Beauty, Makeup, Skincare

Sephora Spring VIB Sale Haul & First Impressions

April 23, 2017

It is that time of the year again–Sephora Spring VIB sale! Sephora has two sales a year (April and November) so I always look forward to these sales. It’s a great time to stock up on old favorites or try new items. The sale ends on Monday, so you have today and tomorrow to take advantage of the 15% off. Most of my haul are new items and I’ve only had a couple of days to try them, so I will just post a quick first impression of these products and will report back later once I’ve had the chance to try them out longer.

Kate Somerville Exfolikate Cleanser – This is a foaming cleanser with AHA. It is gentle without drying my skin. A little goes a long way and it’s great to use with my Foreo Luna.

belif Problem Solution Toner – This is perfect for oily and sensitive skin. It contains tea tree oil to disinfect and combat acne.

Shiseido Facial Cotton – This product has been recommended to me several times over the years, but I thought paying $10 for facial cotton was ridiculous. However, after trying this out I will never go back to the drugstore facial cottons. This is super thick and soft, products sit on top and don’t get absorbed so you don’t overuse products, and they won’t come apart like other facial cottons. My only regret is not purchasing these sooner!! These are pretty big, so I cut them in half which is perfect size for my toner and makes these more affordable. This was my favorite product from this haul.

Sunday Riley UFO Face Oil – This product is supposed to do everything: clear congested pores, treat and prevent acne, and smooth the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It also works for all skin type. I’ve had good experience with Sunday Riley products and I got this product because of the tea tree oil. This oil absorbs fast and does not look greasy on the skin. I’ve only used this for a couple of days, but I think this is what has calmed my skin.

Tatcha Silken Pore Perfecting Sunscreen SPF 35 PA+++ – I wear sunscreen year round because it helps prevent wrinkles and lighten skin discoloration. I have loved every Tatcha product I have ever tried, but the products are expensive so it took me a while to purchase this sunscreen. The product title “silken pore perfecting” is exactly right. I’ve never tried any sunscreen that glides onto the skin so smoothly and does not leave any white cast. In the US, we go by SPF which is the level of protection from UVB rays, but PA was originated in Japan that indicates the level of protection from UVA rays. When looking for sunscreen, make sure it has both the SPF and PA levels. This sunscreen is a new favorite and has not irritated my skin.

Glamglow Hydrating Treatment – This is an old favorite that I love to put on before flight and during dry winter months. The hyaluronic acid locks in moisture and the raw honey/ginger root detoxify.

Marc Jacob Re(marc)able Foundation – This was the only makeup product I purchased during the sale. It was my first full coverage foundation. After wearing this two times, I like the coverage and the soft-matte finish.

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Lifestyle, Travel

Short Trip to Monterey, Carmel and Big Sur

April 15, 2017

carmel beach

Six years ago, my husband and I went on our first date and a few months later, we traveled to San Francisco, Monterey, Carmel, Big Sur, and Los Angeles. We have special memories from those places, and since we live in San Francisco now, we recently traveled to Monterey, Carmel and Big Sur for a short getaway to celebrate. We also brought our puppy, Minne, with us! Here are some highlights and photos from the trip.

Monterey

We stayed at the Portola Hotel & Spa at Monterey Bay because it’s right by the bay and it’s very dog friendly. When we arrived, they had food and water bowls, a dog bed, and treats ready for us. The Jazz Festival was that weekend, so there was music playing at the hotel and everywhere we walked to.

Our first night we had dinner at Fisherman’s Wharf since that was close to the hotel. The restaurant even has a dog menu so we ordered some grilled chicken served on a frisbee for Minne. She was over the moon!

The wharf area is very touristy, but we had a chance to walk around Monterey and the town is very beautiful and clean!

