14 Favorites from 2014

Happy 2015, all! While there were some favorites from 2013 that remained stapes throughout 2014 (YÜLI Halcyon and #ED4OLO Cleansing Oil, looking at you, reviews here and here), there were also many delightful new discoveries in 2014, including new friends, new shops, and new products. Let’s take a look:

Oils that keep my skin healthy and hydrated – tie between YÜLI and Roiel
YÜLI’s Liquid Courage is like a healthy shot of vitamins for my face. There is at least a month straight in the fall where I was using this that is legendarily burned into my mind where I had exceptionally clear and healthy skin. Roiel Cosmetics’ Marula Oil has been wonderful as a heavier oil as the weather has sunk into winter. (YÜLI: Spirit Beauty Lounge, YÜLI; Roiel: Roiel Cosmetics)

Quick and delightful treatment for post-acne marks – Odacite
Here is another legendary several weeks burned into my mind where one day, I had some pretty red post-acne marks (popping may have been involved) and a week or two later, I was squinting in the mirror wondering, “Where did they go?” Pa+G Serum Concentrate, you rock. (The Detox Market, Odacite)

Extraordinary eye-depuffing gel – SkinOwl
I yearned for Eye+ months after this was applied on me during skin prep at the W3ll People Launch at Beauty Cirque (recap here). When I finally got my hands on it (birthday present from mum, as requested from me, thanks mum!), I thought, “Why did I wait so long?!” The cooling sensation feels incroyable and these puffy eyes that see many a late night are nearly instantly depuffed upon application. (Pemberley Jones, SkinOwl)

Intoxicating perfumes that won’t alter my hormones – tie between Strange Invisible Perfumes and Lotus Wei
This was the year I got into perfumes. On a whim, I asked the fellows at the SIP table at #ANFG to perfume match me to something jasmine-y (May Lindstrom’s Jasmine Garden got me hooked)–they sprayed Fair Verona on me and I walked around for the rest of the night telling people to smell me and then bought the perfume (my visit to their flagship store recapped here). Another one that’s really grown on me (just as it’s run out, too) is Lotus Wei’s Infinite Love Perfume. Small but mighty, I never fail to get comments on it whenever I wear it out, from girls and guys. Intoxicating, I tell you. (SIP: Spirit Beauty Lounge, Integrity Botanicals, SIP; LW: The Detox Market)

Highlighters that give my eyes a glow and make my cheekbones pop – tie between Kjaer Weis and La Bella Figura
Move over, Living Luminizer, there’s new boys in town. Kjaer Weis’s Radiance highlighter is gorgeous. It’s the most obviously sparkly highlighter I’ve used, but it makes my eyes sparkle and cheekbones pop like no other. For something a little more subtler (think twinkles when lights shine) plus a little sensory experience, I’ve enjoyed La Bella Figura’s Brazilian Denise highlighter, whose rose flower wax sometimes has been dabbing it on my wrists as a perfume. (KW: The Detox Market, Spirit Beauty Lounge, Eco Diva Beauty; LBF: The Detox Market, La Bella Figura, Eco Diva Beauty)

Softest kabuki brush that makes putting on foundation a joy – W3ll People
After Shirley Pinkson applied the Altruist mineral foundation using this brush at the W3ll People Launch at Beauty Cirque, I was like, boom, need to have this. I semi-liked Altruist before, but after this I really liked Altruist. Awesome brushes, i.e. incredibly soft kabuki brushes, make a difference. (The Detox Market, Spirit Beauty Lounge, Eco Diva Beauty, Integrity Botanicals)

The nail polish I won’t take off – Aila x BeauTeaBar
I’m not allowed to wear nail polish on my fingernails because of piano. Or rather, if I wear nail polish, other pianists will severely judge me for being flippant/not-serious/ridiculously whimsical. So after lessons finished for the semester, I doused my fingernails and toenails in this. Now, several weeks later, it’s slowly chipping off but I don’t want to take it off completely…the rose gold is gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. And I shine like a diamond. (BeauTeaBar)

Revolutionary serum foundation that dries to a powdery finish – Gressa Skin
I’ve had this annoying problem with foundations where after application, my skin looks dry–like it seems like there are flakes on my skin but I’m not always feeling as dry as I look. (Now that I think about it, sounds like pilling.) I don’t get that with Gressa’s Corrective Serum Foundation. Also I don’t break out with this, which before only happened with mineral foundations. And it dries to a powdery finish even though it starts out like a serum. What? Yeah. For reference, I wear shade 03. (Gressa Skin)

