Friday, September 30, 2011

Weekly Reads #32: September 30, 2011


xoxo, K

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Review: Sonia Kashuk Brush Couture Flat Top Multipurpose Blush/Powder Brush

This is a review for the Sonia Kashuk Brush Couture Flat Top Multipurpose Blush/Powder Brush. I received this brush as a gift from Kathy of Mai-Kat Oshaberi (who knew I wanted this brush!). 

What it does:  This is a synthetic flat top brush designed to be used as a blush brush or powder brush. I use it to apply foundation.

Price: $10.99 on target.com

I also wanted to compare it to the Sonia Kashuk Synthetic Flat Blusher Brush, which I also love to apply foundation.



Pros: 
- The Brush Couture ("the blue brush") has a bigger brush head than the synthetic brush ("the black brush"), making foundation application much faster
- The hairs on the blue brush seam to be less packed together, giving a more airbrushed finish, similar to a dual fiber brush


Cons:
- The black brush has much softer hairs.  The blue brush has pricklier hairs.  After washing this brush weekly for the past 6 months, it's finally soft enough!
- The blue brush sheds, even after several washings!!


Would I repurchase? I hope I won't need to, but if I lost this brush, I would definitely repurchase.  It's a great deal at $11!

As long as you are ok with the prickliness and the shedding, this is a great brush.  I'm hoping that the shedding is not a common problem and that I just got a bad brush.  This is a great foundation brush and I like it a lot more than my expensive brushes!

I hope you enjoyed my review!

xoxo, K

Monday, September 26, 2011

Starbucks Mooncakes

This post is a little late, but I wanted to share the Starbucks Mooncakes I received for Mid-Autumn day.

Starbucks can be found in practically any country, but I've found that they have some local products to cater to local tastes. 

Mid-Autumn Day is a lunar festival celebrated by Chinese people, including people in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and overseas Chinese communities.  One of the traditional pastries eaten during this time are Mooncakes.  Every food-related store in China carries mooncakes during this period, and Starbucks is not an exception!

Because mooncakes are often bought as a gift for others, the packaging is often very elaborate.





This being Starbucks, the flavors of the mooncakes are not very traditional, but semi-related to Starbucks flavors, such as coffee and matcha.



Some of the mooncakes had the Starbucks Siren logo on top as well.



Mooncakes are very fattening, being very sweet and oily. I froze all of the mooncakes I received so that they will keep for a while. 


What kind of special Starbucks items are there in your area?

xoxo, K

Friday, September 23, 2011

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Review: Lancome Hypnose Drama mascara Travel Size

This is a review of the travel size Lancome Hypnôse Drama mascara.  This was a gift to me from Lulu. This is a review for the travel size only.
What it does: (from Sephora.com)
Hypnôse Drama creates full body, high-volume lashes in a single stroke. The full contact brush, with its S-shaped curve, grasps and loads lashes for a fanned out, eye-popping, full body fringe. It works magic on tiny lashes. Even dramatizes corner lashes other brushes miss—or worse, mess.
Lancôme's luxurious new texturizing complex features highly saturated waxes and intense black pigments for maximum lash volume. The triple coating system with caring Pro-Vitamin B5 delivers a fluid and creamy application to quickly and easily build big, battable lashes.
Won't flake or clump. Fragrance free. Ophthalmologist and allergy tested. Safe for contact lens wearers.

Price: $25 for the full size

Pros:
  • Very black
  • Did not flake
Cons:
  • I found the wand very difficult to use. The wand is in a slight S-shape, and some of the bristles are shorter than others. I did not understand the purpose of this shape.
  • This mascara smudged like crazy on my undereye area
  • Expensive. Mascara needs to be replaced every 3 months, so I can't justify spending $25 on it!
  • This is a very wet mascara. It made my eyelashes stick together, which is not the effect I am going for.
Would I repurchase?  No, I can find better mascaras at a better price!

Thank you so much to Lulu for letting me try this mascara! I thought that the quality of the product would justify the cost, but now I'm happy with my drugstore mascaras.

Hope you enjoyed this review!

xoxo, K

Friday, September 16, 2011

Weekly Reads #30: September 16, 2011


xoxo, K

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

How to make a lotion face mask with cotton

I've mentioned several times before that I do a lotion mask on my face every day. This is a very popular technique in Japan, and it has really changed how soft and supple my face is. This technique was created by Chizu Saeki, who is a famous skin care expert in Japan. She is also quite old but her skin looks fantastic!


