Thursday, July 4

Let's Talk Skincare

Just over 3 years ago, I had the most basic skincare routine.
There were just 2 steps.
Wash & Moisturize.

I've never had a facial, and I used whatever that was most convenient.

But it all changed when I met the boyfriend.
It was inevitable since he works in the skincare industry.

So here's what I've learned over the years.

My skin-type is dry.
This means that although I am not prone to blemishes, I would develop wrinkles more quickly as I age. Good heavens, noooo!

Start with a good face wash.
This doesn't necessarily have to be branded or expensive.
Find one that suits your skin the best.
I'm currently using Perfect Whip by Senka.
It's a fun experience using it, and it gives a good wash without over-drying my skin.

Do you actually need a toner?
From what I understand, a toner cleanses and preps your skin before you slap on more things onto your face. I was using Ultra Facial Toner by Kiehl's, but once my supply ran out, I decided to forgo this step entirely. Plus my face wash already does a really good job. So no, I don't tone.

Hydrate with a hydrating lotion/serum.
This next step is important to create a moisture barrier for your skin so that it doesn't look rough & dull as you age. I don't really know why they call them "lotions", coz you'd expect a lotion to be of a cream-like texture. Instead, it feels more like an alcohol-free toner or water.  I use a variety of brands, depending on my budget for that quarter. For the budget-conscious, you may opt for Hada Labo's range of hydrating lotions. If you're planning to splurge a little, you can try Clinique's moisture surge hydrating lotion, Kiehl's Iris extract activating treatment essence, or Lancome's Genifique youth activating concentrate (I'd use this more frequently if money wasn't a factor.. LOL). If you're traveling, stop by Loreal's counter and pick up a bottle (or more) of Loreal's Revitalift filler [HA] plumpy water essence. It's not expensive, but I could only find them at the airport shops.

Dark spots?
The clearly corrective dark spot solution by Kiehl's is my favourite, but it comes with a very steep price. Pocket-friendly versions would be Loreal's white perfect laser derm white essence, or Olay's white radiance brightening intensive serum (unfortunately, this has a very lousy pump bottle and has recently been discontinued).

Now something for the eyes.
I've always believed that you can tell a person's age from their eyes when they smile. Ugh, wrinkles and crow's feet will be the death of me. Recently, the boyfriend gave me a bottle of Genefique yeux light-pearl eye illuminator by Lancome. Fancy! Before this, I've been using Bobbi Brown Remedies skin wrinkle treatment no. 25. Kiehl's also has an Age defender eye repair, but I haven't used this since they had a new packaging. I guess and hope that it's the same stuff that I've used before, coz that's pretty good too. But ultimately, and unfortunately, eye creams don't come cheap.

More wrinkles?
I've been patting Kiehl's powerful-strength line-reducing concentrate on wrinkle-prone areas on my face. But at almost 300 bucks for a bottle, I don't think I'll be continuing this step once I run out. Just smile less.

Let's get oily!
"Putting oil on my skin", I know it sounds crazy, but it's probably one of my favourite steps (partly also because it means that I'm almost done with my 7-step routine). I use a day and midnight oil, both by Kiehl's, and it gives my skin an instant glowing-effect. Plus the midnight oil makes my skin feel so good when I wake up the next morning. It's not because I have dry skin, I think the oil does provide benefits regardless of your skin-type. I'm not too sure; best to consult one of them skin experts on facial oils.

Moisturize~
I only moisturize during the day. I like Hada Labo's super hyaluronic acid hydrating light cream, and Olay's moisturising lotion (as basic as it gets, but this stuff is good!).

Sunscreen up!
UV rays come in through windows and from fluorescent lights, so don't forget to apply some sunscreen even if you're planning to spend the day indoors. My favourite is the perfect UV sunscreen by Anessa, but if you're looking for a budget-friendly sunscreen, I'd recommend Sunplay's super block SPF130. I use this when I plan to spend the day under the sun or when I take a dip in the pool in the afternoon. Yes, SPF130. Hahahahahahahahahahahaha!

But what happens at night?
When I don't moisturize, I apply a layer of overnight mask after the oily step. Kiehl's has a few types. I'm currently using the ginger leaf & hibiscus firming mask by Kiehl's. They recently discontinued the cilantro & orange extract pollutant defending masque, so if you still see this in stores, grab a jar! It's really good, and it's gonna be gone really soon! I've tried La Mer's prized moisturizing cream, but after reading this article, I've been thinking about giving Nivea's creme a try (edit: on second thought, let's not support Nivea, click here to read why). 


I'm currently open to try different stuff, so tell me, what's your skincare routine like, and what products would you recommend?

Wednesday, June 26

Pride

(noun)
1. the quality, state or feeling of being proud .
2. a high opinion of one's own dignity, importance, superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing or conduct.
3. confidence and self-respect as expressed by members of a group, typically one that has been socially marginalized, on the basis of their shared identity, culture, and experience.