Go-to blemish eradicator – Indie Lee
Go to bed looking like you have pink chicken pox, wake up, wash it off, and blemishes will have shrunken down. I ran out of the Blemish Lotion before #ANFGB, bantered with the delightful Indie Lee at #ANFGB, thought about buying it there, didn’t, severely regretted it, and caved in and bought another several months later with no regrets. (Follain, Indie Lee)

Delicious, buttery cleansing balm with a sensory experience – de Mamiel
Softer than butter, smells like a bouquet of flowers, works perfectly with a massage to wipe away makeup, and makes my skin happy. Restorative Cleansing Balm: wins all around. (Seed to Serum)

Best-smelling and volume-inducing dry shampoo – One Love Organics
Because second-day hair actually smells pretty bad. Healthy Locks dry shampoo gives my gravity-loving Asian hair some grit and volume while also a nice smell. (Integrity Botanicals, Eco Diva Beauty, One Love Organics)

The gel that scares away dry skin – Osmia
Active Gel Toner is, I think, exactly what my skin needed last winter, instead of futile different layering combinations of oils and moisturizers. The skin feels miles more hydrated this year. (The Detox Market, Osmia Organics)

Favorite as an SPF AND a day cream – Josh Rosebrook
This has got me hooked with its amazing scent (a common factor for all of Josh’s skincare products), its complete lack of white cast and all that makes sunscreen abominable, and its really awesome performance as a cream moisturizer. I don’t typically like cream moisturizers, but I love the Nutrient Day Cream with SPF 30. (The Detox Market, Follain, Josh Rosebrook)

What changed my mind about setting powders – Ilia
I am a sweaty person and I used to let my oil run free. Then I dotted Fade Into You over my T-zone and realized what a mistake that was. The very convenient application doesn’t hurt either. (The Detox Market, Spirit Beauty Lounge, Follain)

What were some of your favorites from 2014? See any here?

Disclaimer: Affiliate links are included. All thoughts and opinions are my own. All products were purchased by myself except for YÜLI Liquid Courage and Roiel Cosmetics Marula Oil, which were both kindly sent to me.

Best of 2013: Makeup

Happy New Year! I am starting off this new year with one more look back at 2013. Wrapping up my Best of 2013 series (skincare and bodycare here, in-the-shower here) are my favorite makeup products of the past year.

The ‘un’ cover-up was my gateway into rms beauty, which led me to the cream eye shadows, lip2cheeks, and lip shines. I love the eyeshadows for how easy they are to apply–just a simple swipe and blend, and there you have a luminous, beautiful, wearable color. Pictured is Solar, my favorite, which is golden (pun intended). I keep falling back in love with the Smile lip2cheek for its beautiful coral color which brings life back into the face, but I also have been loving Rapture, the pictured brick red, on the lips and cheeks for the winter season. The Sublime and Sacred lip shines were favorites over the summer for their glossy, bright colors (fuschia pink and bright pinky red, respectively). I have been keenly missing my living luminizer which I accidentally left at school, which got me addicted to highlighting the inner corners of my eyes. It give such a beautiful, natural glow!

I resisted Kjaer Weis for a while due to its price, but once I tried the mascara, it was an easy tumble down into the eyeshadows, the blushes, and newly, the foundation. First, obsessed with the beautiful, sleek packaging. Second, totally worth it, especially with the refill concept and quality of product. Love the mascara for how it enhances my lashes and mostly holds a curl. So, so, so love the blushes for how easily they blend in and natural they look. Suntouched gives me a peachy pop, Desired Glow is more subtle, and lately Abundance has my heart with its beautiful plummy color. And the foundation. It is a bit drying, yet does not enhance any of my dryness at all. It gives amazing coverage, and is buildable. Huge favorite.

Consonant’s The Perfect Sunscreen is my perfect sunscreen for its slightly tinted formula which is moisturizing and effective. Loved this in the summer, still loving this in the winter. I wear this under my makeup (or as the top layer, if no makeup) everyday.

I have to resist buying all of ILIA beauty’s lip products because they all look so wonderful. My favorite is their lip gloss, which my sister has in Love Buzz (top) and I have in The Butterfly and I (bottom). The formula is so beautiful, so moisturizing, and smells beautifully of citrus and vanilla. Love Buzz is a pretty pinky-purple while Butterfly is more of a nudey peach.

See any of your favorites here? What makeup did you love during 2013?

*Thanks to my gracious sister for hand-modeling for me.

