Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Antioxidants, Retinols, and other active ingredients: a major discourse on the Western and Asian notions of skincare

It never ceased to amaze me the differences of Asian and Western skincare. Being an Asian who was born in the US but travels back to Asia frequently, I grew up under this difference. My grandmother, an Asian from head to toe always told me the Asian way of skincare, and my mother, a scientist in US always told me the American way. Both have gorgeous skin, so I never really knew who to listen to. Now that I've grown up, I have two dermatology doctors, one in the US, and one in Korea (the Korean one cannot really be defined as a dermatology doctor because this occupation is not prevalent in Korea, but he is a very well respected beauty specialist). I've hired them so that I can have beautiful skin, and finally know whether my mother or grandmother is correct, and guess what? I was only introduced to more controversies.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Skin79 Super Plus BB Cream Hot Pink Triple Functions Review

As I mentioned before, since I'm staying in Korea, I might as well try out some other BB creams. This is just another BB cream sample I picked up at the Skin79 counter with my purchase. I actually used this before for two weeks, but I wanted to get a sample to refresh my memory before I do the review (I actually tried a total of 60ish BB creams before :P) I didn't really expect much out of it. Skin79 is a good brand, so I expected it to be safe, but it's targeted to teenagers and people in their 20s, so I didn't really expect anything too great either. I guess I was just curious since I liked skin79's diamond total BB cream, and wanted to try out the entire line-up to see if there is something better out there. Well, I wouldn't say this is my favorite BB cream, but it is much more than I expected

Friday, October 22, 2010

Skin79 Lovely Girl BB Cream Review

Since I'm pretty much stuck in Korea for a while anyway, I decided to try out a few more BB creams, since the Korean counters are pretty generous with samples (when you buy another full sized product). So I went to the skin79 counter to buy another bottle of my beloved Diamond Total BB cream and asked for a few samples of a few other BB creams they carry. The samples are small, but since I only use a little BB cream anyway, each sample should last a week, which should be sufficient to do a review.

First off, this BB cream is designed for young girls between the ages of 17 to 22. I thought I barely fit into the age range, so I tried it. (lol, I'm not telling you my age, sorry). I can see how this BB cream would be targeted to the younger age range, because....

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Tubing Mascara Review 4: Clinique Lash Power, a.k.a my new HG

When I reviewed the Fiberwig Lx last time, I promised that I wanted to share with you my new HG tubing mascara. A lot of you will be surprised that it is this Clinique Lash Power, which retails at almost half the price of fiberwig, especially in light of the fact that I'm a beauty snob. However, I use this with Clinique's lash primer for a little extra protection for my lashes and a little extra length.

