Sunday, August 21, 2011

New Haircut + Fave Hair Product :)

I have been obsessing over short haircuts!  
Figure its time to get a new style since my hair is a bit longer now, plus it's been clumping near my forehead.  FYI, my hair was previously a short bob. :)

I narrowed down to about 3 hairstyles:

Pictured from top to bottom:  
Seung Yeon from the kpop band Kara, she is so cute in this short style.
Jung Nicole also from Kara, I love the layering in the back!
Model from Popteen magazine, anybody know her name?  I love the straight hair framing her face and the arrangement of hair at top.

I've got pretty thin/fine hair and need lots of volume at the top of my head to balance out my face.  I've also gained a bit of weight recently and its showing, oops :X  For this concern, I wanted hair that will cover both sides of my face, to make my face look more slim. :)

So I took the above three pictures to my local hairstylist and asked her which she thinks would work best on me.  Instead of just picking one, she said she will cut something *similar* and ensure there would be the face framing layers I wanted. 

Here is the result:
Wore minimal makeup, felt the need to pixelize my nose+lips :)

I like all the volume I have on the top now :)

Excuse the dead eyes X.X, I wasn't wearing much eye makeup :P
Though I didn't perm my hair, this was the result of curling my hair with a tiny 1/2" Revlon hair straightener.  

I don't like putting hair product at my roots, it makes my scalp itchy :P  Anybody else out there like that?  hehe :) 
I managed to find mini solutions to get around using product at my scalp.
1)  For lots of body, use a mini crimper at the roots, make sure its hidden by uncrimped hair at the top.
2)  Use hair product at least 3" - 4" away from the roots.
3)  Use products that are lightweight.  I've had good experience with glazes and sprays.

My favorite hair product, Chi thermal protection spray.  
It protects your hair AND keeps the shape of your hair for a long time!  For me it can last as long as the next day, woot!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Extra Sensitive Skin MODE + Foundation Reviews!

The condition of my skin, specifically eczema on my face, has been at it's worse.  Things haven't been this bad since 2003.  Every couple days it will go through the cycle of itchy-peely-sensitive-red, to just peely, then smooth from all the healing.  Afterwards it will start all over again.

I've already seen a dermatologist and feel I have exhausted my options there.  I can no longer continue to take the prescription allergy meds, which makes me groggy throughout the day.  I also cannot rely on steroid creams, which has already thinned out my skin as a child.

I took the next step and started seeing an allergist.  Turns out I'm allergic to different tree and grass pollen that's been in flying in the San Francisco Bay Area air.  I'll be taking de-sensitizing allergy shots starting next week.  Even though the process may take up to 6 months to take effect, I am pretty excited to get my skin allergies under control!

With my skin sensitivy to it's maximum, I feel compelled to share...

My Sensitive Skincare Routine

1.  Wash face with Neutrogena Extra Gentle Skin Cleanser.
I pump once or twice of the product into my hand, then massage my face.  Rinse off with cool water.  Dab face with a clean towel.

2.  Spray a generous amount of Evian Facial Spray.
Pat well into skin, this pushes more moisture into your skin.  I must say, this product is the most sensitive skin freindly ever.  While it may not be the most moisturizing, I can usually rely on it to NOT sting my face! :)  Btw, if it does sting my face, it means eczema has caused my skin to be raw.
3.  Apply Clinique's Comfort on Call.
Wait for the evian to be absorbed before applying.  Gotta love Clinique for their truly sensitive freindly products.  This particular cream is even meant for people with eczema, yay!

I know this is really bad but, I've also been using makeup...

