Thursday, October 17, 2019

PSA: Tatcha Friends & Family Sale 2019

I have two kinds of friends when it comes to skincare. The first kind is meticulous about their multi-step skincare routine and could rattle off ingredient names and its benefits off the top of their head. The second kind asks me for recommendations and purchases the same thing forevermore. I've recommended Tatcha to more people than I can count over the years, and one of the things we all look forward to is the annual Friends and Family sale.



If you happen to fall into the second bucket and need recommendations, or want to try something new, here's a handy list of my favorite Tatcha products:

1. The Essence
Mini review here. My current bottle (shown here) is one application away from being a sad empty. Good thing I already have another one waiting in the wings.

2. Dewy Skin Mist
I talked about this product so much on this blog it's not even funny. Do I have three of them casually lying around my apartment? Do you really even have to ask?

3. The Indigo Cream
When my skin inevitably gives up in a giant rash-y, dry mess in winter, I pull this baby out.

4. Sunscreen
I've used this every single day for the last four years. You might think I'm exaggerating, but I know this to be true because Tatcha launched this in 2015, and I happened to join the PR agency that represented them that year (I no longer work for that agency). Mini review of it here again.

5. Lipstick
This may sound odd but I use Messy Wands as a resource a lot. Like, if I want to remember how a particular eye shadow or blush looks on me without putting it on, or if I'm contemplating a purchase of a brand that I no longer remember if I liked. You would think I would remember, since I wrote all of it. What can I say, eight years of blog posts is a lot.

Anyway, the point is my recent post swatching all of Tatcha's lipsticks is really handy right now for a quick refresher on how all of them look. The one I use most is Cherry Blossom, shown below.



I'm half a tube down and somewhat seriously contemplating a backup. Thoughts?

Tatcha's Friends & Family event is running now through 10/20. Enter code FRIENDS19 at checkout for 20% off!

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Empties, Volume 1

Wow, that last month flew by quick. If you ask me what I've been doing the past month, all I can say is I wasn't vigilant enough in protecting my mental health, which was why it went by in a not particularly enjoyable whirl. In between learning new ways to be stressed at my new job, I accidentally over-scheduled myself to meet people every day for one week and was also trying to plan a vacation to Yellowstone for next summer. Planning to go to Yellowstone, especially with a family, is its own beast. Every decision you want to make comes with a cascading set of research. For example, I originally started looking at going in July, but a friend told me that it's high tourist season so it's less enjoyable, so I pivoted to May, but had to research when the lodges/hiking trails/park in general opens (the answer: dates vary). Then after doing all that research, flying end of May was apparently prohibitively expensive, so I had to look into which week in June had reasonable flights...

I won't bore you with the rest, but my brain spiraled real hard for a couple of weeks. I had to consciously choose to step away and be kind to myself, hence some alone time this week and a precious sliver of time to read and write for fun. I finished up a lot of skincare last month and thought I'd do mini reviews of them!



1. Tatcha Cleansing Oil ($48 for 5.1 fl oz / 150ml)
For years, Tatcha's cleansing oil was my HG. It unfailingly removed even the most stubborn of makeups and didn't dry out my skin. It didn't feel too heavy, didn't stick to my skin after cleansing (yoohoo, Shu Uemura), and didn't have an overwhelming scent (L'Occitane, I'm looking at you). The only reason I am now partial to another cleansing oil is because I found another one I equally liked for a quarter of the price (Hada Labo, I love you). Since I use a substantial amount of cleanser everyday, seems like a no-brainer to switch HGs. I still love this Tatcha one though. I dream of the day they will create a cleansing body oil.

OMG. CLEANSING OIL FOR BODY. Gotta investigate this now.

2. Shangpree S-Energy Facial Mousse Cleanser ($35 for 4.73 fl oz / 150ml)
Okay, I took this photo over a month ago, and at that time I thought I was finished with this cleanser because it started pumping out air. Turns out, it had another month's worth of legs, which brings its total life span to possibly a year and a half of daily use. The mind, it's boggled.

