Nordstrom

Perfume Divorce 


I’m contemplating on leaving her.  She and I were high school sweethearts (met her at the tender age of 16).  At the time, she was voluptuous, glamorous, worldly, and oh so feminine.  We traveled the world together, went through great times, tough times, scary times, three bad jobs, one good job, two pregnancies, two beautiful kids, and here we are today.  

Now, I find her a bit stale and sweet at the same time (is that honeysuckle I smell?  I don’t think I’ve ever been a honeysuckle [or anything that smells sweet] person).  Clingy.  And generic.  There’s no “there there” anymore.  Perhaps, I’m the one who’s changed–I read somewhere that our skin’s pH (which helps determine how perfume smells on our skin) changes as we age.  Could my skin be having a mid-life crisis (nevermind the wisps of lines that seem to have appeared out of nowhere)?  In any event, I’ve started having dalliances here and there (just samples sent from Saks, Jo Malone, and Kat Burki).  Nothing serious.  Everything smells so one-dimensional these days.  That’s the younger generation for you.  Last night, I spotted a couple potential dates online:  “Ikat Jasmine” and “Iris Meadow”.  They sound young, fun, and sexy.  I opted for the standard shipping option (which usually takes about a week for delivery).  I’m desirous but not enough to pay for overnight shipping.  Besides, anticipation makes for greater excitment.  More shall be revealed soon…

Kat Burki & Biologique Recherche

In my continued quest for a holy grail skincare regimen and turning my bathroom into a spa, I’ve finally tried Biologique Recherché and Kat Burki.  Biologique Recherché is probably the cultiest of cult favorites and Kat Burki is one of the new kids on the block (although an American brand and made in the USA, it’s quite popular in the UK).  So without further ado:

(1)  Biologique Recherché Lait VIP O2–This is an exfoliating milk cleanser that contains lactic acid and niacinamide as two of its star ingredients (full list of ingredients may be found on all sites that sell BR).  I like this cleanser.  Gentle feel yet powerful exfoliation and can be used daily.  However, there are so many other cleansers on the market that does the same thing.  This is my favorite item from the line (which isn’t saying much).

(2)  Biologique Recherché Masque Vivant–This is a clarifying and brightening mask that purifies with yeast and also contains niacinamide.  Smells like Vegamite and beef bullion.  After using SK-II (which also uses yeast as a star ingredient), I haven’t been crazy about the whole yeast concept.  I’m 36, a mother of two, and have Asian skin that is combination (oily T-zone and normal to dry cheeks).  Apparently, the only response my skin has to yeast (in skincare lines) is itchiness and redness (all temporary, thank goodness).

(3)  Biologique Recherché P50 Lotion (No Phenol Version)–This is an exfoliating toner that has received much hype (just Google this product and you’ll find tons of reviews).  There are several versions of this toner (original, normal without phenol, sensitive skin, and mature skin).  I chose to use the version without phenol because of my two little ones as there’s been some controversy on the safety of its use.  This is BR’s star product and I have to say that I’m disappointed.  Perhaps it’s my skin type (and its reaction to the ingredients) and although it did provide excellent exfoliation, my face is itchy and red after every use (I’d hate to imagine what the phenol formula is like).

(4)  Biologique Recherché Crème Dermopurifante–This is a balancing and brightening moisturizer that has yeast and niacinamide as two of its star ingredients (starting to see a pattern here?).  It’s supposed to be mattifying and purge/clarify your skin of excess sebum as well as balance the pH of your skin.  So far, I have found that it does none of the above for my skin.  However, I’m willing to give it a chance by using it as a day treatment during downtime (as a mask for when my little boy is napping).

(5)  Kat Burki Vitamin C Nourishing Cleansing Balm–This is a cleansing balm that features Vitamin C and several cold pressed fruit oils as its star ingredients.  Even though I have combination skin (and I think this is more suitable for dry skin), I love it.  I love it so much that it has earned a permanent place in my skincare routine.  Results were immediate (skin was brighter and softer).  Yes, it’s essentially an expensive oil cleanser (great for removing makeup and sunscreen).  But it has the added benefit of brightening your skin (with 15% Vitamin C) and making it super soft.  To get a bang for your buck, I recommend using this as both an oil cleanser and a mask (your skin will thank you)–I massage it onto my face to remove any sunscreen or makeup, keep it on my face for about 20 minutes before rinsing it off, and then use a foam cleanser to remove any oily residue.  If you wear (a lot of) makeup daily (as I did when I was single), this may not be an economical product as you’d have to tissue off the first application and then reapply for the mask part of the regimen.  But since I only wear makeup on special occasions now, this balm is all I need to remove dirt, grime, and sunscreen from my face (having two kids under the age of 2 will do this to you).  And a little goes a long way.  Bottom line:  This product converted me into a Kat Burki lover.

(6)  Kat Burki Vitamin C Intensive Face Cream–This is a brightening moisturizer that uses 15 % Vitamin C and various cold pressed fruit oils as its star ingredients.  Some say that it’s too light to be used as a night cream but I say it’s perfect (again, I have combination skin with an oily T-zone).  It does not contain SPF and can be used day and/or night.  A fantastic moisturizer and may have just replaced my precious Crème de La Mer (gasp!).

