Monday, September 9, 2019

Tatcha Dewy Skin Cream Review



I've had the oddest skin in the last few weeks. What was once normal/combination, perhaps even a tad oily in the summer months, became bone dry especially around my mouth. There wasn't anything I did that made it so. I was perfectly normal one day, and the next the bottom half of my face could no longer hold moisture.

The silver lining in this unfortunate turn of events is I now have the appropriate skin type to test Tatcha's Dewy Skin Cream. I actually purchased one when it launched in February, but quickly returned it because it was too much for my skin then. While finding ways to soothe my dry skin, one of the things I tried was using increasingly occlusive creams. I went from a gel cream to the stuff I used in previous winters, but nothing worked. That was when I broke out this beautiful purple tub, hoping that what was "too much" half a year ago is exactly what I need now.

Bear in mind that I'm not relying on the occlusive layer (aka last layer of skincare) to provide me with the hydration I need. To fix my dry skin, the essence/toner/serum parts of my routine went on overdrive. However, I've found in addition to all that I needed a heavy layer at the end to ensure the hydration stays locked in.



I mean it in the best possible way when I say the Dewy Skin Cream is the thickest, most emollient occlusive cream I've ever tried. It almost feels like a facial oil without actually being one. This is exactly what I want, especially during the daytime. Facial oils are incredible at locking in hydration as a final step of skincare, but doing so in the morning is impractical due to its dry-down time. The Dewy Skin Cream is a good alternative. I'm free to put on sunscreen or makeup immediately after application, but I have a strong barrier to prevent evaporation.

As you might guess from the name, the Dewy Skin Cream takes after the Dewy Skin Mist, which to this day remains my favorite face mist. Both products impart a glow upon use. In fact, to test this theory, I applied the Dewy Skin Cream to my face without any other skincare product. By the third hour my skin felt parched, but it looked glowy, as if it was plump with hydration (it really wasn't). The light scent of the cream is similar to the one used in the mist, which I personally find pleasant.

I definitely wouldn't recommend this cream to anyone with normal or oily skin. In fact, the skin on my forehead is still relatively normal, which means when I use this cream on that area it ends up being too oily. So yes, I am currently using two different moisturizers on my face and yes, I know it's a little ridiculous. But you gotta do what you gotta do!

Tatcha Dewy Skin Cream is $68 and available at:
Tatcha website
Sephora

Products in this post were provided by the company for editorial consideration.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Le Labo City Exclusive Gaiac 10 + Memories of the Past



Longtime readers of Messy Wands would know that I'm terrible at identifying scents. I smell a thing, but I can't describe what the thing is, not knowing the difference between the smell of cedar or oak or musk or any of the floral varietals. I've always admired perfume bloggers who seem to be able to identify different notes with precision, whereas my approach to fragrance resembles a weak hand-flapping motion. I can tell you what I like, but I can't tell you what it smells like.

For that reason, I've written about perfumes maybe twice in the entire history of the blog. Today though, I invite you to experience something truly special: Le Labo Gaiac 10.

Gaiac 10 is one of Le Labo's city exclusives, which are limited edition scents usually only available for sale in its inspiration city. Perhaps unsurprisingly if you know me, Gaiac 10 is the Tokyo edition. I remember chancing upon the collection at the Williamsburg Le Labo store. By then, I've heard of Gaiac 10 being spoken about with reverence by other beauty bloggers, so it was the first one I spritzed on. It drew me in a way no other perfume has ever done, and to this day remains the only perfume I would wear.

Since I have no vocabulary to describe this smell, in Le Labo's own words:
Gaïac is a very hard, greenish wood that isn’t as dry as cedar, but is as subtle, profound and stable. Le Labo’s Gaiac 10 is a tense formula built on gaiac wood and surrounded by musks (4 different types in all), with hints of cedar and olibanum (incense).
To me, it smells like a walk in a clean forest, like this:

This was me in Mount Kōya in 2015

As the label indicates, I purchased it for myself almost exactly two years ago. I recall writing those specific words down to serve as a reminder of time gone by. In September 2017, I was in my third semester at Columbia University and was taking my first notoriously difficult undergraduate CS class. I was desperate to do well, knowing that the outcome would affect my chances of getting into the master's program. That fall, I met some of my best friends at Columbia, which finally gave me the college friendship experience I've always craved (I didn't have a lot of friends in undergrad because of a controlling ex, but that's a story for another day). I also learned a lot about myself when my boyfriend wanted to take a break — I descended into an anxious wreck because it was a situation that wasn't under my control. I was a shell of a human being because I kept spiraling, going over what-ifs and plausible scenarios that could happen, wanting to be prepared when it did. What to do if he broke up with me, what to do if he asked to get back together, and every decision spawned more branches. Part of it was a normal reaction to a breakup, but most of it was anxiety as I have never experienced it before.

