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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Beauty Regime

Someone asked me how I was getting my skin so smooth.  I was about to answer Bobbi Brown BB cream, but honestly, when my skin's been bad, that BB cream has not been enough.  Not even the Kat Von D foundation, which is supposed to cover up tattoos, has been enough for the bad days.

And just saying thanks didn't seem right because they asked a genuine question.  So, here's the list in order of steps:

Rohto Hada Labo Oil Cleanser
Biologique Recherche Cleanser
Biologique Recherche P50 exfoliating toner
Paula's Choice exfoliating toner.
A313 Vitamin A pommade.

Rohto Hada-Labo Goku-jun Hyaluronic Milky Lotion 

Marcacuja Oil
Japanese sunscreen

Although I've spent more effort on skincare than might seem mentally balanced, I have to say, I got really sick of time and money spent trying to treat my acne and scars when I got them, which has been often, and decided to spent time and money on preventing them. Plus, if my skin is good, I feel good about myself, and if my skin is bad, I don't.  So, it's worth it for me.  

 And, thanks to two websites,, and, I finally, finally, finally got the answers I needed.  I have to credit these posts in particular:

I also love Caroline Hirons Cheat Sheets, which you can see to the right on her blog.  She has a fantastic, no-nonsense style that makes perfect sense.    

The thing is, my skin is also prone to the same cystic acne and dehydration of which the Skin and Tonics blogger complains, so I keep going back to her blog to freshen up my know-how.  That said, I do find her collection of products a bit excessive, so I've tried limiting my own choices to those most effective for me.  At most, I've added a backup exfoliating toner for an occasional change: Pixi Glow Tonic.  But as a rule, I'm not a fan of hoarding products and rotating them.  At most, a second version of the same thing should be enough for a break, not 4 or 5, and only for the 1 or 2 products you find most essential.  For me, that's the exfoliating toner.  So, I bought the Pixi Glow Tonic as a backup for days my skin felt a little too sensitive for the P50.   

Finally, there are budget versions of all these products, which I believe Caroline Hirons can give you on her youtube channel.  If you dig through the skinandtonics guides, you can find some budget options there too, like the Cerave Face Wash (didn't suit my skin, though). 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Boyfriend In Wonderland: Bounce MV review

It's all cool. Everyone looks cool - except Donghyun, who is hot- the song is cool, the set design and graphics are cool and it's Alice in Wonderland, which is always cool. I may reread the book just to be extra nerdy about it all.  The nice touch in this is that the Alice here knowingly walked into Wonderland to play with Boyfriend like they're her test rabbits. 

The whole video is a fantastic take on the whole story including an Alice who is clearly holding all cards and ready to take Boyfriend out of their tea party to another world. 

Here's how it starts. 

You're not in Oxford anymore, Alice, which, to be clear, is where Lewis Carroll lived.

Then we get our motley crew, white rabbit, mad hatter, Tweedledee & Tweedledum and all.

First of all, Donghyun, the White Rabbit.

That's pouring tea with sass.
Then he makes sure you know he's jjang.  Look at that glower. His tastes may be a bit unusual, and that's quite all right.

Next, we have MinWoo, the Mad Hatter.

So Gerard Depardieu, except handsome.

Absolutely, nothing, Maknae MinWoo, except maybe that someone slipped a hallucinogenic in my tea. But this dream is gorgeous, and I'm not complaining.

Here we have the Twins, playing TweedleDee and TweedleDum.  I don't know their names. They're handsome and interchangeable because they're only 19, so let's leave it at that and hope they grow up quickly.

Clearly, these two don't care. They're painting a flower, as in actually painting it. If that isn't badass and Twins-Don't-Care what is? They can see in your soul with those bizarrely natural bug eyes, so don't bother pretending you don't think they're the most confusingly cute kids this side of Jaehyo in Nanlina (Jaehyo is always relevant).

Then there's the Other Two playing some Cards or Dormice or something.  I think one of them flashed abs, but they weren't worth sculpted enough to screenshot. Apologies to fans of the Other Two. 

