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Review: Dr. Althea Herb Therapy Velvet Mask

“Just as those closest to you would comfort you during your hardest times, let this mask give a boost to your skin! This mask will keep your complexion luminous for days.”

Facetory description

I recently gave Facetory’s Lux subscription a try (the first subscription is $10 for 7 luxury masks, after that $20 a month) and the Dr. Althea Herb therapy Velvet Mask was the first mask I applied. The mask itself smells heavenly and has a rich, creamy, fabric-like feeling. Putting it on was a simple effort, the mask staying snug around my features, and after waiting for its recommended 20-30 minutes, I took it off feeling more refreshed, the serum drying within minutes. Though how effective it was is debatable (as the effect of sheet masks are most evident after consistent use), below, I’ve provided the ingredient pros and cons for a more scientific inspection.

Ingredient Pros and Cons

Ingredients: Water, Glycerin, Dipropylene Glycol, Methylpropanediol, Caprylic/capric Triglyceride, Polysorbate 60, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Hexylene Glycol, Butylene Glycol, Hydroxyacetophenone, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Trehalose, Carbomer, Arginine, Allantoin, PEG-20 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Sorbitan Isostearate, 1,2-Hexanediol, Squalane, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Coptis Japonica Root Extract, Schizandra Chinensis Fruit Extract, Zingiber Officinale (Ginger) Root Extract, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice) Extract, Citrus Grandis (grapefruit) Seed Extract, Panthenol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Disodium EDTA, Anthemis Nobilis Flower Water, Calendula Officinalis Flower Water, Acorus Calamus Root Extract, Fragrance, Chlorphenesin, Sodium Hyaluronate, Glyceryl Caprylate, Caprylyl Glycol, Perilla Ocymoides Leaf Extract, Citric Acid, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Cholesterol, Ceramide 3

Significant Pros

  • Glycerin (hydrating)
  • Allantoin (calming)
  • Squalane (hydrating)
  • Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract (calming)
  • Panthenol (humectant, attracts moisture for hydrating effect)
  • Zingiber Officinale (Ginger) Root Extract (calming)
  • Glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice) Extract (addresses hyper pigmentation)
  • Calendula Officinalis Flower Water (calming)
  • Ceramide 3 (moisturizing, skin barrier protector)

Significant Cons

  • PEG-20 Hydrogenated Castor Oil (at least, for oily skin)
  • Fragrance (unnecessary, skin irritant)
  • Citrus Grandis (grapefruit) Seed Extract (skin irritant)
  • Citric Acid (skin irritant for sensitive skin)

The Takeaway

Looking at the ingredients, there are some pretty powerful relaxing elements to the mask (allantoin, squalane, camellia, licorice extract), but conversely a variety of deeply irritating ingredients (i.e. citric acid and grapefruit extract) for those with sensitive skin. Though my skin does tend to be sensitive, I didn’t directly feel anything when applying the mask, but repeated use may reveal otherwise. Additionally, while the smell was delightful, the prioritizing of fragrance over some the more calming ingredients was worrisome. Though I definitely don’t regret using this mask, I won’t be purchasing it in the future.

Review: Paula’s Choice Peptide Booster

Unlock firmer-looking skin with eight powerful peptides that make skin more resilient and reduce the appearance of lines.

Paula’s Choice

Looking forward to boosting my moisture intake, I tried out Paula’s choice peptide booster, curious to see what kind of impact it would have on my skin. Looking through its peptide-heavy ingredient list, I was impressed by the complexity (and less so by the price, which matches the dearth of ingredients. Not a cheap buy, friends). The product itself is quite small, easily used up in a month, and absorbs into the skin like a light gel, offering a cooling effect once spread. Unfortunately for me, I saw no change in my skin.

