AM skincare routine

start the morning off with a fresh, beautiful face. 

i didn't realize how many products i use in the morning until i gathered the items for this product photo. LOL. nonetheless, this all takes less than FIVE minutes. i'd say that's a pretty good investment to make for your skin every morning. the steps are: exfoliate, tone, moisturize, and protect. pretty simple! so let's get to it!


01 | exfoliate

CURE natural aqua gel -- this was introduced to me by mama bear, who by the way, has the MOST FABULOUS skin. i've also seen the beautiful @BubzBeauty mention it one of her videos as well.  you use this on a dry face, rub into your skin and the gel removes all the dead skin cells and starts flaking off your face. it's actually weird. but i can't live without this. not to mention, it's a very gentle exfoliator.

02 | cleanse

dermalogica special cleansing gel -- for a long time i was using foam cleaners and realized it was drying out my skin big time. so i switched to a gel cleanser. this has been my favorite by far, gentle, non-drying, and fragrance-fee. 

03 | tone

SK-II facial treatment clear lotion and SK-II facial treatment essence -- can't rave about this duo anymore. CATE BLANCHETT. do i need to say more?!?! my review here

04 | moisturize

Caudalie S.O.S. vinosource S.O.S. thirst quenching serum -- this is a light serum, smells divine, and my HG (holy grail) moisturizer. i've used it for so many years. it's good to use alone in the summer, but on days where i need the extra boost, i will top it off with the TATCHA moisture rich silk cream which is a has almost a whipped like consistency. (pictured is a travel size which comes in the TATCHA ritual discovery kit which is a great deal to try a few of their amazing products). it is important to note: moisturize YOUR NECK! this step is often missed or forgotten. your neck is the first thing that will usually start wrinkling. don't let it happen to you. 

Skinceuticals AOX+ eye gel -- eye treatments are pricey but when you think about it, you use the tiniest amount of this product. it should last you pretty close to a year. i love using this eye gel in the morning as it is really light and brightens the under eyes. it claims to help with puffiness, under eye bags,  combat fatigue, and fight the signs of aging. honestly, i can't say i've seen huge results but it's important to note that there is no miracle eye treatment. results on this type of product cannot be seen until years down the line, it's all about prevention and consistency. 

05 | protect

MDSolarSciences mineral creme broad spectrum SPF 50 UVA-UVB sunscreen -- it is hard for me to find a product that is a primer, has SPF, and is matte. (i mean is that too much to ask for?!) finally we met and it's been great ever since. i can't stress wearing SPF.  it is SOOOOOO important. i never tan. (the main reason why i am so.. as my sister says, "alabaster"). the sun is really damaging and it will age you exponentially. and you may not see it now, but you will down the line, and EARLY. so protect yourself! people think that you don't need to apply sunscreen if you're just driving to and from work. but that time in the sun really adds up. TATCHA just came out with a sunscreen that i can't wait to try soon that meets all my requirements, TATCHA silken pore perfecting sunscreen broad spectrum SPF 35!  

in summary,

  • let a product absorb into your skin before putting the next on
  • moisturize your neck down to your clavicles 
  • use an eye treatment
  • wear SPF
  • be consistent

the time for a good skincare routine is NOW,

facial masks in rotation

good skin takes time and dedication. (well... everything does).


01 | Skinceuticals clarifying clay masque

there is irony in applying dirt to pull dirt out of your skin! this is one of my favorite masks because you can actually feel it working on skin... which will feel like a baby's butt (this is highly coveted!) afterwards. guaranteed. the ingredients in this earthy-smelling mask helps calm skin, lift impurities, exfoliate dead skin cells, and remove excess oils. 

  • directions: apply a thin layer for 10-15 minutes. like mud, it will begin to harden and crack on your face. rinse with warm water. 
  • usage: 1x every two weeks. i also use this as a spot treatment for my nose in between. 
  • cost: $51 USD for 60ml. (one jar will last me almost 6+ months.)

