March 25, 2015

Happy spring outfit

Checking in with a short outfit post! For this spring and summer I find myself quite into happy colors. Case in point, here is what I wore to the mall today!

Sweater: Korea
Dress: Korea
Socks: Target (children’s uniform socks)
Heels: Yumetenbo

It’s a bit on the casual side, since I didn’t feel like dealing with attention today. Although people still looked, haha ^^; Oh well! Double takes are understandable. :)

I tied my hair up into little buns and added a daisy clip to each side:

Here you can see that my shoes are a bit dirty! They got dirty while I was living in Korea. :’( I think it was the stairs. You walk up a lot of stairs when you live in Seoul! I should really clean them, though…><

They also had some pretty tulips out~ I’m guessing it’s for Easter?

And last but not least, my favorite photo. This is apparently the face I make when my bf yells, “Stop moving! Stay still!”

“There! I’m still!”

It's funny because my head looks so big, hehe :D

While I was at the mall I overheard a little girl tell her mom, “She’s dressed like…like a girl doll!” to which her mother replied apathetically, "Yes, she is."
Isn't that interesting? How (some) adults find me strange and creepy but kids tend to think I'm pretty and princessy? It was like that in Korea, too! At what point in development does that imagination die?

March 22, 2015

Skincare Tips #7: Whitening slash Skin Lightening

Whitening! Kind of a touchy topic here in America, especially in regards to other cultures’ beauty standards. But in this post we will be talking from the perspective of lightening blemishes—brown ones in particular—as opposed to skin color in general. This is because the book I am reading takes this sort of approach; the author sees whitening as it relates to blemishes and dark spots, not paleness. That being said, many of the ingredients I will mention below are indeed found in Asian skincare products as well—with the Asian approach being, of course, to lighten skin color in general, not just blemishes. ^^

For anyone that doesn’t know, “Skincare Tips” are where I summarize chapter by chapter what I have learned from the beauty book I am reading. The book I am reading is called The Original Beauty Bible, written by Paula Begoun of Paula’s Choice.

-- Causes of dark spots --

Melanin, basically.

Brown spots can be caused by sun damage, birth-control pills, pregnancy, or other hormonal issues. But whatever the case, it is ultimately the high concentration of melanin (hyperpigmentation) that causes the brown spot.

Interjection! Notice here that the author of the book is talking about brown discolorations (such as freckles, sun spots, or dark areas in general), as opposed to red scars from acne. She has actually not explicitly specified which one she means—bad on her for being so vague!—but I know from her website and podcasts that when she talks about whitening, she usually means brown discolorations and not redness. (The exception to this is if your post-acne scars are indeed brown instead of red.) Nevertheless, even those of us who don’t have freckles or brown spots (such as myself) can still benefit from being familiar with the ingredients below, as they do show up in Asian products!

-- Solution 1: Sunscreen --

Sunscreen is essential, as it prevents further brown discolorations from forming, while also protecting current discolorations from getting worse.

-- Solution 2: Topical Lightening Ingredients --

Topical lightening ingredients work for superficial discolorations. For deeper, more evident discolorations, skin treatments are necessary. Here is a rundown of 6 skin lightening ingredients, for which the author recommends to use in combination with one another.

  • has the most research and proven efficacy for skin lightening
  • works by blocking the synthesis of melanin; does not remove current melanin
  • There have been some questions about hydroquinone’s safety but the author attests that it is safe.
  • Only buy hydroquinone products that have opaque containers and no jars, as hydroquinone is unstable to both air and sunlight and will turn brown.

Azelaic Acid:
  • derived from grains (wheat, rye, barley, etc.)
  • effective against acne, rosacea, and skin discolorations
  • another option for lightening

Tretinoin & Retinol (i.e. Vitamin A):
  • less proven results than hydroquinone and azelaic acid
  • results take longer than with other lightening ingredients (though it’s still a good ingredient in other ways)

AHA, BHA, Chemical Peels:
  • effective in inhibiting melanin production, cell turnover, and helping other ingredients (including skin-lightening ingredients) penetrate better

  • a derivative of hydroquinone, the whitening ingredient from above
  • is thought to have a similar melanin-inhibiting property as hydroquinone
  • The exact amounts of arbutin needed for lightening are currently unknown (i.e. protocol has not yet been established.)
  • isolated from bearberry, cranberry, blueberry, and most types of pears
  • However, beware of products that use the above plant instead of using arbutin itself, because they usually contain so little that it would hardly make a difference.

Kojic Acid:
  • a byproduct of sake
  • is effective at inhibiting melanin; however, is also irritating and less effective than hydroquinone
  • extremely unstable to air and sunlight; also turns brown like hydroquinone
  • Companies may try to use kojic dipalmitate as a stabler alternative; however, there is no research showing that kojic dipalmitate is as effective as kojic acid.

-- Solution 3: Laser, IPL, and Fraxel --

  • For deep pigment that does not respond to topical skincare products.
  • Laser treatments can have negative side effects with darker skin tones.