Concealer Comparison: Vapour vs. W3ll People

One of the best things of having a younger sister is using her as a guinea pig. Just kidding. I have loved getting the rest of my family into green beauty, and as my sister is cruising through puberty, her main makeup is a touch of concealer for those pubertyful breakouts and some kickass cat-eyes. I gave her Vapour Organic Beauty Illusionist Concealer in 33 for Christmas last year and then W3ll People Narcissist Stick Foundation in 5 after her second tube of Vapour ran out for the summer. And then because there is no such thing as a free lunch (one of my father’s favorite sayings), I then interrogated her about her experience, and she graciously obliged me. Read on to hear her thoughts.

So, compare the concealers.
Well there’s more in the [W3ll People] container and the circle thing is bigger. [Ed. note: She’s talking about surface area of the applicator.] Like the Vapour one is tiny. It’s a lot easier [with a bigger surface area] because sometimes I just use the stick if I’m lazy, and if my forehead is having a huge breakout, I just use it straight from the stick on my forehead.

How about blending?
I think the W3ll People one is easier to blend.

Under-eyes and blemishes?
I usually don’t apply concealer under the eye. I think they’re both good for acne. Neither look dry on top of acne. But keep in mind I barely remember the Vapour concealer. They covered up well. Maybe the W3ll People covered up better.

Did you notice any extra breakouts with any of them?

Did any scents bother you?
What, cents? Like penny cents? Oh, scents! No, it’s not like they smell like anything in particular. [W3ll People] smells like an F#. F# smells sweeter. And then the Vapour one smells like a Db. Will they get that? (laughs) [Ed. Note: She is a musician like me.] The W3ll People smells like regular flour, and the Vapour one smells like wheat flour. They’re fine.

Do they usually last on your face?
Yeah, both of them. Unless I’m sweating profusely.

How’s the finish? Matte or shiny?
A little in between.

Do you prefer any which one?
The W3ll People one. Because it has a bigger surface area and it’s easier to blend.

Ed. Note: I’ve applied both concealer/foundations to her skin, and the colors are an exact match to each other and to her medium skin tone. Both have a similar effect under the eyes, but Vapour tended to look drier on her forehead breakouts. They both have a natural finish and similar coverage, but W3ll is a little more matte. I also prefer the larger surface area of W3ll People, and I don’t know why she’s talking about flour as scents–I’m getting more citrus and fresh. They smell very similar and both have fabulous ingredients.

Have you tried these concealers? What is your preference?

W3ll People Narcissist Stick Foundation Ingredients
Zinc Oxide, Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxides, Ultramarine Blue, Mica, Kaolin Clay, Serecite, Silica, Organic Aloe Barbadenis (Aloe)*, Matricaria recutita (Chamomile)**, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea)*
*USDA Organic, **QAI

Vapour Organic Beauty Illusionist Concealer Ingredients
Organic/Bio Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Oil, Organic/Bio Cera Alba (Beeswax), Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Silica, Essential Oils & Natural Fruit Essences, Tocopherol (Natural Vitamin E), Boswellia Serrata (Frankincense)*, Organic/Bio Ocimum Sanctum (Tulsi/Holy Basil), Organic/Bio Nelumbo Nucifera (Lotus Flowers) [+/-: Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Iron Oxides (CI 77491, 77492, 77499), Mica (CI 77019)] 

Cat-Eyes and Review: ZuZu Luxe Liquid Eyeliner

(read: I hope you’re ready for more awkward eye shots.)
From left to right: 100% Pure Fruit Pigmented Mascara in Black Tea, Shiseido
Eyelash Curler
, RMS “un” cover-up in 11, ZuZu Luxe Liquid Eyeliner in Black Pearl

To properly show how the ZuZu performs on a given day for me, I present to you, dear reader, my daily cat-eyes. (Disclaimer: I am no makeup artist and this is just what I have found to work for me.)

