Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Summer Skincare Routine


Let's get the scary part out of the way. Here's how my skin looks now. On a better day, that minuscule pimple on my nose wouldn't exist, the raised bumps on my right cheek would magically disappear, and I wouldn't have two random gashes on my forehead. But it's important to acknowledge that this is still a good skin day. Impossible expectations have a way of weighing us down, let's try not to do that to ourselves!

Skincare has always been a ritual for me. I grew up watching my mother slather creams on her face day and night and dutifully started doing the same when I was a teenager. I disliked Clinique's astringent toner as soon as I tried it, precipitating years of being annoyingly meticulous about the textures and effects of what I use on my face. I've finally reached a place where I think my skin is as good as it gets without more drastic intervention.

As with all talk of skincare, your mileage may vary (YMMV). What works for me may not work for you. I subscribe to the belief that skincare is part science part psychology, which is why one person's HG is another person's dud. Here are the products that work for me.

Mr. Plant Pot says hi!

Essence
The two in my current rotation are Tatcha The Essence and Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Water. The Tatcha essence looks and feels just like water out of the spout, which makes applying it without spilling a couple precious drops an exercise of dexterity. Ironically, the Sulwhasoo water is viscous and requires a good ketchup shake to get out. It's stickier but doesn't bother me, and sorts of smack you in the face with its delicious ginseng scent (which, unghhhh, give it to me).

One of the hardest things to definitively answer about a skincare product is "how do you know it works," which my partner brings up every few months as he puts on whatever toner's on our vanity. I notice the difference this step makes to my skin because I usually skip it when I'm traveling and my skin is less... good. Nothing would be outwardly wrong, I just know it would not be up to its usual standards. And I can safely say it's the essence step because the rest of my skincare pretty much stays the same.

Serum
If there's one item I wouldn't like to be without, it's this $21 miracle worker Cosrx Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence. It's a tad slimy, which might take getting used to, but every time I put it on my skin soaks it up like it's been thirsty for days. The fact that it costs a fraction of the other stuff in my routine is icing on the cake.

Close on its heels is Holy Snails Double Shark Sauce (or its OG Shark Sauce or Sauce du mois variants). Preventing age spots and unevenness is my #1 goal, and having a healthy dose of niacinamide (10% in the double!) is key. I'm partial to supporting Holy Snails because she started out as a blogger and created this product for her friends. I would caution that form factor aside, it doesn't travel well. I've had at least two heartbreaking instances of shark sauce blowing up in the plane.

The Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Serum is pure decadence for me. Do I have clinical, scientific proof that ginseng does something for my skin? No. Do I like the hanbang smell and does it make me feel extra fancy? Yes. The optimist in me hopes that the anti-aging stuff is true, and maaaybe that's why I don't have wrinkles and fine lines. But I'm also 30, so that sounds like a stretch? You know what, it's okay to just do a thing (that doesn't make anything else worse) because it makes me happy. Pardon me as I sniff the ginseng off my face.

I've started incorporating vitamin C into my routine since learning that it's one of the few ingredients in skincare that has been clinically proven to reverse signs of aging. I haven't gone all out and optimized for concentration and pH yet, mostly because I'm using up what I happen to have at home. Currently going through Glo Skin 15% Vitamin C Serum, which is as straightforward a vitamin C serum as it gets, housed in a bottle with dropper that repels sunlight. I apply to face twice a week or so, but I'm gauging effectiveness by putting it on a blemish on my knee caused by an errant curler.

Eye Serum
I dismayed when trying a sample packet of the Sulwhasoo Timetreasure Renovating Eye Serum and seeing my eye bags vanish the next day, because the $260 price tag is hard to swallow. Fortunately, my brother's girlfriend was on a trip to Korea and got me one for less. I use this sparingly and only on days I didn't get enough sleep or want an extra boost. In my experience, the effects are more pronounced when used overnight.

Cream/Lotion
I question whether the occlusive layer is strictly necessary in summer, but I do it out of habit anyway. I'm using Tatcha The Water Gel to give myself the lightest of watery layers.