Monterey Fisherman's Wharf

Carmel

What a lovely city! The first time we visited Carmel, we went to Pebble Beach and drove part of the 17-mile drive. This time, we went to Carmel Beach and Garland Ranch Regional Park. Carmel Beach is an off-leash beach, so it was really fun going there with Minne. There are also a bunch of cute shops near the beach. We had dinner at Basil Carmel and had some of the best food we’ve ever tasted!! My husband had the 5 hour braised beef cheeks and I had the goat with lobster. The olallieberries cobbler was also delicious!

Garland Ranch Regional Park is a great park for leisure hiking. The first day we went there, we went on an easy 1.5 mile hike. Our puppy loved it (you can see how happy she was in this video). We were able to work on long distance recall and not worry about her running off into traffic or getting into trouble. We loved the hike so much that we went back the next day and went on a harder hike, and had just as much fun.

Garland Ranch Regional Park

Big Sur

Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge has been badly damaged due to winter storms and it will take up to a year to complete construction on a replacement. There are closures on Highway 1 but we wanted to drive down to see as much of it as we could. During the drive, we stopped at Garrapata State Park for a hike and enjoyed the beautiful view of the beach.

Garrapata State Park

Garrapata State Park

Now that we have a dog, we have been going to dog-friendly places because we prefer her with us than leaving her at home. This was our first time traveling with her and it was very easy because she doesn’t get car sick and so many places allow dogs. Monterey, Carmel, and Big Sur are so beautiful, and not too far from San Francisco, so we will definitely be making this trip more often in the future.

Beauty, Makeup, Skincare

February 2016 Beauty Discoveries

March 10, 2017

february 2016 beauty favorites

Thank you for the comments on my previous post about our puppy. Minne is settling in nicely but she is a lot of work! We have to watch her closely to make sure she isn’t doing something naughty. I miss sleeping in and doing my long skincare routine, but being a pup-mom has been rewarding and she has brought a lot of joy into our lives!

I can’t believe it is already March. I’ve been trying out new products and here are my February product discoveries:

Foreo Day Cleanser

When I first tried this, I did not like it. It is creamy but does not foam. After a few tries, I realized it works much better if I follow the direction and don’t put any water on my face. I apply this on dry face and use my Foreo Luna, then rinse off with water. This cleanser has probiotics and antioxidants, is incredibly gentle, and leaves my face refreshed in the morning. It is best for morning use when there’s no makeup on the face yet.

Foreo Night Cleanser

This night cleanser has a strange consistency for a cleanser. It’s a gel but runs right off my face. It does a poor job of removing oil, sunscreen, and makeup. I went through this bottle in less than 2 weeks because I put a lot of product on my face hoping it would work, but sadly it just didn’t work for me.

First Aid Beauty Purifying Mask with Red Clay

I’ve had great experience with First Aid Beauty products so I picked up this mask to try. The red clay helps reduce the appearance of pigmentation and improve the skin’s texture. After each use, I noticed clearer pores and improved skin texture. The only thing I disliked is that it’s a peel off mask. I have very low pain tolerance and it hurts when I peel off the mask because it pulls out the peach fuzz on my face. Some people will love this added bonus, but I don’t like pain! Sometimes I wash off the mask with water but it frustrates me how long it takes to remove everything.

Korres Wild Rose Vitamin C Active Brightening Oil

This is an oil infused with rose petals, wild rose oil, and boosted with Super C to increase skin’s absorption of vitamin C by 1000%. The oil easily absorbs into the skin. I usually just add a few drops to my moisturizer. The fragrance on this is STRONG. It smells nice, but I dislike scented products. After a month of using, I also did not notice any reduction in hyper pigmentation. For the price of this product, I would not recommend because it did not improve my skin and there are other more effective serums on the market.

Marc Jacobs Blush

I purchased the Marc Jacobs Blush in shade Kink & Kisses during the Sephora VIB sale. This was my first Marc Jacobs purchase and I love the quality of the packaging and formula. The powder is finely milled and the color is gorgeous. The color is buildable and will look great on all skin color.

