Wednesday, August 29, 2012

DIY Lavender Bath Salts & Rose Soap

I recently remembered that I had some leftover dried lavender (from a previously failed attempt to make lavender shortbread cookies) and wanted to do something with it before it went old.

Seeing as work has been quite hectic the past few months for me and a few other friends... I decided to make some bath salts with the lavender :)



Okay so the packaging could do with some revamping but it was just for fun :)

On to some other DIY... my coworker, A, has recently been DIY'ing her own soap!


Last week, she gifted me with a huge chunk with dried rose petals in it. Yay!! I can't wait to use it.

When she handed it to me, she said she thought it looked like daikon cake (see image below). LOL. It also sort of looks like cheese~ Good thing it doesn't smell like either!

Image credit: Google Images

Monday, August 27, 2012

Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment SPF 15 Review


I've heard many good things about Fresh's line of lip treatments from friends and the online blogosphere. I mean, I'd like to think that the great packaging is already enough to catch anyone's eye. It started with a want for a new lip balm where I purchased and fell in loveee with the texture of Fresh's Sugar Honey lip treatment. Then summer came along and I fell into a coral colored phase and impulsed purchased Sugar Coral (which, imho, is not as coral colored as I had imagined it to be but still beautiful) and then my birthday came along and I received the last two, Sugar Fresh and Sugar Rose, as a gift and I'm just uber in love with the entire freakin' family!

Colors from Left to Right in above image: Sugar, Sugar Honey Tinted, Sugar Rose Tinted, Sugar Coral Tinted

Cost: $22.50

Fresh Sugar Honey and Coral were purchased from Sephora. The mini lip duo's were received as a gift from Sephora for my birthday. This is my favorite Beauty Insider birthday gift so far. :)

Description from Sephora.com:
Sugar Lip Treatment SPF 15 blends reparative oils and waxes with real sugar, a natural humectant, for delectable and dependable moisture. Sweet and tart black currant oil, rich in plumping essential fatty acids, cushions the lips while antioxidant grapeseed polyphenols and vitamins A, C, and E provide protection from wrinkle-causing free radicals. It also provides essential, year-round protection from damaging UV rays.


Pros:
- Nice light lemony scent

- Really smooth, creamy soft texture. Simply glides across lips (given they’re not flaky and dry, lol). Not waxy at all like some other balms I’ve tried (yuck).

- Extremely nourishing~

- Has SPF 15. SWEET! It’s hard finding a lip balm with decent SPF. The only one I’ve been able to find in drugstores is by Blistex but I feel like it dries out my lips so I don’t often use it.

- Nice natural, every day color (at least on my lips). The Rose doesn’t look overly dramatic like some reds I own. The Honey doesn’t make me look like death like some nude tones I own. The Coral gives just a bit more of a pop of color than the Rose but it’s not overly done.

- Design of the aluminum casing is so nice! How can one resist? I’m such a sucker for design. It’s nice not buying something plastic and cheap looking for once.

- These balms can withstand fairly high heat. I once accidentally left my Coral and Rose balms in my car on a REALLY hot day. The metal was warm to the touch when I retrieved them from the trunk of my car. I opened the container, expecting a gooey slushy mess but the balm was, surprisingly, still in one piece! Granted, it looked very moist so I left it to cool without touching it. The balms are now tilted a bit to the side and the edges are scraped a bit but they’re both still good to use!

Swatches from Left to Right: Coral, Honey, Rose, and Sugar

Cons:
- Pricey! $22.50 for a lip balm? Yikes.

- Doesn’t plump my lips like Fresh states it should but honestly, I don’t mind. I didn’t even know it was supposed to plump till after I purchased mine.

Conclusion:
The pros obviously outnumber the one con for this lip balm in my opinion and I just love them! The design, the refreshing but not too overpowering lemony scent, the buttery smooth texture, and the great color application…  Fresh’s Sugar Lip Treatment is the epitome of the perfect lip balm, in my opinion. I like that because it’s a lip balm, it doesn’t dry out my lips or doesn’t leave a sticky texture (like some glosses do).