Sunscreen
I'll go more into sunscreen in another post, but please! Apply it every day, rain or shine, and put on way more than you think is necessary (like 1 tsp just for your face). Preferably SPF50 and broad spectrum, every two hours that you spend outdoors. I've repurchased many tubes of Tatcha Pore Perfecting Sunscreen throughout the years because it's scentless and I happen to like its creamy texture for the face over other, more aqueous Japanese sunscreens. But the best sunscreen is the one you would use.


This might sound like a lot, but it takes no more than a couple minutes to complete and I've come to relish that bit of time that's wholly for my self-care. We'll talk about acids and exfoliators and masks and cleansing another day. In the meantime, I'd love to hear about your own skincare HGs and journeys!

Monday, July 15, 2019

Hello Again, Dear Friend

My last post on this blog was on the heels of a break up with someone I thought I was building a life with. At the time, I chose to be kind to myself and not spend hours in the week on an endeavor that no longer gave me joy — Messy Wands was many things to me throughout the years: fun hobby, safe harbor from an emotionally abusive relationship, a way to meet friends... Unfortunately, I became confused when contemplating what it meant to be successful, forgetting that a hobby didn't need to be productive or provide income or get more page views or have more Instagram followers. It should always have been writing about things that brought me joy.

Four years have passed. I want to go back to paying attention to the small things and writing about them again, so here I am.


A couple months ago, I graduated from Columbia University with a Master's in Computer Science. I'm now on a brief holiday before starting my new job as a software engineer in August. Immersing myself in this new world made me ever more grateful for my liberal arts undergraduate education. I went from a program where kids joked about not knowing how to do math to a program where kids joked about not being able to write a paper on poetry, and I wished there was a way to convince both groups that they should break out of those neatly defined categories. One of the more common experiences shared by women who were interested in CS was wondering if they fit in an industry that seemed to be just guys who tinkered with computers and code even in their spare time. Imagine how many opportunities and experiences we have let slip because we thought something wasn't for us based on an impression of what "has been."

On beauty, I'm no longer doggedly monitoring new releases. Other than Lisa Eldridge's new lipsticks, I haven't bought makeup other than to replenish essentials — it may please or despair you to know that I still swear by the eyeshadows and eyeliners I procured in Japan all those years ago. After two painstaking trips to Sephora to try to replace my Three eyeliner, I caved in and just ordered it from ichibankao. I am, however, even more fanatical than before when it comes to skincare, the details of which I will happily share with you in future posts.

Lastly, the part I most missed about Messy Wands was the meeting of minds. I relished the conversations with readers about smells and colors and textures that made us giddy. This time around, I'll write about my other interests: books, Broadway shows, Malaysian food, how to decorate a small apartment... If any of them resonates with you, I hope you'll reach out so we can have a chat!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

A Note About My Absence

My apologies for the radio silence. Due to some personal matters, I'm forced to take a temporary hiatus from blogging. It's unfortunate that it happened right as I was getting back in the swing of things, but as ever I am grateful for your patience and understanding and hope you will read Messy Wands again when I return.

An important note: I received an email today notifying me that the Tatcha Kyoto Red Silk Lipstick (review) is finally in stock. I know for a fact that only a very limited quantity was made, so if you think you want it, don't hesitate!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Have A Perfect Hair Day with Living Proof


Seeing beauty products day in, day out (literally. My day job is firmly ensconced in the beauty industry), it all becomes a blur, so it's only when I settled down to write my review of the Living Proof Perfect Hair Day products that I noticed the "hair feels cleaner, longer" claim on the shampoo. In this day and age of hyperbole marketing, a brand's description of a product (24 hour moisture! 10 hour shine!) is akin to web banner ads – something savvy consumers have trained themselves to ignore – which is why I'm pleasantly astonished to report that the PhD Shampoo actually lives up to those four little words.

