Time for a Change

As part of the many steps to contribute towards my growth, I’ve decided to go ahead and give my blog an upgrade. Or rather, I’ve shifted all of my content to another blog, one that is self-hosted.

I’ve thought long and hard about this, and I think it is the right move to make, especially in the long run. I can only post here for so long, after all, what with the limited space I can use on WP.com.

If you’re still interested in reading what I have to write, you can find my new blog right here.

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A Part of a List of Never-ending Goals

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If there is anything that makes me happier than knowing I could sleep in or that the latest season of one of my favourite TV shows is out (Suits, anyone? I know. I’m generally very easy to please), it’s having a goal to work towards.

Now, the goals I’m going to talk about are stuff that are almost completely outside of work. I see them as hobbies to fill my time with. If they so happen to assist me in my career, all the better.

I’m just the sort of person who has to have a hobby, and as it turns out, learning is one of them 😀

Achieve fluency in Japanese

The same goes for Mandarin, but I have a greater love for Japanese. It’s amazing how much the language is tied to the culture, and honestly, achieving a native or even advanced level of fluency in it would be incredible. Of course, I’m aware that I’ve yet to tackle the toughest hurdle -the oh-so-dreaded Kanji– but that has yet to deter me. It’s intimidating, but… best to think positively about it.

It’s just one of the many obstacles standing in the way to fluency.

And really, I’ve never been happier than when I’m in class or when I’m studying the language on my own.  The sense of achievement I get whenever I successfully complete a stage is something I’d like to keep pursuing. So yeah, come on, Kanji.

To make things even better, I’ll be receiving my first Japanese certificate after next week! I’ll have to take an exam, of course, but it’s a step towards realising my dream. Guess I’ll be hard at work studying till this coming Saturday then!

Learn more languages

I’ve always known that I love studying English. What I didn’t know is that that love can extend to other languages as well. So long as I find the culture interesting or there is plenty of good quality media to go around, it’s very likely I’d be drawn to it.

For example, with English, I actually taught myself the language before I entered school. I received next to no help from my parents, and that was fine with me. I was happy to hole myself up in my room with piles of Peter and Jane and Enid Blyton books, haha.

Now that I’m older, I’ve discovered that this isn’t limited to English. In fact, I have a list of languages I’d like to learn after settling my Japanese and Mandarin.

First one is Korean. After that, it’s hard to say, but I have an interest in learning Thai, Portuguese, Spanish and Cantonese. Which ones I’ll definitely take is a mystery due to time constraints, but yeah, those would be cool.

We’ll see what happens in a couple of years.

Participate in a language exchange program

This isn’t as huge of a deal as it sounds. It’s essentially a program available on certain language learning apps where people are able to find native speakers of the language they’re studying and practice what they’ve learned thus far through conversation. This can be done via text messages, audio messages and video calls.

Of course, they have to teach a language in return. Hence the term “language exchange program”.

Hone my photography skills

This one might seem a bit random, but I’ve thought about it and I think it’s a good skill to have, especially considering the field that I’m in.

It’s not something I’d like to solely dedicate myself to, but again, it would be good to have. Plus it also means I can pretty up my blog with much better pictures, haha.

That being said, I’ve already looked up a class I can sign myself up for. Just gotta wait for the next batch to start, and hopefully, it’ll work out with my schedule.

Travel to Japan

This one’s a no-brainer. Japan is such a beautiful country that is rich in culture. How could I not want to go?

Thankfully enough, this one seems to be pretty much in reach. My family and I are planning to visit the country once my brother and I are more fluent in the language. Earliest would be sometime at the end of next year or one of the following years, if all goes well. Goodness knows it’s hard enough for us to find time when we’re all free, so who even knows when it’ll happen.

Improve my drawing skills

This one’s been up there for a long while now, and because it’s more of an idle side interest than anything else, I wonder if it’ll even happen. But yeah, when I was younger, I used to want to become a comic book artist.

It seems very silly when I think about it now, how I used to draw pages and pages of comics to sell and how I was successful at it too. Parents even called in to complain because their kids were buying too many of it! HAHAHA. That was a funny time.

Even though I’ve lost interest in becoming an artist, drawing still remains a small hobby of mine. It would be nice to have it taken to the next level.

Insert more skill acquisition here

Graphic design, more in depth Adobe Photoshop skills, more and more certificates… Even thinking about these things makes me wonder if I’ll even have the time or energy for the majority of them. It’s not as though I’m a student anymore, but that’s alright. At least this means I have stuff to look forward to after work.

Ah, well. I think that’s about it for now. There are more things I could add to this list, but right now, my Japanese textbooks are waiting for me.

Till next!

Beauty Review: Estelle & Thild’s Biodefense Multi-Action Youth Serum

Hello, everyone! As you may have noticed, I bleeped out of existence for a while there- real life reasons, most of which had to do with work and to an extent, studying. Hopefully, I’ll be able to stick to my thus far unsuccessful one-post-a-week schedule this time around. Go me?

