Category: Beauty & Skincare

As I have taken on skincare more seriously as a hobby the last few months, I decided to read this book.

I have always had an interest in skincare so wearing SPF, moisturizing, and keeping out of the sun have been habits I have employed since I was a teenager. As I am Asian, a lot of the little quirks and beauty care in East Asia does not surprise or shock me.

What is nice about this book is that if you truly unfamiliar with Asian skin care and beauty, this is a good initial primer on it. I knew most of the information in the book from other sources on the internet, but it is collected here in an easy to read and cutely illustrated book.

There is a very cute section about travelling to Seoul as well. I really liked the book, but I would not necessarily follow the product recommendations. Charlotte Cho does own a curated beauty store so there are incentives for her to sell products she and her company import from Asia. Still, I recommend this book if you have an interest in skincare.

Read January 19-20, 2017.

Over the years, I’ve tried to take care of my skin. I stay out of the sun and I moisturize. I do no wear any makeup except lipstick. A couple months ago, I began a journey to delve into better skin care. This is both for health and as a hobby. I have followed and tried Asian beauty products in the past, but this was the first time when I really researched and took it to the next level.

This is a new series in posts as I explore this beauty and health regime and hobby. Warning: this is a long post with mini reviews of several products.

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 BRTC Aqua Rush Water Drop BB Cream

To test out another BB cream, I decided to order samples of the BRTC Aqua Rush Water Drop BB Cream. This BB cream is targeted for dry and sensitive skin types. It is one of the more expensive BB creams from BRTC, so before actually buying the product, I wanted to sample it.

This is not a full review since I usually need to try a product for weeks to really see how it affects my skin. Since I only had such a small packet sample of each, I managed to get about 3-4 applications of it. I could have gotten more, but an unsealed and unprotected product is probably not ideal for testing.

As a reminder, my skin is normal (dryer in winter), I use an SPF moisturizer before BB application, and sometimes my homemade Vitamin C serum. I am a MAC NC20.

Price: $3.20US for three samples from eBay seller “sing-sing-girl”. Full product regular retail is about $35US from the BRTC online store.

From the BRTC website: “Anti-oxidant, anti-aging and nourishing BB cream with nutrition from deep ocean water & 7 flower extracts. Absorbs and retains moisture, keeps skin dazzling and healthy. Dermatoligist test completed, and mineral oil free. It has SPF30 and uses AHA/BHA to “naturally lift skin cells”.

This product does not contain adenosine, a popular BB cream ingredient to whiten skin and prevent wrinkles. I would say this is BB cream is for dry, sensitive skin types who want sunscreen and some anti-aging.

Texture: Gel like, less liquid than the Lioele Water Drop.
Scent: Faint, quite subtle fruity-floral.
Moisturizing: Slightly more moisturizing as the Lioele one.
Finish: Smooth and a bit dewy, but I think that it mostly due to my Vitamin C serum which has vegetable glycerin. Most BB creams are smooth and more “matte” for me because I do not have oily skin.
Coverage: Buidable up to Medium. Less so than the Skin79 Gold. I do not use a lot, but I do have to be careful as this can make me look very pale. There may be a bit of a white cast.
Verdict: Mixed because I think this is slightly better coverage and moisture than the Lioele Water Drop, but costing eight to ten dollars more. I also found that this was harder to wash off than the Lioele. I am also becoming a bit wary with BB creams as I do not really see the benefits for someone like me who needs little coverage. I think this a decent BB cream though and good for people who have normal or good skin. It oxidized very well and left no grey cast.

Have you tried any this BB Cream or have any others to recommend?

Lioele BB creams

On the left is the Triple the Solution sample beside the Dollish Veil Vita

I recently ordered some BB cream samples from eBay seller “sing-sing-girl”. The seller also provided extra samples of two Lioele BB creams that I have yet to try: Triple the Solution BB cream (Lioele’s most popular BB cream) and Dollish Veil Vita BB cream. While these weren’t on the top list of BB creams to try, I was pleased to do so because I did like the Lioele Water Drop BB Cream.

This is not a full review since I usually need to try a product for weeks to really see how it affects my skin. Since I only had such a small packet sample of each, I managed to get about 2-3 applications of it. I could have gotten more, but unsealed and unprotected product is probably not ideal for testing.

As a reminder, my skin is normal (dryer in winter), I use an SPF moisturizer before BB application, and sometimes my homemade Vitamin C serum. I am a MAC NC20.

Here are my first impressions.