We eventually made up, but I also committed to a lot of introspection and self-therapy because I didn't want to be the kind of person who falls apart anymore. My particular form of therapy is journaling and asking myself the hard questions. If I go down five levels of why, I would usually get to the root of the problem. I think it's easy to identify that I'm angry or unhappy, but it's much more difficult to admit that the emotion I'm feeling is due to some sort of insecurity I have with myself. I've found, however, that being truly honest with myself is mentally and emotionally freeing.

I'm glad I decided to label my bottle in such a way, otherwise I would have forgotten about the minutiae of a time that was pivotal in my life.

Le Labo city exclusives are available worldwide in the month of September. That means you are able to smell every single city exclusive at your local Le Labo store. If you're not close to one, you can purchase discovery sets (and full size bottles) on the website. Also, if your city exclusive bottle runs out, you can refill it at any Le Labo store at any time.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Sulwhasoo Perfecting Cushion Intense Review

I bought the Suqqu Extra Rich Glow Cream foundation a couple weeks ago from Taiwan and frankly, I haven't been able to get it to work. I know it can be done, because the SA applied it on me and it looked great that day. Since I've returned to the US though, every attempt has been a patchy mess. This led me to wonder why I succumbed to the hype when I already own a foundation that serves me well. Like an errant spouse with a wandering eye, I regretted it almost immediately after it happened.



Here's my trusty, clearly well worn Sulwhasoo Perfecting Cushion Intense in 21 Medium Pink. After a year of regular use, most of the sponge no longer dispenses product anymore. I'm currently squeezing and scraping the sides for what's left before inserting the replacement (each cushion purchase comes with a refill).

Because I'm fortunate to have pretty good skin, my foundation needs are simple: light but buildable coverage, hides redness, evens out skin tone, doesn't feel heavy. I specifically want my foundation to not look like I've applied foundation on my skin. This is not my experience with most foundations.

You can see in the before/after photos below that the Sulwhasoo cushion does exactly what I want it to. The differences are subtle, for which I am grateful (thanks mom for the good genes and skincare indoctrination!). In the second photo, my skin tone is more even. Some of the veins on my cheeks are no longer visible. It gives my skin a more polished feel. Most importantly, it doesn't look like I've put anything on my skin at all. I also like that it has buildable coverage. On days where my skin is a little more lackluster, I just apply a few more layers. No matter how many layers I have on, it never feels heavy.

no makeup!

with foundation

Sulwhasoo marketing materials say this includes Radiant Pearl Powder Complex, which provides a healthy glow. I don't know what exactly is Radiant Pearl Powder Complex, but I can attest to the fact that my skin does have a nice glow after applying the foundation. If you're looking for something that's mattifying, this is not it.

Sulwhasoo also claims that this cushion has anti-aging properties due to its inclusion of red pine extract. Personally, I think one shouldn't make makeup purchasing choices based on its purported skincare benefits. It's highly unlikely that we would either apply enough or have high enough concentrations of the ingredients to matter (I'll save my diatribe on foundations with SPF for another day).

That said, I love this foundation and I'm sorry I strayed. It's sometimes difficult to curb the knee jerk response of wanting shiny new things when what I have works perfectly in the first place. I'll try to be better next time!

It turns out Sulwhasoo Perfecting Cushion Intense is a little difficult to find in the US right now since it's sold out at most major retailers. I've reached out to them to see if they have any plans to restock it (GOD FORBID IT'S DISCONTINUED) and will update you accordingly. In the meantime, you can get it from Koreadepart, which ships items directly from Korea.

