August 13, 2016

Summer Beauty Favorites

Summer Beauty Favorites

Summer has kicked into high gear here in Korea and the humidity is killing me. I momentarily lost all interest in my skin. What’s the point? Any makeup I choose to wear usually melts off of my face by noon anyway. But with the hormones, the change in diet, and the heat, I needed to find summer and pregnancy-safe products fast.

Pregnancy and the weather has really helped me reconsider my beauty routine. Since I’ve got someone else to think about, much more thought goes into what I put on my skin. I read labels, I monitor my skin’s reaction, and I’ve even reduced my morning and nighttime skin routine from about 12 products to about 3 or 4. It’s been a big change for me and frankly not the easiest one. However, through trial and error, I have been able to find products that work for me.

The following list includes products that I have personally tried and had much success with. Is there a better or cheaper option? I’m sure there is but living in a foreign country makes my choices limited. The organic beauty movement has been a recent one in South Korea–a welcomed changed from all the “whitening” and “anti-aging” products that are a big part of the market. However, I have chosen to limit the Korean products added to this list because I am not too sure about the ingredient list. Here are my top summer beauty picks!

Aloe Vera Gel
Thankfully, I am not prone to sunburns. However, this summer aloe vera gel has been a huge help in helping me stay cool and helping my skin stay hydrated.

My Favorite: Nature Republic Aloe Vera Gel
Highlights: Refreshing! Putting some on right before I sit in front of the fan or air con has helped me stay cool. It also soothes my skin and is great for massages.
Drawbacks: It can get pretty sticky.

Facial Water Spray
Water spray is all the rage in South Korea and you can usually find at least ten different types in any beauty section across the country. Facial water spray acts like a toner for the skin and most importantly, refreshes you and keeps you hydrated. It’s a welcomed sensation after sitting under the overbearing sun.

My Favorite: Evian Mineral Water Facial Spray Duo
Highlights: Great for travel, refreshing.
Drawbacks: None.

Coconut Oil 
Apparently you can use coconut oil for almost anything. I got on the coconut oil train relatively late but am a big fan of its smell and moisturizing properties. Coconut oil is popular with people who oil pull and eating a tablespoon or so a day helps keep the body functioning in top form. My favorite use for coconut oil is to keep stretch marks at bay and moisturize some rough patches of skin (elbows, knees). Cocoa butter would have been my first choice but it is relatively overpriced here 🙁

My Favorite: Nutiva Organic Coconut Oil 
Highlights: Great moisturizing properties, smells yummy.
Drawbacks: Taste is not the best, feels greasy.

Lightweight Moisturizer (Body) 
Moisturizing in the summer is a must. But, if you have combination or oily skin, you may find yourself feeling yucky at the thought of being suffocated by another layer of product. My skin reacts strongly to moisturizers in particular so I find myself changing often. Cetaphil is a great product for sensitive skin but while it is approved for use on face as well as body, I didn’t want to take any chances and use it strictly as body lotion.

My Favorite: Cetaphil Fragrance Free Moisturizing Lotion
Highlights: Great for face and body, good for sensitive skin, not scented.
Drawbacks: Amount is key. Too much leaves me feeling super oily, too little makes my skin feel a little parched.

Toner
A recent staple in my beauty routine has been a toner. My battle with acne started relatively early and throughout college and even the early part of my twenties, I struggled with getting things just right. With my first pregnancy, I anticipated horrible acne that I could do little to nothing about. Thankfully, I have been able to manage things pretty well with this toner!

My Favorite: Cleanance MAT Mattifying Toner
Highlights: Lightweight, Calming, Easy to Apply, and Leaves skin feeling supple and hydrated
Drawbacks: None so far!

I will be posting a Korean beauty version of my favorite products in the near future. Drop me a line if you have a particular interest in mind! (best moisturizing products, best oily skin products, pregnancy-safe products, etc.)

What are Your Summer Beauty Favorites?

July 21, 2016

Second Trimester Essentials: My Super Foods!

I was blessed with second trimester morning sickness.

I say blessed because even though it is one of my most dreaded symptoms, I have really learned to live with it and prevent it. Furthermore, I’ve been convinced by those studies that suggest that morning sickness is a sign of a healthy baby. Before I got pregnant, motion sickness was always an issue. I could never enjoy reading a book or playing on with my phone in a car or boat without feeling like I was going to be sick. I envied people who could do homework or have full-blown texting conversations without a second thought. Imagine how much I could have gotten done with all that time I spend in a bus or a car!

When I first got pregnant, I convinced myself that I was not going to get sick. Maybe this pregnancy would turn things upside down for me and I would be one of the few people that got little to no morning sickness at all. No such luck. Soon after I found out I was expecting, I was spending most of my time feeling nauseous, avoiding every smell, and looking for a toilet.

