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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?

Friday, October 20, 2017

6 of My Best Resting Bitch Faces and Semi-Millennial Problems

You already know I hate listicles, and they don't mean much to me save for cheap thrills - it's like when I eat dairy ice cream just for funsies (note to self: don't) and suffer the consequences afterwards. 

But in true irony, I bring you the best and worst of both worlds: listicles (the worst) and a selection of my RBFs (best). I honestly believe that I get stopped less than an average friendly-faced person on the street, mostly because frowning is my default (ahhh wrinkles) and I have the death glare

RBF as an art form is truly under-appreciated, so to lighten the mood of my incredibly stressful week, I bring you a playful flair in my very dusty blog... 


1. Paying for public toilets

BUT WHY?! I am tragically bestowed with a small bladder (small people problems) and I do not carry cash with me at all times. Why can't we have an Asian attitude (Japan and Korea!) for public toilets that are clean and plays music? Sobs. London Victoria station, I'm looking at ya.

If you want to know my favourite *free* toilets in central London, give me a holler ;-)


2. Being put on hold

So you know I recently moved houses. You may not know that I'm also notoriously bad at being patient. Very, horribly bad. So what's worst than being put on hold to banks? Being put on hold when calling IKEA because they broke your mirror and Old St. Nick playing... on repeat. In the 8th month of the year... At least give me Mariah!


3. Why u be chargin' for milk? 

Nothing puts me off more than going to a café that charges extra for a splash of non-dairy milk. I call this milk discrimination!


4. 'omg I love kimchi' 

So you know a bit of this whole North Korean missile crisis going on, eh? Now you love Korean food. Or do you actually just like Korean Fried Chicken, and that's it. 'Cause I mean, everyone loves fried chicken (I had it for dinner last night).

Also pro tip: pal, do not pay £2.50 for a plate of kimchi when you eat out, you could buy a whole packet from Chinatown.


5. Still or Sparkling?

... like I'm paying to drink water, lol. The judgmental look on the waiter's face when I say 'tap water' happily when I'm in a ~fancy~ restaurant. Bitch pls, free water is the best water. If I wanted some top-notch water from the Scottish glade, I have my Brita filter. Thank you.

That man's face is basically the waiter's internal voice: yikes, we've got another one of these cheap Asian types in here! (It's okay to stereotype myself, right?)


6. "and I'm OBSESSED..."

Is there anything you're not obsessed with? Perhaps the Rohingya Crisis, a supposed 'social apartheid' in Oxford university for not admitting enough black students, the endemic sexual harassment in our supposed moral society?

Ok, totally did not mean for it to get political. But honestly though, stop. We know you love your dog, the Topshop Jaime Jeans, Glossier...

Some synonyms for obsessed: enamoured, floored, taken a liking to, captivated, gripped, or more daringly, exceptionally bedevilled.

*** 

Don't take it to heart, you guys. You know I've always been a bit out there with my opinions, and this is no different. The best kind of humour is when you can laugh at yourself, am I right? The millennial race can handle its hardships, I'm sure.

All in the name of some fun and games for this week's #TheBlogRace challenge on funny and relatable 'Listicles' by the wonderful Laila and Vix; please read everyone else's less skeptical and more educational posts on the hashtag here. If you enjoyed this, let's chat below and laugh about our woes in this semi-millennial life.

How was your week?

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Love Letters to Friends and Strangers


Kindness is not dead, yet. Unlike the old Taylor (you knew that joke was coming, right?). I'd like to think that generosity is still alive and kicking, floating around maybe in small organs – your spleen, your toes and fingers, and that we are more than capable of being compassionate to one another.

As a storyteller and a non-fan of listicles, I'm here to tell you stories about the people and strangers I love online, in a non-creepy way (I hope) and that you are able to reciprocate some of that love to them too. It's strange (but wonderful) to think where blogging has brought me: many friends, funny stories and great fun; but most importantly the people that continue inspire me to curate tales that you seem to, for some bizarre reason, enjoy in my humble space...

Geez, there seems to be a lot of love going around on the blog this week, eh?


EVERYDAY KINDNESS FOR THE EVERYDAY BLOGGER

In the playing field of influencers and faaah-mes bloggahs, it's easy to forget that we're still ultimately, flesh and bones. A bus ride I'd taken to one of of my first blogger meet ups was with Vicky, and we talked like normal people. OK, it included the occasional flat-lay woes but there was largely normal conversation about life, politics, dating, and it's something I've always been grateful for.

Simple acts of sending messages, tweets, comments (you guys!) have always allayed my fears that no one wants to be my friend, and in a universe where we speak about the importance of the support we get from around us - there is no better time to shower your girl/guy blog crushes some loving. And I try, to leave thoughtful comments/suggestions, reply to tweets, and just... talk.

I don't want to make this about me (ha) but I've sent letters, cards, books over the years and it just makes me that bit happier to know we're not ghosts at different ends of the internet connection, and that keeps me going.

