Monday, June 30, 2014

May and June 2014 Empties

Everyone is doing empties posts nowadays which makes me feel like I'm on some sort of bandwagon even though I've been doing these "Products I've Used Up" posts for much longer than most of the popular vloggers. I like being on trend but too much of something makes me feel iffy about it.... Enough nonsensical rambling, let's see what I'm tossing out!

I used up three big tubs of bodycare in the last two months. I feel like I finished Lush's Celebrate Body Lotion ages ago because I can't remember the last time I used it. It was limited edition for the past holiday season and I loved the bright citrus scent and creamy consistency. I also used up an entire jumbo bottle of Lush's Rose Jam Shower Gel which I treasured when I first got it but after a few months grew a bit tired of the scent. The rose jam scent is probably my favorite Lush scent but too much of a good thing makes it less special for me. I was glad to finish up the Tree Hut Olive & Shea Sugar Body Scrub because it was nothing amazing and I love trying new body scrubs.

In terms of skincare I finished the Innisfree Rose Clear Skin Toner which was too heavily scented and not particularly effective at anything. If you've been reading my blog for the past few months you'll know I love the IOPE Bio Essence Intensive Conditioning so it's no surprise I used up the half size trial bottle as well as a mini travel sample. I already bought a full size bottle and am currently using it. I've gone through yet another Up&Up Eye Makeup Remover which I repurchase regularly because it is the most affordable and effective eye makeup remover. I finished a sample of the Origins Dr. Andrew Weil Mega-Bright Skin Tone Correcting Serum which felt nice but I will not be repurchasing. I like a select few products from the Origins skincare lineup but tend to stay away from the serums and moisturizers. Even though I use sunscreen pretty much everyday, it still takes me a lot of time to go through one bottle. The Clarins UV Plus HP SPF 40 Day Screen is a liquid sunscreen so it applies easily and doesn't leave a white cast but it can feel a tiny bit oily compared to Shiseido's sunscreens which I prefer. Also, you can see the red text rubs off and the bits of letters end up on my face and it is ridiculously difficult to pick off the tiny flecks after my makeup is done. The Clean Well Natural Hand Sanitizer isn't exactly skincare but I featured it in my makeup bag so I thought I'd reiterate that I really like this sanitizer and prefer it to the alcohol laden gel ones. A Nivea Kiss of Milk and Honey Lipbalm also bit the dust this month and was decent but nothing worthy of a repurchase. 

I have a bunch of aging makeup products that need to get binned. I finally threw out an XL tube of Urban Decay Primer Potion which is embarrassingly old. This was my first tube of eye primer ever and there is still tons of product in it despite me using it almost everyday when I put on eyeshadow. There is probably a lot of bacteria in the tube so it's about time I got rid of it. My latest tube of Maybelline's One By One Volum' Express Waterproof Mascara is dried up so into the garbage it went. I enjoy the One By One formula but it doesn't beat The Falsies or The Colossal for me. I have a super old NYX Eyeshadow Trio in Sahara, Suede and Chocolate that I no longer reach for and should throw out. This was one of my first eyeshadows ever and was much loved as I did my eyebrows with the brown shades years ago. I don't know why I bought the Yves Rocher Pastel Cream Eyeshadow but it absolutely sucked. The shadow applied patchy and the iridescent lilac pink clashed with my warm skintone. The formula dried up so there was no point in holding onto it any longer.

The Revlon Beyond Natural Blush and Bronzer in Pink Rose was a disappointing product from the get-go but I somehow managed to hit pan on the bronzer a long time ago. The product lacks pigmentation so I had to pack on the color on a brush and build it up. That is the only reason why there is so much pan showing. I haven't reached for this duo in years because I have so many better blushes and bronzers that I don't see a point to keeping this in my collection. Into the garbage it goes! Lastly I have a few Revlon Lip Butters in Gumdrop and Creme Brulee as well as the old Revlon Super Lustrous Lipglosses in Lilac Pastelle and Peach Petal. It's funny that these lip colors match each other because I bought them at totally different times and I never really paired these products together. Years ago I loved the look of nude lips and now I rarely wear them. I never got on with the Revlon lip butters and these glosses washed me out completely. I passed these onto my little cousin who pulls of nude lips better than I do.

That's it for my May and June empties. I actually used up some more products when I was in Hawaii  but I threw those out before jetting back to New York (because why would I take up precious luggage space with empty containers?). Have you used any of these products I mentioned in this post? How often do you go through your collection and throw out or give away unloved makeup?