For undereye darkness and eyelids priming/evening out


Then, +


I’ve mentioned my monolid before, and basically, my eyes have a built-in hood to shield from the rain. Yeah, just kidding, it’s not very effective against rain. But because of the hood, I can get away with (rather, I need to have) a thicker line of eyeliner on my top lid if I want it to make any difference for my eyes. I usually make it thick enough so it barely peeks out when my eyes are open, but the thickness depends on my mood for a given day (aka, it depends on how steady my hand is and how early I have woken up). To wing out the liner into an everyday cat-eye, I just finish off the end with a curve that is a small extension of the bottom curve of my eye. And then I walk around with my eyes almost closed for a couple minutes to let the eyeliner dry or else it’ll smudge into something crazy (fixable with jojoba oil on a Q-tip).
When my eyes are closed, you can see a bit of the sparkles that are present in this Black Pearl version. I actually didn’t mean to get sparkles; I was just looking for plain black (which is the Raven version) and accidentally grabbed this instead (This seems to becoming a daily theme because today I grabbed pudding but I was looking for yogurt instead..)–but I don’t mind the extra sparkle and it performs about the same as my previous Raven version.
The official description by ZuZu Luxe: “6 gentle and non irritating liners designed to create a dramatic finish to make eyes sparkle and shine day or night.  .1oz/3ml
Enriched with vitamins and herbal extracts to gently smooth and protect the delicate eye area. Suitable for sensitive eyes and contact lens wearers. Our Liquid Eye Liner is Ophthalmologist Tested, Hypo Allergenic, Fragrance Free and Water Resistant.”

8 hours later…


So, suitable for sensitive eyes and contact lens wearers? From a long-time hard contact lens wearer, yes. I don’t get any irritation from this at all in my eye or on my eyelid. Given, I haven’t intentionally put it in my eye, and I never put liquid eyeliner on my waterline, so I don’t know how that is (probably a bad idea and possibly painful, I would imagine).

Water resistant? Well…I turned into a panda the last time I cried with this (and I ate all the bamboo within a 1-mile radius. Okay, okay there was no bamboo). I was also wearing the 100% Pure mascara, but then another time I cried only wearing the mascara, and I had barely any black streaks down my cheeks, so I’m blaming the eyeliner for the panda eyes… (Do you like how I test water resistance with crying? I’m such a good scientist.)

For all the rubbing that goes on with the hood from my eyes opening and closing, the eyeliner wears pretty well. From more of a distance (aka if you’re not 5 inches from my face), it looks about the same as the morning (even those silly eyelashes that I accidentally coated with the eyeliner during application), and you can’t really tell that the middle of it has worn off a bit. There is a bit of smudging up on the eyelid from my funny folding and usually some of it ends up on my undereye area as well, but it’s nothing that I can’t fix with a quick swipe of a Q-tip. If you don’t have a hooded eyelid, I would probably guess that it would wear better on you since you don’t have that constant eyelid hood action eroding away at the eyeliner. Since my eyes are small enough, I don’t usually wear liner on my lower lashline, so I can’t comment on smudging on that front.

In my last post, I promised picture evidence of how the 100% Pure mascara wears throughout the day, and these pictures are a pretty good representation of an average day for me. When my eyes are closed, you can see the curl has worn off a bit but it’s still better than my naturally super straight lashes.

In conclusion, while I wish the eyeliner would stay in perfect shape all day, with my eyelid hooding, it still wears quite well. It’s a straightforward liquid formulation with a straightforward little brush, which I do appreciate, and it easily comes off with jojoba oil, which I also appreciate.

Ingredients: Water, Sorbitol, Cetyl Alcohol, Iron Oxides, Mica, Jojoba Oil, Bentonite, Bisabolol, Tocopherol, Xanthan Gum, Lecithin, Eyebright Extract, Titanium Dioxide, Cellulose Gum, Hectorite, Grapeseed Extract.

Recently in the mail: S.W. Basics (Sprout), Ilia, Vapour


S.W. Basics of Brooklyn (formerly Sprout Skincare) is changing up their packaging, so their lip balm is only $1 for this whole month. ONLY $1! I’ve yet to try any products from their brand (but I’d love to!) but I have heard nothing but goodness about them, and lip balm is a good place to start. Especially since IT’S ONLY $1. Perfect as a stocking stuffer or little extra something because everyone loves a well-moisturized lip. And you don’t want to be flaky under the mistletoe (a poor pun, I am sorry I should do better).

Ilia Beauty is also a brand I have not yet tried but would love to, and seeing I’ve also heard nothing but amazingness about them and I was looking for gifts for some loved ones, I figured a wonderfully non-toxic pinky nude and a seasonally purple tinted lip conditioners would be a potentially good choice. Maybe I’ll be able to sneak a few swipes in myself after the gift-giving is over, heh heh.

I’ve been dabbling with Vapour Organic Beauty’s Atmosphere Luminous Foundation for a couple months, and have been trying to figure out how to best make it work (shade is too light oh no, need to mix two shades, oh no is it breaking me out, oh no now it’s winter and I’m extra dry) hence per a recommendation of Vapour’s beauty expert via email, I am going to try their Stratus Instant Skin Perfector, which is a moisturizing primer base and what I am hoping will help with the dry effect I’m getting currently with the foundation because I really want to love it! *clasps hands together and looks to the sky in a passionate manner