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

MBD

  • 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.

LI

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

Lime and Yoghurt Cleanser

I had some homemade yoghurt left in the fridge. Been there a couple of weeks and I didn’t want to risk consuming it as food. So I decided to use it as a cleanser.

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Emptied the jar of old yoghurt into a small dish.

Cut and squeezed juice from one lime into the yoghurt. (Warning: the latter will look even more dodgy!)

Mixed with fingers and apply onto face just like my lotion cleanser or make-up remover. Left on face for a few minutes before rinsing.

With the remaining mixture, added a scrubbing agent to turn this into a yoghurt body scrub. I used The Body Shop’s Spa Wisdom adzuki bean and rice grains. (Tip: Either use a larger dish or bowl, or add only in the bathroom. Will minimise the risk of spillage en route to the bathroom.)

Scrubbed all over and rinsed under the shower. Done!

I didn’t use any commercial facial cleanser – neither before nor after the lime-yoghurt cleanser. Just followed up with toner and the usual routine.

The face was clean and looked fresher! The nose area felt a lot less bumpy and a couple of white heads that had been lurking had been tightened. Success!

Cleansing Brush

Am trying out a cleansing brush to help me manage the community of white and blackheads on my face, particularly on the nose and cheeks. It’s very soft and tiny, so I have to go over my face a couple of times using small circular motion.

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Made in Japan, this little brush comes with its own storage box. In the picture above, I’ve put it against a lipstick for size.

I’ve tried it with a facial foam and without the foam, just in a wet face after cleaning off makeup. It works well either way! Can feel less bumps on the noise after the cleansing routine. Yay!

Yoghurt Facial

Mini home facial using homemade yoghurt.Clean off makeup and pat face dry.

Soaked up a tiny lump of facial mask in two tablespoons of plain yoghurt, place it carefully onto the face. Leave it for 15 mins. (It drips so it might be a good idea to sit up for that 15mins with an old tee shirt as a bib)

Rinse off and put on any store-bought mask sheet. I used my current favorite from My Beauty Diary’s Black Sea Pearl mask. Leave mask on for 15 mins, wash off and pat on usual routine of toner and moisturiser. (I don’t use night cream)

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Done!

Trying out Sun Milk

Am trying out a newly acquired item from Bangkok’s Boots Pharmacy. It’s the Boots Luminese Sun Protection Milk SPF50/PA+++.

I don’t remember the price but the range of products were on a 3-for-price-of-2 deal that week. So, I picked up 3 bottles of this Sun Milk.

According to the info on the back of the box: “This lightweight sun protection milky lotion is non-greasy and easily absorbed, with a shimmering effect.”

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It is lightER than the other sun protection in my stable but the shimmering effect doesn’t work in Singapore’s scorching heat. After putting it on in the bathroom, I look as if I had run a mile! *sweaty*

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So, I have to pat on some loose powder over this lotion. It works ok if I just pop out for coffee or yoga, not so great for all day cos I’ll still need a more polished look with makeup base, foundation and powder.

Loving Rosehip Oil

A couple of weeks after falling on my hands and knees outside a tyre workshop, my scraped knees are now healing nicely.

Below were the knees a day after the fall. image After the pus had dried up, the scabs started forming and eventually dropped off.
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At the scabbing stage, I started to apply a few drops of rosehip oil around the wounds. The skin around the wounds were getting too stretched and dry-looking for my liking.

Below is how my knee looked now. The wound area is red but smooth, no uneven texture!
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The oil that I had used during this time was meant for my face. Had some issues with dry patches recently due to the awful dry spell.

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It’s the Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil from Pai Skincare based in London. I had picked this up at Pure Tincture in Singapore.

Facial Cleansing Tools

For daily facial cleansing, I’ve used a few tools to help with my morning and evening routines.

By way of background, here are 3 things that I would / would not do daily:

  1. No foam or soap or any bubbly sort of cleanser for me. I find those too drying and insufficient in clearing stubborn debris caused by perspiration, oil glands, sunblock or light make-up.
  2. I use a liquid cleanser daily. I have a light emulsion for oily-combination skin and a thicker, creamier emulsion for dry skin too. If I’m wearing full make-up (by that i mean foundation, concealer, powder, etc), I’ll use my trusty Shu Uemura oil cleanser. With liquid and oil cleansers, I’ll work in a mini facial massage too.
  3. Almost daily, I’ll pat on a gentle exfoliator (note: pat, not rub furiously) to get rid of dullness. I tend to use organic exfoliator – those with enzymes or yeast. So these just involve me patting, waiting for it to work into skin and wiping off, not rubbing!

