Friday, January 24, 2014

Let's Talk Life #3

You can tell I've been busy because I have blogged so little over the past 5 months. I can't promise I'll be back to regular blogging from now on; but there are some review and outfit posts I'd like to get up soon. I've certainly spread myself thin this year and have just got a lot going on with school, work, and life. But I've missed blogging and interacting with you all so much that I thought I'd spend some time writing a short and sweet life update via Instagram photos I've taken lately. (Oh and better late than never: Happy new year! Hope you're all having an excellent 2014 so far!)

What have I been up to?

I witnessed my first ice storm this year which was equal parts incredible and frightening. All the trees looked absolutely magical coated in a layer of ice, but the roads were extra slippery!

My family is about 110% nerd so over Christmas break we spent some quality time working on these puzzles that my dad is planning to put up in our dining room. They're illustrations of famous cities of the world. We've done New York and London so far.

I don't think I've mentioned it on the blog but I got a job last November with Aritzia and have been working a whole lot....trying and failing to save some cash! This is me taking a mirror selfie of my work outfit of the day. So many people that day commented on how much they loved it so I had to commemorate it. Hah!

Bubble tea is always welcome on my blog. It is a severe addiction. I consume copious amounts of bubble tea, definitely too much for one human being. But bubble tea makes me happy, so I'm not going to stop. I love Bubble Republic in particular; in fact, I've been there so much they know my regular order by heart.

You know the feeling when you leave change or bills in your pants pockets then find them a month later? Well this year I realized that I still had six paid for yoga classes to go to! YAAAAASSSSSS. There is nothing more energizing, invigorating, calming, and strengthening than a good old midday hot yoga session. I like to go on my 14-hour days on campus, during that 7-hour break between classes. It just really wakes me up and gives me that extra burst of energy to finish the day off strong. Namaste lovin'.

Shopping. Ehem, lots of shopping. It's almost embarrassing how much I've shopped. But how can I resist the cutest and chicest pair of black ankle boots? ON SALE, might I add!

Oh yes, Christmas! That happened a month ago, didn't it? I'm so grateful for all the people in my life and the chance to spend quality time with them. This gift box is a collection of little presents from my old roommates. I barely ever see them anymore, but when I do it's like no time has passed - they crack me up and make me smile and I'm happy to have them in my life....I'm also always impressed by how well they know me!

Your within blog post public service announcement: Consume your recommended daily intake of fruits, people! They're delicious and pretty and nutritious! What's not to love?! Been especially loving pomegranate seeds, raspberries, and clementines lately!

Starbucks released a new drink recently, called their Caramel Flan Latte, and I give it two thumbs up! They really know how to do caramel drinks!

As I mentioned I'm pretty busy this year but if you follow me on Instagram (jemcheng) you'll get to see what I'm up to more regularly.... like what I eat and drink, and what I've been unnecessarily spending my money on. HAH! Missing all my lovely readers... xxx

Sunday, December 22, 2013

NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer

I've found it: my holy grail, never going back to anything else concealer. What is it, you ask? The one, the only: NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer. Quite a splashy intro there, but I think this product really deserves it. I've tried so many concealers in the past few years, and can honestly say that I have never come across one nearly as amazing as this one. This NARS pick surpasses anything I've ever tried by a million miles.

This concealer just ticks all the boxes:
  • It has a great shade range, including options for yellow, neutral, and pink undertones 
  • It is incredibly high coverage and buildable 
  • It is super creamy and blendable, and just melts into the skin so beautifully
  • It does not oxidize throughout the day as many other concealers do - this was one of my main problems with the Collection concealer that I noticed more towards the end of the tube
  • It doesn't cling onto and accentuate dry skin patches
  • And most importantly - this concealer is very natural-looking and NOT cakey at all
This concealer is just so easy to use and makes covering those imperfections so effortless. I just dot the doe-foot applicator on any redness, acne scars, or blemishes and they disappear into thin air. (I'm telling you NARS has got a hold of some secret magic formula.) I highly highly recommend this concealer to anyone who feels like theirs is a just a little blah. Word of warning: You will be blown away, and you will not want to use anything else ever again. ;)

PS. Who knew Aritzia shopping bags would make such a cute backdrop for product photos?

Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas 2013 Gift Guide

As always with me, this post is a little late seeing as Christmas is nine days away. Where has the time gone? Where has 2013 gone?! Whilst I pondered the thought of days and years going by way too fast, I curated my top five Christmas gift picks for the ladies and gents in your life. This one is for all you last minute Christmas shoppers.

Christmas 2013 Gift Guide

For Her

  1. Clarins Instant Light Natural Lip Perfector $20 | Makeup can be tough to shop for unless you know the person's exact preferences; but this lip product is sure to please all the girls on your Christmas list. It's comfortable and hydrating on, and truly does make your lips look perfected! This product comes in six lovely shades, all in natural colours, to suit every skin tone.
  2. Wilfred Coquette Scarf $70 | The Coquette blanket scarves from Aritzia are my current obsession, I tell you. You can't not love these. They instantly make an outfit when worn as a proper scarf; but if you're like me and are pretty much always feeling chilly, this will double as a comfy, cozy blanket wrap. And trust me, it is so warm. I think the plaid print is a very festive one and therefore makes a great gift, but there are also tons of other prints to choose from.
  3. Wilfred Free Marin Cardigan $145 | The epitome of comfort is what this cardigan is. Also from Aritzia, the Marin cardigan is made of alpaca wool which means it is oh so snuggly and soft, and not itchy at all like wool can be. I like to tell people it feels like you're on a cloud. If you're looking for a really luxe present or buying for someone you want to spend a bit more money on, this is a lovely pick! 
  4. NUDE Essential Skin Radiance Kit $63 | I was absolutely aghast when I saw the price of this kit, considering NUDE is such a luxury, amazing quality skincare brand. I've been dying to give their Pro-Genius Treatment Oil a try, but with a full-size bottle at a whopping $98 it just wasn't going to happen any time soon. This kit comes a miniature Pro-Genius Treatment Oil (0.5 oz), a full-sized Perfect Cleansing Oil Face & Eyes, and a small 0.52 oz tub of their Cellular Renewal Moisturizer. Such an amazing deal and the perfect gift for the skincare lover.
  5. Stella McCartney Stella Rollerball $23 | Fragrances always make a great gift because they're often too expensive for people to justify buying so many bottles for themselves. A dinky little rollerball is less expensive, but also functional because it's travel friendly. I'm absolutely loving the rose-scented Stella and think it's a lovely winter fragrance. 

For Him

  1. Fossil Townsman Leather Strap Watch $125 | Another year, another Fossil watch on the gift guide. Fossil is one of my favourite brands, and in my opinion, they do some of the best affordable watches. I really like this Townsman model because it's just very classic and no fuss but still sophisticated.
  2. Things Come Apart Book $19.75 (on | I actually saw this book on Essiebutton's gift guide and thought it was such a great gift idea for all the geeky people in your life. This coffee table book is stunning, with every page displaying the ins and outs of normal, everyday things like fire extinguishers, Swiss Army knives, cameras, ...
  3. Moleskine Diary/Agenda $20 | You can't go wrong with a quality, black moleskine leather planner - and this one is great for guys and girls. Agendas are such an essential for anyone with a busy lifestyle because they keep you organized. Anyone who can't live without an agenda or planner would be absolutely thrilled to receive this.
  4. TGT Wallet $38 | TGT wallets, born out of a Kickstarter project, is one of the most interesting and innovative things I've seen in a while. The idea of a slim and compact, but still nice-looking leather wallet is something that I know appeals to a lot of men who don't necessarily carry points cards to about a hundred different clothes and makeup shops. ;)
  5. The Body Shop White Musk For Men EDT $28 | An affordable but amazing-smelling fragrance for men is the White Musk one by The Body Shop. I love this one because it's very soft and pleasant but still masculine, and it's just something different from very strong manly scents.

Those are all my picks this year. I hope you find something for all your loved ones, and I hope you're all having the loveliest holiday season!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Autumn Edit

As always, my seasonal edit is just a tad late.... Whoops. We're more than halfway through autumn now, but I've just been soooo in love with my autumnal makeup selection; it would be criminal of me not to share my autumn favourites with you all. My makeup mantra for this season has been very clean, natural, cool, glowy skin injected with burgundy and bronze where appropriate. Let's have a chat about my top picks this autumn.