02 | Aspirin mask

if there is only one mask to pick from, this is it. i learned about this mask ages ago from the very famous make-up/skincare guru @MichellePhan. here is her original Youtube clip. this is the CHEAPEST and most effective mask in terms of preventing breakouts. aspirin contains salicylic acid which is always the main ingredient in treating acne. it also helps clean your pores, exfoliate your skin, and reduce redness. all you need is uncoated aspirin, basically aspirin that is not sugar coated like Advil. (the bottle in the picture above can be purchased at Target. i realize it says "coated" but it is good to go).

  • directions: use 3-4 tablets, dissolve with a few drops of water, add a drop of honey for adhesive-ness, mix together and spread on face for 15 minutes. rinse with warm water. as you are rinsing this off, take the opportunity to exfoliate with the grainy-ness of the aspirin. 
  • usage: 1x a week. (this mask is amazing, but do not overuse it!)
  • notes: i also use this as a spot treatment (day and night) when i notice a pimple trying to make an appearance... it's my way of saying 'GOTCHA!' #sorrynotsorry
  • cost: $4.99 USD for 500 tablets = 125 masks. that is $0.04 per mask.... can't get cheaper than that. 

03 | Caudalie moisturizing mask 

Caudalie has a great range of skincare items. i think i've already mentioned my holy grail Caudalie vinosource S.O.S thirst quenching serum. they recently launched a range of masks. since my skin is combo and a little on the dry side, i picked up the hydrating mask. it is cream-based but not too thick. as all their products, the scent is light and pleasant. "A mask that restores moisture levels to relieve tightness, reduce redness and increase softness for a hydrated, dewy glow."

04 | SK-II facial treatment mask

i've talked about my SK-II regimen here. the SK-II facial treatment mask is the most expensive mask i treat myself to. it is cloth-based that is drenched in the magical SK-II ingredient; pitera. this mask is so popular that make up artists use this on brides as part of their routine, and it is often used as a post-airplane pick me up. 

  • directions: place cloth mask on face, lay down for 20 minutes. take mask off (feel free to put it back in the package and re-use it again the next day). DO NOT rinse off. 
  • usage: once on a blue moon! (due to price tag).
  • notes: use every DROPLET left in this package on your beautiful face! in the summer, i will refrigerate this packet before using it.
  • cost: $17 USD for one mask, $95 for six masks, $135 for ten masks. purchase it tax-free from

rock the face mask,

3 makeup items for an everyday look

getting my face ready is not my priority every morning. in fact, it is sleep... and more sleep! when it comes to an everyday look (and pretty much all things in life) less is always more. always. take the minimal approach in getting ready for school or work because you my dear, are beautiful and do not need all that makeup! so let's narrow it down to three items or less, shall we? 

Hourglass ambient lighting blush in luminous flush. 

Tom Ford cheek color in wicked.


01. blush (your best friend)

the number one thing to reach for is BLUSH. blush can do so much for you in terms of waking up your face! especially when you are tired, blush will be your BFF. trust me on this one, the instant flush/pop of color on the cheekbones make a world of difference. in my opinion, blush makes you look happy, friendly, and more approachable! (and who doesn't want that?!). my two beloved blushes are 1) Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in luminous flush (a champagne rose); and 2) Tom Ford Cheek Color in wicked (slightly brighter and a frosty finish). i have owned both blushes for well over a year, and there is hardly a dent in either. that tells you how pigmented they are--a little goes a long way. both are great blushes in terms of texture and color pay-off. for a more budget friendly option, i recommend MAC Powder Blush in blushbaby. i apply my blush  using HAKUHODO's S103 and S110. these brushes are quite the investment and honestly, they are worth every penny. 

02. mascara

the second item is mascara. i typically don't use mascara everyday, simply because i am really lazy and only curl them with my trusty shu uemura curler (best eyelash curler on the planet). but my all time favorite, holy-grail, can-never-live-without mascara is the Maybelline Full n Soft (waterproof). there is NOTHING like it. it is the most natural looking mascara that holds curl like no other. i always tend to go with drugstore brands because mascara is something that you should replace often. i do try new mascaras from time to time, but i always come crawling back to this one. it's that good. 

