Saturday, September 2, 2017

Apple Airpods Review

RM 849 where they sell Apple stuff.
So after subtly hinting at the wifey using pinterest (Things i want at some point), i finally got my hands on the Apple Airpods. We still celebrate our "date-versarry" which was on the 30th of August, 12 yearsago. Man time sure flies when you're having fun eh?

Anyways back to the Airpods. For my "listening while commuting" pleasure, i have a Jabra Move over the ear headphones that has served me well. It's red and not discreet, but i've yet gotten anyone thinking that i was a DJ and ask me to spin some tunes yet. I was looking for something smaller and i did look around at other options but somehow i came back to the Airpods. The lure of yet another apple device is so strong!! But then again, the wife will never say anything if i wanted to get anything from Apple. They just work!

So we got mine at epiCenter at the Curve, she told me that she wanted to get it online from the apple store but it took almost 2 weeks for delivery. Who has time for that? So while we were out scoping out Ikea, we popped into the the first store that sold it and got it. I remembered when it first came out, it was really hard trying to get hold of one but i guess they've replenished the stock eh.

Minimalist packaging.
The first thing you will notice is how simple the packaging is, but then again if you're using Apple, its really all you can expect from them. The design language is consistent across all their products. There's some instructions and the Airpods in the charging case, and u get a lightning cable to charge the pods. Setting them up is easier than to set the apple watch. The first time you flip open the case, your phone will automatically detect and ask you to connect. That's it. Your done. Put them in your ears and you're good to go.
What you get in the box.
Flip it open and it automatically connects.
These are some very smart earphones. It has sensors that tells it if it is in your ears or if you have taken them out, stopping music and continuing it accordingly. You can program different actions when you tap on the Airpods, and you can have different actions for both left and right airpods. I set mine to call up siri on the left and skip to the next track on the right. But of course you can always google up the specs to know about the finer technical details of the airpods here.

So how does it fare on normal use? So far i have only gotten a few minutes airtime whilst going to the carwash, but they sound good, but to be fair i'm not really an audiophile to be able to distinguish the different aspects of a good headphones. Calls sound clear and double tapping works as advertise. It fits me alright, tried jumping up and down and thankfully it stayed in my ears.
Settings appear and is accessible via the bluetooth options.
If the standard earpods that comes with the iphone fits than you won't have any problems with the airpods. In fact, it's difficult to tell them apart with a glance eh. Well the wires are a dead giveaway. You can use just the one airpod on its own, as a bluetooth headset, if you talk a lot then you would have one that can theoretically last you for days. 

Which is which?
Anyways, it's early days yet for me, and the Airpods does have a lot of potential. Here's hoping i don't lose them whilst out on a run or anything like that. Yeah right, me running eh. 

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Crazy About Cleansers Part 1 - Chanel Makeup Remover, Sisley Buff and Wash, and Estelle & Thild Cleansing Milk

When editing the above photo, I cannot believe that I have that many cleansers right now on my bathroom shelves. I am crazy about cleansers and as far as I know, I would usually have at least 4 different cleansers at any one time - the balm cleanser (which I have depleted and didn't replenish), milk cleanser, oil cleanser and cleansing water or micellaire for my 1st step in removing makeup; exfoliating cleanser with fine beads if I feel I needed to intensify my cleansing ritual; and foamy or cream cleanser, to finish up the cleansing step. 

No, I don't use all 10 cleansers at one go. So, why do I need so many? Well, let's just say I wasn't born with perfect flawless skin. I work hard to achieve good skin and knowing what is good and what is not good for me and cleansing is the most important step in achieving good skin. In the morning, just one cleanser will do and after a hard day's work, I would use 2-3 cleansers, depending on how my skin is feeling. Sometimes, I'd feel that the skin is so congested that I'd go for the balm. Sometimes, I'd want to soothe my tired skin, and I'd go for the milk cleanser first. When I'm lazy, I'd just pick up the micellaire (which I've omitted recently from my cleansing products due to having too many cleansers already!). 