1. Smudging: This is by far the most important aspect of all mascaras to me, because before tubing mascaras, all mascaras smudged on me. Before, it was not a matter of whether it smudges, but whether how much or when it smudges. Compared to regular mascaras, this mascara can said to have no smudging, but if I do rub my eyes (which I never do) after the 9th hour of wearing it, It will give a faint smudge. So an 8.5 in terms of smudging. 
2. How long does it last on my lashes: This mascara lasts for around 10 hours before starting to smudge a little. However, it would still be functioning all right, i.e. usable after 16 hours :) So a 8.5 in terms of how long it lasts. 
3. Flaking:  I eventually learnt that flaking seems to be the biggest foul of tubing mascara. It seems that since they come off it tubes, they can't smudge, but some times the tubes breaks, etc. which makes tubing mascaras flake a lot. This mascara, I'm glad to report, doesn't flake on my as much as even the old fiberwig, but it still does. I'd say a flake every hour or two hours, probably leaning towards two hours. However, to be fair, I'm using this with the clinique lash primer, so it might behave a little better than it would alone. So this gets an 7 in terms of flakes on me.
4. Color and longevity of the tube: Isn't it weird that I put those criteria together since they are not so much related? But I don't know about you, but I don't care that much about either the color or longevity of the mascaras I buy, which is why I thought I'd give each of those 5 points instead of 10. In terms of color, this gets the perfect 5, since it is jet black on me. In terms of longevity, after daily application, a tube can last up to 7 months. Not that I'd really use any mascara for 7 months, but then you get the general idea. I toss mascara every three months. So a 4 in terms of longevity because even though I think 7 months is more than enough, I've heard of mascara that lasts two years... Together, this mascara gets 9 in this section. 
5. Application: This is the best part. The brush is really teeny tiny so that it really gets to all my corner lashes, and I rarely get any mascara up on my lids anymore. Out of all the points, I probably love the brush of the mascara the most. I think it would apply very well on the bottom lashes without smudging too, even though I never do that. I think I look scary with my bottom lashes coated with mascara :P
It probably takes about 1.5 minutes for both eyes together with applying the lash primer, since I really just swipe it up on my lashes twice and call it done. And if I do get anything on my lids, all I need to do is get some warm water on a q-tip and swipe it across. However, I do prefer to use green tea. I don't think it makes a huge difference from water, but somehow I feel that it makes my lids less swollen if they are. 
In terms of application, I'd say a since it's so easy and hassle free. I say a 9 because even though this is best application I've ever got out of mascara, I think there might be better out there.  . 
6. Length: In this aspect, this mascara is really mediocre. It increases the length of my lashes, but I don't think by a huge lot. Probably 50% if I work at it, which is not bad for an everyday look. For special occasions, I still use my old fiberwig, even though I might have to spend 15 minutes at it. So a 6.5 in terms of length, since it's not bad for a mascara, but not enough for me all the time.  
7. Volume: This mascara doesn't give that much volume. It gives me really really natural look eyelashes. So it' kind of like my lashes but better. If I want volume, layering this doesn't work at all. However, the lash primer does help a little bit. Another good thing is that no matter how many coats I apply, no clumping.  So a 2.5 in terms of volume. 
8. Removal: If you compare tubing mascaras with regular mascaras, most of them would get a 10 in terms of removal, but since I'm comparing tubing mascaras, I'll make the bar a little higher. This mascara is the easiest to remove of all the tubing mascaras I've tried. It really does come off in tubes with lots of warm water (even if your hand never touches your lashes) just like the L'Oreal Beauty Tubes. So a 10 within the context of all other tubing mascaras. 
9. Clumping: This mascara doesn't clump no matter how hard I try :P However, if I applied a lot of lash primer before hand, this might be harder to separate.  So a in terms of clumps. 
10. Sensitivity: This one is pretty good in terms of sensitivity. No stinging and not much discomfort should it flake into my eye, which it doesn't happen a lot. However, I am aware that some people wear contacts, so the flaking might be painful for you, even though it's a lot better in terms of flaking than a lot of other mascaras I've tried. I'll give it a 8.5 in terms of clumping.

This mascara gets a total of 77.5. Adding it up make the score seem less than perfect, but it is somewhat similar to my old Fiberwig mascara. I guess it is my current HG not because it really is perfection, but perhaps for the lack of other choices. 

Update for going off Benzoyl Perxoide--a month later

I'm still in Korea, still with little time to post, but I just wanted to share my progress on going off Benzoyl Perxode with you, since a lot of people emailed me about it. You can see the original post here
I would like to stress once again that the fact I get post inflammatory hyperpimentation from benzoyl peroxide may not be a universal experience, but I think a lot of people experience it since 90% of my friends who went on benzoyl peroxde reported the same to me. Secondly, I do put on sunscreen while using benzoyl peroxide, since I use sunscreen religiously anyway. Thirdly, I'm not on any birth control pills or any other things that is prone to cause hyperpigmentation.
Okay, now that that's clear, I would really like to share my progress with you! :)
When I posted last time, I got mostly clear skin, but now my skin is even clearer, kind of similar to when I was using benzoyl peroxide. When I am really stressed out or stay up late for several nights in succession, I would get breakouts (which I also did while on benzoyl peroxide), but the breakouts would be about 1.5 more than when I was on benzoyl peroxide. The happy news, however, my skin is finally able to let all the acne mark traces fade within 5 days. For example, I got a big pimple three days ago, while staying up for another board meeting, and now you can't really detect it. I hope that by tomorrow morning, no traces of it will be left.
I also experienced some other things while going off benzoyl peroxide, but I wasn't sure that it was purely coincidental. However, now after I asked several of my other friends who are also trying to go off benzoyl peroxide, they told me the same thing: hands and necks, which touched benzoyl peroxide before seems to be much more acne prone for a month. I got those tiny tiny white heads on my hand even though I never did before. It wasn't a lot or really gross or anything, just bizarre. :)