Sulwhasoo's other foundations are available at:
Sulwhasoo's website
Bloomingdale's
Nordstrom

Friday, August 30, 2019

Beauty Shopping in Taiwan, Part 2



Another place I always visit when I go back is Watson's, a local pharmacy that stocks a variety of beauty brands. I usually go there to stock up on Japanese sunscreens. My current favorite is by Skin Aqua (not pictured above), though I have a pet peeve. Skin Aqua made at least five different types of sunscreens and put them in similar looking white bottles with similar sounding names (apparently this is common across drugstore Japanese sunscreens. Why?!). I've used the UV Moisture Gel for the last year and the only complaint I had was that it smelled a tad plasticky on application. This trip, I found out that the UV Watery Gel has the exact same texture except it has a floral scent, so it's on track to becoming my HG body sunscreen.

Hada Labo is one of my favorite Asian drugstore brands. I've used their oil cleanser, foaming cleanser (the sensitive, low pH one) and premium hyaluronic lotion. The reason they're not pictured is because they were already in my existing routine. This trip, I got a couple of sheet masks to test — I've never used their sheet masks because they were on the pricier side compared to Naruko's, but I felt it's time.

Speaking of Naruko, I am a fan of their face masks, particularly from the Raw Job's Tears line. I usually buy them in boxes of 10 since they're so cheap (like $1 per mask). Similar to My Beauty Diary masks, Naruko masks are overflowing with essence and super drippy. The Raw Job version hydrates and brightens. It's my go-to mask when I don't have particular sheet masking needs. Just slap one on!

The Naruko Face Renewal Miracle Essence is a repurchase. I don't have much experience with First Treatment Essences so TBD on whether this will be a staple moving forward, but the last time I used it I recall having particularly bright skin. The only downside is the alcohol smell is pretty strong on this one.



Lastly, I impulse purchased these From Taiwan sheet masks at the airport because they were having a ridiculous deal (something like 3 boxes for $10). I've tried one so far and it's really thin and clingy, with the tiniest mouth opening. Unlike Naruko masks, it's not dripping all over the place, but it did also dry out within 30 minutes.

These products are pretty much available everywhere in Taipei. There are Family Marts on every block that stock limited amounts of beauty products, but it's also not difficult at all to stumble upon a pharmacy that exclusively sells Taiwanese/Japanese skincare. I loved visiting Taiwan — the people are some of the nicest I've ever met, the food is delectable, the skincare bountiful. What more can you ask for?

Saturday, August 24, 2019

A Fall Look with THREE and Suqqu

A brief interlude between cataloguing my shopping excesses to show you a look created with the products from Taiwan shopping part 1.



Repeat of the photo of the products for good measure:



The colors from top left to bottom right are: a shimmering pale gold, an auburn cream, a matte brown, a light barley. All of them pull warm. In the picture above, I used the palette traditionally. Started with a wash of the auburn all over the lids and the bottom lash line, then I targeted the pale gold on the inner lid and the matte brown on the outer lid. I blended them into each other using a fluffy brush. With my ring finger, I dabbed the lightest bit of the barley on the inner corners of my eye. To finish off, I tightlined my eyes using my favorite Suqqu eyeliner and applied a coat of mascara.

I placed the Suqqu blush in Usumoya higher up on my cheeks than usual (apparently the placement trick that's all the rage in Taiwan right now) and blended it to the sides. Lips are one coat of the Lyrical Lip Bloom 16 featured above. It has a smooth but not overtly silicone-y texture. Unfortunately, I realized belatedly that it catches on dry skin, so as much as I love how it looks when applied, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone with dry lips.

These colors are getting me excited for fall! Bring on the foliage!

Products used in this post:
Sulwhasoo Perfecting Cushion Intense in Medium Pink
Guerlain Multi-Perfecting Concealer in Medium Cool
THREE Dimensional Vision Eye Palette 03
THREE Mesmerizing Performance Eyeliner Pencil 10
Heroine Make Long and Curl Mascara
Suqqu Pure Color Blush 10 Usumoya
Glossier Haloscope in Quartz (you can get $10 off as a new customer with this link)
THREE Lyrical Lip Bloom 16

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Beauty Shopping in Taiwan, Part 1

So... remember that large suitcase I was telling you about in my travel post. True to my prediction, exactly half of it was filled with food, and the other half filled with skincare and makeup (I only brought one packing cube worth of clothes). I was doing so well with my skincare no-buy before the trip and making headway on working through some of my stash, but traveling to Asia does crazy things to me. Now that I'm back, I'll put myself back on that no-buy so I can actually work through these goodies.