no pic today, I forgot to take one before I threw it out 😦

Significant Ingredients

Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Glycerin (skin-replenishing), PEG-8 Dimethicone (texture enhancer), Tripeptide-1 (skin-restoring), Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1 (skin-restoring), Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7 (skin restoring), Palmitoyl Hexapeptide-12 (skin restoring), Myristoyl Hexapeptide-16 (skin-restoring), Myristoyl Pentapeptide-17 (skin-restoring), Hexanoyl Dipeptide-3 Norleucine Acetate (skin-restoring), Azelaoyl Bis-Dipeptide-10 (skin-restoring), Glycoproteins (hydration), Phospholipids (skin-replenishing), Adenosine (skin-restoring), Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate (skin-soothing), Arginine, Valine, Glycine, Alanine, Glutamic Acid, Serine, Threonine (amino acids/hydration), Yeast (Faex) Extract (skin-soothing/hydration), Isoleucine, Proline, Histidine, Phenylalanine (amino acids/hydration), PCA (skin-replenishing), Phytic Acid (antioxidant), Panax Ginseng Root Extract (plant extract/antioxidant), Sodium PCA (skin-replenishing), Psidium Guajava Fruit Extract (guava fruit/antioxidant), Euterpe Oleracea Fruit Extract (acai/antioxidant), Ahnfeltiopsis Concinna Extract (algae/hydration/texture enhancer), Dextran (natural sugar/hydration), Hydrolyzed Silk (texture enhancer), Lecithin (skin-restoring fatty acid), Glyceryl Polymethacrylate (film-forming agent), C12-16 Pareth-9, Trideceth-12 (emulsifiers), Sodium Lactate (hydration), Carbomer (texture enhancer), Aspartic Acid (amino acid/hydration), Polysorbate 20 (emulsifier), Butylene Glycol, Caprylyl Glycol, PEG-8 (texture enhancers), C11-15 Pareth-7 (emulsifier), Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride (texture enhancer), Phytosteryl/Octyldodecyl Lauroyl Glutamate, Ectoin (hydration), Citrate Buffer (pH adjuster), Trimethylsiloxyamodimethicone (texture enhancer), Phenoxyethanol (preservative), Sodium Hydroxide (pH adjuster), Ethylhexylglycerin (hydration)

Significant Pros

  • Glycerin (moisturizing)
  • Peptides (moisturizing)
  • Phospholipids (assists hydrating ingredients)
  • Adenosine (anti-wrinkle, soothing)
  • Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate (calming, soothing)
  • Arginine (anti-wrinkle)

Significant Cons

  • Possibly irritating for those with silicone and fungal acne sensitivities

The Takeaway

There’s a lot to like in this booster, however, for me, it’s a dud. I wouldn’t dismiss its positive reviews, as the ingredients are undeniably impressive, just keep in mind that not everything’s going to be a personal winner. If you’re willing to splurge a bit, then go ahead and give this a try. As for me, while I had no negative effects from this product, I won’t be repurchasing.

Review: The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

“I am going to take care of this,” he told her. There was something determined, earnest in his eyes. Olive had never felt safer, or more loved. “And then I’ll come find you, and I’ll take care of you.”

The Love Hypothesis

Summary and Thoughts

As a third-year Ph.D. candidate, Olive Smith doesn’t believe in lasting romantic relationships–but her best friend does, and that’s what got her into this situation. Convincing Anh that Olive is dating and well on her way to a happily ever after was always going to take more than hand-wavy Jedi mind tricks: Scientists require proof. So, like any self-respecting biologist, Olive panics and kisses the first man she sees.

That man is none other than Adam Carlsen, a young hotshot professor–and well-known ass. Which is why Olive is positively floored when Stanford’s reigning lab tyrant agrees to keep her charade a secret and be her fake boyfriend. But when a big science conference goes haywire, putting Olive’s career on the Bunsen burner, Adam surprises her again with his unyielding support and even more unyielding…six-pack abs.

Suddenly their little experiment feels dangerously close to combustion. And Olive discovers that the only thing more complicated than a hypothesis on love is putting her own heart under the microscope. 

Goodreads

I had expected big things from The Love Hypothesis, due to its myriad positive reviews . . . and yet, it still blew me away. The scenario is expected – a fake dating scheme that results in true love – but the characters’ STEM backgrounds, witty observations, and heartfelt dialogue push the story to new heights. Our main leads are Olive Smith – a nervous but upbeat graduate student, and the young Dr. Adam Carlsen (and don’t worry, the story makes sure there aren’t any school violations or ethics problems here, which I appreciated). It’s a sunshine-thunderstorm relationship, though Adam spends far more time being gentle than coarse (which I vastly prefer. His “mean” episodes are mainly for “off-the-page” moments). I enjoyed seeing their relationship blossom, though in my opinion, there were a few too many misunderstandings to navigate. The resolution was also a bit hasty, but like any romance novel, there’s still a happy ending to luxuriate in. All in all, The Love Hypothesis is must-read for fans of contemporary romance, witty banter, and sweet/steamy moments.

Photo Courtesy of Goodreads

Notable Reviews:

For Those Who Enjoyed:

Star Rating

4.5/5

Review: Adagio White Peony

“Also known as Pai Mu Tan or Bai Mu Dan, White Peony is a sweet, mild Chinese tea made from unopened tea buds, as well as the two newest leaves to sprout. The nose is warm, floral and rich like fruit blossoms. The liquor is golden and bright. Clean, succulent floral-fruit flavor, melon sweetness, a touch of gentle savoriness and rounded mouthfeel.”