03. lip balm

the final item is lip balm. my choice is the Kiehl's Lip Balm #1. this is a color-less lip balm that is moisturizing and leaves a slight gleam on my lips. another color-less balm is the Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balm SPF 25. i love having this as an option because it has SPF25 and SPF is very important on the lips. i have been so blessed with semi-pigmented lips so these color-less lip balms work for me. however, another great option i sometimes use is the Dior Lip Glow/Reviver, this has a slight tinge of color available in pink and coral. 

don't waste the pretty,

my SK-II regimen

SK-II believes that a woman's destiny isn't locked by her DNA. it's something she creates for herself.

i am obsessed with japanese/korean skincare. if you notice, japanese and koreans have the MOST BEAUTIFUL skin. it's glowing, radiant, FLAWLESS, and highly sought after. therefore, anytime a line comes out from any of these countries, i am curious about it, i do my research, and i read countless reviews. in my opinion, the SK-II brand was one of the biggest beauty breakthroughs the past couple of years. i waited quite some time before trying it, only because of the price tag. however, i have come to learn that great skincare is not cheap (for the most part), so nowadays i'm willing to shell out the extra bejamins. (and maybe age has something to do with it too!). 


SK-II uses the ingredient Pitera which is a clear liquid rich in vitamins, amino acids, minerals and organic acids. this quadruple threat "works together to allow the skin’s natural surface rejuvenation process to function at its prime." it was discovered ages ago when scientists observed the soft and youthful hands of aged sake brewers. this was the birth of Pitera. 

i have been using the SK-II regimen for well over a year now. i can gladly say it will always be apart of my routine. it is HG status (HG = holy grail). i've noticed that my skin has become more clear, radiant, softer, and smoother. i have received many compliments on my skin since and that is just affirmation of how well it works. the regimen consists of the two products listed below and are to be used in conjunction with each other. i use these twice daily, once in the morning and once in the evening. once a day is really good enough. details and instructions listed are below:

1. SK-II Facial Treatment Clear Lotion -- this is the "toner." when you hear toner you think of alcohol, but there are plenty of toners these days that are alcohol-free. this alcohol-free "toner" is to be used on clean skin with a cotton ball on the face and neck. this will prep your skin for the magical stuff next. 

2. SK-II Facial Treatment Essence -- this is their signature product. aka: miracle water, magical stuff.  this contains over 90% Pitera. it is absorbed best when used after the Facial Treatment Clear Lotion. use this sparingly! only 2-3 drops and apply this by patting it onto your face and neck. neck! don't forget the neck! 

another product that gets rave reviews is the SK-II Facial Treatment Mask. this is a great pick-me-up after traveling. for example, when you travel, your skin is exposed to different environments in terms of water, air quality, and the dreadful dry-air on the plane. basically, your skin is pretty dehydrated and thirsty when you get back. it needs some love, and this mask will do just that. i've only used it once when i got back from vacation in cabo. it helped so much! 

again, as a reminder to texans, purchase this regimen off tax-fee. my recommendation is if you have not tried this before, get the starter kit which contains all three items in this post. i sometimes buy the starter kit because the Facial Treatment Clear Lotion comes in a travel size friendly version. 

SK-II Facial Treatment Clear Lotion -- $70 for 5 oz. 
SK-II Facial Treatment Essence -- $105 for 2.5 oz., $165 for 5 oz., $205 for 7.3 oz., $290 for 11.2 oz.
SK-II Facial Treatment Mask -- $17 for one mask, $95 for six masks, $135 for ten masks.
SK-II Starter Kit -- $105 USD; 1.35 oz. Facial Treatment Clear Lotion, 2.5 oz. Facial Treatment Essence, and 1 Facial Treatment Mask. 

