Current Morning Skincare Routine

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My current morning skincare routine features a lot of new products I’m testing out, so I don’t have full reviews ready, but I just wanted to show you what I’m using now!

In the morning, I start off by washing my face with the Amore Pacific Treatment Cleansing Foam. It’s nice, but ridiculously expensive. I wanted to try it since it’s one of the less expensive options from Amore Pacific, and I’ve never tried anything from the brand. I’m not sure that the cost is worth it, but for now, I’m quite enjoying it. It doesn’t strip my skin, smells AMAZING, and leaves my skin feeling smooth and soft.

Some days, after I wash my face, I like to use the Amore Pacific Treatment Enzyme Peel, which is 100000% totally worth the high price tag. It’s a gentle, yet highly effective botanical based exfoliator that helps brighten and even your skin without harsh chemicals. After seeing that it has 549 five-star reviews on Sephora, I just had to see what the hype is. And girl it is worth the hype. It’s SO GOOD. Expect a full review soon.

After I cleanse and exfoliate, I use my Innisfree Rose Clear toner (not pictured), followed by the Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant. Again, I’ve only been using this for about 2 weeks now, so I can’t make an accurate review, but I’m pretty sure this paired with the Biologique Recherché p50 lotion I use at night has literally transformed my skin. I do not have a single spot of acne on my face right now, which hasn’t happened since I left Korea almost a year ago. I put it on a cotton pad (applying it directly with my hands was causing them to peel), and wait about 5 minutes or so before I move on to the rest of my routine. My skin has actually been a little dry after using this, so I think I’m going to cut back to every other day. But it works!

After the Paula’s Choice Liquid Exfoliant, I use the HERA Cell Essence Cell-Bio Fluid Sync. HERA is another luxury Korean beauty brand I had yet to try, so I wanted to give some of their products a whirl. The Cell-Bio Fluid Sync is supposed to “fill your skin with the energy it needs everyday for restoration into clear and revitalized skin”, whatever that means.  I haven’t been using this long enough to say anything specific about it, but it’s really hydrating and feels nice on my skin. I’m definitely going to do a full review in about another 3 weeks, so be on the lookout!

I then use the C20 Pure Vitamin C21.5 Advanced Serum, followed by the LJH Tea Tree 90 Essence, and finally the su:m37 Water-full Rebalancing Gel Lotion. I’m desperately trying to finish the bottle, so I’ve been using it everyday so I can move on to another daytime emulsion.

I can’t wait until I can get a better grasp on some of the newer products I’m testing out so I can write some reviews. What have you been trying out lately? Let me know in the comments!

LeeJiHam (LJH) Tea Tree 90 Essence Review

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For all of those who’ve asked me, “What brands are great for natural Korean cosmetics?” or “Where can I find natural Korean cosmetics?”, your questions can finally be answered at Glow Recipe. Sarah and Christine, the founders of Glow Recipe have created an awesome site for natural, harsh-free Korean beauty products. When they contacted me to test out some of their products, I obviously couldn’t resist!

One of the standout products I received from Glow Recipe was the LeeJiHam Tea Tree 90 Essence. When I came back from my trip to the US, my skin was a disaster. I was battling a major hormonal breakout, on top of my skin being stressed in general from changing climates and the long haul flight. As I was unpacking my bags, I remembered that I had the Tea Tree 90 Essence and decided to check out the reviews. Every review I read praised how amazing it was at healing acne, so I decided to give it a whirl. And trust, It’s just as great as everyone says.

I’ll be the first to say that tea tree in any form was never a favorite ingredient for me. When I was battling my major adult acne, I tried many tea tree products, and they never worked. I hate the smell, and it would always irritate my skin. Thankfully, this essence nourishing, calming, and effective. It contains 90% tea tree extract, and is free of parabens, mineral oil, silicones, colorants, alcohol, fragrance and water. If you’re interested in the full ingredient list, you can find it over on Glow Recipe.

The LeeJiHam Tea Tree 90 Essence is packaged in a small bottle with a dropper top. It contains 50ml of product. I love that this product has a dropper, as it makes it easy to not use too much. It has a very light and watery texture, and thankfully is 100000% scent free. If you have sensitive, acne prone skin, I feel like this could be a game changer for you.

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I use this essence during my morning and nighttime routine. I apply it after cleansing and toning. I squeeze 2 to 3 drops in the palms of my hands and gently press and massage the essence into my skin. One of my favorite things about this essence is that it’s incredibly moisturizing. A lot of acne treatments dry out your skin, but this one is super soothing and hydrating. It absorbs almost immediately and doesn’t leave behind any stickiness.

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Above is a makeup free, unedited selfie. In just 30 days of continued use both morning and evening, a majority of my acne has been healed. I’m still left with a lot of scarring, so I wouldn’t really say that this essence is a brightener, but as far as healing acne, it’s a hell of a product. I’d say that I could see a visible difference in about a week, and I have only had a few pimples here and there since then (mostly due to over indulging in too many rum and cokes one night).