My only complaint about the two Kat Burki products is the packaging–the consistency of both is such that they can and should be used with pumps (it would also be more sanitary and, thus, prolong shelf life).  Yes, the glass jars are pretty to look at but glass bottles with pumps would be more practical and user friendly.

As for stores, there are several that sell BR and Kat Burki but none offer free returns (except Nordstrom).  Plus, returns are only accepted for unopened items (except Nordstrom).  How would one know if a product irritates his/her skin without trying it first?  Not being able to return the BR products annoys me (since the line is only sold at spas and boutiques).  Glad it’s a moot point with the Kat Burki products (since they work fantastically on my skin).  For those who would like to try a line or product but also want the protection of being able to return items inappropriate for your skin, I recommend shopping at Nordstrom (as the store offers free returns, no questions asked).  Yes, I am an affiliate seller of Nordstrom but don’t shop there just because of that; shop there because you’re protected with your purchases no matter what (as long as you save your receipts).  To get the most value for your purchase (of any skincare/cosmetic line), buy the products you’d like to try from Nordstrom.  Then (after knowing what works for you), buy the products from their respective companies’ stores/websites (which tend to have more special offers/promotions/samples of the brand).

Thank Goodness for Little Girls

  
So I’ve gone a bit nuts in preparation for the arrival of Baby #2–namely, shopping for clothes.  Shopping for boys is not nearly as fun as shopping for girls.  Cases in point and Exhibits A, B, and C:   

   
And I’m just getting started.  In addition to clothes, I’ve also invested in a tandem stroller and a couple new diaper bags among other things that are either little girl-specific or two-under-two-specific:

(1). Ju-Ju-Be Be Prepared Diaper Bag–This bag comes in several colors/prints and has received rave reviews from mothers of multiples.  The features of this bag are fantastic:  anti-bacterial material, Thinsulate insulation, handles and cross-body strap, pockets galore, etc.  Plus, it’s machine washable.  Need I say more?

(2). Ju-Ju-Be Hobobe Diaper Bag–This is a diaper bag disguised as a purse.  Perfect for the time being and running errands since Baby #2 isn’t arriving until July.  This style has most of the important features that the Be Prepared style has but is in a compact size.  

Neither of the diaper bags above are what I would consider stylish (organization is the goal here).  But the pros definitely outweigh the cons and with having two kids under the age of two, mama is going to need all the help she can get!

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.

Review of AmorePacific (Cleanser & Exfoliator)

AmorePacific is fast becoming a household name in the West.  As Korea’s version of Estee Lauder, AmorePacific invented the cushion foundation and has several other award-winning products in its line.  I tried two items and here are my thoughts:

(1)  AmorePacific Treatment Foam Cleanser–With a combination of vitamin C, lactose, and fruit extracts, this cleanser buffs away fine lines and dead skin cells.  Good for normal to dry skin.

(2)  AmorePacific Treatment Enzyme Peel–Hands down, this is the best exfoliator I have ever used in my life.  Ingredients include lactose and various plant and fruit extracts.  The beauty of this product is that not only does it exfoliate well, it is also extremely gentle as it is a powder (turn to foam with water) formula.  Great for all skin types.

Since I have acne-prone skin, the cleanser (although an excellent one) doesn’t make it to my permanent skincare line-up.  Perhaps it’s the acidity (which would make it more suitable for those with normal to dry skin).  The exfoliator (or peel) is definitely a keeper.

Review of SK-II

In my quest for the perfect post-partum and anti-aging skincare routine, I made a pit stop:  SK-II.  This Japanese skincare line has a cult following and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.  Drum roll…

(1)  SK-II Treatment Cleanser–This is truly an anti-aging cleanser (no ifs, ands, or buts).  The Pitera (SK-II’s power ingredient) immediately firms and treats fine lines.  The slight tingling reaffirms this.  Great for those with normal or dry skin.

(2)  SK-II Facial Treatment Clear Lotion–Great toner for most skin types.  The Pitera (in all SK-II products) treats fine lines and spots while the lactic acid exfoliates and sloughs off dead skin cells.  Of the entire line, this is my favorite.

(3)  SK-II Cellumination Mask-In Lotion–This can be used as a toner and/or a mask (by itself or via a cloth sheet mask).  SK-II Cellumination products are designed to brighten skin tone and diminish spots.  The product definitely brightened my skin tone after a few uses but didn’t appear to have any other benefits.  Best for those with normal or dry skin.

(4)  SK-II Facial Treatment Essence–This serum is what put the brand on the map.  With the most concentration of Pitera of all SK-II products, the serum attacks lines, wrinkles, and uneven skin tone with just a few swipes of a cotton ball.  Wonderful for those with normal or dry skin.

(5)  SK-II Essential Power Eye Cream–If your skin is normal or dry and you can only buy one eye cream, this is it.  Armed with Pitera, this cream firms, tightens, treats, and moisturizes–it’s an all-in-one.

All in all, SK-II is a fantastic anti-aging line and is best for those with normal to dry skin.  Unfortunately, I have oily skin during the spring and summer months and combination skin during the fall and winter months.  If you’re acne-prone like I am, the Pitera (and perhaps all the acidity in the line) will likely exacerbate pimples and blackheads.

And so my search continues…

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.