The lovely Kate over at Magnolia Rouge very kindly featured our engagement session on her blog today. Head over there and check it out.
PS: Our photographer Julie Lim also blogged the shoot here. Go give her some love; she’s pretty amazeballs!
Howdy friends! If you follow me on Instagram you’ll know that I’ve been in Los Angeles for the past week or so eating up a storm (what else would I be doing?). The actual reason I’m over here is because my brother, who is back from his semester in Shanghai, got an internship over here. LA is pretty non-public transportation friendly, so my dad and I flew out here to go car shopping. Fun stuff, I tell ya. At any rate, we were able to squeeze in some gastronomical adventures and shenanigans of the random variety. So without further ado:
My brother introduced me to a chain called the Veggie Grill. If anything could convince me to turn vegetarian/vegan, it would be this chain. // Half & Half, what is it about your boba and pudding that makes me weak in the knees?
I’ve heard from multiple people that the Korean food in K-Town is better than Korea due to the availability of fresh ingredients. After spending a few days in Seoul this past winter, I’m inclined to agree. The panchan at Beverly Soon Tofu was delish. // Spotted a bunch of cute terrariums at the Grove that make my terrarium look deplorable. It doesn’t help that Nugget has eaten 2 of the 3 plants in mine =\
Bought some Venezuelan chocolate at the Grove’s farmers market to bring back to Darren. And a bar of fudge for me. // Took our dad hiking at Runyon Canyon. We took the easy path and had our dad huffing and puffing in no time.
Spent a quiet day at Hermosa Beach // Viet food at Saigon Dish – my dad’s find. Tasted allllmost like mommy’s.
Dim sum at King Hua in Monterey Park. I have never seen har gow and shiu mai this large.
More food from King Hua. As delicious as this was, I am pretty certain they put MSG in their dishes. About 30 minutes after we left, I was dragged into an MSG-induced coma. Doh.
Explored Arlington Garden near old-town Pasadena. This quite sanctuary would be a perfect place for a picnic. I was enamored with all the succulents that sprouted around the grounds. // Not just Hi-Chew. Individually wrapped Hi-Chew. Once again, Daiso wins my heart.
The bistro that we stayed at (Courtyard El Segundo by LAX) served up the cutest oatmeal . I took notes for any future guest stays at the Darwin residents. // Ramen. There is so much ramen in LA. This bowl is from Hakata in Little Osaka. I loved that the restaurant allows you to specify the hardness of your noodles (I prefer mine on the al dente side).
In case you didn’t see our previous post, our e-sesh is on the Washingtonian. Check them bad boys out.
In my previous post, I explored Asia’s obsession with skin and explained how their beauty culture differs from the West. In addition to giving preference towards skin care over makeup, the typical Asian skin care regimen includes layering multiple products onto the skin. I’ve broken down each step of the process into a ‘Night’ regimen and a ‘Day’ regimen. The general rule of thumb is to apply products in the order of thickness, building from watery serums to thick creams.
Night– The “double cleanse” is a two-step method that really, truly removes all the gunk from your face. The first step, an oil based cleanser, melts off makeup- including waterproof mascaras and other hard-to-move items. The second step, a foaming cleanser, turns into a frothy “cushion” that gently removes dirt, oil, and other impurities without pulling on the skin. I approached oil cleansers cautiously, since my skin is pretty sensitive and acne-prone, but after incorporating oil cleansers into my routine for almost 5 months, have not experienced any problems.
Day– You wake up with significantly less dirt and gunk on your face (I hope), so there’s no need for a double cleanse in the morning.
“Lotions” and “toners” are different from what we typically think of in the West, while the term “milk” may be completely new to you. What’s the difference? It’s hard to say, since each company tends to market their products a little differently, but in general the only difference is the color of the substance (milks are creamy in color, vs. lotions and toners, which are clear). Their purpose is to re-inject some of the moisture stripped during the cleansing process, return the skin to its natural pH level, and prepare the skin to “receive” serums and additional moisture. This is in contrast to Western style ‘toners’, which typically aim to remove any trace residue after washing.
Essences and serums are the true workhorses of Asian skin care. These are used to correct skin imperfections- from uneven skin tone, to excess oil, to clogged pores- if you can name a problem, chances are there’s an essence or serum for it.
Almost there! I’m going to introduce another vocabulary term. Ready? Emulsion. It’s just a lightweight moisturizer, and it goes on before your second moisturizer (yep, two). At night, the emulsion is followed by either a sleeping pack or a sleeping mask, both of which serve to give your skin extra hydration while “locking in” all of the other wonderful goodness you just layered on. In the AM, an SPF protects the skin from the sun’s harmful rays. You’re putting sunscreen on every time you go outside right? Riiiight?