I spent two weeks in Malaysia and three days in Taiwan. If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen the barrage of food content on my stories. Most of my time in Malaysia was spent with family and friends, while most of my time in Taiwan was spent eating everything I saw and trawling through pharmacies and department stores. I was particularly ecstatic to find that my favorite Japanese brands (Suqqu, THREE and Addiction) were all available in the same department store, Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Hsinyi Place A8, so that was the first place I went.



The difference between beauty shopping in Taiwan and the US is that the sales associates in Taiwan are more savvy when it comes to skincare. I went to the THREE counter with the express purpose of purchasing my HG eyeliner (thwarted because they don't sell the black one in Taiwan /anguish) but got waylaid and treated to a whole skincare and makeup routine instead. THREE's skincare philosophy centers around "naturally derived ingredients," which I take to mean lots of essential oils and plant extracts. This doesn't necessarily speak to me, because I'm a believer of clinically proven results when it comes to skincare ingredients (see: Vitamin C, niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, etc). However! I've heard great things about the cleansing oil and balancing foam and was willing to try them because my requirements for cleansers are less stringent. I also impulse purchased the balancing cream because the SA put it on me and I liked it.

The risky buy here is the balancing clear lip lotion. For context, I have terrible peeling lips that no amount of water drinking or lip balm applying has ever fixed. It has gotten to the point that I suspect it is caused by allergies, but it peels even if I have nothing on it! The lip lotion, I surmise, is like a serum for the lips. I bought it even though the ingredients don't suggest that it would... do anything, but I am desperate enough about the situation to try any new thing I can find. Right now, I'm dutifully using it morning and night. We'll see if it changes anything!

On the other hand, the lip balm has a pleasant yuzu scent and a nice melty texture. Definitely a new favorite.



I think I was just feeling particularly trigger happy that day. The model in their Autumn/Winter campaign was wearing the Dimensional Vision Eye Palette 03 and her eyes were a vision of fall. I also picked up the peach-toned lip gloss/cream she was wearing, which the brand calls Lyrical Lip Bloom 16. I AM NOT IMMUNE TO MARKETING, OKAY? Both pieces are limited edition for fall.



Suqqu went through a packaging revamp since I last saw them (admittedly, years ago) and damnnnnn are they sleek now (action video here)! I briefly regretted purchasing the THREE palette instead of going all Suqqu when realizing the disparity between their packaging, but of course it's what inside that counts... right?

Pictured here are the Retouch Pressed Powder 02 and Pure Color Blush 10 Usumoya. Both are from the permanent collection. They're both housed in the thinnest black and gold palettes and it's such a joy handling them that I'm battling waves of regret for not getting more Suqqu things to pepper into my stash.



I also got the Extra Rich Glow Cream Foundation, mostly because of Wondegondigo's recommendation. I waver back and forth whether this or the THREE Flawless Ethereal Fluid Foundation was a better choice, but I guess I'll never know. Such are the pitfalls of purchasing products with no window for testing.

I'll stop here for now. Part 2 will feature my drugstore picks!

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Currently: Malaysia

I'm enjoying a blissful two weeks at home in Malaysia. Such is the perils of being an immigrant that I can only visit my favorite people for such brief spurts. I went to the US for college in 2009. As I grow older, I ache with the knowledge that my time with family is fleeting because I chose to stay.

On a brighter note, if you're interested in learning more about different types of Malaysian food, I've been posting about them on my Insta stories. The whole series is saved under the 🇲🇾Food highlight. It's surprisingly difficult to distill the essence of many Malaysian dishes into a sentence. In fact, I've never had to think about how to describe the dishes to a non-Malaysian, English-speaking audience. Thank you to those who've DMed me with questions and/or salivations. You've made creating this food series even more enjoyable.

A sample of what I've been posting on Insta

Besides eating, my time here is a flurry of decades-old friends and family. We don't do much, just bask in each other's company. I like accompanying my mom in the morning as she shops for groceries for the family (the vendors know her by sight and greets her with welcome, a scene that differs greatly from my grocery shopping experience in New York), drinking tea in companionable silence with my father, completing escape rooms with my brother and sisters. My friends are mercifully understanding of how little time I have with my family, so they would usually come to my house to hang out.

As I write, morning light is streaming through the curtains and I'm lying on my favorite sofa, listening to the hum of a household that's about to awake. I am happy, I am home.