to shop / recent purchases

Edit – February 13

1 / HILL HOUSE HOME had a nap dress drop on Wednesday. They had more stock than their October 2020 drop, so I was able to order what I wanted despite forgetting about the drop until launch time. They had me at the Ellie in black dots (which I plan to wear with a black turtleneck) and the emerald trellis pattern grew on me.

As of February 13, the super popular navy tartan is back in stock in the Ellie and Caroline! Not sure is this coincides with Princess Beatrice’s appearance in the Ellie.

Despite having 95% confidence in my HHH size now, I still like to order 2 sizes – just in case. I’ve never had a problem with returns and they are free.

Images: Hill House Home

2 / Cordless WaterPik WP-560. I hate flossing and I recently started Invisalign, which requires cleaning your teeth after every bite. It doesn’t eliminate the need for manual flossing, but I will take any help I can get. I bought this intending to use it in the shower, but my waterfall shower head isn’t great for refilling the tank. Since I use it after every meal, I much prefer to see bits of food falling out of my mouth into the sink. The tank is small, but it’s easy to refill in the sink. I typically refill at least once during each use. I haven’t had any battery problems mentioned in the Amazon reviews, but I also remove it from the charger once it’s done charging. I can’t live without it now.

  • I’ve seen the best price at Amazon.
Image: WaterPik

3 / Nuface Trinity Pro

I bought the NuFace Trinity microcurrent device in late 2018, but I didn’t start using it until mid-2020 (thanks to all those introspective Zoom calls). Do you see results? Absolutely, but you have to be consistent, especially in the beginning.

Recently, I discovered that there is a Trinity Pro version that has more microamps than the retail version and it’s sold for the same price! The Pro isn’t hard to purchase online, but it was hard to find on sale from an authorized outlet, which is important if you want warranty. If you don’t see the site on the list and it has a physical address, check the store locator.

  • Purchased from Exclusive Beauty Club, currently 20% off with code. Sold out!
  • Also available at LovelySkin with all attachments and at Shani Darden with the eye/lip attachment. I really like the eye/lip attachment and had picked it up separately. The attachment is on sale on QVC.
Image: NuFace

4 / HongMall is an iOS and Android shopping app. It has the hottest Chinese, Japanese, and some Korean/Taiwanese products for the US and Canadian markets. US buyers can buy from the US or Japanese warehouse. I miss shopping trips in Asia, so this is the next best thing. The downside is that you need to be able to read simplified Chinese. The upside:

  • Competitive pricing especially with promotions/value sets.
    • They have Korean sheet mask packs shipping from the US with a much cheaper price than buying from Korea.
    • For the price of one Dr Jart mask at Sephora, you can get ~5 of the same mask.
  • Unique selection.
    • They are the only authorized distributor for the Japanese home electronics brand, Bruno. They also have pantry goods, snacks, etc.
    • The app isn’t easy to navigate to me (they don’t have sorting functions), but it’s easy to see the top sellers and how many have purchased an item. I’ve discovered some new products as a result.
Image: Dr Jart

5 / VIP O2 Milk Cleanser

I picked up a few Biologique Recherche products before their mini price increase. A standout so far is the Lait VIP O2 cleanser. It’s like the Mercedes Benz of cleansers and I already regret not starting with a larger size. It left my skin incredibly soft.

Where to buy? I split my purchases across two sites to maximize on samples (specific requests). I also considered if the site charged sales tax. I got more samples from purchasing one product from Aida Bicaj than a pricey, multiple product purchase at Vicki Morav. Aida also has free shipping for $50+ whereas I had to find a coupon for Vicki. Viewing prices requires creating an account and logging into the site.

Image: Joanna Czech

five things (hill house home, nodpod, shark wandvac, skincare routine, wagyu curry)

Hill House Home dropped their latest navy tartan, the Iris Tartan. I got a preview of the Iris Tartan, as I had ordered the Ellie in the “original” tartan a few months back and it was oversold. They offered this as a replacement and while it isn’t that similar to the original Navy Tartan (now referred to as the Holiday Navy Tartan), it was close enough. The Iris Tartan is billed as an all-year tartan. The plaid print is a little brighter and larger scale, and the material is thinner. I like the Caroline style, so I got that and the shorter Katherine. The Ellie had some anti-slip material inside of the shoulder straps that I hadn’t seen in prior Ellies (and because of that wouldn’t recommend the dryer).

