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The Best of 2013: My Baker’s Dozen

As 2013 draws to a close, it’s time for year-end round-ups.  And it seemed only just that I create a list of 13 top items for 2013… and then I read the post by Paris at My Woman Stuff and she framed the year-end summary so beautifully, that I am going to use her structure and give you my list of bests of 2013.


  1. Best Makeup Tip I Learned in 2013:
    Defining my hooded eyes from this tutorial from Olivia at Into the Palette
  2. Best Lipstick of 2013:
    So many lipsticks, so little time…but one that I’m really enjoying right now is Mineral Fusion’s lipstick in Precious. It’s got shea butter and antioxidants — and it’s gluten-free, too! (Definitely want my lipsticks to be gluten-free… )
  3. Best Thing I Did For Myself in 2013:
    Go snorkelling in Hawaii on my 50th birthday… so many glorious colors, fish and corals and I got to say Aloha to a sea turtle!


    Hello Honu!

  4. Best Skincare Tip I Learned in 2013:
    With menopause come skin changes and the best defense for me is not to fight acne with acne medicine, but to add more moisture.  And thanks to to the on-call doctor at Kaiser who suggested using CeraVe moisture cream when my skin starts getting fussy.  This cream is packed with glycerin and hyaluronic acid which keep the skin hydrated but not greasy.  Although, I also learned not to fear oil on my face… a little argan oil is amazing!
  5. Best Budget Sunscreen Discovered in 2013:
    CeraVe Broad Spectrum Sunscreen, SPF 50.  I wore this all summer long and never once got burned.


    Best budget sunscreen

  6. Best Body Care Discoveries in 2013:
    CeraVe Moisture Cream… on the face, on the body, this stuff rocks!


  7. Best Eyeshadow used in 2013
    The most versatile eyeshadows I discovered this year was Urban Decay’s Naked Basics — I actually use this palette every day and it’s one of 2 palettes that I brought with me on my trip to NYC to visit the in-laws.

    Urban Decay's Naked Basics

    Urban Decay’s Naked Basics

  8. Best Spa Experience I had in 2013:
    I only had one spa experience in 2013.  But it was pretty darned awesome.  I definitely recommend Spa 33 for a delightful and affordable spa experience.  And you do a massage, sauna, oxygen treatment and then a facial for a full day of blissdom…
  9. Best BB Cream in 2013:
    Actually, my favorite BB cream of this year turned out to be a CC cream: The Face Shop’s Aura Color Control Cream.  It has a lovely texture, good SPF and lasts all day even in hot weather.
  10. Best Personal Growth Experience of 2013:
    Attending the Henna Intensive Retreat in September.  This was a fabulous week-end in the mountains full of art, great people, and tons of inspiration.  It was just what I needed to halt burn-out… and I found some fun eyeshadows (from EyeCons), too!
  11. Best Concealer Used in 2013:
    L’Oreal True Match Concealer Crayon.  Good color match, great coverage without looking cakey, easy to use and cheap affordable… what’s not to love?

    L'Oreal TruMatch Concealer Crayon

    L’Oreal TruMatch Concealer Crayon

  12. Best Travel Experience in 2013:
    A week in on the big island of Hawaii!  The Big Island has so much diversity, great snorkelling, lava fields, tropical rainforests, volcanos, glorious beaches, and fantastic restaurants.  I hope we get the chance to return soon!
  13. Best Skincare Product Discovery in 2013:
    The Face Shop’s Chia Seed Skincare line.  It’s light, moisturizing and layerable.  I love how it makes my skin feel!

    The Chia Seed Skincare set

    The Chia Seed Skincare set

    Thanks again to Paris B for this great list!

    What are your top 13 for 2013?

Argan Oil: I’m a Believer thanks to Argawise (and KIOS Day 4)

Argan Oil.  It’s been a hot trend for a couple of years. And I’ve resisted for a couple of reasons: 1) my hair gets really greasy with oil treatments (even Camellia Oil which is really light), and 2) I have trouble trusting that what I’m getting is the real stuff and not some cheap dilution.

Then I met Hoda Ait Rahou of ArgaWise. She bubbles with enthusiasm for argan oil — which she sources from a women’s cooperative in Morocco.  She is Moroccan and has worked directly with the co-op to create her products. You can bet this argan oil is the real deal.

Hoda Ait Rahou with her booth at the Ellis Events Christmas Show on December 1, 2013.

