Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Review: Tea Tree Skin Clearing Toner

This was the first toner I've ever purchased and it has left a lovely first impression on me. Before I got  the Tea Tree Skin Clearing Toner from The Body Shop, I did some research and many users raved about how it wasn't over-drying and prevented breakouts. 

I've been using the toner for over 6 months now and noticed a couple of differences. First, it didn't sting or dry out my skin at all. After using it for so long, I expected my skin to get a little dry, but nope, there's absolutely no signs of it drying out my skin. It actually left my skin very fresh looking and smooth. Second, it mattified my skin like it claimed on the bottle. Since I have oily skin and am always looking for products to control my shiny t-zone area, I found this to be very helpful. In terms of breakouts, it didn't entirely stop me from breaking out every now and then, but I did notice that the pimples that I would get went away rather fast. They didn't linger like they used to and I was extremely happy about that. As for the scent, it was a little strange, but it wasn't overbearing so I didn't mind it. 

Personally, this was a very good first toner for me to start out with. It was extremely gentle and my skin reacted pretty well to it. After I finish this bottle, I think I'm going to try out a different toner just so I can have something to compare it with. Hmm, I've been especially keeping an eye out for toners that help reduce redness and minimize pores. I'll definitely keep you posted! 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

DIY Summer Treats: Peanut Butter + Fruit Wrap

This is a fun and easy twist to the classic chicken caesar wraps that i'm used to. I usually have at least 3 or 4 servings of fruits every day and sometimes, that can get pretty boring especially when i'm eating the same thing every time. That's why i'm always looking for ways to change things up using whatever i can find around around the kitchen and in the fridge. This fruit wrap is perfect for me because it's fun to make and of course, very satisfying. You only need three basic ingredients to make this yummy snack: tortilla, peanut butter, and sliced fruits. For the wrap i have pictured above, i used a whole grain tortilla, peanut butter, fresh strawberries, and half a banana, topped with some cinnamon. I was only going to eat half of it at first and save the rest for later, but it was so good that i ended up eating the whole thing! I like how i can make this ahead of time and just pop it in the fridge, ready to be eaten anytime. Also, it makes a great pre-workout snack because it's packed with protein and natural sugars that the body needs before exercising. When i have this before hitting the gym, it makes me want to push myself harder and get a good workout in. Yep, i'm the kind of person who uses food as motivation ;p

Saturday, July 19, 2014

[Empties]: First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Liquid Recovery

This is the first beauty product that I've emptied in a very long time. I have this thing where it takes me forever to finish anything that is skincare and beauty related. I have tons of half used lotions, chapsticks, and makeup products sitting around the house - forgotten and probably way past its expiration date. I'm not the only one who's like that, right?

So it was somewhat of a surprise when I noticed that I was nearly done with this whole bottle of First Aid Beauty's Ultra Repair Liquid serum. Since I have sensitive skin that gets inflamed super easily,  I picked up this particular product, which claims to "hydrate, reduce redness, and repair stressed skin."

Personally, I was disappointed to find that the product did not make much of a difference to my skin. It was indeed light and hydrating, but other than that, nothing else stood out. Firstly, it had a very funky smell. Scent is everything to me when it comes to skincare products so I was thrown off by the unpleasant smell. Second, because the serum is liquid based, I did not like that it was designed in a way where I had to squeeze the tip to get the formula onto my palms. Often times, the liquid would drip right through my fingers before I could even pat it onto my skin, resulting in a bit of a waste. 

Like most skincare products out there, the serum did a good job providing temporary results. My skin appeared the smoothest and hydrated when I used it right after showering and washing my face. But that could just be the result from my other skincare products that I'm using.

Overall, I was not impressed and considering the price, it could've been better. But then again, it might work for someone with a different skin type.

Thursday, July 17, 2014


Exhibit A: The power of photo-editing tools

The other day, I was on YouTube and stumbled across Colbie Caillat's music video "Try." I had listened to the audio version when it was first released and found the lyrics to be incredibly relatable and honest. The music video was just as moving maybe even more. It was raw and deep and the message behind it was truly beautiful and inspiring. It really got me thinking, hence the lengthy post that's about to follow. 

Being a 90's baby and all, I get quite uneasy sometimes when I think about how much technology, more specifically social media has taken over our lives through the years. In this generation where social media is literally everywhere and "sharing" has been taken to a completely new level, it has become a lot easier for us, especially young girls, to compare ourselves with others online and to feel the pressure of being "perfect". If you use social media apps like Instagram or Twitter, you would know that every day, girls post tons and I mean TONS of selfies of themselves. Whether they're posing in their bikinis or just taking a quick selfie in the car, the photos always come out looking effortless and pretty. Some girls might scroll through them without another thought, but there are others who might look at them and compare themselves and wonder why they are not as pretty or as skinny or as fit as the person they see on their screen. I would know because I've been there. I used to have spur-of-the-moment thoughts like "if only I had her skin" or "I wish my hair was as nice as hers" from seeing countless Instagram snaps of people who looked like they've gotten everything figured out. I should've focused my energy elsewhere because the truth is, no one looks that flawless all the time in real life. There's a good chance that the person who posted a selfie that was envied by thousands of people online was just having a really good hair day. I think we get so absorbed into comparing ourselves to others that we forget to appreciate our differences and the things that make us special. 

