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/Malaysia, 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.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Super Pared Down Travel Makeup

After over three months of anxious waiting, I finally got my Employment Authorization Document (EAD), which allows me to legally work in the US but equally importantly, leave the country and safely return. I have been agonizing about having all this precious free time and not being able to spend it with friends and family back home, so trust when I say I'm vibrating with anticipation to get on that flight.

I like traveling light when I go home, mostly because I want every extra ounce of unused weight to go into bringing snacks and Asian skincare back to New York. I own a Rimowa Lite Large Check-In (best suitcase ever) and I would fill up less than a quarter of the space. This does mean cracking down on what makeup to bring. There are people like my older sister, who only uses one blush, one eyeliner and one dedicated lip color — clearly this isn't a problem for her. Asking me to choose JUST ONE BLUSH to go with every look I might want to do in 1-3 weeks plunges me into a rabbit hole where I'll start drawing decision trees in my head, because that blush will affect what eye and lip colors I can bring, and the pile would get bigger and bigger until I'm stuck under an avalanche of palettes, wondering how I got there.

After years of agonizing and still bringing more stuff than I would use, I have now narrowed it down to my most basic kit. With this, I don't even have to bring makeup brushes. I just use the ones provided and my fingers:
  • Concealer and/or foundation, depending on how much coverage I need at the time.
  • Eyebrow pencil I microbladed my eyebrows and no longer have to fill them in! Best decision ever!
  • Burberry Earthy to double as eyeshadow and blush.
  • Eyeliner and mascara, usually black.
  • Highlighter. My relationship with the Glossier Haloscope went from meh to grudging respect, which is a story for another day. I like bringing this for travel because it's meant for finger application.
  • One nude lip and one fun lip. I've been partial to the Chanel lip balm and powder duo in recent trips because I can either do a light stain or build up to a full red.

This is the base look that I create with the kit above, though lips are bare in the photo. It's my-face-but-better, versatile with lip color, and photographs well. There's honestly not much more I can ask for.

Another way to police how much to bring is to have an inviolable rule. I can only bring what fits into my Issey Miyake pouch, which does double duty as a clutch when I travel. If only I would enforce this rule on skincare...

How do you pack for travel? Do you bring your entire kit or mercilessly choose your favorites?

Monday, July 29, 2019

S'well Bottle and Tumbler - worth the hype?

Am I a child? Yes, yes I am

Nothing makes me more skeptical than an absolutely ridiculous amount of hype surrounding what is a basic ass product. I'm more likely to wonder if it's just groupthink or meticulous branding (see: Glossier, Away) versus the item actually being extraordinary. For this reason, I've never really put the S'well bottle I've owned for four years to much use, thinking it was just a pretty but kind of heavy reusable bottle and grumbling about not being able to toss it (it was a farewell gift from a previous boss). Until recently, when I put some cold water in it before going out to swelter, then left it in my bag till the next day, and lo and behold, the water was as chilly as it was the day before! And then I started bringing hot tea around and it stayed hot! And it has never leaked! And it really does look quite good!

So I'll eat my words. I can't imagine a scenario where it will break, but I will absolutely plonk down another $35 to replace it if it happens.

(I'm aware that all the things I described are just basic functions of a thermos, but most thermoses I've owned don't look that nice, or features a detachable lid that leaks even if they say it won't, or keeps drinks colder/warmer for less time than advertised, which is why my threshold for wonder is so low at this point.)

Buoyed by the promise of the S'well Bottle, I purchased the 18oz Tumbler for at-home use. Reviewers claimed that it still manages to keep beverages hot/cold longer even without the lid, and I'm like what kind of magic is going on?! The Tumbler is essentially a tall cup made with the same materials — Therma-S'well technology, triple-walled yada yada — but I imagined the exposed water would still be subject to the law of thermodynamics. So I left a cup of icy cold water out overnight and drank it the next day. It was still cold.

Granted, it wasn't as cold as it would have been in the Bottle, but beverages in an open cup are usually consumed in a few hours anyway. For that particular use case, mind is blown. Water has frankly never been as delicious.

I own two Bottles and two Tumblers. The Tumblers and one of the Bottles are from the Shimmer collection and the other Bottle is from the Stone (not pictured because it's holding cold brew in my boyfriend's bag). The products in the Stone collection have a rough, sandpapery texture, and we do worry that it might be prone to scratching — either the bottle itself or the stuff that comes in contact with the bottle. If you do decide to get one, that might be something you want to take into consideration.