  • the laser is absorbed by melanin. The energy from the laser destroys the melanin and prevents its regrowth.
  • laser wavelength dictates the depth of penetration and amount of melanin targeted
  • good lasers for brown discolorations: Q-switched ruby laser (694nm), Q-switched Nd:Yag laser (1064nm)
  • Q-switched ruby laser is safe for dark skin

IPL (Intensed Pulsed Light):
  • shown to work well for improving brown discolorations
  • consists of high-intensity pulses of broad wavelength light, targeting the cells containing melanin

Fraxel (Fractional Photothermolysis):
  • significant improvement in brown discolorations, sun damage, and scarring
  • works by causing thermal damage to the skin

-- Airi’s Notes & Commentary: --

One thing that confused me is how the author alludes that sunscreen can “essentially eliminate sunspots.” Essentially eliminate them? What does that mean? Does it eliminate them or not? -.-

Sunscreen alone isn’t a melanin remover, so I can only presume that she is referring to how sunscreen protects current sunspots from getting worse. As far as current hyperpigmentation, I’m assuming that they will fade on their own so long as you quit exacerbating it, which in this case would be through the use of sunscreen. Sort of how summer tans fade on their own during winter.

Honestly, there wasn’t too much definitive information in this chapter. A lot of it was references to various research papers with ambiguous conclusions—so-and-so ingredient may have such-and-such results, but that was just one study—so again, not much definitive information. Part of this is, I believe, her writing style, but I reckon that it’s also due to the book being published a few years ago. Her website seems to be more detailed, concise, and up-to-date. Here is the link to her website, which includes a section of the best lightening ingredients:

Nonetheless, it was still nice to get a little introduction on these ingredients since I had seen them before in my skincare. ^^ And those laser treatments—so interesting!

March 20, 2015

Lightweight and fragrant: A’pieu Banana Hand Cream Review (on dry skin)

Here we have a cute little hand cream perfect for spring—bright yellow packaging, a potent sweet scent (banana flavored, at that!), and lightweight moisture. I’ll say now that this is not an emollient hand cream. Apart from the scent, it’s just your basic, average formulation. Definitely cute, though!


Brand: A’pieu (A cute but affordable brand; the prices are a bit cheaper than its competitors, I think!)
Name: Banana Hand Cream
Amount: 60mL
Actual Weight: 70g
Price in Korea: 980KRW

It arrives as is, no box nor plastic wrapping:

Here is a closeup of the design for any packaging lovers out there ^^

The back:

Manufacturing date:

Closeup of the expiration and manufacturer's info:

My gosh, it smells so strongly of bananas! Although it doesn’t smell exactly like real bananas...If you’ve ever had Korean banana milk, it smells just like that. However, the smell goes away once it’s applied.

It’s a thin, lightweight hand cream. Not too emollient texture-wise. Just think of your typical average lotion.

On my dry skin it absorbs quickly and does not feel oily at all. However, it does leave behind a starchy, squeaky feeling (presumably from the heavy fragrance.)

So I have dry hands. Not nearly as dry as before (thanks to the horse oil), but still dry compared to most people. This hand cream does a fine job of covering my dryness and making it appear smooth, although it doesn’t actually make my skin soft by any means. It provides superficial moisture.

Most of the moisture washes off with water. My hands are still tolerable after one wash, but after 2 washes they feel dry again:

Back when I had extreeemely dry skin—as in white powdery dryness everywhere—I needed a lot of hand cream to just cover my dryness. It barely felt moisturizing, too.

Long story short: It’s probably enough for people with normal, nondry skin. But for people like myself who have dry hands, it’s not that helpful in terms of serious moisture. It does a good enough job of covering up, though!

Well, it’s not a great hand cream, but I can’t complain for the price! I mean, don't get me wrong, it’s not a bad hand cream; it’s just average, that’s all. And again, this mostly applies to people like myself who have very dry hands. For everyone else, I think it would be plenty fine.

The selling point of this hand cream is, I would say, the combination. It’s a basic hand cream but comes with bright happy packaging, a sweet scent, and an unbeatably low price. Heck, it wasn’t even a dollar! Would I recommend it? Sure, why not. No harm done, if you can find it at a good price. ^^

Thanks for reading!

March 18, 2015

It's a nice lip balm! Tony Moly Prestige Snail Lip Treatment Stick (Mini Review)

It’s a pretty nice lip balm! Although it also doesn't strike me as much more than that, just your standard nice lip balm.

Tony Moly -- Prestige Snail Lip Treatment Stick
Price in Korea: 6-8,000KRW
I don't actually remember the exact amount (since it's no longer on the Tony
Moly website), but I want to say 8,000KRW because I remember thinking it pricey.

(The one on the right is just the box.)

The texture is slightly soft and moist, allowing it to glide on easily. The moisture feels like it penetrates my lips, as opposed to some lip balms which just sit on top (hate those!)

This lip balm does a fine job for daily chapness and mild cold weather. But if it’s one of those days where the wind is blowing nonstop and my lips feel incessantly dry, then this lip balm doesn't help. My lips will still dry up and form callouses.

There is a slight taste, but not enough to make me cringe when I taste it.

Long story short: It’s a nice lip balm! Bonus points for having SPF. But given it's standard balm texture and moisturizing ability, I think calling it a “lip treatment” is a bit exaggerated.

Would I buy it again? Eeeehh. Probably not, but only because I’m frugal. It’s worth a purchase if you’re gung ho about Korean products and/or snail ingredients, but otherwise, I don’t find it that necessary. It's nice, but I think a lot of drugstore lip balms could give the same result for less. ^^

Thanks for reading!