Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Holiday 2018 nail art

Hello~ a quick post before we all get back to our turkey dinner leftovers and/or Boxing Day shopping (hopefully online). Lately I've been focusing more on knitting but I wanted something easy but still unmistakably festive.

Holiday nail art 2018
I started out knowing I'd paint one nail with a wreath and keep the rest simple to make things quick. Essie Going Incognito is a great deep green to represent holly and Christmas fir trees, while my workhorse Orly Luxe gold is a perfect base for Sephora Formula X glitter in Starlight for a multi-dimensional sparkly gold nail.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

CND 2018 Boho Summer collection

CND Boho Summer 2018 nail polish
It's a little late to be posting about a summer collection, but with the weather so gray and dreary right now, maybe a bit of brightness couldn't hurt? The Boho Spirit collection from CND this summer hit just the right mix of brights and subtler shades for me. Available in both long-wear Vinylux and Shellac (CND's gel range), there's Offbeat (bright magenta), Uninhibited (pinky peach), Gypsy (orange), and Vagabond (muted pale yellow).

CND Boho Summer 2018 nail polish Gypsy
Gypsy's orange is a bright and true orange, bordering on almost neon. This shade fits in equally as well in a cheerful summer mani as it would in a fall look. It's the kind of brightness that makes cameras photograph kind of wonky (the below picture is a bit more accurate imo).

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Galaxy & stars nail art

Hi, guess who is trying to get back into the swing of (blogging) things~ I have a bunch of stuff that has been sitting and waiting around super patiently for me to get my shit together, so here we go.

Galaxy stars nail art
I posted these spacey, galaxy-y nails earlier this year on Instagram; they were inspired by a LUSH bath bomb that had glittery gold stars in it, and I honestly still love this look so much. I think this might be my second or third time ever doing water marble, and as a result my left (dominant) hand, which I always do second, turned out much better than my right hand after getting the hang of it. So in this post, I have photos of both hands, which is a little unusual :)

Galaxy stars nail art
First, two (or maybe it was three?) coats of Layla Pro N.19. The peacock blue with tons of gold-green, fine iridescent shimmer is a perfect base. Unfortunately this brand seems to be discontinued now, but a similar polish in terms of the shimmer is maybe OPI Do You Sea What I Sea. Afterwards, I made a water marble by layering OPI Funny Bunny and more Layla Pro N.19. Funny Bunny is a milky white that worked really well at making that translucent effect. The extra N.19 in the marbling added more shimmer. Last, I painted gold stars with Orly Luxe and added a few dots to represent distant stars. I tried to give them an 'aura' of gold for more dimension using Essie As Gold As It Gets (super fine gold shimmer in clear base), but it ended up just making the outline of the stars look messy.

Galaxy stars nail art
I'd like to try re-doing this look again because I think I could do so much better. If you have any water marbling tips, please send them my way!

Galaxy stars nail art

Monday, June 25, 2018

Daisy floral nail art

Daisy floral nail art Essie nail polish
I had a super productive period for a few weeks where I was doing a lot of time-consuming, intricate nail art, but after that I needed a little break. Something a little easier, no-symmetry-required, less "ohnoohnoyou'llscrewthisupifyoubreathewrong"

Daisy floral nail art Essie nail polish
The result, or what I called my "palate cleanser nail art": some simple floral nails and dots. The daisies and dots were freehanded with a fine-pointed brush, and inspired in part by chalkboardnails' extreeemely teeny-tiny daisies.

Daisy floral nail art Essie nail polish
Lately with school going on, I haven't had much time to do more complicated nail art. Plus I can't seem to find my acrylic paint set - it's nice to be able to say something is painted with 100% nail polish, but honestly it is a total pain. Acrylic paints are way more flexible and don't dry on my palette as quickly. If you have any cool ideas for nail art, send them my way!

Polishes used:
  • Essie Chills & Thrills (dusty medium blue)
  • Ceramic Glaze Pure (white)
  • Essie Serial Shopper (orange-coral)

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Essie Spring 2018 Bon Boy-age

Essie Bon Boy-age swatches
Essie Bon Boy-age
Essie's nautical-themed Spring 2018 collection is such a pretty set of soft, versatile shades! There's a beautiful, dusty vibe to them that make them very spring-appropriate, though of course they're so lovely you'll want to wear them year round.

