February Purchases

Phew... February has been a tough month for all of us at the Land so far. We were hit hard with a bunch of illnesses, one round after another, requiring doses of Tamiflu and Z-packs. Dang the faulty flu vaccine of this year and Mycoplasma infections!! Then of course, vacation, family and school obligations all come up at once, I don't see the end of the tunnel yet.

I thought I'd pop in a bit to review two products I purchased in the month of February. 

Laneige BB Cushion in Light

"Protects, Covers, Hydrates, Soothes, Brightens."

Protects: it has SPF rating of 50+ but we all know not to depend on this for all-over-the-face coverage. What this is truly useful for is to touch up SPF throughout the day -- something we all should do but never do because it is too cumbersome. This tinted-liquid compact is a superlative replacement to the messy, cakey, dry powder SPF I've been totting around (Chantecaille Protection Naturelle Loose Powder, or Physician's Formula Compact SPF). Genius! Ahh.. my dry skin certainly welcomes this alternative. For this purpose, the dense compact sponge that comes with it is perfect because it provides dense coverage to ensure maximum protection. A pat on the compact, a pat on areas I need protection (such as top of cheek bones, cheek areas, bridge of the nose, forehead, etc), and I'm good to go.

Covers: since the coverage is so light (think tinted moisturizer more than foundation), I don't actually mind pilling this on. Genius squared! I really started to think that this product is really meant to be used on the go and to be used frequently. I found the tone is yellow enough for my skin but still on the peachy side. Light is suitable on my winter skin since, again, the pigmentation is so light.

Hydrates: not really. On my dry skin, I wear emollient skin care base daily, and I do find that this product tends to sink into dry patches and pores. Not flattering if you look up close. But then again, this product is meant to be touched up frequently, replenishing the moisture that has inevitably evaporated. I'd say normal, to normal-oily skin would benefit best with this formula. If you are normal-dry, or dry, do apply your base skincare for a more palatable finish. 
Speaking of finish, it is not as dewy as I thought it would be, more natural-satin finish, which is surprising for a Korean product such as this.

Soothes: if so, I didn't see it and I won't count on it.

Brightens: if brightening meaning shimmer particles, there are none that I could see. As I mentioned, the finish is actually more natural-satin than glowy-dewy. If brightening meaning protecting from future sun damage, then it has some truth to it.

It is sadly scented -- clean flowery scent. It does not dissipate and I does bother me some, but the benefit outweigh the nuisance, so this compact stays in my handbag for touchups. Does this live up to my expectation as the reincarnation of Stila Sport Pivotal Skin Foundation? Close. I think formula-wise, Laneige is more sophisticated and it applied smoother, but concept-wise I can't help but to think it is a doppelganger.

THM: Not a sophisticated foundation as such but great for touching up your SPF throughout the day.

Sunscreen is a combo of Octinoxate, TiO2 and ZnO

Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask in Smashed

I got this serendipitously when I ran out of Lansinoh lanolin to use on my chapped lips when I was sick for the past few weeks. Lo and behold, this one has lanolin as the first ingredient and less stinky than Lansinoh.

I haven't used this much but I know this will work due to lanolin. The scent is nicely vanilla-ry, the tint is not overwhelmingly bright, the au naturel, organic, biologique are all cherries. I may also get the Natural since that one has no color. For this product to work, you need just a little and you need to keep reapplying initially until all the dry bits are gone, then do maintenance work as needed (at least this is what I do with pure lanolin).

As I mentioned, I am still in the tunnel as far as blogging goes, I want to know those who have small children (I'm talking those who are younger than Kindergarten or does not go to school full-time yet), where are your children when you are taking pictures or blogging? Are they perched in front of TV/iPad/something stimulating and hopefully educational? Are they with a babysitter/nanny/dad/grandma/grandpa? Are they at preschool/school/day care? Are they napping/sleeping (something the Tod has given up)? I found it harder and harder to accomplish anything when the Tod is at home, I just want to be real and find out what works with mom-bloggers out there.


