In Pictures: Shanghai, China

So I went to Shanghai a few weeks ago, during the mid-Autumn festival, and here are some of the pictures:

shanghai old town2
Shanghai Old Town

shanghai old town1

 

Shanghai river bank

spiral escalator before this one in a Shanghai shopping mall
Are these common outside of Europe? I’d never seen a spiral escalator before this one in a Shanghai shopping mall.
Shanghai river bank3
A literal wall of flowers in Shanghai near the river and bund.

Overall, it was a lovely city, but if you weren’t coming to China to see some other things as well (or at least coming to this corner of the world to visit other nearby countries) I’m not sure it’s worth the time and expense to come only to Shanghai from the US or Europe as a tourist. Definitely a lovely place to go if you’re already within a thousand miles or so, though, and the shopping here is fabulous. There are so many markets and shopping malls that you’re sure to find some nice things while you’re here!

Shanghai also has a recently-opened Disneyland. If/when I get the time/opportunity to go there, I will show you what that’s like, too.

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Five Asian Sheet Masks

Today I’m going to review some sheet masks that are K-beauty (and also C-beauty… China beauty. Yeah that’s a thing. And they’ve got some decent stuff available).

By the way, in case you’re wondering what happened, I scheduled my posts, one a week, for the last 4 weeks, and I thought it was a glitch that I couldn’t see them. Then, today, I checked behind the scenes and none of them are there. Hmm.
So while I’m figuring out where all my content has gone, here’s five of the face masks (sheet masks) I’ve tried since I got here, and I’m sorry if this is a weird time of day to get notified of a new post, but the scheduling thing isn’t working out so good:

Mizon Enjoy Vital Up Time Face Mask:

 


I’m not sure how I felt about this one. It was great on my skin and I felt super-chill while I wore it, but after… my face seemed moisturized and refreshed, and I was happy enough with the product, but I didn’t really feel energized or however else I’m supposed to very tactfully say, “not old” in polite conversation. It didn’t really do a lot on the anti-ageing front. There was a slight redness for a couple hours after, as you can see in the picture above where I’ve just taken the mask off, but then my face settled down again. So it’s definitely NOT one to try before an evening out. Maybe I’m being spoilt by so many sheet masks lately, because it was still above average for a sheet mask, and I think as long as you’re not looking to eradicate fine lines or smooth the skin it was good, and it did leave my skin glowing after the redness settled. There’s a selection of Mizon sheet masks available on Amazon; have you tried any of the others? I’d love to know how they turned out!

Conclusion: Great for a girly night in. Felt quite nourishing. Not so hot for fine lines.

Coryman Eye Mask Superior Shining and Repairing Eye Mask:
These were da bomb. Like, there’s no other way of describing them. I found them in a beauty store in a shopping mall in the city where I live, and they are the BEST GODDAMN THING that ever happened to my eye area.

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The scientific description is fundamentally meaningless but the actual product… I used it once and I noticed a difference under my eyes. The faint expression lines I’ve been getting since I hit 30 were gone when I wasn’t smiling. I like this. I wish they did a full face mask. I’d be all over it. It wasn’t the only thing I’ve used lately that’s shown a huge improvement in my skin’s elasticity, but it’s definitely in my top 3 products right now. Tragically, you can’t get these in the US, or I’d link you to them. 😦

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As you can see, it’s got collagen, pentapeptide-4, hydrolysed silk AND vitamin E in it. I love all of those.

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And as a DISTINCT plus, you get to sorta look like Zorro when you wear it. Kinda. In the right light. Maybe I imagined that. I’ll do a comparison on this and the Sea Algae eye masks really soon.

Conclusion: I am in LOVE with these.

The Face Shop The Solution Firming Face Mask:

the solution face mask

the solution face mask2

This one definitely felt like it was doing something. It firmed but it didn’t moisturize so it needs to be paired with a face oil or serum after you use it. This was £1.99 as I got it before I left the UK and just used it this week. On Sunday, I bought that cute kitty hairband to keep my hair and sheet masks separate, so they were a great combo now my hair is shorter again. If you’re in the US, you can get a multipack that includes a vast selection of The Face Shop masks on Amazon.

Conclusion: These were good on the anti-ageing front but my skin needed moisture afterwards.

