Sunday, March 26, 2017

Skincare Review~ The Ordinary by DECIEM

I recently ran out of my old skincare products and decided to give the currently hyped-up brand The Ordinary a try. I purchased four products after scouring the site for hours, as they don't use a ton of  filler ingredients so everything sounds rather scientific.  I suggest you read up on everything before deciding which products to buy.

On the other hand, you can simply follow their Example Regimens to save yourself the hassle!

The first product in my new skincare routine is the Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 which supports hydration and repair.
Photo from website
I'd previously read that hyaluronic acid only provides temporary surface hydration by pulling water FROM your skin rather than from the air TO your skin, leaving your skin feeling temporarily hydrated but ultimately dryer than ever. As it turns out, this is because there are different forms the molecule.  Molecules which are too large sit on the surface of the skin, drawing water OUT if there is not enough moisture in the air.  Using too much straight HA can also have this effect as it can take 1000 times its weight in water, so using too much will result in the moisture of your skin being pulled out.
According to The Ordinary, "This formulation combines low-, medium- and high-molecular weight HA, as well as a next-generation HA crosspolymer at a combined concentration of 2% for multi-depth hydration in an oil-free formula. This system is supported with the addition of Vitamin B5 which also enhances surface hydration. "

This means that after applying this formulation, it's best to add a moisturizer on top so the HA sucks the moisturizer you've applied deep into your skin to provide true hydration.  I use four drops each in the morning and evening.  The water-based formula is absorbed quickly and feels really good on the skin!

Next I use something which is new to me: Advanced Retinoid 2%.  I've not used retinoids, retinols, or retonic acids before.
Photo from website
This is a water-based formula so I apply it before oils.  I think it would be best to ease into using any form of retinoid, and the website cautions "Retinoids can make the skin more sensitive to UV radiation. Sun protection is particularly important when using retinoids. This product must not be used in conjunction with other retinoids including retinol or retinoic acid. This product is not a treatment for acne. Acne-prone skin may experience a temporary increase in acne during the first few weeks of using any form of retinoid including those used in this formulation."

I started out using four drops but found that my skin was not yet used to this and became a bit red and uncomfortable, so I reduced it to two drops in the evening.  Some deep-seated acne I'd had for months finally emerged and I was able to extract them about two to three days after starting this new treatment, even though it says it is not an acne treatment (I do not have acne-prone skin)

This product claims to treat textural irregularities and signs of age which are both things I'd like to see improvement on!!  This also absorbs quickly and easily.  It is a milky color compared to all the others, which are clear.

The third item I bought was Ascorbyl Ttraisopalmitate Solution 20% in Vitamin F.  Basically, a Vitamin C serum, which is common in the skincare industry to treat uneven skin tone.
Photo from website
Because Vitamin C has so many forms and derivatives, The Ordinary provides a chart to help you understand the differences.  I chose this light oil formula for its high potency and low stinging sensation.  In fact, I feel no stinging sensation at all when I used this.  Being a light oil, it glides on very smoothly, but feels almost a bit grainy, thought there are no actual granules to be found, so I'm not sure what that is about??  After a few seconds of massaging in the oil, it is absorbed and the sensation disappears.
This product is intended to treat dullness, uneven tone, and signs of age.  I definitely have some uneven skin tone so I hope this will help!

Finally, I wanted an overall hydrator.  I do have dry patches of skin and I also wanted to maximize the effect of the Hyaluronic Acid product I'd purchased by giving it a moisturizer to draw into deeper layers of skin.

Not understanding much about the hydrators, I went for a pure 100% Plant-Derived Squalane.
Photo from website
The majority of the hydrators are oils, so I went with this one, which can be used on both the skin and the hair if your hair suffers from breakage easily.  The only purpose of this product is hydration and I think it does a wonderful job!  When I apply this in the morning, my skin feels hydrated and soft for the entire day.  I have to remind myself not to keep touching my face because this is the first time something has worked so well for me!
Apply this after water-based treatments and then gently massage it in.  I find that it stays emollient enough do to some facial massage for a minute or two, which feels really good!  

Overall, I'm extremely pleased with all my purchases.  I got free shipping because I spent over US$45, yet each of these products (30ml) have very affordable price tags!  

DECIEM, the mother company, has many lines of products and you can also buy from multiple lines and get them shipped together rather than paying for shipping separately.  You can also return your items for a refund up to one year after purchase!!!  I think you'd use up your products by then!

I placed my order on Feb. 7 and it was shipped on Feb. 21, You can track your order with the provided tracking number, and my order arrived on Feb. 27.

After using this regimen for a month, the biggest difference I've noticed is in hydration.  I definitely plan to repurchase when I run out, and have my eyes on the Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG for the eye area as well as one of the two hydrator formulas which also work as makeup primers.  It's a two-for-one; who can resist?

Have you heard of or tried any DECIEM brands or The Ordinary?  If so, please share in the comments!!  I'd like to know about how other products compare or how the same product performs for other people!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Strawberry VS Cherry! Fight!