I see a lot of girls these days who are unhappy with their looks and want to get work done on them when they're older. This makes me really sad because the things they don't like about themselves are the things that I see as beautiful and unique. I wish they could see that because they may see imperfection, but I see beauty. Girls should NEVER EVER feel like they need to change their appearance for anyone or that they have to look a certain way to be accepted and liked. We need to remember to tell people of all ages and color that they're beautiful more often and to remind one another that we're all beautiful in our own way. There is no other person who is like you in this world, so be the best you can be and help others be the best as well. So go ahead and give someone a compliment today and the next day or tell your friends and co-workers, or a significant other that they're beautiful. They may not see it, but I bet there's someone out there who does. 

Now about that photo I have up there. You're probably wondering what the deal with that is. They say pictures are worth a thousand words, but I think people forget that pictures can also be very misleading. After all, we, the audience or speaking in social media lingo - the "followers", only see the things that the photographer wants us to see. For instance, the image on the left was what I had posted online without much editing and the one on the right, as you can tell, was enhanced, brightened, filtered, you name it. (Can I just say that I had no idea that my eye bags were that bad until I started playing around with the filters for my "after" picture). It was only then that I realized just how easily anyone can drastically transform an image or their appearance in mere seconds. Clearly the photo on the right looks like it had been worked on, but to what extent? You wouldn't know if I didn't have the "before" photo beside it. Here's another example that we see every day and is almost too hard to avoid: professional celebrity shots. There's now another tool for people to share and display professional photos of celebrities where they can reach a much wider audience: social media apps. Being that teenage girls nowadays can look at these Photoshopped images just by a few taps on their phones, they might get the wrong idea and compare themselves to something that isn't really achievable in real life. But they don't know that and no one's telling them otherwise because all they see is the after product. Those are the pictures that "sell", but they can have damaging effects on young girls and their self-esteem. It's important to not let the media get to us as they create such a false representation of how girls should look like. Beauty isn't about how many "pretty" selfies one has on Instagram or Facebook. Beauty comes from within and that's what really matters.

It's ironic how technology is meant to help us stay connected with one another and bring people together, and yet studies have shown that social media sites are making us feel lonelier than ever. This just all goes back to the downsides of social media. I can't stress enough how we should remember that not everything on the internet is what it seems and it's important to not get so absorbed in other peoples' lives. I've certainly had times where I would spend hours on my phone scrolling through pictures on Instagram, thinking how my life is so dull compared to others. Looking back, I could have done so many other things that was actually worth my time instead of just looking at a screen for hours on end. I'm going to end here because this has been such a long post. If you're still here  reading along, thank you, thank you! I would say that I'm not usually this chatty, but sometimes I just get really worked up on things. Let me add one more thing...

A final note - I strongly encourage you to watch Colbie Caillat's new music video "Try" because it's the first in a long time that the mainstream music charts have had something this moving and raw. As I mentioned earlier, the message behind it is incredibly powerful and honest. Having it go unnoticed is simply unacceptable in my book. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Life Update #1 + Pizza Bagels

Hi there! Before I get to the pizza bagels, (or you can skip and go right ahead to the food part haha) I want to give you a quick update on what I've been up to. Nothing too major, but it sure has been busy, hence the lack of blog posts. I'm currently back in school for the summer, trying to stay on track before I graduate college next year. Yeee, time is flying by so fast - feels like I was only a freshman yesterday, but that's a story for another time haha. Anyway, the classes offered in the summer are extremely intense as the professors have to fit an academic quarter (80 days) worth of materials into just 5 weeks, 8 weeks, or 10 weeks. The accelerated sessions are no joke. Aside from the class, I'm also a research assistant in a psychology lab and working at my regular school year job on-campus. With 8 hours of class, plus 12 hours of lab, and 10+ hours of work per week, I had no idea how much I took on until after the first week. But in all honesty, I've been really enjoying everything that I'm doing. Though it makes me a little sad to see the days go by so fast. I think that because I like being constantly on the go, it makes me want to soak up all the R&R that I can get on those lazy days. 

Speaking of lazy days, this DIY pizza bagel is perfect because it takes little effort to make while satisfying your tummy! I don't even call this a proper recipe because there's not much measuring and technicalities involved. You can basically add any toppings, pick any kind of bagels, pizza sauce, cheese, etc you like. The choices are endless. I'm probably going to crush many pizza lovers' hearts by saying this, but I'm not a huge fan of pizza. They're always covered in way too much oil when I order them and it's just unappetizing, which is why I prefer making the bagel version at home. It's a bit healthier and I like that I get to control what and how much I put on them. 

For the yummy pizza bagels I have there in the picture, I used pizza sauce (marinara works as well), topped with shredded mozzarella + cheddar cheese, olives, and pepperoni slices on whole wheat bagel slices. I popped them in the oven for 10 minutes at 350 degrees F. and voila, DIY pizza bagels! It's incredibly easy to make and it's something fun to do with the kids! 

What do you like on your pizza? Are you a classic pepperoni fan or do you go wild with the toppings?