Wednesday, October 31, 2012

L'Occitane Aromachologie Relaxing Body Lotion

Finished the L'Occitane Plum Blossom Skin Moisture Gel and moved on the Aromachologie Relaxing Body Lotion from the L'Occitane French Travel Treasures Set.

French Travel Treasures Set is actually quite nice as it includes a wide variety of items and you get to try a little bit of a lot of things. I ended up giving many away though and only kept a few to myself, this  Aromachologie Relaxing Body Lotion included.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Ningxia Night Market (寧夏夜市)

While my old college friend A. is in town to visit, she and her fiancé S. took us to Ningxia Night Market (寧夏夜市). Being only 2 rows up and down a short strip of road, it is a tiny night market in comparison to my local Shida Night Market, but I was told the locals go here to eat and else where to shop.

And indeed, the Ningxia Night Market was food, food, and more food. It was literally one food stall after another and we all walked up and down the whole place twice before we could make our decision on what to snack on. There were so many choices and everything looked equally delicious!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

IsQueen Rice High Performance Eye Gel

After finishing up my sample of Bliss Fabulous Every Day Eye Cream (lasted me a month!), I moved on to another generous sample I had of IsQueen Rice High Performance Eye Gel. This came in a large square sachet that more than half filled my reusable mini 5mL jar of Lancome Secret de Vie from last year!

This is how much I have left after 2 weeks of generous daily use ^.^


This is a super light weight eye gel that is thicker in texture than Bliss but still absorbs quickly and leaves behind no traces of greasiness. I find it adequately moisturizing and, like Bliss, it keeps my sunscreen in the humidity and does not crease my eye makeup. It is scented with a soft and mild flowery powder fragrance that I actually enjoy.

***Picture from IsQueen HK.

That said, the weather has cooled within the past week and I'm now anxious to finish it up so I can move on to a more moisturizing eye gel. I have yet another nicely sized sample sachet of Komenuka Bijin Eye Moisture Jell lined up for a while now and I can't wait to get my hands on it ^.^ I know, I get bored way too easily.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Mentholatum SunPlay Super Block SPF50+ PA+++

Update Friday October 26, 2012

After moving home from Japan, I've experimented with this Mentholatum SunPlay Super Block again in the super dry weather while visiting my folks in the US of A. I have to say this sunscreen worked extremely well in a drier environment! It became very light and weightless in addition to making my makeup look pretty much flawless. The slight downer was that the slight white cast also became more noticeable due to the dryness of the weather and the brightness of the sun. Nothing a few fluff of setting powder couldn't correct though, and if you are living in a dry environment, this would make an excellent substitute for Allie at a fraction of the price. Really, it was no wonder why my mum loved this little red cap bottle so much!

With this confidence, I brought a few bottles with me to Taiwan, not being certain whether I would be able to find a supply of it here in Taipei. Well, turns out I was wrong on the former and correct on the latter. I was correct in that this sunscreen cannot be found here at all! I tried looking everywhere, Sasa included and still couldn't find even one bottle! However, I was unexpectedly wrong in that the humid Taiwanese weather (more humid than Japan, eeps!) turned this Mentholatum SunPlay Super Block super thick and heavy on my skin. Even after I skipped moisturizer altogether, Hadanomy AquaPlacenta Concentrated Mist included(!), it still felt as though I was walking around with a mask on. And yet with no moisturizers underneath and set with translucent powder, my t-zone still shined like an oil spill when I got to school! Through classes, I had to blot constantly to keep my nose shine-free. Not sure what happened there! :( So yeah, I had to stop using this and switched over to the Mentholatum Skin Aqua UV Sara Sara Essence, which I'd reviewed recently after having tested it in 3 different countries, Japan, US, and Taiwan ^.^

-------------------------------------------------
Original post Friday, August 10, 2012

A year or so after my first Allie sunscreen, I made a convert out of my mum and she loved Allie's texture and finish after Lancome and Estee Lauder, among other things, failed her (and stung her eyes badly). Late last year, having had my sister lugged home several bottles on her move back, mum started to complain about how much they cost. So I went online and found this post recommending the Top 5 Japanese Sunscreens for Summer 2011. Since mum's concern was affordability, I decided to get her a couple of bottles of Mentholatum SunPlay Super Block SPF50+ PA+++ to try, after all, its retail price is a mere 398yen for a 27mL bottle (versus Allie's 1,470yen for 25mL or 2,940yen for 60mL) and I've seen it sold for even less, 298yen(!) at certain drugstores. 