I also tried tomato and broccoli masks from South Korea last week. The full name is V Prove Tomato Lycopene Vitality Phyto Therapy Mask Vitality Air Pocket Sheet and V Prove Broccoli Chlorophyll Vitality Phyto Therapy Mask Vitality Air Pocket Sheet. A lot of these sheet masks have names that sound like word salad. I really want to make a pun about literal salad being in these masks but I don’t remember the last time I saw broccoli in a salad:

tomato and broccoli1

No, they did NOT smell or taste like tomato or broccoli. I was disappointed. It was like the Tony Moly red wine mask all over again (I’ve STILL not tried the Tony Moly rice one, because it’s to help clear skin and I haven’t had a breakout in SO long). I thought the “chlorophyll” in the broccoli one was a little silly, since human beings have no use for chlorophyll, and when my friend first showed me these masks my first thought about the chlorophyll was, “it’s what plants need” (its from a film called Idiocracy where people just repeat stuff they saw on adverts). The broccoli one was okay, and my skin felt fairly happy after I used it (I needed to moisturize after, though), but the tomato one (maybe this was obvious to anyone who wasn’t me) just made my face really red and sensitive for a day or two. At first I thought it would be gone in an hour or two but as time went on I realized it wasn’t fading. Eek!! I already have a redness problem, so I don’t recommend the tomato one. Maybe the tomato ones are for a different skin type (one that doesn’t have a redness problem). The broccoli one was like the Mizon Vital Up Time mask; the effects were moderate, but it was nice for a quiet evening spent not leaving the apartment! And I may have been imagining it but I sorta think (maybe, possibly, perhaps…) the redness was lessened with the broccoli one. I can’t find either of these on Amazon but there is a VProve soy one on there. I’ve not tried that, though, and since the broccoli was fairly decent, but the tomato was a miss, I’m not sure I’m going to try the soy one any time soon. Anyway, these come in a multipack so I have a lot of broccoli and tomato to use up, now!
Conclusion: Broccoli was a hit. Tomato was a miss.

Overall, then, The Face Shop and Mizon masks were predictably quite good, but they’re kinda expensive. I liked the broccoli face mask and it was unbeatable on value for money, but it definitely didn’t work any miracles. The Coryman eye masks were AMAZING and I need to get me more of these just as soon as I remember the name of the shop. I know the name of the mall, though, so it can’t be too hard to find… right?? Right???

Having said all that, no face mask will fix beauty issues on its own, and I’m going to talk about serums and essences next time, because I’ve found a couple of really nice ones that work very well when used as part of a beauty routine that incorporates regular sheet masks.

In China for the foreseeable

It’s been quiet on this blog for a few weeks because I’ve been hurriedly packing a 3-bedroom house into 2 suitcases, then renovating parts of it so my friends could move in (they’ve taken the rabbits with the house, so don’t worry, the bunnies are safe and happy), getting all the official nonsenses sorted out and generally moving from Britain to Asia.

We arrived into Shanghai the day before yesterday.

The furthest I’d been before now was Rome, Italy. I’ve been as far as Italy three times, but I was starting to wonder if the world ended at the stiletto heel tip of Otranto.

I have also done some significant renovating to this blog. A few categories are gone, now, because those are things I can’t talk about while I’m here. I can’t take comments on them while I’m here either, sorry. It was delete some posts or delete the entire blog. At the same time, I took the opportunity to remove some of the 1-2 sentence posts that were life updates for regular readers. You guys have all read them, and they’re cluttering up my page organization, so they’re gone too. There’s probably more of those that have gone than anything serious. Overall, about 100 posts have disappeared from the site. I’m a little reluctant to do that from an accurate-record-keeping point of view, but it’s for the best from a clearer-blog-layout perspective (and let’s not get my website blocked in the country I’m living in because then I wouldn’t be able to update any more, and so many sites are blocked here).

So far, all I’ve seen of China has been Shanghai airport, which is the biggest airport I’ve ever seen (admittedly I’ve only seen 3 other airports, including the one I left Britain from), and my apartment. There’s been a couple of brief trips to fulfil official requirements but that’s all. I’m hoping there’s a chance to see and do things but my husband’s work started pretty much straight away, and I don’t have any Chinese money (or any way of getting any) or much independence due to our living situation, so the seeing/doing will have to wait a little while.

Also, it is HOT. Like, it’s been 35 degrees (95 Farenheit) this whole time. We have air con in our apartment. On the stairwells, in the bathroom and outdoors, however, it is seriously hot. The heat is so… liquid, like it clings to me and gets inside my body, then I’m exhausted all the time. The day starts and ends around 30 degrees and it just gets hotter. And it’s always sunny. It’s incredible. I’m interested to see what winter is going to be like.

More pertinent to this blog, of course, I am SO GODDAMN EXCITED to be able to buy and try out more Korean, Japanese, and other Asian beauty brands and techniques while I’m here!

First impressions: Heroine Make Mineral BB cream.

I recently bought the Heroine Make Mineral BB cream so today I’m going to write about my first impressions.