MOTW: Sick Face

Misery has visited the Land yet again. Last week, the Tod had five days of fever followed by a diagnosis of ear infection and pneumonia -- his first round of antibiotic, ever. Then this week, it is my and PapaLorp's turn while still trying to take care of a recovering child. I really don't know how moms with two or more children do it, really. They must have some support system other than day care/school (they surely won't take sick children); otherwise, it is really, really hard to take care of someone else when all you can do is keel over on a bed.

I'm sipping bone broth as we speak, and this is what I'm wearing today:

  • Laneige BB Cushion -- review forthcoming but so far I like this. The tone is yellow enough. The price is not as expensive as other BB Cushions. The finish is not as glowy as I thought it would be, but with...
  • CT Magic Cream underneath, it is glowy enough to give some life to the skin. I skip concealer -- why bother? It will just exaggerate my sickly face, not conceal it. 
  • By Terry Cellularose Blush Glace in 01 Rose Melba is, like I said, good skin in a pot. 'Nuff said.
  • Burberry Trench on the eyes, so it does not look as pink. This one, I learned, has been discontinued, so could this be my first chance to try Surratt shadows?
  • Maybelline The Falsies mascara, which melts in any cleanser that I use, practically a breeze to clean when I don't feel like washing my face at all.

Hope everyone stays healthy and wishing you all a wonderful week ahead.


Aesop Body Care: Resurrection Aromatique Hand Balm and Rejuvenate Intensive Body Balm

O.k. remember this scene from Love Actually?

It reminds me of my experience at an Aesop flagship store in Singapore last year...

... body products covered in Berlin A-Z Guide paper bag, then into an Aesop muslin drawstring bag, which was then sprayed with one of the Aesop perfume of choice, with some samples and product catalog thrown in. Holly twigs, sadly, not included.

Ah.. Aesop. I've had bad luck with Aesop skin care line thus far and I probably won't dabble into it again since they are replete of aromatic essential oils, but I am absolutely addicted to their body care; the formulas couldn't be simpler, full of natural oils and occlusives and the scents are divine. If only Aveda can do this.

Both Resurrection Aromatique Hand Balm and Rejuvenate Intensive Body balm actually have identical formula:

Water, Glycerin, Sweet Almond Oil, Stearic Acid, Cetearyl Alcohol, Ceteareth-20, Coconut Oil, ...

The ingredients after this are relatively insignificant since the next one of the list is an aromatic essential oil for the body balm, which should only comprised up to 1% of the whole formulation (unless this list is written not according to relative percentage of ingredients).

The fragrances are slightly different, the body balm is a bit warmer with the addition of sandalwood and vanilla, the hand balm is sweeter and zingy-er. Both are winner and as I said, addictive!

Both hand and body balm are not balm, per se, but rather more of a lotion's consistency; in fact, they are both available in 17 fl oz pump-glass bottles. They are readily absorbed and leave the skin moisturized with matte finish, thanks to the stearic acid, which can go on rather whitish and requires a lot of rubbing. But isn't that which feels so satisfying, rubbing cream onto the skin?

I even love the old-fashioned metal tubes that they came in -- these pictures were taken when they were still not used. Now, I understand the whole allure of Aesop. The brand really fits the niche of "all natural" and the modern, minimalist aesthetic, down right to the shop's design. Lastly, I heard there are rumors that they are branching to my side of the pond.. hmm..

THM: Worth the splurge.


Crafty February: Fabric-Covered Tea Light Candle Jars

You can decoupage the inside (left jar) or the outside (right jar) surface of the jar.

We seem to have abundance of glass jars. Last year it was baby food jars, this year it is yogurt jars -- they are all begging to be made into tea light candle holder! Naturally, as someone who likes to sew, I also have abundance of scrap fabrics. This simple craft project can be done with preschoolers or young children; it is very messy but the mess can be easily cleaned, thanks to water base glue. The finished result does not have to be neat either. This is where imperfection is perfect: the uncovered surface lets light through and the random pattern yields softer light.

A very important note: these jars are NOT to be used with real tea lights. Please use battery-operated, flameless tea candles (see below).