By the way, there is also a Top 5 for Spring 2011 edition too and I have actually reviewed a few from both lists: obviously Allie (been using since 2008), Nivea Sun Protect Water Gel SPF30 PA++ (started using at my sister's recommendation since she's been using the Cool version on her face for a few years), most recently Allie Extra UV Gel Mineral Moist N SPF50+ PA+++ (best for winter use I decided), Mentholatum Skin Aqua UV Sara Sara Milk SPF50+ PA+++ (summer use only, definitely with moisturizer underneath as it is very drying with strong alcohol content, that said it's still much better than its alcohol-free sister UV Moisture Milk I tried a few years ago), and now this Mentholatum SunPlay Super Block SPF50+ PA+++. After this, I will probably move on to another item on the list, the Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence SPF50 PA+++, so check back later ^.^

Mentholatum SunPlay Super Block SPF50+ PA+++

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Taipei Eats - Yongkang Street area (永康街, Picture heavy!)

I "stumbled" upon the greatness that is Yongkang Street (永康街) purely by accident. I read a little bit about Taipei prior to our arrival, but there were so much to absorb (still!) during the first couple of weeks I had forgotten everything I read (the internet is a godsend!). And then one afternoon while walking home from school, hubby and I ran into my Japanese classmate and she asked if we knew where Yongkang Street was. That weekend (Mid Autumn Festival), we consulted google to orient ourselves and headed straight there. Turns out the street is also a mere 15 minutes walk from our apartment, just like Shida Night Market ^.^

Monday, October 22, 2012

Lux White Impress Shower Milk

Just a short review here. Finished up the "courtesy" mini bottle of the Dove Body Wash Cucumber Green Tea that the landlord left in the apartment for us. I actually didn't like this localized version, as it smelled funky, nothing like cucumber or green tea, and was super drying despite the humidity. So I was glad to be rid of it and randomly picked up this Lux White Impress Shower Milk, also a localized product.

Another unfortunately meh body wash though. While it's a tad less drying than Dove, it's way too perfumy for my taste. It also has these sand-like beats in it and I'm not sure what their purpose is because there are too few of them to be exfoliating, but too many of them to not notice and just ignore. So really, they're kind of useless. I'm disappointed, but not really surprised. The mass produced body washes are really crappy nowadays and I think I'm becoming more of a hand-poured goats milk and essential oil soap bar girl.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Nivea Lip Care Balms

Before I left to Taipei, I picked up 2 of these Nivea A Kiss of Smoothness Hydrating Lip Care SPF 10 for hubby. I had just seen Citrine's post on the Kiss of Milk & Honey Soothing Lip Care and was rather curious, but I figured I already had an ample supply of balm tints I'd be bringing with me, and hubby is quite fussy and hates lip balms with any kind of scent or taste in it.

Nivea A Kiss of Smoothness Hydrating Lip Care SPF10. In Taiwan, they are called Hydro Care Lip Balm and in Japan, they get a bit confusing with 2 similar products, one in the same sky blue chubby round tube called Moisture Lip Unscented and one in a more classic chapstick twist up tube called Moisture Lip Water Type Unscented

Friday, October 19, 2012

Taipei Eats - Ximending area (西門町, Picture heavy!)

On a lovely afternoon a few weeks ago hubby and I decided to pay Ximending a visit, though not because it is dubbed the Shibuya and Harajuku of Taipei :P We were there to look for 2 very specific places, one is an ice cream shop and the other another dessert shop specializing in almond tofu. But of course the stroll around Ximending was nice too ^.^

The view outside of MRT Ximen Station (西門站), Exit 4. It was a gorgeous sunny but cooler day, just perfect to be wandering around in.