Adagio

This just wasn’t for me, folks. A simple white tea with a light floral flavor, White Peony seems to have a more impactful aftertaste than anything else, and unfortunately, I’m not a fan. Slightly bitter and medicinal, the blend is neither comforting nor energizing, its high caffeine content making it less appealing in combination. If you’re a fan of white teas, then perhaps you’ll find this blend serviceable. Otherwise, I’d advise to keeping looking.

Ingredients

White peony leaves

Review: Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Pore-Tight Toner

Our innovative formula contains a balance of hydrating ingredients and pore-tightening actives to equally minimize the look of pores and hydrate skin, with gentle yet effective pore actives such as PHA and BHA. 

Glow Recipe

Hearing so many glowing reviews, I purchased Glow Recipe’s toner on a whim, delighted by its complex ingredient list and eco-friendly packaging. The product is thin, absorbing into the skin with a light, refreshing scent. Considering its pricing, I think you get about two or so months of use out of the bottle, which seems appropriate to me. Now that I’ve reached the end I can say . . . my skin has not changed, either for the better or the worse.

Ingredient Pros and Cons

Ingredients: Opuntia Ficus-Indica (Cactus) Extract, Citrullus Lanatus (Watermelon) Fruit Extract, Glycerin, Hyaluronic Acid, Gluconolactone, Sodium Polyglutamate, Betaine Salicylate, Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Extract, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Extract, Hibiscus Sabdariffa Flower Extract, Lactobacillus/Watermelon Fruit Ferment Extract, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Saccharum Officinarum (Sugarcane) Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract, Paeonia Suffruticosa Root Extract, Brassica Oleracea Capitata (Cabbage) Leaf Extract, Ipomoea Batatas Root Extract, Sorbitan Oleate, Levulinic Acid, Sodium Levulinate, Fragrance/Parfum

Significant Pros

  • Cactus Extract (hydrating, moisturizing)
  • Watermelon Fruit Extract (hydrating, soothing, evens tone)
  • Hyaluronic Acid (hydrating)
  • Betaine Salicylate (soothing, anti-acne)
  • Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Extract (anti-acne, addresses hyper-pigmentation)
  • Tea Tree Extract (anti-acne, addresses hyper-pigmentation)
  • Hibiscus Extract (antioxidant, anti-aging, gentle exfoliant)
  • Cucumber Extract (soothing, brightening, anti-aging)
  • Licorice Root Extract (addresses hyper-pigmentation)

Significant Cons

  • Fragrance/Parfum (skin irratant, but it’s last ingredient so I wouldn’t worry about it unless you have an allergy)
  • Might irratate those who struggle with fungal acne

The Takeaway

This is a perfectly fine toner, it just so happens that it didn’t work so well for me. Perhaps more time is necessary to see its effects, but regardless, I’m somewhat disappointed that I can’t get in on the hype :/. Still, this isn’t a warning to others, as I don’t have any blaring complaints either. Feel free to try out the toner for yourself and perhaps you’ll find more success than I did!

Review: Heaven by Mieko Kawakami

But I wasn’t crying because I was sad. I guess I was crying because we had nowhere else to go, no choice but to go on living in this world. Crying because we had no other world to choose, and crying at everything before us, everything around us.

Heaven

Summary and Thoughts

Hailed as a bold foray into new literary territory, Kawakami’s novel is told in the voice of a 14-year-old student who subjected to relentless torment for having a lazy eye. Instead of resisting, the boy chooses to suffer in complete resignation. The only person who understands what he is going through is a female classmate who suffers similar treatment at the hands of her tormentors.

These raw and realistic portrayals of bullying are counterbalanced by textured exposition of the philosophical and religious debates concerning violence to which the weak are subjected.

Goodreads

I loved Kawakami’s previous book, Breasts & Eggs, so when I found out her 2009 novel Heaven was being translated, I immediately added it to my to-read list. Heaven is about 180 pages, a short read that I consumed in two days. Still, despite its brevity, it packs a lot of ideas and emotions within its condensed narrative. There are four primary characters, two bullies and two bullied children. Investigating power dynamics, the concepts of weakness vs. power, heaven vs. hell, human will vs. morality, the novel reads more like a philosophical debate rather than a story, and the child characters’ speech mirrors that. As a result, while I appreciated the concepts Kawakami explored, I didn’t find the characters or story particularly memorable. Still, her writing is beautiful – precise and visual – and her pacing, weaving of narrative threads, and descriptions were well executed. Though I’d definitely recommend Heaven to others, I’d do so selectively, as I can see some readers being underwhelmed by the balance of philosophy and plot.