I’m going to have to make up for lost time by posting a bit more, but anyway…

On to today’s post! I’ll be reviewing an anti-aging serum by Estelle & Thild called Biodefense Multi-Action Youth Serum (RM243). It’s something that I can’t help but to have mixed feelings about, because while I’m ecstatic that I can now try a wider range of skincare products, it’s also depressing to know I’m actually old enough to use anti-aging stuff.

Clearly, passing the 25 year old mark is one of the more depressing milestones in life. For now.

But I digress.

What is it?

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Back to the subject. In an effort to promote a more youthful appearance, Estelle & Thild pairs science and nature together to concoct the perfect anti-aging serum. The result? Biodefense Multi-Action Youth Serum is born.

Neatly squeezed into a slim bottle with the brand name printed in a charming, girly font on the exterior, this formula is essentially an organic potion that is packed to the punch with Superberries and White Tea. This formula is supposed to both reduce as well as prevent the first signs of aging while bringing in the added benefit of boosting radiance and hydration.

All in all, a pretty good deal. Especially for those who have dry skin.

What is it like?

The serum itself is a watery, gel-like light brown substance that is easily absorbed into the skin. Surprisingly enough, it carries an herbal, almost woody scent that is a bit on the strong side. Now, scented products aren’t exactly something I’m a fan of, but because of how easy it is to slab this on, I’m not going to complain. In any case, the smell fades pretty quickly, which in turn gives me less reason to grouse about it.

To further add on to its positive qualities, the serum doesn’t leave behind a sticky residue, nor does it turn my skin into an oil slick. The latter is always a plus in my books! This makes applying makeup on top of it A-OK.

Packaging

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There are few complaints to be had regarding the packaging this serum comes in. Easy to use, its pump does well in distributing product evenly- a great trait to avoid wastage. We all know how expensive serums can be.

And how quickly they run out too.

As for the bottle itself, its slim, rounded design makes it comfortable to hold while its frosted glass makes it easy to monitor just how much product you have left. Needless to say, I’m quite happy on the packaging front. 🙂

End result

After using this serum for a few days, I saw an improvement in the texture of my skin. It was smoother and more youthful-looking- undoubtedly definite pluses all around, however.

Now, this is a big however, because the side effect of using this manifested the concern that’s present every time I try something new.

I was plagued with breakouts. Not those small pimples with whiteheads that will eventually pop on their own, no. The ones I was lambasted with were those dreaded deep, angry, painful pustules without whiteheads. Cry.

At first, I thought maybe it wasn’t the serum, so to be extra sure before I start pointing fingers, I phased it out of my skincare routine for a few weeks. Alas, when the time to give it a try rolled by, I received the same result.

And to be extra, extra, extra sure, I repeated the process. Same thing. 😦 Sighs. I guess it’s just not meant to be.

Where can I find it?

Sephora.

Verdict

  • Product rating: 2.5/5
  • Packaging rating: 4/5

Despite the improved texture of my skin, I’m going to forgo buying this in the future. I already have acne-prone skin; I don’t need help with moving things along, thank you very much.

Don’t let this discourage you from giving this a try, though. Some products just don’t work on certain people, be it because of skin type or other genetic factors. Something to bear in mind before making a new purchase.

As implied earlier, this might work better for those who have dry skin.

Ingredients

Aqua, Rosa Damascena Flower Water, Glycerin, Saccaride Isomerate, Rosa Canina Fruit Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis Seed Oil, Dipalmitoyl Hydroxyproline, Gluconolactone, Vaccinium Myrtillus Fruit Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Glyceryl Caprylate, Ficus Carica Fruit Extract, Palmitic Acid, Tocopherol, Cetearyl Olivate,sclerotium Gum, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Citrate, Maltodextrin, Sorbitan Olivate, Parfum, Citronellol, Geraniol, Limonene, Linalool, Sodium Gluconate, Citric Acid, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Sorbic Acid. Ingredient From Organic Farming. Made Using Organic Ingredients.

Texting 101: Common Malaysian Text Misunderstandings

Anger, hurt, confusion, anxiety. All over a simple text or lack of. Do any of these seemingly over the top reactions sound familiar to you?

With the convenience of texting, face-to-face communication has taken a bit of a backseat in our society. Just how many times have misunderstandings occurred because of this little technological advancement? More often than not, texting is infinitely easier than actually calling someone. This holds especially true when you’re in a rush or just can’t talk at the time.

Sometimes, it’s necessary. Other times, not so much.

I’m sure you’re familiar with at least a few of the following

  1. The ever infamous Malaysian timing

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You think Malaysian timing only applies for actual meet ups? Think again! This habit of ours extends to text messaging too and while it seems innocent enough, it can lead to misunderstandings.

Whether the person you texted takes an hour, a day or much longer to reply, self-doubt can occur. Questions like “Does he hate me?” or “Am I not worth a minute to reply to?” must have run through your mind at least once.

Even if you understand there’s a possibility that they might just be too busy or tired to.

