Argan Oils: Huilarome; Josie Maran

Happy new year! I’m starting a new year resolution in the realm of cosmetics, and this year I want/need/must use more oils for my skin. I’m noticing a lot of changes on my skin in my 30’s, and oils seem to be part of the solution.

Josie Maran’s 100% Pure Argan Oil is one of the more well-known products in skin care, and catapulted the argan oils to beauty fame. I bought a small bottle of it in the summer, and it was a little too greasy for the season. But now with the dry winter season, my skin is accepting the oil.

The bottle to the left in the picture below was purchased on my trip to Morocco in September. Huilarome was a brand that the owner of our riad (= hotels in Morocco) recommended. Argan oil is produced in Morocco and they are as pure and fresh as they can get!

I only use the oil in the evenings, as my last step in my skin care regimen (cleanser, toner/lotion, serum, cream, and finally the oil). The next morning, my skin feels uber supple and renewed.



Biteki Cosmetics Magazine

Cosmetics are fun to use/buy/make/experiment with, and it’s something that I will continue to pursue forever in some way, shape, or form. Starting this blog has given me even more reasons to climb out of my comfort zones with some products, and to try new ones so that I can keep on top of the trends (although it’s virtually impossible to keep up with everything with all the new launches!).

To help in my research in Asia, I usually rely on beauty magazines. Especially this time of year, the magazines take products per category and rank them so that I can just pluck all the No.1 products that are popular. The first quarter of 2014 is going to be a lot of the fun haul items from my trip here in Japan. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy reading some of these posts, and if you give them a try please let me know how you like them!

Thank you for your support through the beginnings of my blog, and wishing you the most glittery and beauteous new year!



Incoco Nail Polish Appliqué

My nails suck! They’re brittle and dry, no matter the time of year. I can never grow them out long, and it’s really embarrassing to go to the nail salon with my short dry nails on full display. So when my mom called for me to bring back a bunch of these Incoco Nail Polish Appliqués from the US, I bought a couple for myself to see why she wanted these specific ones.

My mom had gotten a couple of samples from a nail salon that she recently found. She proudly showed me one of her nails via FaceTime and it was a pretty pink-to-white glittery gradation. She wanted a dozen different kinds, and I got a the ones pictured below for myself online: Mermaid Tale and Vanishing Act (shown on nails). They were super easy to put on – although I wish I were ambidextrous for a better application. The glitteryness is perfection, and the surface is very smooth. I kept these on without a top coat, and I quickly regretted it. Because of the imperfect application, there were areas around the edges of the nail bed that were prone to chipping the appliqué. Since I wash all my dishes by hand, one of them completely fell off after 30 minutes of constant dishwashing. If I had a dishwasher and top coat on my nails, the appliqué would’ve lasted longer (I don’t know if it will last the 14 days that it claims, but I will aim for that the next time!).

These are perfect for in between gel nail sessions, for when I don’t want to do them back-to-back and give my nails a chance to take a break from the UV light lamp abuse. I took them off today, and they were easy to remove with regular nail polish remover with acetone.



Curel Ultra Healing Intensive Lotion

I am totally procrastinating on packing for my holiday back home to Japan (where I will be collecting some more fun cosmetic greatness). One thing I DO have packed in my gigantic carry-on tote (love that it says “eat cake for breakfast” – it makes me too happy!!!) is my Curel Ultra Healing Intensive Lotion in the 2.5 fl oz tube version.

I started using this at work in the huge 20 fl oz pump bottle, and I really liked the texture. In my line of work, we wash our hands so many times throughout the day. I’ve had cracked skin that bled from all the hand washing that we do. I’ve gone through my fair share of hand lotions, and this one was really good because it wasn’t greasy, spread on quickly and evenly, and it didn’t leave a tacky film after application. The last aspect of a non-tacky finish is really important to me, but without compromising on long lasting moisturization. The first three ingredients are: water, glycerin, petrolatum. When a formulation has those three ingredients at the very top of the list and still manages to keep it untacky, I’m all for it. The moisturization for this product really lasts, and I’m sad I didn’t discover this product sooner.



Dove Men+Care Extra Fresh Body Wash

I get the oddest looks when I say I use men’s body soap. Yep, I’ve been for around 8 years now and they’re the best in a morning shower. Body soap made for female consumers don’t generally contain any menthol and I crave that tingly, refreshing feeling and it helps me wake up.

I used to use a different brand before, but with the influx of products for men, there are more choices for me to choose from ;) I go through the Dove Men+Care Extra Fresh Body Wash at a rate of a bottle/month. I’m not a fan of the lotion body washes due to the after feel. The lather and rinse-off for the Men+Care body wash is rich and quick, respectively, without that drying tightening sensation that comes from harsh soaps. Yes, I smell like a man for a good chunk of the morning because of it – and I kind of like it.



pN Dual Brow Creator

The photo of this product below is embarrassing. I apologize in advance for the unsightly state that it’s in. If I could buy it again, I would buy it 20 times over, but unfortunately Shiseido decided to discontinue it (a loooong time ago). Why am I posting about it? Because this product has been the first product I’ve used that is still in my makeup bag over a decade later. Lucky for me, Shiseido still sells the cartridges for the product, so I haven’t let it go.

My insecurities for my eyebrows started in middle school. At the time, Japanese school girls were getting really creative with their makeup, and being in the American school system in Japan, I didn’t know who to go to or what to do with my brows. They were sparse and barely there. What little brow hairs I had were spread out from my lash line, through my eye lid, and all the way up beyond my brow bone. Lackluster and drab to say the very least (& scary!). My mom knew about my woes with my brows, and being a cosmetics connoisseur herself, she brought me to a professional to get my brows shaped and drawn in. This is when I was in 7th grade, before all the brow bars and brow-specific cosmetic brands came out. My mom was pretty awesome to be so open-minded about cosmetics, which is probably 90% of the reason why I’m in this industry to begin with!

The pN Dual Brow Creator has an end with a retractable pencil lead and an end with a smudge stick that picks up powder from the the cartridge. I draw my eyebrows in everyday (if you had brows like mine, you would too)! I use the pencil end from the arch to the end of the brow for precision and the powder end for the rest of it. The smudge stick allows for a soft application, so the brow looks natural and not painted on. To shape my brows, I tweeze/shave/trim every other day. Despite my sparse brows, to maintain their shape they require different techniques. I have to admit that I haven’t tried waxing or threading, for fear that they might overdo my brows. I’ve tended to my brows for 17 years – I think I have it down.



Kiehl’s Creme de Corps Soy Milk & Honey Whipped Body Butter

Holy skin flakyness! I can’t seem to get enough lotion on in the winter. Ever since I practically ATE my first tub of this Whipped Body Butter last winter, I finally got my hands on another one of these and my skin loves it.

Timing is everything when it comes to moisturizing your body, and I always use my moisturizer right after the shower. The occlusives in the formulations create a seal over your skin, and you want to make sure that your skin has the maximum amount of water content before slathering on that lotion. You also want to look for lotions with a high content of humectants.

Ingredient lists are most often listed from highest to lowest content, down to ingredients with <1% of the formulation and any pigments that the product may contain. Any ingredients at <1% of the formula is generally listed in random order. The only exception to the order of ingredients that I have seen before is when it’s in a drug facts box (a la sunscreens in the US). The “inactive ingredients” are sometimes listed in alphabetical order.

Not only will you fall in love with the warm almost-almondy-coconutty tropical scent that this body butter has, the texture is SO unique and fun to apply. Because the formula is whipped, the application is extremely light. Kiehl’s didn’t skimp out on the butters that I absolutely require in the winter, and is oh-so-velvety on the skin!