My Facial Cleanser Picks

Let’s talk facial cleansers for today! It is the basic building block to a healthy skincare routine, and should be used daily. There are countless facial cleansers out there for every skin type, so find one that works for you, and be consistent. I know it seems like common sense, but wash your face everyday!

The makeup you use, along with dirt, grime and oils build up on your face quickly and over time, so it is essential to get a good cleanser that helps keep your face clean and happy. I have used so many cleansers, but I have a few that I love, and use on rotation right now. I am going to share some recommendations that have worked for me, but sometimes it is good ol’ trial and error to find the product that works best for YOU.

I mostly have dry skin in the New England climate, and look for products that do not dry my skin out. With the climate here being seasonal, my skin care needs change year round too. When I travel to South East Asia or more humid and hot climates, my skin becomes more combination and I want products that prevents breakouts. So don’t just stick to using one cleanser all the time, try different ones that might be more effective in meeting your changing skincare needs!

For basic cleansing that works for most skin types, I use The Face Shop Herb Day Cleansing Foam. It foams up well, soothes irritated skin, leaves skin supple and provides simple hydration. It is a good, reliable every day cleanser.

For exfoliation without microbeads, I use Rohto Hada Labo Mild Peeling Facial Washing Foam. I buy it when I go back to Singapore, but apparently you can get it on Amazon too (link provided above). It uses an AHA and BHA combination to exfoliate and always leaves my skin feeling super soft. The name Tamagohada literally translates to egg-skin and I guess it is a reference to super smooth skin like a boiled egg. Hahaha. A word of caution, right after using this facial foam, your skin will be sensitive to the elements, so it is essential to put on sunscreen before you go out in the sun. I only use this in the evenings, for night time cleansing before I go to bed to avoid having that problem.

For blemishes, when I get breakouts, or if you have oily, acne-prone skin, I strongly recommend Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash Scrub, Pink Grapefruit
. I have been using this for years, and bring it with me when I head to hot & humid climates especially, because my skin becomes more acne prone and oily then. It uses Neutrogena’s Microclear technology that breaks through oil to deliver acne medicine to the source of breakouts, apparently even before they appear. It is very effective in clearing breakouts really quickly, and keeps my skin very clean and clear. It does contain gentle microbeads, which helps smooth away roughness, as well as maximum strength Salicylic Acid, which is basically acne medicine. It is very refreshing and gentle enough to use daily.

For the Asian ladies out there who love whitening products, I have been using the Nivea Visage : Extra White Pore Minimiser Mud Foam
, which I bought when I was back in Singapore. I am sure if you looked hard enough, you will find this on Amazon/ebay. Whitening in Asian terms refers mostly to illuminating, or brightening the skin tone to achieve a coveted glowing and dewy complexion. This products does help with that, livens dull skin and minimizes large pores to make them less visible. I don’t use it as much as the above products, honestly, but it might be something you are looking for.

Hope these recommendations will help some of you, and especially if you are thinking of trying new cleansers. Good luck in your search and do share with me the facial cleansers you love/swear by! I am always game to try new products.

❤ Joy

Burt’s Bees Haul

Hey lovely people!

Recently, I had a Burt’s Bees haul. I have been a long time fan of Burt’s Bees. I really respect their purpose, skincare philosophy and company culture. That, coupled with awesome products that are kind and natural for the skin, as well as stunningly good customer service, has made me a loyal customer. Their products, in general, are 99% natural, and almost half of these products are 100% natural. This is so great in a beauty world pumped full of chemicals.

I have to be honest that I have had really good experiences with their customer service, which has greatly influenced my view of them. They just come across as a company that cares for their employees, customers, the community and the environment, a rare thing these days.

I started using their products more than 10 years ago, and it was the Radiance Body Lotion, which made my skin glowy and shimmery with the use of Mica, a light reflecting mineral. It also had royal jelly, sunflower oil and aloe as its ingredients, and kept my skin happily moisturized. These days, I use their classic beeswax lip balm regularly, and recently lost it for some reason, so I had to replace it. While I was at it, I ended up with a mini haul of their new products, so I wanted to share them with you!

1. Burt’s Bees Facial Cleansing Towelettes, Cucumber and Sage

Simple, clean, soothing green packaging. 

Wipes are gentle and kind to the skin!

After a long day at work, especially if I come home late, I crave the convenience of a makeup removing wipe. I have tried many brands and types of wipes over the years, because I go through them so fast. I just tried this one by Burt’s Bees, and it’s definitely a winner!