  1. Forgot to Reply!

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It’s normal. You receive a message and out of curiosity, you open it even if you don’t have time to respond. You then pocket your cellphone, telling yourself that you’ll reply later.

Later. You’ll reply later.

Of course, that later doesn’t come. Usually because you forgot.

If you’re lucky, the sender is a chill person who’d just shrug it off. If that’s not the case, you might have to prepare yourself for the cold shoulder.

  1. Why are you yelling at me?

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Via text, granted. That is, however, how your text translates to if you type it all out in caps.

Like it or not, that is how it is. Don’t be surprised if you’re met with disapproving looks the next time you meet your friend.

  1. Are you being sarcastic?

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Here’s the thing about sarcasm. It’s something that often requires tone of voice, facial expression and at times, body language to understand. Even then, face-to-face communication doesn’t always guarantee this.

Now imagine sarcasm being taken to text. You can’t see or hear the person that sent it; all you have to judge is a bunch of words on a screen. Are they being sarcastic or not? You wonder about it or maybe their intention flies over your head entirely.

Worst case scenario, they weren’t being sarcastic at all and you got mad at them for absolutely no reason. Oops. Maybe you can belanja them makan?

  1. Short messages vs long messages

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Here’s another doozy. You send a long, meaningful message to your loved one and all you receive in return is a simple one-liner. Or worse, just a “K”.

What the heckie?

You didn’t just spend 20 precious minutes for that kind of response! How insulting.

Okay, maybe they’re busy but still. Ugh.

  1. Lost in translation

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Living in a multicultural country is amazing. You get to eat all sorts of food, celebrate lots of different holidays and have the pleasure of learning different languages a lot more easily!

Of course, most of us end up learning a couple of words here and there. Rare it is to find anyone fluent in English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil. So with the different levels of proficiency out there, someone is bound to be lost in translation sooner or later.

Usually because they’ll mistake one word for another in a different language.

Cat? Cat as in paint or cat as in feline? Anyone?

Anyone?

  1. Oh no. Wrong person!

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Everyone makes mistakes. It’s a part of being human. So don’t be surprised if one of these days you accidentally send a message to the wrong person.

It’s all too easy to, especially when certain names are way too close to one another. Exactly how many Fatimahs do you have in your phonebook?

Hopefully you don’t send anything too embarrassing! Imagine meaning to text your girlfriend and accidentally sending that loving message to her father instead. Yikes.

  1. The unsent message

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Let’s say you’ve done your part as the ever reliable friend. You responded to that message in a timely manner, and now all you have to do is sit back and wait for a reply.

And you wait. And you wait.

And you wait.

Wahlao, how long is this fella going to take?

You then check your cellphone and to your horror, you realise your message was not delivered! On top of that, you’re late to meet your friends. Darn it. Time to hustle.

  1. Punctuation, where art thou?

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It might seem troublesome but the use or lack of punctuation can make all the difference in the world.

For instance, it can mean the difference between being interested in cooking and dogs, or cooking dogs. The difference between – yes, you’ve guessed it – inviting your grandfather to eat, or eating your grandfather.

Like dayum son.

So, what do you think? Have you committed any of these blunders? Or have you ever been a recipient of any of them?

Share your experiences below!

TV Series Review: Skip Beat!

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Starring: Ivy Chen, Choi Siwon, Lee Donghae

Genre: Romance/Humour

Rating: 8/10

There are very few romance-oriented films and tv series that I can say that I’m very fond of, and even less so for -pardon this unintentionally snobbish tone- Asian ones. This is mostly due to the fact that I was brought up watching, reading and listening to English materials. That, coupled with my distaste for the romance genre, and you have a woman who lacks familiarity with Asian live-action entertainment.

There is just something off-putting about films that depict two people who declare that they’ve found The One after five minutes of knowing each other, and follow it up with a declaration of undying love barely a week later. And for what? The amount of time they spent together can hardly justify one partner giving up their (for example) life and career for a person they’ve spent a few fleeting conversations and smiles with. Is there something especially extraordinary about this person? I’d really like to know.

It’s just incredibly unrealistic to me.

So here we have Skip Beat!, the Taiwanese live-action adaptation of one of my two favourite shoujo mangas of all time. Needless to say when I saw the DVD in stores, I was torn. I wasn’t familiar with the quality of Asian dramas and I certainly didn’t want to shell out $$$ for something I might not like.

But then it was Skip Beat!.

And then there was Choi Siwon and not to mention, Lee Donghae, members of the legendary kpop group, Super Junior.

The fact that they, especially Siwon, were in it sealed the deal for me.

Memories of my highschool years flooding my mind, I snatched the DVD right up and I have absolutely no regrets about it ever since.

What’s it like?

Given that this is the Taiwanese version of Yoshiki Nakamura’s beloved Skip Beat!, there are several differences to be expected. For example, because the entire storyline is Taiwan-centric, the language spoken is Taiwanese, the Japanese names of the characters are changed to Taiwanese versions and the country this takes place in is Taiwan. You get my drift.