(yes, the morning and evening routines are not 1-mins job for me!!!)

So, let’s start on the cleansing tools:

1.  Cotton Pads.  These are by far my favourite cleansing tools.

Plus: They are smooth and gentle on my face. I can firmly swab around the delicate eye areas and all over the face and neck a few times. They clear the oil / creams well and my face feel clean but not dry or taut after the effort.

Minus:  They disintegrate (well, the fibres get all coiled up) after about 3 wipes. Also, cotton is no longer a cheap / mass market commodity the way it was back in the 70s and 80s. I feel TERRIBLE about using cotton daily and chunking it into the bin.

2.  Muslin Cloth or Cotton Handkerchief. My next favourite cleansing tool. These are great for daily use.

Plus:  Hanky dries fast! (cos the muslim cloth that I had was double-layered) And I don’t have to live with burden of guilt.

Minuses:  I actually have to tissue off cream / oil before I cleanse all over with the wet hankie. Not as smooth as the cotton pads but it does the job after a few rounds.

3.  Facial Sponge / Cellulose.  Honestly, they kind of tie at second place for me.

Plus: Don’t need to tissue off the cream / oil! They get the grime out in 3 wipes.

Minuses:  It’s embarrassing but the one in the shower tends to smell. I guess it doesn’t dry as fast as the hanky and coupled with the non-airy bathroom, a community starts to form… Also, sponges and cellulose tend to disintegrate with the daily regime – about 2 to 3 months after. Not as long lasting as hankies.

4.  Disposable Facial Wipes / Wet Wipes (the kinds that they give out at restaurants). I use these when travelling.

Plus: Convenient.

Minuses: They are full of alcohol! ARRRRRGH!!! I would always rinse out as much of their chemicals before I use them.

Oh, just a quickie on using the above tools:  I think I wipe 3 times on my face. First 2 times – small circular motion moving from forehead (one way then the other) down to the chin and neck. Large strokes (left and right) on the 3rd time. Done!

Fall for Clinique

I’ve raved about how Clinique’s BB Cream was my best beauty buy of 2012, and today when I needed more, I found myself rewarded with Clinique goodies galore again, thanks to a gift-with-purchase special at Macy’s.

I purchased 1 x BB Cream, and received a whole bunch of stuff:

cliniquegiftFall2013

Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion: Got this last year as a freebie and love it! Great for travel.
Moisture Surge Intense Skin Fortifying Hydrator: I’m excited to try this, and again, great travel size!
– All About Shadow quad: (Pictured, top right) I had the option for purples or nudes, and I chose nudes.
– Lash Doubling Mascara: I don’t use mascaras much, but will eventually try it.
– Chubby Stick Moisturizing Lip Color Balm: (Pictured, bottom left) I got ‘Mega Melon’ as part of the nudes collection, instead of a deep purple-hued color.
2 x make-up baggies + travel-sized Clinique ‘Happy’ fragrance: I’m giving these away because I’m not a fan of the pattern nor the scent.

I love gifts with purchases! YAY!

Delivered by Royal Mail

My order of steam creams has arrived! Delivered by Royal Mail from the United Kingdom. I had placed my order online just before blogging about my empties.

I had picked the special Makeup Artist Collaboration Gift Set which 3 makeup artists – Jemma Kidd, Wendy Rowe and Ruby Hammer – and their signature styles.

steamcream

 

(oh, the Royal Mail has a cute little crown…)

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Peeling Away That Pesky Milia

I’ve had one of these before and it took a while (well, 2 weeks) to disappear. At that time, i used an unlabelled bottle of liquid purchased from a beautician. It didn’t list the ingredients, only that it was a non-comedogenic product. I think it was just concentrated salicylic acid which I had to dab daily. It “dried” up the milia – in that it caused it to be shrink and look less “fleshy” – after which I used a blackhead removal tool to pop it out.

Not a safe method as that could have given me a scar. Or worse – caused an eye injury.

Below, you can see where the milia is (see the tiny arrow):

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So, this time around, I decided to try a gentle exfoliating product – suki Renewal Bio-Resurfacing Skin Peel. Had cleansed my face and put this on for about 20 mins (all over face – it really soften the icky pores that i can feel around my nose) and washed it off before patting on my usual toner, eye cream and moisturiser.

I’m not sure how long it’ll take before the milia departs… It’s only been Day 2 of my lets-be-gentle-to-the-skin programme and I *think* the milia seems to be smaller.

Must. Try. To. Be. Patient.

Wish me luck!

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

vaseline

 

(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!!

 

 

The Good Witch

For some reason my skin has been acting up lately, so when I saw a bottle of witch hazel on sale for $3, I quickly bought it.