Images: HHH

The NodPod Weighted Eye Mask has been a recent indulgence. It helps me fall asleep more deeply (although I typically sleep well), especially if I get waken up from the neighboring construction noise. It’s great with AirPods. I got mine from Anthropologie and it’s a lighter shade (pink). The darker colors would be better for those that are more sensitive to light. They are 50% on GMA Deals through tonight. Otherwise, I recommend Anthropologie with a sitewide discount.

Image: Anthropologie

Shark Wandvac One of our favorite home purchases of 2020. It is cord-free handheld vacuum, strong, has attachments for a more targeted clean, and so convenient for quick cleanups. I got the WV201 model from Amazon. Not sure how different the WV200 model is from Walmart, which is much cheaper.

Image: Amazon

Skincare Routine. Working from home has meant time for a relaxed skincare routine in the morning and being intentional with finishing up products. It helps to put everything in my routine in a Muji container. My skin has gotten so soft after a few tweaks* and I think it’s mainly due to these products:

Note 1: Duty free deals and value sets for the luxury skincare items!

Note 2: For Korean products, I stay away from Amazon unless the brand sells directly on it. I purchase from Sokoglam or Peach and Lily (US distributors) during a sale, Costco, or a Korean e-tailer like Jolse (tip: they have free shipping promotions) or SweetCorea.

CHEF HOONI KIM‘s wagyu beef curry was the best thing I ate this week. For those in the New York City area, Hanjan delivers weekly to the surrounding area. The meal kit menu changes every week and the curry can be an add-on. It was our first time ordering the meal kit and it’s a good portion size.

to shop / 2020 cyber week deals

Have you been shopping? I have shopped way less than prior years because:

  • I’m tired and didn’t plan, which is a good thing.
  • Certain items/purchases are not needed because I’m not leaving home often… or it doesn’t show on Zoom.
  • There were good sales during the year and I’m well-stocked.
  • I’m less brand loyal and exploring other brands.

What I am checking out

1 / Baggu

25% off the entire site. I had just placed an order in early November… They have so many new designs and that’s what keeps me coming back. There is a The Simpsons collection (I like the donut), one bag left from the collab w/ the Met Museum (dragons), a new mini size, and wine size!

2 / Boka Toothpaste

I have sensitive teeth and typically use Pronamel. I started using Boka, which has n-Ha instead of fluoride. It also ‘tastes’ better than Pronamel. Boka didn’t have a sale on toothpaste this weekend, but Urban Outfitters did (and has a lower price on it in general with a sitewide discount). Sometimes Bloomingdales has it on sale. Amazon also carries it. 

3 / Beauty

  • Mighty Hero pimple patches from Anthropologie. I’m going to give their dark spot/blemish stickers another go. Anthropologie’s 30% off is generous and they have a great curation in general, but their shipping can be painfully slow.
  • Nodpod weighted eye mask from Anthropologie, but it’s sold out since.
  • Beauty of Joseon serums and Acwell toner from Sokoglam. Some more Beauty of Joseon and Cosrx items from Jolse when they had a free shipping promotion.
  • J.One jelly pack and overnight mask on clearance at I think they may be available without a membership. I stocked up on the overnight mask — it worked great under a cream moisturizer. The primer was so popular a few years ago.
  • Christophe Robin rose hair products have an intoxicating rose scent. I recently picked up the shampoo and conditioner during the GMA deal. I like the performance of the paste the most but the shampoo/conditioner are equally fragrant. 
  • Necessaire does not have a discount but is including a full size body serum ($45) with purchase. They also have Bergamot which is limited edition and doesn’t seem to be sold elsewhere. I like their scrub.
  • Tula has 25% off. I haven’t tried their products since they rebranded. I heard good reviews on the eye balm, so ordered the holiday set
  • St Regis Remede hair products. My hair really likes their shampoo and conditioner. I typically get a ton of minis from the mister’s travels, but like a larger container. 

