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 wishlist 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!!).

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to shop / {sale alert} clare vivier, shu uemura, instyle, rugsusa…

Image source: Piperlime

My friend was IMing me last night on how she can’t stop shopping – the sales, free shipping just lure you in, especially when it’s freezing outside. I have a few things on my non-existent list, but am trying to be good since the Black Friday/Cyber Monday mania is about to unleash itself. I can’t guarantee that those sales will beat whatever sales are going on right now, but if you need a kick to get started on your holiday shopping, or shopping for yourself, here you go:

Ending tonight:

Ending tomorrow Sunday night:

  • 25% off $50+ at Shu Uemura with code SHUVIP. Expires midnight ET. I’m a big fan of their brushes, purple powder, and the super natural looking eyebrow pencil.

Ending Thursday:

  • $25 off $200+ at Uniqlo with code GET25. Expires midnight ET. Online only.

Ending Saturday:

P.S. Since my girlfriends and I had an email going on about rugs, I need to mention RugsUSA! I got a striped rug and sheepskin rugs from them a while back (link). The site is not known for having the best service, but I can live with that given the discounts (and credit card protection). The current discount is 60-75% off, but I expect it to creep up to a solid 75% for Cyber Monday. Two thumbs up to the quality. You can google any rug for additional reviews or peruse their Instagram for more inspiration. If you need to make a return, keep the packaging and research printing your own shipping label as it can be much cheaper.

to pamper / {essentials} eyelash curler and conditioner

Many years ago, I quit the highly acclaimed Shu Uemura eyelash curler for the Shiseido eyelash curler. The Shu was simply not giving me the curl I needed and since they don’t sell replacement pads (because they say the metal warps over time), it was becoming costly at $20/curler with only one replacement pad. The Shiseido curler is $19 with one replacement pad. Replacement pads are $6/each. The Shiseido curler curled my lashes much better. I think I compared the two curlers side by side once and the curvature was slightly different. Shiseido also had a looser grip.

The Shiseido curler can be found at Sephora, Macy’s, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Net-A-Porter. I recommend purchasing online from Nordstrom since shipping is free and great return policy. The Shu Uemura curler has become more difficult to find since Shu Uemura is only available online in the US now.

There are a few eyelash curlers on the market. Everyone’s eye shape is different. You should find the right one for your eyes. Don’t settle!

Note: In Asia, Shiseido eyelash curlers are sold in drugstores as well as department stores. I’m not sure what the difference is. My experience is based solely on the American eyelash curler (which is gunmetal colored).

Now on to my shameful secret. I curl my eyelashes before I apply mascara and after I apply mascara. The latter is supposed to be a big no-no like brushing your hair while wet, but I can’t help it. I love the results. I lost a few lashes because of this and am diligently growing them back.


I’ve been using the Talika Lipocils on and off for many years. It works great as a lash conditioner. It is not dangerous like Latisse or other lash growing products with side effects. Lipocils is simply reinforcing the existing lashes so they break less easily. The applicator is a mascara wand with a sponge tip for the Expert and a mascara wand for the Eyelash. I used to use the latter but switched to the Expert when I found a great sale but it is more expensive. The sponge tip is helpful for more precise application (e.g. lashline or brows). I apply Lipocils to my eyelashes and lashline as a part of my bedtime routine. The tubes last pretty long. Whether you regularly use falsies or want stronger lashes, I highly recommend this product. My lashes looked much lusher and impactful to curl. You will see a difference.

Find Talika at Beauty.com, SkincareRX, Nordstrom, and Bliss Spa. New Yorkers, they sell this at the fancier Duane Reades. Once again, I recommend purchasing from Nordstrom, but if you have other items to purchase from Bliss Spa, they currently have an awesome gift with purchase through September 9.

to pamper / the french pharmacy (round 1) & shu uemura

When I travel, I love to visit local establishments like drugstores, supermarkets, etc. I’ve wanted to try products from French pharmacies for ages, but never got around to actually shopping at one until this trip. There are plenty of pharmacies around, but most are tiny and don’t carry everything. I bookmarked the St. Germain City Pharma from British makeup artist, Lisa Eldridge. I like one-stop shops and needed a few things for India as well.

We visited City Pharma yesterday during the rain. It is massive and looks to be a Chinese tourist bus destination. They even have Chinese speaking staff! There are fully staffed pharmacy counters upstairs. Prices are extremely reasonable and they have lots of value sets. I had trouble finding a few items and had to flag someone down each time to ask. It helps to point to a picture. It is very close to Cafe de Flore (wiki), in case you need to rest your feet after a shopping trip.

My purchases were inspired by GOOP and good old Googling (hey, MUA now has an app!). I haven’t tried everything yet, so more reviews will happen some time in the future. I still have a few more things to flag down! Everything except the Avibon was available on the shelf. Avibon is behind the counter on the 2F. I wasn’t planning on buying Caudalie, but the prices are cheaper here as well and I have been curious about a few of their items.

  • I recently started using and love the Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentrè and purposely didn’t bring it on the trip. It works beautifully as a primer and to lock in moisture.
    • In the US, a 30 ml (1.0 fl oz) tube costs $16. At City Pharma, it cost 17.89e (~$24) for two 75 ml (2.6 fl oz) tubes.
    • You can find this in the US online at Embryolisse, Ricky’s NYC (slightly cheaper!), Amazon, or Beautyhabit.
  • I did not feel like lugging bottles of the Bioderma Crealine water, so I grabbed a pack of the wipes. I typically use cleansing oil to remove makeup. The wipe was refreshing but did not fully remove the kohl eyeliner I had on yesterday. I rarely wear e/l.
    • I can’t find the wipes online in the US, but you can find the water at Amazon.

We also stopped by the Shu Uemura boutique on 176 St Germain Blvd. The US is boutique-less and I still prefer to buy things like concealer in person. The SA says they may cut the US e-store. I hope not! I’m big on SU concealer and picked up the pro gel cealer (which I’m still getting the hang of) and the cover crayon. The pro gel cealer looks like it may have a tighter finish than the nobara cream cover stick foundation or the point concealers (this one isn’t sold in the US) I currently use. The light end of the cover crayon is also good for highlighting and lining the lips. I also forgot my brow pencil and grabbed another one – the stone gray hard formula pencil is seriously the best and so natural. The SA also mentioned there is a mechanical version of this pencil, but it sounds like it has a greasier finish. Plus, refills would be hard to get since they don’t sell this item online in the US!

to shop / irresistible paris and hong kong

I’ve been super lazy about consolidating my pictures. I don’t think I’ve touched Lightroom since a month ago? So, for my non-Instagramming friends, here is a snapshot of recent purchases.

Shu Uemura closed their US counters a few years ago. As much as I love shopping online, it just isn’t the same! I had a few hours to kill in HK and went a little crazy at the IFC mall. Enough to qualify for their VIP club, which comes with a facial and eyebrow shaping that expires in August. Grr. I love Shu’s concealers and am glad I got two point concealers — they aren’t sold in the US (yet?). Their packaging is cute but I think it’s smaller than the old old concealer that I got the last time I was in HK. I’m also in LOVE with the ultimate natural mascara (which was a push by the SA after she gasped at my eyelashes) because it holds a curl better than any other mascara I’ve tried. I used the basic mascara a long time ago and this is its successor. Reviews on MUA are very mixed.
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