2018 thoughts on self-care

I know it’s already 2019, I am catching up!

I compiled a list of my favorites… not just skincare!

Listen to your skin. It’s hard for me to tell the effect of one product, since I switch around and may add multiple new ones at one time. But, I will say that anyone that goes from using nothing to something will see a difference in your skin. Hydrating toners (not the stripping kind that you apply with a cotton pad), cleansers at a right ph, double cleansing, some exfoliating, or essences make a discernible difference. There are always affordable options for every product type.

Favorite Cleanser: Tatcha Cleansing Oil and Cerave Foaming Facial Cleanser. I have tried other cleansing oils during the year (and will continue to) but my favorite is still the Tatcha. I’ve been using the Cerave as a first or second cleanser for a long time. These cleansers clean well and don’t strip the skin.

Favorite Watery Essence: The Amorepacific Vintage Single Extract Essence was on my waitlist for a while.This was a rare product that was sold out on the Lotte Duty Free app so I had to buy in person, but it worked out because I got a ton of gifts. It’s made of fermented green tea (yummy antioxidants!!).

Favorite Vitamin C: My face feels naked in daylight without a Vitamin C product and SPF. I have been using the Drunk Elephant C Firma Serum for 2+ years. I took a break from using this and switched to using the True Botanicals Vitamin C Booster. I can’t say I noticed any extraordinary results from the booster, but I also haven’t found the perfect serum to mix it with. Much later, I noticed that water actually works great as a base so I may find a watery essence to combine this with in the future. In the meantime, I’m back to using the C Firma Serum. This is one product that is very time sensitive and will oxidize over time. Once I start using a bottle, I feel the clock ticking.

Favorite Gentle Exfoliator: I don’t exfoliate daily. The Tata Harper Regenerating Cleanser is a gritty cleanser of apricot seed powder, pomegranate enzyme, willow park, and French pink clay; can be layered with the Resurfacing Mask. Another option is the Amorepacific Treatment Enzyme Peel Exfoliator which consists of papaya enzyme powder. It is great for travel (not liquid) and a little goes a long way – I’m still using a deluxe sample, but did pick up the value set at Sephora after it went on double sale. Lastly, I got a fan favorite chemical exfoliant- Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid. It can be used daily, but I’m wary of overexfoliating. I use this at night as a toner once in a while. The results are immediate but don’t last long.

Favorite Exfoliating Mask: I love the Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask (BHA from white willow bark and pomegranate enzymes) but also quite like the new Peach and Lily Super Reboot Resurfacing Mask (10% AHA, 0.5% BHA, and Blue Agave). I like using one of these or the Amorepacific above before I use a sheet mask.

Favorite Sheet Mask for Glow: Papa Recipe, the original. I also bought the rose honey and black honey to try.

Favorite SPF: Shiseido – Anessa Perfect UV Sunscreen Mild Milk SPF 50+ PA++++ (2018 Edition).  This is Japan’s top sunscreen and was reformulated this year. It is pricey but I find it so worth it. It leaves a matte finish and doesn’t dull the glow of my skincare products. Mild = free of alcohol and fragrance. I use SPF that I don’t love as much on the weekends or days I work from home. This includes the Chanel UV Essentiel SPF 50 with a hefty amount of Zinc Oxide.

Favorite Lip Product: The Sephora Lip Scrubber Brush comes with two sides of scrubbers to help make your lips super smooth. Has to be used with other lip products like French Girl Organics Rose Lip Scrub. Also love the Drunk Elephant Lippe lip balm.

Favorite Moisturizers, Serums, and Oils: I don’t have a favorite here, the verdict is out. Notable mentions: The Stratia Liquid Gold is an affordable, unscented lightweight moisturizer/serum. I love most COSRX items. The COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence is a skin multivitamin to build skin resiliency, repair it. It has a thicker, gel like texture (I use as a serum) and I’m too in a rush to wait for it to soak in in the morning, so I prefer to use this at night, especially after acids. The Sulwhasoo emulsions are a great light moisturizer that works even in the summer time.

Favorite Brand: No surprise that it’s Sulwhasoo! I wouldn’t have gotten so many products had I not gone to Seoul and discovered how much cheaper it is through the Lotte Duty Free app and the various promos. I am currently using daily (or almost daily): First Care Activating Serum in limited edition Plum Blossom*, Bloomstay Vitalizing Water*, Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Emulsion, Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Serum*. Periodic use: Overnight Vitalizing Mask, Radiance Energy MaskSnowise Brightening Exfoliating Mask*. I also got sheet masks and other products on deck. The packaging is very luxurious and durable (some glass bottles have slipped from wet hands and survived), but not travel friendly unless you like to check-in bags. The minis that come as a gift with purchase are great for travel.
(* – not sold in US retail)

Favorite Scent: The Sulwhasoo plum blossom scent, which can be found in the Bloomstay* line and any of the limited edition plum blossom items, is heavenly. I don’t wear any perfume.

Favorite Eyelash Curler: Surratt Beauty. The thing with eyelash curlers is that there is no curler that will last forever. The metal may bend out of shape over time. I have tried Shu Uemura and Shiseido. The latter fit my eye better of the two, but the Surratt is even better.

Favorite Eyebrow Pencil: Shu Uemura Hard Formula in Seal Brown. I do bring my pencils on international travels for sharpening once a year. I got microblading done many years ago and regretted it. I prefer the natural look of the pencil.

