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! 

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. 

Natural Beauty Products

by Grace Ko in , , ,

Last week, my face broke out into hives. And let me tell you, it was not a pleasant experience. (My guess is it was an allergic reaction. I have been racking my brain to figure out what may have caused it and I have narrowed it down to a toner I recently bought or a sample of a primer I tried.) In an effort to make this breakout go away, I tried this and that - which in turn only further irritated my skin. So, I was left with red, dry, irritated splotches all over my face (great, right?) And the worst part was covering it up with makeup didn't even help because it only accentuated the dry patches. 

Lessons learned:

1. My skin is sensitive.

2. Be careful when trying out and introducing new products to my skin. 

3. It is better to let my skin heal naturally instead of trying to expedite the process with chemicals that will only make it worse. 

When I realized that certain products were only irritating my skin more, I decided to switch over to a more "natural" skincare regimen. (I have been inspired by CloudyApples and my friend, Vanesa.) Our skin is our largest organ so it's important to be conscious of what we place on our skin. 

I began using a gentle oil cleanse, a simple toner and followed up with coconut oil to moisturize my dry skin. When I started to see the benefits of using natural products, I made a trip to Whole Foods and Trader Joe's to restock and pick up a few new things. 

L to R: 100% jojoba oil, unfiltered apple cider vinegar, tea tree tingle shampoo & conditioner, 100% aloe vera gel, lemon witch hazel, Juice Beauty blemish clearing cleanser, castor oil, Lavanila Healthy deodorant 

L to R: 100% jojoba oil, unfiltered apple cider vinegar, tea tree tingle shampoo & conditioner, 100% aloe vera gel, lemon witch hazel, Juice Beauty blemish clearing cleanser, castor oil, Lavanila Healthy deodorant 

Jojoba oil: My mom first introduced me to jojoba oil. I can (and will) write an entire post on the benefits of various oils but this bottle of 100% jojoba oil from Trader Joe's (TJ) is a great bargain. 

Apple cider vinegar: There are many benefits to using apple cider vinegar as a toner. It helps to balance and restore your skin's natural pH. (Refer to Cloudyapple's video to learn a bit more about pH.) Make sure to get organic, raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar. Mix 1 part ACV with 3-4 parts water (add more water the more sensitive your skin is). Apply on skin with a cotton pad. 

Tea Tree Tingle shampoo & conditioner: I learned about the benefits of tea tree oil last year. (You can purchase tea tree oil at Trader Joe's as well.) I decided to try the TJ Tea Tree Tingle shampoo and conditioner because it's more natural and it has an invigorating smell of peppermint and tea tree oil. It also leaves a tingly feeling to your scalp, hence the name. 

Aloe vera gel: My mom used to always tell me to use aloe vera gel to soothe irritated skin but I was recently reminded of its existence and benefits from my friend, Vanesa's youtube channel. (Her video on an aloe vera oatmeal mask is amazing!) 

Witch hazel: I alternate between the apple cider vinegar concoction and witch hazel as a toner. Whole Foods carries a variety of different types of witch hazel (original, lavender, peach, lemon). I prefer the lemon because of its brightening components. 

Juice Beauty cleanser: Juice Beauty is an amazing organic skincare line. I usually find their products at Ulta or Whole Foods. I love this cleanser. It's simple, gentle and it works really well with my Clarisonic. 

Castor oil: Yet another oil that I enjoy using. Make sure it is cold-pressed and hexane-free. I find mine at Whole Foods and use it in conjunction with other oils when I do an oil cleanse. 

Lavanila The Healthy Deodorant: Many deodorants contain aluminum, parabens and other yucky chemicals. This deodorant is an all-natural deodorant. To be honest, I'm not a big fan of the smell (vanilla lavender) but I'm giving it a try. 

(No) Makeup Monday

by Grace Ko in , , ,

As much as I have confessed my love for makeup, I also love the feeling of taking off my makeup after a long day. And I love that feeling all the more when I use a really good makeup removing cleanser. 

Initially, the idea of washing my face with oil felt quite contradictory and odd, especially considering my combination/oily skin. But as they say, iron sharpens iron and I guess oil dissolves oil! 

I was first introduced to the Shu Uemura oil cleansers by my friend. (Shu Uemura has one for every skin type). But within the last year or so, I've switched over to DHC (mainly because it's easier to find). 

The DHC Cleansing Oil is quite brilliant. It takes off all my face makeup (foundation, powder, bronzer, blush) but it also takes off waterproof mascara! 


I take one pump of the DHC Deep Cleansing Oil (I sometimes mix in castor oil - purchased from Whole Foods - recommended by CloudyApples) into my dry hands and massage it into my dry face. Then I take some water and continue massaging my face. Then (my favorite part) I take a washcloth and run it under hot water, wring it out and then lay it on my face to let the steam work its magic!  

Sometimes, I follow up with a second cleanse with a gentle cleanser but lately I have just been using the oil cleansers. 

After I finish this bottle, I may go the all-natural route and just use organic pure olive oil. (Or coconut oil!) 

Let me know if you try this out! 

Aesop: An experience & a review

by Grace Ko in , ,

Confession: I love watching YouTube makeup videos. It all started when I was introduced to Pixiwoo and from there, it was history. My affinity to Youtube began with makeup tutorials but now, I don't discriminate and it encompasses "reviews, vlogs, and hauls" (just some YouTube jargon for you). I do confess, it may have enabled a few purchases here and there.

I was introduced to the brand, Aesop by several of my favorite YouTubers (mainly Viviannadoesmakeup).

A few weekends ago, I stumbled upon an Aesop store. And it was glorious. The store layout, the organization, the simple yet classy packaging, the rustic fixtures, the customer service.

The woman at the store asked if i had tried any Aesop products and since I hadn't, she eagerly began to introduce me to a few products. She asked me about my skin type and what I was interested in. I had heard a lot about several products but I chose to indulge myself in just one: the parsley seed masque. At $39 it's not a purchase I would be proud to call a "Steal & Deal" by any means. But lately, skincare has been the area to splurge on if I splurge on anything. And I'm glad I did because it is a beautiful product. 


It is a clay-based masque of a light gray color.  You are instructed to put on a light layer after cleansing your skin. Once applied, it has a slight cooling sensation which is refreshing while not being painful (you know you've tried those masques). 

It is clarifying and deep-cleansing while being moisturizing. And my skin loves it. My late-twenties skin has been quite confused; it's having a major identity crisis having trouble deciding whether it would like to be dry or oily. This masque seems to be helping to sort that out. 

Best part about my Aesop experience? I walked away with many samples to try. And they're not skimpy with the samples. The lady even gave Y a bunch to try out too. Oh, those sale people. That's how they draw you in. They're so smart. 

Excited to try out some of the samples! 

Excited to try out some of the samples!