to pamper / tata harper concentrated brightening serum & huxley brightly ever after essence

Like many other Asians, my skin is prone to hyperpigmentation, freckles, sun spots, etc. It’s not just about sun exposure, it’s also about temperature. I regularly use brightening products to keep the spots at bay.

I’m reviewing two empties today: Tata Harper Concentrated Brightening Serum and Huxley Secret of Sahara Brightly Ever After

(1) Tata Harper Concentrated Brightening Serum

Tata Harper is an American natural beauty brand and I love the concept of clean, natural beauty, but it’s pretty expensive. Products in green colored packaging are her standard line (previously mentioned). Products in yellow colored packaging are pricier and not sold as pervasively as the green line, but has a wider distribution than it used to.

What’s In It? I don’t really read ingredients as my skin is not sensitive, but I looked for reviews (there weren’t that many useful ones). I regularly use Tata products and know that she would never put silicones into her products. From her website: A blend of targeted technology takes a triple-action approach to fighting and minimizing the appearance of dark spots. Brassica Napus and Sea Fern Extract helps to minimize the appearance of dark spots. Colorless Carotenoids help prevent the appearance of dark spots, and Norwegian Kelp boosts glow and helps reduce the look of dark spots.

Texture: It has a consistency of a light lotion unlike what you think of as a serum. For the summer, I used it with the True Botanicals Vitamin C Booster powder mixed in. It mixed really well. I use it after any liquid products, like the Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum and Water. Even in the hot summer days, it never felt heavy.

Smell: Nothing memorable. I think it smells floral/natural?

How Long It Lasts: I used about 1-2 pumps in the morning. I don’t remember when I started using it (I hate breaking into expensive products and sometimes do it slowly), but I would guess late winter through early October. That’s over half a year for the 1 fl oz and there was a scant amount left after the pump stopped working.

Does It Work? Yes, it does brighten. I noticed it one day after a month of almost daily usage. I have some old, dark spots that didn’t budge, not that I expected them to.

Packaging: Externally, Tata’s products are 5 stars. Internally, it’s also 5 stars. The airless pump works perfectly to deposit the right amount and to keep it hygienic. Glass bottle bottom, but not a deterrent for traveling light.

Pricing: Tata Harper is by no means budget-friendly. Let alone the yellow line. I got it for 30% off (US sales tax included in calculation) by purchasing it from the UK site Cult Beauty during their 20% off Black Friday sale stacked with cashback from another site. Also, there was a very nice Tata Harper gift with purchase, which I placed value on. Purchasing from Cult Beauty means that VAT is removed for US orders and you are also not charged duty tax.

Note on Cult Beauty: I think they send US-bound packages in bulk from the UK to a US third party, aircitypost, which then mails it out. It took 5 weeks(!) for me to get my package. Aircitypost messed up my address (what happened to copy and paste?). Cult Beauty service was 3 stars out of 5. My order also came with a time sensitive coupon. Needless to say, I didn’t shop from them again, but may consider it in the future. Also, the plastic on the inside of the glass container has been warped since I got it – mystery solved after I pulled the top off of the empty bottle.

Would I Buy It Again? Maybe, but I rather try other products first. There are so many.

Where to Buy (available at more stockists than last year):
Tata Harper (especially if want Tata samples)
Nordstrom (sometimes great with stackable gifts with purchase)
NET-A-PORTER (also on their global sites)
Bloomingdales
Neiman Marcus
GOOP
24Sevres
Cult Beauty

(2) Huxley Secret of Sahara Brightly Ever After Essence

Huxley is a mid-range Korean brand. I first heard of Huxley on Glow Recipe, but pretty much everything on that site can be found for a cheaper price elsewhere.

This is called an essence, but I treat it like a serum. The terms essence, ampoule, serum, and water can be confuing. I layer from light to heavy texture.

What’s In It? From Glow Recipe: Huxley’s star ingredient, the antioxidant-rich Prickly Pear Cactus Seed, is still present in the new line to protect and strengthen skin, while new players such as Niacinamide and Mulberry work overtime to supercharge and brighten the complexion. Even better, the milky texture quickly absorbs (seriously, so quickly) to keep your skin slick-free and ready for your moisturizer. It also has glutathione, bisabol, and silicone but I can’t tell for the latter.

Texture: It is heavier than water, but very runny. It’s strange to put an essence in a serum bottle, but this is when the strict definitions of Asian skincare items don’t apply. It spreads and absorbs easily. I also mixed the True Botanicals powder above with this one. It works better with a heavier formula, so I don’t recommend it.

Smell: All of their products have a clean, cactus smell. I love it.

How Long It Lasts: It lasted a while because I didn’t use it consistently. It got to a point where I was determined to finish it, so left it on my vanity to force myself to use it.

Does It Work? It makes my skin feel moisturized and there is some brightening effect, but nothing drastic. It is very easy to layer, despite the silicone ingredient.

Packaging: Huxley uses the same dropper bottle for other essences. The dropper bottle works better than it does on the Oil Essence, but the last bits get stuck and you have to shake it out. Overall, all their products have glass packaging that has a solid feel.

Pricing: Retails for $58 in the US, I got it for $20 + intl shipping from SweetCorea in Korea. I think it’s great for the latter price.

Would I Buy It Again? Maybe, for the same reason as above. I want to try other products.