What you need:

  • Elmer's Glue or Mod Podge
    Elmer's glue is non-toxic, water based, and cheaper than Mod Podge and since this jar is meant to be decoration, I think it is ok to use the cheaper, lesser quality glue to decoupage.
    If you want your jar to withstand lots of manhandling, I'd suggest using Mod Podge, which is also non-toxic and water based (but stinkier and stickier than Elmer's). It is more expensive than Elmer, but it comes in many different finish (such as matte, glossy) and some can withstand dish washing as well (never personally tried this, though).  In this project, I used Elmer's because that's what we have.
  • Glass jars - washed and scrubbed clean off of oils.
  • Fabric scraps, cut into desired shapes. Quilting weight cotton, cotton lawn, or thinner gauge of cotton, linen, or silk all work well. I found light colors work better but darker colors will create interesting pattern. Just play with what you have and see how it goes. I used pinking shear/zig-zag to cut up the fabrics to further enhance the pattern and to minimize fraying.

What to do:

Dip each pieces of fabric onto your glue and stick them one by one on the jar. Make sure the fabric is throughly saturated and wet with glue before sticking them on. You can thin a little bit of the glue with water to make it easier for the fabric to soak. You can stick the fabrics onto the outside or inside surface of the jar, or both!

Here's Tod trying to stick the pieces on the inside. Not easy but easier for small hands than big, grown-up hands. Notice how thin the glue is -- I found the thinner the better, and you can always seal with a coat of glue afterwards for reinforcement.

Fabrics decoupaged on the outside surface of the jar tends to be rougher when dried. You can mitigate this by varnishing a coat of Mod Podge or acrylic varnish if you want, but I like the look of the raw, unfinished surface.

When you are happy with how your jar looks, leave it out to dry for at least 24 hours. If using Mod Podge, follow the manufacturer's instruction to finish the surface (I think you have to wait at least 15 minutes before applying the second coat, etc. etc.)

Jars waiting to dry

Finally, one very important point worth repeating: NEVER ever use real tea light candles with these decoupaged jars. I use one of these fake, battery-operated, flameless candles that flicker, which are widely available from Michael's, Jo Ann's, Hobby Lobby, etc.

DO NOT USE REAL TEA LIGHT CANDLES. This is to be used with battery-operated flameless candle like this one.

Trust me, it looks real once you put it inside the jar.

Make a bunch of these jars to give away as Valentine's to teachers, mom, dad, uncles, aunties, and friends. Happy Crafting!


Thankful Tuesday: Gratitude Fatigue?

I remember reading about this idea years ago when I read a story featuring Dr. Jeff Froh. He was researching the effect of gratitude in middle-schooler and whether or not the act of keeping gratitude journal (much like what I do) had an effect in positive mood and protective effect against negative mood. Turned out, it did not. There were no difference in the outcome between children who kept gratitude journal and those who didn't.

When he probed further, it turned out that many children wrote the same thing over and over again on their gratitude journal," I'm thankful for my family, my sister, and my dog." "Family, sister, dog." Again and again, week after week.

From Dr. Froh's own words (quoted from this Time's article):
Keep a journal and regularly record whatever you are grateful for that day. Be specific. Listing “my friends, my school, my dog” day after day means that “gratitude fatigue” has set in, Dr. Froh says. Writing “my dog licked my face when I was sad” keeps it fresher. The real benefit comes in changing how you experience the world. Look for things to be grateful for, and you’ll start seeing them.
The detail is the key because often times, it is in small things we find the biggest blessings. Looking back over my own journal, there are things I'm grateful over and over again: time and silence. In the spirit to avoid gratitude fatigue, here's a more refined rendition of the gratitude of this week:

  • Time to do laundry in the morning
  • The feeling of freshly cleaned clothes, towels and bedsheets
  • Giggling with the Tod on his silly use of the straw (upside down)
  • Catnap with the Tod
  • Time to myself to write this post
  • The scent of Meadow tea that brings me back to Thanksgiving last year in Portland
  • My brother's message on the Tod's picture on our family's message board
  • A new painting from a friend that I just found, a gift for the Tod's first birthday now perched on our fireplace mantel
This week, I invite you to look for the small things in life this week, may they refresh your outlook in gratitude.