It removes all my makeup easily, with no tugging on the skin. It is super soft, maybe because it is made of FSC certified natural cloth, and somehow larger than the usual wipes I use. It is so gentle on my skin, yet took off all my makeup thoroughly, including my waterproof makeup!

It is infused with Cucumber and Sage extracts, which leave a light lingering scent even after use. The scent is so calming and was one of the first reasons I fell in love with it. It is suitable for my dry skin, and leaves me skin feeling fresh and clean, without drying it out.

Verdict: Big thumbs up! Might be one of my favorite wipes now and I am definitely going to continue using it.

2.Burt’s Bees Intense Hydration Day Lotion



I am always searching for ways to keep my skin moisturized and hydrated because it is so dry, especially in the winter. This day lotion from Burt’s Bees is nice and creamy, as you can see in the picture above, goes on smoothly and gets absorbed quickly. The scent is very light, not overwhelming, and is calming, like with the Cucumber and Sage wipes.

It make a nice moisturizing base for my makeup, before my primer, and I have switched to using it in the mornings. My skin is noticeably happier and healthier after the lotion! It even has properties to help reduce fine lines and wrinkles, which I am starting to worry about drawing close to the big 3-0.

3. Burt’s Bees Almond & Milk Hand Cream, 2 Oz (Pack of 2)


Adorable little jar of awesomeness


Very creamy texture with am Almond fragrance

I spotted this little jar of hand cream in the local Target’s Burt’s Bees section. I opened the jar for a sniff and was greeted with a nutty almond scent, which somehow reminds me of desserts back in Singapore. I bought it and tried it on my hands and it blew me away. The texture is super creamy, fantastic for the dry winter months. It made my hands sooo soft I couldn’t stop touching them.

It contains Sweet Almond Oil and Vitamin E which moisturizes amazingly well. It also has Beeswax in it (well, it is Burt’s Bees!) which seals and conditions your hands. It is the perfect pick me up for your hands in the dryer months, or whenever you hardworking hands get put through rough chemicals in washing detergent etc.

While writing this, I couldn’t even resist pausing to apply some to my hands. My hands are SO soft, I can’t get over it!

4.Burts Bees Lip Crayon Hawaiian Smolder – Pack of 2 – .11 Oz/each


I love pretty lip colors and bought this at an Ulta (my Sephora alternative). It is in the color Hawaiian Smoulder, which is a pretty soft pink. It is super lightweight, and does not feel heavy on your lips. They are very moisturizing, as most Burt’s Bees products are, and contains Shea Butter, Kendi Oil and Jojoba Oil.

The color is matte and very flattering. It looks different from what I saw on their website, in person, and is much less purple, but much more pink. The texture is creamy and very easy to apply. I love lip crayons more than I do regular lipstick for its precision when applying, and convenience. I popped this in my handbag and will use it for everyday lip color.

I swatched the color on my hand and you can see it below (together with the other lip care item I bought, which is up next.)

5. Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balm, Hibiscus


This is my replacement to the lip balm I lost! I bought a tinted lip balm instead, for that subtle hint of color while moisturizing my lips. It provides 8 hours of moisturizing, perfect for  your exciting full days at work/school. You can apply this even without a mirror, because the color is not too strong and definitely more forgiving than usual lip colors.

It contains Shea Butter and Botanical Waxes, with is ultra moisturizing, keeping your lips healthy and happy all day long. The sheer color is very flattering, pretty and natural. It is pinky, with a coral tinge to it. This lip balm has a light scent I cannot really put my finger on, but it is floral and pleasant, not overwhelming. The color swatch is below, together with the lip crayon I mentioned above.


Color swatches: (Above) Burt’s Bees Lip Crayon in Hawaiian Smoulder (Below) Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balm in Hibiscus

I’m so excited about my new Burt’s Bees products and I will be incorporating them into my everyday routines. Most of these products were purchased entirely by me, but some were provided to me as gifts. That does not affect the honestly of the views I have presented here, though. I will never promote something I do not truly care for, and/or enjoy.

I hope your weekend ahead is healthy and happy!! 🙂

❤ Joy


Ipsy March Glam Bag

Hi amazing people,

I’m so excited to tell you that I’ve finally jumped on the subscription boxes bandwagon, and given Ipsy a go!

Just in case you have no idea what I am talking about, Ipsy is a brand founded by Youtube Makeup Star Michelle Phan. They produce Glam Bags, monthly bags that they send out to their subscribers, with a curated selection of makeup products catered for your profile. I love pleasant surprises, and this seems like a fun way to get one in the mail every month. It is also one of the most affordable subscription boxes at US$10 a month, and so I decided to try it. I figured I could always unsubscribe if it didn’t feel like it was worth it, after trying it for a couple months.

