Sunday, March 30, 2014

Beauty: Body Scrubs (TORONTO EDITION!)

With the looooooooonnnnnnnnng and never-ending winter, my skin is constantly dry; even if I bath in lotion for a night, my body will just absorb it all and still be dry. I used to use the bigger brand body scrubs back in the day, LUSH and the Body Shop, but I've recently really been into a more healthier approach for my skin. Been looking for more natural and, if available, organic local skincare. Do remember, your skin is your biggest organ and treating it with love is what will benefit you in the long run! 

As a girl from Toronto, I have tried three different local brands for salt and/or sugar scrubs for my body. So far, I've been enjoyed all three - but, each are very distinctly different that different people will probably prefer certain elements in a body scrub! 

LOVE FRESH Sugar Scrub ($30 CND)

LOVE FRESH was the first sugar scrub that has been hyped and used in many nail spas (e.g., TEN SPOT, Sekai Beauty Bar, etc.). The brand is very well-known and have been expanding quickly over the last few years. I believe you can find LOVE FRESH body products in Toronto Indigo/Chapter stores now! 

This scrub is very delicate for your skin. I really enjoy using this scrub more in the summer, since my skin isn't as dry. AND the scents - they are so summer-like and fruity, it's PERFECT for the warm weather. 

The only downfall that I found with this scrub is that it is not as mositurizing as I hope it would be. I would always have to use copious amount of body butter afterwards to ensure my skin is properly moisturized after scrubbing. 

Definitely recommend this scrub for those who have oily-normal skin type. And it's definitely going to be my summer go-to scrub for now on. 

I have tried a few of their scents so far - Key Lime Coconut Scrub, Pear, and Lemon Verbena. 

Consonant Skincare Skin Perfecting Body Scrub ($30 CND) - photo coming soon!

I recently picked this scrub up when I walked by a FUZZ Wax Bar location and saw a big chalkboard sign promoting soft skin for scrubbing. And I'm so glad I picked this scrub up, because this is what I needed after this long winter. Consonant is another all-natural skincare brand located in Toronto. 

The scrub is a mix of sugar and salt, giving two different dimensions of scrubbing for your skin. Usually salt is more coarse than sugar, giving it a more deeper scrub. What I really like about this scrub is the way my skin feels afterwards. You have to give this scrub a quick stir before you use it in your shower, because the oils separate from the sugar and salt. The main oils in this scrub are coconut oil and olive oil, which explains the separation. But, right when you step out of the shower, it leaves your skin feeling moisturized. I just used a lotion afterwards for extra moisture. 

Be aware that the salt scrub may be too abrasive for those with extremely sensitive skin, even with all the oils mixed along with this product. My skin turns slightly red after using this product that goes away after about 30 minutes. 

Crawford Street Skincare Grapefruit Mint Salt Body Scrub ($10 CND) - photo coming soon!

Crawford Street Skincare can be found in a few local stores across Toronto, as well as their online store. This is just a salt scrub and the scent is very energizing; great for your morning shower to wake you up before the day. A good scrub for the price (you do get a fraction of the other two mentioned above), but I'm debating whether or not to repurchase this item since my skin tends to be more on the sensitive side and this may be too abrasive to my skin in the long run. Along with this, it is very messy; it's literally digging your hands in a pile of salt. I think this scrub will be perfect for dry skin if you mix some oils (e.g., olive oil) to the scrub before you apply it to your skin.

What are you using to scrub off this winter?



Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Life: Morning Ritual with Lemons

After my whole face breakout ordeal, I've done tons of research and really got myself into a more healthy approach with my food decision. Let's be honest - I eat a lot for my size and giving up food is not an option. I will and can eat anything and everything my heart desires. But, I've been really looking into a more holistic skincare and health approach; and finding ways to slowly incorporate it into my lifestyle.

I started drinking warm lemon water right after I wake up in the summer, but I was not consistent with it. One week, I'll be drinking it every morning, and then the next, I'll be forgetting. But, since the  New Year, I've been more consistent with this habit. The only times I find myself missing this is when I wake up slightly later and have to run out the house as quickly as possible. 