Oh, and in my last post, I teased you with the promise that I got of lot of stuff in a neighboring country, that country is Japan! I got a lot of skincare items, sekkiso, horse oil, sofina jenne, curel, etc. :) I'll be reviewing them soon! Japan also has a lot of very very exciting makeup that I want to share with you too.
The upsetting part is that I feel so old when I was in Japan...I don't know why since I'm probably one of the youngest in my firm. I think maybe the mini skirts, cute hairstyles, and kawaii tops got to me...I was wearing this boring business suit while girls around me are so flamboyant, even the few business associates I met with! I have undyed waist long black hair which is un-banged, unlayered. At worst, people say my hairstyle is archaic, and at best, classic...This business associate I met with insisted on introducing me to her stylist, and she had quite fashionable red tinted blond hair with long layers, and cute bangs. I was really tempted to have her go at it, but when she told me I should have shoulder length hair, I found an excuse to say that I have to go, etc And so I dragged this friendly associate with me to the department stores to do a lot of shopping! :)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Greetings from Korea and an announcement!

Hi, girls, I'm sorry for not posting for days. One of my most loyal readers, Diana, asked if I'm all right in Korea since I haven't been posting. Thank you, Diana. Yes, I'm all right, just really busy. It's not as bad as several days ago, when I had to stay up nights, but Koreans, at least the Koreans in my company are a very friendly people, so I tend to go out every night to dinners and gatherings held in my honor. When I get home, I'm usually exhausted from trying to speak Korean. A few of the things we do is shopping, eating, drinking (soft drinks), and singing. :) I love love the shopping part, since they introduce me to a lot of well kept Korean beauty secrets while shopping (this and that product that can only be found in a dark corner of a certain store, but almost everyone they know use it, etc.) and the clothes are great. Eating is even better. I get to eat all I want until my stomach is full, and manage to lose weight. Koreans have such a healthy way of eating. It seems that for every bite of meat I eat, I eat 5 times more vegetablels, which makes it very healthy and fullfilling. I love the soft drinks, the smoothies, the bubble teas, and the fresh squeezed juices, even though I learnt Koreans prefer to have real fruits rather than the juices. Singing is the embarrasing part. I know few Korean songs, and it would be tacky to sing American songs. I've since mastered the song "I believe" from My Sassy Girl, and the two songs in the Korean drama "Full House". Those are the only songs I can sing, but I'm getting into Korean music. It sounds more melodic than some of the rock music we Americans have. :) I think I might have to be here for another two weeks, but I don't mind.
I've gotten more cozy with my coworkers now, and I often go for visits to their homes. (Some people who have read this blog for a long time know that the last time I was in Korea, it wasn't really pleasant because I had to dismiss a worker who's badmouting the company and handle all the loose ends his libel did. This made my coworkers wary of me at first, but I found that being friendly really helps.) I found that it seems like Korean women love beauty  products. The average size of their stash should be twice or three times the size of our average stash. However, there is one major difference: the bolt of their stash focuses on skincare. I asked at first if they found their HG skincare products. They didn't understand what I meant. At first, I thought it was a language barrier, but gradually I understood that they are not loyal to their skincare products. They do something called "multi-playing". They keep using the products they love, but they also keep getting new products. Most of my coworkers switch skincare products weekly or prevent their skin from getting too used to certain products, or even becoming dependent on them. They think that skin will gradually develop immunity to products if they don't switch them. I found this quite an interesting theory, and a theory many Americans won't buy. I asked a good friend to ask at makeupalley's makeup board, and everyone said that that in this day and age, skincare would contain ingredients that become less effective over time. There were quite a few LOLs.
I still don't know what to believe, but I think there would be no harm in trying new skincare products, would there? Maybe this is just a well developed excuse for Korean women to keep on getting new products, but they have beautiful skin, so maybe there's some merit to this theory? Anyway, I have been persuaded to start trying more and more skincare products, while still using my trusty Laneige. This way, I can share more skincare reviews with my dear readers, and might also find another HG for myself in the process (though I doubt I can really find something significantly better than my favorite Laneige. :P  I already bought a lot for myself on a trip to (guess where? It's a country really close to Korea famed for their beauty products and the home of a few really famous big name brands even here in the US), and they are awaiting a review from me as soon a I get home. :)

How to go off Benzoyl Peroxide and why I did it?

