Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Review + Swatches

Hi hi pretty people :)

So today I wanted to do a quick review of the Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Line. So what is Sally Hansen Miracle Gel? Basically this is their alternative to traditional gel or shellac manicures. It touts:
  • No LED light needed
  • No need to "prepare" the nail or roughen it
  • Up to 14 days of wear
  • Easy removal with normal nail polish remover
Where to buy:
Not going to lie. These suckers are HARD to hunt down. But find them at CVS or Target. CVS tends to have a better selection AND they're currently running a special: buy 2 get $5 "extra bucks" back.

The brush: Ahh, a critical part of the application process. I did enjoy the brush- nice and wide and sort of reminiscent of OPI.

The application: Okay okay, this is where it fell apart. Application is a painfully slow, finicky process that will make you want to tear your hair out. 4 coats later and still not opaque? You must be kidding me. And on top of that, the formula is thick and takes forever to dry. The "Miracle Gel" top coat is also a nightmare- thick, goopy and painfully dull for a top coat. Shouldn't top coats be glossy?

Wear: The redeeming factor. The miracle gel lives up to it's promise, and 6 days later still no noticeable chipping. I couldn't stand looking at "B Girl" any longer than 6 days, but I figure by then you'd be tired of the same.


L to R: Get Mod, B Girl, Creme de la Creme, All Chalked Up, Top Coat

So out of all the colors I got, here are my thoughts:

  • Get Mod: Your basic shiny white. 3 coats until opaque.
  • B Girl: A muted tiffany / aqua blue. Took 4 coats, still not opaque. Streaky but good wear.
  • Creme de la Creme: A pearlescent opal with pink tinge. 2 coats and fairly opaque.
  • All Chalked Up: A "dirty lavender".  About 3 coats until opaque.

So would I buy again? Probably- but only the colors I really, really like. I've been trying to hunt down "Sugar Fix" for some time but to no avail. I have to give them credit- these last a long time in the wear and tear department. They did promise good wear and NOT good application after all. But I just wish the application and finish was a bit more beautiful. However, removal was easy and 6 days no chips is indeed a "miracle" in my book.

And that's it ladies! What do you think? Will you be picking these up? :) Let me know in the comments below!


Saturday, September 06, 2014

New Place & a Mini Godiva Mooncake Review

Celebratory moving photo- via iPhone

So I did it. I finally moved. I've been dying to move ever since I first came to LA, but decided to wait  out my lease until the *perfect* apartment and space came along. I finally found it! And I'm now a happy resident of West LA. :) I'll be sure to give everyone a tour once I'm fully settled in.

On another note, apparently Monday is the annual Mooncake festival. Because I'm a terrible Chinese person, I didn't even know until my friends over at Godiva sent me some special LE Godiva mooncakes! You guys, I love Godiva. It's a real problem. I'm even opted in to their monthly "free bonbon" program that always suckers me in to buying a $8 chocolate strawberry when I'm at the store. But I digress.

Mooncakes are usually eaten during the annual Mid-Autmun festival, which is held on the 15th day of the 8th month of the Lunar Calendar. They're not cake-y in the American sense. They're dense, very rich, and have no frosting or other bells and whistles. They're also really expensive- and you'll see families and business acquaintances giving them to each other as presents. Typically you'll find a dense red bean paste or lotus seed paste inside. Because they're so rich usually one mooncake is shared between many people, and washed down with a bit of hot tea.

One large "moocake" surrounded by many, smaller "mooncakes".

Mandarin Black Tea Mooncake with Dark Chocolate
Goji Berry Black Tea Mooncake with Milk Chocolate
Mango Green Tea Mooncake with White Chocolate

As far as taste, both I and the new roomie agreed the dark chocolate was the best flavor.  Our second favorite was the white chocolate, that was pleasantly light and had crunchy nougat bits inside. To be honest they don't remind me of mooncake at all- which makes me happy since I'd rather eat chocolate over mooncake any day. These could be a great twist on the traditional mooncake, and can be purchased over at Godiva stores and online.

I have to say- I'm pretty happy with how these photos turned out. Ever since I changed jobs and started working with some FANTASTICALLY talented bloggers, it's really inspired me to step my photography game up. Part of why I chose my new apartment is because it's flooded with light, thanks to a bevy of floor-to-ceiling windows. It's so much easier to take photos now, look at how wonderfully bright these are :)! Nothing beats "real" light.