The reason why I jumped on this bandwagon was when I heard about the list of benefits that this morning drink does:
  • Improves your digestion - I used to have the most sensitive stomach ever; it runs in my family. But, since drinking this in the morning, I've had less stomach upsets and cramps! Definitely helping my food go through my digestive system a lot smoother and quicker.
  • Boosts your colon function and prevents constipation - The one thing I instantly noticed right from the start...I'll be running to the bathroom right after downing the mug of this lemon water. It helps promote your intestines to get things moving and to clear it all out. In the long run, there will be less food build up around your intestines, which results in removing all the nasty toxins and improving better nutrient absorption. 
  • Boosts your mood and energy 
  • Helps clear up your skin - This one was a big one! With all the acne scars on my cheeks, I know I can't completely get rid of it, but I know I can help it fade away.
Of course, there are tons of other reasons for this amazing morning drink; but, this is just a minor list of things I realized and noticed. Now, it's been about 3 months that I've been doing this and I've noticed the small changes it's done to my body. This is not a miracle product or anything, but it's not that hard to do and commit to.

I only recently started adding a little honey to the drink to change it up a bit. The lemon sourness was starting to get to me. Also, make sure the water isn't too hot - this will kill a lot of the good nutrients from the lemon and honey!

Warm Lemon Water with Honey 

A cup/mug of warm water
Half of a lemon
1 teaspoon of organic honey (I tend to eyeball it now)

Squeeze half of your lemon into the mug and add the honey. Give it a quick stir to make sure it is well-incorporated. 

It's really that easy. Give it 30 days and you'll start reflecting on the difference. 



Sunday, March 23, 2014

Beauty: Sunday Face Masks

I've been getting into face masks the last several months...and I'm addicted. 

My skin is dry, sensitive, and acne-prone. It's like my skin comes as a full package of a little bit of everything. I love layering masks to meet my skin needs.

Before any face masks, I always exfoliate my skin. I've been using REN Jojoba Microbead Purifying Facial Polish. This scrub is so gentle for your face that it's perfect to use before layering face masks. Unfortunately, this mask is no longer sold by REN Skincare - I picked up this product over the summer at a local store in Toronto. 

My T-zone is extremely congested ALL THE TIME. I have yet to find a permanent solution to the problem, but I've recently got the REN Invisible Pore Detox Mask to help keep it under control. I haven't used it long enough to take my stand for this product, but REN claims that it's suppose to draw out impurities and reduce the appearance of your pores. Will definitely do an update blogpost for this mask. 

After, the heavy-duty mask, my skin needs to be re-hydrated. The Antipodes Aura Manuka Honey Mask was a love at first sight mask. I got this back in September and it's finally reaching the end. It's been loved and shared with my housemates as well. The manuka honey is very hydrating and provides a great deal of antioxidising effects for those stubborn blemishes. A perfect, relaxing all-around mask to have on. Plus, it smells amazing!

Once I'm done with the masks, I just apply toner, serum, and moisturizer! 

Do any of you have a Sunday Ritual to end your week? 



Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Food: What I do with my cornflakes?

For a girl my size, I eat a lot. I think my housemates are shocked at the portions and random combinations I tend to make for myself. But, food makes me feel good - so, why would I ever eat less?

Lately, I've realized how much cheaper it is to just buy cornflakes and top it off myself. Don't get me wrong, but Special K is still my favourite's just a little too expensive...who am I kidding? It's overpriced. BUT, I found a great solution that makes my tummy even happier in the mornings.

I've been cutting up around 4-6 strawberries and a whole banana to add it to my cornflakes. SO much cheaper and healthier. It's fresh and it's gooood! WAIT, I can't forget to mention chia seeds - I soak about 1 tsp of chia seed in the bowl of milk while I wash and cut up all the fruits.

And if I have any different type of fruits on different weeks, the whole variation changes. It's like having a different breakfast each day!

Tasty and healthy. It's my new obsession.



Monday, March 17, 2014

Food: Homemade Matcha Latte!

So, it's true. There's always snow in Canada...just kidding. But, really - last Tuesday we got our first taste of spring when the weather warmed up to 8 degrees C! The sun is what really needed to cheer me up. But, I went to bed...and the next morning, I woke up to 15cm of snow on the ground and -15 degree C weather. what just happened there? Well, today is snowing again, so I guess spring will never come?

With all this chilly weather, all I keep thinking about are warm drinks and cuddles. So, this is a old photo that I never got around blogging the recipe, but it's the tasty and easy homemade matcha latte! A little green for St. Patty's Day (sorry, no alcohol involved with this recipe...but I'm sure you can splash some Bailey's in it and it'll still be good!)