The Taipei city police station front (left) and back (right). Fancy!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Nivea Fruity Shine Lip Balm SPF10

Saw these Nivea A Kiss of Flavor on Citrine's Blog spring of last year and she had good things to say about the Strawberry Tinted Lip Care SPF4 (though not so much for the Cherry Tinted one from 2009). Fast forward a year and Nivea reformulated and repackaged these balms as A Kiss of "insert flavor" Fruity Lip Care SPF10. Here in Taiwan, they are called Fruity Shine Lip Balm SPF10. I thought they are localized products but nope, all are imported from Germany, same as the ones in the US, which makes the name variations even harder to understand. Can you get any more convoluted, Nivea? 

Nivea Fruity Shine Lip Balm SPF10 Pink Guava and Strawberry, with the Chinese descriptions taped over the original English. All pictures taken in natural light without flash.

The outer packaging changed slightly as well, and they went from a chubby round tube with cap that's flat at the end to a "pudgier" tube with cap that's slanted at the end. The ones in Taiwan have the same new packaging. Flavor wise, there are only Cherry and Strawberry available in the US. In Taiwan, instead of Cherry they have Pink Guava, in addition to Strawberry. That said, the Nivea Taiwanese website no longer shows these 2 flavors, which makes me think perhaps they are being discontinued. From kuri I learned there is Pomegranate in Singapore, and for Japan, other than Strawberry there are also Pink Grapefruit and Peach, as shown on Nivea Japanese website. Garhh...want!!!

New US packaging (left 2 pictures) and Taiwan's Pink Guava and Strawberry (right picture), also in new packaging.
***Left 2 pictures from Nivea USA.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Mentholatum Skin Aqua UV Sara Sara Essence SPF50+ PA+++

It has been quite an interesting experiment with this Mentholatum Skin Aqua UV Sara Sara Essence SPF50+ PA+++. I bought it back in May and started testing it along with several other sunscreens, Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence SPF50+ PA+++, Mentholatum SunPlay Super Block SPF50+ PA+++, Mentholatum Skin Aqua UV Sara Sara Milk SPF50+ PA+++, and Allie Extra UV Gel Mineral Moist N SPF50+ PA+++ for the face, and Mentholatum Skin Aqua UV Moisture Gel SPF32 PA+++ and Nivea Sun Protect Water Gel SPF30 PA++ for the body.

This Sara Sara Essence is a newer release and I picked it because according to what I read, it has stronger UVA protection (indicated by PA) with Tinosorb S, an ingredient common in European sunscreens known for much stronger UVA protection than American sunscreens, which focuses on UVB (indicated by SPF) and pretty much ambivalent when it comes to UVA. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Taipei Eats - Zhongxiao East Road area (忠孝東路, Picture heavy!)

Hubby and I haven't explored the area around Zhongxiao Road (忠孝東-西路) much. We've only been there a few times to shop for knick knacks for the apartment or to meet up with friends. It really helps to have friends wherever you go, because thank goodness for their recommendations that you are never bored.

That said, I have to admit our first visit to the area was a complete failure. We exited MRT Zhongxiao Dunhua Station (忠孝敦化站) and after wandering around aimlessly for about an hour we randomly picked this Sichuan restaurant. I was iffy about it the moment we entered the place, because it was too, umm, poshy. I was right. It was alright, not terrible but not good either, and expensive as hell. A bad choice all around, so I didn't bother to take a picture of the place because I'd never come back.

Pickled cucumbers and plum juice.

Spicy diced chicken with bone in and "Sichuan style" beef noodles that was actually regular but meh beef noodles at 3x the price. 

Dessert was on the house - coconut jello. It was okay.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

L'Oreal Colour Riche Balm SPF15

Keeping with my goal to pack multi-purpose lip items for Taiwan, I also took these L'Oreal Colour Riche Balm SPF15 with me. Yep, all 8 of them. Because it's hard for me to pick just a few, so much for packing light :P

L'Oreal Colour Riche Balm SPF15. All pictures taken in natural light without flash.

These are tinted balms in a nice lipstick-like gold twist up bullets with square base. They don't have that substantial weighty feel like Revlon ColorBurst Lip Butter (precisely the reason I did not bring Revlon with me!), but they aren't plastic-y or tacky like the Maybelline ColorSensational Pop Sticks either. I would have preferred a smaller and more slender round tube like Sephora Hot Hues Neon Lip Balm, but if you didn't know better, you'd think I was swiping on some high-end lipstick and not a drugstore lip balm!

