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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!

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!


EVERYONE HAS THEIR OWN STORY TO TELL 

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.



CREATIVITY IS NOT ALL TALENT 

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.



HIGHS AND LOWS, MAKING FRIENDS

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. 


MERCI BEAUCOUP

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!

Monday, November 13, 2017

[JOLSE] Troiareuke ACSEN A+ Cushion - A Review


It's been a hot minute since a k-beauty post appeared here hasn't it? The last I talked about Korean beauty was in my haul post and my first introduction to k-beauty products... Rest assured, the skincare fanatic in me is still very much hoarding all the latest potions and lotions. Even more so, I've met a whole bunch of fantastic people (holla #fellowshipoftheskin) through our mutual love for k-beauty – and to some extent, karaoke - to expand my knowledge about sheetmasks and more.

Jolse is one of the k-beauty websites that I've steadfastly used since my foray into Korean skincare and makeup, and Troiareuke was a brand that came onto my radar ever since it began popping up over Instagram over the past year or so.

FEATURES 

I won the ACSEN (Acne + Sensitive!) A+ Cushion to review, and here I am excited to share my thoughts. It comes in a sleek packaging and contains skin-friendly ingredients like Niacinamide (to brighten), Adenosine (anti-aging) that a normal cushion wouldn't, and its tagline of '99% skincare, 1% makeup' totally reeled me in. Essentially, Troiareuke's products are meant to resemble more of skincare than makeup, which is why they have used more skin-friendly ingredients which works in sync with makeup.

Price wise, it's definitely on the pricier side of $38 (but still cheaper than Sulwhasoo's cushion, which is considered top of the range in the market) but I was willing to give Troiareuke the benefit of the doubt since it's marketed as a skincare product. Though there is probably comparable products out there with similar features, with a lesser price tag.

Centella Asiatica is the darling of the ingredient world right now and my skin seems to like it in the masks I've been using, and its calming properties is ideal for acne-prone skin, which promotes healing and works to rebuild the skin barrier, combatting hyperpigmentation.

For background, my skin is extremely sensitive and prone to redness, throw in pesky hormonal acne and you're lookin' right at me. I tend to be very selective with the products I use, and keep my routine minimal and I've stopped wearing makeup to work. On the weekends, I've also cut back and it's made a great difference for my skin. I have 2 cushions in rotation which I know and trust, and was excited to see how this one fared, seeing as this one leaned toward skincare, rather than makeup.


Unfortunately this cushion only comes in No. 23 (traditionally the darkest in Korean cushions, which is a shame and needs to change) but coincidentally that is my usual shade match. The cushion itself has a slight scent, which I'm not a fan of (but I'm usually not a fan of scents in products) but isn't too off-putting.



The other thing about the cushion is that it is a 'mochi cushion', meaning you only get the product you need by pressing down to release more of it. Compared to most cushions in the market, which comes pre-soaked with foundation/BB cream, this feature prevents oxidisation of the product and keeps it hygienic. I liked the idea of that, meaning that less of it is susceptible to contamination.


COLOUR & COVERAGE

The A+ cushion has true yellow undertone, which was surprising. Usually #23 cushions are supposed to my match but always end up on the pinkier side,  and usually have a white cast because of the SPF.  

Applying it was interesting, and I would say this is definitely a medium to high coverage cushion. I usually go for sheer to medium coverage, just because I don't like feeling having an extra layer on my face. It goes on quite liberally, so a light touch was more than enough. 

Coverage is... good and buildable. I have severe acne scarring and it's managed to minimise most of the redness but still peek through naturally. I've been testing this for about 2-3 weeks now, but I still can't quite say whether I like the feeling of it on top of my skin. It goes on slightly more matte than what I would like (my favourite cushion remains the Sulwhasoo Brightening Perfecting Cushion), and feels a bit thick, so after the puff, I would go in with my beauty blender to continue blending it out. 


It's supposed to last a whole day but I find that it lasts around 6-8 hours, particularly because my face is oily? Nevertheless, lasting power is pretty impressive regardless. You can see my scars still visible but I usually leave them be, since they're not overly bothersome. Plus I find that layering too much makes my skin a bit too tight. 