It's time for Spring Reservations and BABY, THE STARS SHINE BRIGHT and Angelic Pretty have put out their strawberry and cherry prints, respectively.

I was extra intrigued by Creamy Cherry by Angelic Pretty since cherries are not normally served with whipped cream.  At first glance it seems a normal cherry print, but there are small dollops of cream dotted through the entire dress (most noticeable on the dark blue dress) which puts me off.  The idea of cream ribbons around the border was really cute, though, and I'd love to see that on a real cake!

I DO love the rings that come with this release!!  The tails appear to be soft, similar to pom-poms.

BABY, THE STARS SHINE BRIGHT hasn't done too shabby either, with their Strawberry's Heart Drops (not to be confused with Strawberry Drops, which is a solid design)

My favorite detail on this JSK is the strawberry printed ruffles going up the sides and into the straps!!  The mix of strawberries and cherries is pretty standard for BABY and something I really do love.

Another notable detail is the strawberry lace on the hair combs!!!  Small details like this will likely only be noticed by other Lolitas, but they just make my heart flutter~

I haven't the money for either of these reservations so I can only post photos on my blog to share with my readers.  

Which is your favorite? Or do you prefer a different fruit print?  Let me know in the comments!  I'd love to hear differing opinions.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Rapunzel's Lookbook~ Heatless Waves

I love adding texture to my super straight hair, but don't like using heat stylers.  I also have rather long hair (which I recently cut, as mentioned in my previous post) so in these photos my hair is over 60cm long!

Many curl patterns don't work on such lengths of hair, but here is one I've been using since grade school that has always worked well for me and is easily adjustable to all lengths of hair and a wide variety of looks!

Today I opted for looser waves

*hair binders

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Sneak Peek

Yesterday was a very exhausting but exciting day working on a secret project.
It will be two months before the reveal, but for now, let's talk about some superficial things!  I cut off 26cm of my hair by myself on a whim a couple days ago. (I did take a photo, but I know that freaks some people out so I won't post it)

The next day I installed my first full head of candy-colored synthetic dreadlock extensions!  Previously I'd done a half-head of wool dreadlocks, but it's difficult to keep loose and dreaded hair apart.

Though it's not a perfect installation, I really like the look.

I met up with some friends to take photos at 林家花園/Lin Family Mansion and Garden, a historical location that is popular with tourists.  If you get the chance, make sure to give it a visit!  Half of it is under upkeep (it is seriously so old and fragile) until July, though.  There are guided tours every half hour or so.  There are also scheduled activities and performances so check out the schedule online before you choose the day to visit!

There are so many great locations for photos there, but do be very careful as the railings are very fragile (don't lead or sit on them) and make sure to read and understand the rules carefully.  Otherwise, this is a great, traditional-looking historic location for a taste of "the old days" that is very easily accessible by many different bus routes!
Look at that quaint little bridge!
There was actually a couple taking engagement photos there while we were there ^u^v  I'm sure they got some great shots!

Ducks also live in that pond.  They're so cute when they waddle about!

Side Note: Try to wear street/gym shoes as the floors are make of stone and tile and very uneven due to wear and tear.  Of course, absolutely all of us wore heels because Lolitas gotta Lolita.  Just step carefully!

This was my second visit here as the location I live now is so close!  I can take a 10-minute bus ride to visit here.  Once the renovations are completed, I'd like to come see it in its full glory!

Hope you're all having a great weekend!

What's your favorite local historic place?  It could be anything from a simple fountain to a whole castle, as I've heard Europe has!  I love to hear about the thought and symbolism people used to put into the architecture, from what each number of steps mean to why certain materials are used.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Usakumyachan Makeup Tutorial!

I filmed the makeup I did for the meetup last week and have finally finished editing it!  This is the English version:

And this is the Chinese version if anybody is curious:

Though I'm obviously not good at this, it was fun to do.  I feel as though they eyebrow products I have are far too warm for my cool skin tone, but hey, live and learn!

Overall, I liked the look!  If I can find a way to get better lighting, I may do more of these for fun in the future ^_^

(Note: all my videos are unlisted on Youtube so random people cannot find them.  Youtube seems to have the most vicious random comments for some reason)

Please let me know what you think!  Also if you have tips for those terrible bags and dark circles under my eyes T^T

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Tiana's Kitchen~ Veg Dumplings

I've been on a roll recently! Since living alone and trying to save money, I've experimented a lot with new recipes.  There have been loads of failures, but I'm happy to share my successes.  Here are some vegetarian dumplings I made almost entirely from scratch!  The skins are from the market by my house as I don't have the equipment to make it, but the recipe is dead simple and you can swap out the ingredients to please your palette.