I could no longer face my co-workers with my sickly peeling skin!   I've been experimenting with what I think is the most sensitive freindly makeup products I have.  Here's what worked:

1)  Combining Elisha Coy Always Nuddy BB 24 (Soothing & Moisturizing Anti-Irritant Blemish Balm) and Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer (Regular, *not* the oil free one, in Sand). 
2)  Bobbi Brown Extra Repair Foundation

Foundation Reviews

Elisha Coy Always Nuddy BB 24 (Soothing & Moisturizing Anti-Irritant Blemish Balm) 
This has a very strong gray cast, and appeared too pale for my NC35 skin.   However, it was much less irritating to my skin than Dr. Jart Premium Gold Label BB cream.  Thankfully I managed to make good of it still, mixing with tinted moisturizer.
Rating:  7/10

Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer 
I bought this as part of the Laura Mercier Flawless face kit in Sand at Sephora.  Note that there is also an oil-free version.  I've got pretty dry skin so I guess I bought the oil version? hehe
I must give this product a lot of credit.  It feels cooling and soothing when applied to my face, it does provide moisture, doesn't irritate my sensitive skin, and most impressive of all, it covers about 80% of the redness on my face and evens my skintone.  Previous tinted moistuizers that I've used before have given light coverage at best, but with this product I can really say it provides medium dewy coverage.   Mixing this with my bb creams have worked well as Sand is slightly too dark for my skin.  I am currently using a 1 to 1 ratio of bb cream to Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer.  The coloring is working okay so far though it's still a little too light.  I plan to try a 1 to 2 ratio next for a darker and more moisturizing mix.
Rating:  9/10

Bobbi Brown Extra Repair Foundation
From the Bobbi Brown website, "Extra Repair Foundation SPF 25 gives skin perfect coverage, moisture & broad-spectrum sun protection. Infused with Shea Butter and Evening Primrose Oil, this does-it-all formula combines all the skin-nourishing benefits of Bobbi’s Extra Skincare with the skin tone-correct color and buildable coverage of her foundations. Over time, it also helps replenish & strengthen skin. Ideal for dry and very dry skin types.  Featured in 'Vogue' Magazine (March 2011) & 'Allure' Magazine (April 2011)."  This sounded just perfect for me, so I grabbed me a sample.
My take:  The BEST color match I have found to date!  My face is naturally lighter than the rest of my body.  The problem with this is, when I apply foundation to match my face, the end result is a stark difference between my face and my neck!  With Mac, I am a NC35, pretty close.  With Bobbi Brown, I am a 4.5 (Warm Natural), it evened out my skin tone without the harsh color difference between my face and neck.   My face and neck finally matches color!   This is a thick cream, it blended well, and surprisingly smells like ginger.  Best of all, it did not irritate my skin and gave medium coverage. The downside, the moisture of this foundation lasted probably about half a day, not enough to get through a complete day work.  :(
Rating: 8/10

MAC Mineralize Satinfinish SPF 15 Foundation
While trying to find my NC color, the Mac saleswoman convinced me to try their mineral foundation.  The result?  My skin tone was evened out, and it was luminous.  However as I looked in the mirror, turning my face side to side, luminous translated to an odd layer of pale over my real skin.  I tried again later at home, it stung my sensitive mode face.  :( Luckily it was only a sample I tried.
Rating:  4/10

Tips to get noticeable lashes for MonoLids

Read if you have short, thin, stick-straight lashes, with a mono-lid like me (helps double-lidders too)!

I've tried what seemed like hundreds of mascaras, methods, tricks, and products to get my lashes noticeable. Here are my tips and things to avoid.

TIP #1 -  Clean your eyelid before applying mascara
Monolids tend to be oilier or "sweaty" near the lashes due from the heavy lid.  This applies even to me with my dry skin! Cleaning takes out the grease on your lashes, your lids, and allows your mascara to adhere.  Cleaning can be as simple as using toner on a cotton pad.

TIP #2 - Go for CURL in your mascara
Why have your lashes appear long and full if its pointing straight down?  Nobody will notice unless they are up and above your lids!  A good curl will make your eyes appear brighter and wide-eyed.  I do realize factors of eyelash length and monolid droop can make this difficult, for this I recommend using 3 coats of Imju Fiberwig Mascara (curl may not last all day though :T).