While this might be a deal-breaker for some -and I certainly hope not!- it isn’t for me, because the plot of Skip Beat! is something that can be recreated into many different versions and it’d still be watchable. Amazing, even. I’d happily watch an American version of Skip Beat! if they ever make one. Indian, Chinese, Korean, Indonesian, British- of course, Japanese. I’m a Skip Beat! junkie.

That, and the strong, stellar plot is just that flexible.

So onto the review.

Skip Beat! centers around the life of Gong Xi (Original: Mogami Kyoko), a 16 year old girl who soon discovers that her childhood friend and love interest, Bu Po Shang/Shang Jieyong (Original: Fuwa Sho/Fuwa Shotaro), has been using her as his maid and source of income while trying to make a name for himself as a singer in Taiwan. Furious and heartbroken, she vows to exact revenge by one day beating him in show business. That oughta do it!

But just how will she achieve this?

Turns out that this drab, plain girl has what it takes to make it in this unforgiving world, thanks to her staunch determination and unexpected talent in acting. Not that Shang’s rival, Dun He Lian (Original: Tsuruga Ren), is going to make this easy for her. What the heck is his problem?

What’s there to like? And not to?

For those who are worried, the live-action version stays extremely faithful to the original plot, save for a few very minor creative liberties. However, once you get over these liberties and aforementioned differences, you’ll find yourself enjoying the series.

For instance, I was a bit surprised that they did not change Siwon’s look to match that of Ren’s in the manga, but at the same time, I can’t help but feel he is made for the role. From his appearance, to the way he “speaks” (you’ll find out the reason for this in a bit, haha), to his behaviour, Choi Siwon is basically the living, breathing version of Tsuruga Ren Dun He Lian. His delivery as the gentlemanly Mr Lian has just the right amount of strict dignity and gentility that the character is known for.

So much that I wouldn’t trade him for any other actor to play Lian.

The same can be said about Gong Xi and Bu Po Shang (though his appearance is pretty spot on, in my opinion). In fact, Skip Beat!‘s crowning glory has to be its main actress and actors. Their chemistry and acting skills effectively brought the characters to life, and that is saying something because finding someone to act as Gong Xi can’t be easy.

Energetic and full of hatred, the cheerful, normally kind-hearted Gong Xi might be a tall order to ask of someone to portray, especially in an entirely lovable sense. Yet Ivy Chen manages this seamlessly, and certainly not without hilarity thrown into the mix! Her performance makes her more than worthy of this hefty role, and her interactions with her co-stars a delight. Her bond with Shang is tense and heartbreaking, and her ties with Lian full of humorous, and at times exasperating ups and downs.

But is there anything to dislike about the series? There are, though none of the faults are so terrible that they render it unwatchable.

The dubbing issue with Siwon, for one. When I realised that his entire dialogue was dubbed, I laughed. Goodness, there were parts where the dub did not match when he spoke. Why insist on hiring him when he can’t speak the language? Honestly, I was more amused than anything else because despite this flaw, he more than makes up for this with his acting. He remained the ever enigmatic Lian in my eyes.

Then there is the matter of the special effects. This aspect of the series is mediocre at best, and terrible at its very worst. Thankfully, Skip Beat! doesn’t take itself too seriously and therefore doesn’t fall flat on its face whenever these effects pop up.

See, these mistakes are forgivable- it’s the last one that really hurts.

This is because the series ends with a cliffhanger, with no season two in sight. That’s right.

The live-action drama remains without a conclusion, yet for all the frustration this causes when I think of it, I’m glad to have watched it all the same. This is coming many years late, but Skip Beat! deserves a watch and a second season.

Thank you, guys, for bringing my favourite glacial slow shoujo manga to life.

Beauty Review: The Body Shop’s Tea Tree Skin Clearing Clay Mask

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I’ve been in a bit of a slump lately with my skin, and after all of the disappointing results that came from trying out new masks, I decided to go back to good ol’ The Body Shop. I remembered how well my complexion reacted to its seaweed mask, and thought I should give its mask range another try.

Of course, when I saw that it carries a new mask that I’ve never seen before, one that is perfectly tailored for my skin type at that, I had to try it.

Here we go, my fellow blemished ladies. My take on The Body Shop’s Tea Tree Skin Clearing Clay Mask (RM69.00, 100ml).

What is it?

As anyone with acne prone skin should know, tea tree is often regarded as one of the holy grails when it comes to clearing up those spotty nasties. This is because it contains strong antibacterial and antifungal properties that help reduce inflammation that can cause swelling of the skin. Just how often have we dabbed that tea tree-infused potion on that offending zit in hopes of making it disappear? Far too often!

But here is the thing about most tea tree products- they do not have enough tea tree oil in it to prove effective. Yet on the other end of the spectrum, it is not advisable to use tea tree oil in its purest form as it can cause adverse effects. Skin irritation, for example.