Ahh~ I love lip products… But gosh, this lip balm is so luxurious when applied to the lips that I try not to let myself reach for it often. Love it, love it though. Fresh, you did good. Please keep ‘em coming! I might just have to go and pick up Plum and Passion to complete my collection…..


If you care for more pictures, scroll down for close ups of the individual balms:

Fresh Sugar Coral Tinted 

Fresh Sugar Honey Tinted 

Fresh Sugar Rose Tinted

Fresh Sugar

Friday, August 24, 2012

Paula's Choice Resist Ultimate Anti-Aging Hand Cream Review


Every once in a while, you find that there's just very little to say about a product. I try my best to write thorough reviews but sometimes, there's just not much to be said. This is definitely one of those times, hah.


Cost: 
Currently on sale at Paula's Choice for $12.76

Pros:
+ SPF 30
+ Antioxidants!

Cons:
- Tacky
- Doesn’t feel like a moisturizing hand cream to me at all. Feels exactly as if I had purchased a bottle of sunscreen. Not what I was expecting or wanted.

Conclusion:
The extreme tacky feeling stated above deters me from using this or even considering re-purchasing. I'm trying to use this up as fast as I can to simply rid of it. Sorry Paula's Choice. I normally really like your products but this was a total miss. Love the portability of the tube but the formulation is nowhere near "cream" as the title states.

Squeezed out of the tube. 

Rubbed into skin a bit. 

Slightly shiny finish but not too shiny. Feels very tacky.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Tony Moly Tangerine Whitening Hand Cream Review


Cost: $7.10 USD from Sasa.com
Size: 30g


Pros:
+ Smells just like tangerines! Mmmm. Very citrusy.
+ Adorable tangerine shaped container! I’m trying to figure out what to store inside once I’m finished with it.
+ Not super thick or goopy but it’s not exactly viscous either. Application is easy and if you use enough, it’ll glide against your skin for long enough so you can apply the lotion all over but it doesn’t dry with the same texture.


Cons:
- Slightly tacky finish. Not as bad as the feeling you get when you’re using just sunscreen but it took some getting used to for me.
- The strong tangerine scent can be potentially overwhelming for some.
- No noticeable whitening.


Conclusion:
As great as it smells, I probably wouldn’t repurchase since I’m not in love with the texture and the shape doesn’t make it very portable. It’s smaller than a lotion bottle but I prefer something just slightly smaller.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Travel Beauty Essentials

 When I travel, I like to try and keep things simple. Everyone is a different kind of traveler and I consider myself to be a laid-back one (but I imagine the definition varies widely). I usually pack my base skin care products, the minimal amount of makeup, and maybe some sort of hair styling tool depending on whether or not I plan on going out (I’m a grandma, hehe).

For those of you traveling for the first time (I've only started traveling recently), here’s my basic list which you can add to as you please:


Skin Care
Face wash (small jar works well since a little goes a long way with my face wash)
Face lotion (no spf so I can use this both day and night)
Face treatments (examples: retinoid, topical antibacterial, benzoyl peroxide, bha)
Sunscreen


Makeup
Pencil eyeliner
Compact eyeshadow palette with variations of brown
Sparkly black eyeshadow
Eyelash curler
Voluminous mascara for some umph!
Lip balm
Lip color
Concealer
Eyeshadow brushes (not shown)


Other Amenities
Small container of hand cream (I can’t count how many times I’ve gone into a drugstore to buy a small bottle because my hands were so dry. Just pack some!)
Cotton swabs (clean off excess makeup, clean ears)
Cotton squares
Eye makeup remover
*Hair curler

I think that’s about it. I don’t bring body lotion as I have yet to come upon a hotel that doesn't provide this. I am lucky that I generally have fairly good skin so I don’t have to pack any foundation or compact powder. I find that since I’m mostly walking, I tend to heat up easily and my face will flush so no need for blush there, hah. I like putting my things into small containers to make more space for clothes, shoes, or souvenirs.