Since moving to LA I've also become obsessed with the local farmer's market. Because I figured I needed a bit of greenery in my new space, I started planting herbs along my balcony outside. The first plant I had to buy, fully sprouted. It kind of feels like cheating. Mint is really easy to take care of (it's borderline invasive and needs a pot) but it's hard to get started. After some lengthy Googling I stumbled on to the chocolate mint plant. Yes guys, a real plant that smells/tastes like a chocolate Andes mint. AMAZING. This will probably make the best iced coffee ever. I picked it up for $3.99 at a local nursery.

So the leaves are a bit thicker and darker than a typical spearmint plant, which is the plant that's most commonly sold as "mint". I'm not a fan of how the runners are long and ivy-like so that they droop down, but I'm so excited to see how it tastes and turns out. I hope I don't kill it- I don't have much luck with plants :) or anything for that matter. I think I'll also get a normal spearmint plant since I like the aesthetics a bit better. 

In case you're wondering what's on the nails, it's Sally Hansen's Miracle Gel in "B Girl". I had to hunt this sucker down, on a journey that took me from Target, then another Target and finally to CVS. The application was terrible, but it seems to be holding up pretty well and I'll follow up with a review later.

Happy Mid-Autumn festival to everyone celebrating. How do you like mooncake? Let me know! :) 

FTC: Mooncakes gifted by Godiva Chocolates, I was not paid to make this post.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

My Eyebrow Tattoo Experience

Why hello there :)

Since I had some free time today I figured i'd talk about my newest obsession- my tattooed eyebrows! Now now... I know what you're thinking. You're thinking I probably look like I have some of these:

But tattooed eyebrows have come so far since the days of our parent's tragic, blue/grey/green tattoos. I first became interested in tattooed eyebrows because (like most Asians) my brows are naturally sparse, and a bit uneven. Nothing I couldn't live with but I just wanted them to be more shapely, and with minimal effort because I am LAZY.

After some Yelp sleuthing I decided on CC Permanent Makeup, in Los Angeles, CA near Koreatown. I was torn between her and Sherri, since together they sort of have a monopoly on the whole business in LA.  They both share a similar aesthetic and technique, but CC had overall better reviews so I went with her instead. Here are some basics:

Cost: $300 (not including tip, includes free touchup)
How long does it last: 2-3 years, depending on care and sun exposure (wear sunscreen!)
How long did it take: Altogether including the tattoo and consultation 75 minutes
The actual tattoo part: Maybe 5-10 minutes
Healing time: 5-7 days
Pain level: low

The Experience 

When you first come in they'll numb you up with a topical numbing cream. Then you'll die of boredom for the next 30 minutes while the numbing cream does it's magic. Bring a magazine or a fully charged cellphone because you'll be antsy with nothing to do.

After it's had some time to sink in they'll remove the numbing cream. This is the part where you'll go back and forth with CC, deciding on the best shape and thickness of the tattoo. This is when I knew I had picked the right person- she's incredibly knowledgable but you can tell she wants you to be happy with the final result. She initially drew on eyebrows that were super arched- I loved them, but it was a bit too much of a different look for me to be comfortable with. A lot of people say to trust them, and I agree the eyebrows looked fantastic but it was just too much of a dramatic change to commit to on the spot. We settled somewhere in-between and her assistant came back in to "poke" the numbing cream deeper in to the skin. Admittedly this is the most uncomfortable part- but it's uncomfortable more than painful.

CC then quickly filled in my brows, while making fun of a particularly large pimple that was erupting out of my face. After a few minutes, we were totally done! I paid, was given aftercare instructions and went home.

You can see the  individual "hair strokes" in this photo.

Healing Process

This is easily the hardest part. Healing eyebrows are ITCHY. And you can't get them wet. I purchased large, wound care bandages and cut them in half for my daily showers. In retrospect I really should have just toughed it out and washed my face with some face wipes. If the tattoo becomes too itchy, put a small amount of ointment on a clean q-tip and apply it along the length of your brows. This usually relieved the itchiness for me.