(cardinal sin)
1. Latin, superbia
2. considered the original and most serious of the seven deadly sins.
3. also thought to be the source of the other cardinal sins.

~
I love diversity, the positive stance against discrimination, and everything that Pride stands for; but I've been thinking about why this particular word was chosen to represent the LGBTIQ movement.

Was it to mock the churches?
Same-sex relationships seem to be a sin in most religions.
They've spent so much time condemning us.
Some of us were even killed, in the name of a higher power.
Maybe Pride wasn't the worst sin.
Perhaps Prejudice should be.

Or was it because Pride is the opposite of Shame?
That we should no longer feel ashamed of who we are.
Because Shame is not all that we're worth.
Because Pride will not give permission to Shame.
Pride will not give permission to Hate.
Because Love has no gender.
And although it is okay to be different;
We are not different.

Happy Pride Month.

Sunday, May 5

My Home Away From Home

I'm down to my final month in Taipei; for real this time! Here's what's been happening in my life~

1. I'm in Taipei to learn Chinese; was supposed to go home in February, but I really couldn't learn enough in 3 months, so I've extended my classes up till the end of May. It's been so much fun and although I'll soon be down to my last dollar, I would do it all again if I had the chance!

2. I learned that although 95% of Taiwanese are Han Chinese (which I am too), there are several cultural and social differences with Malaysian/Singaporean Chinese that I'm familiar with. There's no lousang nor yumseng here, and it's so intriguing to know that the number 8 is not always a favoured number in Taiwan.

3. I'm not a foodie, but being away from home makes me miss Malaysian food sooooo much! I want my nasi lemak bungkus, roti bawang double-telur banjir, banana leaf rice with extra peria goreng, and my morning hargow dimsum.. Mmm~

4. I really miss working out, and I miss my gym. I didn't bother to join a gym here, so the last time I actually had a proper sweat-out was in... November 2018. Seriously. I'm getting fat!

5. I can't wait to have my car-aoke sessions once I'm home. The block of apartments that I live in Taipei are built quite close together and not sound-proof. Sometimes, I can hear the odd neighbour in the shower, jamming to some off-key beat he probably heard at a rave, and I think to myself "I don't want to be that guy".. Car-aoke is one of the little pleasures in life that I didn't appreciate enough... until I don't have a car to sing in!

6. Winter & Spring would be a wonderful time to visit Taipei, unless it rains... which it does... most of the time... Taipei's winter isn't painfully cold, the coldest it gets is slightly above 10°C, which is a nice treat from the heat back in KL. But be warned, the skies are gloomy most of the time. Last December, we didn't see the sun for 12 days straight. Yes, I counted. I thought it was the end of the world. It's a bet for travelers; it could rain for a week without stopping, but it could also be sunny and cool for a whole week. So, feeling lucky?

7. I experienced my first earthquake in Taiwan! ...and my second.. and my third.. and my fourth.... Earthquakes are a common occurrence here. An earthquake that's strong enough to wake you up in the middle of the night, or make you stop and think "oh, earthquake" would happen about once a month. The first earthquake I felt was in December, while I was asleep. My bed started to shake and I freaked out coz I thought I has being haunted by a poltergeist. Then I could hear my closet shaking and creaking, and I realised that it was a shake. The strongest earthquake I felt was the one that happened in April. I was in the middle of my midterms when it happened and we could hear students from the other classes shouting. I felt a bit nervous, thinking to myself "at what point do I drop my pen and start to run?". It was also the time when 2 Malaysians got injured at the national park, which led to my phone buzzing from concerned friends & family. Unfortunately, one of the injured Malaysians succumbed to their injuries.

8. I felt like an alcoholic during my first few months here. I think I missed home, aka the boyfie, too much. I helped myself to a whole bottle of wine every night. Luckily, wines from the supermarket are quite cheap. =)

9. It's my first time spending so many holidays away from home: Christmas, New Year's Eve, Chinese New Year, Valentine's, Easter, Mother's Day... No wonder it's beginning to feel so long!

10. As much as I miss home, I'm going to miss Taipei a whole lot once I leave. It's such a liveable city. People are nice, it's super safe (It might take a while, but I can drunk-stumble home alone at 2AM , no problem), the public transport network is vast, good food is easy to find, bubble tea is everywhere (and so cheap!), and I have amazingggg friends! ...and also, gay marriage will be legalized on May 24, which is also the last day of classes for me~It's gonna be such a fun weekend! Yaaaaaaaa!!

Thursday, April 25

2000 Miles Apart, Part.2

With the various social platforms & apps available, one would think that I'd be able to freely express myself on one; but I frequently find myself being self-restrictive (for good reasons), not wanting to "out" myself to certain friends or followers, and I cbf to group them in different lists, which I think is a bit of an asshole move. So here I am, back in the safe haven of the blogosphere where I can safely & comfortably say...
I.FUCKING.MISS.MY.BOYFRIEND! (...so much!)