I also have so many types perhaps from greed (sigh! 😝) but more so because when I was reaching my 40's, I felt that the skin behaves in a way that it wants to behave, as and when it likes. I've tried many brands, from the drugstore brands to not so costly ones and as you can see in the photo above, even those of slightly expensive range, all in the name of getting my cleansing ritual right. And I'm not loyal to one brand when it comes to getting a cleanser because through experience, the brands don't always have it right with each and every product they sell. They can be good with certain type of serums or moisturiser but they can suck at producing a good cleanser.. well, that is for my skin, at least. And I always go out to look for a good one but I'm never really stuck to just one brand.

1. So, let's start with the first one - Chanel Le Blanc Brightening Tri-Phase Makeup Remover:
I chanced upon this by accident as I was in a Chanel outlet getting some other stuff. As I am crazy about cleansers, I got this out of curiosity, without even checking out reviews. As I mentioned before, the Chanel brand is kinda not talked about much when it comes to its skincare range and the perception that it must be very very very expensive. But if you have been using luxury skincare brands like Guerlain, Dior and the likes, you will find that the price of some of the common products in Chanel is not that bad. What's more, the quality of packaging and the product inside is something that  has impressed me so much.

From Chanel, I've tried 3 types of cleansers but since I've used up and thrown the other 2 empties, I am only left with this. It has a clear gel-like texture that's suppose to work like an oil cleanser - to be applied sparingly all over a dry face. Using dry fingers, massage in and it turns into oil, attaching itself to the layer of makeup. Ooops but before all these, please remove your eye makeup first, using the right eye makeup remover. I don't believe any of these cleansers (not even the oil cleanser) do a good job in removing eye makeup totally nor do they protect the delicate skin from the extra tugging and pulling.

When the cleanser has transformed into oil-like texture, you're supposed to add water to your palms, and continue to massage the face and you'll see the cleanser turn into a light milky texture. Hence, this is where it gets its name, Tri-Phase - from gel, to oil, to milk. 

How do I like it? Well, let's just say, this was probably one of the expensive mistakes I've made. Compared to some other products I've gotten from them, this was quite a disappointment and which is why it is taking ages to finish. It is not one of my favourite go-to makeup cleanser, as the gel feels too thick to be spread and I can't see how it lifts makeup off, that effectively. I'm of course, comparing this cleanser to the hundreds of other cleansers I've used. My skin doesn't feel clean enough for the next step and not rested. You know, when makeup is lifted off your skin, you'd feel like thousands of burden being lifted off your face and you feel free? Well, I didn't every time I use this. So, don't bother getting this. As for brightening, well, it didn't help brighten at all. In fact, I don't think any cleansers can brighten up your skin, so I wasn't expecting anything on the brightening claim.

Rating: 2/5 ❤️❤️πŸ–€πŸ–€πŸ–€

2. Next, Sisley Buff and Wash Facial Gel
I was intrigued with Sisley. I had been experimenting on some luxury skincare for my ageing skin and hey, who doesn't want to age gracefully, right? And in order to age gracefully, other than all those healthy habits you're supposed to adopt (which I haven't), I thought I should start with using a friendly brand - friendly to the environment, and one that respects the skin.

From my research, Sisley has amazing claims to how they build the brand and develop their products. Their products contain highest quality active ingredients to ensure potency of their products. What I was intrigued most was that their products contain botanical ingredients and don't contain harmful substances like parabens and other preservatives that can harm the skin in the long run. But their products are super expensive, which kinda contributed to the perception that quality = steep price.

My daily exfoliating cleanser was already empty and I thought I'd like to satiate my curiosity, and I started making cost comparisons to my current favourite brands. I mean, if I wanted to use this long term, I really should do all the calculations, down to going to the Sisley counter myself and taking note of how much they cost if I were to get them from StrawberryNet with the additional 10% loyalty discount I have been enjoying. 

Their counters at Robinsons, Metrojaya and Isetan Mid Valley/Gardens KL however, totally put me off the brand. They don't have knowledgeable beauty consultants and are very poor with product knowledge. Service was poor too, something you won't find at Guerlain or SKII. But since I had known the price at the counters, I decided to save the commission for poor service, and ordered from StrawberryNet as the prices were similar. For this, at just 100ml is over RM300. Pretty steep for an exfoliating cleanser, no? 

