Skincare to Try 2018

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day! I have been away from the blog for a long while because of some health issues, but I wanted to come back and really re-focus on self-care and self-improvement. So, here’s a post that is related to one of my favorite ways to take care of myself for me: taking care of my skin!

In 2017, I tackled some new-to-me Skincare Products to Try thanks to a thoughtful gift from Christine and, my personal weakness, value gift sets.

Before I launch into the embarrassing number of mini skincare products I now own thanks to these value gift sets, I never reviewed the products I tried last year. Quick reviews on each set of products (check the original blog post for the specific brands and products included):

  • The Tatcha Beauty Essentials Discovery set was really good for someone like me, who uses nicer skincare more sparingly than I ought to. The products felt great on my skin, although I don’t think I used them consistently/frequently enough to notice a difference attributable to them specifically. I used these products most when incorporated into the Fifty Shades of Snail pore minimizing routine, which requires a cleansing oil. (Definitely try this if you want to deep clean your face!) The powder cleanser is interesting (and, I believe, TSA-compliant, because it’s not a liquid) but more of a novelty to me. Still, this is a great introductory kit to the brand and really good if you like trying new products but not committing to them for the duration of however-long a full-length product lasts you.
  • The 2016 Sephora Favorites: Scouted by Sephora set was really exciting to me but not only did I only end up liking products that I have substitutes for (the overnight water pack, the physical exfoliant) but I found some products just overwhelmingly mediocre? (Looking at the lip balm that sat there and didn’t do anything, the vitamin C serum that smells weird, and sorry but I never liked the smell of rosewater so that mist was doomed from the start). Also, I don’t know how to use the eyelash enhancer but if I’m using it right it’s not doing anything I think…
  • My 2016 Sephora birthday gift was okay… but I don’t understand the hype around these fresh products. The soy cleanser is a holy grail around the internet but it dried my skin but didn’t seem to really clean it very well, while the mask just sat goopy on my face until I washed it off to no real positive effect?
  • My darling Christine sent over some great Korean beauty items that I am still working through because, again, I am notoriously slow with using up my skincare items. But I do like the Skinfood mask/scrub as a replacement to my ol’ Freeman black sugar mask/scrub and have started incorporating that Missha essence in a modified 3-to-7 skin method to combat winter dryness. I’m not sure how well that’s working out… BUT the ampoule feels so lovely on my face and, while I never use it without the essence, I think that’s really kicking up my skincare efficacy.

Hmmm… maybe I should’ve made the reviews of last year’s skincare products its own post? If you want more in-depth reviews of the stuff I mentioned above, I can do that later, but let me introduce the products that I need to start using before I let myself try anything new.

So, I do have a bad habit of buying little gift sets of skincare for myself because they are a great value for a person like me, who uses products sparingly, infrequently, and inconsistently. (I have a bottle of face wash that I have been using for literally 6-7 years? It foams up a lot so I don’t need a lot per wash…  that being said I definitely use it way less than daily.) As a result, I am not allowing myself to buy anything else until I have tried everything I introduce in this post and use up at least… 1/3? 1/2 of the products? (That I like. Of course, if I hate most of the products, I hope I won’t force myself to use them up.)

Shout-out to the Pike & Rose Sephora for the sweet, sweet friends & family event they held where I walked away with not one, not two, but four different skincare gift sets.

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My Sephora ~ H A U L ~ #notspon

I’ve always gravitated towards the curated Sephora Favorites sets. Even the sets that I am not as interested in, like the makeup and fragrance ones, seem like great values and a good variety of products to try. In fact, one of my first purchases at Sephora was their Sephora Favorites Superstars gift set, which comprises their bestsellers from every year. (I haven’t repurchased this in the years since because a lot of products reappear from year to year and I use my products so sloooowly.) However, this year, not only did I walk around holding these 3 Sephora Favorites boxes, I also impulsively grabbed an Origins set, maybe because I had spent a lot of time at a local Origins store event right before this shopping one. (Sorry for not buying from the Origins store, kindly Origins staff. In my defense, you were not carrying this specific gift set.)

Anyway, let’s meet each set!!

Origins gift set

This Origins set includes:

  • Modern Friction dermabrasion exfoliant
  • Ginzing scrub cleanser
  • Ginzing eye cream
  • Ginzing gel moisturizer
  • High-Potency Night-a-Mins renewal cream
  • Clear Improvement charcoal mask – single use pack x2
  • Drink Up Intensive overnight mask – single use pack x2

I’m excited for this because I had a good experience trying out the Modern Friction in the store and have heard great things about Night-a-Mins. I had a not-so-great experience with the Ginzing eye cream several years ago but 2018 is about me giving brands new chances so… here we are.