change your skin destiny,

tom ford lips and boys -- michael & rafael

left to right: rafael, true coral (full size), michael

MERRY CHRISTMAS and HAPPY HOLIDAYS to you and your family! enjoy and cherish these times. 

if you follow any beauty bloggers, you will have already heard of the Tom Ford lips and boys collection. this was released on black friday through cyber monday and only in select stores for ONE day. lips and boys is a limited edition 50-shade lipstick collection named after all the men in Mr. Ford's life. and to add to the genius marketing campaign, these are advertised as "clutch sized lipsticks" (ohhhh... Mr. Ford) retailing for $32 USD a pop/0.07 oz. for ease of picking, the 50-shades are grouped into the following color families: nudes to browns, silvers to blacks, metallics, light pinks to mauves, pops of pinks to roses, fuchsia to magentas, corals to oranges, reds, violets to orchid, and plums. 


if you missed this the first go around, they will be back December 26, 2014 (that's tomorrow!). be sure to also check out Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, Saks, and Neiman Marcus websites. this is the PERFECT chance to try a Tom Ford lipstick because they are a little cheaper than the regular sized lipsticks which retail for $50 USD/0.1 oz. pretty steep. i really liked this concept. a smaller sized lipstick at a decent price. because... let's be honest. i don't ever see myself using a WHOLE tube of lipstick in my lifetime. ever. 

at the time i purchased these, there were no swatches available on any beauty blogs or websites. so it was almost a shot in the dark picking colors only based on product images. i wanted to venture into the oranges and pinks, so in came rafael and michael. (now lemming francesco!) 

rafael belongs to the corals to oranges family. it is a warm orange and is quite pigmented. michael belongs to the pops of pink to roses family. it is a bright medium pink with a semi frosted finish. both colors are perfect for the summer. i can't wait!

swatches are now plentiful in the blogosphere. Temptalia who is very well known in the beauty blogging world has great swatches! check out her initial swatches part one and part two. she also did individual reviews on each lipstick so be sure to use the search function to find those. also, here are a list of shades that are re-promotes (including my beloved true coral!):

  • Cooper = Pure Pink
  • Adriano = True Coral
  • Alejandro = Slander
  • Leonardo = Smoke Red
  • Xavier = Violet Fatale
  • Collin = Indian Rose
  • Cary = Casablanca
  • Didier = Moroccan Rouge

note the difference in size

helloooooo rafael

helloooooo michael

left to right: rafael, michael

go get you a boy (or two),

clarisonic mia review

goodness this is a large picture of my face... yikes.. i hesitated to share it. but here it is. by no means do i think my skin is perfect, because it is not. i spend a lot of time taking care of it and this is what it looks like in all photos on this blog. no foundation, no photoshoppin'. just plain ol me. 

behold. my best friend. the Clarisonic Mia facial sonic cleansing brush. (try saying that three times fast!)

soon, it will be your best friend too... if you don't already own one.

from the Clarisonic website:
"Cleansing is the essential first step in a healthy skin care ritual. The patented Clarisonic Sonic Cleansing Brush uses a sonic frequency of more than 300 movements per second to deeply cleanse the skin far more effectively, yet more gently, than traditional superficial cleansing or simple rotating brushes. The result is noticeably smoother, more radiant skin." 

in my own words:
a few years ago, i hesitated to buy this brush. i didn't want to spend so much money on a face brush?! what was i thinking?!?! what a small price to pay for good skin. fast forward six years later and i am a total convert. i tell all my friends about it, their friends, and... basically anyone who will listen to me. i've convinced them to use it, their friends, their moms, and even guys! you would think i'm a clarisonic rep the way i talk about it. (hrmm.. ponders.) there are many lines from Clarisonic, originally i purchased the Clarisonic Pro. it had multiple settings, speeds etc.. it was too fancy for me. i didn't use all the features that it offered and the downside was that it was not easy to travel with. the charger was also a bulky stand. so, i went and bought myself a Mia 1 (they didn't have Mia 2 back then). i've been so happy with the single setting. it also comes in sooo many pretty colors. the brush itself is much smaller than the Pro and the charger is magnetic and tiny! has a good comparison between all the systems they sell. it looks like they are up to a Mia 3 now!