Only make sure the filling is not too wet, or the dumplings will fall apart!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Craft Along Goth It Yourself! Rhymes with "That"

There's a delightful blog I follow called "Goth it Yourself" which is exactly as the title sounds: the author takes regular items and turns them into Gothic creations.  This month's Craft Along theme was "Rhymes with 'that'" and I took this opportunity to revamp my black "flats" and join in the fun!

While these shoes are cheap and comfortable, the ribbon often comes undone and the metal ends swing around, hitting my ankles.  I started out by snipping the stitching keeping the suede material on.

Next, I decided I wanted a skull stud to cover where the stitching had been, and so used an awl to puncture the material without cutting it.

After inserting the back of the stud from the inside, it was a simple matter of screwing the skull on.

I added some basic pyramid studs to either side.  They easily pierced the faux leather shoe and I used a thimble to protect my fingers as I pressed the point ends of the studs down.
Everything needed to Goth a pair of flats yourself!
 I am extremely pleased with the new look to these flats!   While I had considered spikes, they didn't seem fitting with flats, so I opted for the pyramid studs instead.

While not exactly a tutorial, I hope you found this post inspirational and can Goth up something yourself!  Also be sure to follow Goth it Yourself blog!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Munchtime Meetup!

Can you believe it's March already?  We just had our March meetup on  the 11th where the theme was "eating!"  So you just had to have a character and a food on the same print.  Super easy!

I also tried out a new style of makeup that I was really iffy about and didn't initially like but everybody else seemed to like it @_ @

New makeup style
I was wearing my Usakumyachan JSK (it has bears and berries!) so I decided to go for a "rabbit makeup" paired with bear ears, making me a bear pretending to be a rabbit, just like Usakumyachan!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Beauty Review: Essence Lash Princess False Lash Effect

Drugstore beauty is my calling in life, but many of the western brands end up far more expensive here than they are in the USA.  A Maybelline mascara that costs US$8.99 is around US$13 (NT$380) here!

So I went on a hunt to find brands I've not explored before.  And since I've been writing product reviews on another beauty site, I figure I'll write the English versions here on my blog!

My first try was this:

艾森絲睫毛公主 魔法睫毛膏
Originally NT$139 I got it on sale for NT$99!  And yes, I was very much influenced by the packaging.
Made in Germany
Princess Packaging!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Tiana's Kitchen~ Cauliflower Crust

Common in western cooking communities, I finally gave cauliflower a try as a replacement for processed carbohydrates!

The sudden turn for chilly weather has me all wrapped up in a cocoon wishing for warm, toasty comfort foods without the post-binge weight gain.  After simplifying many recipes I've found online, I decided to give this one a try.

It is a tedious process, but worked surprisingly well!  The ingredients I used may be more simple, but many items are not so common here compared to the west (what is nutritional yeast???) with the most exotic "trendy" food being chia seeds.

This recipe is based off of Chocolate-Covered Katie (definitely recommend her) but scaled for my equipment available

The crust is surprisingly firm and holds up well if you don't get it wet (as with regular flour pizza-crust)

I would like to use this to make sandwhiches as well.  The wringing process is the most tiring, but if possible, making a larger batch on the weekend would make this recipe a good, healthy replacement for processed breads in the cabinet. Unfortunately my food processor and toaster oven can only make one of these mini batches at a time so I need to make a fresh batch each time want it!

As a side note, the cheese topping on the pizza was also something I made myself.  I think I over-salted it though.... The flavor was heavy!

What's your favorite type of pizza?  And if anybody has other low-processed carbohydrates recipes to share, please do!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Tiana's Kitchen ~ Healthy Banana Oatmeal Cookies (ASMR video)

This is the simplest cookie recipe ever! 1 banana + enough oatmeal/oats to make a dough and then bake!  Good for small batch cookies.

I've been trying to lose the 4kg I gained (yes, I gained it all within around two months - very unhealthy!!) and this is one of the recipes I found online to help curb sweets cravings.  The bananas in all the other recipes I found were about double the quantity of one of the locally-grown bananas here, but I really don't think the measurements are as critical in this recipe (another bonus!) Just mix in enough oats to make the consistency of a cookie dough.

1 banana (around 56g)
30g rolled oats

1) Mash banana and mix with oats.

2) Bake at 180*C for 9 minutes (NOTE: this is for a convection oven. I'm not sure how it would translate to a larger oven, but it's a short baking time so you can just watch the cookies every five minutes or so!)

3)Add cinnamon if desired.

You could really do any sort of mix-in, such as chocolate chips, raisins, chopped nuts, etc.

What's your favorite cookie flavor?  I actually do like oatmeal raisin, though it seems to be an American joke that raisins pretend to be chocolate chips in cookies and are a nasty shock when you bite in.  I don't prefer one over the other, really.  Maybe I'm just an all-around sweets lover!

As with any healthy sweets recipe, do make sure to enjoy in moderation as too much of ANYTHING is unhealthy.  The entire batch of this recipe only yields about five miniature cookies, or one large cookie, so it's OK to make and eat this whole recipe for yourself!  Just make sure you're not making it over and over ^_~