4 / Fashion

  • Hill House Home annual 20% off sale (nap dress review; $20 off $100 referral code). I also ordered some pillows and am still recovering from the heavenly Annie Selke pillows from vacation.
  • H&M – I’ve had good luck with vases, marble, waffled bathrobes, and this puff-sleeved dotted dress. Things pop in and out of stock and I’ve found their notifications to work (ahem, Uniqlo). The slow processing time is painful but at least shipping and returns are free if you sign up for their rewards program.
  • MZ Wallace small Crosby crossbody purse. I’m quite sad to see that it’s discontinued! I have this in navy blue and maybe this is a sign that I’ve gotten boring. I like all the pockets and find it to be super convenient and light, as well as the navy/black/gold color combination. It comes with three different crossbody straps – I like the webbed one.
  • Clare V’s Black Friday sale isn’t exciting, consistent with prior years, but her 20% off best sellers promotion from earlier in the week is still active with code CHEERS20. This includes all her classic styles including my favorite La Tropezienne (review). You can also click around to see if other colors are included. I’ve been waiting for the perforated items to come back but am not feeling the grande fanny. 
  • COS Stores 25% off. I have stayed away from COS

to shop / uniqlo +J and the curated reviews

(Updated January 10 with more reviews)

Uniqlo +J Collaboration

Images: Uniqlo

The last Uniqlo +J collaboration was roughly around the time that I started this blog. Uniqlo didn’t have e-commerce and in NYC, there was only one place to go – the Soho store. I still have a few pieces in my closet from that collection, but sadly some of the nicer pieces no longer fit.

I totally underestimated this launch and my own memory; I should’ve set up a reminder. By the time I got on, it was 1+ hour after the US launch and most of the women’s collection was sold out. I haven’t heard of any more major restocks but have been checking daily. If you are interested in any pieces and can’t get to a physical store that has it, best to be quick about purchasing online. I’ve linked the specific pieces below of most interest. I’m not sure yet whether something could be in stock but not show up at the above link for the entire collection. The lookbook is here. 

  • WOMEN +J ULTRA LIGHT DOWN HOODED COAT (middle) – I got this in blue in my normal ultra light down size. I love it. I’ve very happy with the dark shade of blue, cut (it is more tailored), stylish sleeves and hood, longer length, and lining. My biggest problem with ULD in recent years is that feathers poke out of the lining and are so hard to clean off of my mostly black/blue clothes. Fingers crossed that it won’t happen here. Around the same time, a H&M quilted coat arrived and its quality and shapelessness paled in comparison with this coat. It was a no brainer.
  • WOMEN +J DOUBLE FACE STAND COLLAR JACKET (unpictured) – I sized up because that was all that was available, and it was too boxy all around. I haven’t seen this pop back at all. It is nicely made but I am lukewarm about it, maybe the right size would help. It goes with the next item. I eventually got my normal size in black. It is still a little boxy but in a nicer, intentional oversized way. The downside of popbacks is that they are returns so this has to be steamed and delinted. 
  • WOMEN +J EXTRA FINE MERINO TURTLENECK SWEATER (not pictured)- I sized up in this as well and it was perfect as I wanted it to be less fitted. I don’t often wear sweaters. I thought it was cut well and of good quality, which can’t be said for knits for other collabs. I later tried sizing down to my normal size and found the difference to be negligible to me, and there was a hole in the sleeve. This comes in a few colors and I got the colors I wear the most — black and navy.
  • WOMEN +J HYBRID DOWN JACKET (Short) (right) – I haven’t seen it in person yet. I sized down. Reviews said that it runs large and long in the sleeves/neck. This ran very large and was unflattering on me. If you have the right proportions and size, this could look amazing.
  • WOMEN +J HYBRID DOWN COAT (Long) (not pictured) – This also ran large. It was huge in my normal size and one size down, so I would guess you could size down 2 sizes. The overall shape is a triangle but other than that there is nothing distinctive that I could see. It looks better if you’re tall.
  • WOMEN +J HYBRID DOWN SHORT COAT (not pictured) – This is a favorite of the Youtubers. I haven’t been able to snag the popback yet.
  • WOMEN CASHMERE BLEND COLLARLESS COAT (left) – This was an elusive popback. It is comfortably oversized one size down. Watching Youtube reviews on this coat helped me notice that the collars are asymmetrical, which is a nice detail. The material is very soft. I would’ve loved the navy as well if it were in stock. This was also a victim of popback lint but didn’t wrinkle much.
  • WOMEN +J SILK JERSEY TURTLENECK LONG-SLEEVE T-SHIRT (not pictured) – I would say this is true to size, although I could only find it in a size up and went with that. It is a nice weight and I can see this lasting a long time (like the jersey tee I wear from the last collab).
  • WOMEN +J LONG-SLEEVE SHIRT DRESS (not pictured) – Also oversized but not awkwardly so. I sized down one size. I only saw it popback in black. I generally like shirtdresses and this was a nice twist on the classic design (which COS has done before) – although you have to understand that the belt is supposed to go around your waist underneath the dress and emerge in front near the sides of your waistline. You can control how tight you want it to be. If you had a nicer belt, you could integrate that. The bottom hem is also shorter in the front than back. There are pockets! The material is heavier, I don’t see this being wearable in balmy summer weather.