Photo Courtesy of Goodreads

Notable Reviews

For Those Who Enjoyed

Star Rating

3.7/5

Review: Buddha Teas Organic Turmeric Ginger Tea

Our organic Turmeric Ginger Tea is one of our most popular, best-selling teas, This brew is warming, spicy, earthy, pungent, and sweet.

Buddha Tea

This is a sweet and spicy tea full of ginger flavor (without being overwhelming). I was worried this blend would taste overly medicinal, but I’m happy to say that this simple tea is as delicious as it is true to its name. If you enjoy ginger chew candies, you’ll probably like this liquified substitute, as it has more of a candied taste to it rather than a herbal one. In this regard, the turmeric compliments the ginger quite nicely. All in all, this is a pleasant tea I’d highly recommend to those who like ginger flavors and simple teas.

Ingredients

Organic Ginger root, Organic Turmeric root, Organic Black Pepper

Review: WLDKAT Orchid Stem Cell + Magnolia Berry Adaptogen Eye Gel

A daily treatment for eyes that crave a little extra TLC. This airy, lightweight eye gel works to instantly hydrate and helps soften the look of those pesky little lines. Formulated with adaptogen powerhouse Magnolia Berry and antioxidant rich Orchid Stem Cells, this cooling formula helps soothe and restore the moisture barrier around the eyes.

WLDKAT

Excited to try out a new eye cream, I purchased WLDKAT’s, as I had been impressed by their moisturizer in the past. Their eye cream ingredient list is fairly simple and the container is quite small, so I was hoping for a whopper of an impact. Within about a month and a half, I had used up the entire product with both morning and night usage. The gel was thick, but still absorbed easily into the skin, and made the bags under my eyes feel refreshed . . . even if I never saw any physical improvement.

Ingredient Pros and Cons

Ingredients: WATER (AQUA), GLYCERIN, MACADAMIA INTEGRIFOLIA SEED OIL, CAPRYLIC/CAPRIC TRIGLYCERIDE, SODIUM POLYACRYLATE, PROPANEDIOL, SCHISANDRA CHINENSIS FRUIT EXTRACT, CALANTHE DISCOLOR EXTRACT, SQUALANE, SODIUM HYALURONATE, HYDROLYZED QUINOA, SILICA, XANTHAN GUM, ETHYLHEXYLGLYCERIN, TETRASODIUM GLUTAMATE DIACETATE, PHENOXYETHANOL

Significant Pros

  • Glycerin (moisturing)
  • Macadamia Integrifolia Seed Oil (moisturizing)
  • Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (moisturizing)
  • Propanediol (moisturizing)
  • Schisandra Chinesis Fruit Extract (calming, evens tone)
  • Calanthe Discolor Extract (anti-aging)
  • Squalane (moisturizing)

Significant Cons

  • Nothing really

The Takeaway

I’m glad I gave this eye cream a shot, but I probably won’t be returning to it because . . . it didn’t do anything, haha. No harm, no foul, but I also can’t recommend this product. If you want to try a new eye cream, feel free to knock yourself out with this one – it does feel nice to apply! In any case, I’ll continue my search.

5 Books to Check out for Women in Translation Month

It’s August, which means it’s Women in Translation Month! I’d love to spotlight 5 reads I’m looking forward to reading and would recommend others check out too!

Heaven by Meiko Kawakami

Ever since I read Meiko Kawakami’s Breasts and Eggs, she had me by the NECK! I bought this book as soon as it came out, eager to digest more of her precise character portraits and striking descriptions.

“Hailed as a bold foray into new literary territory, Kawakami’s novel is told in the voice of a 14-year-old student who subjected to relentless torment for having a lazy eye. Instead of resisting, the boy chooses to suffer in complete resignation. The only person who understands what he is going through is a female classmate who suffers similar treatment at the hands of her tormentors.

These raw and realistic portrayals of bullying are counterbalanced by textured exposition of the philosophical and religious debates concerning violence to which the weak are subjected.” – Goodreads

Here Is a Body by Basma Abdel Aziz

I read Aziz’s novel The Queue last year and enjoyed its take on dystopia, and I’m thoroughly excited to see how she continues to explore these ideas.

“Mysterious men are rounding up street children and enrolling them in a so-called “rehabilitation program,” designed to indoctrinate them for the military-backed regime’s imminent crackdown on its opponents. Across town, thousands of protesters encamp in a city square demanding the return of the recently deposed president.