It's definitely a pleasurable foam cleanser. For some reason, I currently have four other facial cleansers in my bathroom, three of which are foam types. All of them require vigorous hand rubbing to generate foam. I realize now that this Shangpree one is gone that I prefer the pump style much better, since it requires wayyy less effort. Usual requirements (not drying, no overwhelming scent) satisfied. If I ever run out of facial cleansers at home (current time horizon for that... 4 years?), I would repurchase.

3. Holy Snails Kadi Cleanser ($25 for 4 oz / 150ml)
Also a pleasure to use! The overall experience is understandably less premium than the Shangpree one since it's an indie skincare brand, but I think it's important to support small businesses. It creates a denser foam than the Shangpree cleanser, but that doesn't matter to me. Again, fulfills all usual requirements and would repurchase.

4. Holy Snails Shark Sauce ($29-36 for 30ml)
Briefly touched upon this serum here. I'm already using my next bottle! If you're interested in the brand in general, you can get 10% off using my referral link!

5. Haus of Gloi Pumpkin Butter ($10 for 6 oz)
Another indie skincare brand that deserves much love for making excellent but affordable products — $10 for a 6 oz jar that lasts through the cold months. Would I enjoy a more premium packaging design and experience? Probably. But I know I'll have to pay more for it and at the end of the day, it really doesn't matter. So there, please never change.

6. Tatcha Sunscreen ($65 for 2 fl oz / 60ml)
Recently learned that people cut tubes to get to the last of the product so I did that with my Tatcha sunscreen when I thought it was empty and there was at least one week's worth of product still in there. I learned a valuable lesson indeed. I've used this sunscreen on my face almost exclusively for years. I don't plan to change. Bonus: it's 20% off on the website right now.

Did you use up anything noteworthy lately? Let me know!

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Distracting myself from Chanel with a little Tom Ford

Every few months or so I get an irrational itch to buy something I definitely don't need, like a lipstick or blush or eyeshadow that's "missing" from my vanity (and by missing I mean it's probably 90% similar to something I already own). That urge will come down hard and remain an obsession until I inevitably pull the trigger.

At the moment, I'm consumed by the Chanel Top Coat Eyeshadow Veil that's released for fall. The idea of a gossamer, barely there hint of shimmer kind of eye is very appealing to me, but this particular product is really hard to gauge over the Internet. The bloggers I like have praised it for what it purports to be: a shimmering veil of light over the lids, but their swatches look disappointing. Somehow I remain undeterred, and visited two Chanel stores to see it in person.

In real life, they were... alright. The perfect version of this would be shimmering microglitter that looks almost wet on lids, but don't crease (yes, one can dream). The Chanel Top Coat Eyeshadow Veil had the shimmer, had the microglitter, but also had some chunkier bits. The effect is honestly quite dreamy over other eyeshadows, but on its own it's not quite what I had in mind. The colors on offer — white and pewter — were also not my cup of tea.

To deter myself from purchasing it, I dug into my own stash and unearthed the Tom Ford Cream and Powder Eye Color in Naked Bronze. The powder portion of the duo is a fine gold shimmer with glitter bits. It shall do instead for this fall season.





I applied just the powder all over lids in the photos above. You can visit this old Instagram post for a fully bronze look. I'm still on the lookout for an eyeshadow that'll give me that shimmering wet editorial look that won't crease. If you find one, let me know.

Alas, that original itch, far from being scratched, was satisfied by another rogue Chanel purchase.

Products used in this post:
Sulwhasoo Perfecting Cushion Intense in Medium Pink
Tom Ford Cream and Powder Eye Color in Naked Bronze
THREE Mesmerizing Performance Eyeliner Pencil 10
Heroine Make Long and Curl Mascara
Glossier Cloud Paint in Beam (you can get $10 off as a new customer with this link)
Glossier Haloscope in Quartz
THREE Lyrical Lip Bloom 16

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?