Favorite Tweezers: Rubis slanted tip tweezers, ever since Tweezerman stopped making theirs in Switzerland. I have been through at least 7 pairs over the years (the slant does not survive falls) and still go back to them when I need a replacement. I prefer the one that reminds me of Swiss cheese, but am currently using a gold pair.

Favorite Hand Cream: L’Occitane’s original shea butter hand cream is still the best. I prefer the non-scented version. They recently introduced an intensive version which I am testing. Also love Deborah Lippmann’s cuticle cream.

Favorite Hair Products: Uka is a Japanese salon brand. It’s not easily found in the US, I discovered them through Peach & Lily. I like the ‘Wake Up’ products for volume and the refreshing scent. There is a ‘Wake Up Up Up’ line for even more volume but it is much harder to find here. I found it at the Tokyo Ginza Duty Free store. I also like the Shu Uemura Muroto Volume line, which had an amazing BOGO sale of their holiday sets. The conditioner does go way faster than I’d like though. I also like the Oribe Matte Waves Texture Lotion for air drying, but will use it to semi heat dry at times. But, most importantly, a good haircut goes a long way. I go to Dlala in the East Village.

Favorite Towel: I like lightweight towels that dry fast, but don’t feel like a quick dry towel, is lint-free, and is large enough as a bath towel. I really like the Aquis waffle body towel. The waffle texture helps it feel less thin, the normal towel got a bit ratty after a while. I want to try the Onsen or Parachute towels next.

Favorite Massagers: I’m a huge fan of massages. There is an affordable, no frills place near me, but I don’t go as often as I’d like and it’s still an indulgence. My aunt introduced me to Trumedic electronic shiatsu massage devices (previously mentioned). I have the InstaShiatsu+ Neck, Shoulder & Full Body Massager with Heat (IS-3000PRO) and the InstaShiatsu Foot Massager with Air Compression & Heat (IS-4000). I recommend both if you like more intense massages.

I know self-care is so much more than skincare and massages. There is more to add to here for 2019.


to pamper / {sale alert} 30% off peach and lily collection at ulta

The beauty sales are so aggressive in Q4. I think it’s been worse this year than last year with Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom joining the ring. Sephora has one more weekend left of their annual sale and is welcoming all status levels (after last weekend didn’t go so well).

Ulta nonchalantly dropped a Cyber Fundays event as a precursor to Cyber Monday. The event is through Saturday and I was surprised that the entire Peach and Lily collection is 30% off and they had trouble keeping some items in stock. While Peach and Lily will probably have 30% on their site next weekend, I rather buy from Ulta and build status, and I had gift cards. Don’t forget to add a free beauty bag.

I resisted this collection when it was released. It wasn’t too hard as some things flew off the shelves. I waited for real, non-sponsored reviews. General feedback is good. They’ve done a great job formulating the products. Toxin and irritant free. To date, I have tried:

  • Super Reboot Resurfacing Mask, great for degunking your pores. I use a mask like this about once a week and follow with a moisturizing (wash off or sheet) mask. Since I love variety, I rotate this with the Tata Harper resurfacing mask. This one has a jellier consistency and does not dry matte. If you have sensitive skin, you will need to patch test.

Image: Peach and Lily

  • Glass Skin Refining Serum. A very pleasant serum to use. It has a nice weight, texture, absorbs well, and plays nice with other products. I don’t think it gives a glass skin look though and I’m fine with that. It is well priced given the ingredients (not just for hydration), sleek packaging, and the sale makes it a smart buy.


to shop / {deal alert} baggu, laneige, and peach and lily

PSA — 30% off Baggu on Macy’s and up to $15 in gift cards from Target on Laneige purchases!

Macy’s has a VIP sale going on. Get 30% off lots of stuff including current season Baggu and 15% off beauty (they carry Peach & Lily and Shangpree masks).

Images: Baggu

Korean brand Laneige is clearing out of Target and moving to Sephora. I think most Laneige purchases get a $10 gift card, which stacks with the $5 gift card for $20+ beauty purchase for a total of $15 Target gift cards. Some stuff is sold out, but if you like this yogurt mask (use as overnight mask), you’re in luck. Especially since Target gift cards are like cash unless you have self-restraint of steel.

Image: Target

to pamper / {deal alert} peach & lily mizon sale up to 75% off

Peach and Lily slashed the prices on most of their Mizon products. The prices are amazing considering they are shipping from within the U.S., although I’m curious to see what the expiration dates are on these. For first time customers, get $10 off $50 with my referral link. For existing customers, try HAPPYSHOPPING for 15% off. The sale goes through next Friday, but I expect stuff to sell out at these prices. All sales are final. If you’ve seen their products at Target, Anthropologie, or Urban Outfitters, Peach and Lily is their distributor.

I had Peach & Lily credit from Rue La La and already had some Be the Skin items in my cart. I dumped a ton of snail items in to use up the rest of my credit. I love snail – it does great things for the skin and I’ll definitely be slathering some of this on the significant other’s dry skin. I also picked up some items I already have in a travel-friendly size.
Continue reading “to pamper / {deal alert} peach & lily mizon sale up to 75% off”

to pamper / my peach & lily picks

I debated whether to get the Peach & Lily Rue La La deal. After seeing that I had an additional 20% off on the site (not sure if it’s targeted), an effective 40%+ store credit, I bit the bullet. P&L got me started on Korean beauty about 3 years ago for which I’m grateful. There are a lot more resources online and US-based online stores now — I don’t shop from P&L often especially if it’s something I can order from Korea or another Asian site for a much lower price.

Continue reading “to pamper / my peach & lily picks”