A personal blog

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Short Hair Alert!! Who dis?

Whenever I visit the hair salon for cut and color, I almost always just get the same thing. Layered and with some low lights. Somehow this has always been safe and familiar territory.

This time I wanted to do something different. I've been wanting to cut my hair short for the long-est time. Like ever since I was in college... I used to have this friend who advised me against it because he said only certain faces can pull off the look - as if to say if you don't have Natalie Portman's face then you'll end up looking like a potato.

Well, that was when I was 20. I am a lot more confident in who I am now and I think I know a lot more about hair too/and what works with my face and overall just a lot more comfortable in my own skin. I've been saving up some hairspo pics on my instagram for that one fateful day when I can finally get this show on the road. I say this because, I went with it thinking, if it doesn't look good then I'd still be comfortable, it's just hair it'll grow back.... I already know how I'm gonna style it anyway..

[I've literally been "bending" my hair for the last, er, decade? When I say bend, it's like curling it but not really... just enough to give it that disheveled just got out of bed look. yeah I'm so into that look :) I have naturally stick straight asian hair and human as I am, I want what I don't have and that's textured hair so I rely on products and tools to get me what I want! Go get it gurllll ]

Wow. I talk too much! Here's the final result!


Also below are some of the photos that I shared with my hair stylist. For color, I asked for black hair a la Lucy Liu - and for cut, a subtle asymmetrical blunt style that tapers off just below my shoulders so that even if I don't curl it, the hair will naturally "bend"/fly away on its own.

(Photos below are not mine, credit to Google search)




I think in a few months, I'll try to go shorter (pic #2 is just so badass!)



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Sunday, May 26, 2019

Sephora VIB Sale - What’s going back!



I took the opportunity to test out some new products from Sephora in the latest VIB Sale using my 20% off discount (rarity for beauty items) and unfortunately not all of them worked out for me.

I wanted to share a comprehensive round-up of all items that are going back, didn’t make the cut, and didn’t impress me enough. Disclaimer: just because these products did not work for me personally, that doesn’t mean that they are terrible or low quality. More on why below.

My Skin Profile:
  • Combination skin with occasional acne
  • Warm medium-dark skin tone (MAC NC 35)

Products that are going back:

1. Charlotte Tilbury Eye Blender Brush - Reason for Return: No scratchiness here, however, my issue was that it didn’t provide enough control. I tried to make it work as an all over shadow brush, nothing to write about on this front. Then I tried to use it as a crease blending brush, it wasn’t doing this properly either. Will not miss this brush.

2. Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze & Glow Contour Duo Fair/Medium and
3. Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze & Glow Contour Duo COLOR: Medium/Dark - Reason for return: Fair/Medium was too light for me and the Medium/Dark was too muddy and dark. If they released an in between duo then I’ll give this one another go. Fantasic product otherwise, shame the colors didn’t work out :( I was so looking forward to this and really wanted it to work for me.

4. Charlotte Tilbury Powder & Sculpt Brush - Reason for possible return: Same issue with the CT Eye Blender Brush. I don’t think it offers enough control, soft as feather though! I can't decide if I want to return it or not! If I do, then I might give the Zoeva 105 Luxe Highlight Brush a try since they have a very similar shape and Lisa Eldridge seems to like the Zoeva as well.

5. Kiehl's Since 1851 Ultra Facial Cream SPF 30 - Reason for return: I was looking for a one step moisturizer + SPF concoction for days when I’m just in a rush. I had very high expectations and let's just say this one did not convince me that I can live without the Belif Aqua Bomb moisturizer. I also didn’t particularly find this one to sit well under make up.

Curious to know what I did enjoy and decided to keep? Some I already consider mainstay, at least for this season—

For keeps:
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Sunday, May 19, 2019

Easy Spring/Summer Make Up Tutorial for Beginners

I just posted my first ever make up tutorial on Youtube... eeeek! Not sure why I find this so nerve-racking and exciting at the same time. Go check it out, and please be kind. I'm still learning how to properly do the whole set up haha. Had fun filming this so hope you enjoy too! =)



Products Mentioned:

Sunnies Face Fluffmate Lipstick in Vacay 

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Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Break up with Breakouts

I write this post just after doing a mini facial massage on myself and après face-masking as well. Feels so good!

Speaking of feeling good, I've seen an emergence of some zits on my face in the last few days. From the looks of it, they are still at the initial stages and have no signs of turning into those horrible (and painful might I add) cystic ones! Either way, I found myself vigilantly reaching for a few trusted products to discourage pesky acne from lingering and typically have a routine I go by:

Step 1: Prevent
I use the La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo (French/European Version) which is marketed as a skin corrector that unclogs the skin and frees it of impurities. It's gentle enough for daily use and I apply this liberally around the problematic spot and surrounding areas. I always try to get a backup or two when I'm visiting Europe, or ask someone who is traveling there :) Most days when my skin is behaving properly, I completely omit this product from my daily skincare routine.

Note that this product is quite difficult to get a hold of since they sell a different version in the US, which I tried and personally did not like. It's much stronger and less kind to the skin. To be fair, the US version is advertised for spot treating acne so just bear this in mind if you do intend to try it out.