Saturday, June 28, 2014

IOPE Moisture Skin Soft Peeling Gel: Review and Demo

Peeling gels are a common exfoliant formula in Asia but I have yet to see one in the Western market. I have had my eye on the IOPE Moisture Skin Soft Peeling Gel for years but only purchased it this past January in South Korea. I have heard a lot of rave reviews for the Laneige Strawberry Yogurt Peeling Gel and opted for IOPE's version hoping for similarly good results. For those who are new to Korean cosmetics, IOPE is the sister brand to Laneige under the Amore Pacific family company and is sold at a higher price point and marketed to a more mature market.

A 100ml tube of the IOPE Moisture Skin Soft Peeling Gel will last you a long time and costs roughly $30. The plastic packaging is sleek and functional. The gel has a very strong fragrance which I personally like but find overwhelming. The scent lingers for a few minutes after using the product as well. Those sensitive to fragrance will not like this product. I could not find a complete list of ingredients for this product and the company claims only vaguely state they included witch hazel and plant extracts to help the skin.

The technology behind peeling gels is vague. To be honest, I can't exactly tell you how they work. To use them, you apply a nickel sized amount onto a clean, dry face and rub in circular motions. The IOPE peeling gel contains little blue beads that melt when you rub the product. At first it seems that the gel is sinking into your skin like a moisturizer but after about a minute of rubbing, you will start to see flaky bits appear. I assume this is a combination of the dried up gel and perhaps dead skin.

The more you rub, the more exfoliating grit you get and a minute or 90 seconds is all you need to feel fully polished. My face gets a bit red after using this but after rinsing off the white flaky bits and any leftover residue, my skin does not feel agitated. My skin feels clean and refreshed after using this product but it is nothing special. It is akin to using a physical exfoliator with granular beads or even sugar and there is no significant brightening or extra benefits. 

Watch the video below to see how the gel applies onto my face and how it turns reacts on the skin. 

What do you think of the peeling gel concept? Are you curious to try it for yourself?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Bourjois Rouge Edition: 11 Fraise Remix

This is yet another case of a product I bought ages ago, discarded into the abyss that is my makeup collection and promptly forgot about. I acquired two Bourjois Rouge Edition lipsticks last year while living in Amsterdam (I can't believe it's been more than a year since I studied abroad!) and the shocking vibrant nature of Fraise Remix both drew me to the shade and prevented me from wearing it. 

I reviewed the other shade, Corail En Vogue, last year because it was less intimidating. To reiterate the basics from that review, these drugstore lipsticks can be found in Europe and cost about €13. Fraise Remix and four other shades are available on the Asos US website for about $15. For a drugstore brand, these lipsticks are quite pricey but the quality is quite good and drugstore makeup outside of the United States tends to be a bit more expensive in general. 

A year ago I wrote that these had a sour candy scent but now I cannot detect a scent in either of the colors so perhaps the scent wears off with time. Like Corail En Vogue, Fraise Remix is very creamy and pigmented. The color translates easily from the tube onto skin and lips and glides on almost too well. With such a bright color and a slippery formula I like to dab the lipstick all over the lips and use a finger or brush to pat in the color to make it less shiny and goopy. When I've applied too much of this I can simply blot off the excess with a tissue and achieve a matte lip. These lipsticks are not drying but not moisturizing either so be prep your lips with a scrub before application and carry a lipbalm around in case you need some moisture throughout the day.

Fraise Remix is a beautiful bright pink that neither leans too warm or cool. I have a hard time wearing pink lipsticks because my skin is quite warm but I don't think Fraise Remix looks weird on my skin tone. Unlike Corail En Vogue which looks ghostly by itself, Fraise Remix livens up my complexion and needs no gloss to complete it. 

If you love bright pink lips sans shimmer, Fraise Remix from Bourjois is a nice mid-priced find. I wish we had more access to Bourjois in the states because they have a few winners in their lineup. Have you tried any shades from the Bourjois Rouge Edition collection? What is the brightest neon lipstick in your makeup stash?

Monday, June 23, 2014

Tarte Cheek Stain in Flush: Don't Knock It 'Till You Try It

The appeal of the Tarte cheek stains alluded me time and time again when I swatched the slippery glue stick-esque blushes at Sephora. My dear blogger friend Julie of Lil Lady's Life seems to really adore hers so I was excited when Sephora recently offered a mini one in Flush in exchange for 100 points. On a side note, while I think the Sephora point system is a generall ripoff and you're better off waiting for gift with purchases from the department stores, this was a great sample that I never really see being offered elsewhere. 