You must be surprised to see this cleanser on my blog, since I rarely use any American products, and when I do, it's mostly cosmetics, but I actually have used this cleanser for more than 2 years, and have just stopped  using this recently. NOTE: I'm writing this article as a tip for how to go off on benzoyl peroxide cleansers in general, not just this cleanser, but I'm using this as a specific example.
Why I started using this product: Call me stupid or short sighted, but in my teenage years, I was really bothered by the few pimples that I had (which come to think of it, wasn't really a lot, around 3 or 4 weekly). I found this while going grocery shopping with my mother, and then went home to check on the reviews. I told my mother I wanted to add this item to my skincare, and she tried to persuade me against it. She told me that it is true that this product will give me clearer skin but at a cost, that benzoyl peroxide will dry out my skin and age it in the long run. I was young then, and asked her simply "how much would it age me? Would I be getting wrinkles prematurely? By how many years?" My mother said perhaps 2 to 3 years. At that time, I thought why not? I can have truly clear skin for a long time at the cost of getting wrinkles 2 to 3 years earlier.

What this product did to me: Since I'm writing a tutorial on how to stop using similar cleansers, you must think that I hate hate this product and it's horrible. The fact is, I can't really hate it. It did everything it promised to do: cleanse your face and stop acne. But then, it did not say what it might cause: hyperpigmentation. When I first started using this product, I enjoyed perfect skin for 3 months. Then I got a huge pimple on my cheek. I tried to get it to go away quickly, but it wouldn't. It stayed on my cheek for a whole week, and when it finally began to get smaller, I found that it's leaving behind quite a dark purplish red mark. I was horrified. I had pimples before, but when they are gone, they are gone.... A month passed with no incidents, while I tried to fade the mark, and then I one day tried on a base makeup product. I felt my face gone itchy and red that afternoon, and developed pimples the next day. A week later, those pimples left more marks. For a while, I was obsessed with finding a solution to fade hyperpigmentation, and was really tempted to try hydroquine even though I know it would cause more trouble for me in the future. I ended up using natural remedies: yogurt masks, honey masks and sticking to my skincare. Half a year later, the marks faded. For two years, I never suspected this product was the culprit. Last summer, I was bitten by a mosquito, and someone told me that using this wash to wash the affected area will numb me from itching. It did, but I found that the mosquito bites took a month to fade, whereas it usually take three days, and I still have some hyperpigmentation from the spots left on my arms.

How I discovered this was the culprit: I was on a trip and I forgot to bring this cleanser. I went to Yosemite falls the first few days and couldn't find a drugstore for miles, so I just used another cleanser. I wanted to buy another tube of this as soon as I get out of Yosemite falls, but when I only got a few whiteheads that disappeared the next day, I thought I'd wait till I get home. That was still a lot for me, since while using this cleanser, I rarely got pimples at all, maybe monthly. But I managed to persevere. Miraculously, the pimples I got that week didn't leave marks on me at all and got better the next day usually. I thought about it: either it was the California climate, the stress free life, or the wash. I decided it was the wash, and decided to eliminate it from my regimen.