Tealish Tea Shop is a little independent tea shop in downtown Toronto. Offering a variety of different teas, they also sell three different types of latte mixes. These latte mixes are so versatile - I reallllly like baking with these!

Easy Homemade Matcha Latte
  • 1 cup of milk (Can be almond, soy, etc.)
  • 1 tablespoon of matcha latte mix
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla or almond extract (optional)
Heat up your milk with a saucepan.
Once the milk starts to bubble up, remove it off the heat and let it cool down just a bit (just so the milk isn't scaling hot).
Add one tablespoon of matcha latte mix and using a whisk (or a fork), make sure it is well-incorporated and "melted"with your milk. 
Once it's all dissolved, add a teaspoon of either vanilla or almond extract to give it an extra flavour. Of course, if you use vanilla soy milk for example, you can skip this step.
Pour it into a mug (your favourite mug to make this drink extra special).
And sip away!

I hope you all have a safe St. Patty's Day!



Sunday, March 16, 2014

Beauty: Products I Regret Buying #1

I used to be a compulsive buyer and this led to some massive product hauls that I ended up, when I looked through my sheleves this weekend, this is what I found!


LUSH No Drought Dry Shampoo - This product is basically baby powder with a citrus scent for 10x the price. With my thick Asian hair, the dry shampoo doesn't seem to want to blend and makes my hair looking super ashy after using. It is extremely messy too. It was quite sad that they only had the big size when I got it two years ago, but I have seen that they made a mini bottle of this stuff. Still not something I'll repurchase - I guess having thick hair is a good thing for oiliness sometimes. 

Herbal Essences Tousle Me Softly Spray Gel - My best friend swore by this product for giving her the beachy-looking waves. Nope. This spray does nothing for me. As much as I scrunch, put my hair in a bun, etc. It just won't do the job that it advertises to do. The scent is a nice one, but the gel leaves my hair feeling gross, sticky, and dry afterwards. Unless I'm using it wrong, this product does nothing for me. 


Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash (Grapefruit) - I must admit, the scent is what really gets me about this product; it just smells so fresh and juicy. But, this product is ABRASIVE. When I had my crazy acne breakout this summer, I went to my drugstore and got recommended this product by another customer in the drugstore in the same aisle as me. It's super drying (completely not ideal for a dry skin and dehydrated person) and started irritating my skin. Red blotches and dry patches after two uses is not a good sign. Never will I repurchase this product or any similar product again! 

Kiehl's Rare Earth Pore Refining Toner - Kiehl's is the one brand that I absolutely hate. The only products that I found to like is their eye creams. But, anything else feels waxy or is too abrasive/strong for my skin. I walked into Kiehl's two years ago to get introduced to the company. The lady looked at my huge, clogged, enlarged nose pores and suggested that this product is perfect to help control that. It made my nose drier than ever and made the pores worse than I have ever seen before. Missed the 30-day return time frame and even my mother refuse to use it on her skin. It smells like alcohol too, another big no for dry skin. 

Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cleanser - A cream-gel like cleanser that has a waxy consistency to it. Foams a lot, but doesn't seem to do a good job at cleaning my skin. I tried combining this with my old clarisonic and the product seems to just sit on top of your skin doing nothing. It was truly a disappointing cleanser. 

Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cream - I used to like this product...until I realized it was a thick waxy consistency (do you see the same theme that's happening with all the Kiehl's products I mentioned here...) that clogged my pores. It felt like my skin couldn't breath and comparing it to my other lotions and potions, this is definitely one of the worse "high-end" facial cream I tried. 


Benefit Scene Queen Palette/Set - I love Benefit, but this overpriced palette was definitely not worth the splurge. It has four eyeshadows that are very shimmery and very chalky; not a very blendable eyeshadow. The eyeliner that came with the set was very hard to apply, not creamy at all. It also came with a blush, brushes, and a very shimmery lip-gloss. A palette that is just sitting in my drawers. It's too bulky to travel with it anyways. I actually really wished I liked this palette since Benefit has really nice products.

Mac Concealors - Very cakey, both the pot and tube. Hard to blend into skin, especially if you tend not to wear heavy foundation along with this. Very heavy-duty, so when it comes to removing, it's not fun. I'm pretty sure it's water-resistant as well. 

balmShell Tinted Moisturizer - One word to describe this: ORANGE. 