So where does The Body Shop’s Tea Tree Skin Clearing Clay Mask stand, exactly? Somewhere in the middle.

This makes this mask more ideal than most for addressing your acne-related concerns. So if you have blemished skin, this mask is for you.

Tip: To check the potency of certain ingredients, check the label on the product. Ingredients are listed in descending order, from the most potent to the least. Tea tree oil is also known as Melaleuca oil.

What is it like?

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The consistency of this mask is something that I’m quite taken to. If I have to compare it to anything, I’d liken it to softened butter. Velvety smooth, applying this is a pleasure.

Of course, as expected, it bears that familiar scent of tea tree. Thankfully not overwhelmingly so, even if I’ve grown somewhat used to the smell of the plant. Courtesy of having to resort to such products due to my frustrating skin type.

That aside, I’d like to talk about another characteristic that caught my eye. Unlike most clay masks, this one proves to be somewhat unique in the sense that it remains comfortable to wear even once it dries. There is no overly drying sensation, nor is there that feeling that it is forcibly sucking up the moisture from my skin. In fact, it is so comfy to wear, I would sometimes forget I have it on.

And yes, you can even speak with this on without fear of it cracking.

Packaging

The mask comes in a pretty standard round plastic container. Accessing the product isn’t a problem and there is definitely no worry about getting every last bit of it out (as opposed to when masks are stuffed in tubes), but there is a concern for cleanliness.

So make sure to wash your hands before picking any of this up and putting it on your face.

End result

Much to my delight, the result of this mask can pretty much be seen overnight.

Any pimples I have are smaller, my skin less red and my pores less visible as well. Continued use has given me clearer, brighter skin. Love!

Needless to say, this has become my instant go-to mask whenever I’m experiencing any skin problems, or after I’ve taken off my make up.  I’m not taking any chances on the latter case; I’m especially sensitive to make up and near immediate flare ups aren’t uncommon.

Which is why I’m glad to announce that this method has worked so far. The mask managed to keep pimples that would’ve popped up at bay after a night of wearing powder and foundation.

Where can I find it?

The Body Shop. Where else?

Verdict

  • Product rating: 4.5/5
  • Packaging rating: 4/5

I’ll most likely repurchase this in the future, but not without looking around in case there are better alternatives on the market. 😉

Ingredients

Aqua (Solvent/Diluent), Kaolin (Absorbent), Cetearyl Alcohol (Emulsifier), Glycerin (Humectant), Myristyl Myristate (Emollient), Glyceryl Stearate (Emulsifier), PEG-100 Stearate (Surfactant), Ethylhexyl Palmitate (Skin Conditioning Agent), Propanediol (Viscosity Modifier), Alcohol Denat. (Solvent/Diluent), Caprylyl Glycol (Skin Conditioning Agent), Cyclopentasiloxane (Skin-Conditioning Agent/Emollient), Calophyllum Inophyllum Seed Oil (Skin Conditioning Agent), Melaleuca Alternifolia Leaf Oil (Natural Additive), Cyclohexasiloxane (Chelating Agent), Xanthan Gum (Viscosity Modifier), Disodium EDTA (Chelating Agent), Menthol (Cooling Agent), Limonene (Natural Additive), Leptospermum Petersonii Oil (Natural Additive), t-Butyl Alcohol (Denaturant), Denatonium Benzoate (Denaturant), Tocopherol (Antioxidant), CI 77289 (Colour), CI 77492 (Colour).

ZCOOP Malaysia: For All Things Fashion & Beauty

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Amazing news!!

Now, I don’t normally post anything remotely personal on my blogs or anywhere for that matter, but I thought I should at least make an entry about this.

This being a side project I decided to take up a few weeks ago. It’s something I’ve been considering for quite awhile now, but only took the initiative to do anything about it months later. And here we are.

I’m now a Contributor for an online Fashion/Beauty/Lifestyle magazine called ZCOOP Malaysia. It’s a website under ZALORA, Asia’s leading online fashion retailer.

Due to the nature of the website, I will of course be writing about anything and everything to do with Beauty- with an emphasis on skincare 😀 Because that is my jam. So if you’d like to read more articles penned by me, by all means! That’s where you should go. Bear in mind, though, that my Contribution page is a bit bare right now. Please be patient with me.

You can find me here.

With that said, I’m goin’ to roll out and return to my usual informative posts. And plot to harass more publications with my presence.

Music Review: Monsta X’s The Clan Pt. 2.5: The Final Chapter

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Genre: K-pop, hip hop, dance-pop, trap

Rating: 4/5

I know, after my usual “weekly” postings, this is a bit of a surge of posts from me now, isn’t it? Part of the reason that I’m doing this is to make up for the weeks that I missed, and another huge reason for it is to show support for a group that I’ve become ridiculously fond of over the past few months. Or since about a year ago? Ah, time flies.

It’s not often that I develop an attachment to music artists. Not since highschool, anyway. Normally, I only end up in love with specific songs, and hardly ever show any interest beyond the song itself. Yet I couldn’t do the same for Monsta X.

