14 Favorite Beauty Products of 2014

I did 13 for my beauty product wrap-up review post for 2013 so it’s only fitting that I do 14 for this year, yes?

makeup

Much like last year, I have no idea if these products were new in 2014. For some, definitely not. The rest? Eh, probably not. But new in 2014 or no, these 14 products are the ones I found myself reaching for the most when perusing my rather extravagant makeup collection. These are the ones that survived some of the mini purges I did throughout the year (I need to do more of those on a semi-regular basis, honestly) and the ones that I would buy again if I were to run out or something.

Maybelline Color Tattoo Leather in “Creamy Beige”

Truthfully, I love all of the Color Tattoos, but the “Creamy Beige” shade in the Leather collection is A+. It can be used on its own as a simple one-and-done eyeshadow or as a base to prime eyeshadow and give greater depth to neutral colored eyeshadows. I’ve been using it as a base in the cooler months and love, love, LOVE the creaminess it has, and how well it plays with my sizable collection of neutral eyeshadows. In the warmer months I used the limited edition Color Tattoo in “Pure Nude” (very similar to “Barely Branded”) as my base but I’m not sure if I can go back to that as a base after using “Creamy Beige,” to be honest!

Missha M Perfect Cover BB Cream SPF 42

Missha M Perfect Cover BB Cream SPF 42 is AKA the BB Cream I searched Toronto for, and then seriously debated buying a backup of it when I was in Hong Kong (but refrained from doing so because I have enough bases without needing backups for any of them). Western beauty companies have latched onto the BB craze without actually making TRUE BB products, so I adore this one from Missha because, well, it’s what a BB cream is supposed to be. It gives great coverage without being too heavy, evens out my skin tone, and provides SPF coverage. Plus, it’s packaged in a beautiful tube with a pump. What’s not to love?

The Body Shop Camomile Silky Cleansing Oil

I’ve written about my love for this cleansing oil and it remains true to this day. I use this exclusively to take off my makeup (both face and eye) in the first step of my double cleansing routine. It decimates all of my makeup, including waterproof liner and mascara, and leaves my skin feeling soft and cleansed. I’m always scouting The Body Shop’s website for a great sale to snag these at a great price.

Topshop Glow Pot in “Polished”

While I used to use powder highlighters exclusively, I’ve found myself continually reaching for Topshop’s cream highlighter in the form of this glow pot in “Polished.” It looks AWESOME! It blends into the skin seamlessly and really does a great job of catching the light at just the right angle to give the lit-from-within glow. I use this on my cheekbones with a small stipple brush and on my browbone with my finger. Love this stuff.

Batiste Dry Shampoo in “Dark and Deep Brown”

My hair’s life story can be divided into two chapters: before dry shampoo and after dry shampoo. I’m notorious for brand hopping when it comes to pretty much anything beauty related, but after trying Batiste’s dry shampoo (the second brand of dry shampoo I ever tried) I’ve never strayed. It’s super affordable, does an amazing job and there’s an option for girls with darker hair. SOLD. I’ve used up 3-4 bottles of this just this year and I always stock up and get extra whenever Ulta’s offering a sale.

Joe Fresh Matte Lipstick in “Raspberry”

Unfortunately, I don’t think this lipstick can be purchased outside of a Joe Fresh store, 99% of which are located in Canada (I think the remaining 1% is a location in NYC?) but I just love this lipstick so much to not mention it. Recommended to me by Clementine, Raspberry is a matte lipstick that isn’t as berry red as the name would suggest. Rather, it’s a red with just a slight hint of berry. It’s really affordable and not as drying on the lips as one might think, considering it’s a matte. I have two tubes of this: the first got depotted because the bullet broke so I apply that with a lip brush at home, and the second (sent to me by Asian Pear) is one I toss in my handbag.

NYX Retractable Lip Liner in “Red”

I’ve been busting out the bold lipsticks more often this year and with bold lipstick color comes lip liner. NYX’s offerings have a wide range of color, but my favorite is the retractable one in “Red” because it matches my perfect drugstore red, Rimmel’s “01” in the Kate Moss collection. I grumble at the thought of needing to buy lip liners to match my lipsticks so I try to either invest in clear lip liners or ones that will suit a variety of lipsticks in the color family.

Pai Rosehip Oil

Where would my skin be without this skincare discovery? While I sometimes can be more partial to the Antipodes Divine Face Oil in the winter, Pai Rosehip Oil is a great all rounder. I’ve written before about my love for this oil and I still stand by every word I said.