FINAL THOUGHTS

Like I said, I still haven't decided whether I love the cushion or not. Admittedly, the coverage is great but it also tends to get a bit flaky for me due to the thicker formulation, because my skin gets dehydrated easily which doesn't make it the best canvas, despite using a primer before hand. 

I'm happy to wear this out for a nice weekend out, but wouldn't probably hack it the whole day - just because my skin tends to be sensitive after a long day of makeup. 

My preferred cushion is probably the Troiareuke H+ Healing Cushion, which is more catered towards preventing Transepidermal Water Loss, with more natural coverage and a wider shade range. I image the A+ cushion would be great if you have normal to combination skin, but coverage remains great for redness and scarring overall. 

You can check out the Troiareuke ACSEN A+ Cushion on Jolse :) 


Regardless, I'm happy to add this one into my cushion rotation! Have you tried any Troiareuke products?

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Learning to Forgive Myself


This week I felt out of touch with life more than usual, and although I'd be tempted to put it down to my deep emotional investment in watching Younger, I think it's a lot to do with what's been on my mind these days.

On Tuesday I was at an alumni event, feeling extremely out of depth and underachieved surrounded by people who graduated the same year as I did – doing brilliantly in life, and actually enjoying their achievements (deservingly).

I am young but not so young at the same time, feeling like I could do so much more yet have achieved less than I have wanted. It's a telling sign that I probably need a change, and I would be totally down to do that if not for the tricky circumstances that my life revolves around.



WE TELL OURSELVES WE NEED TO DO EVERYTHING

Matt tells me I'm overthinking and stressing out too much and he's probably 99% right, and my sense of disillusionment is hard to shake off, like a metallic taste in the mouth which never leaves after you each a big bowl of spinach (... yep).

We are reminded by constant positive reinforcement that we should always try to better ourselves, and be the best versions of ourselves. And that, frankly, is absolutely exhausting. This week I guilt-tripped myself so bad because I left work at 6pm and not my usual 10.30pm, which sounds insane but it comes from the idea that working more is an inherent good, because it's productive. But is it though?

Watching TV on that Monday evening was difficult, filled with 'maybe I should read up on world news and be a knowledgeable person' thoughts. I couldn't stop it and still don't really know how to.


At that point, I was close to tears. And for what? Because I felt bad for enjoying myself and not doing something else....? Right now, I am still feeling a good chunk of guilt because I'm supposed to be looking for better opportunities but I am here clacking away, stringing incoherent thoughts together in a strangely vulnerable way to the public.  


THE PROCESS OF FORGIVING MYSELF

... is difficult. Incredibly so, and to the point of exasperation and near tears.

This week I started reading Julian Barnes' Levels of Life without really intending to or knowing what the book was about, and because it was the only unread book on my Kindle. And I've never felt so emotionally grieved, and ached for those words like it were coming from my own mind. The book's exploration of history, autobiographical depiction of grief in words insufficient to really represent what grief really means, and a search for the meaningful when all is meaningless was, in plain sight, a stirring moment on my bus ride home.

I need to forgive myself.

Simple as it sounds, so it begins, my forgiveness of self can never be, and could never be easy. Forgiving begets guilt and I am anything but innocent - guilty of being overwhelmed, wanting the infinite multisensory joys that is in our lifetimes, impossible.



LEARNING TO BE HAPPY 

... also seems to be an insurmountable task. I grow inwards (a phrase I used many years ago) and recoil in fear, bereft of common sense and look odd to the common eye. 

Hope will save us all in some way or another, and my hope is that I am able to truly believe that, however small. I am trying, in something small each day, to understand joy is found in unexpected corners: vegan doughnuts, crunchy autumn leaves, persimmon season... 

Today: a walk in the park, my evening silhouette melting into an afternoon that is now in the past, I am learning to be happy to be alive, most of all. 


Happy Halloween weekend! I think I'm the only person I know who's not busy bingeing Stranger Things (because I don't have Netflix, ha) or going to a dress-up party and getting crunk...

Another fun fact: we shot these on our kitchen floor because the light was gorgeous! Isn't it?
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