Where to Buy
Anthropologie
Saks
Nordstrom
Revolve
YesStyle
SweetCorea (cheapest but shipping from Korea is added later, great for a haul)
Harvey Nichols

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to shop / amazon prime day review (sonos, wifi extender, ecovacs deebot)

Prime Day this year was more exciting than prior years due to the extra discounts for Amex cardholders. (This may have been a coincidence.) Review of my new toys:

(1) TP-Link AC750 Dual Band WiFi Range Extender, Repeater, Access Point
I’m the tech support person at home. My Verizon FIOS modem and router is tucked away in a metal cabinet in a closet. While this is easier for the eyes, this is horrible for the wifi connection from the furthest ends of home. This device was a Prime Day flash deal and I happened to check Amazon at the right time of day, but I’d happily pay their current price for this useful device. It was by coincidence that this was also well rated by Wirecutter. FWIW, TP-Link is a Taiwanese brand and I’ve purchased multiple products with no issues.

(2) Sonos One Speaker
Works well with Pandora, Amazon Prime Music, Spotify, etc. Love the sound quality and I can control it from my laptop or phone app. Packaging is as beautiful as any Apple product’s. I didn’t enable Alexa.

(3) ECOVACS DEEBOT N79S Robot Vacuum Cleaner
This is my first robot vacuum cleaner. I have yet to schedule it to clean when I’m not home but there is an app for that. It’s super easy to setup and navigates my mostly hardwood floors and rugs seamlessly. When I saw it go under my vanity, bed, couches, tv stand to access areas that would require moving of furniture to vacuum, I was pretty sold. It picks up hair extremely well. It is pretty easy to clean and gross to see how much random dust accumulates! Time is limited so this is one area of my life I happily will defer to bots for. This is a fair priced vacuum. There were additional discounts on Prime Day, but the price today isn’t that far off.

to pamper / barneys love yourself beauty event

It’s well known amongst friends that I’m a bit excessive with beauty products (moreso skincare than cosmetics). I love minis and freebies. Especially high-end ones like Barneys, where it’s hard to find samples for many of these brands.

I normally wouldn’t post this because I’m a slow updater, but Barneys seems to have extended their September 5-9 semi-annual Love Yourself beauty event for a few weekends now. Spend $200 and you get a big bag of high-end cosmetics, skincare, haircare, and fragrance deluxe samples. (A few days ago their spend x and get y gift card promo ended.) Pre-order items don’t count. They have a nice curation of brands, including niche ones like True Botanicals (my favorites are out of stock), Surratt Beauty (my current eyelash curler), Hanacure (this is on deck for me), their own value beauty boxes, Peach & Lily masks (great for fillers), Shu Uemura Art of Hair, etc. They also have more mainstream brands like Tatcha, Chanel, etc. I think the Barneys gifts with purchase are nicer than Space NK.

And for those living in the NYC area, Barneys’ warehouse is in NJ; you get your order within a day or two!

The contents of the men’s and women’s bags:

(Image: Barneys)

I periodically go through my stash and either give away or sell anything I don’t use or like. This includes samples. While $200 is a high threshold, I was able to find some items that are easy to sell to meet the threshold.

to shop / {sale alert} labor day sales

  • beautytap 25% off Sulwhasoo and COSRX. Get additional 15% off with code beautytap2018 (unsure of expiration). Formerly known as w2beauty. They also have 3-5 day shipping in the US now, which is great considering these prices! Without a sale/discount code, the prices are considered on the higher end of Korean sites. (Note their search function is not very good. Better to use Google.)


Sulwhasoo: I have some Sulwhasoo products (the two overnight vitalizing and radiance energy masks and the clarifying mask) but recently got more products. I’m a big fan of the First Care Activating Serum EX in the limited edition plum blossom (review) and the Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Emulsion (light moisturizer with a ginseng hanbang smell). These two products achieve that elusive glow.

I tried samples of the Snowise serum (love but the price!), cleansing oil and cleansing foam (meh primarily due to smell and I have tons of cleansers), Bloomstay line (verdict is out, the entire line smells amazing, but the serum is too sticky, the water and cream seem ok). I love gifts with purchase and I had maximized the samples or free minis through my purchases from Korea (or got a really good price). I think samples are the best way to test before diving into a pricey purchase.

I also refer to this very comprehensive overview of the Sulwhasoo products from a Redditor and for Korea airport duty free prices as a baseline.

COSRX: A budget friendly, no frills brand. Sadly many of these products are out of stock and beautytap doesn’t filter them out. (Dermstore has 20% off all COSRX and ends up being a teensy bit more expensive, Ulta has some products. Otherwise I occasionally place a large order at SweetCorea, where the collection is complete but you will need to pay overseas shipping.) I currently don’t use any of their products every single day. I recommend the overnight masks (rice and honey) and use them in the cold winter days as a moisturizer. I also like the Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence for repairing skin or extra moisture. Their pimple stickers, A-sol, and centella cream are for pimple maintenance, which is rare but still necessary. The mister on the other hand uses the One Step Moisture Up Pad in his daily routine and it’s gotten rid of all his flaky skin.

  • J.Crew 40% off almost site-wide sale. It works on beauty (which is full of cleaner beauty), unfortunately the only Megababe product left is the bust dust (their thigh rescue product is great if you avoid skirts in warmer weather!). As for the clothes, I’m waiting for their comeback. Although the sweater blazer always look tempting.

to shop / {sale alert} all the apc half moons…

The half moon is still my favorite A.P.C. bag by far!

Row 1: grey smooth $235; Carole navy blue $247 (different color, similar style); blue suede nubuck $277

Row 2: beige embossed $273; caramel brown $273; tan (sand) embossed $259 (slightly more here and here)

Row 3: military khaki python print $350; Luna black $353; yellow smooth $282