First day after- soooo dark.
Also beware, these are incredibly dark when you first get them. Unless you like a stronger brow, you'll feel pretty uncomfortable about it the first few days. They get even darker on day 2, but will fade back to an acceptable color at around day 4-5 after the scabs begin to peel.

6 days after- not filled in!

 Enjoy your new brows!

I still fill mine in from time to time, but I like how they look without brow powder as well. I really recommend this to everyone- especially because many girls I know feel uncomfortable without filling in their brows daily. This is such a beautiful alternative- that you can't rub off on hot, sweaty days :) Let me know if you have any questions. And I'd be happy to answer them below!

PS. Sorry for the crappy photos. I promise I took some amazing ones on my DSLR- which I accidentally deleted like a idiot while filming the video you can watch below. Tragic, I know. Someone give me a Darwin award right now, please.

Friday, April 25, 2014

5 Asian Skincare Products You MUST Try

Oh hey there, long time no see.

So I'm finally settled in, and getting a chance to work on my own brand. AKA the mszjackiechu- with a "z". Believe it or not, not a day goes by that I don't think about Youtube in some way. And since I haven't chopped down my welcome back video (yet, that's coming this weekend), I figured I'd do a quick blog rounding up my favorite Asian skincare products.

I've always been such a huge proponent of skincare. Since moving to LA, I've been breaking out quite a bit so I've started religiously applying all of my serums and potions once again. I think my renewed love for skincare is partially due in part to an interview I saw featuring Pharrell, where he confessed everything he knew about skincare came from supermodel Naomi Campbell (another ageless vampire). The most important take away? She stressed the skin you have now, is the skin you'll have later in life. I'm not old by any means...but I definitely wouldn't mind aging a bit better would you? That made me take a hard look in the mirror where I had to admit, my skin wasn't looking so hot these days.

Look at his baby soft skin- at FOURTY-ONE. Oh. Em. Gee. 
Besides Proactive and Queen Helene's Mint Julep Masque (ahh-mazing) I use exclusively Asian skincare products. Asian skincare is a kind of weird, funny and expensive realm. To help navigate it for you, I'll show you my MUST have products I use to keep my skin looking bright, even and beautiful.

Sheet Face Masks

I LOVE face masks. Seriously. Love this stuff.   Sheet masks are individually wrapped packs of cotton masks drenched in facial serum that you wear over a freshly washed face for about 10-15 minutes. After I take the mask off I spend another 2-3 minutes rubbing it in, to make sure I get all of it's chemical goodness and then wash my face promptly after. Some people just let it air dry and leave it be- but this clogs my pores so I make it a point to always wash my face. My favorites are My Beauty Diary's Arbutin-A and black pearl masks. Image via Yesstyle

Whitening Products

Woah woah woah, not that kind of lightening. There's a lot of misconception with skin whitening that I always try and clear. It's true- there's products in Asia that help people achieve a lighter hue of skin, but for the most part these can be pretty dangerous and aren't legal in the states. The term "whitening" can also be used to describe products that even skin's tone and texture. I have a lot of discoloration from sun damage as I'm genetically prone to freckles and sunspots, so these help keep my skin looking clean and even. They also give it a bit of translucency, that makes my skin look young and fresh and gets rid of that "weathered" look socal sun can cause. My favorite is Shiseido's White Lucent line.

Nexcare Acne Dressing

NexCare Acne Dressing

These are literally one of the biggest Asian skincare secrets that no one ever talks about. These small, unassuming round bandages are God's gift to whiteheads and troubled skin. You stick one of these babies on a pimple with a head, and it sucks out all the disgusting insides. No popping necessary! For pimples that don't have a head, I'll sometimes take a (clean!) needle, poke it through and leave it on overnight. Just note these need at least 8 hours to work, and may need multiple tries until the pimple is flat. Not going to lie- I LOVE seeing them filled with pus in the morning. Makes my entire day. If you're buying them in the states, try Amazon or Ebay.

So. Epic.

Shiseido's Water In Lip Chapstick

This is the most amazing chapstick you will ever try in your life. All my friends think I'm nuts to pay almost $10 for a rinky dink little chapstick but it's worth every cent. It literally melts as you apply it, and instantly you'll have a super kissable, soft pout. You'll know from the second you apply it that you'll never be able to use another chopstick again. The only pain? They're really hard to find, so I usually default to Ebay. My personal favorite flavor is pear- you'll love it.