I always find that I bond with so many people talking about random things like Neopets. And who knew y'all took up my offer on getting a k-hiphop playlist (it's in the making, I've just been busy!) so definitely stay around for that ;-)

And although someone will always have better and prettier photos, some people who knows what to say to elicit a better response; all we need is one, one person to say hi to or send Brooklyn Nine Nine gifs too.

We can't solve the world's problems but at least I can try to make this small slice of online community a less daunting place.


CRITICISM DOES NOT EQUAL HATE &
YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE CRUEL TO BE KIND

Constructive criticism can be a hard pill to swallow, but it's often necessary. Leaving comments and having conversations doesn't always have to be x's and o's or even 'I love it I agree 100%'  because you can't always agree and that's okay, but when you do disagree, they should be well-informed. I talked about how it's okay to disagree with me, and a lot of you said you tend to shy away from getting involved, particularly if it comes to a more trivial topic.

Here it where I tend to be more critical - we are not all the same and we are not made up of some ideas. It's ok to disagree, and when I give my take on a topic, I usually reason with why I believe so and understand that my beliefs can also be subject to attack and counter-ideas. But that's how I learn about new things, and that's how I think bloggers can interact in order to open up their minds to something new, where they'd previously think differently. The art of persuasion has never been so constructive in such an innovative space.

But hate is the cyanide in the Pandora box that should never be opened. There's a difference between criticism to engage and inform versus blind words that are biased and unsubstantiated. The moment that line is crossed, is when the blogging community becomes less welcoming and why we (I say we liberally here) are sometimes seen as catty, judgmental, privileged and other such related Not So Nice words. 

Want to argue? I'm with you on that, it's great, do it. But do it with restrain and knowledge of your facts, and not when you know you're going in to set the house of fire deliberately. That's just self-serving and petty. I feel like my use of metaphors are becoming a bit stale but you get my point - blind hate is bad in all context, and brings out the worst in the community. 

Bottom line: critical thinking and feedback is part of self-development and the larger narrative of self-love, but what I don't believe is baseless thoughts which serve to harm or injure for some inane purpose. 



SUPPORTING THE PEOPLE YOU LOVE ONLINE 

I see ya slight-roll your eyes: I say we should be loving everyone but then say it's okay if we disagree and give criticism, which makes me slightly condescending.

Like I say, I believe you can be supportive in ways that doesn't equate to 100% agreement. Whether it's offering suggestions, brainstorming for a project, I believe support comes in different shapes and forms and isn't always nice, but gives us the space to grow.

But above all, pay people you love with every inch of kindness you can muster.

I see Michelle's incredible forte at running her own business and her online shop, drool over Hanh's talent at videography and Becky's handmade interior pieces wishing I could do even one. I hope I do them justice by saying how great they've been doing, and know how much further they can go!

Start with hello, and hopefully end as friends. (Yes I know this is too much sentiment, even for me, but it has to be said.)



I LOVE YOU'S &
MY LOVE LETTERS

So, what now?

It's the moment y'all been waiting for, my embarrassing declarations of love to those I consider near and dear, some of whom I only adore from afar because that's all you can do because you're weird and scared like me, sometimes.

I don't want to play favourites, but here are snippets of love that I think should be said to people I have admired for some time now, for their personality and to thank them for allowing another stranger on the interwebs into their lives.

-----

May,

You are the wunderkind that I hoped I was when I was 22 but could not muster the courage to. Your spirit and incredibly talented soul brings me to tears and it's astounding how magical you are. I sometimes feel like I am you; your words carry a weight so heavy it drowns me . In a mystical way I believe we are sisters through words, and one day I would very much hope to meet you.

Nat,

Your email last week was greatly needed in my time of stress (lol). Thank you for saying hi and asking about my life problems, and it feels good to be able to talk abut blogging and real life woes with you because I was getting into a bit of a self-pity rut last week. Just wait till the day you find an essay from me dropping in your inbox.

Jennie,

The very first photo I liked on your Instagram was your snap of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Then I stalked all your bunny photos, and read your so very beautiful words. Your words swayed me and I always leave profoundly content. Thank you for your soulful writing, and glimpses into your life.

Tannya,

Girl you watch too many movies. But goddamn I love you, you have the bestest comments and the funniest things to say. I remember telling you that I used to go to Jakarta quite frequently when I was still living in Asia, and it's sad that our paths didn't cross earlier. But I'm so glad we met, and that you are a part of this wonderful group of people I get to talk to! Thanks bbgirlz.

-----

And I would go on and on but I ain't writing a dissertation here you guys. I probably should revive my You Whom I love series, where I share even more great reads. Let me know what you think. 

This week is another manic one, I can't even begin to describe it. Tell me about your days/week/life, go!

This is Week 3 of #TheBlogRace by Vix and Laila, you can send your vote if you've loved my posts so far and keep an eye out on Twitter when the polls open. Kindness was this week's theme, and I hope you enjoy my cheesiness and affection that I have for these lovely people, and of course, you! 
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