Hoda Ait Rahou with her booth at the Ellis Events Christmas Show on December 1, 2013.

Hoda is passionate about the benefits of this amazing oil which  is rich in antioxidants, essential fatty acids, carotenoids, ferulic acid, sterols, polyphenols. She points out that “It also contains remarkably high levels of vitamin E and Squalene. Argan Oil does not clog pores and has an amazingly diverse range of cosmetic benefits for the skin, hair and nails.”

Traditional argan oil extractor...

Traditional argan oil extractor…

Hoda recommends smoothing a bit of argan oil on your hands and then gently massaging it into the ends of your hair before washing as a quick conditioning treatment.  Just a smidge on your face absorbs quickly and helps fight fine lines and blemishes. Adding a drop to your favorite lotion will kick it up a few notches.

The ArgaWise kit -- a 2oz bottle of Argan Oil, a 3oz bottle of orange water spray and a uber cute tote.

The ArgaWise kit — a 2oz bottle of Argan Oil, a 3oz bottle of orange blossom water spray and a uber cute tote.

I purchased the kit which contains a bottle of Argan Oil, a spray bottle of orange blossom water in a super cute little tote bag Hoda had made the last time she went to Morocco.

And since Sunday, I have used Argan Oil on my face at night and just under my eyes during the day. I was amazed that the oil just sinks right in with NO residual oiliness.  And my skin feels soft and amazing!

I tried putting a bit in my hair and it didn’t weigh it down or make it look greasy.

And I used it on my cracked heels and now they are soft again!

I’m an Argan believer now!

Have you tried Argan Oil?  What do you think of this oil trend?

Kickin’ It Old Skool… In other news, it’s a lovely winter day in Lemon Grove…

Thanks to Weatherbug for the current conditions...

Thanks to Weatherbug for the current conditions…

Sunday Pictures: A trip to Zion (Market and Taegukgi BBQ House)

One of our local Korean grocery stores recently reopened after a major expansion project. Zion Market was once a small, specialty grocery with a cramped parking lot, but now boasts a mega-store complete with K-Pop kiosk, a Korean cosmetics kiosk, a Paris Baguette shop and The Face Shop as well as a travel agency and a jewelry shop — in addition to a super-sized grocery store with tons of fresh produce, meats, tanks of live fish, a whole aisle of kimchee and tons of other Asian specialities.

It’s like a quick visit to Seoul without leaving San Diego (except for the meat department where all the butchers spoke Spanish, but the signs were in Korean).


Live blue crabs only $4.99/ lb!

Since shopping on an empty stomach leads to bad decisions, the Hubby and I decided to check out the restaurant attached to grocery.

Taegukgi Korean BBQ House (All You Can Eat) — what an great name!  The interior made us feel as if we were in a nightclub with its lighting and big-screen K-Pop on one side and big-screen baseball on the other. Each table has a gas grill in the middle and you are served little dishes of vegetables: pickled radishes, hot pickled cucumbers, bean sprouts in sesame oil, an interesting apple-potato salad (definitely NOT traditional).


Traditional kimchee, fermented pickled nappa cabbage and hot peppers

The waitstaff fires up the grill and brings meat for you to cook right there at the table.  A huge exhaust hood sucks up most of the smoke, but by the end of our third entree, we had to have a new grill plate because the smoke was getting too much.

Cooking spicy squid over the tabletop grill

Cooking spicy squid over the tabletop grill

Everything was so tasty; we especially liked the spicy squid which was flavorful but not overly chewy.

아주 맛있었어요. a-ju ma-si-sseo-sseo-yo.

아주 맛있었어요.
a-ju ma-si-sseo-sseo-yo.
< It was delicious. >

What a wonderful way to spend an afternoon!  And if you want to visit Taipei instead of Seoul, 99 Ranch is just down the street!

Liner Love

A couple of weeks ago I picked up 2 liners at one of my favorite shops, Marukai Living. And despite being impulse purchases, they have become fast favorites.

Let’s see why.

The K-Palette 1-Day Tattoo Eyeliner pen

The K-Palette 1-Day Tattoo Eyeliner pen

The package says:

This quick-drying liquid eyeliner has a special brush tip and high water-resistant plymers, giving you superb control for creating remarkable smudge-resistant effects. The result: Eyes become more defined and focused.  Notice the difference!

