Current Skincare Products

My skin has never really been troublesome and has never wreaked havoc but it has taken me a couple years to discover amazing skincare products that truly work for me! Of course, there are many other products I would love to try but here is my current skincare routine:

Cleanser – Avène Cleanance Gel Cleanser ♥
Before we apply any products to our face, we clean. Obviously. This soap-less, thermal water based cleanser removes all dirt and is perfect for sensitive skin. Although the label says it is for “oily, blemish prone skin”, it doesn’t leave your skin feeling dry and flaky at all.

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Toner – Caudalie Eau de Beauté ♥
I feel like this one needs no introduction but just in case you’re not familiar with it, imagine a product that’s refreshing, tightens pores and smooths fine lines. You can even set your makeup with it! The only downside is that if you’re sensitive to strong scents, the eau de beauté can be quite overpowering but don’t worry! All ingredients are 100% natural.

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Moisturizer – Avène Ysthéal Anti-Wrinkle Emulsion
Let’s be real. I don’t really have any visible fine lines let alone deep wrinkles but expert dermatologists have said that it’s never too early to start the anti-ageing process. This emulsion is perfect for younger skin and reduces early signs of ageing.
One ingredient in this product that truly caught my eye was retinaldehyde. We hear a lot about retinal, retin-A and retinoic acid but they all tend to be harsh on the skin. Retinaldehyde is gentler and perfect for sensitive skin but equally as effective! It is meant to improve skin texture and brighten the skin.
I have been using this product for about a week so far and my skin definitely feels smoother. Sadly, I feel like it isn’t hydrating enough – I took the emulsion for oily/combination skin – so I’ll probably be purchasing for dry skin next time but will also grab a hydrating moisturiser for the time being.

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Sunscreen – Nuxe 50 SPF Sunblock
Before I continue, I must touch on one thing that I cannot stress enough. To effectively protect your skin from premature lines and wrinkles, PLEASE USE SUNSCREEN. Even on cloudy days when the sun doesn’t make an appearance, those UV rays are out there ready to strike. Sunscreen is your best friend and is your most effective anti-ageing product.
This one is hydrating but a tad too oily and am looking for something a bit more lightweight and suitable for application to the face.

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Body Oil – Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse ♥
This numerous award-winning oil has my heart. I usually apply it before bed and my skin drinks it up. I’ve even used it to remove eye make up and it does the trick each time. This French pharmacy staple is meant to be multi-purpose so apply generously.

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Must Have Holy Grail – The Body Shop Tea Tree Oil ♥
For the occasional pimple, the tea tree oil does wonders. Its really no surprise that this is one of their best selling skin care lines. Just buy it.

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Masks
The Body Shop Tea Tree Clay Mask
The clay mask balances the skin and prevents possible breakouts but I feel like it really does nothing for my blackheads. I once tried the Kiehl’s Rare Earth Deep Pore Cleansing mask and was expecting similar results. How silly I was to have the same expectations. Then again, the tea tree clay mask does exactly what it’s meant to do and has said nothing about cleansing out dirty pores but still…
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Dr. Morita Face Masks ♥
The Dr. Morita Face Masks on the other hand have been a firm favourite of mine since I was living in Taipei and are a STAPLE. I usually buy their hydrating masks as hydrated skin can then be treated. If you are trying to brighten/smooth/even out the skin tone of dry skin, forget it.

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Et voilà, voilà! If you are looking to try new products, hopefully this has helped a little. Quick note: products marked with a ♥ are staples. This means that I have repurchased these products and they have a special place in my drawer.

 

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A Michelin Star Experience in Taipei – Longtail

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Quite frankly, many people would be surprised to know we have a couple Michelin star restaurants in this island city. After all, we’re not as renowned as the French for our cuisine, neither are we as international as other cities, like Hong Kong, for example.

This year, Longtail was awarded one Michelin star along with 17 other restaurants in Taipei so imagine my excitement after a year abroad! Sadly, I was too busy catching up and focusing on the food to take photos of the decor which was simple, chic and straightforward. Nothing too fancy or fussy.