What do you like to pack when you travel? Zero makeup? Alllll of your shoes? I’d love to hear to get some ideas! :)

Friday, August 17, 2012

DIY Niacinamide Mask

Since my skin has gotten over (cross fingers) it's acne battle, I've been trying to find a way to lighten or rid the acne scars. M told me about how niacinamide (a form of vitamin B3) has worked well for her sister's acne scars which lead me to read up as much as I could about the magical topical vitamin. I found that niacinamide is supposed to be really good at fighting acne (in one study, better than clindamycin which I was prescribed) and can also help to lighten skin. It also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

I spent the longest time going through a ton of web links and search results, trying to find a niacinamide mask recipe that dealt with pure niacinamide powder (which I purchased from Lotion Crafter) but I couldn't find a single recipe. My friends recipes and recipes that I've found online all use Niacinamide capsules from health food stores which actually contain ingredients other than just niacinamide such as gelatin and magnesium stearate so I tried to make my own.

First I tried adding just water to my niacinamide powder. The powder would just dissolve and leave me with no substance to actually stick onto my face. Soaking cotton squares with this and letting them sit on my face wouldn't offer full coverage of my face.

Next, I thought to experiment with some of the excess sea kelp bioferment I still have and tried combining that with the niacinamide powder. It worked!! This recipe is still a recipe in progress so if you attempt, please do so at your own discretion. As a disclaimer, I have ZERO medical background and am purely "DIY'ing" my own products for fun. I have no idea how this recipe will react with your skin. For those who want some sort of reference, I generally have really sensitive, dry to normal skin.

DIY Niacinamide Mask Recipe
1/4 tsp Sea Kelp Ferment (bulkactives.com)
1/8 tsp pure Niacinamide powder (lotioncrafter.com)
*This recipe makes enough to cover the face and neck. For use on body, increase measurements to 1 tsp sea kelp bioferment and 1/2 tsp niacinamide powder.

How to use:
1. Mix sea kelp bioferment with niacinamide powder in a plastic or glass container using a plastic stick or utensil.
2. Apply mixture all over face and neck avoiding eye and lip area.
3. Leave on for 15 minutes and then wash off.

Not too long after application, I could feel the mixture begin to dry and my skin begin to really tighten. It was a bit uncomfortable moving my head to look at other things so I tried to just stay put. The mixture dried an uneven chalky white on my skin.

My skin was quite red after washing off the mask. I didn't notice any immediate positive results. Perhaps it's a bit strong for my skin. BUT! A few days after trying out this mask for the first time, I definitely saw an improvement in the clarity and brightness of my skin! I really like it and have been using it once a week, every week, since then. Only once did I do a body mask but I think it'll take a few more before I'll see a difference in the skin on my body.

Niacinamide from LotionCrafter

Sea Kelp Ferment from BulkActives

Niacinamide powder in a plastic container

Mixed with the sea kelp ferment. You can still see the little bits of niacinamide.

Easy to spread jelly texture.

Skin after washing off face mask. You can see it's quite red/flushed. The darker spots are my acne scars.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Quarter life hormonal changes = Breakouts!

(Image credit: Google Images)

This year has been a crazy year for my skin. Beginning in January, I started experiencing more breakouts than normal on my forehead. When I get pimples, I normally just get them around my forehead and temples. Then April/May rolled around and I started breaking out on my cheeks! Let me tell you, I have never once broken out on my cheeks. Not once. So this was a big thing to me! I let it progress for about a month before I decided to try some over the counter retinols (Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum w/ Retinol). Didn’t help me at all. I continued to break out (a new pimple every few days on each cheek), popping the pimples (can’t… help… myself! So… satisfying!), and as a result, scarring my cheeks. >:[ I tried changing my pillow cases daily, using a headset instead of putting my cellphone to my face, washing my hands before touching my face (that meant washing between every single topical application), using clay masks to draw oils out, using harsher than Cerave cleaners… all the works.

Finally, when enough was enough, I made an appointment to see my family doctor. She’s the sweetest thing and I absolutely love her. She understands, doesn’t judge, and is so compassionate. I’m known to freak out about the little things and my doctor is always so very understanding. Okay, gushing aside, after discussing, she boiled the root cause down to hormones since I lead a fairly healthy lifestyle and didn’t have anything to complain about regarding work, family, or friends. She prescribed tretinoin (0.025%) and clindamycin (1%).