Sephora Favorites: Scouted by Sephora

This past year’s Sephora Favorites: Scouted by Sephora set is curated every year to feature popular indie brands (like the internet favorite, Drunk Elephant) and includes:

  • Biossance squalane + vitamin C rose oil
  • Herbivore Blue Tansy resurfacing clarity mask
  • Cane + Austin Miracle Pad+ (back again from last year!)
  • Farmacy Honey Potion mask
  • Lancer The Method: Nourish moisturizer
  • Youth to the People kale + green tea spinach vitamins cleanser
  • Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial peel
  • Drunk Elephant virgin marula facial oil
  • Tata Harper repairative moisturizer
  • Sol Janeiro Brazilian bum bum cream
  • Rich Kid coconut oil gel
  • Skin Laundry foaming face wash

Sephora Favorites: Soko to Tokyo

There was an earlier iteration of the Sephora Favorites: Soko to Tokyo gift set, because I remember considering it heavily before Sephora started distributing Laneige. (I was wondering why Target stopped carrying them…) Anyway here’s what the box contains:

  • belif Aqua Bomb moisturizer
  • boscia sake cleansing water
  • Laneige water sleeping mask
  • Shiseido Benefiance eye cream
  • AmorePacific Moisture Bound essence
  • SK-II essence
  • Laneige Water Bank moisturizer
  • Tatcha Polished cleansing powder (as seen in my Tatcha Essentials kit from last time!)
  • Too Cool for School egg cream mask
  • Cicapair tiger grass cream

I love me my Asian beauty so I’m really excited to dig into this kit, even though I have used several of the products already. (That SK-II essence doe!)

And last but not least…

Sephora Favorites: Skin Wonderland

The Sephora Favorites: Skin Wonderland is a set of best sellers for those treat-yo-skin days and consists of:

  • Foreo LUNA play
  • Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta peel
  • IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Makeup cleansing balm
  • Ole Henriksen Truth Serum
  • AmorePacific Essential Creme Fluid moisturizer
  • Drunk Elephant Lala Retro whipped cream moisturizer
  • First Aid Beauty coconut priming moisturizer
  • fresh umbrian clay mask
  • boscia white charcoal treatment primer
  • Sunday Riley C.E.O moisturizer
  • Kate Somerville ExfoliKate exfoliant
  • tarte maracuja eye cream
  • Josie Maran whipped argan oil

I’m super excited to start making my way through these little bottles and tubs of products! In the meantime, don’t anyone let me buy anything new, okay?

Also, Christine got me more great KBeauty products to try out this year!

Soko Glam gift from Christine

Christine sent me a thoughtful package from Soko Glam, the curated Korean beauty marketplace, and I am super excited to try out:

  • Missha The First Treatment essence mist (the mist version of the essence she gifted me last year!)
  • Neogen Bio-Peel+ gauze peel in wine
  • Missha Safe Block SPF 50+ facial sunscreen

I have been hoarding all of these brand-new products for a long time, so I’m working hard to make sure I do my routine a lot more regularly (versus once a week, on a good week), so that I can clear out my old products and start trying these new ones!

What were some of your favorite skincare products that you’d recommend?
Do you have any thoughts on any of the products I listed that I’m going to try? Love it? Hate it? Super meh on it?

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Black Friday/Brown Thursday

(In the debate between “Grey Thursday” and “Brown Thursday”, I like brown because that’s the color of most of the Thanksgiving foods, I guess? XD)

(I’ll update this with photos and video when I feel like getting around to taking and editing them. XD)

I did most of my shopping with my family on Thursday after everyone was food coma’d. I don’t really like the idea of shopping on Thanksgiving, a sacred day for eating and being with family. I also hate the idea of salespeople having to leave their families to work on Thanksgiving. 😦
However, we spent all of Black Friday showing someone around New York, and people ditched us after dinner anyway, so around 8 PM we headed out to Best Buy, figuring that it wouldn’t be too hectic after 2 hours of being open.

I did wait in line outside of Best Buy a few years ago, so I was extremely glad that I didn’t have to do that this year. My cousin (well, actually his dad is my dad’s cousin, but he shall henceforth be referred to as “my cousin” and not “my second cousin” or whatever) had one objective: The Big Bang Theory season 6 DVD box. He is upset that the design scheme for the DVDs changed after season 3 and now they’re inconsistent with each other on the shelf. (Serious stuff, people! Open your eyes to the ugly truth.) As for myself, I wanted to get:

  • An external hard drive – I was extremely panicked when my computer died, so I want to make sure I can back up my files
  • SD card – When I lost my camera, I lost my 8 GB SD card for my camera, and now I only have my 2 GB one. I like having more on hand, preferably in a larger file size.