P.S. More article about gratitude at Wall Street Journal here.


January Favorites/Purchases

January Favorite Products

I realize one of the reasons people read beauty blogs is, and forever will be, to learn about new products/product reviews. Seemingly opposite is one of my beauty (as spiritual) practice; to only buy that which I really love and by definition, it is quite scant. With all the accessibility of getting samples all around us (thanks, Sephora!), it is easier to purchase products that really works without regret later on -- even Target now has a lady who (wo)mans the beauty counter and she gives out samples, too! 

Sure, I've made mistakes every now and then, and I will in the future; after all, I'm only human. Moreover, there are things that I bought here sight-unseen but with some educated guess. Let's see what I've been loving in the month of January.

  • Sunday Riley Juno (previously reviewed here).
  • drybar Detox Dry Shampoo.
    I truly believe a good scent, or at least a scent that you like, is a must for dry shampoo because it tends to linger for a loooong while and it is the whole point of using dry shampoo: to partly de-stink dirty hair. I've tried several dry shampoo in the past, mostly those that are available at Ulta (Batiste, the perennial favorite, stinks to seventh dry-shampoo-heaven for me. Dove's scent is a bit too sickly sweet. Oribe Dry Texturizer smells lovely, but is not really dry shampoo). drybar scent is palatable, perhaps a bit sweet, but I associate it with good memory and this one works for me. I purchased a small travel bottle from Sephora.
    The powder does go on white, so I brush the residue with pure boar bristle brush (mine is from Olivia Garden like this one). It extends the look of non-oily roots by about a day.
  • Laneige Water Bank Moisture Cream.
    Glad that lady in Target gave me a sample of this, as well as the sleeping pack (on the to-buy list after I finished up the Sisley Black Rose mask). The cream quenches my thirsty, dry skin with a rather natural, non-glowy finish, perfect for moisturizing before sunscreen on day-time and night-time alike. The only downside is the scent -- is it too much to ask for unscented skin care?
    Despite the "cream" formula, I found this has more humectant (that which attracts moisture) than protectant (that which keeps moisture in). I must layer this with my serums and oils, I think by itself, it would be a bit too light for my dry skin. At $35 a pop, this is not exactly cheap and I regret that it does not have anything else but a plain, bland cream, but sometimes, that's all I need.
  • Charlotte Tilbury KISSING Mini Lipstick Charms Trio Gift Set.
    I have a problem: a Nordstrom note problem. One may think I shop loads at Nordstrom to earn all those notes; partly it is true, partly, we eat a lot at Nordstrom Cafe. What's not to like: the Tod loves it there! He always gets extras like raisins, chocolates, his own straw cup, and fruits on top of his meals (which are not bad, really). So yes, I've been raking notes over notes that are begging to be spent (or else they will expire), I spent the last few ones on this -- a freebie from Nordie, so to speak.
    Color-wise; I begin to appreciate Charlotte -- I think there is something to be said about her color selection that flatters my skin tone, at least, the way Burberry colors are. Charlotte, is of course, on the opposite side; her colors are louder and bolder than Burberry's. I love So Marilyn -- this one is a neutral red, no leaning orange nor blue whatsoever on me. Bitch Perfect is, surprisingly bitchy... er, perfect! On me, it goes on neither mauve nor peach, like so many other pinky nudes are. Even Penelope Pink, which I thought would be too camel for me, is an excellent nude: it has pink undertone with a touch of greyish peach, if that makes sense, that makes it a bit alive. Formula are like CT's lipstick; on the dry side but not overly and the scent is bearable.
    Beware, these lipsticks are very tiny, super, duper tiny -- I probably wouldn't purchase this had I seen them in person.
  • Dior Vernis in Lady.
    Oh my, where have you been in my life? My Dior Incognito is almost half-full (in fact, I think I'll need another bottle soon since it does not flow as well, and I don't thin my polishes with thinner). This one is Incognito's baby sister with Dior's flawless formula. Two coats of this, with Dior's own Top Coat, and I'm good for a week.
What are your January faves? Link me below to your blog (no promo blogs, please -- you know those are futile).