What you need:
  • Japanese toner. Also known as lotion, toner is a critical step in Japanese skin care. Called keshosui (化粧水, “cosmetic water”) in Japanese, you can find it in every single brand of Japanese skin care. Even foreign brands such as Lancome and Chanel have toners (usually several types) marketed for Asia. Please be careful to pick a product that does not contain alcohol! 
  • Cotton that can be separated. These cotton pads were created so that they can be separated into thin sheets. Read on to understand why they need to be separated!  Several brands carry this type of cotton. I like the ones from Muji and Hakugen the most. 
My favorite brand of cotton for this technique
"Hakugen Mekuru Cotton Ookime" 
(Hakugen separated cotton large size)

Here's what a pad looks like.

It is made up of thin sheets of cotton.  This is critical to this technique!
Alternatively, you can separate cotton by yourself. I've found that the more expensive cotton works better for separating.



Steps:
1. Dampen the cotton with distilled water and gently squeeze it out. Press the cotton between your hands instead of squeezing in a fist will help maintain the sheets of cotton.

2. Gently stretch out the cotton. This will help the cotton sheets adhere better to your skin.



3. Apply toner to the cotton. Make sure that the cotton gets wet, almost to the point of dripping.
4. Apply each sheet to the face. Here are some face charts to show you how I apply each sheet to my face. This can be adapted to your face shape.

(Yes, these face charts look ridiculous!)

Sheet 1 & 2

Sheet 3
Sheet 4


Sheet 5

5. Leave it on for 5-10 minutes. 
6. Remove the cotton and continue with your skin care routine 

Notes: 
- Be careful not to leave the mask on too long. If the toner starts to evaporate, it may cause your skin to dry out
- You can modify this based on the shape of your face. This is how I apply the cotton sheets.
- Each brand of cotton will work differently. As I showed here, Hakugen has 5 sheets in each cotton pad.  Muji has 4 sheets
- I find that dampening the sheets first makes you waste less toner, but you can skip step 1 if you want. Alternatively, you can just use distilled water for the entire process (This is also very popular in Japan). Make sure not to use tap water!

This has really, really changed my skin care routine! It has made my skin so much more supple and less prone to breakouts!  I hope you enjoy it as well!

xoxo, K

Friday, September 9, 2011

Weekly Reads #29: September 9, 2011

Can you believe it has been 10 years since 9/11?  I grew up in New York, and I still consider it my home.  I remember watching TV at home, and seeing the news flash about the planes hitting the WTC.  So many, many things changed that day.

Back to my Weekly Reads!


xoxo, K

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

How to choose the right eyelash curler

Along with mascara, curling my eyelashes has always been a big part of my makeup routine since I first started wearing makeup. An eyelash curler may look intimidating at first, but it is a quick and easy way to make your eyelashes look longer, and therefore make your eyes look bigger and more wide awake.

But how to find an eyelash curler that works for me without buying every single one I see? I did some research on the internet and found a fabulous blog post by a Japanese beauty blogger which compared several brands of eyelash curlers. I contacted her and she kindly agreed to allow me to translate part of her post into English and post it on my own blog to share with my readers. Although the original article is a little old, I still feel that it is worthwhile information.

Yuko-sama of “Tetsu no Shojo” (“The Iron Maiden”) has a great beauty blog full of tutorials, skin care and makeup product reviews, as well as how to's for nail art and storage. Regardless of whether you can or can't read Japanese, please check out her blog!

And now, here is a translation of Yuko-sama's blog post on eyelash curlers. I have included some personal comments in italics. You can read the original article here.
----------------------------------
Yuko-sama reviewed 8 eyelash curlers on her blog previously, and this article is a final comparison of these 8. (All prices have been updated)
  1. Shiseido, 840 yen 
  2. Maquillage (by Shiseido), 1050 yen 
  3. Suqqu, 2100 yen 
  4. Tesshyu (by Kanebo), 945 yen 
  5. Elle (by Kose), 735 yen
  6. Excel (Spring-type): 735 yen 
  7. Koji with Matsukiyo : 420 yen (Matsukiyo is a very famous Japanese drugstore) 
  8. Koji: 1890 yen 

There are a few points that you need to check when chosing the right eyelash curler for you: 

  1. Frame width: A wide frame does not necessarily equal a great eyelash curler. Some people say that if the frame is too wide, the eyelash curler will hit the corners of your eyes and not fit the middle part of the eye. 
  2. Front curve: The front curve needs to fit the curve of your upper eyelid. If your eyes are rounded, pick an eyelash curler with a deep curve. If your eyes are less rounded, pick an eyelash curler with a less pronounced curve.
  3. 3D curve: This curve needs to fit how much your eyes protrude from your face. If your eyes stick out more, pick one with a deep curve. 
  4. Opening of the eyelash curler: This refers to how much the eyelash curler opens. If you have long eyelashes and you use an eyelash curler that does not open enough, it may be difficult to grab a hold of your eyelashes. 
  5. Stiffness of the rubber:  A softer rubber will curl your eyelashes easier. If the hairs of your eyelashes are thick or stiff, use an eyelash curler with softer rubber. If your eyelash hairs are thin or soft, a stiffer rubber may work better for you. 

