DIY hair mask

by Grace Ko in , ,

One of the challenges of moving to another country has been starting from scratch. Whether it has been making friends, finding a routine to my new life, or finding doctors, grocery stores and shops, I often found myself feeling stifled by the sheer number of things I had to start from the beginning. 

Even after three months of being here, I'm still in the process of settling in and adjusting. But slowly, one by one, I am ticking off the list of to-do's and to-find's. 

One, being finding a hair salon. I wasn't willing to dish out a boatload of money to go to an upscale salon, but I was also hesitant to walk into any neighborhood salon. I know, I know... hair grows back. But hey, if I'm paying money to get my hair cut, I would rather go with the assurance that my money will be well spent. 

I was thrilled when my friend S told me she has a place she loves. We went together on a Sunday afternoon. I had my hair shampooed and then I sat in the seat ready to meet my stylist. Little did I know the actual owner of the salon would be working on my hair. S introduced us and then began working on my cut. She was easy to talk to and knowledgable. We talked about my hair style, color, the condition of my hair. As she blow-dried my hair, she noticed my hair had a lot of static. She explained that it was due to my hair being dry and suggested I go home and try out at-home hair treatments. 

I got home and googled at-home hair masks for dry hair and found one using an avocado. I happened to have all the necessary ingredients so I whipped it up.

Here are the three simple ingredients: 

1 avocado, 1 tbs of lemon juice, 2 tbs of olive oil

1 avocado, 1 tbs of lemon juice, 2 tbs of olive oil

1. Cut avocado and scoop out. Mash up in a bowl. 
2. Squeeze lemon juice and add in olive oil. Mix the mixture up well. 
3. Dampen hair with some water. You can use a spray bottle or just dampen hair with your hands over the sink. 
4. Apply mask evenly throughout hair. 
5. Leave mask in for 20 mins then wash out thoroughly. 

Both olive oil and avocado have moisturizing properties: avocado apparently contains biotin, a vitamin that makes nails and hair stronger while olive oil smoothes out frizz and treats damage. Lemon juice can assist with removing build up and excess oil in your hair that causes it to be weighed down. So with their powers combined, this mighty concoction will leave your hair feeling smoother, silkier and shinier! 

I am looking forward to doing this mask periodically. 

But note to self: Next time, heat up olive oil before mixing in so that the heat will open up the hair follicles more for better absorption! 

Makeup Monday

by Grace Ko in , , ,

Before I left the States, I had a dinner and a "one last hurrah" GNO (girls' night out) with two of my girlfriends. It sure made us realize we're "older" now but it was a good time, nonetheless. My girlfriends know me so well and spoiled me with these gifts! I had stashed them away for the big move and have only recently pulled them out to use them. 

NARS The Happening Palette; Cle de Peau Clarifying Serum; Cle de Peau Gentle Cleansing Foam

NARS The Happening Palette; Cle de Peau Clarifying Serum; Cle de Peau Gentle Cleansing Foam

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I had never tried anything from Cle de Peau and was thrilled to receive products from the line. Cle de Peau is an ultra-luxurious and extremely pricey skincare and makeup brand. I have not tried the serum yet but the gentle cleansing foam has been amazing. It leaves your skin feeling very clean without feeling tight. I have incorporated it into my daily skincare routine and it is perfect to use with my Clarisonic. It foams up very well and I can get away with using the tiniest amount; with such a hefty $63 price tag, it helps that you don't go through the product quickly. 

I have always loved NARS. The first ever eyeshadow duo I purchased was one from NARS and the first ever blush I purchased was NARS Deep Throat (which is still one of my favorites). When I opened The Happening Palette, I was excited that I would be able to try NARS Orgasm and NARS Laguna (two cult favorites). This palette has a blush, a bronzer, and 4 eyeshadows, making it a perfect one to travel with. 

Thank you J & S! 

Beauty On Board

by Grace Ko in , ,

I have been on quite a number of long-haul flights in my life. And despite my occasional motion sickness, I have learned a few tricks and tips to make my air-time a bit more enjoyable. One of these ways is to have an in-flight regime. 

I know... It sounds a bit excessive. But hear me out. 

The idea of sitting in a cramped space for an extended period of time isn't what I necessarily think of as being a "good time". Add the dry, recycled air that wreaks havoc on my skin and sitting on my tush for hours on end becomes a bit too much at times. Creating a mini spa-experience makes the whole flight much better. The best part? It only takes a few key components. 

1. Hydration 

This not only includes some of the products I apply but also with drinking water. I still have to make quite an effort to drink water on flights. I usually gravitate towards a ginger ale to combat the motion sickness/indigestion but I have forced myself to always ask for water alongside any other beverage I request. 

2. Moisturization

During my recent trip to Cambodia, I snapped a photo of the products I used as part of this "in-flight beauty regime". 

-If I am wearing makeup on the plane, the first step is to remove the makeup. I usually use a makeup wipe on flights for the convenience. 

-Then I use a toner/mist. My current choice: Avene Eau Thermale, a gentle, soothing thermal water spray. 