Why? How does this work?: First off, BP is a really effective over the counter acne medication because it kills the P-bacteria that causes acne. Salycic Acid also works, but is less effective and more gentle in my experience, since it is basically a chemical exoliant. Now, why did BP do this to my skin? Apparently, BP generates free radicals which harms skin, and slows down the healing process of the skin. It may reduce collagen production in rare cases, which is why it might cause premature aging. The reason that my pimples last longer and leave hyperpigmentation is simply because this medicine makes them take longer to heal.
Now the main course: How to go off a cleanser with BP:When I got back from the trip, I decided to go back on to the cleanser, and slowly ease off it, in order to get less pimples (I was optimistic and thought that I was getting one or two pimples a day on that trip because I went off BP too suddenly). And I was right. I was using it once a day at night for two years, so I gradually started using it every other day. I got a few whiteheads at first, so I waited and waited till my skin adjusted and is pretty clear before I started lessening the use of the cleanser again. (btw, it took 2 weeks for my skin to really get used to using this every other day, but I continued doing this for 2 months just to be safe). Then I started using this once every three days, which lasted for 2 weeks, and then once every 4 days. I wanted to gradually increase to once a week, and then once a month before completely going off it, but on my trip to Korea this time, I forgot to pack this cleanser, and harsh cleansers like this are really hard to find in Korea. So I thought never mind. I got 2 to 3 whiteheads a day for the first few days, but now I'm mostly clear (I haven't had any new breakouts for 48 hours, and my old breakouts are clear). My face is pretty clear except for those hyperpigmentation I had from this cleanser before.
Oh, and another tip is to exfoliate more often. You technically don't need to exfoliate while using cleansers with BP, because it peels off skin for you anyway, so when trying to go off it, you need to exfoliate more. When I was using it once every two weeks, I exfoliated once a week, and now that I'm completely off it, I exfoliate twice a week or three times every two weeks.
Drinking a lot of great green tea from Korea might have also helped. My coworkers here are very friendly, and one gifted me with a generous case of green tea (the best tea in Korea and China are usually not placed in tea bags). The quality is quite similar to the tea my grandmother send me every year, which should be of the top quality, since she pick only the tips of leaves by hand on our relative's tea farm in Southern China.

Footnote: What I write here is my own experience, benzoyl peroxide might work excellently for you, and if it does, please do not discontinue use because of my article.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

How to stay fresh after staying up all night?

Hi, ladies! :) Sorry I haven't updated for days. I'm in Korea, and like I thought, the work got more busy those fast few days. I haven't been sleeping a lot either, so I didn't have time to write my blog :( Yes, it is 4:36 a.m. in the morning, and I still haven't slept yet. I am preparing for my presentation early tomorrow morning, hoping to come up with a few more ideas, and I'm exhausted. Those past days, I have been a little obsessed with how to cover up the evidence that my Korean is not as adequate as I thought and that I had stayed up several nights, and sleeping only 10 hours in 3 days. 
However, through my obsession, I came up with a few ways to not look like this:
For me, it's mostly about yellow and rough looking skin, and dark circles. I will address each issue separately. 
Dehydrated Skin: If I haven't slept all night, the morning usually finds me with sallow looking skin that is not really smooth. I used to wonder why, and now I know it's because my skin is dehydrated. I've found a quite effective method to care for my skin so that it looks as if I got 9 hours (my usual amount). 
1. Drink lots of water: I try to drink 8 glasses of water every day generally, but when stay up, I literally hold a cup of water, drinking from it every two to three minutes. I prefer green tea. It also helps me stay awake because I'm constantly raising my hand to my lips. I generally go through 5 kettles of tea in one night, which is about 2 gallons.'s a bit crazy, but at least it works. It also keeps me running around every hour for trips to the bathroom, so it keeps me awake.

2. Skincare: If I know I'm going to stay up, I generally wash my face as early as possible, and put on my beloved Laneige white plus renew skincare. I love to get those tablet masks, and soak it in my Laneige White Plus Renew skin refiner for 1 minute, before putting it on my face. I generally leave it on for 30 minutes.  Any longer, it might start to dehydrate me. Then I put on my Laneige white plus renew essence all over my face. Lastly, I put a thick layer of my Laneige white plus renew night cream (twice more than what I usually use each night). 
Of the three, I find the skin refiner and the essence most effective in keeping my skin hydrated. The night cream is also important, but I basically put it there to seal in the moisture on my face. Any other cream will do for this purpose, although I find the night cream adds a little more moisture. 