Both my cameras really struggled to capture this product very well, because the tube is very reflective metallic pink (it’s very pretty).

heroine make mineral bb review first impressions

It has SPF50 and PA+++ which means the UVB and UVA protection are very, very high, which is a distinct advantage. I like products with good UVA/PA protection as it helps prevent cancer and premature ageing.

I opened it and swatched it. As you can see there’s a strong yellow base:

heroine make mineral bb review first impressions

heroine make mineral bb review first impressions

As you can see, a little of this product goes a long way so it’s definitely one to use sparingly. I blotted that with a tissue and the stuff left on my hand soaked in nicely and covered up some of the imperfections on the back of my hand; I’d say it’s a medium coverage BB cream. I especially liked that it didn’t seem to be scented and, after I blotted it, it stopped being greasy. An hour later, my hand still has a decent level of moisturization from this product.

So, I’m liking this product so far and can’t wait to try it on my face.

7 Weirdest Beauty Ingredients

This is a round-up of the 7 weirdest beauty ingredients that companies have used to market their beauty products. They made me laugh so much I had to write an article on them so here it is.

placenta face mask review

Placenta: This sheet mask from Amazon contains placenta, although the question-and-answer and the reviews don’t make it clear WHAT mammal the placenta came from. My guess would be pig or cow, but since I don’t read Korean (I know, shocking) and anyway there’s no picture of the ingredients in Korean OR English, I really don’t know. Except that there is some sort of mammalian placenta in this mask and people are putting it on their faces anyway. This other one says its placenta comes from real horses. I imagine there are a lot of horses giving birth all the time in Korea. There is also a placenta leave-in treatment for bleached hair. So you can walk around all day with afterbirth on your head. Sexy.

donkey milk review

Donkey milk. Like, milk. But specifically from donkeys. For when other milk just won’t do the job. This donkey milk skin gel mask claims to provide a rich source of vitamins and nutrients for the skin. It also contains an extract from young pears, because as we all know, it’s all downhill once pears start to age. It comes in a 10 pack, so that’s nice. There’s just one thing I don’t get. Why donkeys, specifically???

bee mask review

Bee venom: I already reviewed the Manuka Doctor Apinourish Restoring Night Cream which didn’t really do anything for my face. But there’s also bee venom masks and serums that are supposed to use bee venom to tighten and improve skin elasticity. Or, they may just give you the sensation of being covered in bees.

gold face mask review

Gold: The concept of gold face masks is pretty well-established in the beauty world at this point, right? Okay, chemistry lesson. Gold is an unreactive substance. We can leave it in the ground for thousands of years, and when archaeologists find it, it’s completely undamaged by chemical processes of decay. It doesn’t interact with other elements. That’s why we value it and like to make gold jewelry (although a lot of the gold in mass-produced jewelry is mixed with other metals to water it down, so it will taint a little over time, for example 14 karat gold is only 58.5% pure gold) If you put it on your face, it won’t actually do anything. So whatever ingredient is REALLY working in these gold face masks, it’s not the gold. It’s some other active ingredient that probably sounds less luxurious if you name a product after it.

snake venom eye cream review

Snake venom: This tube of face mask from Amazon contains snake venom, although since there’s nearly 3000 species of snake in the world, you might not get the same results if you go to your local national park and piss off a king cobra then stick your face near it. There’s also an eye cream for people who always wondered how it would feel to be bitten by a snake in the eye.

mizon cream review

Snail goo: Mizon Snail Repair Face Cream is the most popular version of this, but snail goo is available in a huge range of products including eyelash conditioners, face masks, hand creams and more. There’s even a range of snail bee products such as this face mask, with both bee venom and snail goo in them. Personally, I’ll give it a miss.

Tony Moly red wine mask sheet for pore care.

Red wine: In the Tony Moly I’m Real sheet mask collection, one of them is a red wine sheet mask which I’ve reviewed here. It’s full of antioxidants for cleansing pores. It didn’t make me drunk.

Which beauty ingredients do you think are super-weird? Have you tried any of them?

Review: Japonesque Concealer Brush

This is a review of the Japonesque concealer brush, which I will compare to the Sigma F-70 concealer brush.

japonesque concealer brush vs sigma f-70 concealere brush review
Left: The Sigma F-70 concealer brush. Right: The Japonesque concealer brush.

I really wanted to like this brush as it seemed like an interesting shape and overall idea, although when I saw it online I wasn’t sure how it would work with liquid concealer. I kinda thought that would fall into place once I got it, or maybe (since it’s such a weird design for a concealer brush) that the company would have put instructions on the back or at least said what sort of concealer it was good for in the product listing.