Step 2: It's here, now what?
Masks - I mask the hell out of my skin whenever I get breakouts (or in general when it's dry or whatever). I have combination skin (leaning dry in winter, leaning oily in the hotter months). My favorite mask for breakouts is the Origins Out of Trouble Face Mask. I really enjoy this as I find that it doesn't dry out my skin and is never harsh. Best of all I actually notice a difference even after just one go with it. I do NOT use this mask two days in a row. I would, however, complement this with some sort of moisturizing mask the next day or so.

Cleansers - I swear by the Cetaphil Daily Cleanser or the Shu Uemura Ultimate Sublime Cleansing Oil (great for people with combo/dry skin). I use either of these daily no matter what my skin condition is. If I'm having a super problematic week then I'll reach for Glamglow SUPERCLEANSE Clearing Cream-to-Foam Cleanser

Spot Treatment - Mario Badescu Drying Lotion, this product needs no introduction. What can I say, it's simply effective. I hear the Kate Sommerville Drying lotion is very similar if not better, I haven't had the chance to sample that version though! For cystic ones the only thing that works is Mario Badescu Anti-Acne Serum. Trust me on this, I've tried them all.

Step 3: Riding the storm
Sometimes, even though you've changed your sheets and have done all the above steps the pesky zits just won't budge. It might be worth reviewing your make up stash and see if there's something that may be clogging your pores. Sometimes your skin just needs to breathe also, so go easy on that base make up! Hey, if you can't help it then go ahead and reach for your most reliable concealer, I would personally recommend the Tarte Shape Tape Concealer. Make sure you find the right color so it's undetectable :)

I know sometimes getting zits can be such a damper but take it easy and be kind to yourself. Give your skin time and let it heal itself. As a side note, apparently taking in less dairy helps some people.

And that my friends is how I break up with breakouts! Hope you enjoyed this post!

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Friday, May 3, 2019

Best Hair Stylist in NYC and Things I Learned from Her!

I went to see my trusted hair stylist / colorist, Yoshico, last week and I wanted to rave about her because, well, I've been coming to see her for over 7 years now. Can you believe it?! She gave me my first ever Ombre / balayage look, way back when Rumi Neely made it a thing. :)

Whether or not I bring a photo in for whatever hairspo I'm going for, she gets it right all the time! (hairspo is "hair inspiration" in case you didn't know.)

As part of our ritual, I tend to ask her a lot of hair related questions... some great products she's recommended to me (and have used on me at the salon) over the years are:

  1. Ibiza Round Brushes - My favorite size is EX4 or GX4 (Large). The bristles cling onto your hair without hurting your head and the cork handle/body is what makes it light, perfect for DIY blow outs which can sometimes feel like an arm workout. Amirite, ladies? (link)
  2. Scalp Massagers - these are basically like Tangle Teezers but at the fraction of the cost. I got the 4 pack and I love how portable these are. Admittedly, the bristles are not as soft as Tangle Teezer ones, but I must say these do the job just as well. (link)
  3. Beach sprays over hair sprays - this was a shocker for me because I'm a hair spray type of girl. She recommended the Oribe Apres Beach (link) or the IGK Beach Club Texture (link). I am partial to Oribe on this one because I love the scent! Fact: Tom Ford designed the scent for Oribe which explains a lot of things.
If you want to go check out my stylist, details are below. Please tell her I sent you!

WherePierre Michel Salon
Who: Stylist Yoshico (a.k.a Alexis)
Why: Yoshico has many clients of various backgrounds which is a big plus - and trust me not all stylists in NYC do. Did I mention she gets the color and cut right every time?

Final look below!

Square Neck Top | Madewell (old)
Necklaces | Missoma

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Monday, April 29, 2019

Back on Youtube!

Decided to create Youtube videos again.... :) Let me know if you have any content requests! 

Check out my video where I talk about my Top 5 Picks from the Sephora VIB Sale 2019. I feature some of my most trusted beauty products that I am taking this opportunity to restock on (because hello, 20% off). I also share an exciting new item that I'm super pumped to try out!

Admittedly I purchased more than just 5 things during the VIB sale this year but didn't want the video to be too long but let me know if you want a full haul of new items I decided to try out this year. All I can say is, darling, Charlotte Tilbury marketing has taken full effect on me. ha ha. Can't wait to receive the rest of the items I ordered in the mail!

I highly recommend joining the Sephora VIB program (free) if you haven't already to enjoy bi-annual VIB sales :) Also check out the products I recommended on Amazon if you like!





Products Mentioned:



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Wednesday, April 24, 2019

How to be Parisienne-chic?


Two chic Parisiennes in Cafe Dé Flore, Paris 
Paris is always a good idea, always.

On a whim last year, I visited the city of love for the 3rd time in my life and I must say that I am constantly inspired by the fashion, makeup, and food there. I was seated in the adjacent table from the women above and I couldn't help but admire how effortlessly chic and cool they looked. 