S'well bottles can be procured from:
S'well — $35 for a standard 17oz Bottle, $30 for 18oz Tumbler
Amazon — you can get them here for less but make sure they're genuine
Nordstrom — there's an anniversary sale version going for $23 right now!

Friday, July 26, 2019

Currently: almost the end of July 2019

I really enjoy reading The Non Blonde's Currently roundups, so I'm going to make like imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and do one myself (sorry/thanks, Gaia)!

New Yorker, August 7 & 14, 2017 cover being a little too accurate about the MTA

A Diptyque Baies candle that I got for Christmas last year (thanks Darun!). A part of me is like "be more adventurous!" while the other shrugs "why change something that works." Either way, enjoying it.

The Lord of the Rings. I read this when the Fellowship of the Ring came out in theaters and convinced me that things definitely get more exciting after Book One. I've seen the trilogy countless times since then (go extended cut or go home), so it's fun to compare how characters and events play out in the book versus film. I also do a thing where I update my boyfriend on where I am in the book, inevitably reenact the scene from the movie for clarity, then explain how it differs. For some reason he's still listening to me.

Hadestown Original Broadway Cast Recording. I'm so glad I got tickets wayyy before it blew up. It's one of my absolute favorite shows and I just want everyone to experience it, even if you have to buy your tickets six months out. The music has a jazzy, New Orleans vibe and the joy is infectious; Andre de Shields and Amber Gray and Patrick Page are literal god(desse)s.

Season 7 of The Office, US version. I started it because I wanted to understand all the references (same reason I watched Sex and the City), but of course now it's just enjoyable.

This slinky champagne colored slip dress from Aritzia paired with a black suede Stuart Weitzman NearlyNude Ankle Strap Sandal.

Anxiously waiting for a few moving pieces to line up so I can go home. Extra frustrated because the process is out of my control. I won't bore you with the particulars of US immigration, but if you're interested let me know.

How's your weekend looking? Any fun plans?

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Every Tatcha Lipstick, Swatched

I've always had a soft spot for Tatcha because they were one of the first brands to ever support Messy Wands. Such was my love for them that I once reached out to the founder Vicky for a job, and though I've never worked for them directly, I did join the public relations agency that represented them, and happily they gave me the Tatcha account.

As you can probably guess, public relations is not my thing. However! I've never stopped loving the brand. While I've moved away from having an all Tatcha skincare routine (more out of a compulsive need for experimentation than anything), I usually still have one or two of their products in my lineup.

But today is not about skincare. It is another opportune moment to talk about lipsticks, the reason for which will be clear by the end of the post. I happen to be the fortunate owner of every single lipstick shade Tatcha ever made, which seems to mean that I'm duty bound to swatch them, especially when all but one, Peony Blossom, are still available on the website.

Left to Right: Twilight: A Cherry Blossom, Plum Blossom, Magnolia Bloom

First, let's talk texture. Tatcha maintained the same formula for all its lipsticks, varying only the colors. This is a fantastic thing, because it really is one of the most comfortable lipsticks I've worn. They're fragrance free, taste free, non-drying and has a buildable formula, which means you can wear them sheer or fully pigmented.

I swatched all six in one sitting, wiping each color off with a cotton pad doused with micellar water and applying a light layer of Tatcha lip balm in between color changes. Multiple lipstick posts aren't my favorite because my lips would be crying by the end, but being rigid about the balm application made this a breeze.

Cherry Blossom is my go-to nude pink, as you can see from the well worn bullet. I try to keep the diamond facets of Tatcha lipsticks intact as I'm using it, but one can only do so much. Plum Blossom is a nude that pulls the slightest cool plum, whereas Magnolia Bloom is a curious warm in-between red-pink.

Cherry Blossom Silk Lipstick

Plum Blossom Silk Lipstick

Magnolia Bloom Silk Lipstick

Left to Right: Peony Blossom, Beautyberry, Kyoto Red

Peony Blossom's brighter, more vibrant case always trips me up, because on lips it's a much lighter coral pink. Beautyberry is, as you might imagine, a true berry shade. I talked extensively about Kyoto Red in this post, so I won't repeat myself, but I giggle a little thinking about how all my photos used to be of the deer in headlights variety.

Peony Blossom Silk Lipstick

Beautyberry Silk Lipstick

Kyoto Red Silk Lipstick

From July 21 to 29, Tatcha is offering a free mini Plum Blossom with $100 purchase, mini Plum Blossom and Kyoto Red with $125 purchase, and mini Plum Blossom, Kyoto Red and Cherry Blossom with $150 purchase. Use code KISSES19 at checkout to redeem!