Pantene Ultimate 10 BB Creme

I know, I know. Technically speaking, there is no such thing as a BB cream for HAIR. So I’m not really sure why I picked Pantene’s Ultimate 10 BB Creme for hair up. Let’s chalk it up to intrigue. But, guys… IT WORKS. Admittedly, this could be to the fact that I finally clued into needing to use more than the dime or quarter sized amount of any leave-in conditioner for my long and thick tresses, but whatever the reason, my hair is way silkier and smoother after using this in my hair than before I did. So for this being my gateway leave-in conditioner, it gets two thumbs up from me.

Sleek Storm Palette

I didn’t “discover” as many palettes this year as I did last year because, well, I have enough to last me a lifetime and I spent most of this year rotating through my stash. But the Sleek “Storm” palette was a new-to-me discovery that I just kept coming back to. A drugstore palette that’s pigmented and got a great variety of colors for everyday and special occasions, I absolutely love this palette. Truly, one can’t go wrong with Sleek. I wish it was sold in US drugstores, but at least the Sleek website ships to the US and there are some reliable sellers on Amazon, too.

Sonia Kashuk Undetectable Creme Bronzer in “Warm Tan”

I had a love/hate relationship with bronzer, until I figured out how to use it properly. Then it was all love! I really like Sonia Kashuk’s Undetectable Creme Bronzer in “Warm Tan” because it can be blended out or buffed into the skin for a natural-looking bronze look. I was afraid this might look slightly muddy on me when I first got it, but I haven’t had that problem at all. This is the only Sonia Kashuk product I’ve tried, but I’d be interested in checking out the rest of her line based on how much I love this bronzer.

MemeMe Blush Me! Blush Box in “Rouge”

Purchased at a small pharmacy in the Irish countryside, I picked out this MeMeMe Blush Me! Blush Box in “Rouge” mainly because it reminded me of the Benefit blush boxes. However, unlike most of the Benefit blush box colors, this one from MeMeMe was one that I didn’t already have in my collection. Not only is it a great color, but it is SO INCREDIBLY PIGMENTED so I’m pretty sure this box will last me forever as I need to use so little for a bit of a flush to my cheeks. Because it can be built up for various levels of intensity, I really think this blush could suit everyone.

L’Oreal Telescopic Precision Waterproof Liquid Liner in “Blackest Black”

2014 was the first year I started using liquid liner regularly. Nothing beats a liquid liner cat eye! L’Oreal’s Telescopic Precision Waterproof Liquid Liner is my favorite drugstore option. It has a long lasting waterproof formula that pretty much lasts through anything. No, seriously — I used this to draw a cat eye on my birthday and woke up the next morning with it perfectly intact after a night of birthday celebrations. Impressive.

Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil

I first tried a sample of Josie Maran’s 100% Pure Argan Oil in an Ipsy bag way back in the day and fell in love. It’s pricey as all hell but man, argan oil is a little magical wonder. I use this to moisturize in areas where there’s some healing scarring to boost the healing process, as well as in the (dry) ends of my hair. There are likely cheaper sources of pure argan oil because I’m sure a lot of the price for this particular bottle is tied to the Josie Maran brand name but hey, this is what I got and I love it so.

For those curious about someone else’s favorite beauty products of 2014, Asian Pear did a post on this very topic too! And now I turn the floor to you: what are some of your favorite beauty products of 2014?

House Rules

house-rules

A recent phone conversation with my brother where we were discussing how he’d spend his first 6-8 weeks as a newly minted college graduate before taking off to the other side of the world to teach English.

“So Mom said that you might be interested in staying with me for a week or so?”

“Yeah, for a little bit. Not too long though.”

“Okay, well, obviously you’re always welcome to stay with me. I do have one rule, though.”

“Aw c’mon! You can’t make me do stuff.”

“My rule is to buy your own beer, kiddo. I’ll cover groceries and stuff but alcohol is all on you.”

“Oh, obviously I’ll buy my own beer. I thought you were going to make me shower.”

“CAN I INSTITUTE A SECOND RULE????????”

Long Haul Flight Essentials

Long haul flight essentials

There are a lot of things people will consider to be essentials for a long haul flight. I, however, only have a list of a few small things. This is because I can sleep anywhere, do not enjoy wearing eye masks and loathe neck pillows. Also, I am excellent at keeping myself entertained/occupied with just a book.

So! I’ve grown up flying across the Pacific (think 20+ hour itineraries) and am quite a champ at weathering a long haul flight. These are what I consider to be essential. I’m flying to Hawaii today, and you bet I’ve got all of my essentials packed away in my carry on. Below my list of essentials I’ve also mentioned some things that are important but not crucial. I guess it all depends on how bare-bones you like to fly!