The first time they crossed my screen was when YouTube was on Autoplay and suddenly started playing “Trespass“. I don’t know what it was about the single that drew me in. Fast-paced, energetic and attitude-driven, it has exactly all of the things that I look for in a song- but those aren’t usually enough for me to take a particular interest in a band. At this point in time, I can only conclude that it was their dance choreography that ultimately had me hooked. The fact that they’re good-looking certainly doesn’t hurt either.

Then there was the amount of views the video had. It had maybe 9 or 10 million views?? Far below what I would expect from a band of that calibre, so that was another factor that piqued my curiosity. Naturally, I started searching for more of their songs to listen to.

Fast forward to the present, and they’ve finally released their first studio album.

I have to say that I was slightly disappointed that this album doesn’t have that same edge and attitude that I love so much. The Clan Pt. 2.5: The Final Chapter has more of a pop flavour to it (specifically, the dance variety), but that is not necessarily a bad thing! Once I got over my little moment of mourning, I started to really enjoy the album.

Let’s get to it, shall we?

The Clan Pt. 2.5: The Final Chapter consists of a collection of ten songs, all of which are incredibly well-made; especially “Ready or Not”, “Beautiful”, “Oi” and “Calm Down”. This is something that earns a gold star in my book, because more often than not, artists tend to have a hit or two in an album and the rest of the songs can best be described as fillers.

But here, Monsta X starts off strong with “Ready or Not”, the boys stealing the show with its high tempo, catchy chorus and bold sound. And it doesn’t stop there either.

If there is anything that I can say about this album is that it manages to maintain its energy even during slower numbers- which I can honestly say is a Godsend for a person like myself, who is allergic to anything slow. Really, rapper Jooheon deserves all of the kudos for injecting punches of energy where needed, as does I.M., whose lazier, cooler style complements Jooheon’s sharp, swift, swagger-worthy one. Starship really knew what it was doing when it picked these two as Monsta X’s rappers; they’re a package deal, and I can’t imagine a more complementary duo for the band.

Along with its rappers, The Clan Pt. 2.5: The Final Chapter‘s crown jewels include its powerful, headbopping music reminiscent to those being played in clubs and addictive chorus lines. The vocalists shouldn’t be forgotten either, as they provide a nice, softer contrast to Jooheon and I.M’s more masculine sound.

The only comment that I can make about this album, criticism-wise, is that while it is enjoyable, I don’t feel like it has a super strong hit that would make anyone sit up and go “Oh yes, that band! I know that band!” None whatsoever, but I do believe they are getting there. Monsta X has to find their own strong, distinctive sound and I’m confident they’ll then perfectly cement their name in the music industry.

Still, all in all a wonderful album with its largest fault being having only ten songs. Ah, man, really? Don’t leave us starving, boys.

Guess I’ll just have to wait for the next album then.

[EXTRA] What’s in the album box

A stack of gorgeous photographs featuring the boys looking their best, two picture cards, two Monsta X stickers, what I assume is a “thank you” note (pardon my lack of Korean. Ha), a lyric booklet.

And now, here’s the part where I show my support. Granted, it’s a bit last minute, but I’m currently on vacation and I just got wind of it. So yeah.

Show the boys support by voting for them here!

MCountDown (Voting period: 17.06.23 14:00 ~ 17.06.26 09:00 (KST))

MWave Music Chart (Voting period: June 2, 2017 to June 27, 24:00 (KST))

Monbebe out.

The Breakdown on the Infamous 10-Step Korean Beauty Routine

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With Korean culture gaining more and more popularity overseas, it comes as to no surprise that their hauntingly flawless complexion has become increasingly sought after by media-conscious women. And honestly speaking, who wouldn’t want perfect skin?

That said, most would balk as soon as they hear that the Korean beauty routine consists of 10 daunting steps. Ouch! That’s more than three times the standard we’re used to.

There really isn’t any need to feel intimidated by it, though. It may consist of 10 steps, but contrary to popular belief, these aren’t practiced everyday. Most days would require 7 steps or less; it depends on what works for your skin.

Here is the low down on the infamous beauty regimen:

1. Cleansing Oil

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The first step to cleaning your skin is to get rid of all of the environmental gunk that has piled up on your face. This is where the nifty cleansing oil comes in. From dirt to grime to make up, this product will melt away these impurities, leaving your skin clean without stripping it of precious moisture.

And if you find the idea of using oil to clean your face strange, you aren’t alone! Ever since we’ve known about skincare, we’ve been taught that oil is terrible and that it should be done away with. It really isn’t all that bad, though. At least not this one.

In this case, cleansing oil is your buddy, especially in the double-cleansing method. It’s here to gently pull dirt away from your skin, just so your foam cleanser could work all the more effectively afterwards.

2. Foam Cleanser

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Now, this is something just about everyone is familiar with. In the standard Cleanse-Tone-Moisturise routine, this plays the main role in cleansing.

In the Korean beauty routine, however, it plays the second.