If you are interested in signing up too, here’s a referral code for all of you. Enjoy!

They usually bill you on the first week of each month, ship the Glam Bags out in the first or second week, and you get it closer to the third week of the month.

Anyway, back to my little surprise in the mail. I subscribed to Ipsy in time for the March Glam Bag, and so this was my first! I was so excited when I opened my mailbox and found this shiny, pink, bubble wrap package in the mail!


Let’s take a look at what’s inside, shall we?


Tah-dah! There were 5 products in total, probably 3 full size products, and 2 samples. They all came in a pretty blue and red (the lighting is changing the true color of it, in the picture) flowery makeup bag that reminds me of colorful roses, so apt for Spring. That’s another fun feature of Ipsy, that every glam bag comes in an actual bag, not just a cardboard box.

Here are my reviews of all the products I received (starting from the left), and links to the product webpages!

1. Make Up For Ever – Step 1 Equalizer-Hydrating Primer

I have been looking around a good primer, and so it was nice to receive this sample in the Glam Bag. The primer is lightweight, gel-like and goes on smooth. It made my foundation (the foundation I used with it is NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation in Gobi) adhere a lot better and gave it a more even texture.

2. Pixi By Petra – Beauty Blush Duo (in Rose Gold)

This is a really adorable blush duo that can be used alone or together. The color gives a slight flush to your cheeks, and the gold doubles up as a highlighter. I swept my brush across both colors and used them together for a flattering rosy glow on my cheeks. It is subtle enough for every day use. I saved myself the step of highlighting with this blush, as the gold really catches the light.

3. Marc Anthony – Nourishing Argan Oil of Morroco 3 Day Smooth Perfect Blow Dry Cream 

I don’t know if I messed up my profile, but I received this even though I do not blow dry my hair. Maybe they sent it to me because I indicated that I liked hair care products. I tried it anyway, without blow drying. It is slightly sticky, but does smooth my frizzy hair and tame the flyaways. If you do blow dry your hair, I do think this could work much better for you.

4. Essence Cosmetics – Make Me Brow Eyebrow Gel Mascara

This is an interesting product because I have never thought of getting mascara for my brows. To be fair, I barely use mascara for my lashes (only for special occassions), so I might not be the best person to ask. However, I did give it a try and it does darken my eyebrows nicely, making them more defined. It was a rather odd product for me, though, and I don’t think I am running out to buy any eyebrow mascara anytime soon.

5. Me Me Me – Loose Powder Brush

I have never been big on makeup tools and I apply most of my makeup with my fingers because it gives me so much more flexibility. Loose powder though, is one exception. I have been using a kabuki brush for this purpose (not even sure where I got it, or when) and so it wasn’t completely off base for Ipsy to send me this, I guess. The brush is pretty amazingly soft and I love how it feels on my skin. Powder goes on easy, and I will be using this in rotation with my current brush from now on.

I had to try out all of the products (along with my usual day to day make up) and here is the result in a bathroom selfie.


So, what’s my verdict on the Glam Bag by Ipsy? I think it is too early to say. I will probably give it a few more months to form a proper judgement, as I think one bag doesn’t say much about the service. However, if I had to give a rating simply based on my first Glam Bag, it would be….


3 hearts – Meh. Could be better, but not that terrible either. It was fun to receive a surprise in the mail and try new make up. I was happy to note that some of these products were full sized, but I just wasn’t a big fan of all of the products. Perhaps more months on Ipsy would make their selection for me better? I might change this rating in the future if that happens, and I am happy to do a post every month for the Glam Bag because I think it is fun to share this with you!

*Heart image is taken from Michal Boubin’s painting: Symbol of Love

Let me know if you have tried some of these products yourself, and what you thought of them in the comments below. Also do share your personal experiences with Ipsy, positive or negative!

Hope you had a sweet Tuesday!

❤ Joy

Elizavecca Bubbly!

So last week, I saw some youtube videos of people trying out this Elizavecca Carbonated Bubble Clay Mask. It looked so silly and fun, I just to had to buy one to try. I was very excited when I saw it at my doorstep in a happy Amazon package. Here it is, right out of the box. The packaging is so cute!



Inside the jar is basically a mass of grey goop. I know it doesn’t look like much, but it’s magic! First, I had to google instructions on the mask and I got varied results. Some people say to smear it on an uncleansed face while some people say to put it on after you properly clean your face with makeup remove/cleanser. I decided to go with the latter, just because I was paranoid about makeup clogging up pores… though I guess the whole point of this mask was to unclog pores and do a deep clean of your face. Maybe it didn’t matter either way.