Rewind to my moment of revelation: five days post-shampoo+conditioner, I was mulling over whether I needed to wash my hair that day, and decided not to. As for the PhD Conditioner's claim to "improve hair over time," all I can say is my hair never looked better than in my two most recent photo shoots (you can see more pictures in my recent posts on Clinique's new blushes and Rouge Bunny Rouge's new sheer lipsticks).


Applying the PhD 5-in-1 Styling Treatment on damp hair and blow drying normally gives me sleek, straight, shiny Jennifer Aniston hair (sorry, couldn't resist). Unfortunately, in keeping with the tradition of yearning for what we don't have, I don't like wearing my hair completely straight, so the Styling Treatment is not my cup of tea.

All Living Proof products are sulfate-free (yay for chemically treated hair), silicone-free, and oil-free. The Living Proof Perfect Hair Day collection retails for $10-28 and is available for sale at Sephora and Ulta.


Products Used:
Shu Uemura Mechanical Brow Pencil
Guerlain Météorites Baby Glow in Medium 03
Clé de Peau Concealer in Ocher
Sisley Phyto 4 Ombres Eyeshadow Quartet in Dream
THREE Flash Performance Eyeliner Pencil 08
Clinique High Impact Waterproof Mascara
Clinique Sculptionary Cheek Contouring Palette in Defining Nectars
Sisley Phyto-Lip Twist Tinted Lip Balm in Candy

Full disclosure: This entry contains sample product(s) sent by the brand for editorial consideration. This entry also contains affiliate links.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Rouge Bunny Rouge Succulence of Dew Sheer Lipsticks


Sorry, I couldn't resist

I didn't know something was missing in my makeup drawer stash mountain until it magically showed up in the mail. I thought many of the lipsticks I owned were already pushing the limits of innovation, especially in terms of their amazing formulas (comfort, texture etc.). After all, I'm so picky with my lip products that I refuse to wear anything that's heavy, uncomfortable, or unnecessarily sheer (unless it explicitly functions as such, like tinted balms), yet I still own more lipstick than I can ever wear in my lifetime.

This is until I received the newly reformulated Rouge Bunny Rouge Succulence of Dew Sheer Lipstick, which completely changed my thinking of how good a lipstick could be. I'm actually thrown off by the naming, because as the images below show, these "sheer" lipsticks can be extremely pigmented. The formula is super moist but not in any danger of slipping and sliding all over your lips. No feathering, no scent, no heavy feeling. They're a downright pleasure to have on.

My only criticism is that the packaging picks up fingerprints like its life depended on it, but this should only matter to people who have to photograph it.

Jasmine-Weighted Air

Murmurings

Musings

Relish of Heaven

Perfume of His Gaze

Of the above, I was most intrigued by Perfume of His Gaze. The official brand description calls it a cool-toned rose taupe, which I never would have imagined as a lip color until I put it on. I think this could be the modern update of the 90s brown lipstick!

Rouge Bunny Rouge Succulence of Dew Sheer Lipsticks retail for $29 and are internationally available at rougebunnyrouge.com.


Products Used:
Shu Uemura Mechanical Brow Pencil
Guerlain Météorites Baby Glow in Clair 02
Clé de Peau Concealer in Ocher
Chantecaille Iridescent Eye Shade in Rose Gold
Rouge Bunny Rouge Long Lasting Eye Shadow in Eclipse Eagle
Clinique High Impact Waterproof Mascara
Three Flash Performance Eyeliner Pencil 08
Guerlain Météorites Perles De Blush
Ellis Faas Glow Up
Rouge Bunny Rouge Succulence of Dew Sheer Lipsticks

Full disclosure: This entry contains sample product(s) sent by the brand for editorial consideration. This entry also contains affiliate links.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Clinique Sculptionary Cheek Contouring Palettes


The new Clinique Sculptionary Cheek Contouring Palettes remind me of paint by number kits. While it's not an exact science, the three-step approach does simplify the process of contouring your cheeks: darkest shade below your cheekbones, medium shade on the apples of your cheeks, and lightest shade above the cheekbones blending into the apples.