Reminiscent of recent clashes in Egypt and reflective of political movements worldwide where civilians face off against state power, Abdel Aziz deftly illustrates the universal human struggles between resisting and succumbing to an oppressive regime.

Here Is A Body is a courageous and powerful depiction of the state cooptation of human bodies, the dehumanization of marginalized groups, and the use of inflammatory religious rhetoric to manipulate a narrative.” – Auc Press

The Union of Synchronised Swimmers by Cristina Sandu

I don’t think I’ve read a lot of Finnish or Romanian literature, so I’m excited to finally add this book into my to-read list. The premise and reviews are promising.

“It’s summer behind the Iron Curtain, and six girls are about to swim their way to the Olympics — and a new life.

In an unnamed Soviet state, six girls meet each day to swim. At first, they play, splashing each other and floating languidly on the water’s surface. But soon the game becomes something more.

They hone their bodies relentlessly. Their skin shades into bruises. They barter cigarettes stolen from the factory where they work for swimsuits to stretch over their sunburnt skin. They tear their legs into splits, flick them back and forth, like herons. They force themselves to stop breathing.

When they find themselves representing their country as synchronised swimmers in the Olympics, they seize the chance they have been waiting for to escape and begin new lives.

Scattered around the globe, six women live in freedom. But will they ever be able to forget what they left behind?” – Scribe Publications

The Color of the Sky is the Shape of the Heart by Chesil

I adored Min Jin Lee’s family epic of Zainichi Koreans and am excited to pick up another book of the same topic. I’m always on the look-out for voices that, even in translated fiction, can be overlooked!

“Seventeen-year-old Ginny Park is about to get expelled from high school—again. Stephanie, the picture book author who took Ginny into her Oregon home after she was kicked out of school in Hawaii, isn’t upset: she only wants to know why. But Ginny has always been in-between; she can’t bring herself to open up to anyone about her past, or about what prompted her to flee her native Japan. Then, among the scraps of paper and drawings of Stephanie’s stories, Ginny finds a mysterious scrawl that changes everything: The sky is about to fall. Where do you go.

Ginny sets off alone on the road in search of an answer, with only her journal as a confidante. In witty and brutally honest vignettes, and interspersed with old letters from her expatriated family in North Korea, Ginny recounts her adolescence growing up Zainichi, a Japan-born Korean, and the incident that forced her to leave years prior. Inspired by her own childhood, author Chesil creates a portrait of a girl who has been fighting alone against barriers of prejudice, nationality, and injustice all her life—and one searching for a place to belong.” – Soho Press

The Wondrous and Tragic Life of Ivan and Ivana by Maryse Condé

Often times I see Black authors overlooked in ‘women in translation’ recommendations, so I want to encourage people to proactively seek them out! In Condé’s novel, she explores the slow steps of radicalization through two men, and covers topics on colonization, exploitation, etc. All these topics are straight up my alley and I’d love to get my hands on a copy.

“Born in Guadeloupe, Ivan and Ivana are twins with a bond so strong they become afraid of their feelings for one another. When their mother sends them off to live with their father in Mali they begin to grow apart, until, as young adults in Paris, Ivana’s youthful altruism compels her to join the police academy, while Ivan, stunted by early experiences of rejection and exploitation, walks the path of radicalization. The twins, unable to live either with or without each other, become perpetrator and victim in a wave of violent attacks. In The Wondrous and Tragic Life of Ivan and Ivana, Maryse Condé, winner of the 2018 Alternative Nobel prize in literature, touches upon major contemporary issues such as racism, terrorism, political corruption, economic inequality, globalization, and migration. With her most modern novel to date, this master storyteller offers an impressive picture of a colorful yet turbulent 21st century.” – Goodreads

Review: Bokksu Okukirishima Tea

Using the finest sencha leaves from Kirishima in Kagoshima Prefecture, this tea has subtle sweet notes and a rich, full-bodied silky mouthfeel. It has an elegant flavor profile and would be well-suited for both fancy occasions or your morning cuppa. 

– Bokksu

At first sip, I was immediately hit with the Okukirishima’s deep, rich taste, the green tea flavor evident but not quite bitter. As mentioned in its description, the flavor would pair well with a savory breakfast or sweet pastry on a spring/summer morning. There’s a nutty, woodsy undertone to the tea that gives it this lasting dimension, pleasantly lingering on the tongue after each gulp. If you like woodsy green teas, I’d definitely give this unoffensive blend a try.

Ingredients

Sencha green tea leaves