Anyway… here’s what I did:

Step 1: Wash face with makeup remover/cleanser (I use a 2-in-1), and dry well.

Step 2: Open the jar and quickly use the spatula to scoop some product out. Many of the instructions online say to replace the lid as soon as possible, as well as in between scoops, as the product fizzes once in contact with air or natural oils on your skin etc. So I did that, and did not see any fizzing in the jar.

Step 3: Smear the product on your face, and spread evenly just as you would any other mask. Again, the trick is to work fast, before the product activates too much. I think during my first try I did not put enough product on my face and it was spread so thinly. It still worked fine, but I think next time I use it, I will be putting on more product to see the difference.

Step 4: Set a timer/play it by ear. Some instructions online suggest leaving it on for 5 mins, some say to wait till it stops fizzing (mine never did stop fizzing even until the end), while others say to leave it on for 20mins for maximum effect. I did the 20mins, and found it a little too long. The product had almost dried up on my face by the end and that affected how much I can rub the bubbles in. Next time, I will try it for 5mins.

Step 5: Your face will turn into a giant rain cloud, you will resemble an emoji, and it will be super ticklish while the product activates. You can hear the fizzing on your face, which is rather fun. It is definitely a novel product, and was more entertaining than anything.

Step 6: For maximum effect, rub the bubbles in and massage the product on your face a little. This supposedly helps with the pore cleansing.

Step 7: Wash your face clean. Now, this takes some serious washing, as the product does not come off easily without residue. I used both washing and wiping to get everything off.

Step 8: My skin became super soft and smooth after taking the product off. It does not seem to minimize my pores, but my pores look cleaner and my face just felt squeaky clean! It was a great feeling and I almost wanted to start using this everyday until I learnt the recommended regularity of usage is twice a week.

I’m already looking forward to the next time I can use it, and I want to try the different options I didn’t try the first time round to see if it makes any significant difference. It’s such a fun product and entertained me to no end. Our cats, though, were not as thrilled as they could not stop staring at me and this bubble mask all over my face. Hahahaha….

So, yes, I would recommend this product if you want to deeply cleanse your face. It does not dry your skin out, but its purpose is not hydration. If your skin is very dry, perhaps limit usage to once a week. My skin became so soft and smooth after one use that I’m sold! I am not paid by Elizavecca in any way, and I paid full price for the product because I thought it looked interesting and just wanted to give it a try. So these are my honest opinions about the Elizavecca Carbonated Bubble Clay Mask! Two thumbs up! 🙂

❤ Joy




Skin Treats

Moving to a new part of the world also meant adjusting to a new climate. My skin started having different needs and not paying attention to my skin would cause pretty visible results.

In the summer, New England gets hot and humid. Sunblock is the number one priority, as always, but other products I used needed to be light enough to ensure I do not break out. As such, I skip the heavy creams and opt for gels and lotions instead.

Once it gets cold, the air gets really really dry, especially during our long winter months. I would adapt my skincare products to more creams and focus a lot more on hydration. I would use products that lock in the moisture, and also products that has extra moisturising properties.

Here are some products that I use pretty much all year round:

1) Soap & Glory: The Righteous Butter

soap and glory

This is my all time favourite moisturiser. It’s from the UK and you can get this there at Boots (I bought my first one at the Heathrow Airport Boots), and here in the United States, you can get it from Sephora. You could also purchase this online on Amazon etc, it’s not too hard to find!

I have a huge tub of it on my night stand, but also smaller versions of it in my car and purse. This is amazing in the winter as it really deeply moisturises and the heavier texture works great when it is dry. In the summer, I still use it, though more sparingly. You can put this on wet skin or dry skin, and it smells heavenly. I also use their shower foam because I love the scent so much. It makes me skin super soft and velvety!

2) Sephora: Nourishing Body Butter in Lemon Verbena


This is my “other” moisturiser, from Sephora. It has a fresh citrus scent and feels lighter for summer days and when I need that zesty perk me up. The scent is more neutral and thus, if the husband wanted to borrow a moisturiser, I usually lend this to him instead. It moisturises well and keeps skin happy and soft.

3. Etude House: Moistfull Collagen Cream

etude house moistful collagen

We all know collagen makes our skin more supple and youthful. I have used many different collagen creams and so far, I am a fan of Etude House’s Moistfull version. It is a lot lighter than many other collagen creams and I can layer it up with other skincare products easily. It also really works and I usually apply it at night, and by morning, my skin is noticeably softer and hydrated.