But wait, we’re not finished! While steps 1-4 comprise the core of a daily skin routine, there are a few ‘extras’ that you can throw into the mix a few times a week.
Night: Sheet masks are soaked in essence or other treatment serums that you leave on your face for up to 20 minutes while you scare your fiance and dog. Use before your sleeping pack/mask and do not rinse. Scrubs and exfoliators help to remove dead skin and other impurities.
Day: We’ve all heard of BB and CC creams, so no need for me to elaborate. Mists are a great pick-me-up and can either be spritzed after cleansing or after makeup and periodically throughout the day to prevent slippage.
While many turn to Europe for skin care trends and innovations, some of the biggest beauty and skin care developments in recent years have originated in Asia. During my trip to Tokyo, Seoul, and Shanghai earlier this year, I found myself scrutinizing numerous faces on the subway, wondering why everyone’s skin is so damn good. We’re talking supple, glowing skin that reveals little -if any- signs of aging, the kind of skin that can only be realized through skillful Photoshopping. Here are five observations I made about the role of skin care in Asia’s beauty culture.
1. Priorities: Skin care vs. Cosmetics– While cosmetics make up the majority of beauty purchases in the U.S., Asian women live by the philosophy that “bare is beautiful”. Victoria Tsai, founder of the Tatcha skin care line says, “The no-makeup trend has been a big one in Asia for a long time, and it’s very much about the skin — in Asia, they spend far more money on skin care and far less on makeup.”
2. Competition: Quality Products at Lower Price Points- If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen my video snippet of the contents of a Japanese drugstore. The market for skincare in Asia is extremely competitive, so manufacturers need to create higher quality products at lower price points in order to capture even a small fraction of the consumer base. Example? Shiseido’s cult favorite Perfect Whip cleansing foam retailed for just under $3 USD in Tokyo (it’s more expensive in Korea and in the US due to import taxes).
3. Cutting Edge Ingredients: Moisturize, Whiten, and Brighten– How do you feel about putting snail on your face? No, seriously. A number of strange- but effective- ingredients have made it to the top of Japanese and Korean skin care lines, due in part to looser restrictions on bringing new skin care ingredients to the market. Most of these ingredients are used with the intention of whitening and brightening (which are synonymous terms in Asian skincare) or locking in moisture. Just a few interesting ingredients that come to mind include snail extract, bee venom, and bird’s nest.
4. Japanese and Korean Brands Dominate, Growing Chinese Market- Korean and Japan have been the longtime leaders in skin care innovation in Asia, but don’t count out China: from 2001-2011, the Chinese skin and cosmetics market grew by 17%, and the premium skin/cosmetics market grew by an even faster rate of 22.3%. In 2012, China became the world’s third largest cosmetics market following the United States and Japan.
5. Layer, Layer, Layer– Whereas Western skin care regimens typically include 2-3 steps (cleanser, toner, lotion- and that’s on a good day for me), Asian skincare regimens can include upwards of 10-15 steps. The ‘layering’ technique involves patting or massaging the products in a specific order, usually from the lightest to heaviest consistency. While the layering technique originated in Asia, the French are also proponents of this method, otherwise known as ‘millefeuille’ –translated as ‘a thousand layers’, not to be confused with the pastry.
All of this background is intended to justify why, after picking my way across drugstores and skin care counters, I returned from Asia with an arsenal of products and a new found determination to take better care of my skin. While I haven’t made it to 10 -much less 15- products on the regular, incorporating and layering some of these new products has improved my skin. Interested? Look for more information and product recommendations in my next post.
Konichiwa, friends! If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll notice that I’m currently in the Land of the Rising Sun. My better half is at home with Nugget, but my little brother and I have still been able to get into some mischief making while in Tokyo. We’re here for another day and then off to Seoul for the rest of the week. Here are a few shots from our adventures:
Christmas is quick upon us, and if you’re like me, your gift shopping progress is…zilch. Since I’ve been brainstorming what to gift to others, I figured I’d share my findings with you. If you’ve read our Build a Home Mini Bar guide, you’ll know that we like our imbibements at Casa de Darwin. Should you find yourself wondering what to gift your friend who enjoys partaking in beverage sipping of the alcoholic variety, look no further: 13 days till Christmas, 13 gift ideas that will make you want to drink.
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