So, did it live up to my expectations? It didn't, unfortunately πŸ˜” well, to be fair, the beauty consultant didn't have good product knowledge and from the reviews I read, they said this can be used as a daily exfoliating cleanser. However, as I started using it, this shouldn't be used daily. It is a scrub, and doesn't contain fine granules. The granules are pretty large in an orange watery-gel formula which at least smells citrusy nice and I'm a little bit happy for that scent. All is not wasted.

For over RM300, the scrub isn't magic and perhaps the St Ives apricot scrub does the same πŸ˜‘. I am heart-broken but at least it is still on the bathroom shelf for me to use once a week. It's not bad but I won't recommend you to buy for the steep price and mediocre result. Perhaps the friendly ingredient may be what you need in your long-term beauty goals but it isn't in my top priority list. If it is, it's a bonus. For me, it's all about results worthy of the price.

Rating: 3/5 ❤️❤️❤️πŸ–€πŸ–€

3. Over to - Estelle & Thild Biocleanse Silky Soft Cleansing Milk:
I got this at last year's 20% Sephora Black Card sale. I was out of my cleansing milk and this brand was a new addition to the Sephora stores. I liked that it is a Certified Organic brand and although I've had my fair share of sucess and failure rate in using organic products, the 20% discount pulled me to trying this out.

I bought this out of a whim and didn't check out any reviews. The price was somewhere slightly over RM100 for a 150ml pump bottle and with 20% off, I was happy to put this into my shopping basket.

As a cleansing milk, it is a very straight forward product and sad to say, I didn't like it. I had such big hopes for this brand, but the milk cleanser just didn't meet expectations. The milk wasn't smooth in texture and I was put off by the smell. It's like getting an expired product with a musty sour smell instead of the fresh scent you'd expect out of a cleanser. So, with that off-putting experience of what should be a start of a fresh experience, me no likey and hence, me no usey. Another big waste which I should just persevere and live with the mistake until at least 3/4 of it is used and because of that, I haven't really thrown it away. I do think the smell shouldn't be so bad since I did smell it in the tester bottle before buying. Perhaps I got a bad batch. But it shouldn't be so bad like it has expired.

Rating: 1/5 ❤️πŸ–€πŸ–€πŸ–€πŸ–€

Well, it looks like the first part of me entry on cleansers are unfortunately, those I didn't like. It isn't done on purpose as I didn't give it much thought when I laid out all the cleansers to be photographed. There is one ultimate favourite in there and the rest that I like a lot but not love... but you shouldn't guess based on the size of the cleansers (note that some of them are deluxe samples because the retail size are finished and discarded and I'm left with travel sizes that I continuously keep to refill so that I can travel lighter). More positive posts ahead.

To be continued in Part II πŸ™‹πŸ»



Monday, June 5, 2017

The 2 makeup items I can't live without - Chanel Le Blanc Brightening Makeup Base and Chanel CC Cream

One thing I realised is that Chanel makeup is pretty much underrrated or less talked about. Perhaps it is because they don't do mass PR for the brand or perhaps they believe that the brand speaks for itself.

Before I tried Chanel makeup, my perception of the brand was that it is expensive. But as I went into my comfortable early 40's and my curiosity were centred around luxury brands, I was taken by surprise that firstly, their foundation and loose powder are exceptional and value for money and as my curiosity developed into more products, like lipsticks, makeup base and CC cream, I think it's hard to not include this brand into my daily routine. Case in point, is the Le Blanc Light Creator Brightening Makeup Base with SPF 40 and the CC Cream with SPF 50. I have already gone into my 3rd bottle for the makeup base, and my 2nd tube for the CC cream. No matter how much I'd avoid from repurchasing them due to lack of access in PJ area (their standalone boutiques are only in 1Utama and Sunway Pyramid while their counter in Parkson Subang Parade is now closed), I find that I just have to brave the traffic and hunt for a parking spot in order to get my hands on these.

