beauty is not for the lazy

There’s a Chinese saying that goes “there is no ugly woman, only lazy one”. There can’t be any more truth to this.

So I recently started this almost military-style beauty regime which has since kept my skin extremely happy. My beautician who threads my brows even commented that my face has become more radiant recently! *yay*

What is this regimental process? Well, it’s basically a a simple step of putting on a paper mask every night. I’ll wash off the residue after 20 mins of masking, and apply my night serum and cream before heading to head. Yes, it’s really not that miraculous, but it does require a level of commitment to execute it.

The masks which I’ve been using are:

  • My Beauty Diary, a Taiwanese brand. They’ve got a pretty extensive range that’s supposed to boost your skin in different manner and I usually rotate the variety on a daily basis. My favourites from the range are the Black Pearl, the Imperial Bird’s Nest and the Hyaluronic Acid Moisturizing


  • Leaders Insolution, a Korean brand. What I like about this brand is that their masks are the hydrogel type so it fits snugly on your face. I’ve only tried the Aquaringer which is supposed to hydrate the skin, and the Meta-Tox which is used to brighten the skin. The only downside about this brand is that they’re freaking expensive. They cost double of My Beauty Diary; so I only use them once a week.


Hopefully these provide good tips for better and more radiant skin. Now let’s abandon laziness and strive toward a more beautiful us together!

Dealing With A Dry Patchy Back

This has been stressing me out majorly this year. Dry patches on the top of my back, just where the shoulder blades are, have been showing up due to lack of care and, possibly, much walking under the hot sun most of last year.  (yes, i think the sun’s rays had pierced through the clothes onto the skin).

Anyway, I tried a course of IPL (intense pulse light) over a 3 month period, it didn’t really help. The patches were still highly visible. So, after the costly treatment, i stopped and decided to do a re-think and look for a less costly solution.

See, i figured that it’s just really very dry and needed INTENSE moisturising. So that’s #1 criteria.

Then, to get rid of the tough dead skin, I’ll need to massively slough it off with something that doesn’t melt into my skin. If it dissolves into the skin, it can’t scrub away the dry cells. So, no-melt is the #2 criteria.

Found the perfect intense moisturising + no-dissolve scrub in this combination:  Vaseline + Adzuki Bean & Rice Grains



(picture credit above: Unilever)


spa wisdom japan(picture credit above: The Body Shop USA)


I’ve tried this combination about 3 times. It’s working!  (see below)


patchy skin


Just need to stay the course and probably get it down to just every 2 weeks. ‘cos all that scrubbing is aggravating my sensitive skin!!



New loves: Velvet & Vine Scrub & Hadalabo Moisture Milk

I received 2 new products today, and love them both.

First up, Velvet & Vine‘s Bergamot & Jasmine body scrub. It smells SO absolutely AMAZING! I used it on my legs, and now my hands smell SO GOOD too, I can’t stop sniffing them as I type!

I was at Nordstrom Rack today and spotted this in the clearance bin. I took a whiff and was instantly enamored. At $4 for a nice fat tube, I ain’t complaining! My legs certainly feel smoother and more moisturized too.

Also, I realized that…. after all these years, I don’t actually have a “day” moisturizer, or rather, just something nice & light to use under my Hadalabo toner and newly-acquired SK-II serums.

Enter Hadalabo Moisture Milk. I first heard of this (and Hadalabo) when the BFF was my house guest, and was surprised that someone with a very expensive arsenal of skincare products actually swears by this “humble” lotion. I tried it and was sold on the light texture that’s readily absorbed, without any greasy residue. Instead, it dries to a soft, dewy, semi-matte finish. Perfect! Just what I need!


I feel confident that this would be perfect in my new 2013 skincare regime (daytime):
– Hadalabo Toner, patted into skin till tacky & dry
– Hadalabo Moisture Milk
Neutrogena sunblock
Clinique BB Cream
– Light pat of Neutrogena Mineral Sheers powder (optional)

At night:
– Hadalabo Toner
– SK-II Cellumination Essence or Whitening Essence (which I’ve suspended using due to IPL facials)
– Hadalabo Moisture Milk

It sounds like a LOT, but it really isn’t. Thankfully every “layer” is light, and dries quickly.