Here are their solo shots:

In any case, we have these Manly Maknae Minwoo and Dastardly Delightful Donghyun: 

And the Twins: 

Naturally Donghyun gets the girl because he's the actual adult male in all of this, and it shows.

Even falling into a vortex of unreality, he's totally jjang, the guy you want falling into extra-deep rabbit hole with you because he's so in the moment and cat-don't-care

I'm on another continent, Donghyun-ssi, but I appreciate you asking. 

In the end (or is it just the beginning?) they end up where Alice's story originally begins, in a tiny room, looking through a tiny keyhole. 

Nice twist, muahahahahaha.

Watch the whole thing here:

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Beauty Queen: Madame Du Barry

                                          Jean-Baptiste Greuze, Portrait of the Comtesse Du Barry. [1771] ? oil on canvas.

I had mixed feelings writing about yet another maîtresse-en-titre at the French court, especially since the role is a bit icky, and because Mme du Barry died fairly young at age 50, making her not entirely the best anti-aging candidate, even if it was the 18th century. Then, I read some more about Mme du Barry in Joan Haslip's biography, and realized a few things.  First, her sordid career choice, if you can call it that, wasn't exactly her choice.  Her family forced her into it. Second, she didn't really have too many options at that time since careers for women pretty much didn't exist, and if your own family wasn't helping you get married, you weren't going to be a respectable missus.

[Mme de Maintenon was a prime example of a respectable missus.]

Even becoming a nun required a dowry.  Third, getting the maîtresse-en-titre position got du Barry out of the whole courtesan circle, phew. So, I feel it's best to just accept she was pushed down a certain sad road, but that she did get some relief from it for a while in a sort of common-law marriage.  

Plus, du Barry was a kind person who:   

- pleaded with the King for the lives of the condemned and elderly Comte and Comtesse de Lousene;*
- intervened for a woman accused of infanticide when she'd borne a stillborn child;**
- forgave and assisted the same aristocracy who had snubbed her as lowborn when they became refugees during the French Revolution.***

Donc, on to du Barry's beauty regime!  Considering her rather sordid lifestyle, quite miraculously, she stayed pretty and fresh and with her own hair colour right up to her gruesome guillotine death at age 50.  Living as she did in the 18th century, a time known for terrible hygiene and horrible skin diseases, Baldrick.jpg

what were this fabulous beauty's anti-aging secrets?  They were, as follows:

1. Cold baths.  Every morning.  Probably also helped her stay healthy, and certainly would've stimulated collagen production, blood circulation - helps with keeping your hair its own colour! - and toned muscles.

[These corgis are random, true, but they make the point: cold = healthy fur, er, hair.]

2. Honey masks.  A honey pack on your face is anti-bacterial and moisterizing.  It would help keep infections and acne away, while minimizing wrinkles.****

3. A rather fabulous-sounding hair wash to help her hair stay a lovely blonde, specifically, a blend of saffron, turmeric, polypodium fern roots, St John’s Wort, Gentian, citrin-coloured sandalwood, and rhubarb.  Must’ve smelled and tasted delicious!****

Try any or all of these ,and stay fresh and healthy and pretty like Mme du Barry!  

[Portrait by Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun .]

Just don't get guillotined...

Usual disclaimer: as always, if you want to try any of these anti-aging treatments, check with your doctor and test for allergies.  And if you're a sensitive soul prone to nightmares or insomnia, don't read about guillotines.

Special thanks to Lauren of for help with some of the research.

*Stoeckl, Agnes de, Mistress of Versailles: the Life of Madame du Barry, John Murray, London, 1966, p. 27.
**Haslip, Joan, Madame du Barry: The Wages of Beauty, Grove Weidenfeld, New York, 1992, pp. 49-50.
*** Id. pp 164, 184.
**** "Madame du Barry, the infamous last mistress of Louis XV, who liked honey applications every morning"

Wilson, Bee. The hive: the story of the honeybee and us. New York : Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Griffin (2007): 205.