The cheek stains are Tarte's oldest product and according to the company, the packaging was recently given a makeover while the actual product remained the same. I read several customer reviews which beg to differ and claim that the formula was changed. Either way, the new formula is here to stay until further notice. A full size twist up tube contains .5 ounces of product and this mini weighs in at .17 ounces which is about a third. In the photo above I twisted up the product all the way so you can see how much .17 ounces looks like. The regular size costs $30 so this sample mini is worth $10. A little goes a long way and I read somewhere that it would take years to finish a full size even with daily use. As someone who's makeup routine changes everyday, I wish Tarte would offer mini stains at a fraction of the price so I can collect all the shades!

I passed up on these blushes because every time I swatched them they would be sheer and sticky. Above I swiped the stick three times over my skin and you can see the sheer glaze. Well, the key is simply not to swipe the product on but to bounce it over the skin to get a kiss of color. The color payoff is still sheer and you still get a slight tacky feeling on your cheeks but this is one of the most natural makeup illusions. About five light dabs of this on the contours of my face makes it look like I've been jogging in the sun or windswept on a brisk day. Brushes are not necessary and will even hinder your ability to apply this product. Keep it simple with a few dabs and blend with your fingers if necessary. Flush is a pomegranate shade sans shimmer that is gorgeous whether you're as fair as an English rose or as tan as an Amazonian warrior. 

Swatching the rainbow of new releases at Sephora is satisfactory at determining pigmentation but it's not always a surefire way to see how a product performs. If it weren't for the 100 point perk, I would have probably never discovered the usefulness of the Tarte cheek stains for myself. This is a great travel companion and a must have for those with super simple makeup routines. Have you tried the Tarte cheek stains?

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Zoya Thandie: Go Oranje!

I'm not even going to pretend I follow the World Cup or that I know anything about soccer (or football) but considering I lived in Amsterdam for over four months, I do have a soft spot for the Dutch. I still have a bunch of Zoya press samples I have yet to try so I figured Thandie*, a true orange, would be a nice little tribute to the voetballers. 

I also recently picked up a new base coat from Sephora X as all my other base coats are old and goopy. The Formula X Base Coat is quite thin and makes it easy to get a thin layer to prep for two coats of nail color. I really fancy the shape of the Formula X nail polishes and think the white caps look super chic. 

Going back to Thandie, it released with the Summer 2013 collection and is permanent. In the bottle on three coats later on the nails, it looks like a cream. But after one coat and very close inspection, there are actually very fine bits of microshimmer in the formula. After the second coat, the shimmer was undetectable on my nails. This polish was a bit thicker than some of my other Zoya's and I needed three coats to get full coverage without streaks.

Thandie is a great summer color that will make your tan stand out and liven up darker skin tones. I wish it would have applied more evenly with just two coats but it doesn't appear thick with three. A true orange is on trend this season and I would recommend you give this a go!

*The Zoya polish was sent to me for free for consideration and review. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Summer Festival Makeup: Teal and Gold Eyeliner with Bold Orange Lips

Festival season is upon us and this fun look would go well with many outfits! I'm not sure if I'll be going to any festivals this year but here's to hoping! This eyeliner technique is great whether you have double lids or hooded lids as my uneven eyes demonstrate.

I don't wear bright makeup much anymore and that's a real shame because I used to love experimenting with color back when I first started playing with makeup. The first eyeshadows I ever bought were a pale baby pink and sky blue. I actually filmed a tutorial for this summer look but for some unknown reason, an error is preventing me from uploading the footage to my computer for editing. So instead of scrapping the whole idea, I thought I might as well show the look and attempt to break down the look with words.

For the eye base, I swept a bit of the Shiseido Shimmering Cream Eye Color in BE217* onto the inner and middle portion of the lid. I mixed the two lightest champagne and rust shades in the Maybelline Eyestudio Quad in Irresistibly Ivy and applied it to the center of the eyelid. To counteract all the shimmer, I brushed the midtone matte brown shade from the Wet n' Wild Vanity Palette into the crease. Since I don't wear color all that often, I had to improvise a solution for teal eyeliner. I painted on a thick wing using an angled brush and the Shiseido Shimmering Cream Eye Color in BL620*. To prevent the cream shadow from smudging, I set it with the pigmented teal eyeshadow from the Maybelline Eyestudio Quad in Irresistibly Ivy. For the gold accents I used a clean angled liner brush and Loreal's HIP Studio Secrets Color Chrome Eyeliner in Gold Charge and set it with Mac's Melon Pigment. For the bottom lashline and upper waterline I smudged a bit of the Cargo Swimmables Eyeliner* in a navy shade. To finish the look I applied Daiso False Lashes which I would not recommend because the band is very thick and hard plastic that feels uncomfortable.