Yaay for day of good skincare finds!

My Beauty Diary: Now on Amazon Prime!

Taiwanese brand “My Beauty Diary” (我的美丽日记) is immensely popular in Asia, and honestly, I haven’t heard of them until my house guests visiting from Asia kept bringing them to me, and I realized I really liked them!

Previously I had seen boxes of these sold in shops in Los Angeles, but they were about $20-$25 per box of 10. Now, on Amazon Prime (I get free 2-day shipping), they’re about $13-$15 per box, or just over a dollar a mask.


This time I tried a variety I hadn’t sampled before (I’ve tried sake, red wine, black pearl and lavender, I believe): Hyaluronic Acid Moisturizing Mask.


In this dry winter season, I certainly am looking forward to using these masks!

Grease is the word


I’m on a 4-week trip at the moment, and because all my worldly possessions are on my back, I’ve packed light in the Beauty department, relying on my favorite SPF-included BB cream + sunblock, and no make-up at all.

However, after wandering the humid streets of Manila, I desperately sought something inexpensive to reduce the awful greasy, sticky feeling on my face. I was so shiny I looked like a greasy fried banana.

Thankfully I found one of the ubiquitous Watson’s outlets and picked up this Maybelline “long lasting oil control” powder (about US$6). A light pat, very sparingly used, helped matte me down a little. Not the best thing out there, but oh well. You use what you can find.

I also bought some Mandom Gatsby powdered blotting sheets as back up. I have really been too spoiled by Southern California’s perfect weather, and, well, recently Manhattan in Fall = no shine, no stickyness, no greasy face.

Ah, travel….


Budget Beauty: Baby Love

Possibly one of the most useful things I’ve recently discovered:

I guess if they’re good enough for poop-splattered butts but yet gentle enough for baby’s skin, they’re certainly very useful for all sorts of uses, right?

Here’s what I commonly use these for:

  • As a preliminary make-up remover: I wear liquid + powder foundation on days when I have to be out in the sun for a long time, and while this combo works VERY well in giving me great coverage and zero shine, I am also concerned about removing all traces of make-up at the end of the day. A quick swipe with a baby wipe kickstarts the cleansing process before I jump into the shower to wash my face with cleanser + a scrubby brush.
  • As a make-up brush cleaner: After using my foundation brush with liquid foundation, I “brush” a baby wipe a few times and wipe the bristles down. It doesn’t move the foundation completely, but it’s a great quick fix for when I’m rushing out the door and can’t properly wash the brush.
  • To keep my shoes fresh: I’m on my feet all day at weddings, and at the height of summer, I also powder my feet for freshness and odor control (TMI? Sorry…). That means my shoes tend to be kinda icky inside at the end of a loooooong day. A quick wipe down with baby wipes gets the grime out (inside), and I also run the wipe on the outside of the shoe to get rid of any caked mud/grass/debris.
  • As an “eraser”: Baby wipes are useful when correcting make-up missteps, such as badly-applied lipstick, eye make-up cleanups and so on.

The best part is, this whole pack costs just $1.79 for 88 sheets!

Read more Budget Beauty posts!

Budget Beauty: Dark Spot Correctors

Darn be the sun, that I have existing/some new freckles due to extended sun exposure despite my daily use of SPF. I’ve been wanting to get my hands on Clinique’s Dark Spot Corrector for a while now, ever since I first saw their “quail’s eggs” ads.

$49.50 (1 oz) or $76 (1.7 oz)

Unfortunately, once again, I wasn’t able to stomach the price, especially since reviews aren’t all that impressive, and a bottle doesn’t even last that long:

(From Clinique’s website)

During my last trip to Malaysia, I came across this L’Oreal Day & Night spot corrector:

It was very inexpensive at about US$8, so I stocked up on 3 tubes to give it a shot.

Basically you use the “concealing treatment” in the daytime under your make-up, and the “spot corrector essence” at night. I apply it immediately after the Hada Labo toner and a few minutes before regular moisturizer.

I have to admit that I haven’t been the most conscientious about using this because it’s an additional step, so I use this probably about 4 to 5 times in an entire month at most, which probably isn’t the best indicator of its effectiveness.

Verdict: When I DO use this regularly (i.e.: a few days in a row), I have noticed that the dark spots appear lighter, and the surrounding skin also seems less dull.