This my first products I regret buying post! All these purchases were made 2-3 years ago and if you follow my blog, you know I'm your everyday plain jane now. Makeup is rare and I go for a more natural skincare approach. So, these products are heading to the trash. 

What are some of your products that you regret buying? Share in the comments below - I'll love to hear your thoughts!



Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Loving Yourself: Introduction

No matter what, insecurities will always persist in our lives. Whether or not they become surface issues, it's likely that they'll always be there.

Lately, this topic has been brought up consistently in my life. With long discussions with friends and late night thoughts with myself, I decided that it would be a good idea to share my thoughts on this topic. I will be doing a mini series of several blog posts on loving yourself and really share my personal story on how I learn (and continuing to learn) to accept myself. 

*** Please be advised that I am in no way an expert in this topic and am just contributing my thoughts. I really do hope that I do change at least one reader's perspective and want to reach out to more girls (and guys!) to really learn to accept themselves and their bodies. ***

Before I get into more specifics, I would love to get my story out there and how it inspired me to write these posts for the internet. 

I am your city girl. Growing up in Toronto, I was exposed to all sorts of diverse culture and different people. A city that allowed the expression of who you are - especially being a downtown girl, it was all around me. 

Throughout elementary school and middle school, I was surrounded by the same group of people. We all grew up in the same neighbourhood more or less and have continued to all be acquaintances, friends, and classmates due to geographic convenience. 

Throughout those early years, I have met some great friends that I am still connected to today, but at the same time, the majority of them were not so kind. The insecurities begin in grade 3 when name-calling and gossip have become a common occurrence. 

I was the girl with no special talents in anything, very naive and gullible, and very unsure of who I was. The girls I was constantly surrounded by always found a way to tear down my happiness - it began with being called ugly on a daily basis and made fun of having single-sided deafness; it continues to escalate as I aged. Now, the personal flaws that I have were being more specific and pointed out. Big nose, bushy eye brows, lazy eye, being deaf, being too skinny, no sense of style, acne face, and the list goes on. And all this experience only got myself to become a mean girl as well just to defend myself and verbally attack others as well. In the end, I was being toxic back to the girls who were being toxic to me. 

Kind of ironic to find that young girls are not the only ones to tear you down. Parents were also contributing to the way I looked at myself. One particular memory was in grade 5, when I was at a girl's birthday party and the mother started going around the room numbering down who was the prettiest putting me at the end of the list. To this day, I can't believe a mother would do that. 

With all this, I ended up believing I was worthless, ugly, and alone. I hated myself. As I try to seek for solutions, this only lead me finding the wrong things. Buying clothes, because what everyone else was wearing. Experimenting with makeup for the wrong reasons. Using abrasive products without any knowledge of the effects in the future. And of course, finding ways to put others down to make myself feel better.  I became a monster to myself and to others. 

In grade 8, when we were all choosing our high schools, I knew exactly what I needed to do. I needed to get away from the group I was forced to stay with all throughout my childhood. Applying to a school that really pushed my standards have really been the best decision of my life. 

A high school was not restricted to being local, it accepted those across the city. Having strong values and high academic achievement, I was surrounded by all sorts of different people. And these people are some of the best peoples I have ever met in my life. People who didn't ever find a way to put each other down, but embrace the difference we all have in each individuals. Really made me change my perspective on others and began loving being around others. And nothing like kindness has really touched my heart. 

Even though this change was good, the detrimental effect that I endured as a child was still firing inside of me. Entering grade 9 being super insecure, it still persisted all throughout high school - but I come to realize there are much more important things than how I looked. I started to let go of insecurities slowly each and everyday. I began to feel un-restricted in trying new things and began to really figure myself out. Once I found what I really enjoyed, that's when I started to learn to love myself. And even to this day, I'm still discovering what I enjoy and what I don't. 

Today, I look back to my past, I feel so stupid and terrible for what I've done and for something I can't ever take back for myself and to others. 

Now that I am sitting in second year of university, the dramatic change from my childhood to high school have shaped me to become a better person to myself and others. I do still struggle with some insecurities, but I have learn to accept that sometimes, some things are not changeable. Inside of picking at the surface issues, I found you have to really dig to the root problem to really figure things out.

Most importantly, I learnt to slowly love myself. And I really hope to share these experience to hear back from my reader's experience and build an online community to help at least one other person to love themselves.