It’s a film type eyeliner.  The water resistant coat polymer keeps fine eyelines for 24 hours. You’ll feel like “1-day tattoo!”

Also gentle for your eyelashes: containing chamomile extracts and panthenol.

Ingredients: aqua, acrylates/Ethylhexyl Acrylate Copolymer, Butylene Glycol, Black 2, alcohol, beheneth-30, Ammonium Styrene/Methylstyrene, Acrylates Copolymer, Acrylates/Octylacrylamide Copolymer, Triethanolamine, Phenoxyethanol, Polyglyceryl-3 Diloxane Dimethicone, Aminoethy Propanol, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Disodium EDTA

Not seeing the panthenol or chamomile in the ingredient list…but it’s definitely got polymers!

Look at that fine tip!

Look at that fine tip!

The tip is gorgeous…and very thin.  It’s got wonderful control and the inkflow is even and dark.


I didn't have to touch up the line at all! And I was able to draw the infinity in one stroke.

I didn’t have to touch up the line at all! And I was able to draw the infinity in one stroke.

I love this pen.  I will even get over my ick factor about liquid eyeliners where you can’t wash the brush after each use…there are enough parabens to kill what needs killing.  The line quality and the precision are just beautiful. And the formula is long-lasting.  That little design lasted on my hand for at least 5 hours…and on my eyes it lasted until I took it off.

my eye with one coat of K-Palette eyeliner

my eye with one coat of K-Palette eyeliner

With that wonderful brush-pen, I can get the product right up to the edge of my lashes and even tightline my upper lashes — which is something I normally can’t do.  And the liquid dries almost immediately so no smudges!  Or no smudging — which could be a drawback if you wanted to soften the line a little.

Spring Heart eyeliner pencil

Spring Heart eyeliner pencil

The Koji Spring Heart eyeliner pencil seems so pedestrian next to the K-Palette brush-pen.  But it’s no slouch.

The pigment is rich, glides right on and lasts all day.  Plus there’s a sharpener in the base of the pencil that pops right out so you can sharpen the point when needed.


What a nice color!

What a nice color!

I have been looking for a nice dark brown pencil and this one is exactly what I’ve been looking for.  It does smudge for a softer look, and there’s a blending tip with the sharpener; such a clever design. Although it only lasted on the back of my hand for 1 hour,  it lasted all day on my eyes, and did not smudge, not even on my bottom lashes.

Ingredients: cyclomethicone, trimethylsiloxysilicate, polyethylene, beeswax, di-ppg-3 myristyl ether adipate, polybutene, sucrose tetrastearate triacetate, synthetic wax, pentaerythrityl tetrabehenate, boron nitride, isodecyl neopentanoate, tocopherol, stearalkonium bentonite, propylene carbonate, ascorbyl palmitate, dimethicone/vinyl dimethicone crosspolymer, iron oxides, ultramarines, mica, ferric ferrocyanide ferric ammonium ferrocyanide, titanium dioxide, carmine


This was my finished eye for that day.

Maybelline Color Tattoo Metal Eyeshadow in Barely Branded on the lid, ELF eyeshadow in Pebble in crease. K-Palette 1-day Tattoo Eyeliner in Jet Black very close to upper lashline.  Koji Spring Heart eyeliner pencil in Dark Brown on upper lashline and smudged slightly and also on lower lashline.

Have you tried either K-Palette or Koji SpringHeart eyeliners? (both are available through Amazon as well as at specialty shops)




Shopping trip to Marukai Living!

Marukai Plaza is one of the perks of living in San Diego. There are 3 Marukai stores right next to each other, each with a slightly different focus.  The first is Marukai Food which sells Japanese groceries and some wonderful, fresh produce. Next door, Marukai Living sells Japanese and Korean beauty supplies, dish soap, kitchen gadgets, tatami mats, and Hawaiian groceries. And around the corner is Marukai Value which has a TON of Hello Kitty everything plus tea cups, gardening supplies, computer accessories, kid’s toys and stationery.

It’s like whole candy shopping plaza for someone like me… and just down the road is Convoy Street which has my favorite Korean grocery, a killer Chinese dumpling place, and several other wonderful Asian shops and restaurants.  It’s one of my favorite parts of town.

This year, I resolved to visit this area once a month just because….it’s fun!

One of main reasons that I went shopping there today is that during the last week of the month, all the old month’s specials are still in effect and the new month’s specials have just been posted — so it’s double-savings week.  And since I became a Marukai Savings Club member, I get even MORE discounts!  Shopping heaven!