***** Madame Du Barry wanted to accentuate the natural color of her blond hair, and Fargeon promised to bring her a blend of saffron, turmeric, polypodium fern roots, St John's wort, gentian, citrin-colorued sandalwood and rhubarb. If she used the lotion regularly to wash her hair, it would be even blonder.”

Feydeau, Elisabeth de. A scented palace: the secret history of Marie Antoinette's perfumer. London: I.B. Tauris. (2006): 24.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Interview with Cola, the Nutaz Puppy.

I caught up with Cola, dog to Nutaz's rapper, Naino today, when Naino wasn't looking.

S@ki6: Hi Cola, how are you?

Cola: Peeing, don't interrupt. Ooh, tail!

S6: Hey, sit.  SIT!

Cola: Aish, okay.  Warning you, dachshunds don't listen for long.

S6: I'll be quick.  How did you get started with Nutaz?

Cola: I adopted Naino.  He blowdries my ears.

But, he should stop pushing me off the bed.

S6: What's your role in Nutaz?

Cola: I'm the cute one.  And I order the food.

S6: And do you work in MBK's building or more from home?

Cola: I work in MBK's building.  Didn't you see where I'd ripped up the dance floor?

That's because it was too slippery. What if Eunjung had slipped on it?  See, I take care of things: they couldn't manage without me.

S6: True, Eunjung slipping would be a tragedy.  I'm not sure you needed to dig through the floor, though.  Eunjung has a lot of determination.

Cola: Just trying to prevent another Hwayoung leg problem here. You all can thank me each time you see Eunjung on a music show.

S6: Oh, wait a minute, it says on MBK's site that Nutaz is a duo.  So, you're not actually a Nutaz member at all?

Cola: I have my role.

Seriously, who did you think was rapping?

S6: Naino.


S6: Er, okay.  So, got any funny stories about SPEED?

Cola: Yeah!  There was that was that time when that guy with the hair - ooh, tail!

(At this point, Cola started running in a short, tight, circles and that was the end of any coherent conversation.)

For an example of what I mean, see

Support Cola: buy Nutaz's albums here.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Anti-aging Remedy: Cold Water

Want a cheap anti-aging remedy?  Wash with cold water.

As in really cold:

 Like this gentleman is doing here:

Or this polar bear:

No casual, easy warm bath for you! Unbelievable, isn't it?

(This is Westie Lim.)

In fact, as the Beauty Queen anti-aging series continues, you'll notice a common theme: they all took daily cold baths.

Why?  Because the health benefits keep you young and fresh and fit as explained here:

"Cold showers have the following positive effects:
* Brings blood to the capillaries, therefore increasing circulation throughout the body.
* Strengthens the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems.
* Contracts the muscles to eliminate toxins and poisonous wastes.
* Strengthens the mucous membranes, which help resist hay fever, allergies, colds, coughs." 

And because cold anything helps you burn fat.  Just ask Michael Phelps how he stayed slim on a 12,000 calorie per day diet.  (Or don't, because he probably didn't think too hard about it.)

And because cold water helps maintain your skin's natural oils so it stays smoother longer, and because the increased circulation also keeps your hair its own natural colour. Cold water for your hair also keeps your hair cleaner longer and adds shine by closing the cuticles on the hair itself.

If you can't really can't handle cold showers, start with a less-hot shower than normal and then finish with a cold rinse. You can also alternate hot and cold for a minute each, but be sure to finish with a cold rinse.

Or, just roll in the cold snow like Wally Bear here:

Disclaimer: Of course, you shouldn't always take cold showers or baths if you have health problems like high blood pressure, are feverish, or have heart disease.  As always, check with your doctor first.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Should You Use Baking Soda For Acne?