Dark Circles: My mother used to tell me to put cucumber slices on my eyes when I feel tired. The cooling effect will help me feel more refreshed. I have been doing it for a long time, and it really helps, but not enough when I sleep less than 5 hours. I found another method that really helps for me:
I apply the Laneige white plus renew essence thickly over and under my eyes (mostly under), then soak two cotton pads with Laneige White Plus Renew skin refiner to put over my eyes. I do this for 10 minutes or so when I feel most tired (I'll do it after I finish writing this article) :)

I'm sorry my methods are not that exciting, mostly involving my skincare products, but I like to utilize them whenever possible, especially when they prove to be so effective in this case. :)

Oh, and in the morning, I just go and apply my Laneige base and foundation (not the BB cream), then head on to work. It gives me glowy skin :) 

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Laneige Multi Cleanser Review

This is one of Laneige's most popular products, and one of my personal favorites. I can't say that I've gone through several tubes of this, but I've used this for more than a year since my big switch from Mamonde to Laneige. I use this every single day at night, and yet, I still have around 10% of my tube left. :) Oh, and just so I'm clear, this is the review for the "old" multi-cleanser in the above packaging. Laneige has recently updated its cleansing line with its a new multi cleanser in a blue tube (see here for the new cleanser) that I have bought and haven't tried yet. However, I've been assured that it is exactly the same by my colleague who also loves Laneige, but I will certainly post my thoughts when I get to the new tube, which is will probably be in two months.
Now why do I love this cleanser and why did I choose it in the first place? Well, I'm sorry to admit that my initial decision was a no brainer. I wanted to switch to Laneige, and wanted to try to use everything in its lineup for my skincare if possible, so I got the multi cleanser. And you might be surprised to know that I regretted my decision the first month I bought it. Why? Well, I immediately switched from my BP cleanser to this for my night time regimen, which caused a few breakouts, and I didn't know how to use this cleanser then, so it was really drying. I later found out that I was using way too much every night and also that if one were to go off potent acne curing drugs like BP and SA, one should do it gradually and slowly (which is what I'm doing now).
I thought that before I do my pros and cons list, I should share with you how to use this cleanser. First off, you needn't be nervous, there is no special unique way to use this cleanser. The trick is to use less, much less than you would any regular cleanser. At first, I was using 2cm of this cleanser (I say 2cm because it's very thick and comes out in a cylinder), and as I stand by the sink and rub this around my skin, the cleanser foams up so thickly that my entire face was covered by a white mask. When I rinsed this off, my skin was squeaky clean, and felt dry even as I was rinsing off. I gradually learned to use around 0.5 cm of this at most every day, and it doesn't overdry me now.
Oh, and many people were worried about whether they can use this cleanser everyday because on the laneige website, this cleanser was supposed to exfoliate (and many people believe that we should not exfoliate everyday). I am not going to argue about whether we should exfoliate daily since I'm not a dermatologist, but this cleanser really only does really really mild exfoliation to the point that you would still need to use another exfoliator weekly or biweekly. It contains tiny tiny beads that dissolves within 5 seconds of rubbing it around the skin. I personally find the really gentle exfoliation very welcome, since gentle exfoliation daily can prevent breakouts (essentially what the clarisonic does for people my age).
Sorry for blathering on. I will close my big mouth for now and go on to the reviews. :)

1. A little really goes a long way. I would only use 0.5 cm of this, which means that I haven't finished a tube yet in a year.
2. Very gentle daily exfoliation
3. Removes all my makeup (but then I don't wear too much) 
4. pleasant tangerine scent (I was told that the scent is not artificial but because this contains tangerine extracts among other beneficial things)
5. Does not overdry if you don't over use
6. Thick foam that really leaves my face clean

1. Stings eyes if you get the cleanser into your eyes (I know this is supposed to be able to remove eye makeup, and it does, but close your eyes tight if you need to use this cleanser to remove eye makeup. I would really recommend using a separate makeup remover for your eyes)
2. You might find the very thick foam weird in a cleanser, so it might take getting used to

Overall: Really nice cleanser to use at night to remove my sunblock/BB cream/makeup base and foundation. I am glad this saves me from using an oil cleanser :)

Oh, and since we are on the topic of cleansing, even though Korea doesn't offer some amenities the US does, it does have something that US people doesn't have easy access to: steam houses. I love going to steam houses after a day of work (and after I've cleansed my face) to steam my whole body. It's so refreshing and feels like I'm detoxing. You can get it for a few dollars to $50 dollars depending on where you go. You can go to a public wash house (which is pretty sanitary) or a spa. I generally go to the one in my hotel, which is a cross between the high end and low end, and really cheap for me since I'm staying there. You can get a massage for a small fee, but my parents always tell me that it's hard to know what the word "massage" means in different countries in Asia, so I'm staying clear of it for now. :) 

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