FACE: My choice base this fall has been the perfect and gorgeous Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Dim Light. I couldn't stop singing its praises in my last blog post, so if you want a full review be sure to check that out. What I love about this product is that you can dust it on everyday after you've done all your makeup and it just creates such a beautiful, subtle lit-from-within look to the skin. For those of you who get that dull, lackluster skin around this time of year, I highly recommend trying this product out because it is seriously amazing. A miracle worker. 

LIPS: To me, fall is all about taking the colour palette a bit darker and richer, and bringing out those gorgeous berry tones. For an everyday, wear-with-anything lipstick this season, MAC Syrup in the Lustre finish is my top pick. It's the most gorgeous, sheeny plum shade, and the type of lipstick you can whack on mirror-less. So effortless and so forgiving; what's not to love? Of course I had to put a vampy lip offering in here as well. For days or nights when you're feeling a bit more adventurous: MAC Dark Side lipstick which comes in an Amplified finish. Dark lipsticks are one of the easiest ways (and one of my personal favourite ways) to get yourself looking presentable fast. When I'm pressed for time to do my makeup, I will quickly do my base, run some mascara through my lashes, and just slick on my favourite dark lipstick. All done in five, but it looks like it took you ages.

CHEEKS: If you're going to wear a dark lip, it is critical that you tone your cheek colour down. (Unless of course you are doing something editorial and that's the look you're going for.) Something like MAC Gingerly blush is perfect for the job. It's a murky light brown with a hint of rose; and it just adds some life to your cheeks without going overboard. My other cheek option is Stila Convertible Colour in Peony. It's a cream product, and I love it because it's so easy to pat onto your cheeks or lips if you're in a rush or on-the-go. This one has a bit more colour than Gingerly - it's a pretty, muted dusty rose - but it still has that autumnal tone.

EYES: Although bronzy shades are more typically associated with summer, I think a cool bronze eye in the fall is absolutely gorgeous, and it complements berry lips really well! I use the Maybelline Colour Tattoo in Bad to the Bronze as an eyeshadow base to prevent creasing and increase staying power, then apply L'oreal Infallible Eyeshadow in Amber Rush on top, all over the lid and into the crease for a vibrant bronze. I then take a fluffy blending brush and just blend all the edges for a soft, seamless eye look.

NAILS: Without question, OPI We'll Always Have Paris. Oh the gorgeous, deep merlot.... Classic. Chic. Screams fall. No further explanation necessary.

STYLE: If you're going to purchase one clothing item or accessory this autumn, let it be the Wilfred Coquette scarf. I just... I have no words. If you recall this was on my Window Shopping blog post (few posts back); I received it as a birthday present from a few friends and have been obsessed ever since. The Coquette scarf comes in a few different colours and patterns, as you can see mine has really nice earthy tones which makes it really easy to wear with a lot of different outfits. But what I love most about this scarf is how massive it is. It basically doubles as a blanket. And I'm not kidding. This scarf may not look substantial at first - as in it's not a chunky knit scarf - but it is oh so warm and cozy. Whenever I'm feeling extra chilly and I don't have a sweater to chuck on, I'll wrap this around my shoulders and it brings me back to a comfortable temperature in no time. ;)

What have you been loving this autumn?

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder | Dim Light

Let me just hop on the rave train and start by saying, Hourglass, you made a darn flippin' amazing product. Interestingly though my opinion of this product wasn't so from first use, or even from first sight which is unlike that of many beauty bloggers.

The Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders are a range of six gorgeous, finely milled finishing powders each with a different purpose. I think what is quite unique about this product is that each of the six in the range do very different things on all different skin tones but they all promise to light up your complexion from within. Some are blue-toned, some are yellow-toned, some are high-shimmer, some are just glowy. Whatever your skin type and tone may be, there is one for you. Personally, I was looking for a neutral, beige powder to use all over my face as a finishing powder, rather than just at the tops of my cheekbones as a highlighter. Dim Light was the one that ticked all the boxes - when applied it just gives the most beautiful sheer layer of soft focus glow to the skin. Not a dewy, wet-looking glow; not a shimmery, glittery glow; but a very subtle, fresh faced, life-giving glow. It also has a lovely way of just blurring the skin so as to help hide any imperfections. It is truly remarkable.