While it might sound unnecessary, the double-cleansing method actually has a lot of merit to it. I’m sure that with the standard regimen, most of us have experienced feeling that our skin isn’t clean even after using a foam cleanser- and in order to really wash all of that grime away, we choose to cleanse it a second time. Big mistake.

Because what you’re left with is uncomfortably tight skin that is stripped of moisture. This might sound harmless, but it could lead your skin to working in overdrive to produce more oil. Not good.

What the double-cleansing method does is provide you with that same level of cleanliness without dryness.

3. * Facial Scrub

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Not for daily use. Our skin is constantly shedding, and in order to avoid dead skin cell build up, we need to exfoliate once every 3-4 days. Once a week for those with dry and or sensitive skin.

This not only helps with skin cell renewal, it will also unclog pores and reveal a brighter, glowing complexion. An important step, exfoliating ensures that the products you use later on will penetrate your skin more easily.

Note: Do not exfoliate everyday. This will only aggravate your skin and cause it to break out.

4. Toner

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Toning was something I had a bit of a love-hate relationship with during my highschool years. On one hand, it was oh so satisfying to see dirt picked up by the soaked cotton pad; it made me feel as though my skin was super clean. On the other end of the spectrum, I hated it because toners tended to dry out my skin, leaving me with botched red, peeling skin. Gorgeous.

Nowadays, I’ve noticed that toners are a lot less drying, to the point that they are more on the hydrating side. In fact, their purpose is to restore the pH level of your skin as well as prep it to better absorb the products that follow suit.

5. Essence

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Considered the heart of the Korean beauty routine, essence is kind of a mix of a toner and a serum in one. Its consistency can be compared to a toner; slightly thicker, but still very runny.

I’ve not had the pleasure of using this often as there weren’t many sold where I live -keyword, weren’t. Things are improving!- and the ones that were on the market were either ridiculously expensive or cheap. I tend to avoid the latter because my skin is a bit of a diva; it tends to break out horribly with cheap products.

That said, when I do include this in my routine, the results are quite significant. Essence basically helps with hydration, skin repair and cell turnover.

6. Serum & * Ampoule

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It’s time for a treatment! These babies are designed to target specific skin concerns. From problems with pigmentation to fine lines to dry skin, you are spoiled for choice on the market.

What is the main difference between a serum and an ampoule though? The difference lies in the levels of concentration between the two. Ampoules are basically the more powerful, effective cousin of serums, meant to give your skin a boost overnight.

But wait! Before you start reaching for ampoules, bear in mind that these can only be used once in awhile. This is due to their levels of concentration. Apply them too often and they’d wreak havoc on your skin.

For me, using ampoules once every 3-4 days is my sweet spot. The duration between each use might be longer for others. It all depends on what suits you best.

Serums should be used daily, once in the morning and once in the evening.

Note: For better absorption, products should be applied in the order of from least viscous to the most. Therefore on days you’re using an ampoule, it should go on before your serum. It can stand alone if smoothing on both at the same time is too much for your skin.

7. * Sheet Mask

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Can be used daily, if you wish (though I’ve yet to try this daily style of masking!). Because of my oily, acne prone skin and not to mention budget, I usually opt for clay masks instead of sheet masks. The latter is more of a rare treat for me, but let me say that if not for the reasons stated, I would go for them a heck of a lot more. My experiences with sheet masks are generally positive, and the results are totally worth it.

These are meant to deliver a powerful punch of ingredients to your skin, designed to target specific concerns. Think of them as amped up serums in the form of soaked sheets.

Note: If you’re planning on opting for a clay mask instead, slip it in your routine right after you exfoliate.

8. Eye Cream

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If you have any undereye concerns, this is the product to aim for. With the number of beauty companies out there, there is a huge range of eye creams on the shelves, each made to address different issues. These creams most commonly take care of fine lines, hydration and dark circle woes.

It is worthy to note that this is a product you’d have to be willing to spend a bit more on. Cheap options rarely work.

Tip: Because of how fragile the skin around your eyes are, use your ring finger to tap the cream in. Never rub, tug or pull. This is to avoid the formation of premature wrinkles.

9. Moisturiser

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It is always, always, always important to keep your skin properly hydrated. To put into perspective just how vital this is, take note that skin lacking in hydration will not only appear duller, it will also feel uncomfortably tight, peel and form premature wrinkles. Yikes! Definitely not something you want, right?

To avoid a cracked complexion, and to one day obtain that much vied youthful, dewy Korean skin, never forget to apply moisturiser. This will both hydrate and lock in the work you gained from previous steps.

10. Sunscreen

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If there is a single step that you absolutely must not miss out on aside from the standard Cleanse-Tone-Moisturise, it is applying sunscreen.

This not only plays a huge role in protecting you from nasty burns and skin cancer, it also plays a role in anti-aging. That’s right. The sunscreen you apply will help prevent premature aging, so unless you want to be introduced to wrinkles early, get to smoothing some on.