Short Answer: NO!
Re the baking soda: DON’T DO IT. Contrary to what most people think, extreme cleansing such as you’d get with with baking soda, a household cleaner, by the way, can actually aggravate acne.  This is because you need some moisture in your skin to add a barrier to bacteria, irritants and infections.  Over-cleanse your skin, and you lay yourself open to more acne, not to mention rebound oiliness.
Don’t you want a perfect complexion like Jaehyo?  Bet you a 100 won his dermatologist and beauticians aren’t letting any baking soda near that creamy-smooth skin. 
Alkaline v. Acid
And, baking soda makes your skin more alkaline.  But, you actually want a your complexion to be at its natural 4.5-5.5 acid level because that acid mantle kills bacteria and protects you. If you make your skin more alkaline with a product like baking soda, you reduce your skin’s own protection against acne-causing bacteria. 
Personally, I find images like this gross, but it makes the point. 
A Plan
What would help more for exfoliating and cleansing, is to use a cleanser with a skin-level ph, such as Cerave* followed by a salicylic toner and then a water-based moisterizer.  If your skin is really oily, try OCM instead of a regular cleanser to get it back in balance, but still use the salicylic toner and the water-based moisterizer.
There are alternatives that I’ll get into in later post.  But yes, the basic mix is castor & olive. 
A Second Plan
Another alternative, should you want to do mask treatment, is plain yoghurt.  I recommend the full-fat from happy, grass-fed cows kind, because a happy cow will produce healthy dairy. For a yoghurt mask, after cleansing, just rub yoghurt into your skin - in fact, you can do this all over before you shower - and then wait about 20 minutes.  Then wash off, and continue with your skincare routine, salicylic toner and moisterizer. Yoghurt has the same ph level as skin, 4.5-5, and so it’s good for helping your skin to its perfect ph. 
We all need a happy cow in our lives.  
Don’t cleanse your skin with baking soda!  Just don’t.  Follow the basic skin care plan described above - I’ll write later on how to fine-tune it more - and strengthen your acid mantle so you can smile like Jaehyo here.
*With all products, patch test them first. Put a dab on your wrist or just by your ear where any reaction won't show, and wait 24 hours.  If you have sensitive skin, do it a few days in a row to be sure. 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Top Ten Kpop Songs of 2014

This is entirely my own opinion based on what I liked listening to again and again, and thus has no bearing on your personal angst regarding your own faves. 
10. 912 Crew. Please, no major agency pick these kids up and ruin their lives. They’re doing fine with their cheap, outdoor MV that someone’s mother is shooting on a home camera. 
9. BTS War of Hormone.  It’s hilarious & V gets the girl as he should because he's the cutest. ‘Nuff Said. 
8. Orange Caramel Catallena. Catchy, fun and creative.  Suits me. 
7. Boyfriend Witch.  loved the song, loved the video, and loved the live performances.  Every single time they nailed it, especially Donghyun. Did you see Donghyun?  He's the bleached blonde with blue contacts beckoning you into their Witch-World.  And this was my entry to other gorgeous music these otherwise mild-mannered young men produce.  
6. f(x) Dracula.  Actually, maybe this should be higher on the list. Anyway, loved the whole album.
5. T-ara and Chopstick brothers’ Little Apple.  I’d have placed this higher but all the nosebleeds in the video grossed me out. Still, if that doesn’t bother you, the story is, the Chopstick Brothers help T-ara N4 members, Eunjung, Qri, Hyomin and Jiyeon get a personal training business going.
4. SPEED Don’t Tease Me.  I liked it.  And I liked how CCM didn’t give them a real MV but just issued the video of their showcase where they performed their circus choreo.  Saves on the members’ debts to their company.  
3. Block B’s OST for Secret Door.  I actually tried watching this terrible show just because this song was awesome.
2. Block B’s Jackpot.  Look, practically every scene has Jaehyo.
 What’s not to like? I’m linking both versions.  
1.  This was the year I discovered T-ara.  Sugar Free is the best song of this whole past year. I’m linking the video and a performance because, if you’re epileptic or migraine-prone, the performance is watchable but the video is not.

Honourable Mention: 8 year old Song Gia with Follow Me. Not only is this child cute overload, but how do you resist diss lyrics like, "Do you still let your mom dress you?"