When it arrived, I opened it up and put it side by side with my Sigma F-70 concealer brush, which is my single favorite make-up brush in the universe, it’s got the perfect firmness and soft texture, and it applies concealer fantastically well.

japonesque concealer brush vs sigma f-70 concealere brush review
Bristles close-up. Left: Sigma F-70 concealer brush. Right: Japonesque concealer brush.

I still wasn’t clear on how the Japonesque concealer brush could be used to actually apply concealer. So I got my color corrector pallette, which had cakes of semi-solid color corrector and concealer, all of which had the texture of lipstick, and I swirled my brush.

It refused to pick up any product at all.

I tried again, for longer. The tiniest bit of product got onto the bristles, and when I tried to apply it to my face it refused.

It looks like a brush but it doesn’t act like one.

Thinking that it might do better with liquid concealer, I tried it with the Mac Pro-Longwear concealer. Oh God, bad idea, don’t try that it makes a huge mess. And it still doesn’t really apply it to the face. When I look at the brush, it screams “powder brush” so I don’t understand how it’s supposed to work with concealers, which are almost always liquid. It doesn’t have the flat base or bristle texture for buffing a product into skin, either. It would probably work well as a blusher brush for a very small face, i.e. a 6 year old child. I’ve tried it with the Body Shop powder foundation (which I sometimes use as a concealer) and it left a huge unblended shapeless blob of product that was far too big for the area I was trying to conceal.

The thing is, in order for something to be called a concealer brush, I feel that I should reasonably be able to use it to… I don’t know… apply concealer. So regardless of how well it might work for applying some other type of make-up, I paid £10 for a concealer brush that doesn’t apply concealer (it’s $13.30 in the US). I will have to buy another Sigma F-70, which is really annoying because of the amount of money this Japonesque brush cost, it was almost the same price as the Sigma F-70 and I seriously don’t have a use for it.

So, since I just had a bad experience with the Japonesque precision lash curler, I’m going to take Japonesque off my list of companies to buy products from, because two in a row is just disgraceful at the prices they charge for their products. I’d expect better from a £1.99 drugstore make up brush.

100% do not recommend.

Review: The Face Shop Rice Water Bright Cleansing Oil

I’ve been wanting to try The Face Shop Rice Water Bright Cleansing Oil for months, and I finally got my hands on it! I’m still trying to figure out K-beauty before I move to Asia, and this was near the top of my list of things I wanted to find out about.

the face shop rice water bright cleansing oil review

I’m not a huge fan of facial cleansers in general. I have to confess that I normally clean my face by washing it in cold water (because our hot faucet didn’t work for 3 years, and now it’s a habit), with no products, then I pat it dry with a towel. However, when I wear make-up, that’s not enough.

I most often use the Clio Water Me Please BB Cream for a foundation (which I have reviewed here) because the SPF and PA ratings are really high, which is one of the main reasons I wear foundation (I really struggle to find a moisturiser with a good UVA or PA rating, despite the fact they all claim to have SPF-whatever in them, and it’s the UVA that causes skin cancer).

The Face Shop Rice Water Bright Cleansing Oil has a pump top, and the liquid inside is super-watery, I thought it would be more of a gel, so it will spread in your hand very fast. It’s also oily, because it’s a cleansing oil, and so I only use one pump of product on my face then I massage it in, especially into areas where I use a lot of make-up, for example my eye area.

When I get it in my eyes it stings a lot and makes them feel really dried out, so it’s not the best thing for removing eye make-up, even though it’s quite effective at getting rid of the layers of eyeshadow, eyeliner and mascara.

Overall, though, it is soft and gentle on my skin. I’ve used it about 5 or 6 times now and I really like how my skin feels moisturized not dry after I wash it off. Having said that, it doesn’t make me break out (which was a worry with an oil-based product because I tend to get spots when I use oil-based things, with a couple of notable exceptions, the main one being that I’m completely fine with face oils, such as the Manuka Doctor Api Nourish one; review here).

I recommend this product for people who don’t have oily skin (I’m not so sure it would be a good product if you have oily skin as it’s oil-based). I have normal skin that’s a little sensitive and prone to drying out or breaking out if I don’t treat it right, but I don’t have true dry skin. I don’t use it regularly, because I like my skin to breathe and have entire days where I don’t put products on it, but when I do use it, I’m really pleased with the result and I definitely like this product a lot. I never thought I’d find a cleanser that was also nourishing but here it is.

You can find The Face Shop Rice Water Bright Cleansing Oil on Amazon.

The only question I have left is, now that I’ve opened it, when I emigrate, how do I take it on a plane without it spilling everywhere in checked baggage through that pump top?? I could decant it into a smaller bottle but this is a really large bottle of product compared to those little travel bottles and it would be a shame to throw it away.