I contoured my face using the Bourjois Delice de Poudre Bronzing Powder in 51 and complemented my warm skintone with the Etude House Watercolor Blusher in Apricot. I'm all about the glow-from-within look for this season so of course I had to dust on some highlighter a la Nars Albatross. On my lips is simply L'oreal's Shine Caresse Lipgloss in Coral Tattoo, one of my favorite no-fuss super pigmented lipgloss stains. If you're at a music festival, the last thing you want to be doing is retouching your lip color and the Loreal Shine Caresse Lipglosses last ages so I can't recommend them enough!

How do you incorporate color into your makeup? Do you stray away from neons for normal days or do you embrace color no matte what the occasion is?

*Products were complementary and provided for consideration. I am not being sponsored or paid to talk about them and all opinions are my own. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Holiday in Hawaii 2014 Part 4: Wishing for Waikiki

Here is the final installment of my Hawaiian travel recap! We spent the last three nights of our vacation near the Waikiki strip and I didn't plan anything too specific because I knew there would be lots to eat and do in the area. We also chose not to rent a car for the last three days and just walk to nearby places. Waikiki is definitely a touristy resort area which is both good and bad. Kalakaua Avenue is the main road and is the tropical version of Fifth Avenue. High end hotels dot the beach and this was surely the most commercialized area we saw during our stay. 

There are a lot of Japanese tourists in Waikiki and the food clearly reflects this. We stopped by Ramen Nakamura for a late lunch and the rave reviews on Yelp were justified. I had a delicious tonkatsu ramen with a side order of pork dumplings. The ramen was perfectly chewy, just the way I like it. I would rank this place on par with Ippudo in New York and the prices are even cheaper at Nakamura.

Later that evening we splurged on a luxe dinner at Azure located in The Royal Hawaiian. We both opted for the tasting menu and Dennis also went with the wine pairing. The restaurant is located right on the beach and we watched the sun set from the outdoor seating area. The first course consisted of the most amazing sashimi I have ever had the pleasure of tasting. The dungeness crab and black tiger shrimp bouillabaisse was a bit too salty for me as was the lobster tail risotto. For the fourth course we both opted for one of their fresh fish dishes instead of the fillet of beef which had a unique sesame sauce. The last course was a delicious ice cream with fresh strawberries and a balsamic cinnamon sauce. The balsamic tang went surprisingly well with the sweetness of the ice cream and I lapped up ever little bit.

Our server was Andrea and she made us feel very comfortable and welcome although it seemed we were the only ones in the restaurant in our age group. This was the most expensive dinner we have eaten to date but we would do it again in a heartbeat and it was totally worth the two and a half hours we spent there!

The next morning we set off to get a filling breakfast at Eggs n' Things before laying out on the beach. Be warned if you want to have breakfast at this popular eatery because the wait is long. We waited probably what felt like ages but in actuality was probably over 30 minutes. I had a strawberry smoothie and the eggs and portuguese sausage combo with macadamia nut pancakes. Their pancakes are supposed to be their star item and although the macadamia nuts were only sprinkled in the middle of each pancake, they were scrumptious!

I loved the open air malls in Waikiki and thoroughly enjoyed perusing the summer racks. Everything along Kalakaua Avenue is very clean and appealing day or night. The prices are a bit high though so I'd advise you to save up if you plan on shopping in this area. All of the major fashion houses such as Chanel and Dior also have flagship stores in this area which is great if you're from a small town.

If you're into happy hour noms, check out Doraku Sushi. This restaurant is owned by Kevin Aoki, brother to Steve Aoki and Devon Aoki and son of Rocky Aoki who founded Benihana. The Aoki siblings are all on point and Kevin Aoki knows how to make sushi tasty and fun without sacrificing on quality. The rolls are aesthetically pleasing and refreshing.

Above is the emperor roll which is a mixture of tuna, salmon, crab, shrimp, scallop and avocado with a fried panko breadcrumb coating. It's definitely not traditional but was an explosion of flavor and surprisingly not too greasy despite being deep fried. Doraku is a super laid back and chill place to have drinks and snacks with friends and I wish we had it in New York.

On Friday nights the Hilton Hawaiian Village has a short fireworks display which we made a point of catching. Crowds gathered at the edge of the beach to catch the brief show and it's worth it if you're in the area. There's always something magical about seeing fireworks in real life.

If you love to shop, you should definitely allocate a few hours to Ala Moana Center which is the largest open air shopping mall in the world. It's huge! You have all the major department stores like Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus and many big name designers as well. They feature performances throughout the day in the centerstage area and we passed an hour or two watching free hula shows and dance routines by local schoolkids. 

If you're looking for a healthy bite to refuel inbetween all the hauling, stop by Blue Hawaii Lifestyle which serves up huge acai bowls! Again, like I said in my previous post about the acai bowl we had in the North Shore, acai bowls are pretty much all the same to me. But that doesn't make them any less yummy!

