Mommy review

Sulwhasoo Snowise Brightening Cleansing Foam

This is now officially my holy grail cleanser.  My skin is oily (T-zone) and combination and I’m prone to freckles and blackheads.  Those with acne-prone skin know how difficult it can be to find a cleanser that cleans, brightens, and doesn’t overdry.  Here are my observations:

(1) Low pH–A low pH cleanser is crucial to keeping bacteria at bay and is especially important for those with acne-prone skin.  Many cleansers (especially those for oily skin) have too high of a pH (the feeling of squeaky clean skin may be enticing but you pay for it afterwards because the skin then overproduces oil to compensate for the amount washed away in the cleansing process).  

(2) Foam–Foaming cleansers are generally prescribed for oil and combination skin and they’re abundant in the marketplace.  The problem with most low pH cleansers on the market is they don’t foam.  And the ones that do foam are often high pH formulas.  However, a cleanser that has both low pH and foaming action is a rarity and considered a unicorn in the skincare world.  

(3) Ginseng–As with most products in Sulwhasoo’s line, this cleanser has a medicinal scent due to its Chinese herb ingredient list with ginseng being the start ingredient.  Ginseng can brighten and even out skin tone, among other things.  

When I use this in the shower at night, I leave it on my face for at least five minutes before washing it off.  Although my freckles remain the same, the rest of my face is visually brighter.  The product cleanses thoroughly without drying out my skin and is suitable for most skin types.  

The last time I checked (about three months ago), this cleanser was unavailable in the US via department stores such as Nordstrom, Neiman’s, and Saks (even though the stores all carry the Sulwhasoo line).  Amazon and eBay sell it but a good rule of thumb is to avoid such sites for skincare due to numerous incidents of counterfeit and expired products.  For those in the US who wish to purchase this product, my advise would be to lobby the Sulwhasoo counter at your local department store, make a phone call to a major Korean department store and attempt to order it and have it shipped to you, or stock up (or get a friend to) on your next visit to Asia (as far as I know, this cleanser is widely available at all Sulwhasoo counters in department stores across Asia).  

Tony Moly Tea Tree Cleansing Water

Many of us are familiar with the benefits and convenience of using micellar water, especially for those who live in areas with hard tap water.  Now, a version with tea tree oil!  Although I still like to use a traditional foaming cleanser to wash my face in the morning and at night, I use this as a mid-day refresher (I only wear makeup on special occasions now so a few quick sweeps of this no-wash cleanser with a cotton pad does the trick).  The result is soft, clean, and refreshed skin that smells faintly of tea tree oil.  

Innisfree Blueberry Sun Cream

Hands down, this is the most lightweight sunscreen I have ever used.  Apply liberally before going out–the result is soft, fragrance-free, protected skin with no white cast.  Feels like water going on and washes off easily with a normal cleanser.  Some sunscreens double as makeup primers–this is not one of them.  This is perfect for no makeup days (which is about every day for me) and if you do wear makeup over this, give it ample time to dry beforehand.  

Innisfree (as well as Nature Republic) is South Korea’s version of Origins.  The company prides itself as being a proponent of skincare and makeup made with natural plant-based ingredients.  

Traveling with Baby Must-Haves (International)

Our trip to Tokyo was fantastic.  With that said, we did learn a lot in terms of what to pack for future international trips.  Domestic travel with a baby is easier (traveling with a baby is never EASY) because you can almost always stop by a local Target at your destination to pick up any items you didn’t pack and/or forgot to pack.  Unless you are traveling to see family and/or friends (which usually makes it easier to access baby items as things will probably be ready for you upon your arrival), international travel (especially if your destination is one where you don’t speak the language) can be tough on finding the right baby supplies for your little one.  Here are my must-haves for international travel:

(1)  Cell Phone Case with an Attached Clip–A cell phone case with an attached clip may not seem very useful when you’re at home but when traveling with a baby, anything that can facilitate being hands-free is a winner.  Since I usually don’t wear outfits with pockets, my case allowed me to attach the phone onto the stroller (and that’s how I carried my phone during the entire trip).  Having the clip also made my phone very accessible for taking photos and pulling up any necessary apps (like currency converter, Google Maps, etc.).

(2)  Travel Stroller–Unless I am mistaken, the only travel stroller on the market that is able to be compacted into a carry-on small enough to fit into plane overhead compartments is the Babyzen YOYO Travel Stroller.  This was a LIFESAVER.  Light enough to be carried with one hand and yet sturdy enough to hold a child of up to 50 pounds.  Many people would argue that it’s easier to check a stroller with your other large pieces of luggage rather than lug it around as a carry-on.  I would agree with that if you have a non-stop flight, are traveling extremely light, and are unafraid of your luggage getting lost during transit.  Since I prefer to have one layover per flight (easier to grab a bite to eat, use the restrooms, stretch your legs, etc.) and have had my luggage lost a couple times during previous trips, I was unwilling to risk any mishaps by checking our stroller.  Plus, it felt great to be able to put Max in it right way after holding him during our entire flight (each way).