The Essentials

Kindle

Without my Kindle, I would wither and die. I always make sure to load more books than I think I need for the entirety of my trip (unless, of course, I am moving somewhere) because if I can’t read them all on my flight or during my vacation, I can still read them when I get back home! I much prefer Kindles over paper books for a bunch of reasons, but paper books are fine too. Or even magazines, graphic novels, newspapers, etc. Whatever you like to read that can keep you occupied for hours, go for it.

iPod

Or any music player, really. When I want to sleep on a flight, I’ll put in my headphones, turn on the music, and sleep. This can be done without music, but music is good to help drown out typical flight noises. Like a crying baby.

Cardigan/Light Sweater

Flight cabins can be pretty chilly, and there’s few things worse than being too cold to fall asleep. I know long haul flights provide a blanket and pillow to each passenger, but I like to also bring a light cardigan that I can layer with if I’m too hot or too cold. Plus, thinking in layers is always good for travel anyway.

Face Wipes

Face mists are fine too, but with the restrictions on carry on liquids I find face wipes to be easier to deal with and more practical. I never use face wipes when cleansing my face ordinarily, but last time I flew to Hong Kong without using face wipes during my flight and was alarmed at the heavy slick of oil that I washed off my face when arriving at my mom’s apartment. HORRIFYING. Having some face wipes to use during a flight, or even just before landing if one wants to freshen up, goes a long way into helping you feel human again.

Lip Balm

There is NOTHING WORSE than the feeling of lips parching and cracking due to the dry cabin air. NOTHING.

A Pen

Because you don’t want to find yourself filling out the customs form in the immigration hall while everyone zooms ahead in line with the forms they filled out during the plane ride when the flight attendants handed them out, do you?

Other Important Stuff

Snacks

Weird that this is important but not an essential, right? I used to always bring snacks on board but then I realized I rarely ever ate them, or I just felt kind of gross after eating them. (This is what I get for bringing junk food and then bingeing on it because portion control when eating out of a bag is hard.) Snacks were much more important when I was a kid, when I would hardly touch the food served in the airplane meals. But now, even if the food is finicky, I’ll manage to eat most of it, so snacks aren’t an essential for me anymore.

Extra Socks

My feet get cold easily, and I find it a little weird to use the airplane bathroom when wearing just my socks. So sometimes, if I don’t feel like putting my shoes back on, I’ll bring an extra pair of socks to use as an “outer layer” when going to the back of the plane to stretch or use the bathroom. When it comes time to put my shoes back on and get off the plane, I’ll take off the extra pair of socks, fold ‘em up and toss them in my bag to wash later.

Listerine Strips/Altoids

Brushing teeth in an airplane bathroom always seems like a lot of effort to me (hope my dentist isn’t reading this) but I’m definitely not against bringing those in carry on luggage. However, I just opt for a Listerine strip or an Altoid and consider it good enough.

Hand Sanitizer

There’s soap in the airplane bathrooms, but hand sanitizer is never a bad thing to have on hand. Just as long as it meets all of the liquid restrictions and all that.

What are some things you consider essential to pack in a carry on for a long haul flight?

Would You Live in a “Haunted” Apartment?

High rise apartments

I’ve been following the Rurik Jutting case semi-closely in the last few weeks. For those who don’t know, Jutting is a British banker who has been charged with the murders of two women in Hong Kong. Like everyone else, I was horrified by the news of the alleged murders. One woman was found with cuts to her neck and buttocks; the other was discovered in a suitcase. It’s all very gruesome and horrifying, especially for a city that, considering the size of its population, has an extremely low crime rate.

One of the news articles that popped up on my radar as I’ve been reading about the Jutting case is one that talks about how “haunted apartments” go for cheap in Hong Kong. For a culture that takes great stock in feng shui and superstitions, that comes as no surprise to me:

Superstition and geomancy beliefs run deep. Hong Kong people also shun sites close to cemeteries, hospitals and churches, which can be considered unlucky. Buildings typically omit the fourth floor because the number is a homonym for the Chinese word for death. Property developers rely on feng shui, which translates as “wind and water,” the Chinese practice of arranging the physical environment in harmony according to beliefs about energy and design.

Jutting’s apartment was in a luxurious complex heavily favored by expatriates. In other words, the $29,000HKD/$3,740USD monthly rent was quite expensive. Not that that’s necessarily true anymore; Bloomberg says that the apartment complex’s director expects the rent to have to be cut in half in order to attract a new tenant after Jutting. If the apartment were to sell immediately, the listing price would also have a significant drop.

Feng shui has always played a big role in the houses I grew up in; furniture and such was always arranged with it in mind. I’d get the heebie jeebies living in a “haunted apartment” that was the location to a grisly crime like the one Jutting is accused of committing. I’m not deeply superstitious, but I am cautious of the superstitious beliefs in Chinese culture enough to want to avoid potentially living amongst angry or vengeful spirits!

Would you ever consider living in a “haunted apartment”?