These are the beauty items I scored today:

Everything was on sale!

Everything was on sale!

The major scores of the day were the cotton sheets in the dollar bin and the Tony Moly ice cream sunscreen, originally $17, marked down to $3.98 because it’s missing its chocolate sauce top. I just adore the packaging and can’t wait to try it!

Eyeliner was sort of the theme for today.  I picked up more Cailyn gel liners: chocolate mousse and emerald, the 1-Day Color Tattoo (on March special) in black and the Spring Heart self-sharpening eye pencil in brown. In addition, I decided to give Shiseido’s Perfect Oil makeup remover and cleanser a try. It came highly recommended by a Japanese customer who helped me make sense of all the choices — most without English subtitles.

I will return with full reports in the coming days.

Going for a test-drive with Kleraderm

I first heard about Kleraderm from back in January. The post was both an introduction to the product line and a giveaway contest.

Kleraderm is an Italian brand that was founded in Bologna in 1981 “with the purpose to offer real results to the desire for beauty and well-being.”

According to Beautyinfozone, Kleraderm is one of Italy’s best kept secrets, and it’s also one of America’s best kept secrets, too.  Finding information about Kleraderm is not easy.  It’s mostly in Italian.  And finding the actual products proves tricky, too.  It’s only available in the US through Joanne Recchia-Kallabat, owner of the US division of Kleraderm , and who sells it through two Nordstrom’s in the Detroit, Michigan area. You can also phone or email Joanne for more information on the products. (586-337-7100) or

All this seems a little old-fashioned in this age of instant internet access. But that’s the way it is… and I was intrigued by the beautyinfozone’s review and her giveaway offer to get free samples personally chosen for me by Joanne.

So I emailed Joanne, mentioned the beautyinfozone giveawy, and told her that I’m in my late-40s with formerly oily skin that is now more on the dry side, but with occasional small pimples on my nose. And that I use sunscreen religiously and don’t have a lot of major skin issues.

She emailed back:

I am sending you samples of Oxalis cream (derived from dandelions) this cream will help with T-Zone while delivering moisture , use this cream in day and under makeup.

For Night you will benefit Couperosy cream, this cream will help with the little bumps around the nose. You might wake up with a bit oily, just wash in morning and reapply Oxalis cream.

Awesome!  I sent her my address, and then promptly forgot about it.

Until today when I got a mysterious package from Nordstrom’s! And inside was a hand-written note from Joanne and my samples!

Joanne's note and Kleraderm samples

Joanne’s note and Kleraderm samples

The day cream is from the Idroderm line which aims to “rush to restore epidermic moisture and reinvigorate the corneal layer, protect with appropriate sun filters, provide a deep nourishment and revitalize with emollient vegatable oils and vitamins, restoring beauty, heath and vitality to the skin.” The Oxalis Cream is basically an intense moisturizer to rehydrate the skin.

Ingredients: aqua (water), cetearyl glucoside, caprylic/capric triglyceride, hydrogenated polyisobutene, propylene glycol, collagen, sesamum indicum (sesame) oil, glyceryl stearate, butyrospermum parkii (shea) butter, rosa moschata (musk rose) oil, vitis vinifera (grape) seed oil, octyl methoxycinnamate, elastin, sodium hyaluronate, laminaria ochroleuca extract, titanium dioxide, cyclopentasiloxane, dimethicone, dimethicone crosspolymer, dimethiconol, carboxymethyl betaglucan, hydroxypropyl guar, phenoxyethanol, imidazolidinyl urea, plankton extract, disodium edta, methylparaben, ethylparaben, butylparaben propylparaben, isobutylparaben, arachis hypogaea (peanut) oil, bht, bha, propyl gallate, citric acid, parfum (fragrance).

(I do not see any oxalis extract, but perhaps I don’t recognize the technical ingredient name.  Oxalis is actually better known as wood sorrel, and one variety is called the False Shamrock because it has 4 leaves like a 4-leafed clover, but they are squared and not true clover.  Dandelions are called Taraxacum in Latin and I don’t see that on the ingredient label, either.)

The night treatment is Couperosys Escin Cream from their Neaderm or Sensitive Skin line, which according to the website: “It is particularly recommended for reddened skin due to poor peripheral blood circulation and fragile capillary vessels. It restores evenness, elasticity and softness to the skin.”