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As I was perusing Sali Hughes’s recent article about hand creams, I realized that I’ve used and experimented with a lot of hand cream over the years. As someone who is dedicated to taking care of my own skin, the hands need to be treated well.

I do frequently wash my hands and am susceptible to the dreaded hang nails. If you do not take care of yours hand, they will become dry, red, and even crack and split. Hands can also reveal your age faster than any other physical attribute.

I put on hand cream throughout the day, but most importantly, I put some on before I go to bed especially in the dry indoor climate during winter.

Some years ago, I was a waitress and had to wash my hands constantly. It’s one of the many reasons I won’t go back to that job. I do wash dishes daily and not always with gloves. My hands can get dry easily in winter, but I am lucky enough not to suffer from eczema or dermatitis though many of the below hand creams have been reviewed and endorsed by those who do.

Here are some tips that I’ve found worked for me:

  • The best time to put on hand cream is immediately after you’ve washed and dried your hands as this seals in moisture.
  • Always wear leather or wool mittens/gloves in cold weather. I put hand cream on before going out as a double preventive.
  • Wear gloves during gardening, dishes, canning preparation (acidic fruits), and whenever possible.
  • Pay attention to cuticles and the surrounding areas as this prevents hang nails. This thin skin area gets driest the fastest.
  • Other ways of keeping hangnails at bay is to regularly push the cuticles back with an oil and always cut (never pull) them when they appear and moisturize afterwards.
  • Put a strong hand cream on before bed and if your hands are extra dry and cracking, wear moisture gloves. You can buy household cotton cleaning gloves instead of the specific moisture ones to save money.

Now for the feature attraction, some of my favourite hand creams.

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The Beauty of color by Iman

This is a book about makeup and beauty for women of colour. Even though I rarely wear makeup (more of a skincare person), I do enjoy looking at beauty books and am interested in makeup. Also, even though I am East Asian, I am on the paler side (MAC NC20), so most of the tips in this book didn’t apply to me so much.

Having said that, I think this a good beginner book for people who are just getting into makeup as it has several looks and makeup tips for women of colour. Like Iman, I do agree there is a dirth of good makeup products and looks for these women. She doesn’t specify specific products which means it gives the reader the ability to explore her options, but maybe daunting for some beginners with no makeup knowledge. There is some excellent photography in this book too. I also picked this book up because I have always liked Iman when I see her TV appearances and interviews.

Most of the tips in this book I know from other resources, but I have some Notes and Things I took Away:
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Lioele Water Drop BB Cream

After using the Skin79 Gold BB Cream for a couple of months (5 days a week), I had more than the usual amount of breakouts. I wasn’t sure if it was the Skin79, but I decided to switch over to the Lioele Water Drop BB Cream. I really do like this BB Cream a lot, but it isn’t the one for me.

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Remington T Studio Pearl Curling Wand

Finally! I can curl my hair!

I’m one of those people who can’t seem to use a normal curling iron. In fact, I bought a curling iron with a clamp years ago, but have never successfully managed to do a decent curl. It only fried and crimped my hair. My hair is pin straight; it can’t even hold a decent bun unless I use hair screws or Goody spin pins. The thickness of the hair is about medium, and I have a fair amount of it. It doesn’t hold a curl for very long. In the past to make it a bit wavy, I’ve braided it. My hair is also very long. It is about half way down my back.

For many years, I’d heard about the clampless irons especially the Conair Infinti YouCurl. I was originally going to get that one, but I found the Remington T Studio Pearl Ceramic Curling Wand which is cheaper than the Conair for about $5CAD less at Walmart ($13 less since I got it on sale). It has a lot of good reviews too. I would have liked to get the bigger 1″- 1 1/2″ curling wand, but they don’t seem to sell it at the Canadian Walmarts.

Price: On sale at $24.95CAD before taxes at Wal-Mart. Regular about $32.97. I don’t think many other places sell this in Canada other than London Drugs which I do not live near. In the US, this retails for about $24.99 at Target.


  • Affordable!
  • Multiple heat settings.
  • Heats up in under 30 seconds. Auto-shut off in one hour.
  • The On/Off and lock functions (press and hold the Negative sign) for 2 seconds. I like the digital display.
  • It works! Smooth, static free curl quickly. Lasts for days. It is easy to use.


  • The handle and the non ceramic part of the wand feels a bit cheap. It’s basic plastic and I found a little chip on the stand. This is a minor quibble since the barrel is fine.
  • The glove is made of standard material, not anything specifically heat resistant. Buy a real glove or don’t use it at all.
  • If you have long hair, I recommend the bigger barrel one as this is a tad small.