As long as I knew where the toilet was and how long it would take me to get there, I was good to go.

I dreamed about the end of my first trimester when I would no longer have to base my life around toilets and bland food. But, my second trimester came and no change.And along with my continuous second trimester morning sickness, I had to deal with heartburn, constipation, and being super hungry all the time. Oh the joys of pregnancy!

I had to deal with it. And thankfully, I can say that I am more or less morning sickness free from 20 weeks. There are a lot of “oh my God, I think I’m going to throw up” moments but I’m ready.

Eating was a big thing for me during my second trimester, here are some of the best foods that every happened to me during my weeks of hell.

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  1. Lemons: Some moms go the sweet tooth way, I went the sour and salty route. While super acidic, lemon was helped relieve my nausea or help my super sensitive sense of smell. Spritzing myself with lemon scented body spray, carrying around a lemon (yes, I did that), or even cutting up some lemons when I was having a particularly bad day made all the difference for me.
  2. Watermelon: Call me crazy but I was never really a huge fan of watermelon. But when I couldn’t even drink plain water without feeling like I was about to throw up, my mom and a colleague from work suggested I try this. It is a life saver. And what’s more, with the summer in full swing and my body acting all out of whack, I could live off of chilled watermelon all day.
  3. Sweet Potato: Constipation is a painful but pretty normal part of pregnancy. No one really wants to talk about it since it is a little embarrassing but there is really nothing more uncomfortable than not being able to use the bathroom. Not being able to eat like a normal person only makes matters worse. Again, my mom recommended that I try eating sweet potato. I try to bake a few at a time and eat them like a snack, skin and all.
  4. Almond and Peanut Butter Snack Packs: For some reason, eating peanuts made me feel ill but adding a dab of peanut butter on a banana at work never bothered me at all. The Justin’s brand in particular comes in a great snack size and are easy to store anywhere. I would eat this with saltine crackers, bananas, apples, anything that I could manage to get down. It is full of protein and a great energy boost.
  5. Milk: A glass of milk was a life saver late at night when my heartburn was at an all-time high. It cooled me down and gave me enough comfort to sleep through the rest of the night.

My little one and I still have a ways to go before we met. But at least we can both have a little fun while we wait.

 

July 19, 2016

Guess Who’s Back!

Although it was unofficial, I ended up taking a longer than expected hiatus from the blogging world. I visited the blog many times with the intention to write something but ended up closing the tab and concentrating on something else. I guess that you could say that I lost my sense of purpose in blogging and was not really sure what direction I wanted to go in. Furthermore, with an upcoming wedding and more demands from work, I had a hard time juggling it all. Like usual, my inability to multitask effectively got the best of me and here I am almost a year later.

Anyway, enough with the excuses. The most important thing is that I finally got my creative spark back and have more time to continue doing what I love: writing.

Since my last blog post in late August of last year, a lot of changes have happened in my life.

How I spent my hiatus…

We had our wedding photoshoot! For those of you not familiar with Korean culture, it is common for the bride and groom to take a pre-wedding photoshoot to showcase at the wedding. In the end, you get about 700 photos and get to wear three different wedding dresses and a few casual outfits. Here are a few of my favorites!

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We got two adorable babies! In October of last year, we took the plunge and got two cats. Although my husband is allergic, he has been a sweetheart about allowing me to have them and we have been working very hard to alleviate his allergy. The Russian Blue on the left is named Luna and the Abyssinian on the right named Honey Bread. While they are both a handful, they are my favorite little girls in the world.

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I got married! On December 12th of last year, my other half and I got married. We had a beautiful ceremony in Seoul, South Korea in the company of around 280 friends, family, and acquaintances.

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We had out honeymoon! Due to scheduling conflicts, we were not able to have a honeymoon outside of the country but we did take a one week trip to Jeju Island.

13816891_10207043789396401_882962775_n For a couple of days, we stayed in the Bayhill Pool and Villa Resort in Seogwipo. Their honeymoon suite came with a private pool and although it was the end of December, we couldn’t help but take advantage!
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I got to visit the Hello Kitty Museum!

But the real highlight of the last few months is…

We got pregnant! My husband and I are expecting our little bundle of joy in early November. We are ecstatic to become parents and are really looking forward towards the challenges of parenthood with optimism. Here was our official announcement (on Facebook)

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I am currently a little over 24 weeks pregnant. There have been many ups and downs with the pregnancy but so far, our little girl (that’s right!) is healthy and doing well.