MAC Extra Dimension Skinfinish

I received this product as part of a PR package from MAC. The shade soft frost is a pearly white with specs of violet. It is a beautiful highlighter. I apply it on my cheekbone and the powder stays on all day. I love that it is subtle, but I can still see the highlight and a little bit of violet pops out.

Have a great weekend! The weather is getting really nice so I’m looking forward to spending lot of time outside!

Life, Lifestyle

Puppy Announcement – First Two Weeks of Having a Puppy

February 20, 2017

I am now a pup mom! My husband and I brought home an Alaskan Klee Kai puppy and we are so in love! Her name is Minne, named after our home state of Minnesota. She is growing fast and it has been so fun observing and contributing to her development. I can’t believe it has only been two weeks because it feels so much longer. Here is what I learned the first two weeks of having a puppy:

Books cannot prepare you for the real thing.

Whenever I do something, I always put a lot of time, thought and effort into it. It was both exciting and scary knowing we will be responsible for another living being. If we are lucky, Minne will be with us for the next 15-20 years, but that is also a lot of responsibility and commitment. When we decided to get a puppy, I read a few books, talked to friends/family who have dogs, and talked to dog trainers. A lot of the information were consistent (crate training, potty training, socialization, food safety) but not all of them have matched with our experiences.

  • Potty training: we are very lucky that our breeder trained our puppy to go potty in a litter box. She told us to use Yesterday’s News, which is made from recycled newspaper and is non-toxic. Even though Minne is litter box trained, we always try to take her outside so she won’t think it’s okay to potty inside. We are supposed to take her out first thing in the morning, after every nap, after every intense play, after eating/drinking, and before bedtime. So that is like 6-10 times a day! In the beginning we took her out every 2 hours and would wait outside for 10-20 minutes but she wouldn’t go. Now we know she doesn’t have to go out that often, even though all the books told us she would have to.
  • Keeping an eye on her: the biggest surprise is how much we have to watch her because she could be chewing on furniture/shoes and eating random things. When she is awake and active, she is usually up to no good! I took a couple days off in the beginning to help her adjust and crate train, and it was mentally exhausting! I was not prepared for this but I am adjusting. No more 8-step skincare routine unless Minne is occupied in the crate or my husband is watching her!
The days of sleeping in are over.

In the beginning, we took Minne out every 2 hours during the day and once at night since her metabolism slows down when sleeping. The first few nights we took her out once in the middle of the night (2-4am) and then again early in the morning. She would make a noise if she needs to go out. Now we don’t have to wake up in the middle of the night anymore, but still have to get up between 6-7am to let her out.

Minne’s energy level is highest in the morning, so that means after we take her out in the morning, she wants to play so we cannot go back to sleep. I usually play with her for a little bit and then get ready for work while she is eating breakfast. I miss sleeping in and getting my 8-9 hours of sleep!

Minne has a more social life than most people.

Puppies need to get 3 sets of the DHPP vaccination and they usually don’t get the last shot until 14-16 weeks of age. They are not supposed to be taken outside because of the risk of parvovirus. The challenge is that the prime time to socialize puppies is before they turn 12 weeks old. Since we cannot take Minne to the dog park or even walk her around the neighborhood in a big city like SF where the risks are higher, we have to take her to puppy socials and puppy day school, which are safe environments for her. This has taken up a lot of our time but it’s the best way for her to socialize. Last week when I went to pick her up from puppy day school, I noticed a guy carrying three crates and asked him if all of them are his puppies. He told me he runs a taxi service for pets! It’s crazy all the services that are available to people living in a big city.