This is where I mean when I say "below the cheekbone"

Below will largely be #picspam because there's not much differentiation between the three palettes in terms of texture and formula. Defining Nectars is peachier than the other two, whereas I can barely detect a difference between Defining Roses and Defining Berries on my skin. I think Defining Roses is just slightly muted.

They're perhaps not as finely milled as some other blushes I own, but they're $10-20 cheaper and still do a fine job, in addition to the added benefit of reminding you that a little contrast in dark and light goes a long way.

Sculptionary Cheek Contouring Palette in Defining Nectars


Sculptionary Cheek Contouring Palette in Defining Berries


Sculptionary Cheek Contouring Palette in Defining Roses


Pro tip: cheekbones are more prominent when you you look like a deer in headlights.

Clinique Sculptionary Cheek Contouring Palettes retail for $21 and are available at Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, and Clinique.com (which also stocks two online exclusives)./


Products Used:
Shu Uemura Mechanical Brow Pencil
Guerlain Météorites Baby Glow in Medium 03
Clé de Peau Concealer in Ocher
Clinique High Impact Waterproof Mascara
Sisley Phyto 4 Ombres Eyeshadow Quartet in Dream
Look 1 -
Clinique Sculptionary Cheek Contouring Palette in Defining Nectars, Sisley Phyto-Lip Twist Tinted Lip Balm in Candy
Look 2 -
Clinique Sculptionary Cheek Contouring Palette in Defining Berries, Sisley Phyto-Lip Twist Tinted Lip Balm in Chestnut
Look 3 -
Clinique Sculptionary Cheek Contouring Palette in Defining Roses, Sisley Phyto-Lip Twist Tinted Lip Balm in Coral

Full disclosure: This entry contains sample product(s) sent by the brand for editorial consideration. This entry also contains affiliate links.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Clinique Chubby Stick Sculpting Contour and Highlight


The subject line of the email pitch for Clinique's new contouring collection was "Hello Cheekbones!" It's like they knew exactly how to tug at my heartstrings. I don't have any problems in this particular area (the older I get, the more prominent my cheekbones become), but for some reason I still like products that create the illusion of angles on the face. Anyone should be able to look like Tom Hiddleston, I say!


Today's post is about the Sculpting Contour and Highlight Chubby Sticks. Pretty straightforward: one darker shade to create the illusion of shadow and one lighter shade to create the illusion of light (for the uninitiated, here's a contouring tutorial I wrote three years ago). I draw lines with the darker shade on the bottom of my cheekbones, on the sides of my nose, under my jaw line, by my temples, then blend furiously – the key is to make the color look like a natural part of your skin. I run the lighter shade down my nose bridge to the tip of my nose, above my cheekbones, under and over the arch of my eyebrows, on my cupid's bow, and my chin. Again, blend it out. Considering that a contoured look is supposed to be undetectable, it sure takes a lot of work.



Though these two Clinique offerings happen to work for my skin tone, it's clear that it's made for a very specific customer (fair, neutral/warm-toned skin). While I absolutely love the Chubby Stick range and think they're a godsend when it comes to applying makeup on-the-go, these are not meant for beginners. Contouring requires specific placement, and you get less control when using fingers versus a brush. The formula, though, is what you'd expect: smooth and easy to blend out. I'm keeping these in my portable makeup bag for the days I'd like to look extra sharp.

Clinique Chubby Stick Sculpting Contour and Highlight retail for $21 each and is available at Sephora and Clinique.com.


Products Used:
Shu Uemura Mechanical Brow Pencil
Guerlain Météorites Baby Glow in Medium 03
Clé de Peau Concealer in Ocher
Jane Iredale Getaway Eye Shadow Kit
Jane Iredale Jelly Jar Gel Eyeliner in Espresso
Clinique High Impact Waterproof Mascara
Clinique Chubby Stick Sculpting Contour
Clinique Chubby Stick Sculpting Highlight
Jane Iredale Just Kissed Lip and Cheek Stain in Forever Peach

Full disclosure: This entry contains sample product(s) sent by the brand for editorial consideration. This entry also contains affiliate links.