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I just put a little on a cotton ball and dab over zits / zits-to-be or even where you think an ingrown hair might form.

Being an astringent, it really does stop zits in their track! Once a week, wiping my t-zone with a cotton ball moistened with witch hazel seems to make pores smaller and my skin less greasy too.

I am pretty pleased with the outcome for $3!

SK-II Product Reviews

So it’s been a while since I first experience more than a week of SK-II in NYC, and then received the SK-II samples from my spa visit. Upon my initial return from vacation, I used all these products consistently for the first week, and now I’m using them intermittently as the supplies dwindle. Here’s my review of the products.

Note: I was not given any incentive to write about these products. Just my honest appraisal of them, from personal experience.

Images are screenshots from SK-II websites

sk-celluminate
Product: SK-II Cellumination Essence
Purpose: A light creamy ‘serum’ that is supposed to bring great clarity and luminosity to skin.
Supply: Full sized
Personal rating: 5/5
Why: I love the super light texture that’s readily absorbed, and it has NO SCENT at all. My skin has a much healthier glow, yay!
Will I buy again?: YES!

sk-dermmoisture
Product: SK-II Brightening Derm Moisturizer
Supply:
Sample
Purpose:
Moisturizer
Personal rating: 4/5
Why: I found the texture slightly ‘sticky’ compared to Hadalabo Moisture Milk.
Will I buy again?: Not for the price.

sk-repaircserum
Product: SK-II Facial Treatment Repair C
Supply:
Sample
Purpose:
Intensive serum. The ‘C’ stands for “concentrate”, I was told, not Vitamin C.
Personal rating: ?
Why: Honestly I can’t really tell if this did anything for my skin since I used so many other products, though the BFF is a fan of it. I did not remember its effects when I used it in New York.
Will I buy again?: Maybe to replace my Estee Lauder Idealist serum, which was incidentally a gift from the BFF because I used to complain (incorrectly) that all SK-II products smelled bad.

sk-ultimate
Product: SK-II LXP Ultimate Revival Essence
Supply:
Sample
Purpose:
Intensive hydration, “miracle water” that’s supposed to rejuvenate skin.
Personal rating: 5/5
Why: I kid you not, whenever I used this product, no matter how tired I feel or how little sleep I got the night before, my skin is positively GLOWING and my skin just looks fresh. I now truly believe why the BFF swears by SK-II: it completely negates the visible consequences of having an extremely demanding job!

Best part is, there’s no awful yeasty smell like the regular SK-II Facial Treatment Essence! 200 times more concentrated than the regular, but less smelly. I really couldn’t ask for more!
Will I buy again?: Oh YES YES and YES, if I were OK with dropping US$250 on a bottle of facial product! So probably not for now. I’ll be sticking to its poor cousin, Hadalabo.

sk-whitening
Product: SK-II Brightening Derm Specialist
Supply:
Full Sized
Purpose:
Whitening serum. Lightweight.
Personal rating: 5/5
Why: Very light unscented serum for spots & pigmentation. It works well, to the extent that the dermatologist that’s overseeing my IPL Photofacial treatments said to stop using it, so that the lasers have good differentiation between dark/light to work!
Will I buy again?: Probably not if my spots go away with IPL. I’ll stick with Cellumination Essence and maybe try the Facial Treatment Repair C for “whole face” use.

And some other products which I tried that weren’t samples from the spa:

sk-mens
Product: SK-II Men’s Moisturizing Cleanser
Purpose:
Facial cleanser with microbeads
Personal rating: 5/5
Why: I LOVED THIS!! (Thanks BFF! I forgot to take a picture of the actual product) Cleans without tightness and the microbeads feel so good. But the BFF says I shouldn’t use this because Men’s formulation tend to be harsher. Sulk.
Will I buy again?: Probably not, because for one, it’s not even available in the USA. And well, I should trust my resident skincare/SK-II expert that this could be too harsh for my skin.

skcleanser
Product: SK-II Facial Treatment Gentle Cleanser
Purpose:
Facial cleanser with SK-II facial treatment essence. Skincare while cleansing!
Personal rating: 5/5
Why: I was told to use this instead of the Men’s version (sulk). It lathers to a nice soft foam, cleans without drying and there’s no “tightness” afterwards.
Will I buy again?: Nah. US$70 to wash my face is too rich for my budget, especially when my new fave (“Shiseido’s Perfect Whip”) costs literally 10% of the price!

And… one product I would like to try is: SK-II Facial Treatment Clear Lotion (i.e.: toner).
sk-toner
This was used during my SK-II Spa visit, and I really liked how clean it left my skin feeling, and the blend of AHAs + Pitera sound like it would do good in keeping skin luminous!