A lot of the food in the Waikiki area is Japanese or Japanese inspired so we were getting pretty tired of sushi by the last day. We found Arancino on Beachwalk on Yelp and decided to give it a go. The wait can be long at peak dinner times but we were fortunate to have arrived just as a couple was leaving. We had the squid ink pasta as well as the tobiko and calamari pasta shown above. We also ordered an appetizer sampler which was not worth the price for a piece of prosciutto wrapped papaya, itty bitty caprese and a bit of shrimp over mixed greens. The squid ink pasta is just regular pasta in squid ink sauce rather than actual pasta infused with squid ink. The tobiko and calamari pasta was nice and the fish roe gave the dish a nice bite. The complementary bread was very soft and filling and I ate way too many pieces in one sitting. I liked the cozy atmosphere of this quaint little restaurant and would recommend it although I'd pass on the appetizers. 

To wash down all those carbs we had to try the famous ice cream from Lappert's. It took a bit of time for us to find this shop in the Hilton Hawaiian Village as it's all the way in the back and out of sight. I had a scoop of Kauai Pie which is kona coffee ice cream swirled with chocolate fudge, coconut flakes, macadamia nuts and vanilla cake crunch. I realized at first lick that I should have opted for a less hearty flavor as the pasta and bread was already so filling. Lappert's is really popular but is it worth the hype? Not in my opinion. One scoop is about $5 which is borderline highway robbery. Skip this and get yourself a whopping Hawaiian shave ice instead.

This concludes my cursory glance at what Kauai and Oahu have to offer! It would take years to thoroughly learn about the rich history and culture the islands of the American Pacific have to offer but 10 days was already a dream come true. Until next time (from an East Coast girl who isn't ready for another 10 hour flight anytime soon)!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Holiday in Hawaii 2014 Part 3: Onto Oahu

Let's begin recalling the second half of my Hawaii escapades before too much time has passed and I forget all the details. We spent a full week on Oahu after three glorious days in Kauai. We stayed four nights at another Airbnb in Kailua. While the home we stayed at was nowhere near as nice as the place we stayed at in Kauai, it was only a five minute drive to Kailua Beach. 

Our favorite beach out of our entire trip was Kailua Beach. We found ourselves going back to Kailua Beach every night for four nights while we stayed in Kailua. The sand is ultra soft and, as a beauty blogger would describe it, finely milled. There was just the right amount of people in this area and most of them were locals as Kailua is a residential area. Dogs are allowed at this beach so there were many furry friends to spot. In the evenings there are rowing teams and wind surfers who dot the shore. I miss the evening strolls at Kailua Beach more than anything else on the trip. This is something you just can't find in New York City. 

On our first evening in Kailua we wanted something filling yet cheap and local for dinner. Dennis found a place called Steak Rave online so we each got a takeout box. Hawaiians really love their styrofoam container rice plates. The steak was too salty and overseasoned but edible with large gulps of rice. I personally didn't like Steak Rave much but Dennis enjoyed it and said he could eat it everday if we had it at home. To each their own I guess!

A cheap Kailua eatery to grab a quick bite that I do recommend is Bob's Pizzeria. This place serves up "Boston style pizza" and although I never knew Boston style was a thing, their slices are really yummy. The restaurant is right by the beach and next to a few bikini boutiques and a shave ice shop so it's a nice place to spend an hour or two. 

Originally I had planned two hikes on Oahu but after Pill Box Hike, pictured above, I didn't want to attempt the second hike. Pill Box is supposed to be the easiest hike on the island with the best views. It is very popular and lots of families with young children make the trip. Sadly I am embarrassingly weak and I have absolutely no stamina in the sun.... I made it up about 4/5 up Pill Box before calling it quits and telling Dennis to get to the top by himself. The terrain is super dry and ashy unlike Kauai which is more muddy and rain forest-like. I much prefer hiking under the canopy of the rain forest and getting stuck in mud than crisping up in the sun.  

We made an hour long drive up to the North Shore and checked out one of the most popular acai bowl huts, Haleiwa Bowls. I got the regular bowl and regret not paying extra for fresh berries. It was a delicious and filling treat but honestly, all of the acai bowls I have consumed have tasted pretty much the same. Most places, including Haleiwa, use Sambazon acai so it's no surprise they taste similar.

The beaches on the North Shore didn't really impress us but there are a few boutiques that caught my eye. I stopped by The Soap Cellar and bought a few handmade bar soaps. They make the soaps in store and this is a perfect place to pick up a few souvenirs for friends and family.