TIP #3 - Get a waterproof mascara that can hold the curl
My personal faves are Maybelline's Sky High Curves and from Shiseido's Majolica Majorca Japanese line, Lash Enamel Mascara.  They hold the curl AND they don't smudge; I hate panda eyes, where my mascara smudges way too much under my eyes.  Unfortunately, not all waterproof mascaras can hold a curl and most American brands cannot hold a curl, from drugstore brands to designer brands.  If you know of a good curling, non smudge mascara, do let me know! :)

TIP #4 - Use a decent eyelash curler
I know people are raving over the Shu Uemura's curler, and I'll agree it does work better than the average curler. However, I was actually using my mom's hand me down Maybelline for the longest time and it worked for me.  I made sure to sanitize then bought some new rubber pads for it.

TIP #5 - Heat your eyelash curler
Please do this with care. You can heat your curler with a lighter, blow dryer (see video above), or even a curling iron. I like to heat my curler (keeping the curler open) using a lighter about 6" underneath, with a side to side motion, for a couple seconds. Do not heat the part with the rubber padding. Test the heated curler on the back of your hand before trying on your eyelid.

TIP #6 - (Alternative to TIP #3) Purchase a heated eyelash curler
The best one I've tried is Panasonic's heated eyelash curler (EH2351AC). This curler is soooo good at getting my eyelashes curled I've recommended this to all of my close friends and my sister. Every girl I've demonstrated this to is amazed. Sometimes, I don't even bother with the traditional eyelash curler :X . With the proper use, this product allows you to truly curl your lashes instead of bending them. This heated eyelash curler allows you to curl even the the hard to reach areas.  For me, that's the outer corner. What makes this work well compared to other heated curlers on the market, is the lack of space between the "teeth".

With other heated curls, such as the ones pictured above, there is a lot of space between the teeth, meaning more exposure to coils, something I would absolutely avoid in a heated curler.  I purchased a Japonesque one a while ago, it stopped working very quickly, even with fresh batteries :T

How to use a heated eyelash curler:  Remember, do not comb through.  Place and HOLD for several seconds, move to a new place, repeat.    See ekimura's video, can't explain it much better.  :)

TIP #7 - Curl as close to your lash line as possible
Using a metal curler, attempt very slowly to avoid clamping on your lids.

TIP #8  - Curl at least three places on your lash
Using a metal curler, start from closest to lashline, clamp, middle of lash, clamp, outer 2/3 of lash, clamp.  This will lessen the appearance of "bent" lashes. 

TIP #9 - Apply mascara in a zig zag motion
This gets your lashes more separated and decreases the chance of clumps. If you see clumps, keep applying and zig zagging!  Of course, be sure that you are not using super old mascara, you can usually tell when its dry before even applying.

TIP #8 - Use a plastic piece to protect your lids while applying mascara
My mom bought me an eyelash curler with a spring in it. It also included a plastic piece that was curved and used for covering your eyelids while you are applying mascara. I've found that this allows me to put more product on my lashes without having to do the Q-Tip cleanup.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

REVIEW: T&G Sensitive Repair Cream

I am making this post with a lot of hesitancy.  Mostly because the product that I'm introducing here appears to be sold only at Chinese Beauty Spas in California.  On top of that, I am unable to find any information about the company that makes T&J, suspicious. 

Despite all the suspicions, this is, by far, the absolutely best skin cream I have used, AND its for people with eczema.

This was first introduced to me by my esthetician at a small spa located in Oakland, CA.  At the time, my skin was red, flaky, and sensitive for about 6 months.  I knew only the steriod creams, as prescribed by my doctor, for eczema would work, but my skin was already thinned out by the stuff.  It was my absolute last resort, for when my skin started bleeding or weeping. 

Finally I took a suggestion and went to a small spa in Oakland, CA run by a nice woman from Hong Kong.  The esthetician there immediately knew what was going on and proceeded to steam my face and appied the gentlest most soothing mask she had (felt so cooling ahh!).  Afterwards she applied a sensitive skin toner, and T&J Sensitive Repair Cream, and gave me a 5 day sample to take home.