Cure aqua peeling gel

CURE - Aqua Peeling Gel

I first heard about this product through Bubbi, and was super curious because, in case you haven't noticed, her skin is gorgeous. CURE is a cult beauty product in Japan, and it's basically a peeling gel / mild chemical exfoliator. You smooth it on a clean face, let it sit for 30 seconds, and then rub off all your old, yucky skin. Not only will regular exfoliation keep your skin looking younger, it will also help all your pricey serums and moisturizers absorb better.  Only caveat- it is pretty pricey at almost $50 a bottle. I'm also a fan of Laneige's peeling gels as well, which are about half that price. They're just as good but a bit heavy on the fragrance. You can buy CURE on Amazon

And that's all! Expect a video soon :) and have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Dinner at Lukshon for Godiva's Lunar New Year Chocolate Collection

In case you didn't know, Godiva makes some of the best chocolate strawberries I've ever had so I'm a huge fan. They're a bit of a pricey treat at $6-$8 each but the strawberries they pick are so juicy and heavenly, and the chocolate is ridiculously rich and creamy. I used to always grab one when I shopped as a little treat to myself (as if you really needed to treat yourself for your compulsive shopping habit but I digress...)

Due to their overwhelming popularity in the Chinese community, Godiva created new ballotins to celebrate Chinese New Year and the year of the horse :). This year Chinese New Year falls on January 31st, which rarely happens as it usually it takes place in February. The dates change every year since they're based on the Lunar Calendar, which is why many Chinese people believe that they actually have two birthdays. My grandma didn't even know her real American birthday, and just estimated the date when she came to the United States.  You may remember my "good luck kits" my mom still sends me as they make an annual appearance on my Instagram. Usually they include:

  • brand new red underwear (haha) but this one was hot pink since that's a compromise I've come to with my mom. It's supposed to make you lucky and get rid of any bad mojo from the past year
  • candy (so that your new year will be sweet)
  • fake gold chocolate coins (supposed to mean you'll have a prosperous new year with lots of money heh heh)

To celebrate the LE Lunar New Year Chocolate ballotin's release the Godiva US team hosted a dinner event in Los Angeles, and I was lucky enough to attend as one of the three lone beauty bloggers along with April and Jen.


3239 Helms Ave.
Culver City, CA
(310) 202-6808

Lukshon is the brainchild of Iron Chef and restauranteur Sang Yoon. Yoon's name should look familiar to LA area foodies as he's also the curator of the Father's Office- a local gastropub that is hailed for having one of the "best burgers in the world". Lukshon is romantically dim with beautiful, modern styling and furnishings with glass accents that are lighted throughout the restaurant. I think for the price point of the food the ambiance is amazing. For the event we were seated outside, by the glass fireplace.

pork belly lettuce cups- cabbage, crispy pig ear, thai chile, lime, mint, aromatic rice powder

So amazingly delicious! But I've always been a big fan of lettuce cups and I love pork (I'm Chinese after all ;]) so I'm probably a bit biased on this one. This appetizer is a staple on their menu.

duck popiah- pickled stem lettuce, dark chocolate hoison with a spicy lettuce puree

Very similar to Taiwanese beef wraps if you've ever tried those. 

crispy whole fishwith charred cucumbers, pecal sauce, slivered almonds

Yummy but I actually prefer Chinese steamed fish a bit more? All the guys at the table loved it though. The fish was surprisingly moist for having been put through a deep fryer.

chinese eggplant- fennel raita, cocao nibs, eggplant "fries"

I don't even like eggplant and this was one of the BEST things I have ever eaten! Vegatable-wise anyway. Perfectly crispy skin and a delicious, savory sauce. Ugh I'm drooling. I've permanently reconsidered my disliked for eggplant after this by the way.

beef and broccoli- hanger steak, gai-lan, black bean butter and puffed tendon

I dare you to find the broccoli in this picture haha! The steak felt like prime rib, and was tasty but didn't have a real Asian flair to it. There's tiny pieces of kai-lan (Chinese broccoli) hiding under the meat. Kai-lan is similar to broccoli but is leafier, has a long stem and is a bit bitter. I personally love the stuff but it's not for everyone. 

