Ciao Selects: Best finds from Sephora 焦點嚴選:美國化妝品網站 Sephora 推薦

In my efforts to stop hoarding beauty products, I made a pact with my fellow beauty product enthusiast, Laura that I wouldn’t buy any beauty products until the Sephora sale this year.  For a die-hard product junkie like me, this is a hard rule to enforce, especially in an enabling environment like Taipei. There are lovely air conditioned drugstores on every corner, beckoning me with their shiny new products. During my weakest moments, I’ve had to cross streets and take alternative routes home just to avoid temptation.

But I’m happy to report that for the past four months or so, I’ve been really good! During this time, I’ve been really enjoying my past purchases, and consistently working through my stockpile of face masks.  Before shopping this year’s sale, I thought it would be helpful if I shared with you my reviews of products from my past Sephora purchases.

From left to right, is the Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment which has been a favorite of mine for years. I love the texture and the smooth application. I also purchased the mini size this year, which is perfect for just a touch of color when I am out and about. The second product is is the First Aid Beauty Detox Eye Roller.  This is a new product for me that I bought on my most recent trip to the U.S.. It feels icy cool upon application, absorbs quickly, and alleviates some puffiness.  I can’t say if it is doing anything to help my intense under-eye circles just yet, but I will report back once I am about halfway though the product. The third product is Charlotte Tilbury’s Brightening Youth Primer. This primer sinks into my skin quickly, and provides a lovely lit-from-within glow under my foundation. It also feels lightweight to wear, even in Taiwan’s humidity. Some of the reviewers mentioned that this product has a strong scent, but I have not noticed this at all.  The fourth product is Tatcha’s  luminous dewy skin mist.  This is my first Tatcha product and it will be the first of many to come! The mist floats ethereally onto your skin, and refreshes like morning dew.  Love, love love it!

Next  up is Laneige’s lip sleeping mask, in the original scent, which smells like berries. (I believe that it is now available in vanilla). I bought this in the dead of winter, for the two weeks I was working in Oregon, and just slathered it on my lips before going to bed every night. I think it worked well as a buffer against the wind and cold. I reinforced it with Fresh’s Sugar Lip Treatment during the day, and I was set. The Edible Beauty masks are my first product from this brand. I love the light scent and the mask felt very calming and soothing ~ it was especially welcome during a disastrous incident with a new product (more on that later!)  The other product I believe is worth a mention is the Jade Roller from Mount Lai.  This is one tool that I wish I was more diligent about using! Theoretically, it should be part of my nightly routine, but I always forget. However, if I do remember to use it, it’s a perfect complement to my facial masks. I think it really helps the serums sink in.

The one product that I have had disastrous results with is the Banana Bright Eye Creme from Ole Henrikson. This eye cream is highly rated on Sephora’s website, and I naturally had high hopes… unfortunately, the product made the skin around my eyes swell up and itch like crazy. The swelling took about 2-3 days to go down, and another few days for my skin to return to normal. In a fit of rage, I  was about to toss both jars (the mini and full size) into the trash. But Laura suggested that I use them as a hand cream, instead of letting them go to waste. Amazingly enough, the product works well as a hand cream, with no signs of irritation.

Thankfully, this eye cream has been my only skincare disaster from Sephora of late. Of course, this means that I am well justified in getting a new eye cream. After much research and discussion, I’ve decided on my list for this sale:  First, the item I will be repurchasing is the the Tatcha skin mist. I think the mini size is a perfect size (it lasts about 2 months with daily use) and is light and refreshing to use in Taiwan’s humid weather.  I’m also excited to try the Shaba Complex Firming Eye Serum from Drunk Elephant, and the Strawberry C Brightening Serum from Volition Beauty. The soothing quality of the masks from Edible Beauty have also encouraged me to try more from their product line up; this time I’ve chosen the Glowing Skin Smoothie serum. Lastly, I’m looking forward to trying Fenty Beauty’s Match Styx, which looks like such a pretty color and fun product for summer.

Original images from

Again, I’m trying not to go overboard and just buy products that I can realistically use this upcoming spring/summer season. I have my eye on a few more serums and lotions, but I think they will probably be more suitable for the winter months, so I’ve wish listed them for now.

For those living in the US, or are lucky to have friends who live in the US, the Sephora sale is on from May 2nd to May 6th!

Note: This is not a sponsored post. All products shown are/will be purchased with my own money. All experiences and viewpoints expressed are my own. Links are for your reference only.


Monthly Roundup April 2019

This month was largely shaped by a self-imposed 30 day no shopping ban.  I’m proud to report that I did it!  Even through a 5 day holiday!  I also tried a few other things, such as limiting my discretionary spending to $2000 TWD (about $65 USD) for a week, including groceries, meals out, coffees and incidentals. I almost made it (I think I was just a little over). Thoughts so far is that it is so much cheaper to eat at home. Even in Taiwan! And little expenses that you don’t think twice about add up quickly. This upcoming month, I might try $4000 over a two week span, just to give myself a little flexibility.  One important lesson these financial habit shifts is teaching me is to be more mindful with my money. I work hard for it… and I should really be more aware of where it is going.