I ended up getting:

  • A 2 TB portable external hard drive – I didn’t plan on getting such a large size and I didn’t think that portability was so important, but my dad convinced me since it’s more convenient to be able to carry it around AND if I keep up at the rate that I’m currently going with my photos and videos, then I’ll need the large storage capacity.
  • A 16 GB SD card adaptable to micro-SD – Not sure why I needed micro-ness, but maybe if I want to carry the files on my phone? Iono. I declined the 32 GB one because I worry about having TOO many files on one card in the unfortunate event that I lose it or something. Also, I would never upload if I had so much storage space on one. XD
  • A wireless mouse – I gave my old one to my brother and then he broke it. So. I don’t use them much but if I need one, I’ll have one.
  • Headphones & earbuds – For my listening needs, since my old ones are on their last legs now. I got the warranty for the headphones but I’m tired of getting them for these Skullcandy earbuds… sigh.

Because of that external hard drive, I ended up spending the most money at Best Buy this weekend.

POOR WALLET GETS NO BREAK. (Sorry, wallet.)

My brother made me take him out to the mall around midnight because he wanted to get some clothes. I had some things in mind to get, too. PLUS we were in New Jersey visiting my “cousin”, so you know what that means:

No sales tax on clothing holla at me!

Even though I was pretty annoyed about being out so late when I wanted to be asleep, and a little grumpy with my brother, I had a productive late night trip. I got:

  • 2 Disney graphic tees – I stopped buying graphic tees for a while, but I bought quite a few this past fall. I’ve been especially into getting graphic tees that harken back to my childhood, i.e. Disney, Super Mario Bros, TMNT. I got these at Macy’s, where they were on a clearance rack for half off, I think. PLUS the cashier put in some promo code (I’m guessing for Black Friday?) so both T-shirts together only cost me a little bit over $10. (And remember, no tax, holla.)
  • Black button-down blouse, aubergine button-up cardgian, & red lace-trimmed tank – Just picking up some basics from Old Navy; no real rhyme or reason here but I’m sure I’ll wear these plenty.
  • RED PANTS & cream sweater with lace sleeves – I have been searching for red pants for no less than a year and a half. And I finally finally found them, YES. This thrills me. I’ve been struggling because every time I would see red pants, they’d be super duper skinny and cause me pain. Also, the sweater is cute, but I’m mostly excited about this red pants thing. I’m still excited about them today. (Also, shoutout to the super helpful sales associate at Delia’s!)

And then, I did a bad thing. I splurged on something on Saturday. I’ve been eyeing this for a while and I know I don’t need it. I know this. But here we are:

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The Sephora Favorites Super Stars Beauty Essentials gift set (no longer available on their website).  I saw this at Sephora a few weeks ago and haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. It’s $75, which is more than I like spending on anything, let alone on beauty supplies since I, uh… don’t really wear makeup. Ever. ^^;; I have a bit more knowledge than would appear, since I watch a lot of Youtube beauty gurus and read a lot of magazines.

But dudes, the value is so incredible. There are full-sized products in here, and these are all consistently listed as holy grail products. (That famous eyeliner, that infamous blush/bronzer duo, the argan oil, oh my.) I basically do not need to buy any other makeup/beauty product again. (If you like beauty products, you definitely should buy this. The value is through the roof, and it’s way more economical than buying more than 2 or 3 of these individually. The value of all the items separately is over $280. I only wish it came with a nice bag also, like some of the other gift sets. (Case in point, the Sephora Glitz& Glam set, which I almost bought had I not seen this Super Stars set. That is also a super great deal, if you’re looking for something for yourself or to give as a gift.) (I wish Sephora was paying me to say this, but these gift sets are such a good deal and so dangerous for your wallet.)

In fact, I will be adding to my resolutions that I will not be purchasing any other makeup/beauty products unless something goes empty that I need (e.g. my moisturizer, etc.). Because honestly, I won’t need anything ever again. Ever. Never for never.

I also got my Beauty Insider birthday gift! That was a surprise, since my birthday is in December, but I guess they have us all ready, so I got Benefit’s They’re Real! mascara & Watt’s Up highlighter earlier than I thought I would, so yay.

Sephora Beauty Insider Birthday Gift 2013
Photo courtesy of HelloJaa.com

That is my little haul from the weekend! My Thanksgiving in and of itself wasn’t terribly eventful. We ate dinner with my family and some of their friends and spent time freezing in New York (I may go into that day in a later post).

How was your Thanksgiving weekend?
Did you buy anything over the weekend?