Here are some of my favorite pictures of Minne. You can see more on her Instagram account @minne.akk

alaskan klee kai puppy

alaskan klee kai puppy

alaskan klee kai puppy

alaskan klee kai puppy sleeping

Beauty, Makeup, Skincare

January 2017 Beauty Discoveries

February 10, 2017

january 2017 beauty discoveries favorites

I am very behind on my beauty discoveries this month! I have been extremely busy, but I am excited to share my January 2017 beauty discoveries. Before the new year started, I went through my entire beauty stash. I threw away products that were past the shelf life and donated product I knew I won’t use. I’m very happy with all the products I have left and cannot wait to go through them this year. Here are the products I have been using the entire month of January:

Caudalie Micellar Cleansing Water

I first tried micellar cleansing water two years ago and loved the Simple Cleansing Micellar Water. In general, I think it’s important to use micellar cleansing water or cleansing oil as the first step in makeup removal and then use a cleanser. My friend recommended the cleansing water from Caudalie because it is not drying (unlike a lot of the other cleansing water out on the market) and is free of parabens, sulfates, and phthalates. I apply this to two cotton pads to remove all of my makeup. It is extremely gentle and removes makeup without the need to rub. I typically don’t like products with fragrance because of my skin sensitively, but I don’t have any negative reactions to this and the scent is light and refreshing.

Belif Eucalyptus Herbal Extract Toner

I’ve become a fan of belif, a Korean skincare line. I love the aqua bomb and sheet mask, so I decided to try the toner. I love that belif have products for specific skin type. The eucalyptus and apple mint help minimize surface shine and soothe breakouts, so it is great for oily skin.

Kiehl’s Rare Earth Deep Pore Daily Cleanser

The Rare Earth Deep Pore Cleansing Masque has been part of my skincare routine for years. I love how effective Amazonian white clay is at unclogging my pores, but I only use the mask once a week, so I decided to get this cleanser, which also has the Amazonian white clay. This cleanser exfoliates so I don’t use it everyday. When I do, I gently clean in circular motion with my hands (do not use this with a Clarisonic or Foreo). This has done a great job of removing black heads and minimizing my pores.

Algenist Complete Eye Renewal Balm

I was thrilled to receive this product in my Sephora Play bag because this is an expensive eye cream so I probably would not have tried it unless it came as a sample. Beneficial ingredients include alguronic acid, vitamin C, caffeine, cucumber, aloe, and green tea extracts to minimize fine lines and wrinkles while decreasing puffiness and dark circles. I don’t have fine lines or dark circles, but this eye cream does reduce my puffy eyes and does not interfere with my makeup application. I enjoyed the sample but definitely don’t think it’s worth the price. I have used other eye creams that are cheaper and just as effective in reducing my puffiness. However, if you have issues such as fine lines and wrinkles, then I suggest getting a sample at Sephora or Nordstrom first to see if this gives the result you want.

Sara Happ Luxe Lip Gloss in Fuchsia

This product was sent to me in a PR package. I have been a Sara Happ user for over 5 years. I have talked about the lip scrub exfoliators on this blog several times, which is one of my favorite beauty products because it gently removes dead skin while keeping the lips hydrated. I have used the original lip slip so I was excited to try this in the shade fuchsia, which is vibrant and flattering. The formula is hydrating and I plan on purchasing a neutral/pink shade for every day wear.

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Life, Lifestyle, Travel

2017 Bay Area Bucket List – Top 10 List

January 28, 2017

2017 bay area bucket list

Minnesota is awful in the winter, so I had to leave. Instead of creating New Year’s resolutions this year, I created a bucket list specifically for the Bay Area to encourage me to go out and explore during our first year of living in the Bay Area. Here is my top 10 list!

Places
  • Half Moon Bay – Great hiking spots and seafood restaurants
  • Yosemite National Park – May and June are great months to visit to see the waterfalls
  • Lake Tahoe – Combines mountain and beach activities in the summer
  • Big Sur Coast – Absolutely stunning; my husband once said the cattle in Big Sur must be the happiest in the world
  • Napa and Sonoma
Activities
  • S’mores and bonfires year round on my brother’s rooftop
  • Hop on the swing on Billy Goat Hill – Instagram worthy picture
  • Paddle boarding in Marin
  • Listen to music in Golden Gate Park
  • Outdoor brunch

If you have any suggestions for places to visit within driving distance of San Francisco, please leave a note below!