You can purchase the LeeJiHam Tea Tree 90 Essence from Glow Recipe for $45.00. If you use my referral code, available here, you’ll receive $5 off your first purchase!

Disclosure: A sample product was gifted from Glow Recipe. Opinions expressed here are 100% my own. 

 

Driving a Motorbike in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

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Never in a million years did I think that I would ever be able to say that I can not only drive a motorbike, but I can drive a motorbike in Ho Chi Minh City. If you have ever seen the traffic in HCMC, you know that this driving a motorbike here is both exhilarating and a nightmare.

When I first moved here, I was pretty adamant about never driving a motorbike. I used only taxis for the first few months, then graduated to only taking a xe om (motorbike taxi).Then I bought my own electric bike that was cool to use in Phu My Hung, but completely useless for longer rides. After about 7 months of spending money, waiting around, and wasting time, I finally decided to pull the trigger and rent my own motorbike.

I started off with a Mio Classico, built specifically for short women (I’m barely 5’0 ft). I liked it because it’s super tiny, my feet could touch the ground, and it was lightweight. However, it had basically zero storage, and was really awful to ride with two people. I’ve since upgraded to an Attalia Elizabeth and it’s AMAZING. It’s much bigger, and I like it because it has enough storage space to fit a large bag, so I don’t have to worry about driving with a bag on me (a big NO NO in Ho Chi Minh City).

So say you’ve just moved here, you got a bike, and you’re ready to go…here are my tips for staying safe and not losing your mind.

- My friend Nicole gave me the best advice about motorbikes – only drive when YOU are ready. Don’t let people pressure you into riding if you’re not ready. I honestly believe that being here for 7 months and dealing with the traffic daily before I started to ride made me more confident, and in turn, a much better driver. I wasn’t afraid to ride, whereas I’m about 99.9% sure if I had started driving when I first moved here I would’ve been in many an accident.
– Get used to the fact that there the traffic rules are non-existent here. When I first moved here, I couldn’t believe the shit I was seeing on a daily basis. Red light? Doesn’t matter. Looking before you make a right turn? Doesn’t happen. Yielding to make a left turn? HA! It’s extremely frustrating and at times, super dangerous, but that’s just how it is. At the same time, know that 97% of the time, motorbikes will drive to avoid you. Say you’re trying to make a left and there’s just a mass of motorbikes you’re turning into, they’ll move out of the way. I don’t know how it works but it does.
– While driving, try to move with the group of traffic, and stay in a “pack”. Someone once told me the traffic in HCMC moves like water, and they’re totally right. You want to stay with the “river”. If there’s a giant group of people making a left turn, join the group.
– The pollution and exhaust is a HUGE problem for me. I’ve noticed that if I drive without wearing a face mask, my skin freaks out. I bought a pack of 200 medical face masks for about 5 bucks, and I keep a stash in my bike storage. If you drive long distances during rush hour traffic, it’s probably best to invest in a high quality mask that not only protects your skin, but filters the harsh pollutants.
– On the subject of skin, wearing an SPF is a must. The sun is NO joke. I used to have the worst short tan lines on my legs from wearing shorts without sunscreen. There’s a reason why Vietnamese women are typically covered from head to toe while driving. If you’re particularly sun sensitive, wear a light jacket/cardigan while driving.
– As ridiculous as motorbike drivers are, cars, taxis, and buses are even worse. Taxi and bus drivers drive like maniacs. If you’re driving near buses, be aware that they can, and will pull into different lanes at a moments notice, and generally don’t give a fuck about motorbike drivers.
– Driving in the rain here is one of the worst possible things ever and I HATE it. Rainy season sucks, no way around it. Grab your poncho, buy a pair of shoes that you don’t mind getting wet, and drive slow, homie.
– Look forward at all times, don’t worry about what’s happening behind you. Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Driving in HCMC requires 100% attention at all times.
– I’m not that familiar with the small streets in the city center and other districts, so I always have my GPS on if I’m going somewhere I don’t know. If I get lost, I’ll pull over (somewhere safe!) to look at my map.
– Don’t drive with your valuables on you, if you can help it. Always drive with your purse in your storage. I am absolutely paranoid about being robbed on my motorbike, which is why I don’t drive into D1 with my computer that often. Sadly, my laptop doesn’t fit in my bike storage, so if I go work in D1 it’s a special occasion for me. I’m sure that it’s safe most of the time, but better safe than sorry for me.

Have you ever driven a motorbike? What are your tips for staying safe?

C20 Pure Vitamin C21.5 Advanced Serum Review

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Sometimes when a product has an upgrade, there’s something to complain about.

“It doesn’t work as well!”
“Why did they change the formula?”
“New and improved? GIRL BYE.”

