it on Instagram (and the same day after the Malaysian elections), so here it is - Matt and I got married!

Might as well come out with it eh?

It's kind of odd being here, being almost 27 and living the big 'M' word. But quite the contrary, while it's been odd, it's also been full of love and we're back in full force, being the childish 20-something year olds we are. My 20 year old self would hardly believe that this is where I would end up, but then again, my 20 year old self was severely unhappy and had bad friends...

I'm sharing a few snaps of our wedding day, which was beautiful, brought together by our closest family and friends, with the incredibly lucky weather (it was low 10C the weekend before) and delicious food.


My beautiful flower crown was from Grace and Thorn - I'd wanted something colourful but nothing too obnoxious and their Ready to Wear collection had the perfect selection. I didn't have to bulk order anything, and they delivered it promptly on Friday evening all tied up.

This was the kid's size (lol) because I have a tiny head. It fitted perfectly and everyone (including me, duh) loved it. I didn't want to take it off!


My bouquet was also from the same themed collection, I fell in love with The Future is Bright arrangement: beautiful with a pink rose, greenbells, eucalyptus and craspedia. It was really the most delicate (ha) coming together of florals :) 




Our post-ceremony lunch was at the laidback Peckham Bazaar, which was a feasting menu with sumptuous Mediterranean highlights like grilled Octopus, slow-braised leg of lamb and a to-die-for baklava and coconut ice cream. We chose it because it was an upgrade from a pub lunch, but nothing too formal or strict. I also loved the verandah and glass windows, with the open kitchen with the food being cooked. 

(My feet ached from wearing heels so I changed into my loafers after lunch, hahaha)


Us being us, we didn't have a photographer so a big shout-out to friends and family to took some delightful photos of the day! 

I'm hoping to get back into blogging with a few skincare posts, so stay tuned! Please say hi below, it's been a long time friends...

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.


DEFINE WHAT YOUR SKINCARE ROUTINE MEANS TO YOU


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.



DECIDE ON YOUR MAIN SKINCARE CONCERN 

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.



BE CONSISTENT WITH THE ROUTINE 

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.



FIND INGREDIENTS THAT YOUR SKIN LOVE

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! 


BE PATIENT

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.



DIY WIRE PHOTO BOARD

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.



SPRING SCENTS

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...



UPPING MY SHELFIE GAME & MORE GREENERY

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.

TONER, SERUMS AND OILS

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

MASKS, MASKS AND MASKS...

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

MOISTURISE

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.

SOOTHE AND GLOW

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.

DETOX 

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

MOISTURISE 

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!
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