As you can probably see, I was quite a busy bee throughout the year but the one thing I do regret is not blogging about my journey. But no use crying over spilled milk. I am here, I am full of ideas, and I am so excited to be sharing my stories with all of you again.

 

 

August 31, 2015

Career Girl – My First Job Experience

working-girl
A couple of weeks ago, the team over at The Ladders reached out to me and asked me to share my first job experience along with some of the important lessons that I learned from it. Coming from a family with a “school first, school second” policy, I didn’t have much of an opportunity to work during my high school years. However, I do remember my very first job as a hostess at a Greek restaurant and how that experience shaped my ideas about earning money and my future.

I spent my high school years living in a small town in South Carolina that housed: one mall, a ton of fast food joints, a Wal-Mart, and not too much more than that. My parents never pressured me to get a job and much preferred I spent my free time doing chores at home or studying harder for school. But, naturally, as I got older and my need for some financial independence increased, I found myself looking for a place that would hire me to make a few extra dollars on the weekend aside from the allowance I got from my parents. And so the job search began. I always imagined having my first part-time job in a small but fancy coffee shop that played elevator music all day and hosted open-mic night once a week. Cheesy, I know. But for whatever reason, there was something romantic about the idea of working in a coffee shop.

But before I had a chance to even go out in search of my ideal job, my mom informed me that she needed my help at the restaurant that she worked at and before I knew it, I was spending every Friday and Saturday night welcoming customers. Honestly, it was far from my ideal job. My job was pretty simple: sit customers, give them drinks, make sure everyone  has been assigned to a waitress, and run the register. If I did a good job, some of the take-out customers would leave me a dollar or two and the boss would cook me something delicious to take home. Even though the job didn’t require any special certificates or qualifications, it was much more difficult than it seemed. I was still growing into my personality and was awkwardly shy, had trouble making conversation with older people, and felt nervous at the idea of getting yelled at by a customer. I worked from 4pm until 10pm and got about 60 dollars per day. Apart from the two or three hour rush hour closer to closing time, I spent the afternoon sitting in the booth doing my homework and eating garlic bread.  Easy? Sort of. Exciting? Not so much.

It wasn’t long before I called it quits and chose to make better financial decisions with the allowance I was given. Now that I reflect back on the experience, I realize that there were many opportunities for me to gain skills that I didn’t act on because I was too busy being an introvert. However, it did help me realize that regardless of whether it was in a restaurant or in a fancy cafe, working in the service industry required a certain type of personality that I just didn’t have. But I did learn some customer service tricks and was able to meet many amazing people with interesting and encouraging stories. I am grateful for the opportunity I had to try my hand at working at such a young age, as it did teach me professionalism and allowed me to think about what a “real job” would feel like.

Some people are lucky to get the perfect job the first time around, but even if that first job isn’t a dream come true: persevere, learn new skills, and know that life isn’t over just yet.

 

June 21, 2015

Six Sexy Summer Lipsticks: Pink Edition

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1. NARS Audacious Lipstick  “Michiyo // 2. Stila ‘stay All Day’ Liquid Lipstick “Fiore” // 3. Ilia Lipstick Crayon “Call Me”  4. tarte Amazonian butter lipstick “Watermelon”// 5. Lipstick Queen Silver Screen Lipstick “Play It” // 6. Urban Decay Sheer Revolution “Obsessed” 

Are you ready for summer? Frankly, summer is my least favorite season. It’s hot, sticky, and I my makeup always seems to be melting off my face by noon.  It’s been at least 80 degrees over the past month so we started “summer” a couple weeks ago. Now that summer is here, I’ve lightened the amount of makeup I wear and traded fierce eyes for a more natural look with a bolder lipstick.

Bold, Bright, Beautiful are the first three words that pop into my head when I think about the “ideal” summer color. Like spring, pinks and corals are in but instead of the soft colors that match the spring flowers, I have started to lean towards super bright colors, most of which I prefer to try on in the comforts of my own home but am starting to feel more confident about wearing outside. I’ve recently traded my burgundies and nudes for an even more intense (and sometimes intimidating color): a gloriously bold fuchsia.

As a relatively new lipstick user, I’ve always shied away from bold colors, mostly because I am always worried about looking more like a clown than the girls on the cover of my favorite fashion magazines. When I was younger I was told to stay away from bright colors and stick to colors that conformed with my brown skin and dark hair. But with the trends ever changing and a tad of rebellion, I’ve decided to go ahead and try my luck wearing something a little more progressive. The 21st marks the beginning of summer and the start of a new season of color. I’ve searched far and wide throughout my growing lipstick collection (and my favorite Pinterest boards) to bring you my favorite pink colors. Be bold, go on beautifully, and brighten up summer with audaciously PINK lips.

What is your favorite summer lip color?

 

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