brussel sprouts- chile, garlic vinaigrette sprinkled with sesame seed

I think this place should be a vegetarian's dream because they do vegetables right here. Everyone freaked out over how delicious they were! I've actually never been a fan of brussel sprouts but I'm officially a convert :)  The texture was on point, perfectly broiled and so flavorful.

heirloom black rice- lap cheong, onion, roasted garlic topped with a farm fried egg

I don't even like rice. I know, the blasphemy of it all. An Asian that doesn't like rice but it's true, I don't. It's so tasteless for how bad it is for you. However this rice was one of the best rice dishes I've ever had in my life! The flavor is so savory, and I love the texture of the short-grain rice combined with the gooey-ness of the egg. Everyone agreed this was a favorite.

chinese spicy ramen- ma la bamboo, pork belly, crispy ear

The pork belly was amazing and had great marbling, but this was probably my least favorite dish. It was interesting in that it tasted like niu rou mian (Chinese beef noodle soup) but had instant ramen kind of noodles. Still delicious though :) 

chocolate and pear "donut", macademia and black sesame dumpling with a godiva milk chocolate cherry shooter

The dessert fleet.  Need I say more? :) The "donut" on the left was my favorite. It had a gooey chocolate interior with crisped rice on the outside, amazing and so delicious. A fun play with textures as well.

And of course, no Godiva post would be complete without showcasing the limited edition chocolates in the Year of the Horse Ballotin:

  • Dark Chocolate Pear- A crunchy caramel pear ganache made with a blend of Venezuela milk chocolate and Santo Domingo dark chocolate and a touch of vanilla
  • Milk Cherry and Almond- Crunchy almond praline blended with Vanuatu origin chocolate, sour cherry and a hint of honey
  • White Pineapple and Macadamia Nuts- Sweet Dominican Republic white chocolate ganache blended with nutty macadamia cream and fruity pineapple in white chocolate (my favorite :D!) 

To learn more about these limited edition Lunar New Year ballotins, visit They also come with 8 fancy Godiva hong bao packets for all you slackers! They also offer free shipping on most of the ballotins so you can send your New Year love across the country :)

If you'd like to try Lukshon and are in the LA area, they're participating in Dine LA which runs from now until January 31st. You can check out the Dine LA menu here

As a fair warning, some of these dishes were created specifically for the Godiva event, but all my favorites are permanent features in the menu. :)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Shiseido White Lucent Review

Some of you guys may remember an older post I did reviewing Shiseido's Pureness line- Shiseido's line addressing acne-prone and troubled skin. It's been a long time since I've used it and for the past 3-4 years I've been enjoying White Lucent-  Shiseido's whitening (brightening) skincare line. As with any expensive skincare line the big question is, "Does it work?" I think, in order to not be disappointed with skincare you have to have manage your expectations. To clarify: whitening skincare lines that are distributed in the U.S. are not meant to actually lighten the color of the skin. Whitening products that aggressively lighten the color of your skin usually contain illegal substances that are damaging in the long-term, and i'd discourage anyone from buying them here or overseas. Legitimate "whitening" products are meant to improve the skin's clarity by helping to break up melanin and hyper-pigmentation, the things that cause sun spots, acne scarring and discoloration. They also make the skin appear to be more "translucent".

Because a lot of this discoloration is caused by the sun, many people who purchase whitening products are naturally discouraged from extended sun exposure without sunscreen. For anyone who suffers from acne scarring or hyperpigmentation (sun spots, freckles etc.) wearing sunscreen will actually reduce damage to the skin caused by scarring. Sun damage inhibits your skin's ability to heal AND ages/weathers the appearance of skin, so stay out of the sun for nice skin! This is why people who use whitening skincare are usually fairer, not only to reduce sun damage but also to get the maximum benefit from these costly skincare regimens.

Below I break down the White Lucent products I've tried and give each a mini review.

Shiseido White Lucent Brightening Cleansing Foam - $35 USD
A little of the White Lucent Cleansing Foam goes a long way. You really only need a pea-sized amount and it'll lather up in to a rich, dense (think shaving cream) white foam that will cover your entire face and neck easily. It feels very luxurious and leaves the skin feeling squeaky clean- albeit maybe TOO clean. It's almost a little drying and stripping on its own. It has a slight perfume but nothing overpoweringly stinky. Of all the pieces in the line I don't think this is necessary, I think you can really use any cleanser you want. Because cleansers come right off, as long as your skin is left clean is what matters. There is a slight brightening effect but it's temporary.