(3)  Organized Diaper Bag–I’ve tried several diaper bags and, by far, the Skip Hop “Chelsea” Diaper Bag is the best for traveling.  With the usual baby stuff compartments, this bag also has two zippered compartments (one small and one large–perfect for things like your wallet, house keys, passport, flight itinerary, etc.).  An added bonus: handles AND a crossbody strap.  Need I say more?

(4)  Baby Toiletries–In general, diapers and baby powder/cream are easily accessible in most places (especially if you’re traveling to another developed country) via full service drugstores (ones that have pharmacies).  So, packing just enough of these items (plus a few extras) for the flight should be enough until you reach your destination.  However, for things like baby shampoo, baby soap and/or body wash, it’s best to pack more than you’ll need for the entire trip.  This will minimize your baby having any allergic reactions to other cleansing products.  Plus, using (and smelling) familiar products will likely be a comfort to him/her in an unfamiliar environment.

(5)  Double Amount of Formula and/or Baby Food–If you’re breastfeeding, you can cross this off your list.  I initially wanted to pack just enough baby food for our flight but after doing some research on Japanese brand formulas and packaged baby food, I discovered that a couple brands had recalls due to radiation contamination.  That was enough for us to pack enough formula and baby food for the entire trip.  Packing your own ensures that your little one will avoid any food allergies.  For travel, I’m a big fan of packaged food brands like Plum Organics and Ella’s Kitchen (as they’re disposable, easy to feed, and don’t spoil as easily as homemade food).

(6)  Pacifiers–Max does not use pacifiers on a regular basis because I’m afraid they’ll make his teeth come in crooked.  However, pacifiers work wonders on a plane!  They serve two purposes:  help to calm your baby and lessen the pain in his/her ears during flight.  Enough said.

(7)  Washable Toys–Bring several toys that are easy to pack and easily wiped and/or rinsed clean.  This one’s self-explanatory.

(8)  Baby Wipes–You can never have enough baby wipes.  Ever.

(9)  Anti-bacterial Surface Wipes–These wipes come in handy for wiping down public changing tables, toilet seats, airplane seats/headrests/tray tables, etc.  You get the idea.

(10)  Extra Change of Clothes–Self-explanatory

(11)  Inflatable Baby TubThis was also a lifesaver during our trip.  In addition, be sure to pack a plastic cup to use as a rinsing cup.

(12)  Tissues–What would you do without them?

And last, but certainly not least, a kid-friendly hotel.  What does that mean?  That means that your hotel must, at bare minimum, be able to provide a safe and clean crib.

Lip Service

hydrastick

Since I’ve run out of my trusty La Mer lip balm, I’ve decided to give Mustela’s Hydra-Stick a try.  This, my friends, is great for both mama and baby.  Lightweight, creamy, and, best of all, works to keeps lips and cheeks soft (plus, it’s hypoallergenic).  Surprisingly, it’s a bit more creamy than the La Mer balm.  Max was getting little flakes of dry skin on his cheeks and the Hydra-Stick took care of it straight away.  Verdict:  perfect for dry winter skin and/or chapped lips and/or cheeks.

Zipadee-Zip

zipadeezip

Bracing ourselves for sleepless nights, D and I ordered three Zipadee-Zips before my delivery date.   Although the item isn’t recommended for newborns, I thought I would try it out on Max, anyway, and to my pleasant surprise, it actually helped to extend the length of his sleep.  According to the founder and inventor of Zipadee-Zip, Stephanie Parker, babies have the Moro or “startle” reflex and this item helps to soothe and/or lessen that effect.  Zipadee-Zips are roomy and comfortable pajama/sleeping bag alternatives for babies and I look forward to Max growing up with them.  Verdict: Baby registry-worthy.

Nest

bewitched

Although I’m still in recovery mode from the pregnancy, I’m also in 100% nesting mode for the new house.  And, yes, I have become a full-fledged linen snob.

For starters, I’ve realized that you do get what you pay for in terms of quality when it comes to things like towels and bed sheets.  With that said, I’m still very much a value shopper.  Since our current bed sheets are on their last leg, I decided to invest in some Frette linens (used at the Ritz and Four Seasons in Paris).  One Kings Lane has some fabulous deals on the brand.  I also purchased a couple Frette bath mats for $19 each (not bad for thick Egyptian cotton, eh?).  Goal:  to create a spa/hotel-like feel for the bedrooms and bathrooms in our new home.