I started using tretinoin and clindamycin on June 12th. I cut out BHA from my skin care routine and didn’t add or play with any new products during this time. For a little more than a month, my skin did not improve. I assumed my skin was purging. At some point, I sat down, re-read through the pamphlets that had come with the medication and realized I had been applying my topical meds incorrectly! Yikes. I’m supposed to wait between the application of each of my topical skin care products (between 15-30 minutes). Woah. Did not know this. Less than a week after incorporating wait times into my morning and night skin care routine, I noticed a significant improvement in my skin! WOW. And really, my skin has only been getting better since. Yay!

Here was my general routine while on Tretinoin and Clindamycin:

Morning:
Cleanse – Cerave Hydrating Cleanser
Wait 15-30 minutes
Treatment - Apply Clindamycin
Wait 15-30 minutes
Moisturize - Apply Cerave Hydrating Lotion
Wait 5 minutes
Protect – Apply 40+SPF sunscreen on face

Evening:
Cleanse – Cerave Hydrating Cleanser
Wait 15-30 minutes
Treatment - Apply Clindamycin
Wait 15-30 minutes
Treatment – Apply Tretinoin
Wait 15-30 minutes
Moisturize - Apply Cerave PM


Concluding thoughts:
I've never waited between topical applications before so this was definitely a change for me. All steps performed with maximum wait time incorporated into the routine could turn my night time skin routine into a two hour process! Sheesh.

Is it worth it? Definitely! If your skin is doing great without wait time incorporated into your routine then I don't see the need for a change but this change was something my skin needed. And it worked! Granted, I sometimes find myself with an extra long wait time because I'll end up accidentally falling asleep.... and then I'll wake up at 2AM... put on lotion... and then go back to sleep. But it's worth it. :)

Thoughts on Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum w/ Retinol:
I used Paula’s Choice Antioxidant Serum w/ Retinol for three weeks and didn’t see any actual changes in my skin. What I did see were temporary ones. For example: Having applied the retinol before going to bed in the evening, I’d wake up the next morning with what looked like baby butt smooth skin. Oooh wheee~ After washing my face (as I always do in the morning) though, all the retinol and silicone washed off and I was able to see my normal skin again. The pores. The pimples. All of it. Shucks. The silicone did a great job of hiding my imperfections temporarily but what I was looking for was a permanent solution, not an interim one.

What I didn’t like about this retinol product was that half the time, even after intense, vigorous, and crazy mad shaking, the product still came out in two parts: oil and gel. At times, I was able to get it to mix fully but more often than not, I would just apply it as is because I was tired of shaking the darn bottle so much. At one point, I even managed to scratch a nice line down my chest because I was shaking the bottle like such a mad woman! Hah. Seems like too much trouble.

I figure Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum w/ Retinol didn’t work for me because in the end, retinol’s do not have much direct effect on your skin as compared to retinoic acid/retinoids. Retinol’s require conversion by special enzymes to become retinoic acid. The conversion rate is low and varies greatly among individuals. Sometimes the retinol degrades (due to exposure to air) and doesn’t become retinoic acid in the end. Thus, the response to retinols, as compared to retinoic acid/retinols, is lower. (Source: smartskincare.com)

(Image Credit: paulaschoice.com)

Thoughts on Tretinoin (0.025%):
Wow, is this drying or what?! First day after incorporating this into my skin care routine, my eyebrows were super dandruff-y! I mean they were like RAIN ON ME, DEAD SKIN. Grosssss. Anyway, after that, I steered clear of my eyebrows during tretinoin application (I think the pamphlet actually might have advised on this too lol).

The tretinoin comes in an easy to squeeze aluminum (?) tube. The cream is white and easy to spread. I honestly am not sure HOW anyone is only supposed to use a dime sized amount to cover your entire face (unless you mixed it with lotion) but I just use however enough to apply a thin layer all over my entire face (foreahead, nose, chin, and cheeks). When I remember, I’ll extend the application further down onto my neck and décolleté for prevention measures. Immediately upon application, you can feel it just sucking your skin dry. During my wait time after tretinoin application, I am always so desperate to put on lotion and have to force myself to wait it out. I haven’t seen any changes in the lines around my neck or décolleté yet as I’ve only been using it for a few weeks but I do really appreciate what it’s done to clear my acne.