When I first purchased this, it was only around RM190 before they had the price increase early 2016. At just 30ml and now priced at RM220, it may be a tad bit expensive for a lot of us. I find that though it is a little bit on the high price, it works so well with my skin. The formulation is liquid, it feels so light yet covers up the skin pretty well as a makeup base that sometimes when I'm lazy, I would just layer on loose powder and my complexion looks smooth and radiant. No kidding. Best part is, the make up base last an entire day at work and when I do work extended hours (which I normally do) and the skin becomes a little oily, my skin still look naturally radiant, as if my natural oil blends well with the base. That effect, I can't find with any other makeup base or SPF products and hence why, I keep going back to it.

The packaging is a handy little squeezable tube and you only need very little to cover the entire face. They have 4 base colours to choose from and this one, in Mimosa is the right one for me to neutralise the redness of my complexion.

I'd usually just use a blob like this and as you can see, it is light and watery. According to Chanel, it uses "the Akoya pearl from Japan which is widely known for its exceptional luster, delicate colour and smooth surface. The pearls are cultivated especially for Chanel over the course of 2 years in order to ensure greater maturity for the highest quality pearls. Present in the Brightening Makeup Base, it lights up dull complexions and prevents yellow-toned skin, while moisturising. Combined with Liquorice Extract, a key brightening ingredient, it enhances the complexion with lasting purity and translucency."

As you can see in the above pix, the complexion and age spots look matt and blurried with just a layer of the makeup base. As the skin grows more mature like mine, sometimes wearing foundation doesn't necessarily really help make my skin look smooth and I find that minimal makeup can be best. 

As for the CC Cream, well I stumbled upon this by accident and glad that I did. Again, I tried to replace this with something else but I just cannot get the same positive effect I get from this especially on a long day at work.
It is slightly thicker than the makeup base and if I use this, I won't use the makeup base. It has the thickness similar to using a foundation but somewhat smoother, somewhat in between using a fluid and cream foundation. I have tried using a cream foundation as I find that the fluid and compact powder doesn't give me the smooth effect nor hide flaws well anymore but as my skin is not dry and just in between normal to dry, cream foundations just won't sit well, making the skin look really oily into the afternoon. So, I went back to the Chanel CC Cream and I don't even have to blot nor touch up towards the afternoon. Just like the makeup base, it comes on smooth and stays so well even on an active sunny day when I need to be outdoors at work. As it works just as well as a foundation but with much higher SPF protection, I have hardly worn a foundation for the past few months - just the CC Cream and loose powder and my skin looks done.

2 empties and 2 fully loaded packs. The CC Cream is at RM225 for a tube of 30ml.

There have been many more stuff I've tried from Chanel and I wonder why the brand has gone under my radar all these while, perhaps due to the perception of it being costly, perhaps also because when I had more youthful skin, luxury brands never truly hit me hard. Then again, I did use some of their makeup before once in awhile but it was just recent that they became generous with their samples and that was how I discovered their products. I especially love their simple packaging and hence, the minimalist packaging makes their makeup cost even lower than say, Dior, Lancome or Guerlain, and it is great that most skincare brands these days incorporate skincare ingredients into their makeup products, making the skin feel even more pampered.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Ran out of eye-liners? No sweat. A dark eye shadow can do the trick too.

Ok, when I typed out the header of this post, I realised I don't have a photo of any dark powder/compact eye colour, simply because I don't use eye shadows anymore. I've totally omitted that makeup step from my makeup routine as I start work at 8am, and I don't have time for that step. Also because I think an eye-liner already does it for me and I'm done for the day.

Looking back, I've not been very dependent on a sole tool for eye-lining. I used to have my favourite one, but when they ran out of stock, I just don't go looking for it as I'd wet my eye-liner brush and dab on a powder eye shadow, and the step just worked. Over time, I've tried the trick on my favourite eye cream pot and walah. I tried using the popular Bobbi Brown eye-liner gel in a pot as I think they were the first brand who made it popular but the thing didn't really work for me as it doesn't stay on my oily eyelids and it was quite an expensive mistake for me. The gel also dried out too quickly and I didn't like it at all. As for those gel-pencil eye-liners I've discovered and loved, I realised they're just too costly as they run out very fast and I always fail to get the same colour for replacement as outlets like Sephora Paradigm Mall and Clinique in 1Utama is poor in replenishing their stocks for this item. So, I have kinda given up on my favourite gel-pencil eye-liner.