Left: 118 Pink Satin, 218 Rose Elixir, 219 Plush Plum, and 318 Heavenly Berry.
Right: 418 Caring Coral, 518 Tender Mauve, 818 Nourishing Nude, and 819 Caramel Comfort.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Naruko Tea Tree Oil Out Peeling Gel

I first read about Robin Niu from Rouge Deluxe's Kose's Talk Show with Niu Er post. At the time, I was one week away from moving to Japan and trying a new Taiwanese brand was the last thing on my mind. But I'm in Taipei now and seeing Niu Er's skincare brands everywhere naturally makes me curious. Since I needed a peeling gel at the time, and Watsons was (and perhaps still) having this promotion for buy one get one *almost* free (see below), I picked up this Naruko Tea Tree Oil Out Peeling Gel to try. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Day Trip to Tamsui (淡水, Picture heavy!)

Yet another long post.

My cousin Q. is finishing her last year of college in Taipei, and so after having not seen each other for many years, we now get to hang out every now and then in a city unfamiliar to the both of us ^.^ One weekend we met up for a day trip in Tamsui, and she brought her classmates with her, all 10 of them. Yep. That's how they roll I guess xD Hubby and I were a bit surprised at first since we weren't expecting a giant get together but we all ended up enjoying ourselves so much we forgot we were moving about in a big mass LOL! 

It's so so convenient to travel about here in Taipei, as there are subway, bus, etc., to every where. It is cheap too, and public transportation here costs less than 1/3 of what it does in Japan! The nearest MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) station is literally outside my alley, and I'm on the Red Line, which goes directly to Tamsui in about 1 hour. So yeah, I just got on the train and that was that! Super nice...

A farmer's market and a human statue at the start of the Tamsui Old Street.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Taipei Eats - Heping East Road area (和平東路, Picture heavy!)

Disclaimer - another long post ahead of the shops along Heping East Road where I live!

I mentioned in my previous Shida Night Market Eats post that we don't have a functional kitchen in our Taipei apartment, so we eat out 2 meals a day, 7 days a week, which is why I'm gaining weight even though I walk 2+ miles every day to school T.T Anyway, in addition to the night market, we pretty much just randomly pick any stores, shops, carts, stands that looks good.

Zhang Mama Beef Noodles (張媽媽牛肉麵) is the very first shop we had lunch at the day after we landed in Taipei ^.^ We didn't know at the time, but this shop is actually a bit more expensive, about twice as much as most noodle shops and we paid around $6-7 (NT$180-200) for each of our bowl of noodles.

The red braised beef noodles (left) was decent, but not the best. The light broth beef noodles turned out to be disappointingly bland. I guess now I know that "light" really means "no taste" LOL! Won't make that mistake again :P

Braised beef noodle with tomatoes and Braised beef soup.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Clinique Chubby Stick Moisturizing Lip Colour Balm

Traveling isn't easy, especially the packing part. Most airlines now allow only 2 pieces of check-in luggage weighing no more than 50 lbs. (~ 22.7kg) each for international travel (unless you fly first class, in which case it'd be much cheaper to just courier the darn luggages). And while packing for the few months we'll be spending in Taipei, hubby went even further and limited each of us to just 1 piece of luggage. Cruel, I tell you. Cruel. But fine, whatever. I wanted to save room for new Taiwan additions anyway :P *muahaha* Shh...don't tell him I said that xD

Clinique Chubby Sticks Moisturizing Lip Colour Balm
Top to bottom: 04 Mega Melon, 05 Chunky Cherry, 06 Woppin' Watermelon, 07 Super Strawberry, 12 Oversized Orange. All pictures taken in natural light without flash.

Needless to say it was exceedingly difficult to pick what to bring with me to Taipei given the little room I had. Adding to the challenge was that I did a whole lot of cosmetics shopping before moving home from Japan (who wouldn't?!?), so all the sparkling newbies were equally beckoning. In the end, I decided on, well, non-Japanese balm-tints, either in a twist up bullet, like the Sephora Hot Hues Neon Lip Balm or Maybelline ColorSensational Pop Sticks, or in a pencil form, like the Stila Lip Glaze Sticks minus the sharpening. I figured balm-tints are meant to be travel-friendly, as in you don't really need a mirror to apply them. At the same time, they are multi-functional, [supposedly] providing moisture, a hint of color, and sometimes even a sheen. 