-Next, eye cream. I love this travel-size one, Origins GinZing

-Then, I apply a mask. This may sound ridiculous to some but luckily, this specific one, once applied, looks like a regular moisturizer. I love the Origins Drink-Up Intensive Overnight Mask. I put a layer all over my face and it somehow magically seals in moisture. 

-Lastly, I apply a moisturizing lip balm, currently, Smith's Rosebud Salve. This particular balm can be used as a cuticle cream and I even put it on the back of my hands as a moisturizer. 

3. Entertainment 

I have learned that having something to occupy you during a flight makes the time go by faster. I usually download a good book onto my Kindle prior to the flight. And I obviously browse through the movies/shows available on the plane. 

4. Snacks 

Hunger + motion sickness = AWFUL. Trust me, I know from experience. So I try to bring with me a few snacks, candy, gum. (Mints or gum helps with motion sickness.) 

Hope these tips help! Happy flying! 

Makeup Menu

by Grace Ko in , ,

I came to a rather interesting realization recently: There is a positive correlation between the cold weather and the amount of makeup I put on my face. In the hot and humid summer weather, I tend to be a minimalist with the "No Makeup Makeup" look on most days. It is most likely because the humidity causes makeup to slide right off my face. But I seem to pile on more during the colder months. (Note: colder weather = drier skin so consistent exfoliation + hydration is key prior to makeup application.) 

Benefit The POREfessional - This primer is one of those "cult favorites". When applied under your foundation, it helps your base makeup stay put and last longer. It minimizes the appearance of pores and fine lines, creating a smooth canvas for your foundation to be applied. 

Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Concealer (in Neutralizer) - When I want a more "full cover" look, I start off with this concealer. I use it for the "Kim Kardashian" highlighting effect, applying it under my eyes, around my nose, on my forehead, down the bridge of my nose, on my chin. I use my finger to blend gently.

L'oreal True Match Lumi Foundation (in Nude Beige W3) - This is my current favorite foundation. It have a light/medium coverage while having a natural glow to it. I dot it on my face and buff it in with a buffing brush. 

Anastasia Brow Wiz (in Medium Ash) - My favorite eyebrow product! Recently, I have been enjoying filling in my eyebrows a bit more than usual and I'm embracing a thicker, fuller brow look. I'm embracing it all the more after one of my students said to me, "Mrs. Ko, your eyebrow is strong!" 

Shu Uemura Eyelash Curler - No need to elaborate here. This is an everyday must-have. 

L'oreal Lash Out Butterfly Waterproof Mascara (in Blackest Black) - 

Rimmel Scandaleyes Kohl Kajal (in Brown) - A long-lasting, easy-to-apply eyeliner. I put it on my upper tightline and sometimes on my lashline. 

Jordana Lip Liner (in Plush Plum) - Confession: The other day, I had a few minutes to kill while waiting for a sushi take-out order so I stepped into a Walgreens next door. I perused the aisles of beauty products and walked out with a lip liner for $2 and some change. *Pats self on back* Turns out it was $2 well-spent because it is a wonderful lip liner and it pairs perfectly with the lipstick I had had in mind. (Keep reading to find out.) 

Rimmel Lasting Finish by Kate Moss (in Shade 09) - I love this color. It is the quintessential fall lip color. It would go with any skin tone. Not to mention I got quite a few compliments when I wore it this past weekend.

NARS Blush (in Oasis) - Sephora had their famous VIB sale recently and yes, I caved and went. I love NARS and wanted to try another one of their blushes. A Sephora representative helped me choose this color and I absolutely am in love. It is the perfect fall blush shade, giving you that "I just frolicked in the cold" flush. 

You're the BALM

by Grace Ko in , ,

I have been loving the crisp fall air and the colder weather. I have adopted quite an after-work routine: change into comfy clothes (mainly pajamas), take off my makeup, make myself a late-afternoon snack, pour myself a tall glass of water and catch up on YouTube videos under the covers. 

But with the drop in temperature comes dry skin and dry lips. To combat the latter, I have a line-up of my top three balms that are the "bomb" (chuckling to myself). 

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Reve de Miel - This glorious lip balm is raved about by a slew of YouTubers. And I can understand why. I enjoy its scent (a mixture between honey and lemon) and it is deeply moisturizing while having a rare matte finish. It's the perfect lip balm to put on before doing your makeup, especially when applying a lipstick on top. The only downside? It's a challenge to find here. (I just may have asked my husband to pick up a few during a layover in Europe. I may have. Maybe.) 

Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment - I was first introduced to this gem by my cousin years ago. I would always see her applying it (the original version) so one day I decided to try it and I have never looked back. I prefer the original however, the Fresh Sugar lip treatment line now has an assortment of various colors and hues, making it the perfect tinted lip balm on a "No Makeup, Makeup Day".
Perk: SPF 15.
Downside: The price tag at $23. 

Smith's Rosebud Salve - Can I just start off by saying I love the packaging? I love the vintage look of it. This lip balm calms my chapped lips and the pleasant aroma of rose just adds to its appeal. It also claims to be good for dry skin - you could use it on cuticles, elbows, knees. It leaves your lips with a glossy finish - another one perfect for a "No Makeup, Makeup Day". Another plus? It doesn't hurt that it's costs $6.