But for now, I’m sticking with my cheapie-but-goodie: Neutrogena Alcohol-free Toner!

Overall, I can see the tangible benefits and effects of SK-II, which is really impressive, I must say. I’ve purchased various products over the years – mainly drugstore brands – but have almost never see a product live up to its lavish promises. It is fascinating and amazing that SK-II does.

Yet, on that same note, it is also a billion-dollar brand for a reason. Moving forward, I foresee using a select couple of SK-II products, and, as much as I would like to, I definitely have no intention or ability to switch my entire skincare regime over to their line. Well, unless the MegaMillions are calling my name……

But if you have the means to, I say, go for it! SK-II  products REALLY WORK!

Review: Snowberry – the sample collection

This is long overdue.

The Snowberry Natural Beauty – The Sample Collection contains a 6 tiny tubes with 7ml of products each. Supposed to last just a week, I had been using it for close to 2 weeks now and the cleanser is finally finished! The rest of the products, however, have yet to  be depleted.

The little set contains:

  • Instant Deep Cleanser
  • Smoothing Eye Cream
  • Intensive Renewal Face Serum
  • Nourishing Lite Day Cream
  • Nourishing Rich Day Cream
  • Cellular Regeneration Night Cream

No toner in the set. I continued to use my Santaverde Aloe Vera Facial Toner Sensitive.  Here’s my review of the set:

1. After more than a week, what’s my verdict on this Snowberry set?  I think it’s great value. My facial skin took to the new products easily, no outbreaks. Instead, it was when I switched back to my regular products that a giant pimple popped up on my forehead. I would definitely want to bring it with me if I’m doing a 10-day-3-cities-hop-in-and-out-of-hotels-and-airports kind of trip.  Even for a 4-day Bangkok shopping trip, this would work for me too. [side note: Looking like a tourist is bad enough, if my face has to rebel – taut feeling, patchy eyes / face, spotty bits, etc – my shopping would be affected!!!]

2. What do I like about this Set?  I think it’s the range. For days that I was holed up in aircon environment for 10 to 12 hours straight, I only needed to put on the Rich Day Cream lightly on my face and neck early in the morning. For days that I would be in non-aircon from 9am to 12 midnight in Singapore’s humid weather, I only needed the Lite Day Cream before I left the house. My test is whether my skin will start to feel dry and taut (in aircon) or greasy (in the humidity). Neither happened!

3.  Did I like everything in the set? Or were there anything that I couldn’t figure out?  Had to be the Intensive Renewal Face Serum. I’m not sure what it really does. I know I should try the Serum+Day Cream combination on one side of the face and just the Day Cream on the other side to judge if there’s any visible difference in skin texture… but, well, who has the time?! For a stretch of 3 nights, I was coming home close to 1am. That said, after that harrowing week, I *thought* my face had a glow. It certainly did  NOT look like I hadn’t been sleeping much.

4.  What was the product that surprised me most? The Eye Serum. I’m used to dabbing eye creams sparingly. Hate the tight feeling the next morning if my eye area hadn’t been well-moisturised. When I first squeezed out the Eye Serum, it was a light cream-gel. My heart sank. I didn’t have any hopes for it. Had to put it on by massaging in circular motion around my eye area. When I woke up the next morning,  however, I didn’t have any tight feeling! It was a most pleasant surprise. So I continued to use it day and night. There’s still Eye Serum in the tube after more than 10 days of use. Very pleased with it!

5. Is there anything in that set that I’d like to change?  Well, the Instant Deep Cleanser went from zero to hero and back to, well, almost hero, for me. Let me explain: I had thought it’d be one of those gel cleanser that gets rid of make-up and then rinses off. I hate those. Am glad that this Cleanser isn’t that at all. When I squeezed it out of the tube, it was a carrot-orange thick creamy gel-looking cleanser. I decided that the best use will be to massage it on to the face and neck in circular motion. After which, I’d clean off with a wet cotton pad or handkerchief (less wastage). It worked great. But, thing is, the viscosity of the Cleanser bothered me. It is too thick to do as a quickie rub-all-over-face-and-neck cleanser. So, for those nights that I came home late and / or left the house early, it was a bit of a chore to do the slow, deliberate massage.

6. If I’m going to buy the full-size products, what will it be?  If I’m on a budget, for sure I’ll just grab the Eye Serum, Lite Day Cream and Night Cream and run with them.

Note: I wasn’t sponsored nor given the set to try. I had bought the set. I’d been going to Pure Tincture in Singapore for organic / natural skincare for a few years, depending on the store owner, Helen, for recommendations.