Conclusion: I like this tool a lot. You need to take some time to learn to use it, but even when I used it for the first time, I managed to get a lot of volume and curls to my hair. It’s worth the price I paid for and I am not someone who is a hair junkie. I like my hair straight, but it’s good to have this tool for when I want to go out or change it up.

General Tips

  1. On clean, dry (or very nearly dry) hair, I spray heat protectant. I use TRESemmé Heat Tamer, but I hear the Got2B one is good too.
  2. Comb through to evenly distribute the product and turn on the curling wand.
  3. Section hair for 3 or 4 sections. I recommend at least sectioning it in two to make it easier unless you have very thin hair to begin with.
  4. Take smaller sections of hair for tighter curl or bigger for more wavy look. Take the wand and put it behind your head with the handle up and the barrel pointing down. Wrap backwards onto the barrel or forwards if you want to alternate.
  5. Try to wrap so as to leave spaces between your hair around the barrel instead of it bunching together. It’s difficult especially if you have long hair, but it does create a better looking curl.
  6. Hold for between 4-10 seconds. Release into your hand if you can and curl and adjust.
  7. Touch up the ends especially if you very straight hair and layers.
  8. Finish off combing through with fingers to make it more natural. You can apply hairspray or styling product to keep the curl.

Attempts and Tests
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Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear

Good, affordable nail polish that comes in loads of colours.

Previously, I have gone years without painting my hand nails. Yes, years. I think the last major time was in 2010 or 2009. The reason for this is that nail colour chips often on my hands. I knit, cook, wash dishes, and I just wash my hands a lot. I am not obsessive compulsive, but I am good at keeping my hands clean. I do paint my toe nails more though because they don’t chip as often and my feet are rather boring so I like to spruce it up for myself.

Lately, since the start of this year, I have been needing retail therapy. Then I saw that these went on sale, looked up some reviews and sort of went crazy and bought 6 including the Invisible colour way as a base and top coat. These will last me years.

The bottle recommends 2-3 coats. I will usually just do 2 because I have no patience for 3. I found too much makes it take forever to dry. I will apply a top coat using the Invisible colour. I never use to do this, but it really helps the colour last on my nails mostly on my left hand. I applied a base coat with the Invisible once, but I find it actually makes it easier to chip so I just do a top coat now. I find these last a good few days without major chipping and the pigmentation is really good. On my left hand, I went a good five days without a major chip usually.

The biggest con with this line seems to be that it takes awhile to dry and if you apply too much. Make sure your coats are very thin. Otherwise, they will smudge or dent easily even if you allow more than 10-15 mins drying time between coats. I am also not a big fan of the brush.

Price: Got these all on a Buy One Get On Free (BOGOF) sale so down from a regular $3.49 each to about $1.79CAD before tax.


  • Affordable and widely available
  • Good colour selection
  • Very pigmented and sparkly (in the case of the Celeb City)


  • Drying time can be a bit slow compared to some other lacquers.
  • Brush is not the best quality

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Skin 79 VIP Gold BB Cream

BB Creams are now increasingly popular here in the West with Stila, Mac, and Garnier producing their own versions. I’ve known about BB Creams for a few of years now because of the its popularity in Asia and specifically those brands from Korea. I have never worn foundation and have no intention of doing so, but recently, I have curious about trying BB creams myself.

The Skin 79 brand is very popular. There is the pink formulation and this gold one. The gold is purported to be slightly more moisturizing than the pink one so suitable for normal-dry skin. Both have the anti-wrinkle, whitening and SPF 25 properties. If you have oilier skin, go for the pink model.

Price: $22CAD tax included at Pacific Mall, Markham. At that mall, it was $22-25 range, but you can definitely get it cheaper online. Ebay and Amazon has some good deals, but you must be careful as there are knockoff versions of BB creams..

How I apply: After moisturizing and sunscreen (if it’s very sunny), I pump only about 1/2 to 3/4 amount, dot it all over my face, focusing on areas where I need it most (tzone), blend and pat. The box has pictorial instructions to help you. If I have blemishes to cover, they get a couple extra dots and blend again. Since BB cream is considered makeup, I use a cleansing soap or an oil to remove it at night.

Skin 79 VIp Gold BB Cream swatch

When I first put this on, it immediately covered the mild redness I usually have on my nose and surrounding cheek area. It covers minor acne or scars; it can dull old scars.

This is light but buildable, but I did see the grey cast if I used two layers of it. This is not very obvious though. You can definitely use it as a light foundation.

Personally, it was not moisturizing enough for me. My skin is combination, but it has been particularly dry this year. This is good for hot, humid weather when my skin is oilier. I think I will try the watery BB creams next.