4. Hada Labo Hyaluronic Lotion


This is a staple in my medicine cabinet and always goes on before other products are used. It helps to lock in moisture and so whatever treats you pile onto your skin after this, is well absorbed. It is super light and feels like you are putting on water, so it reduces that heavy feeling many other products create.

5. Missha: Time Revolution – The First Treatment Essence


I love Missha products, and many of my facial masks and makeup are from there. This essence is usually the first thing on my face after cleansing (even before the Hada Labo lotion) and acts very much like SK2 that I use to use. It is my feeble fight against ageing (I am a lot lazier in my skincare regime) and I think it is a pretty good attempt.

6) Etude House: Pearl Aura Brightening Essence Lotion

[Etude House] Pearl Aura Brightening Essence Lotion 100ml skincare_2

You know that dewy complexion K-pop stars always have? I’ve always been fascinated by how that is achieved and my treasure hunt has led me to try many products that promise this. In my most recent trek to Singapore, I bought this new treat and has not looked back since. I put it on after my day moisturiser and before my sun screen, and it gives my complexion this soft glow and creates a dewy base for my makeup. It has Tahitian black pearls in it that must be magic, because I love how it makes my skin look!

7) Laniege: Water Sleeping Pack EX


My lucky number 7 is the Laniege Water Sleeping Pack. It works great if you sleep in an air-conditioned room like I did in Tropical Singapore, but also works amazing if you live in a place with dry frigid winters like New England. The concept is easy, put this on as the final step of any skin care regime and go to bed with it. The next morning, wash your face with your favourite cleanser as usual and voila, pretty happy plump with hydration skin. It really is that simple!

There you have it, 7 skincare products I have used for a good period of time that have served me well. I was not paid for any of these reviews (if you read enough blogs, the paid reviews are pretty obvious) and all opinions are my own.

Hope your skin is radiant and glowing with happiness this week!

❤ Joy

Skincare Secrets

Here are my big 5 skincare secrets!

1) Sunscreen.

Honestly, this is a no-brainer. I have gotten more religious with my sunscreen with each birthday. Hahaha. I hear the clock ticking as I age. The sun is one of the biggest culprit and ages skin prematurely. Sunscreen keeps freckles away and shields you from the harmful UV rays. Sunscreen is not just for the summer! I make sure it goes on every winter day too!

2) Plenty of fluids

Yup, you heard me. Drinking sufficient water is so important and it is not just a health issue, but a beauty issue. It really shows if you keep at drinking lots of water each day. I don’t really count juices, soda, coffee, tea (though of course they count for a little bit) and try to make sure I drink at least 8 glasses of plain water each day. I drink a water bottle with me at all time and drink water throughout the day, no matter where I am at or what I am doing. Obviously is you are exercising, you should drink even more than usual. Alcohol also dehydrates you, so if I consume alcohol, I try to make up for the dehydration by drinking more water that evening. Or just cut out the alcohol whenever possible.

3) Cleanse thoroughly

I have make-up remover sheets, oil cleansers, facial foam and after a long day, I use all 3 to make sure my face is clear of any remnants of makeup. It is extremely important to let your skin breathe while you sleep and you definitely don’t want anything clogging it up and hindering with the renewal process from 11pm – 3am. And if there are days when I am just chilling at home, I will try to stay off makeup, so that my skin has more time nude!

4) Sleep!

Being a grad student, I know what it is like to burn the midnight oil and be seriously sleep deprived. It takes a toll on you and shows on your skin very quickly. Sleeping is a time when your body rests and important processes happen in your body from 11pm – 3am. I try to make sure I am at least asleep in that window of time, though as much as possible, 8-10 hours is what I go for. This varies from person to person and some people need more sleep, while some are good with fewer hours of zzzs. They don’t call it beauty sleep for nothing!

5) Smile

Honestly, a smile and a happy disposition is the best makeup. I try to wake up and record 3 things I am thankful, then when I go to bed, I write down 1 happy event in the day. I also try to let go of any unhappiness or resentment for the day and go to sleep with positive thoughts. Keeping an attitude of gratitude helps in weeding out complaints you may have of your life. Staying in the company of good and positive people is also important as I strongly believe that I absorb energy around me. If there is too much negative energy and vibes, it eventually influences you and you start learning from you -ve buddies in their disposition and view of life. I try to clear that out of my life so I am with the type of people I want to become/admire. Life really is too short to waste it being sad or angry!