Dim Light in natural light - it's a very subtle effect, and one that is more noticeable in person.

Taken directly from the Sephora website, these are the six powders and what they claim to do:
Ethereal Light: A sheer, cool tone that eliminates shine and mimics a moonlit glow—even in broad daylight.
Diffused Light: A soft, warm, pale yellow that reduces redness, eliminates shine, and gives skin clarity.
Dim Light: A neutral soft beige that provides a perfect balance of warm and cool tones to blur imperfections.
Mood Light: A soft, sheer lavender pink that mimics the softest, most forgiving light and brightens the complexion.
Luminous Light: A champagne pearl that creates a soft, incandescent candlelit glow—day or night.
Radiant Light: A sun-kissed golden beige that enhances the overall complexion with believable, subtle warmth. 

In theory, this product should work fine on top of just about any type and texture of face base, just a light dusting to finish the face off as the name finishing powder suggests. In my personal experience, I find this works best when substituted in place of my regular setting powder. As the last step of my base routine on top of liquid foundation, I think it does a fantastic job at what it claims and it lasts quite a while too! It doesn't claim to set makeup but in my opinion it's actually quite excellent at it.

Although these powders were talked about heavily in the spring and summer this year, I actually think Dim Light in particular is incredibly suitable for autumn/winter because it has a way of injecting life into the paler skin we get from the change in weather. It's a much more season-appropriate way of avoiding the "dead" look. No need for fake tan, which can get messy and is more suited for summer anyways. I absolutely love my Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder and am quite afraid to admit to myself that it just might be a holy grail, forever in my stash product. (Pockets emptied.)

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders contain 0.35 oz of product, and are sold in Sephora stores for CAD$52.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Autumn Bottoms

Okay so obviously these bottoms are not just for autumn, but "Autumn Bottoms" just sounds so cute said out loud! On to more important things: what this post is really all about. Although I've lived in Canada for over five years now, it's not until recently that I've really started to accept and embrace the cold weather. I feel like in my early years living here I was an amateur at layering, and I didn't really know how to dress for fall/winter. I don't know what changed or when but in the past few months I've really developed a love (bordering on obsession) for fall/winter fashion, and I'm finding myself putting a bit more effort into dressing myself for school.

Let's have a bit of a cringe-fest first while I tell you what my typical fall/winter outfit has been for the past 3 years - chunky sweater and plain blue skinny jeans on good days, but if I'm feeling really lazy I pull out the classic 'stressed out university student' combo: massive hoodie and sweatpants. A chunky sweater and jeans aren't bad at all, but they're just uninspiring and dull and .... meh when it's your daily get-up. And now although the 'tops' category of my closet could certainly use a re-vamp, I feel like it's in the bottoms department that I am severely lacking some wardrobe staples.

Pretty much the only criteria these pants have to meet besides style is comfort. This is true for clothing I wear all year round, but most especially during the cold months. I refuse to squeeze myself into restrictive, tight, unflattering pants or jeans at 7 AM, a time of day when I am more than easily irritable. I've chosen four of my favourite pant styles, none of which I own at the moment, but all of which will certainly make it into my closet someday within the next four months. I think they are quite good, pretty alternatives to sweatpants, which pretty much always look very sloppy and unpolished on. The ones I've picked out are all comfortable but very stylish options, in my opinion.