Which brings me to these Clinique Chubby Sticks, which I've been eyeing since they first came out. Living in Japan didn't do much to stop me from picking up a few to try, thanks to the internet, because I would never buy non-Japanese brand cosmetics in Japan anyway. Why pay double, triple the price? :P It took a few months for me to gather the mini collection below, with the two at top being GWPs and the three full sizes. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Mooncakes!

Last weekend was the weekend of Mid Autumn Festival, and I got to experience a bit of the culture here. So apparently, in addition to sipping hot tea and nibbling on mooncakes while viewing the moon, folks in Taiwan also has a tradition of barbecuing. This "tradition" is rather a young one, having been started in the mid 80's, and according to my Mandarin teacher, from a barbecue sauce commercial. I'll ask her for the link of the youtube video and will update this post with it for you to see. 

But yes, walking down the street here in Taipei, you will see people barbecuing with their family out on the side walks right in front of their homes. It was actually kind of confusing, since there are also street vendors who sell grilled things on the side of the road and sometimes it's hard to tell which is a street vendor with a host of patrons gathering around him and which is an actual family barbecuing with their loved ones. Hubby and I joked around and dared each other to come up to a random party, sit down, and just start ordering xD Of course we didn't pull the stunt, but the reaction would have been hilarious to see! ...Or not -.-' We're so immature, I know.

My mooncake plate ^.^ They're mostly Taiwanese style with just one tiny squarish Hongkong style (middle row, right) one mixed in.

Mod's Hair Aqua Clear Reset Shampoo

I know I get bored easily, because there's always at least 2 different shampoos and 2 different body washes in my shower ^.^ That said, one of them, however many, must be a clarifying shampoo. I have oily scalp, and without using a clarifying shampoo at least once or twice a week my hair just feel really gunky and heavy even though I wash it every day. 

Here in Taipei, in addition to Asience Shine Therapy Shampoo TW and Tsubaki Shining Shampoo, I also bought this bottle of Mod's Hair Aqua Clear Reset Shampoo. This is not my first time using this shampoo, actually. I have used it way back in 2005-2006 when I was working in Japan. I wanted to try something else, but there was not really many choices for clarifying shampoo, at least not apparent to me. This is a Japanese import with a Mandarin-language sticker taped over the original Japanese on the back of the bottle.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Shida Night Market Eats (師大路夜市, Picture heavy!)

Here's your warning - long post ahead!

Hubby and I live about a 10-15 minutes walk from Shida Night Market (師大路夜市), and since we can't cook in our tiny apartment (we don't really want to, why would we?), every other night is a leisurely stroll in search of good food to eat. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Asience Shine Therapy Shampoo TW

Bought this Asience Shine Therapy Shampoo after having had a good experience with the Nature Smooth kind in the silver bottle. This was the day after our arrival into Taipei late at night and so I wasn't paying much attention to what I was buying. So despite having Japanese on the front of the bottle, this is actually a localized product, made in Thailand, and not a Japanese import, which I have noted with a "TW". Again, this is not a comment on the quality of the product, but if you were to buy the Japanese made one, be aware that it may or may not perform the same way this one does.

Monday, October 1, 2012

My Walk To School

Just thought I'd share with you my daily 1+ mile (~1.8km, each way) to and from school with you ^.^ It's been cloudy and rainy for the first couple of weeks I've been here, September is peak rainy season apparently. And then this glorious sunny day with clear blue sky came out of nowhere and I just couldn't resist snapping away. This really is the walk *from* school instead of to school, because I was in too much of a hurry to stop and take pictures in the morning :P

Let's start at my school, Chinese Culture University (中國文化大學)'s Mandarin Language Center located in the Daan district of Taipei. I pick this school over some well known ones in the vicinity because I'm studying Mandarin out of pure interest, rather than for academic (or even work) reasons. I'm not new to the language. It was my college major and one I haven't used for a decade (my work has absolutely nothing to do with either of my degrees, ha...), hence this schooling is more of a fun "refresher" and I sure don't need to torture my brains with Mandarin bootcamp for a second time. 

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