Broken Whole

“When the Japanese repair broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold. They believe that when something has suffered damage and has a history, it becomes more beautiful.” This photo got a lot of positive feedback on my Tumblr, and rightly so. It’s gorgeous, and the caption enhances that beauty.

Winner Winner, Seafood Dinner

Last weekend was my dad’s birthday, so to celebrate we went to the Longwood Gardens on Saturday and then to Atlantic City on Sunday. We used to visit these places more frequently when we lived in New Jersey, and I don’t think I’ve been to the Gardens since we moved, so it was a real treat getting to go.

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Photos cannot do this place justice, and I will not overwhelm you with photos here. I have hundreds and I’ll put up a Flickr album when I get a chance.

I absolutely loved the Gardens. First of all, they are stunning to the max. If you like flowers, plants, biology, this place is just great. Also, the fountains are spectacular. One thing that was different about this particular visit is I really learned more about Pierre du Pont, who owned the property before it was opened to the public. He put so much of his time and effort into the gardens and was enamored with the magic of water. Also, it’s great listening to John Philips Sousa during the fountain show, as he was a personal friend of Monsieur du Pont. His house was beautiful and there was an adorable kitty napping 0utside of it, aw.

Maybe I’ll write a separate post about the beauty of the Longwood Gardens, but this post is going to be about that vice known as gambling.

Now, I am not a gambler. As a person, I shy away from risks and hate the idea of gambling. It was my first time in Atlantic City since turning 21, however, and I knew my dad would like to see my try my hand in the casino. I thought of it kind of the way you approach an arcade or something – this is money I am spending to have fun, I am not expecting to get it back, and if I do, hurray.

For example, earlier that day, we were at our favorite arcade – the Central Pier Arcade. We were trying to get those quarters to fall from where they were hanging so precariously…

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So… deceptively… difficult…

… when I was approached by one of the arcade’s staffers. “Would you like to win 300 tickets with just 50 cents?” “Oh, that sounds too easy to be true.” “No really! Come look! Just hit the jellyfish.” It was a game where you had to avoid hitting a bunch of other sea critters swimming about and harpoon a mystical jellyfish guarding a treasure chest. I saw another lady try and fail, but my dad ambled over and told me to go for it, so I humored him. I missed the first shot, but lo and behold, I HIT THE JELLYFISH. I was so pleasantly surprised and I couldn’t handle all the tickets. My brother was only a little peeved because I had reset the jackpot and the jellyfish disappeared, so he didn’t have his own shot at glory for this game. (Sorry!) I almost never win these arcade games by any substantial amount, so this was a refreshing feeling and set the mood for my day at high.

Later, at the casino, my dad had convinced me to try my hand at slots. I didn’t have to feel so personally responsible if I lost, because I didn’t have to make too many decisions, and so if I did lose, I wouldn’t feel so bad. It would feel more like an arcade game, I reasoned. So I put $20 on the card and sat myself down at a penny slot. I made about $3, but that was after just a few pushes of the button, and I think my dad and brother would’ve been disappointed if I cashed out there, although they said I could. I was here to make sure we all had a good time, and I committed to either cashing out at more than that $3 mark or just spending it all.

I was about to spend it all, yes. I was down to maybe $4 left on the machine, and I had no idea how these slots really worked as far as how much money they did end up giving back to you.

But then I WON OVER $50 and so I actually profited $31.35 that day. From the penny slots. I am never ever that lucky, and I did not expect to win any kind of double digits from a slot machine for sure. I was super pleased and more than happy to foot the bill for my dad’s birthday dinner. Red Lobster was so good for my mouth, which craved real food. OMNOMNOM.

A week later, my boyfriend’s friends and I were playing poker. They dragged me into it by buying me in, giving me chips and cards, and waiting on me to place my bets. I don’t really know all the rules of poker, and I especially am not sure which hands are better than others, but they paid for me, so okay. They started getting worried realizing they did not know my strategy and they had a difficult time reading what my strategy was.

Now, I’ve played poker a few times before, and always poorly. However, this time, I played quite well because there was a pretty aggressive player at the table. I am pretty bad at getting people to raise their bets when I have decent hands, but this guy was always raising my bets when I had pretty guaranteed wins. So at one point in the game, I HAD NEARLY $20. (Buy-in was $10.) My hands weren’t as great towards the end, and I don’t know how to play poor hands off as well, so I only walked away with about a $2 profit (in addition to the $10 buy-in) .

I’m really nervous now… because I don’t think I’m going to stay very lucky for very much longer. It’s as though much of my life’s game luck has been saved for these past 2 weeks and now I am back at zero.

I bet I don’t win anything again for a while.