"Remember, don't use this more than 2 weeks because it just won't be as effective anymore, your skin will get used to it.  After 2 weeks of this, you need to switch back to your regular cream." the esthetician said to me.

Sensitive Repair Cream
Picture of empty jar.
I've used up all of it, but this is a very light and white cream.
I had to post a pic since I couldn't find a single decent one online.

Back of jar
Sensitive Repair Cream
Formulated to protect sensitive skin against the pollutants outwards.
Reduced the redness of skin irritation.  Makes skin smooth, supple
and healthy.
Ingredients:  Camomile Extracts, Allantoin, Sodium, Lactate and
Aloe Extracts.
Directions:  After Cleaning, apply to face and massage gently until
absorbed.  Recommended for sensitive, inflammatory skin and skin
with eczema.
T&J Skin Care Product of France

My Take:
The first day I tried, I noticed my skin didn't keep moist, in fact it felt dry.  Instead of adding more cream, I sprayed some Evan Mineral water and bared with the flaky dry skin.  

After the second day, I was surprised  by what I saw in the mirror, my face completely cleared up!  The redness was almost gone and when I touched my face, it felt smooth and comfortable and surprisingly moisturized.  Finally my skin is clear again after 6 months!  It wasn't flaky, it was finally comforted smooth skin, the way it should be.

I'll admit, since then, I haven't really found a suitable replacement.  Any time I stopped using it my face would turn red and irritable and at it's worse, inflamed.  I've even used it over 2 weeks, big mistake.  It doesn't work quite the way it used to.  So now, I must continue looking for a new cream.   

Rating:  10/10

Here is a link to an online store that sells this cream.
WARNING:  I haven't purchased from them before and they charge $6 more than what I'm used to.  Please try with caution, I cannot take responsibility if something happens with the store or if the cream did not work as well for you as it did for me.

If you are ever in Oakland, CA I found a place that sells the cream (not the place where I had my treatments).   The place where I had my treatments was bought out by a larger spa and no longer sells the cream :(. I've purchased from this store before, for about $52 a jar.  Please, please call them before you head over, they have very unconventional hours and don't follow the hours they state on their site or store,

If I see enough requests, I may ship samples for a reasonable fee.  And no, I am not endorsing the product, just honestly sharing what worked for me.

REVIEWS: Sephora Skincare Haul

If you have been treated by a doctor for eczema before, you may be told that you can use your cream/gel/ointment consistenly for 2 weeks max.  The odd thing is, that may apply to your regular facial lotion too.  

I've noticed that for creams or lotions, is that when it works, it seems most effective on the first two days I use it.  For the following 2 weeks, it is still moderately effective.  Afterwards, the effectiveness goes down.  Because of this, I am always on the hunt for new lotions or creams to try out.

Back in May 2011, I took advantage of Sephora's 20% off entire purchase, made my purchase.  I tried out several serums and creams for 2 months and I can now give feedback on my experience! :) 


Jurlique Calendula Cream

Description from Sephora: 
A gentle cream that calms and soothes sensitive skin prone to redness.
This natural, non-greasy cream provides hydration and instant relief to irritated red skin. Rich in calendula and witch hazel, this product provides anti-inflammatory properties to soothe skin immediately while preventing future flare-ups.

My take:
Sounds so good doesn't it?  So good, this is the first thing I grabbed when I opened my box.   The Calendula cream came in a metal-ish tube, I had to pierce the opening with the outside of the cap.  The cream was fairly thick and was slightly yellow, no strong scent.  I gave the produce several tries, when my skin ranged from normal to moderate eczema.  Unfortunately this stung my face.  I didn't feel soothed, rather, it felt heavy, like it just sat on top of my skin.  I was disappointied, I really wanted to like this cream.