Bottoms Up

  1. Disco pants | I wasn't so big a fan of these pants when they first started to become popular among fashion bloggers, but now I am practically desperate for a pair from American Apparel. I have shopped around for good dupes, but everyone says that the AA ones are the best and totally worth the money. I think these would look amazing with a pinstripe T-shirt and a pair of sneakers.
  2. Boyfriend jeans | Distressed ones with the cuffs rolled to the ankles look so effortlessly chic paired with anything. And because they're looser fitting, you don't feeling like your legs are being imprisoned. I envision this with a comfortable knit, cute cutout boots, and a baseball cap.
  3. Faux leather pants | As with the disco pants, I never thought I'd go for these when I first saw them, thinking they'd be impossible for me to pull off. But I think the leather texture really adds to a very simple, classic outfit. I would totally wear these with a huge gray sweatshirt and leopard-print loafers.
  4. Pajama trousers | I am in love with this pajama trouser trend, especially when the pants are in floral or tie-print. These trousers would look so amazing with a plain, loose v-neck camisole tucked in and perhaps a cardigan or blazer on top for some warmth.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Everyday Haircare Routine

I always feel undeservedly lucky when it comes to my hair. Of all my girly morning rituals, I invest the least amount of time and energy into hair care, but always manage to have it looking healthy and presentable for the most part. Although half of the ease of caring for my hair is due to my Asian heritage, there are a few things I do to keep my locks healthy and happy that I think some of you struggling with damaged hair would find helpful. I often get asked questions such as what do I do to care for my hair? or how do I get my hair to grow fast? Today I'm sharing with you my everyday hair care routine, which is pretty much all I do to maintain my hair and get it to grow at the rate it's growing (but to be fair, sometimes this just comes down to the person/ethnicity).

Shampoo & Conditioner
I'm not too fussy with shampoo and conditioner. I think the most important thing to remember is just to get products for your specific hair type. In my case, I never get shampoos that say 'For Dry, Damaged Hair' because I have quite oily roots and normal ends. I made the mistake of doing this once and ended up with greasy hair just a few hours after showering - not a good look. Personally, I find shampoos and conditioners from the drugstore to be just fine for general, everyday use and I tend to mix it up and try new things. Right now I use the Live Clean Green Earth shampoo and L'oreal EverCreme nourishing conditioner. I'm on my third bottle of the Live Clean shampoo and it's been my favourite for a few years now. It smells absolutely amazing, lathers well, and gives such a deep cleanse which I find is key to keeping my roots grease-less for longer; as a bonus it is 100% organic!

Once a week I use the Macadamia Deep Repair Masque (applied after shampooing, skip the conditioner) to give my hair a good pick-me-up! I did a full review on this on my blog so you can check that out if you want a detailed breakdown, but essentially this product is wonderful for hydrating and injecting life into dull, dry, lifeless hair. It smells incredible and works amazingly; I can't recommend it enough! Once again, I avoid the roots when applying this, as it can be too heavy for that area, and just concentrate the product from the mid-shaft to the ends of my hair, let that sink in for 7 minutes before rinsing off.

Post-Shower Care
After towel-drying my hair, I spritz in some detangler - my current favourite is the Dove Nourishing Oil Care Leave-in Conditioning Spray - then use a wet comb to comb my hair out. I highly recommend adding this combination step if into your haircare routine if you don't already; I truly believe that it makes a tremendous difference in minimizing the breakage and split ends in my hair.

Everyday Styling
I get a lot of general questions about how to get long hair, soft hair, strong hair, etc. My number one recommendation (and this will come as no surprise to anyone) would be to cut down, minimize, or eliminate heat styling from your routine. As much as a lot of girls won't want to hear it, it is probably what will produce the biggest change in the health of your hair.

On most days, I allow my hair to air dry naturally. To be honest, half the reason I do this is because I find it a complete hassle to blow dry my hair - it's loud and noisy and it takes a while so I just can't be bothered! I also do not heat style on most days. I will typically leave my hair how it is after it has dried naturally, which is straight (but not sleek straight) with a teensy bit of volume.

The only actual "styling" I do that happens semi-often is a bit of a tousled, messy bed head look. All I do is squirt a dime-sized amount of Bumble & Bumble Brilliantine onto my palm, rub my hands together and run this through my hair. Super easy and no heat required! I have also done a full review of this product so you can look for that on my blog archive.

That is pretty much it for my everyday haircare routine. I would say my routine is very minimal and basic. I really like to give my hair breathability by not using a lot of product on it on an everyday basis, and I do think this routine facilitates healthy growth of hair. Of course, regular trims and cuts are also recommended. Anyways, I hope this post helped if you were looking for some haircare tips or just some new products to incorporate into your everyday haircare routine.