Essie Bon Boy-age swatches
First up is Essie Bon Boy-age, and it should come as a surprise to exactly zero people that this is my favourite of the bunch. I'm a total sucker for this sort of milky, jade-like colour. I used two coats, but you can still see just a little bit of visible nail line.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Ingredient Breakdown: Live Clean Healthy Scalp Balancing Shampoo & Conditioner

Soooo the weather transitioning from winter to spring has really messed with my skin, including my scalp! My scalp is normally a bit dry (small white flakes) and not very itchy, but lately I've been seriously horrified by the volume of flakes I was seeing and the itchiness. My skin generally responds poorly to changing seasons, but it's the first time that even my scalp is going haywire. It was like I couldn't even exhale a breath without some tiny flakes falling >__< I'd been waffling about picking up a new shampoo for a while--committing to a full-size bottle is hard!--but I was extra motivated now because I had to deal with this crappy dry scalp. After a random trip to Shoppers Drug Mart, I unexpectedly was won over by Live Clean Healthy Scalp's ingredients list and $6.99 price tag.

Live Clean Healthy Scalp Balancing Shampoo Conditioner review and ingredients list

So what was it about the ingredients list that convinced me to give it a try? It's been a long time since I dove deep and did an ingredients list breakdown, so here we go (it gets long, sorry!)
  • Salix nigra (willow bark) extract - the second ingredient after water; a source of salicin, which has some anti-inflammatory properties (source, source)
  • Chamomilla recutita extract - #4 on the list has some soothing, anti-inflammatory properties and in one study, improved atopic dermatitis-like lesions in mice when used with emollients (source)
  • Camellia sinensis leaf extract - aka green tea leaf extract with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory effects (see article from FutureDerm that explains way better than I ever could)
  • Hydrogenated castor oil / sebacic acid copolymer - conditioning and smoothing (source); this abstract from people with ties to a company that makes this ingredient, trade name Crodabond CSA) states that it smooths and coats hair by smoothing down the lifted cuticles in damaged hair
  • Salicylic acid - a chemical exfoliant (source) and the main ingredient that attracted me to the product. In this Allure post, Randy Schueller from Beauty Brains says it can speed the skin's natural shedding process; which may help in cases like dandruff where the process is slow, and is also anti-inflammatory. It's also oil-soluble, so it can penetrate even if my scalp is a little oily
  • Coconut oil and olive oil - high- to mid-penetration oils to condition and protect hair (source). My hair is a bit damaged and dry from years of colour-treating so I thought these oils might help. I'm wary of too much oil and other conditioning ingredients weighing down my fine hair, but the oils are very low on the list (after salicyclic acid, which can't be more than 3% maximum and more likely much less) so it wasn't too much of a concern 
  • Glycerin - a humectant to draw and bind water to skin
  • Tocopherol acetate - aka vitamin E, soothes and hydrates

Friday, April 13, 2018

Essie 2018 Desert Mirage collection

Hi all! I just wrote my final two weeks ago and have spent some time decompressing, including finishing Persona 5 (now starting a replay on New Game+ mode :P) With all this newfound free time, I finally got around to editing photos and organizing my thoughts on Essie's Desert Mirage collection. This is honestly one of my favourite polish collections in recent memory--a great mix of colours that are contrasting yet cohesive and definitely gives me desert vibes without being too on-the-nose about the theme.