  • Light, buildable and oxidizes very well
  • SPF25
  • Minmizes redness and acts as light foundation
  • Affordable
  • A little goes a long way


  • Not widely available
  • Packaging is bad. it has no cap and if you travel with it, it will spill and make a mess.
  • Can be expensive
  • Not moisturizing enough for me
  • You still need to put a sunscreen and moisturizer on before the BB cream


Ultimately, I do not think most BB creams are for me. That aside, I think this is a good BB cream if you have normal skin. I would not wear this everyday because I don’t need to and it’s a hassle to remove it at night. There are parabens in it and other BB creams so I don’t want to use it all the time either. Skin79 is a good brand for BB creams and as an introduction to Asian BB creams. I’m not displeased with this product and it does look and feel good when I wear it.

Edit (December 2012): I stopped using this BB Cream in Oct after wearing it consistently five days a week for 3 months. I found that I got breakouts on my face from this. It wasn’t hormonal or my usual breakouts either as it would appear on my cheeks. Nothing changed in my diet or routine except this product. After I stopped using this, I tried the Lioele Water Drop BB Cream and read that many others have breakouts from Skin79 BB Cream. I know that many people love the Skin 79 BB creams, and I am not someone with super sensitive skin either. I didn’t get any adverse reactions right away, but only after consistent use.

Crest 3d Whitestrips Gentle Routine
This was my first experience with Crest Whitestrips. I wanted to start off easy with the 5 minute ones and this one had decent reviews and claimed no pain.

My teeth are somewhat sensitive. I use the Sensodyne Pronamel toothpaste. While my teeth are not super yellow, they do get stained easily because I drink tea. Rarely coffee and I don’t smoke. The teeth staining issue was something I’ve always remember having even before I drank tea. It is a familial trait dentists have told me so I can’t really prevent it. Funnily enough, i had less staining when I lived in London and other hard water areas, but I have grown and lived mostly in soft water areas.

In this box, there are 28 pouches, each with two strips, one upper, one lower. You wear them for
5 minutes a day. I put mine on before brushing my teeth at night. I think I forgot to put them for about 6 times in the whole thing, mostly toward the end and I would only skip one day.

Price: $29.99 CAD before tax, two day sale at SDM, usually around $50 otherwise.

Conclusion: The box claims that the whitening is subtle. Yes, so subtle that I’m not sure if it did anything. My teeth stain easily so this was probably not strong enough, and the whole process was easy though the strips did like to slide around on my teeth at times. I’m willing to try the other ones such as the Stain Guard ones and even those which are required to be on for 30 minutes. I don’t really recommend this product unless you have super sensitive teeth and relatively ok teeth since they do not whiten that well.

Lansinoh Lanolin

Lansinoh Lanolin has had a high rating and repurchase rate on MUA for awhile now. I’ve known about it for a year, but was hesitant to purchase it just as a lip balm for the night. Still, after working the calculations, the quality of the product and how long it would last (one 56g tube, probably over a year), it is better value than most lip balms and the Vaseline I was using on lips before at night.

This makes my lips feel and look fuller the next morning. I barely use a lentil size drop on my lips. Also, I never have to use a lip scrub since this product makes it easier for me to exfoliate my lips the next morning. My lips are better than ever with this product.

Lanolin is the sheep’s version of sebum, the human oil which moisturizes our skin. When you consider you are paying for 100% pure, medical grade lanolin that is safe for babies and everyone else, it’s worth it. I have only used this on my lips though other people like it for their cuticles, feet, and the advertised, as a nipple cream.

Price: $12.99CAD before tax for 2 oz/56g tube at Shoppers Drug Mart in Canada. This is the only place I found it out of Wal-Mart, Loblaws/Superstore, and Rexall. It was found in the baby aisle.


  • Moisturizing and unlike Vaseline/Petrolatum jelly based balms, it covers and absorbs into your skin and lips
  • Long Lasting and thick
  • A little goes a long way
  • Scentless – Some people may disagree. I am biased since I work with lanolin enriched wool frequently so I don’t even notice it
  • Shiny, can be used sparingly as a gloss and lip stick base
  • Multipurpose – lips, cuticles, elbows, stretch marks, hands, etc.
  • 100% pure medical grade lanolin, safe enough for babies.


  • Just a tad sticky
  • Thick and hard to push out of the tube if store in a cold room
  • Price
  • Please check as people do have lanolin sensitivity and allergies.

Conclusion: My HG night lip balm. Definite repurchase.