For this, I personally recommend Biore’s UV Perfect Milk SPF50+. Non-sticky and super lightweight, it’ll feel like you’re not wearing any sunscreen at all.

And that’s a wrap!

Phew! That was one exhaustive list. But I suppose that shouldn’t come as a surprise. Because not only do Koreans see flawless skin as a sign of beauty and health, they sincerely do enjoy these rituals. A stark contrast to their Western counterparts, and let’s face it, a good chunk of the Asian region too!

If you’re all for it though, be ready for your wallet to take a blow because it can get expensive.

Tip: If you’re going to dive into this hefty skincare routine, it would be best to introduce each new step one by one. This is so it would be much easier to spot which product isn’t working for you.

Have any questions? Ask away!

Edited on 26th June 2017.

Beauty Review: Hada Labo’s Deep Clean & Blemish Control Face Wash

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For the longest time, I thought that what cleanser I use doesn’t really matter as long as I go for what’s meant for my skin type. Meaning, blemish control, oil control, charcoal-based cleansers– you get the picture. Anything that is targeted towards caring for oily, acne-prone skin.

But as I got more and more interested in the world of beauty, I realised that this is not necessarily the case. Even if cleansers aren’t in contact with your skin for long, they really can make a difference. So that was when I really started paying attention to what I was buying, and tended to steer clear from drugstore brands unless I receive a recommendation. I’ve had one too many bad experiences, you see.

Still, in spite of that, I recently tried out one such brand. This time, I’m going to blog about my experience with Hada Labo’s Deep Clean & Blemish Control Face Wash (RM24.90).

What is it like?

At first glance, this cleanser seems to be the perfect candidate to take on my notoriously oily skin. It was actually purchased by my brother, and when he recommended it to me, I thought, why not? I’ve been using Lush’s Coalface for so long now; maybe it is time for a change.

So after giving its labels a quick run through, I decided to give it a try. Here’s what it says at the back:

Bentonite Clay: Mineral clay from natural volcanic ash has high content of minerals to effectively absorb excess dirt, oil and impurities from skin

Wild Pansy Extract: Contains natural Salicylic Acid that helps to control and prevent blemishes

Hyaluronic Acid: Hydrates skin to help prevent dryness and keep skin soft and supple

Below that, it further states:

Combines the power of two natural ingredients with hydrating Hyaluronic Acid to deep clean without drying skin and helps prevent blemishes to reveal a smooth, radiant complexion.

Low irritation. Free of fragrances, colorant, alcohol and mineral oil

Sounds quite promising, doesn’t it?

The product itself is pretty creamy and lathers easily. Something I sorely miss after using face soap bars for years. Because as much as I love my Coalface, it can get pretty inconvenient whenever I’m in a rush; lathering it up takes a bit of time, and it doesn’t even really produce much.

A stark contrast to Hada Labo’s cleanser. It doesn’t take a lot to create a rich foam with this. Smoothing it on is enjoyable, and washing it off is simple. I only need a few splashes to get it all off.

Packaging

Hada Labo decided to go with a clean, glossy tube, which I quite like. Its soft construction makes squeezing out the product a breeze, though I imagine getting it all out once it is almost gone would be a pain.

End result

The end result? After splashing it off, I was pleased to see that my skin looked bright and clean. There was no tightness and my skin felt comfortable. That’s a win, right?

At least, that was what I thought until I used it a few more times. It was as early as the second try that I noticed that my skin started drying out. And that’s saying something, because it can take as many as 2-3 oil blotters to completely absorb the oil on my face. (Gross trivia is gross, but you get the picture. It would take a lot to dry it out.)

That was not the only reaction I got from this, though. Throughout the day, I experienced this strange, tingling sensation on my skin. And under a certain light, it kind of looked papery?

So yeah. Even though it cleans well enough, it is super drying. Not something I’d recommend to those with dry skin.

Extra: Please note that this cleanser contains Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES), which is something I only discovered afterwards. Ah well. That explains it.

For those who are unaware, SLES is a lathering agent that is used in many cleaning products. It can be found in something as innocent as your shampoo, to the cleaner you use on your garage floor. So yes, it is that potent and can cause irritation to your skin.

Where can I find it?

Watsons & Guardian.

Verdict

  • Product rating: 2/5
  • Packaging rating: 4/5

As much as I like how it cleans and foams up easily, I’m not keen on the aftereffects. I’ll stick to my Coalface for now.

Ingredients

Water, Lauric Acid, Glycerin, Stearic Acid, Cocamidopropyl Betaine/Water, Potassium Hydroxide, Butylene Glycol, Palmitic Acid, Acrylates Copolymer/Water, Glycol Distearate, Polyquaternium-7, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Cocamide DEA, Potassium Cocoyl Glycinate/Water, Stearic Acid/Disteardimonium Hectorite, Dismodium EDTA, Methylisothiazolinone/Iodopropynyl Butylcarbarnate/Water, Glycerin/Water/Viola Tricolor Extract, Sodium Hyaluroate.