Fashion & Beauty

Beauty Essentials… Kind of.


So we’re getting ready to go to Boston for a wedding tomorrow, and I’m spending the evening packing up all of my beauty “essentials.”

The quotes denote sarcasm here. You’ve probably already guessed that these things are not actually essential to surviving a weekend.

But, if you’re anything like me, you’ve probably spent a number of years trying to figure out the way your skin and hair behave, and have settled into a comfortable routine. I’ve spent a good amount of time battling with my skin—since before high school—and have only recently begun to feel like it’s calming down and becoming manageable. Part of it is probably aging, but naturally, I don’t want to rock the boat by changing up my regimen, even for a few days. Plus, I’m really high strung about this kind of thing and love carting around a bunch of crap. I am a Taurus, and we love stuff.

That notion also extends to hair. I am lucky (unlucky?) to have the kind of Asian hair that basically does one thing all the time, regardless of which products I use, though there are certain things that I feel have a good (placebo?) effect when it comes to volume/shine/health/whatever.

I’m not going to get into the makeup here, because that’s a whole ‘nother animal, and I can’t get into it or I’ll get overwhelmed.


Starting with skin:

Fresh Soy Face Cleanser: I have pretty sensitive skin, and I stay away from cleansers with any added fragrance or “acne-fighting” ingredients. The salicylic acid that’s used in many of them is way too harsh, and only seems to only exacerbate dryness and breakouts. I spent a long time looking for a mild cleanser that also produced a lather, because in my mind, bubbles = clean. This stuff is cleansing enough to break down makeup (even mascara), but it doesn’t make your skin feel dry or tight.

Algenist Regenerative Anti-Aging Lotion: I started shopping around for anti-aging products at 23, because I am vain but also diligent. And you know what, I’m glad I did, because I’m pretty confident I found something pretty amazing. This lotion is extremely light, and I use it both day and night. The price is steep ($75), but my current bottle has lasted me since May and I’ve still got about a third left. I am always cautious with moisturizers because the heavier ones sit on top of my skin and make me look/feel oily. I’d like to speak to its anti-aging properties, but I think the results are inconclusive as of yet. I will say that it’s definitely improved my skin’s general appearance over the past two years. It’s also made with some sort of patented algae stem cells from San Francisco, which you can read about on the company website. I certainly can’t do it justice. The pictures of beakers and test tubes have convinced me that the science is legit, though.

Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado: My friend Rachel’s boyfriend works at Kiehl’s, and once when I was having a particularly rough week, he was nice enough to send me a care package filled with a plethora of amazing things. The one I’ve continued to buy myself is this eye cream. Sometimes when I stay up too late on ebay or reading about Scientology, my under-eye circles get really out of control. I get this sunken look that’s really disconcerting. This cream makes my skin feel more… plump? It’s hydrating, and actually makes my eyelashes stronger and thicker. This could be some sort of optical illusion, but I think it is actually happening. I only use it at night because it’s on the heavier side, and makes your eyelids really shiny.

Peter Thomas Roth Max Sheer All Day Moisture Defense Lotion: I just started liking this product less because I had to type all of that. Just kidding, it’s really good. I got this sample size in a kit from Sephora that they put out every summer, which features a ton of sun-care products. I like this one because it feels substantive even though it’s only SPF 30, it has anti-aging properties, and it’s unscented. It also just has the feel of a high quality sunscreen—there’s no white residue, and it blends easily.

Boscia Self-Defense Vital Antioxidant Moisture Broad Spectrum SPF 30: Another Sephora sample. This formula is completely different, though, in that it’s thinner and less viscous. It absorbs really quickly, which is better for really hot days.

Moving on to hair:

Surface Bassu Hydrating Oil: My hairstylist has used this on me for years, and I continue to buy it despite the price tag. A quarter-sized amount is enough to coat your ends before styling. The oil is light, and leaves your hands feeling dry, not greasy, after you run them through your hair. It protects your hair from heat and also makes it shiny and less susceptible to tangles.

Klorane Dry Shampoo: This was a recent find that came to me through Birchbox. I liked it so much that I bought the full size. Honestly, up until a few months ago the thought of leaving the house with unwashed hair gave me extreme anxiety. After trying a few dry shampoos that left me with a ton of white residue in my hair and greasy strands around midday, I kind of gave up on the cause. Klorane leaves minimal residue, has a really fresh scent, and makes my hair look almost the same as it does on a wash-day. I use it sometimes even on clean hair to give it volume.

And lastly, I’ll throw in my latest perfume:

Tokyomilk’s Sencha Blue, #57: I had read a lot about Tokyomilk’s fragrances before buying this one the other day. The label describes it as having notes of hyacinth, iris, citrus zest and crisp greens. It’s a light, refreshing scent (definitely more floral than anything else). The one complaint I do have is that it’s fleeting, and you’ll probably have to apply it a couple of times throughout the day. At only $30, though, I was really pleased to get such a sophisticated scent… and it’s the perfect size to travel with.

I buy a lot of my stuff on ebay or Amazon, which can be risky, but much more cost effective. That’s why I’m not linking to where to buy these products. I do a ton of searching before making even the most seemingly insubstantial purchases, because if you’re addicted to using stuff that doesn’t come cheap, you’ve got to figure out ways to mitigate the cost. I would recommend only buying from sellers with a lot of positive feedback who promise new, unopened products. And, if possible, you should sample the product from a reputable source before buying, so you’ll know if you’re receiving something that isn’t right. Once you find sellers that you trust, you can continue to use them to re-stock on what you need, so it’s really not as scary as it seems.

More to come…


3 thoughts on “Beauty Essentials… Kind of.

  1. Christine V. says:

    Love the Surface Bassu Hydrating Oil. It’s not greasy at all and I rub anything extra on my legs and arms for my skin to absorb. I just packed it in in my suitcase for the wedding I’m attending this weekend too!

  2. Megan P. says:

    What a great post! I was already interested in the Boscia sunscreen, and now I’ll definitely have to check it out! Hope you have fun in Boston this weekend, and can’t wait for more posts!

  3. sue says:

    So this is how you manage to look so good all the time! I guess I should have started with that anti-aging creme a long time ago, but may try it now. If I didn’t know you, I might think you were getting into Scientology–but I know you burning the midnight oil reading an expose of the crazy group.

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