But when I started using the eye shadow in cream formula, I realised that the cream stayed put from morning til night time. So when brands started to come out with eye shadows in chubby sticks, I felt that this, was it - I finally found the best eye-liners for me, as they're so easy to use, they last quite long, they don't need sharpeners or brushes and they can also be used as eye shadows, as what they are originally meant to do!

(L-R: Marc Jacobs in Twinkle Pop, Bobbi Brown in Bittersweet and Sisley in No. 3)

I discovered this awesome tool when I bought the Christmas set of Bobbi Brown Cream Shadow Sticks. From then on, I've gotten cream sticks from other brands to try and they all work just the same - good staying power and very easy to use. And as I am not a big fan of dark colours like black, I usually use less darker tone like those above. The MJ Twinkle Pop is a tone of greyish silver, BB's Bittersweet is obviously a dark brown and Sisley's No. 3 is a tone of greenish bronze. While the dark brown is a bit flat boring, I would always go to the other 2 shimmering colours.

My makeup routine in the morning is cut by a good 1-2 minutes. Timing to me, is everything. If you want a sharper effect, I've tried using the eye-liner brush, slick it on the cream stick and apply on the eyelids. It gives a better effect but won't give you better timing if you're in a hurry.

So, if you're out of your favourite eye-liner, don't worry. I'm sure you'd have a dark coloured eye-shadow somewhere and they work just as well.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Skincare for tweens, how early is too early? - Mustela Hydra Bebe Facial Cream

Recently, I have been doing some reading on skincare for tweens, for girls aged as young as nine who's almost/experiencing hormonal changes to their bodies. It's for my daughter, really and as far as I can remember, I only started using moisturiser at the age of 13 when I already started getting my menses. 

But moisturisers back then were just plain oily and it wreaked havoc to my oily skin. My skin was stripped from hydration due to using too much scrub and alcohol toners and genetically, my mom and dad had open pores. So, what I did back then, made it worse. I didn't get severe acne and stuff but my skin was very dehydrated with open pores. It looked hideous to me.

These days with girls facing "women stuff" earlier, I've noticed changes to my daughter's body. What saddens me is that although she is not yet plagued with acne and active sebaceous glands, her skin showed signs of dryness and some parts of her face would be wounded as she would scratch when itchy. What didn't help is that most advice given on the internet for tweens her age (around 9-12 years) suggest skincare more suited for acne-prone skin, those of drugstore brands with high chemical content and one or 2 safe skincare brands like Clinique and Dermalogica, which aren't really suitable for tweens.  

I feel that, for my daughter, she would need a cream moisturiser without emollient and fragrance, that is safe from harsh chemicals - lightweight, yet protects the young skin, to keep her skin moisturised enough, while teaching her the basics of good skincare habit, to prepare her for the changes that will be happening to her sooner or later. Hence, I decided to go to a baby supply store, and I discovered this amazing skincare item - the Mustela Hydra Bebe Facial Cream that is especially made for babies. Who would have thought that babies need facial creams?

If this is safe to be used on babies (I believe this is especially helpful for babies with eczema), this would definitely be suitable for a 9-year old girl. True enough, after 3 days of use, I could see positive changes to her skin where it looks softer and more moisturised, without the oily feel. And we love the scent that comes with the cream. The scent is natural, can be quite strong upon application but goes on smooth after it is applied.

If you check on various Malaysian websites, the facial cream varies in price, depending on which store you're purchasing. This one, was just RM40 after discount and I think goes a long way as she only needs a small dollop at a time. 

She now lathers the Sebamed ph.5.5 for babies to cleanse her face, spritz on Evian water as a faux toner, that acts to freshen her skin (and to facilitate better absorption of moisturiser) and the facial cream. I know I am supposed to get her to use an SPF but I shall let her get used to this routine first and especially the importance of cleansing her face before I introduce an SPF cream. 

She's lucky that she has a mom who's sort of a skincare "senior". I always hope that she'd inherit the traits of skin from her dad though, so that she doesn't need to go through what I had to go through.