Tretinoin Cream, 0.025% - the tube

Tretinoin Cream, 0.025% - the cream

Thoughts on Clindamycin:
Easy gel texture makes for easy application. Doesn't burn or sting my skin at all. It's a topical antibiotic that was prescribed for me to help keep bacteria on the skin at bay (antimicrobial). I've read up on this drug and the fact that there's so much talk about our bodies potentially becoming resistant to antibiotics has put a little scare into me so I plan to use this first tube of Clindamycin till it’s finished (maybe not even so!) but after that, I'm not sure if I'll want a refill. Hopefully, I won't need one.


Clindamycin Phosphate Topical Gel, 1% - tube


 Clindamycin Phosphate Topical Gel, 1% - gel


Monday, August 13, 2012

La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Ultra-Light Sunscreen Fluid Review


If you know me, you’ll know that I adore milky sunscreens. And since I use sunscreen religiously, there’s no such thing as ever having one too many bottles! I’ve been eyeing La Roche-Posay’s line of ultra light sunscreens for quite some time now and when I had the chance to swap for a brand new one on MakeupAlley, I jumped on it!



Cost:
1.7 fl oz for $30



Pros:
-       Design of bottle makes it space efficient. Easy to throw into purse/gym bag and go!
-       Screw on top gives me a sense of relief that the top can’t just pop open and spill everywhere
-       SPF 60 protection
-       Absorbs quickly and doesn’t irritate my sensitive skin
-       Fragrance free!
-       Water resistant
-       Recommended for all skin types

Cons:
-       La Roche-Posay claims that this sunscreen will leave your skin looking matte. I found that it didn’t leave me shiny but it also didn’t leave me as matte as Clarin’s UV Plus HP Day Screen does.

Conclusion:
Would I repurchase this? Perhaps. The price is highly competitive with the two other milky sunscreens I own (Clarin’s UV Plus and Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Lotion) but I like how the other two look on my skin more after application. Still, if the pro’s do outweigh the con’s and a little shine can definitely be taken care of with a quick sweep of powder or use of a blotting sheet.  :)

Dispensed onto hand 


Nice finish

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On a different note, I attended Mitsuwa's food fair the other weekend and had some of the tastiest fried fish cake and ramen everrrr!

Mmm! Vegetable fried fish cake and anchovy fried fish cake. I wasn't expecting the anchovy one to be tasty (purchased on accident) but oh my gosh it was delicious~

Look at that huge pot of broth in the back (pot on left). It was huuuuge!

Yum! The broth was EXTREMELY fatty and rich but I don't know if I've ever had ramen so fresh and tasty. The freshly minced garlic (almost like a paste) on the upper right was SO fresh it burned my tongue! So spicy. On the left, there was some spicy preserved vegetables(?). What a kick! Haha.

I thought the printed seaweed was so neat! I showed a friend this picture afterward and he thought it was photoshopped haha.

Have a great week everyone!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Kiss Me Kiss Lip Softsense Review


Hands down: Craziest lip balm EVER.

What do you mean "crazy?" Let me tell you! Every single lip balm I've ever placed in my car has melted in the hot sun. I park in the sun and leave my windows rolled up. I'm gone for hours. I've done this over and over and over and balm has never once melted even a tiny bit. 

What do they put in this stuff????? That slightly disturbing fact aside, I adore these lip balms. Hahah~


Packaging~ Cute little peaches all over.



On the left is my now finished Strawberry Cream lip balm. On the right is my new Peach lip balm.


I purchased the strawberry cream lip balm a while back and absolutely fell in loveeeee~ with the flavor and scent. It's the perrrfect strawberry cream scent. The taste isn't too bad either if it accidentally gets on your tongue. Loved that one. Sad it's gone.

I recently did a Sasa haul and saw that they had the peach version in stock so I decided to give it a try. My car needs to be replaced with a new invincible lip balm anyway, hah. The scent on this one is extremely fragrant with peach which I don't like very much but I've managed to get used to it. If you're off to purchase one, I'd highly recommend the strawberry one out of the two. Price was roughly $5 USD. Loveeee~ the strawberry one. :)

Still. I don't understand how it never melts. Ridiculous, hah.