Rating:  5/10

Clinique Comfort On Call Allergy Tested Relief Cream

Description from Sephora: 
A soothing moisturizer that calms dry, sensitive, and reactive skin.
In a world of irritants, this soothing balm-like formula provides comfort to your skin. It blends the best ingredients from nature and science to restore your skin's natural barriers while providing relief from reactivity to environmental irritants, wind, and extreme cold.
Ideal for dry, cracked, easily irritated skin, and those bothered by wind and extreme cold. Tested by a leading dermatologist who specializes in skin allergies on dry, sensitive, and reactive skins.

My take:  Finally!  A cream that works!  The cream is very similar to butter, its thick and slightly yellow.  It didn't sting my face and several hours after application, I felt a light protective moisure.  Two days later, my skin became calm.  It's a huge jar, I've used up 1/3 after 2 months.  At $40 per 50ml jar, this will last me a total of 6 months.  
Based on experience, sensitive creams often do not provide enough lasting moisture.  The Clinique Comfort on Call is no exceptions.  that is where the serums come in...

Rating:  7/10
Clinique Moisture Surge Extended Thirst Relief

Description from Sephora: 
A refreshing cream-gel that instantly replenishes skin with 24 hours of soothing hydration.
This light, comfortable cream-gel is a "drink" for skin, continuously plumping it with hydration. Fine lines, flakiness, and tightness are washed away. Skin looks and feels happier and healthier—even through shifts in humidity.

My take:
Once I started to read the ingredients on the box I didn't bother opening.  It's got Birch Bark Extract.  My recent allergy tests say I am do no fare well with Birch trees.  Though they are not exactly the same thing, it is likely to have the same effect.  I was not wiling to take the chance.
Doh!  Why didn't I bother to check the ingredients before adding it to my cart?

Rating:  n/a
Murad Hydro-Dynamic™Ultimate Moisture
Description from Sephora:
A rich, skin-quenching formula that provides instant and lasting hydration to restore youthful resilience and tone.
This powerful hydrator is clinically demonstrated to lock in optimal moisture levels for up to eight hours and is gentle enough for sensitive skin.

My take:
My fault again for not checking the ingredients first, I've recently became allergic to Oats and this has
 Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Extract.  Would've loved for this to work!

Rating:  n/a

Skyn Iceland Antioxidant Calming Serum

Description from Sephora:
A soothing, lightweight serum that helps promote healing, reduce redness, and minimize the signs of aging.
Accelerated aging and increased sensitivity can be the warning signs of chronically stressed skin. With powerful moisturizers and active extracts, Skyn Iceland Antioxidant Calming Serum helps diminish the signs of aging while reducing redness, dehydration, and irritation in the skin.

My take:
I had a very immediate action, it stung like a motha!  I waited again when I knew my skin was doing well, and it still stung.  The ingredients passed my ridiculous allergy list so I was surprised.  Again, too bad, I was looking forward to getting irritation diminished. :P

Rating:  3/10

HydraQuench Intensive Serum Bi-Phase

Description from Sephora:
An intensive serum for dehydrated skin.
This bi-phase serum, with its imperceptible, comfortable texture, restores a youthful vitality to the most dehydrated complexions, even in extreme climates.

My take:
I picked this up because of the keywords, "serum for dehydrated skin".  Ingredients list checked, no problems.  There are two very different liquids in the bottle, you can clearly see the line where the liquids are separated, like oil and water.  As directed, I shook the bottle well before using.  The first time I tried this, it was in the evening before going to bed.  The next day I noticed my skin was much more hydrated than the night before.  My skin was smoother.  Although the ingredients do not list it, this product smells like it has some perfume.  So although I my skin was more hydrated, the redness did not diminish.  I plan to use this on my lower skin sensitivity days.

Rating:  6/10

Kate Somerville Quench Hydrating Face Serum

Description from Sephora:
A moisture-locking treatment that delivers a luminous glow.
Kate Somerville Quench Hydrating Face Serum is a red-carpet favorite and an essential step towards Kate's signature radiance. Ideal for normal-to-dry skin types, this wondrously effective treatment moisturizes skin and protects against photoaging, regenerating tissue to promote firmness and elasticity. Skin is left looking youthful, healthy, and fresh.