We hopped around from beach to beach along the North Shore on our way back to Kailua on the East. The beaches on the North Shore are pebbly and I believe the area is most popular for surfing. The drive back was longer than we had imagined so we got hungry along the way and stopped at a roadside shrimp truck. There are quite a few shrimp trucks and we ate at Fumi's Kahuku Shrimp to be exact. I had the spicy garlic shrimp which was delicious. There was also a nearby stand selling fresh coconuts so we had a very relaxing time peeling shrimp and sipping water out of a coconut for an hour or two. 

On our last day with a rental car in Kailua, we drove down to the Honolulu side of the island. I really wanted to try the poi doughnuts at Kamehameha Bakery because who can resist that beautiful purple shade of doughy goodness?! Poi is taro and a common ingredient in Hawaiian cooking. Kamehameha Bakery was super busy and people were coming in and out of the place with boxes of dozens of baked goods in the few minutes we enjoyed our picks outside the shop. We opted for the poi, strawberry and haupia (coconut) doughnuts and while each one was delectably fluffy and soft, the flavors were barely distinguishable. I really could not taste any taro flavor in the poi doughnut. The coconut doughnut had coconut filling so coconut lovers would love it. Each piece was less than a dollar so it's an inexpensive treat but I was a bit let down given all the hype.

Our main reason for driving down to the Honolulu area was to visit the Pearl Harbor Memorial. Dennis had already been here on his previous trips but I knew I had to go and see the site for myself. Only 2,000 tickets are available each day so you have to go early and claim your tickets. We got there around 10 in the morning and got tickets for a 1:15 PM time slot so be prepared to have activities to do nearby while you wait. The introduction video to the tour set the mood very well and was actually quite neutral. After seeing the wreckage of the USS Arizona, we spent quite a bit of time at the museum exhibits which I found fascinating as WWII always piqued my interest. Pearl Harbor is simply a must-do when in Oahu.

To end the sweltering hot day, we drove down to Waiola Shave Ice to sample some sweetness from one of the most popular shave ice spots on the island. Waiola Shave Ice is in a quiet residential neighborhood close to Waikiki and we wanted to scope out the hotel we would be staying at for the last three nights as well. I got the ice cream bowl with banana and some other flavor that I am blanking on at the moment. The ice here is okay and there were some unique flavors but I felt it melted too quickly and became a puddle of colored water before you could enjoy it. The first shave ice place we tried in Kauai was my favorite out of the trip. 

We're almost at the end of the four part Hawaii recap! Hope you guys aren't tired of my travel posts and I promise some beauty content will be up by the end of the week! 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Summer Skincare For Oily Skin + GIVEAWAY!

As someone with oily skin, it's imperative that I switch out some of my more moisturizing skincare products for ones that wick away oil and keep my skin feeling clean and fresh. Here are some of the products I've been loving and would highly recommend you guys to check out. 

Origins Checks and Balances Face Cleanser - I've used this cleanser numerous times and love it for the summer because it has a minty sensation that feels so good after a long, sweaty day. My skin feels really clean and clear after using this.

Lush Breath of Fresh Air Toner - This mild toner contains aloe vera so it's great for soothing the skin after a long day in the sun. I also like the Lush Tea Tree Toner for oily skin. The spray bottle is great and I wish all toners came packaged this way. 

Etude House Wonder Pore Toner - I have been reaching for this more than the Lush toner simply because I want to see if it actually helps my pores look smaller. While I can't report that this has made a difference to my pores, it is a decent toner that further cleans and preps the skin before serums and moisturizers. I have heard people swear by this for shrinking enlarged pores so I think oily skins will appreciate this in the summer. There is a slight baking soda scent but it does not sting or irritate my skin.

IOPE Bio Essence Intensive Conditioning - I raved about this product in my winter skincare update and I am now using the full size bottle after finishing up the half size I was trying out before. This feels just like water so it's perfect for summer time use as well. It subtly tones the skin and helps my skin heal after breakouts and irritation.

Biore UV Perfect Milk SPF50+ PA+++ - This is my new favorite sunscreen because it not only protects me from the harsh sun but makes my skin feel beautifully smooth but never oily. The liquid formula sinks in easily and makeup applies very well over it. I bought mine in Hong Kong and you can find this on for about $10. 

Urban Decay DeSlick Setting Spray - I have been using this to set my makeup quite often and it really does help control my oil from peeking out. I barely have to blot if I use this over my makeup and it reduces the powdery look to a natural glow. I will be buying the full size bottle of this soon!

The Body Shop Warming Mineral Mask - This kaolin clay based mask really warms on your face and feels quite interesting. It draws out white heads and sebum from pores very well and I tend to squeeze out the impurities after using this mask. I'm not sure if that's a great technique so don't take my word for it but I get a certain satisfaction from cleaning more pores once in awhile. 

Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Pore Clay Mask - This is a milder cleansing mud mask and one that is great for sensitive skin types. It is basic and effective when used once or twice a week to maintain clear skin year round. 

My Beauty Diary Platinum Snail Total Effects Mask* and My Beauty Diary Mandelic Acid Brightening Mask* - My Beauty Diary is one of the most popular Taiwanese sheet mask brands and they're becoming more available in North America. I was sent two new sheet masks to try and my first impressions of the Platinum Snail Total Effects Mask is that it's great for summer time since it has a light, non-sticky serum. These are the thinnest sheet masks I have tried and adhere to the face very well. While I don't think these beat out my other favorite sheet masks, they're worth a try if you want a very lightweight mask that delivers some hydration without being too moisturizing.

My Beauty Diary is doing a giveaway for my readers and viewers! If you're interested in winning a set of the My Beauty Diary Platinum Snail Total Effects Mask and My Beauty Diary Mandelic Acid Brightening Mask as well as 10 pieces of the Black Pearl Mask all you have to do is:

1. Subscribe to my Youtube channel!
2. Like the My Beauty Diary USA Facebook page:
3. Comment on the video below (on the Youtube page) telling me what your favorite summer skincare products are!

The giveaway will be closed on Saturday June 21st at 11:59PM. I will choose a winner and contact them via Youtube private message and pass along their mailing information to My Beauty Diary who will ship out the prize. 

Even though I dread the super humid and unbearably hot summer days, the right skincare products definitely make it more tolerable. Have you tried any of the products I mentioned? 

Disclaimer: All products were purchased with my own money aside from the My Beauty Diary masks which were sent for review. I am not being sponsored by any companies mentioned. All opinions are my own and 100% honest.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Holiday in Hawaii 2014 Part 2: Falling in Love with Kauai

We only spent three full days in Kauai but it only takes a few hours of driving down Kuhio Highway, which is actually more or less a two lane road, to fall in love. The drive up to Wailua Falls gives you a glimpse into the agricultural valleys and untouched wilderness of Kauai. The waterfall lookout point is at the very tip of the road and the natural beauty of its surroundings is simply astounding. I particularly liked the skinny trees with canopies that flatten out right above the falls on the left side of the photo.

We drove back down to Lihue at sunset and had dinner at Kiibo, a quaint Japanese restaurant that doesn't feature any sushi but focuses on traditional Japanese meals instead. I had the pork katsu and it was probably the most delicious katsu I have ever had the pleasure of eating. The fried coating was not greasy but perfectly crisp and the pork was flavorful and surprisingly moist. Dennis had the pork sukiyaki which he thoroughly enjoyed as well. There were mostly locals eating here so it's a great find for those looking to avoid tourists.

Due mostly to jet lag, we ended up waking up at six in the morning almost everyday. That gave us plenty of time to enjoy the early sunshine before it got too hot. Lydgate State Park was one of our favorite beaches throughout the entire trip. The sand was smooth and the waves were perfect, not too strong but still enough to knock me over if I wasn't paying attention. I'm definitely not one to go to a beach, lay on a towel and bake for several hours. It's too hot for that! I'm not sure if Lydgate is always so quiet but when we went, we had a huge swath of the beach to ourselves which I really enjoyed.

We drove through Kapaa on our way to the North Shore and stopped at Ono Ono Shave Ice for the largest frozen treat I have ever seen! We each got a huge shave ice with ice cream in the middle and we quickly realized we only should have gotten one. I don't remember the exact syrup flavors I chose but I opted for a scoop of macadamia nut ice cream and it was amazing. This was the beginning of our shave ice obsession....

Who said you need to trek high and low to get a good view? For those not enamored with the mud and bugs of the outdoors, you might appreciate Kilauea Lighthouse. The lighthouse itself is not very impressive but the area around it is marvelous. You can view the northeastern edge of the island and marvel at the bluest waters you've probably ever seen in your life.

Continuing along the North Shore, you'll pass Princeville. This private community is aptly named and features perfect little suburbia vacation homes and pristine golf courses. Normally I wouldn't wander into a place like Princeville but we were seeking one of Kauai's most popular natural attractions, Queen's Bath. At first we thought Google Maps was trolling us because I couldn't fathom how Queen's Bath would be located in Princeville. But after a few circles around, we found a mini parking area for Queen's Bath visitors and we followed a rowdy group of tan, Californian-looking teenage guys into an area of tall grass that marks the hike to the coveted natural pool.