I’m pretty convinced that this product does work, but only if it is used consistently and regularly. There is also a limit to how much improvement can be achieved (at least in my personal experience). For US$8, it is certainly a very good Budget Beauty buy!

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Budget Beauty: Hada Labo versus SK-II

In today’s Budget Beauty series, this is a BIG one to tackle. Both are Japanese products, both are applied the same way, with a “patting motion”. Of course, both are also immensely popular products/brands in their own right — at least in Asia.

SK-II Facial Treatment Essence has been touted as “miracle water”, with everyone from Hong Kong A-listers to Hollywood maven Cate Blanchett (one of my favorite women in the world!) endorsing its supposedly incredulous effects. That said, this also carries an A-List price: US$195 for 7.2oz

I have never personally finished using a bottle of this in order to truly speak of its effects, but I had, over a 3-month period, used 10 pieces of the SK-II Facial Treatment Masks, and I honestly couldn’t say that the product resulted in any sort of memorable outcome at all. (It was a gift, in case you were wondering why I would spend so much money on my face). On the downside, I really wasn’t a fan of the fermented “rice wine” smell.

Who knows, maybe if I had religiously used this Facial Essence day-and-night over an extended duration, it might have helped lightened my freckles and sun exposure spots? But that’s an unknown for now.

What I do use, however, is Hada Labo Shirojyun Lotion (Whitening version), and again, while I did not see any dramatic difference within a short span of time, my skin isn’t worse off from using it – I started using this in early August. I see it as an additional form of care for my skin, a precursor to the moisturizer.

5.7oz for $19.99

Verdict: I haven’t been noticing any dramatic lightening effects on my sun-afflicted freckles yet, and I honestly like the regular Hada Labo Gokujyun Lotion better (which I had been using prior to this whitening one). I will probably switch back to the regular version after I finish this bottle.

Is SK-II Facial Treatment Essence worth the price? I can’t say for certain, but using the masks which were infused with the treatment essence certainly did not work for me. Does anyone have an SK-II experience to share?

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Budget Beauty: Olay Pro-X versus Clarisonic

In today’s marketplace, there is almost always a wide price spectrum for almost every product category, from drugstore brands to high-end ‘cult brands’. This “Budget Beauty” series will provide comparisons, and also include my review on one (if not both) of the products.

Face Cleansing Tool: Olay Pro-X versus Clarisonic Mia

I first noticed evident roughness on my T-zone and chin last year, and an overall dullness to my skin – likely the result of spending summer weekends in the sun. At the same time, the Clarisonic Mia was also very popular, with product displays everywhere, and I had read many good reviews about the system. My interest was definitely piqued to explore the possibility of a cleansing tool to help solve my skin issues.

However, at $149, the Clarisonic was certainly not something I had any interest in procuring. Replacement brushes were also a hefty $40 (twin pack).

Fast forward a few months, and Costco started selling the Olay Pro-X series, including 2 tubes of Olay face scrub, for $37. I had a $7 coupon, which brought the price down to $30. I thought, what the heck, I should just try it! And I did.
At the Amazon link above, it retails for just $22 with 1 small tube of scrub. Replacement brushes are just $8 for a twin pack:

The Verdict: I probably don’t use this enough (I use it 1-2 times a week because I got lazy), but when I do, I certainly notice some benefits.

– My face feels much cleaner than just regular cleansing
– Toner & moisturizer gets absorbed more readily
– When I spend more time on/around my nose with the Pro-X, after a hot shower, I can easily and gently extract whiteheads.
– Feels sturdy & well-made
– Affordable replacement brushes

None that occur to me.

I’ve also started using the Pro-X with my Hada Labo facewash, which works FABULOUSLY because a tiny pea-sized amount of the facewash works up to a very rich, luxurious lather. It’s SO decadent and leaves my face feeling extra soft and clean.

Overall: I am very happy with the Olay Pro-X. Although I don’t have the Clarisonic for relative comparison, I would say that the Olay Pro-X is a good product in itself, and I recommend it as an affordable and effective option in the world of mechanical skin cleansing tools. That said, I am definitely intrigued to know why the Clarisonic costs so much more!

Read more Budget Beauty posts!