Additional thoughts:

There is a Uniqlo warehouse near me, so orders typically ship in one day. With the holiday season, I was a little nervous when I saw an order with three precious popbacks “In Process” and “Pending” for days. I think it’s a good sign if you received the e-mail order confirmation and the order wasn’t immediately processed as cancelled. 

This collection was generally oversized, it would’ve helped the consumer if they had the products with model sizing info. Some of the items weren’t modeled on the product page. It would have also decreased the amount of returns for Uniqlo. It has been disappointing how the warehouse hasn’t done much to delint or clear items between customers. It’s very obvious on black clothing.

Uniqlo also recently changed their return policy (link). If you purchase online, you can only return online! This is better for +J popbacks if all returns are going back to their warehouse. Their return shipping label fee of $7 is reasonable. Sometimes I claim a PayPal shipping refund (mentioned below). If it wasn’t the holiday (temp workers) or pricier +J items, I wouldn’t hesitate to combine returns for multiple orders. Although they typically will charge you the label for each order you return and you have to manually request a refund.

The Curated Outerwear

Images: The Curated

I tried the Classic Coat and had to size up so that it was less tight around the hips. I most likely won’t tie it because I don’t like how it looks even with the sizing up. It is warm but for when it is colder, I can fit a collarless Uniqlo ULD coat underneath it. The material is so so soft. This is probably their most popular style, but I would like to say if you are bottom heavy, this style is not ideal. 

There is supposed to be a new style coming next year that is similar to the Tailored Coat (more hip friendly) but shorter, which I would seriously consider. 

They don’t have a Black Friday promotion.

to shop / last minute splurging at sephora f&f

Sephora’s annual Holiday event is ending tonight! The tiring year makes me want to splurge on myself (more than usual). I would’ve posted earlier, but encountered technical difficulties. What I got:

  • Tatcha Pure & Glowing Trio. This holiday set has a full size dewy skin cream and a travel size of the rice wash and silk peony cream. Of the Tatcha creams, I like the dewy cream the most and have been using it every morning. This set has been popping in and out of stock. I am looking forward to trying this rice wash. (Through 11/11, Tatcha has a great deal on their site – code SINGLES20 for a full size Violet C mask and sheet mask ($80 value) for orders over $100. They have a bunch of new holiday sets. I like the Purifying & Plumping set that has the dewy skin cream, the cleansing oil, and the rice wash.)
  • Fresh Mini Rose Deep Hydration Sleeping Mask. I love how there is a mini size. I have never tried this, generally like Fresh, and heard good things from my favorite, discerning Chinese vlogger.
  • Murad City Skin Age Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 50 PA++++. I’m always looking for a better SPF. You still need SPF for working from home. This is pretty expensive… I will see how it compares to Anessa.
  • Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare All is Bright FaceWare Pro Set. If you really want to splurge… I didn’t get this because I already have it, but it’s a good deal for the Spectralite face mask and products. I’ve been using this with the Nuface and it’s definitely gotten me out of a self-care funk.
  • Sephora Collection Facial Cooling Globes. Reviews seem split with many of the low ratings coming from people who didn’t follow directions and put it in the freezer. Worth a try. I also like this mask applicator.
  • Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Happi Scalp Scrub. They had me at acid on the scalp.
  • Nécessaire The Body Exfoliator, The Body Wash, The Body Serum. I’ve tried the eucalyptus body exfoliator so far and I really like it. I also got the body serum, body washes, and exfoliator in eucalyptus and sandalwood. I like the woodsier scents.
  • Nest Holiday diffuser. Now that I’m home all day, I’ve been looking for diffusers for my work/living space. This seems perfect for the season. My last diffuser was the Jo Malone Red Roses, which was delicious.
  • Otherland Rose Daybed Candle. I can’t speak to how it burns, but can say that it smells lovely. I like cleaner, simple rose scents.