So why is it called Longtail?

When I was asking for the WIFI password which was “blue magpie”, I misheard it as “blue may pie” at first and had asked the waitress in a joking manner, “Why blue may pie? Does the owner like to eat it?”
She smiled and responded professionally, “I have no idea but I will ask for you.” And off she went.
A few minutes later she explained that as the national bird of Taiwan is the blue magpie and due to the length of its tail, the restaurant was therefore named: LONGTAIL. I thought it was an adorable detail so I thought I might add it in here.

Walking into the restaurant, you are met with the bar which looks refined and upscale with its standard wall of whiskeys, gins, liqueurs and bartenders in uniform. Longtail has a lovely selection of wine from almost everywhere, not just France, which often tends to be the case in Taipei. I was pleased to see they had a lovely, affordable bottle of Nero d’Avola from Sicily as well.

The meal consisted of six starters due to my friend’s suggestion; he’d been here a couple times so I thought it wise to just follow his advice. Apparently their starters are far more superior to their mains…

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We started with the kanpachi sashimi whose light, fresh flavours made it the perfect début and a beautiful introduction for the stronger flavours of the uni and crispy nori rice entrée which were pungent and present.

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Next was the fig toast with ricotta cheese. This was the dish that introduced me to ‘lemon balm’. How did it take me 24 years of life to discover this gorgeous grass?!

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Then came a delicate plate of charred foie gras dumplings with sweet corn sauce which was definitely an interesting pairing and a memorable dish! Who would’ve thought?! Foie gras, a Christmas favourite and a fairly expensive, luxury food item with everyday, ordinary sweet corn. Genius.

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After that innovative piece were the shrimp sliders. This is probably the most sophisticated burger I have ever eaten in my life. So much hard work and care had been put into every layer that it was almost a pity to finish it off!

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Last but not least, the crunchy soft shell crab with its spectacular salted egg yolk sauce. What a twist the sauce was! It certainly brought the dish together and was definitely something I had never tried before. I particularly appreciated the greens that accompanied the crab bringing with it a lightness that counteracted the greasiness often associated with anything fried.

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Conclusion: divine; both the service and the food.
I read someone else’s blog post about their experience at Longtail and they had complained about the service, but apparently that was when the restaurant had first opened so perhaps there was some tweaking to be done. I can testify that the service is currently top notch! What a wonderful re-introduction to the gastronomic scene of Taipei!

Click here to check out the Longtail menu
For reservations: +886 2 2732 6616
Address: No. 174, Sec. 2, Dunhua S. Road, Da’an District, Taipei

 

 

 

Wengu Cafe

Tiny raindrops start falling from the heavens and get progressively larger with each step that I take towards the cafe. A few moments after being greeted and seated by the waiter, the skies open up completely to release a tremendous thunderstorm it had been holding in for days.

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I had walked past this cafe several times while wandering Dong Qu (the Eastern District or the East Side of Taipei; popular for its clubs, bars, cafes, restaurants and boutiques.) What personally attracted me to this cafe were the hammock chairs hanging from the ceiling. I’m sure it was the case for most passers-by! Several months after the first sighting, I was finally here for a coffee date with a girl friend. Wengu cafe is a cosy spot, also perfect for studying as the music is soft and not intrusive. You are allowed to sit for as long as you want which is somewhat of a rare phenomenon in Taipei since many cafes and restaurants tend to have a 1.5 hour time limit. The service is fast and friendly!

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Address: No. 16, Lane 160, Section 1, Dunhua South Road, Da’an District, Taipei City

Food & Drinks: 9/10

Service: 9/10

Environment: 10/10

Pricing: 9/10

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OVERALL: 9.25/10

 

I ordered a coffee latte and my friend had a blueberry dream from their “Pot Plant” series. As I had recently gotten my wisdom teeth removed, I couldn’t opt for any of their cold drinks and only had the tiniest taste of the blueberry drink but it was delicious! The coffee latte was pleasing and the taste, smooth. 