We've been doing this whole long-distance thing a little longer than we initially planned for, and seriously; I have no idea how some couples spend years, or an indefinite amount of time apart.

I miss seeing him, I miss his closeness, I miss making and laughing at silly jokes together, I miss sharing our meals, I miss going to the movies with him, I miss working-out together, I miss spending time with him not doing anything at all... and of course, I miss having sex! Gosh, I'm thirsty..

Monday, December 24

Happy Christmas

It's probably my first time spending Christmas night alone tonight (or it may be the second time around? I dunno, I forget). I've 2 bottles of wine, a Christmas tree, and an attention-seeking cat. What more could I ask for? I'm alone, but not lonely.

Tonight also marks my first month being in Taipei. I'm glad I'm where I am today.

The first week in Taipei was difficult. Whilst searching for a place to stay, I spent 7 nights in 3 different hotels, and the depressing, gloomy weather didn't help. Living out of a suitcase from a temporary room in a city I were to call "home" for the next 3 months made me question my decision to leave KL, really.

It all changed when I finally found a place, thanks to my Taiwanese friend, Ethan. The apartment I live in is awesome! There's a busy back-alley street just downstairs, and I'm not more than a 5-minute walk to the nearest MRT station, several bus stops, a ubike stop, a large temple, Carrefour, Watsons, Family Mart, at least four different 7-Elevens! The place is so convenient!

Life in Taipei has been treating me well since. I've found a clique of good friends who have welcomed me into their circle, and the Taiwanese are very hospitable. Touch wood, I've yet to meet anyone who's unfriendly or rude. Even the bus drivers here are usually helpful and polite.

Anyway, I'm kinda tipsy now since I've chugged down an entire bottle of Bordeaux, so excuse me but I'll have to continue this discourse another time.

May you all have a very Merry Christmas.

Much love. xoxo

Wednesday, November 28

2000 Miles Apart

We were in Tokyo for just over a week; it was both our first time there, so there was much to explore and see.

We spent much time going back to the same places that we liked; the little back-alley sushi bars & curry eateries, browsing through novelty shops, exploring different neighbourhood public onsen bathhouses, and we even bought a picnic mat so we could celebrate his birthday under the golden yellow-leaved ginkgo trees. It was wonderful.

One of the toughest pre-holiday booking was deciding between Disneyland and DisneySea; in the end we opted for the latter since it was exclusive to Japan. It was his first time at a Disney theme park. It was utterly magical, at least for me. I hope that he felt the same way. I should ask.

The Mori Digital Art Museum by TeamLab was also one of the highlights of our trip. I think we spent close to 4 hours in there. Pretty!

We got on a day tour to catch a stunning view of Mount Fuji from Lake Kawaguchiko. Despite the heavy traffic getting there and back (it was a public holiday in Japan), we found out later that we were very lucky, as she's known to be shy, hiding behind clouds and fog. She was very kind to us that day.

Our last day was the most difficult. We navigated the streets of Tokyo aimlessly, both pretending that we were okay, that it was almost forgotten that at the end of our charming week together, we would be heading our separate ways.

No, we weren't breaking up.

His flight back to KL was scheduled at 11:45PM, while mine was to Taipei; 5 hours later at 4:50AM. I've decided to temporarily relocate myself there for the next 10 weeks or so. Yes, we're doing the long distance thing. Looking back, it may have been the dumbest decision I've made.

During dinner, his eyes suddenly welled-up and he cried a little. Seeing him break down like that, my heart paced and a lump formed in my throat. For the first time, I was afraid of leaving without him. Our ride to the airport was a quiet one. We took some pictures in the train and held each others' hands. He told me that he secretly wished that his flight would be delayed so that we could spend a little more time together. I smiled at his silliness.

When we reached the airport terminal, we laughed when they displayed a "delayed" status for his flight. That bought us 45 more minutes together. 45 precious minutes that I'm so grateful for.

Then came the dreaded moment. My flight was too early to be checked-in, so we had to say our goodbyes at the departure gate. I can't remember how many times we hugged while walking there. But when I knew that it would soon be our last, it hit my heart like a hammer and I started crying like a man. He hugged me till the tears stopped, then he walked on and disappeared past the sliding doors.

Today's only our third day apart. It hasn't been easy. Exploring a city alone isn't quite the same when you know that there's someone who you wish could be there with you. No joke, but I see him everywhere and in everything I do. I know that we only need to endure the next 10 weeks. Some would even laugh at us. "What's 10 weeks?"..  But hey, we've never done anything even remotely close to this.

He's due to visit February next year. He'll be bringing me home. But until then, I've made a promise that I'll make the most of my time here in Taipei.

I'll be counting down the days, and counting up the moments till we meet again. I miss you.