Here is a picture to visualize what the 5 terms mean. I have sent Yuko-sama this picture to confirm the meaning of these terms with her.



Here is a comparison of the 8 eyelash curlers using these 5 points. Going outwards of this radar chart means the frame width becomes wider, the front curve becomes more pronounced, the 3D curve becomes deeper, the opening becomes bigger, and the rubber becomes stiffer.

The smaller the radar chart, the more the eyelash curler will fit someone with fine bone features (ie, someone who has more stereotypically East Asian features), and the bigger the radar chart, the more the eyelash curler will fit someone with thick set features (ie, someone who has more stereotypically Western features).

Basically, the eyelash curlers from Shiseido/Maquillage/Elle are the same type, while the ones from Suqqu/Tesshyu/Koji can also be grouped into the same type. If you are thinking, “My eyelash curler works OK, but if only this part were more like this...”, it might be a good idea to try another eyelash curler from the same general type, but with a different measurement in the area you are dissatisfied.

However, please be aware that there are other points which affect how an eyelash curler works, such as the position of the handles or the thickness of the frames. Also, comparing an eyelash curler with a spring with those without springs is not really an apple to apple comparison.

------------------------------

That's the end of Yuko-sama's blog post. Isn't it detailed and extensive? She also has separate reviews for each of the eyelash curlers she compared. I hope this blog post helped anyone trying to find an eyelash curler that works for them! Thanks Yuko-sama for letting me translate her post!

xoxo, K

Monday, September 5, 2011

Weight Loss: Meals


I'm really stuck in a rut when it comes to weight loss.

I've been trying really hard - eating more fruits and veggies, eating less junk food, running more...  and yet I can't seem to really lose weight.

I've been focusing on better eating habits lately. I eat breakfast at 6, leave for work at 6:30, have lunch at 12, and usually leave work between 6:30 and 7 PM. There is no way that I can continue to work at 100% productivity if I haven't eaten for 12 hours.

To avoid eating some kind of junk food, I'm going to try bringing in some food to work to snack on.  It has to be something that I have to spend time eating, such as fruit.  I'm going to try bringing in some fruit which I will have to peel, so that I can enjoy eating it.

Wish me luck!


This week's weigh in: 68.2kg

xoxo, K

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Up and Down #18 / A Piece Of Me... in September 2011

Wow, it's September already! It's back to school time for people in the US!!

I didn't try so many new things this month. Since I basically haven't bought anything new since December, it was very easy to get stuck in a rut.

Ups:
  • my Sonia Kashuk Blusher Brush, which showed up in my June favorites as well.  This is much softer than my MAC face brushes! Thanks so much to Kathy for this wonderful gift!



  • Pomegranates. The ones I can get here are not as bright red as the ones I see in the US/UK, but they are a lot sweeter!
  • Finishing C25K!!!  I went from not being able to run at all to being able to run 5km!!


Downs:
  • The end of summer. In Japan, it's definitely summer until the end of September.  However, I can totally feel the difference between August and September here... the temperature has dropped down and it's getting dark earlier!

-----------------------------------
It's time for A Piece of Me in September 2011.
This month...

I like: all the fresh fruits that I've been eating lately.  There are 5 different kinds of peaches at my nearest grocery store!

I don't like: how super busy I have been. 12 hr work days have been normal!
 
I want you to know: that although it's tough to be a beauty blogger without buying new products for the past 8 months, it's completely doable! I have a lot of products still to review!!

I've planned: another blogger meet up this month!


Let me know what your favorites of the month are!


xoxo, K

Friday, September 2, 2011

Weekly Reads #28: September 2, 2011

Although I don't get a lot of comments to my Weekly Reads, I see that a lot of people are clicking on the links. I'm so happy to know that my links interest you!

  • Lessons from a 2 year old, via Wardrobe Oxygen. I've mentioned several times that Nap Time should be included in work.
  • Cherry Sherbet, via The Pioneer Woman. As much as I love chocolate ice cream, my true love will always be fruit sherbets, preferably tart ones.
  • If you're looking to buy Skinfood online, Mona has suggested this seller.
  • Homemade salsa, via Simply Recipes.  This looks absolutely AMAZING.
  • A calzone filling I MUST try out via Macheesmo. I love any food which is "filling wrapped in dough and then cooked".
  • Cheesy Tater Tots, via Thursday Night Smackdown.  Homemade tater tots? Yes, please!
 Oh dear, it's very food-oriented!  Hope your week is going well!

xoxo, K

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