The hike down is quiet steep and a coating of fallen tree needles made it difficult to maintain even footing in flip flops. There are two paths down to the pools, one which is essentially a vertical rope climb down a rocky ledge or a less extreme dirt path which can be potentially muddy. The second option is more of a roundabout way and requires a lot more rock hopping once you get to the bottom.

As you can tell, Queen's Bath was overrun by pubescent kids that afternoon. Honestly, while it wasn't that long ago since I was their age, I was always an old soul and I felt slightly uncomfortable around so many young kids whose parents probably were buying designer digs at the Princeville mall or playing a few rounds of golf. I felt strangely like the protagonist in a coming of age novel who didn't belong.

Anyway, back to Queen's Bath. The natural pool is a popular attraction but the government warns against visiting because the unpredictability of the tide can draw you out of the edges and drag you out to sea. Or worse, the waves can pummel you against the rocks and you can imagine the rest. During high tide, the bath is not visible at all and the water is usually rougher in the winter. Even in late May the waves could get quite big. In the previous photo, you can see there is another partially open area where preteens were cannonballing into. Several times there were children getting knocked off their feet while standing on the rocks and sometimes it took up to a few minutes for them to get back onto a ledge.

Getting back to our car proved a lot more difficult because we thought we'd try out the vertical rope climb shortcut. Both of us are scared of heights but the actual rope hike part wasn't that difficult. I took off my flip flops and slipped them onto my arms so my feet and hands were free to navigate the terrain. The hard part came near the top of the cliff where the rope abruptly ended. I don't know who installed the ropes but they really could have made the last rope higher on even ground. Instead, the rope terminated on an incline, right next to a mound of spindly cacti facing the open edge above the rocky shore.

This part of the story is rather embarrassing but I might as well be honest about it. After letting go of the last rope, I inched crawled towards some thick, exposed tree roots about two yards away. Unfortunately, the dry dirt was covered in pine needles (why are there pine trees in Hawaii anyway?!) and my feet were constantly slipping. I could not get a grip and even dug my fingers into the dirt at one point. I meekly sank into the red volcanic dirt and whimpered to Dennis, who was struggling behind me, that I couldn't move. Miraculously, I did manage to eventually squirm my way up to grab one of the roots but in that process, a flip flop untangled from my wrist and fell back down to where I had been minutes before. Dennis bravely went to retrieve my flip flop and it literally took five minutes to slowly clamber back down to pick it up and shimmy up to grab my hand. The whole time I thought either of us would slide down the hill and be done for. Or worse yet, that some thirteen year old would appear, expertly navigate the path and laugh at us.... Oh, and I forgot to mention that I did all this in only a new Lucky Brand swim suit and by planting my scared butt on the volcanic dirt (which apparently never washes completely out) I slightly ruined my bikini bottoms.

If you're an adventurous person who's not afraid to get dirty (and possibly injured) check out Queen's Bath and hope for a quiet day. If you're not about to fuss with the people and pines, you really won't be missing that much.

After our harrowing experience, we needed to calm our nerves with food... because what else is more relaxing than fresh fruit smoothies and Hawaiian small plates? It was about three in the afternoon so lunch was over and dinner had not started so we settled for pupus at Hanalei Dolphin Restaurant. Considering its proximity to Princeville, it's no surprise the prices were on the high end side and we definitely splurged on this meal. We had a spicy tuna roll, coconut milk poke, and calamari. The food was nothing special but it filled me up and at the time, that was all that mattered.

We drove further down the North Shore to reach the most Western point, Ke'e Beach. The area around Ke'e Beach also marks the start of the Kalalau Trail which takes you along the famed Napali Coast. The trail is surely beautiful but also difficult and should only be attempted by experienced hikers and outdoorsy people. Clearly I am not one of them and until I hunker down and prepare for a trek like Kalalau, I'll settle for the GoPro videos on Youtube.

Even if you have no intentions of embarking on Kalalau, it's worth the trip to Ke'e Beach. This beach is our top pick for "beach with a view". Bask in the calm waters and look up at the moss covered beginnings of the Napali Coast. There are a lot of chickens on this beach so if you bring food, make sure to wrap everything up well or else they'll ransack your base. Ke'e Beach truly made me feel like I was in paradise and it is not to be missed!

The drive back to Kapaa on the East Shore after spending sunset at Ke'e Beach was quite long so we were unsurprisingly famished. We enjoyed Verde so much that first night after we landed that we decided to end our Kauai trip where it first began. Instead of getting fish again, we opted for the pork dishes. I had the pork tostada and Dennis chose the pork enchilada shown above. I prefered the ahi to the pork but the enchilada was delicious!

That sums up our brief but fun-filled time in Kauai. Next up, I'll show you my top picks and skips in Oahu!