Essie Desert Mirage swatches

Essie Desert Mirage swatches Bluetiful Horizon
Blue-tiful Horizon has a slightly muted, kind of indigo blue base and rose-gold, coppery pearl to it. I'm not usually big on pearl finishes, but this combination is so pretty and mesmerizing. This one is very unique to my collection.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Red & gold dry brush nail art - CNY 2018

Red & gold dry brush nail art for Chinese New Year 2018
How was everyone's Chinese New Year? This is my first year as a married-person so it means it's my turn to start giving out red pockets--it was also my nephew's first Chinese New Year so it was perfect timing for him ;)

I posted these nails on my instagram a little while ago but wanted to put out some extra photos because I really enjoyed how the gold dry-brush look came out. Essie's Be Cherry! is such a lovely classic red polish--a perfect fit for the recent holiday collection. The formula is nice and forgiving, and the colour is almost a one-coater. Orly Luxe is my absolute favourite gold foil polish and so reliable, smooth, and opaque for nail art. BUT, when I took it out of my drawer, I realized that the last time I used it, I didn't completely close it. That was probably a few months ago, and as soon as I felt the loose cap, I knew exactly what to expect. Dry, thick, gloopy gold foil polish :( Luckily, that's not such a bad thing for dry brushing, but I'll definitely need to pick up a replacement for future nail art.

Red & gold dry brush nail art for Chinese New Year 2018
As a final touch, here and there I dabbed on a little OPI Goldeneye, a deep gold glitter. It doesn't show up very well in the photos, but it added a warmer gold sparkle for more dimension.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Maybelline Total Temptation Mascara, Shadow + Highlight Palette

Have you guys seen the new Total Temptation makeup from Maybelline in stores yet? The collection debuted early January and says it's "the most addictive makeup yet"! I tried out the mascara in Blackest Black, as well as the 10-pan eyeshadow and highlight palette recently (the brow pencil was unfortunately not the right shade for me.)

Maybelline Total Temptation review
The Total Temptation mascara claims to have a "soft touch" and a "sensuous glide" o__o;; The brush is your average mascara wand. While it did apply through my lashes cleanly without too much clumping, it didn't deliver much of the promised "addictive volume". My straight, classic-Asian lashes also quickly lost their curl. The black area on the tube packaging is flat, which gives you a nice area to rest your thumb while applying mascara, but that was basically the only thing I liked about it. Sadly, this mascara was just like all the other standard drugstore mascaras I tried as a teenager that left me feeling disappointed.

Maybelline Total Temptation mascara review

Saturday, February 17, 2018

One Year Later (ish)

Hi! It is scary to realize that though I've been somewhat active on Instagram, it has been nearly a year since I posted here. A year ago, I was still stressing out about planning a wedding. A year ago, I had never traveled overseas before. A year ago, passing my CFE for CPA sounded like a far-off goal. A year ago, I was still wondering if I could own a home in Vancouver's insane real estate market. And today: I'm married after being with this dude for almost 12 years; I'm itching to go back to Japan; I'm still scared as hell about writing my CFE, though I'm much closer to it; I'm writing this post from my office/makeup room in my condo.

Bunny swarm at Okunoshima, Hiroshima prefecture
And yet when I look at my second-to-last post, from February 2017, it echoes what I was planning to say here about the future of this blog!

It's still my creative outlet, and I still have so many post ideas always percolating. It is starting to shift more and more away from being strictly a beauty blog to a more personal, "lifestyle" blog, though. Things you'll expect to see this year: a series of wedding planning diaries/tips posts, more fashion nail art, and any other random stuff I manage to churn out. And one way or another, I'm clearing my photo backlog, dammit--it goes back to 2013! Whether that means just finally letting go and deleting stuff that isn't relevant or up to my standards anymore, or being a little kinder to myself and posting something without obsessing over it for hours. Although I might not be able to post so often, and (to fellow bloggers) I might not be able to keep up with my blog roll very well at times, I hope you'll keep reading. Thank you! ♥

Basically, a lot has changed for me in the past year, but I see that deep-down I'm still the perfectionist-procrastinator I've always been lolol. Those things up there are absolutely still true. I underestimated all the life things I had going on in 2017, and honestly once I fall off the blogging wagon, it's very hard to get back into the habit. I recently had to reformat my computer, and in the process of reviewing all my files, let go of a lot of old crappy photos in my backlog and was also re-invigorated by all the potential content I had, just waiting to be posted. I still need to work on being kinder to myself, putting myself and my content out there with more confidence, but I'll get there. Thank you again for reading. 

Yes, I still have wedding posts planned
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