But you know what? Sometimes the upgrade is totally worth it. The C20 Pure Vitamin C21.5 Advanced Serum is an example of an incredible improvement from its original, the OST Vitamin C20 serum. I AM OBSESSED. It’s so good.

I wrote a rave review about the original serum here, and listen girrrllll this new and improved formula is the bomb dot com. The new formula is packaged in pretty much the same exact dark colored, glass bottle with a dropper top, containing 1.0 Fl.Oz/30ml of product. Like the previous serum, this serum should be kept in a cool, dark place like a refrigerator (PS have you guys heard of those awesome Korean skincare fridges they make now?!?! I need one).

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First, the original formula had about 29 ingredients, and this new one only has 10! TEN! They’ve also bumped up the vitamin c from 20% to 21.5%. I don’t know if scientifically that makes a huge difference, but either way, more awesome vitamin C goodness for everyone. I’m not sure what was making my skin sting so much from the previous formula, but I can actually use this serum alone without adding it to my toner and it doesn’t sting nearly as bad. Yes, there’s a very, very slight tingle, but nothing like what I experienced before.

The second best thing about C20 Pure Vitamin C21.5 Advanced Serum is that it isn’t sticky! YASSSSS! I loved the results of the previous formula, but I didn’t like that it was so sticky after application. The texture of this serum isn’t a gel-type texture, it’s like water. As a result, it absorbs super fast and actually feels hydrating on the skin.

serum3I apply this serum during my nighttime routine, right after my toner. Like I said earlier, since it isn’t sticky and actually absorbs quickly, I’ve been applying it on its own instead of with the toner like I used to. I use about 2 drops each night, making sure to use my palms to lightly pat the serum into my skin. My skin has a TON of scarring and hyper pigmentation, especially around my jawline from my previous breakouts, but I can see that the scars are slowly fading. I had a few bumps a couple of weeks ago and this serum definitely helped take the redness out and I didn’t scar as bad as I normally do. In general, my skin looks brighter, feels smooth, and is starting to become more even. Wins all around. I’ve always loved the original serum, but this new one is just much better in terms of application and ingredients.

If you’re looking for a serum to brighten your skin, help fade dark scars, and get rid of redness, then get your life and get a bottle. If you’ve purchased the original version and loved it, then this one is a definitely must buy. It really works wonders, and with this new formula, it’s pretty much the only serum I’ll be using for a while.

You can purchase the C20 Pure Vitamin C21.5 Advanced Serum from Wishtrend.com. It’s priced at $24.99 with FREE SHIPPING! Treat yo self 2015!

Disclosure: A sample product was gifted from Wishtrend. Opinions expressed here are 100% my own. 

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission should you make a purchase using said link.  

Missha Cacao and Cream Facial Scrub Review

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YAY! My first real review of 2015. I started using a bunch of new products at the tail end of 2014, so I haven’t had the chance to properly review anything. But girl get your coins ready because I have a blogging schedule of 3 new posts a week with ALL new reviews.

First up for 2015 is the Missha Cacao and Cream Facial Scrub. A friend from Korea so graciously brought me a care package when she visited Ho Chi Minh City, and it included this lovely facial scrub. A commenter asked me a while ago if I had any scrubs to recommend, and at that time, I didn’t, because I haven’t used a facial scrub in AGES. I am a loyal and faithful servant to my Clarisonic Mia 2, but I figured introducing a scrub back into my life couldn’t hurt.

facescrub2If you love ice cream and want to feel like you’re putting some Baskin Robbins realness on your face, then you’re going to love this scrub. It’s formulated with real cacao extract, shea butter, sunflower oil, lavender, and macadamia seed oil, so it’s extra rich and creamy. If you’re interested in seeing a full list of ingredients, head over here to the Missha official website.

It’s packaged in a small plastic jar containing 95g of product. If you’re so inclined, you could bring it with you while you’re traveling, but the jar is slightly too large to put in a carry-on beauty bag.

At first glance, I didn’t think that this scrub would really do anything. It’s super creamy, and doesn’t have the texture of a “scrub” (example being the SkinFood Black Sugar Scrub), but it’s actually quite dreamy. It’s very gentle, but definitely has some exfoliation power.

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I like to use this scrub in the morning whenever I’ve used a ton of different creams on my face the night before. I think it could be gentle enough for daily use, since it’s so creamy and moisturizing. Like most scrubs, it claims to help remove blackheads, whiteheads, and dead skin cells, but I can’t really say it does all of that. I thankfully have been having a great few months of nice skin, but I will say my skin looks a little smoother and feels moisturized after using it. One big plus is that it is pretty hydrating and doesn’t leave my skin dry. But mostly, I like this scrub because it’s gentle and smells like ice cream. Sometimes, simple is best.

You can find the Missha Cacao and Cream Facial Scrub from MisshaUS.com for $13.00, or Ebay for $12.90.

What are your favorite face scrubs? Let me know in the comments!

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