My take:
Honestly I had doubts with this product.  However, it was one of the few hydrating-type serums that Sephora sold.  The packaging was nice, it had an clear window indicator on the side that shows how much product is left.  This serum is clear and the texture is just slightly heavier than some of the silicone based make-up primers I've used.  I didn't believe anything silicon could do much to moisturizing my face.  The surprising part was, even when my skin was mildly sensitive, this did not sting.  Though it didn't moisturize as well as the Clarins HydraQuench Serum, it definitely helped to keep the moisture locked in longer when used before the Clinique Comfort on Call.  Was happy with this purchase!

Rating:  8/10

Friday, June 24, 2011

REVIEW - Josie Maran Argan Matchmaker Serum Foundation

I've been hearing a lot of good things about Argan oil so when Sephora started selling this Serum Foundation, I was pretty excited. Just the word serium sounded super moisturizing. Plus I wouldn't have to worry about finding the right color, it changes color to match your skin tone!

I'm starting to collect more bottles of foundation than I'd like to, so I went to the local Sephora store to give it a try. There were only two colors at the time, Light/Medium and Medium/Dark. I chose Light/Medium (I'm a NC30).

When dispensed the first pump onto the back of my hand, I was surprised by the look of the serum foundation. It was white and had small grains of color, almost like an exfoliating wash. When applied to my face, it very quickly changed color, within 3 seconds! It was a surprisingly good color match, and blended with my skin so well. I purchased!

When I got home and applied it all the my face, I took a close look at the large pores on my cheeks. I have never seen a liquid foundation hide pores so well! It was almost magical! The foundation also gives a matte finish, something I feel indifferent too. One one hand it gives my face a softer finish but I prefer a dewy finish - more natural (and a probable like for drier skinned girls like me).

Unfortunately, when I took a step back, I can see the difference in color between my face and my neck. My face is noticeably more red/orange. :(

I visited the Sephora site today, and they have a new color, the lightest, Fair/Light. I might have to go back and sample again, this time, all over my face. XD

Sensitivities: 0 (zero). On a day without eczema breakout, none.
Pros: Covers pores extremely well. Very good coverage on my red prone face.
Cons: A little orange / red for my skintone (I'm a Mac NC 30). Pricey $45 for a 1oz. bottle. Not moisturizing, it dries to a matte finish. Towards the end of the day, my skin was a little dry.

Rating: 7/10

Monday, May 2, 2011

BB Creams now sold at Sephora!

I was checking out a Sephora ad online and was surprised to find that they sell BB Creams now!

Left:  Dr. Jart + Premium Beauty Balm SPF 45 PA+++
Right: Dr. Jart+ Water Fuse Beauty Balm SPF 25 PA++

Yes it's Dr. Jart, one of the well known brands of BB Creams in Asia. It's a Korean brand and I find it interesting that the labeling is slightly different from what they sell in Asia.


Left:  Korean version,  Dr. Jart Premium BB Gold Label
Right.  Korean version.  Dr. Jart Water Fuse BB Most Moist

Another interesting thing, at, Dr. Jart BB Cream is also categorized under skincare, rather than foundation. Based on the description, it's more focused on treating and protecting the skin.

If you are new to BB Creams, I suggest trying it out at the store first (or with samples) because it comes in only one color, and it tends to be on the very fair side.
I was checking out the reviews to see how many are new to BB Creams vs. those who have used BB Creams before and it looks like a majority are BB Cream users.

Can't tell when Sephora first started selling Dr. Jart BB Cream but it looks to be about 4/17/11, based on the earliest review I found.

I'm pretty happy that Sephora carries the Dr. Jart for two skin types, regular/combo and dry skin.


I actually have the Korean version of the Dr. Jart+ Premium Blemish Base Cream (Gold Label), but found it too thick, a bit drying and too light for my NC30 skin.  Since I don't like to waste, I mix it with Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer (in Sand).   The tinted moisturizer worked pretty well, it was a little dark for my skin and it added the moisture to the BB cream. :)