I was so inspired by this and so I wanted to share some pointers. For anyone who wants to look and feel Parisienne-chic, (whether you're visiting Paris soon or if you just feel like it), here are my tips:

  • Must wear red nails. Not the burgundy kind but more like bright hot red like O.P.I Red or Essie Fifth Avenue ✔️
  • Je ne sais quoi type great hair. Loose curls or half updo! ✔️ If you have straight hair, best to pack a dual-voltage curling iron for best results. I like GHD's 1.25 Soft Curl Curling Iron
  • Seltzer water or as the French say it, l'eau minerale pétillante (not in photo) ✔️
  • Either a Trench Coat (think flowy and relaxed and preferably in olive green) -- or -- black textured Bomber Jacket ✔️
  • Red lipstick! I am still on the hunt for my perfect red.... but almost everyone in Paris was wearing one especially on the metro, guaranteed! ✔️



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Sunday, January 6, 2019

Travel Checklist for the Tech Savvy

I have a penchant for smart tech gadgets and portability and efficiency are probably my two prime criteria. Portability because I dislike carrying bulk and efficiency well because there’s always a better way to do things, right?

On any given flight, I’ll typically bring my iPad, iPhone, AirPods, wired earphones (as backup only), curling iron (100-240V dual voltage, in my check-in).


That said, here are some tech paraphernalia (adapters, chords, gadgets) I make sure to pack: 

1. Fast Charging Adapter - I have this Syncwire 31W/6A 2-Port USB Plug with US UK EU Adapter in white
This thing is ridiculously handy. The base unit is a US plug and you have the option to attach UK/EU adapters. Did I mention quick charging? 31W/6A, which means full charge in minutes for iPhone and efficient charging for iPad. This goes in my carry-on as I find single usb ports on the plane somewhat limiting :)

2. Short Extension Chord - something like this Travel Power Strip, 3 USB 2 Outlets with 15 inches
Ever been at an Airbnb or hotel that just doesn’t have enough wall outlets? If so, then you need this in your life. I like that it wraps around the power strip itself which makes it easy to stow away when not in use. The only thing is, you’ll need to bring your own wall adapter to suit your destination, small inconvenience in my opinion.


3. 2-in-1 Cables 
A good general rule of thumb is to pack for as many gadgets you’ll bring so that you can charge your devices simultaneously. I am also a big fan of 2-in-1 lightning and micro USB chords, how cool are they? I have the rose gold version of the Tumi 2-in-1 Lightning & Micro USB Cable and I love how it's both stylish and functional.


4. External battery pack 
If I know I’ll be taking photos with my phone all day long then I will bring an external battery pack with me, I have the one that comes with the Away carry-on. It’s quite heavy but packs on a punch at 10000mAh which means at least 2 full charges (or more) for my iPhone X (needs 2716 mAh). There are several more compact options on the market, a few that I would consider are these ones from Tumi: Luggage Tag Powerbank or Portable Battery Bank with Lightning Swivel (sorry lightning adapter only).

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Friday, January 4, 2019

Back to Foundations

Today, let's talk about choosing the right foundation.

In a nutshell, finding the right foundation will be heavily based upon your skin type and personal preference. For people who are just making their foray into make-up, it may take some time and a series of trial-and-error's to discern what will work for you and to decide on what your preferences are. 

As you learn more about your skin type and build upon your personal preferences when choosing a foundation, here are some elements that you may want to consider: 
  1. Shade - warm vs. cool vs. neutral tones, depth of shade.
    • Pro tip: Visit an actual make up counter and have someone match you. The more you do this across different make-up brands, the more you'll get a feel for the depth of shade that suits you. Another pro tip, take home a free sample or note down the foundation shade and assess the color match throughout the day. This will allow you to evaluate the shade in different lighting conditions (outdoor lighting vs indoor).
  2. Coverage - light/medium/full, with or without SPF
    • A completely personal choice. I prefer light coverage on good skin days for sure. I always wear SPF, always! However, if I can get a foundation with SPF then I'm most likely going for it. Also light coverage foundations sometimes masquerade as BB creams or tinted moisturizers.
  3. Finish - matte, dewy, velvet, skin-like?
    • Pro tip: if your skin is on the drier side, opt for dewy formulations that would typically be labeled as "radiant" or "illuminating"
  4. Formula - liquid, powder (loose or compact)
    • I guess skin type matters here too. While people with oily skin can get away with both liquid or powder, I would advise against powder for a drier skin type. I have combination-dry (combo-dry) skin and typically opt for liquid formulations
  5. Application Method - brush or with fingers
    • Most (liquid) foundations can be applied using a variety of methods - with a traditional foundation brush, sponge, or bare fingers. A moistened sponge method will work best with water based foundations.. For tinted moisturizers or foundation serums, forget the tools and use hands for a better finish.
  6. Packaging - does it need to be travel friendly and compact? squeeze tube or traditional container with pump (for liquid)?
    • I am someone who likes to have the option to travel with my foundation so more often than not, I will opt for a squeezy tube type foundation (such as this). If you like powder foundations, try pressed powder versions (something like this)
Some of my personal favorites are below!

For reference, I am a typically a MAC shade NC 35 depending on the time of the year.
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