how to use:
i use this brush once a day with a cleanser that has a good lather to it. i use the Dermalogica special cleansing gel. with your hands, lather the cleanser onto your face, wet the brush with water and whatever is left on your hands, turn it on and move the brush in a slow circular motion on the cheeks, forehead, nose, chin... etc.. i even do my neck. the brush will beep when the cycle is complete. turn it off, clean off the excess foam, and dry it off until the next use. i do not store my Clarisonic in the shower, but in a cool dry place like my sink. 

if you wear foundation/makeup:
i suggest removing all traces of foundation/makeup before using the Clarisonic via a cleansing oil or regular makeup remover. this gives the Clarisonic a clean canvas to work with which yields better results. 

replacement brush heads:
the only thing you need to do after buying the device is to replace the brush head every three months. you can keep it longer, but i found that when keeping it longer, the bristles would start to break down and therefore wouldn't clean my face as well. what's great about Clarisonic is that you can buy replacement brush heads that fit your skin type/needs. the replacement brush heads come in: radiance, sensitive, normal, deep pore, and acne. i use sensitive. they recently came out with a luxe line of brush heads for real sensitive skin or delicate targeted areas. the luxe brush heads come in: cashmere, and satin precision. the replacement brush heads also have a protective cap. i never use it, unless i'm traveling with it. 

here comes the analogy:
if you are wondering why you should invest in this brush... here's my analogy--how does a manual toothbrush clean compared to an electronic one? (insert long pause.) there is no comparison. you simply cannot compare cleaning your face with your hands versus a brush... okay, point made. and plus, the brush is doing all the work for you!! you just have to use it.

side note:
i also use a Sonicare toothbrush... twice a day and the results are breathtaking. (literally.) i'm never going back to manual brushing again!

this brush will change your life. well, at least your skin's game. and yes, your skin does have game. once you start using it you will wonder how/why you went so long without it.. trust me. when i first started using this brush i made a mistake and stopped using it because i felt like it wasn't doing anything. biggest mistake ever. good skin starts with a clean canvas, and this brush will get you just that. if you suffer from breakouts or have acne, this will help clear it up. if you think you have dull skin, this will make it radiant. remember, miracles do not happen overnight. the key here is to be persistent. 

if you are unsure, purchase the cheapest system. the Mia 1. if you want something fancier take a look at the Clarisonic system comparison mentioned above to determine which one is right for you. i'm also here to help you save a few more bucks by purchasing it tax-free (i can only speak for us Texans!) from (currently, they do not sell the Mia 3 yet).
Mia 1 - $99 (one speed)
Mia 2 - $149 (two speeds)
Mia 3 - $199 (three speeds, and larger)

join me and...

tom ford lip color -- true coral

the bold lip. 

i'm not one to wear lipstick. but when i do, it. will. be. BOLD. 

mr. tom ford makes an exquisite lipstick. creamy, non-drying, and extremely pigmented are reasons why i am so in love with them/him. one of my favorites is true coral. the perfect coral. a lipstick made for summer. 


at $50 USD this lipstick is not joking around. a bit much to be spending on a.... lipstick. but this lipstick is in a league of its own. from the range of colors and wear time, down to the packaging--which feels completely luxurious. (how fitting for mr. ford) outlined in gold and embossed with the famous TF symbol. it is a little bulky and barely fits into my acrylic lipstick holder... but apparently that does not stop me. 

one TF sales rep mentioned that his lipsticks do not require lip liner. good thing, because... i ain't got time for that! 

feeling apprehensive? i was too. the trick is finding the right color. it will take several tries, but don't give up! have faith.. drag a friend! and trust me, you will know it immediately when you try it on! if there is one thing you try this summer, let it be the bold lip! you. can. do. it. 

lips | Tom Ford lip color in true coral

don't waste the pretty,