As I mentioned, the shopping ban coincided with a 5 day holiday… I considered starting the ban after the holiday, but then I thought, might as well go for it and see what happens. It turns out I spent a lot of time reading. In fact, I read 5 books between the holiday (mid-April) and now. On some occasions, I relaxed and read at home, other times I treated myself to a coffee or drink at a nice coffee shop. It was heaven.  I just let my mind run empty and dove into the stories. I enjoyed every single book in this stack, but my favorite was definitely Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine. The book is simultaneously heartbreaking and heartwarming. I absolutely recommend.

Lastly, the days are getting longer since summer is approaching. I’m relishing the last days of being able to slurp down down piping hot soup and noodles without melting into a puddle. These noodles are from a tiny shop in my neighborhood. It’s run by the brusquest group of people… they never smile, and the rules change all the time (write down your order! Don’t write down your order, just tell me! Wait here! Wait outside!) However, the uncertainty is worth it because I love the thick, velvety rice noodles in simple broth. I forgot to take a photo of it, but there’s also a tofu side dish that comes drenched in a spicy, savory sauce that is also to die for.  The shop is always full of people and they sell out quickly, so I always get my noodles and tofu to go, and enjoy at home in a beautiful plate that it deserves.

Hope everyone is doing well! Next month, I’ll be looking more into habit shifts… research varies on how long it takes to change a habit (21 days? 6 months? A year?) I’ll do some sleuthing and experimenting and keep you updated.



Ciao Selects: Favorite products I’ve bought during my travels 焦點嚴選:國外帶回來的好物

Great news! I’ve decided to launch a new series, called “Ciao Selects. “Ciao Selects (or in Chinese: 焦點嚴選) will be a way for me to organize (and share!) all my recommendations across the different lifestyle categories that I’m interested in.

This week, I’ve decided to talk about the best and worst products brought back from my travels. In this context ‘best’ refers to the items that are used most often, and ‘worst’ means rarely or never used, or simply just a waste of money.

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Habit Shifts: Money Matters, Experiences with a 30 Day Shopping Ban

My weakness: face masks made from all different kinds of ingredients

Around this time last year, I tried to exercise some financial discipline~ I instituted a 30-day shopping ban, where I would try to cut down on unnecessary or impulse shopping. When I first mentioned this challenge to some of my nearest and dearest, I asked them to list out things that I couldn’t buy, and here are some of their responses:

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See you in 2019!

Just dropping in to say a quick hello! I’m still here~ I’m just completely overwhelmed with year-end tasks at work. I definitely have new posts planned for 2019, so please pop by then. Meanwhile, as always you can follow me over on Instagram.

Wishing everyone a healthy, happy holiday season!


Monthly Roundup for October, 2018

The next few months for me are extremely deadline driven. I basically eat, work and sleep, with a little bit of a break on Sundays and Monday afternoons. Currently, I’m wrapping up projects from the previous year, while simultaneously working on new ones. It’s now gotten to a point where I’m having trouble keeping track of all my notes from each project, and I have papers flapping everywhere at work and at home. My solution for now is that I just put everything in one notebook, and use dividers to demarcate between each project.

I don’t know about you, but I never use up an entire notebook from start to finish with just one subject, so this method is a good way for me to get maximum mileage out of one notebook. Plus, the tabs are removable, so I just move them further back if I need more pages for a particular topic.  Such a simple solution, but I’m not quite sure why it took me so long to figure it out!

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Heritage Bakery & Cafe Pop-up Shop in Mitsukoshi A4, B2 (until October 31, 2018)

Information: Heritage Bakery and Cafe Pop Up Shop, Xinyi Mistukoshi  Department Store, B2 level.

Heritage Bakery and Cafe: Hankou Street, Section 1, No. 73-2, Taipei City, Zhongzheng District| Phone: 02 2311 1079| Website: |台北市中正區漢口街一段73號之2

Today, I interrupt all regularly scheduled programming to bring you the important news that Heritage Bakery has a pop up shop!  I’ve written about Heritage previously. Their dreamy pink guava chiffon cake constantly pops up in my daydreams… The great news is that until October 31st, you can find some of their classics right in their pop up shop, in the A4 building, B2 level of Mitsubishi department store.

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Product Review: My solution for a cake emergency~ the very chocolate cake from Gakuden (家庭聚會少不了的樂天麵包屋生巧克力蛋糕)

My role for most, if not all family gatherings is to “bring dessert.”  In the past, on occasion, I would either bake a vanilla bundt cake,  or a honey cake. In more recent times, I would whip up a quick batch of blueberry and lemon friands.  I love baking for these occasions, and I love watching my family members enjoy my desserts.

However, when the mid-Autumn moon festival rolled around this year, I was knee high in paperwork and other sundries of life, and simply could not find a spare moment to bake.  I thought of staying up late the night before to whip up something quick, but I couldn’t quite muster up the motivation or energy to do even that.  In my fog of exhaustion, I suddenly remembered a delicious slice of chocolate cake that I purchased on impulse on my way home after a tedious work meeting.

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