Ingredients:aqua (water), c12-20 acid peg-8 ester, caprylic/capric triglyceride, hydrogenated polyisobutene, propylene glycol, persea gratissima (avocado oil), prunus amygdalus dulcis (sweet almond) oil, centella asiatica (hydrocotyl) extract, cera alba (beeswax), cetyl alcohol, chamomilla recutita (matricaria) flower extract, cyclomethicone, dimethiconol, escin, glucose, sodium glutamate, urea, lactic acid, sodium pca, triticum vulgare (wheat) germ extract, glycine, panthenol, phenoxyethanol, imidazolidinyl urea, disodium edta, methylparaben, ethylparaben, butylpraben, propylparaben, isobutylparaben, arachis hypogaea (peanut) oil, bht, bha, propyl gallate, citric acid, parfum (fragrance).

So we shall see! I can’t wait to get started! And I’ll keep you posted, too!


Monday Blog Love: Cakepie: Beauty, Games, Life

On Mondays I will feature a blog I’ve recently discovered and want to share.

Cakepie is the interesting ramblings of Tiffany Martin, a Vermont-based editor, game enthusiast and beauty addict (and Asian product-o-phile). Her perspectives are unique and delightful. She, too, has battled the perception that being interested in beauty and skincare is akin to being vapid and shallow. And she, too, threw off that idea to celebrate beauty as a form of self-care and self-expression.

I particularly appreciate her obsession with Korean BB creams — as I share that obsession.  Her review of Skin79’s The Oriental Gold BB Cream is succinct, well-reasoned and has excellent photos.

The Cakepie is not just about beauty reviews, but also essays on life, and the struggle to be seen and appreciated as an independent thinking person and not a stereotype of any boxed variety.  (I quite enjoyed the post on Tropes vs Women in Video Games).This site is not all fluff and fancy, but some real critical thinking and thought evolution.

Check out her site!  I think you’ll stick around!


It’s a sleepover with Baviphat!



귀여워  gwi yeo weo in Korean.

可愛 kě ài in Chinese

Kawaii - Simple Japanese Phrases Kawaii in Japanese.
Any way you say it, Baviphat has got a hold of the cute factor in Korean cosmetics! And Paprika Water Up All In One Sleeping Pack is darned adorable in it’s little bell pepper (aka paprika to non-US folks).

The Baviphat website is in Korean, which, alas, I don’t really speak or read.  So I had to look around to find information about this product other than what was on the package (mostly in Korean).


This blurb is from Miss Hong: Beauty Secrets from Korea which sells this product along with an excellent selection of other Korean beauties.

* Baviphat is one of the most popular Korean cosmetics brand which is launched in 2009.
Reasonable price, various functional products and beautiful case of products attract the women’s market.

– Contents : 65g

– Descriptions :
This sleeping pack contains of Adenosine and Arbutin which helps your skin to be bright and resilient.
Paprika extracts give moisture and soothe tired skin.

– Recommended to YOU : 
Have white dead skin cells?
Have dry skin?
Have skin lacking elasticity?
– How to use : 
After applying basic cosmetics in the evening, Get appropriate amount.
Put on your face.
Sleep with it. on the next morning wash it off with tepid water.

I found this cutie at Marukai Living in San Diego, and they also ship internationally, and chose it from among a confusing array of products in apples and tomatoes and lemons because it didn’t have a very strong scent.  I wasnt’ sure I could sleep with the strong apple or lemon fragrances! I also liked that its main objective is to hydrate the skin overnight.  At my age, non-greasy hydration is something I’m always looking for.


Look at the adorable spoon! And so practical so you don’t contaminate the product with your fingers!


It has a yogurt-like consistency and a light, cucumbery fragrance that disappears almost immediately.


A dab on the hand


It disappears completely after being rubbed in.

The product leaves my skin feeling very moist, but the best part is that in the morning, I still have that hydrated feeling with no greasy spots or breakouts.

I’ve also been using this on my hands as an overnight treatment and it helps combat my daily abuse (constant washing, using dyes and paints, etc.)

Do I like this product? Yes!  Although it claims to brighten, in additon to soothing and moisturizing, I didn’t notice any fading of my freckles.  But it does really do it’s job as a moisturizer!  And the next time I fly across country, I’m taking a dollop of this stuff in my carry-on to combat the dryness you get from being in a pressurized tin can.