Shiseido's white lucent brightening moisturizing emulsion

White Lucent Brightening Moisturizing Emulsion - $59.50
Since I have oily skin, I opted for the moisturizing emulsion since it's much lighter than the cream. It doesn't smell particularly good, but not bad either. Slightly sweet but you catch whiffs of something acrid here and there. I only need a tiny bit and it moisturizes my skin well and gives it a dewy finish. During the summers I end up SUPER oily though come morning time. However I do feel that my skin looks duller and "rougher" without it. Out of the whole line, this is my takeaway absolute favorite, closely followed by the intensive targeting serum.  Shiseido does offer a daytime version with spf 18 but I just mix the lotion with some sunscreen and that works just fine for me.

shisedo white lucent spot targeting serum
Add caption
White Lucent Spot Targeting Serum

White Lucent's Spot Targeting Serum gets a lot of mixed reviews. My personal experience is that it's one of the better spot treatments out there- but you can't expect miracles out of it. It will only give moderate improvements to the appearance of skin, and no improvement whatsoever to the texture. So if you have "ice pick" type acne scars, I wouldn't invest in this since it's more than $150 a bottle! I think The Face Shop's whitening treatments are truly comparable in the beginning stages of scarring, and a lot cheaper. I think the trick is, if you're using whitening spot treatments to mitigate acne scarring you NEED to apply this regularly during the initial stages of healing. I like to massage the whitening serum in as I think it helps increase circulation to the area and expedites healing. However if you are past the initial scar development, I find that Shiseido's works better than The Face Shop's. Hands down Shiseido's spot serum works better for sun damage like freckles and sun spots, but I'd use it in conjunction with a physical exfoliator such as microdermabrasion treatments.
One pack of Shiseido white lucent masks with a open mask in front of it
White Lucent Power Brightening Masks - $68 for 6 masks
Hands down these are the best whitening face masks I have ever, ever tried. They're uncomfortably big but the fabric is just SO thick, plush and luxurious. It feels like those pricey napkins you get at fine dining establishments in their restroom (I've definitely stolen a few of those heh heh).  The masks smell slightly sweet in their normal Shiseido fashion. If they weren't $11 a pop I'd use them more often but these are fantastic before a big event or occasion. Also...I suppose its cheaper than a facial? Much better than comparable My Beauty Diary masks. My skin felt incredibly hydrated and plump after.

Because Shiseido skincare is an investment, I suggest purchasing the products from Nordstrom or - both of which offer generous return policies if you're not satisfied. However take note that it usually takes a few months to see any noticeable results. It took me about two months until I saw any kind of measurable difference in my skin, and it wasn't dramatic in any way. For really dramatic immediate results, I think the only realistic and safe option is laser resurfacing.

Hope you guys found that helpful :)!

PS. If this doesn't work for you, you can always take self-gratuitious photos in front of a great lighting source in a fancy hotel. That works too. Example below:

Sunday, January 12, 2014

How To: Volume in Your Hair Without Heat! (How I Do my Hair)

Hi guys :D

Long time no talk. I've been getting asked a lot about how I style my hair, and although this is a really stupid/easy trick it works wonderfully well so I want to share it with you all. My hair isn't colored so I feel like it gives it less texture, and I also try to avoid things like blow drying and teasing that can leave hair damaged. So this is how I get volume at my crown, without any of those things :)!

All you need is:

  • Freshly washed hair, towel dried but still damp to the touch
  • A medium sized claw clip

  1. Comb through hair with a comb or your fingers (combs tend to be better than paddle brushes which tend to pull tangles out of your hair)
  2. Grab the crown of your hair and all the pieces in the front from the edge of your eyebrows. 
  3. Clip your hair so that all pieces of hair are pointing up and back, think an extra-poofy Snooki style
  4. If your hair falls flat as it's drying just re-clip it up
  5. Once your hair is done take it out and it's done! Voila. Extra volume, sans teasing and heat :)
I'm currently working on a blog post talking about my recent SF trip, so I can't wait to share that with you guys!!! :) Missed everyone a ton. I hope you guys had a fab holiday season