My friend ordered banana chocolate waffles with cream and ice-cream. It looked absolutely divine but I only had a tid bit as well. From what I could tell, the waffles were soft and fluffy! She finished everything so that’s two thumbs up from her.

As for the french fries, we ordered some to nibble on. The sauce was so good that I had to ask the waiter what it was. Apparently, it was a homemade Caesar salad sauce that made ALL the difference!

N.B.: Wengu Cafe has a minimum charge of one drink per person. Their drinks average
around NTD130-NTD160.

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Love Diamond Heated Eyelash Curler

If you have hard-to-curl, stick straight lashes, you’ve come to the right place. For most of us Asian ladies whose lashes are naturally softer, shorter and grow towards the earth, naturally curly lashes are the ultimate dream. So to make up for it, we stick fake pieces of hair to our eyelids which is why falsies and lash extensions are so popular in Asia, if you’ve ever wondered.

Luckily, I’ve been blessed with long lashes but I don’t have much of them so using an eyelash curler is painful for me because once in a while, you’ll find a lash hanging onto the torture device for dear life. Perhaps it’s just me but I seem to lose lashes more often than not when I use a traditional eyelash curler so at one point, I decided that that was no longer an option.

In my quest for curly lashes, I discovered lash lifts. These look amazing for the first few weeks until the fourth or fifth. New lashes then grow out stick straight again so you have an array of curly/non-curly lashes. It just looks messy, even more so with mascara on. Another downside of the lash lift is that it costs NTD500 (approximately USD16) each time. Yes, it might be cheaper than what salons in other cities are asking for but it is still expensive when you add it up and it’s time consuming to visit your salon on a regular basis.

So I decided to DIY. My plan was to go and buy myself a lash lift set but Amazon didn’t ship that particular product to Taiwan. I then went out to Taipei Main Station where the back alleys are fringed with beauty shops. You can get EVERYTHING at these shops: gel nail polish, blackhead extractors, conditioners, makeup cases and whatnot. Everything except lash lift kits. I was later told that the Taiwanese government had banned the practice of lash lifts as the chemicals were proven to be cancerous. Many of these perming chemicals were made in China, so no surprise there.

“Maybe you could try using a heated eyelash curler?” the clerk said.

In my early modeling days, stylists would often carry one so I knew what she was talking about. After a bit of Googling and some very persuasive before and after pictures, I decided that it was worth a shot. So this is how I bought my very first heated eyelash curler!

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The product was designed by a famous Taiwanese make up artist and is called Love Diamond. It had received so much praise online that I knew I couldn’t go wrong if I purchased this one. I ordered mine on Yahoo (at this link), which is a very popular platform for online shopping in Taiwan. It was NTD950 (USD31) plus an extra NTD60 (USD2) to get it shipped to the nearest 7-11 convenient store near me. Two days later, it arrived and voila!

PACKAGING: Girly metallic pink with a silver lid and comes with its own pouch. An instruction manual/guarantee booklet is provided in Japanese and Traditional Chinese.

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PROS:

  • Heats up quickly
  • Can be plugged in unlike other heated eyelash curlers that are battery fueled. However, it does come with a battery version cover.
  • Does not burn the skin

CONS: None. Absolutely none that I can think of except the name perhaps…Love Diamond has nothing to do with what the product does but then again, not all Taiwanese are fluent English speakers and the name doesn’t affect the performance at all.

HOW TO USE:

  1. Plug in the device.
  2. Slide the silver button upwards.
  3. The reverse side of the curler is usually RED and will then turn YELLOW when it is heated and ready to use!
  4. Set curler against lashes for 10-15 seconds and move in a slow, upwards direction
  5. Apply mascara.

BEFORE

As you can see from this picture, there are NO apparent lashes. The only makeup I have is on my brows. My natural lashes are stick straight and point down at a 45 degree angle. You wouldn’t be able to see my lashes even if I had applied mascara.

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AFTER

No explanation needed. The photos speak for themselves! Of course, mascara was applied for the full effect.